23
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-23-08: Liberty or Death

Battle of Kernstown, Virginia

Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson suffers a rare defeat when his attack on Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley fails.

Jackson was trying to prevent Union General Nathaniel Banks from sending troops from the Shenandoah to General George McClellan’s army near Washington. McClellan was preparing to send his massive army by water to the James Peninsular southeast of Richmond for a summer campaign against the Confederate capital. When Turner Ashby, Jackson’s cavalry commander, detected that Yankee troops were moving out of the valley, Jackson decided to attack and keep the Union troops divided.

Ashby attacked at Kernstown on March 22. He reported to Jackson that only four Union regiments were present–perhaps 3,000 men. In fact, Union commander James Shields actually had 9,000 men at Kernstown but kept most of them hidden during the skirmishing on March 22. The rest of Jackson’s force arrived the next day, giving the Confederates about 4,000 men. The 23rd was a Sunday, and the religious Jackson tried not to fight on the Sabbath. The Yankees could see his deployment, though, so Jackson chose to attack that afternoon. He struck the Union left flank, but the Federals moved troops into place to stop the Rebel advance. At a critical juncture, Richard Garnett withdrew his Confederate brigade due to a shortage of ammunition, and this exposed another brigade to a Union attack. The northern troops poured in, sending Jackson’s entire force in retreat.

Jackson lost 80 killed, 375 wounded, and 263 missing or captured, while the Union lost 118 dead, 450 wounded, and 22 missing. Despite the defeat, the battle had positive results for the Confederates. Unnerved by the attack, President Lincoln ordered McClellan to leave an entire corps to defend Washington, thus drawing troops from McClellan’s Peninsular campaign. The battle was the opening of Jackson’s famous Shenandoah Valley campaign. Over the following three months, Jackson’s men marched hundreds of miles, won several major battles, and kept three separate Union forces occupied in the Shenandoah.

“Battle of Kernstown, Virginia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Mar 2008, 01:52 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2144.

1513 – Don Juan Ponce de Leon, a former governor of Puerto Rico, discovered Florida. He claimed the land for Spain.

1775 – American revolutionary Patrick Henry declared, “give me liberty, or give me death!”

1839 – The first recorded use of “OK” [oll korrect] was used in Boston’s Morning Post.

1840 – The first successful photo of the Moon was taken.

1857 – Elisha Otis installed the first modern passenger elevator in a public building. It was at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway in New York City.

1858 – Eleazer A. Gardner patented the cable streetcar.

1861 – London’s first tramcars began operations.

1889 – U.S. President Harrison opened Oklahoma for white colonization.

1901 – It was learned that Boers were starving in British concentration camps in South Africa.

1903 – The Wright brothers obtained an airplane patent.

1925 – The state of Tennessee enacted a law that made it a crime for a teacher in any state-supported public school to teach any theory that was in contradiction to the Bible’s account of man’s creation.

1933 – The German Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act. The act effectively granted Adolf Hitler dictatorial legislative powers.

1942 – During World War II, the U.S. government began evacuating Japanese-Americans from West Coast homes to detention centers.

1965 – America’s first two-person space flight took off from Cape Kennedy with astronauts Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young aboard. The craft was the Gemini 3.

1980 – The deposed shah of Iran, Muhammad Riza Pahlavi, left Panama for Egypt.

Patrick Henry voices American opposition to British policy

During a speech before the second Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry responds to the increasingly oppressive British rule over the American colonies by declaring, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Following the signing of the American Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Patrick Henry was appointed governor of Virginia by the Continental Congress.

“Patrick Henry voices American opposition to British policy.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Mar 2008, 02:02 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4856.

Fear is the passion of slaves.
Patrick Henry

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Patrick Henry

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