Archive for August, 2008
Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
The United States Congress overwhelming approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon B. Johnson nearly unlimited powers to oppose “communist aggression” in Southeast Asia. The resolution marked the beginning of an expanded military role for the United States in the Cold War battlefields of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
The Johnson administration went on to use the resolution as a pretext to begin heavy bombing of North Vietnam in early 1965 and to introduce U.S. combat troops in March 1965. Thus began a nearly eight-year war in which over 58,000 U.S. troops died. In a wider sense, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution can be considered America’s Cold War policy toward all of Southeast Asia at the time. The resolution was also another example of the American government’s less than candid discussion of “national security” matters during the Cold War. Unspoken during the Congressional debate over the resolution was the fact that the commanders of the U.S. destroyers could not state with absolute accuracy that their ships had actually been attacked on the night of August 4, nor was any mention made of the fact that the U.S. destroyers had been assisting South Vietnamese commandos in their attacks on North Vietnamese military installations. By the late 1960s, the tangle of government deceptions and lies began to unravel as public confidence in both Johnson and the American military effort in Vietnam began to erode.
“Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Aug 2008, 12:55 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2752.
1782 – George Washington created the Order of the Purple Heart.
1914 – Germany invaded France.
1934 – The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling striking down the government’s attempt to ban the controversial James Joyce novel “Ulysses.”
1947 – The balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki, which had carried a six-man crew 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean, crashed into a reef in a Polynesian archipelago.
1959 – The U.S. launched Explorer 6, which sent back a picture of the Earth.
1960 – The Cuban Catholic Church condemned the rise of communism in Cuba. Fidel Castro then banned all religious TV and radio broadcasts.
1974 – French stuntman Philippe Petit walked a tightrope strung between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center.
1998 – The U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were bombed killing 224 people and injuring over 5,500. Osama bin Laden was later indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury in connection with the attacks.
2003 – In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would run for the office of governor.
U.S. forces invade Guadalcanal
On this day in 1942, the U.S. 1st Marine Division begins Operation Watchtower, the first U.S. offensive of the war, by landing on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands.
On July 6, 1942, the Japanese landed on Guadalcanal Island and began constructing an airfield there. Operation Watchtower was the codename for the U.S. plan to invade Guadalcanal and the surrounding islands. During the attack, American troops landed on five islands within the Solomon chain. Although the invasion came as a complete surprise to the Japanese (bad weather had grounded their scouting aircraft), the landings on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tananbogo met much initial opposition from the Japanese defenders.
But the Americans who landed on Guadalcanal met little resistance-at least at first. More than 11,000 Marines had landed, and 24 hours had passed, before the Japanese manning the garrison there knew of the attack. The U.S. forces quickly took their main objective, the airfield, and the outnumbered Japanese troops retreated, but not for long. Reinforcements were brought in, and fierce hand-to-hand jungle fighting ensued. “I have never heard or read of this kind of fighting,” wrote one American major general on the scene. “These people refuse to surrender.”
The Americans were at a particular disadvantage, being assaulted from both the sea and air. But the U.S. Navy was able to reinforce its troops to a greater extent, and by February 1943, the Japanese had retreated on secret orders of their emperor (so secret, the Americans did not even know it had taken place until they began happening upon abandoned positions, empty boats, and discarded supplies). In total, the Japanese had lost more than 25,000 men, compared with a loss of 1,600 by the Americans. Each side lost 24 warships.
The first Medal of Honor given to a Marine was awarded to Sgt. John Basilone for his fighting during Operation Watchtower. According to the recommendation for his medal, he “contributed materially to the defeat and virtually the annihilation of a Japanese regiment.”
“U.S. forces invade Guadalcanal.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Aug 2008, 01:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6543.
North Vietnam and People’s Republic of China sign aid agreement
The North Vietnamese newspaper Nhan Dan reports that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has signed a new agreement to give Hanoi an undisclosed amount of aid in the form of an outright grant.
Chinese support to the Communists in Vietnam had begun with their backing of the Vietminh in their war against the French. After the French were defeated, the PRC continued its support of the Hanoi regime. In April 1965, the PRC signed a formal agreement with Hanoi providing for the introduction of Chinese air defense, engineering, and railroad troops into North Vietnam to help maintain and expand lines of communication within North Vietnam. China later claimed that 320,000 of its troops served in North Vietnam during the period 1965 to 1971 and that 1,000 died there. It is estimated that the PRC provided over three-quarters of the total military aid given to North Vietnam during the war.
“North Vietnam and People’s Republic of China sign aid agreement.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Aug 2008, 12:59 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1250.
Bush orders Operation Desert Shield
On this day in 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush orders the organization of Operation Desert Shield in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2. The order prepared American troops to become part of an international coalition in the war against Iraq that would be launched as Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. To support Operation Desert Shield, Bush authorized a dramatic increase in U.S. troops and resources in the Persian Gulf.
“Bush orders Operation Desert Shield .” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Aug 2008, 12:58 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=50718.
On this day in 1945, at 8:16 a.m. Japanese time, an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, drops the world’s first atom bomb, over the city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people are killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 are injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout.
U.S. President Harry S. Truman, discouraged by the Japanese response to the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender, made the decision to use the atom bomb to end the war in order to prevent what he predicted would be a much greater loss of life were the United States to invade the Japanese mainland. And so on August 5, while a “conventional” bombing of Japan was underway, “Little Boy,” (the nickname for one of two atom bombs available for use against Japan), was loaded onto Lt. Col. Paul W. Tibbets’ plane on Tinian Island in the Marianas. Tibbets’ B-29, named the Enola Gay after his mother, left the island at 2:45 a.m. on August 6. Five and a half hours later, “Little Boy” was dropped, exploding 1,900 feet over a hospital and unleashing the equivalent of 12,500 tons of TNT. The bomb had several inscriptions scribbled on its shell, one of which read “Greetings to the Emperor from the men of the Indianapolis” (the ship that transported the bomb to the Marianas).
There were 90,000 buildings in Hiroshima before the bomb was dropped; only 28,000 remained after the bombing. Of the city’s 200 doctors before the explosion; only 20 were left alive or capable of working. There were 1,780 nurses before-only 150 remained who were able to tend to the sick and dying.
According to John Hersey’s classic work Hiroshima, the Hiroshima city government had put hundreds of schoolgirls to work clearing fire lanes in the event of incendiary bomb attacks. They were out in the open when the Enola Gay dropped its load.
There were so many spontaneous fires set as a result of the bomb that a crewman of the Enola Gay stopped trying to count them. Another crewman remarked, “It’s pretty terrific. What a relief it worked.”
“Atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima.” 2008. The History Channel website. 5 Aug 2008, 11:23 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6542.
Here is a picture of the “Little Boy” atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on august 6, 1945. This recreated version of the atomic bomb can be found at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
During the American Civil War wounded soldiers treated at field hospitals were lucky to survive. Chances are that if he did not lose a limb when treated by doctors whose primary form of curing a wound was a saw, a wounded soldier would likely die from infection or from some form of camp disease such as dysentery.
This photo displays other healing tools.
Among other tools this healer has medical whiskey to offer.
And other potions and snake oils could also be found.
The primary form of dealing with bad wounds was still to take the limb.
After the battle these doctors gave a demonstration of their skills.
Ether would be administered if deemed necessary…
Especially to knock out a big German immigrant who did not want to lose his leg.
Battle of Mobile Bay
Union Admiral David Farragut leads his flotilla through the Confederate defenses at Mobile, Alabama, to seal one of the last major Southern ports. The fall of Mobile Bay was a huge blow to the Confederacy, and the victory was the first in a series of successes that secured the reelection of Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
Mobile became the major Confederate port on the Gulf of Mexico after the fall of New Orleans, Louisiana, in April 1862. With blockade runners carrying critical supplies from Havana, Cuba, into Mobile, Union General Ulysses S. Grant made the capture of the port a top priority after assuming command of all Federal forces in early 1864.
Opposing Farragut’s force of 17 warships was a Rebel squadron of only four ships; but it included the C.S.S. Tennessee, said to be the most powerful ironclad afloat. Farragut also had to contend with two powerful Confederate batteries inside of Forts Morgan and Gaines. On the morning of August 5, Farragut’s force steamed into the mouth of Mobile Bay in two columns led by four ironclads and met a devastating fire that immediately sank one of Farragut’s iron-hulled single-turret monitors, the U.S.S. Tecumseh. The rest of the fleet fell into confusion but Farragut rallied them with the words, “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!” Although the authenticity of the quote is questionable, it nevertheless became one of the most famous in history.
The Yankee fleet quickly knocked out the smaller Confederate ships, but the Tennessee fought a valiant battle against overwhelming odds before it sustained heavy damage and surrendered. The Union laid siege to Forts Morgan and Gaines, and both were captured within two weeks. Confederate forces remained in control of the city of Mobile, but the port was no longer available to blockade runners.
The Battle of Mobile Bay lifted the morale of the North. With Grant stalled at Petersburg, Virginia, and General William T. Sherman unable to capture Atlanta, the capture of the bay became the first in a series of Union victories that stretched to the fall election.
“Battle of Mobile Bay.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Aug 2008, 01:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2273.
1833 – The village of Chicago was incorporated. The population was approximately 250.
1884 – On Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor, the cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty was laid.
1944 – Polish insurgents liberated a German labor camp in Warsaw. 348 Jewish prisoners were freed.
1953 – During the Korean conflict prisoners were exchanged at Panmunjom. The exchange was labeled Operation Big Switch.
1962 – Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home. The “probable suicide” was caused by an overdose of sleeping pills. Monroe was 36 at the time of her death.
1963 – The Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union. The treaty banned nuclear tests in space, underwater, and in the atmosphere.
1964 – U.S. aircraft bombed North Vietnam after North Vietnamese boats attacked U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.
1969 – The Mariner 7, a U.S. space probe, passed by Mars. Photographs and scientific data were sent back to Earth.
1974 – U.S. President Nixon said that he expected to be impeached. Nixon had ordered the investigation into the Watergate break-in to halt.
1991 – An investigation was formally launched by Democratic congressional leaders to find out if the release of American hostages was delayed until after the Reagan-Bush presidential election.
2002 – The U.S. closed its consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. The consulate was closed after local authorities removed large concrete blocks and reopened the road in front of the building to normal traffic.
Lincoln imposes first federal income tax
On this day in 1861, Lincoln imposes the first federal income tax by signing the Revenue Act. Strapped for cash with which to pursue the Civil War, Lincoln and Congress agreed to impose a 3 percent tax on annual incomes over $800.
“Lincoln imposes first federal income tax .” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Aug 2008, 01:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=50716.
German assault on Liege begins first battle of World War I
On August 5, 1914, the German army launches its assault on the city of Liege in Belgium, violating the latter country’s neutrality and beginning the first battle of World War I.
“German assault on Liege begins first battle of World War I.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Aug 2008, 01:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=50618
Reagan fires 11,359 air-traffic controllers
On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan begins firing 11,359 air-traffic controllers striking in violation of his order for them to return to work. The executive action, regarded as extreme by many, significantly slowed air travel for months.
“Reagan fires 11,359 air-traffic controllers.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Aug 2008, 01:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5236.
I haven’t ever taken a camera to a reenactment and discovered two problems while taking pictures. Trying to keep modern stuff, such as light poles, power lines, buildings and tourists out of the shots plagued most photos. Also trying to get a shot of the cannons or the muskets at the point of ignition turned out to be much more difficult than I thought, especially during the battle with all the movement.
Keeping the modern stuff out of the battle scenes proved next to impossible, so you’ll just have to tolerate people and buildings in the background.
The battle began as most American Civil war battles began — with infantry exchanging volleys.
Eventually Union infantry drove off the Confederate infantry when Union Cavalry moved up on the flank.
Leading to a cavalry showdown in the middle of the field as Confederate cavalry moved up to counter.
After this the cavalry continued to skirmish along the flanks, but Confederate infantry moved back up to retake the field.
Union artillery slowly silenced the Confederate guns.
Leading to a desperate attempt by Confederate infantry to try to take the Union guns on Malvern Hill.
Union artillery proved far too deadly for this desperate gamble however.
With the confederate attack repulsed the Army of the Potomac could make its escape.
Union infantry covered the withdrawal of the big guns and Robert E Lee could only watch as the Union army got away.
Tags: Alexander Graham Bell, Andrew Goodman, Anne Frank, Arthur Bremer, Department of Energy, George Wallace, George Washington, James E Chaney, John Peter Zenger, John Schofield, Laurence Powell, Lizzie Borden, Michael H Schwerner, President Carter, Rodney King, Stacey Koon, Teamsters, William T Sherman, World War I
Anne Frank and her family arrested by Gestapo
On this day in 1944, a German-born Jewish girl and her family, who had been hiding in German-occupied Holland, are found by the Gestapo and transported to various concentration camps. The young girl’s diary of her time in hiding was found after her death and published. The Diary of Anne Frank remains one of the most moving testimonies to the invincibility of the human spirit in the face of inhuman cruelty.
“Anne Frank and her family arrested by Gestapo.” 2008. The History Channel website. 3 Aug 2008, 01:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6540.
1735 – Freedom of the press was established with an acquittal of John Peter Zenger. The writer of the New York Weekly Journal had been charged with seditious libel by the royal governor of New York. The jury said that “the truth is not libelous.”
1753 – George Washington became a Master Mason.
1892 – Andrew and Abby Borden were axed to death in their home in Fall River, MA. Lizzie, Andrew’s daughter, was accused of the killings but was later acquitted.
1914 – Britain declared war on Germany in World War I. The U.S. proclaimed its neutrality.
1922 – The death of Alexander Graham Bell, two days earlier, was recognized by AT&T and the Bell Systems by shutting down all of its switchboards and switching stations. The shutdown affected 13 million phones.
1949 – An earthquake in Ecuador destroyed 50 towns and killed more than 6000 people.
1964 – The bodies of Michael H. Schwerner, James E. Chaney, and Andrew Goodman were found in an earthen dam in Mississippi. The three were civil rights workers. They had disappeared on June 21, 1964.
1972 – Arthur Bremer was found guilty of shooting George Wallace, the governor of Alabama. Bremer was sentenced to 63 years in prison.
1977 – U.S. President Carter signed the measure that established the Department of Energy.
1993 – Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell, Los Angeles police officers were sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating Rodney King’s civil rights.
1997 – Teamsters began a 15-day strike against UPS (United Parcel Service). The strikers eventually won an increase in full-time positions and defeated a proposed reorganization of the companies pension plan.
Union generals squabble outside of Atlanta
A Union operation against Confederate defenses around Atlanta, Georgia, stalls when infighting erupts between Yankee generals.
The problem arose when Union General William T. Sherman began stretching his force—consisting of the Army of the Ohio, the Army of the Tennessee, and the Army of the Cumberland—west of Ezra Church, the site of a major battle on July 28, to Utoy Creek, west of Atlanta. The Confederate army inside of Atlanta, commanded by General John Bell Hood, had attacked Sherman’s army three times in late July and could no longer mount an offensive operation. Sherman now moved General John Schofield, who commanded the Army of the Ohio, from the east side of Atlanta to the west in an attempt to cut the rail lines that supplied the city from the south and west. Schofield’s force arrived at Utoy Creek on August 3.
The Army of the Cumberland’s Fourteenth Corps, commanded by General John Palmer, had also been sent by Sherman to assist Schofield. But on August 4, the operation came to a standstill because Palmer refused to accept orders from anyone but General George Thomas, commander of the Army of the Cumberland. Although Schofield was the director of the operation, Palmer felt that Schofield was his junior. The two men had been promoted to major general on the same day in 1862, but Schofield’s appointment had expired four months later. Schofield had been reappointed with his original date of promotion, November 29, 1862, but Palmer insisted that the reappointment placed Schofield behind him in seniority.
“Union generals squabble outside of Atlanta.” 2008. The History Channel website. 3 Aug 2008, 01:55 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2272.