09
Mar
09

On This Day, March 9: Battle of Pensacola

March 9, 1781

Spanish siege of Pensacola begins

After successfully capturing British positions in Louisiana and Mississippi, Spanish General Bernardo de Galvez, commander of the Spanish forces in North America, turns his attention to the British-occupied city of Pensacola, Florida, on this day in 1781. General Galvez and a Spanish naval force of more than 40 ships and 3,500 men landed at Santa Rosa Island and begin a two-month siege of British occupying forces that becomes known as the Battle of Pensacola.

Galvez’s flotilla survived a hurricane in harbor before initiating two months of constant artillery and cannon bombardment of the British forts. By April 23, reinforcements had arrived, increasing Galvez’s total force to 7,800 and, on the morning of May 8, 1781, the 18-year British occupation of Pensacola, Florida, ended with a British surrender. The British lost 105 men; the Spanish lost 78. An additional 198 Spaniards were wounded. Spain took 1,113 prisoners and sent 300 Britons to Georgia on the promise that they would not reenter the British military.

Spain never officially signed an alliance with the American revolutionaries, as King Charles III was hesitant about the precedent he might be starting by encouraging the population of another empire to overthrow their monarch. However, Spain also wanted to regain Gibraltar in the Mediterranean and solidify control of its North American holdings, so it allied itself to France in the international war against Britain. As a result, Spain regained West Florida during the fighting and East Florida, which it exchanged for the Bahamas, in the final peace. Though Gibraltar remained in British control, Spain held all the land surrounding the Gulf of Mexico.

“Spanish siege of Pensacola begins.” 2009. The History Channel website. 9 Mar 2009, 09:33 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=305.

 

On This Day

1454 – Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, Italy. Matthias Ringmann, a German mapmaker, named the American continent in his honor.

1788 – Connecticut became the 5th state to join the United States.

1820 – The U.S. Congress passed the Land Act that paved the way for westward expansion of North America.

1832 – Abraham Lincoln announced that he would run for a political office for the first time. He was unsuccessful in his run for a seat in the Illinois state legislature.

1860 – The first Japanese ambassador to the U.S. was appointed.

1862 – During the U.S. Civil War, the ironclads Monitor and Virginia fought to a draw in a five-hour battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia.

1863 – General Ulysses Grant was appointed commander-in-chief of the Union forces.

1910 – Union men urged for a national sympathy strike for miners in Pennsylvania.

1916 – Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico. 17 people were killed by the 1,500 horsemen.

1932 – Eamon De Valera was elected president of the Irish Free State and pledged to abolish all loyalty to the British Crown.

1936 – The German press warned that all Jews who vote in the upcoming elections would be arrested.

1957 – Egyptian leader Nasser barred U.N. plans to share the tolls for the use of the Suez Canal.

1964 – The first Ford Mustang rolled off of the Ford assembly line.

1965 – The first U.S. combat troops arrived in South Vietnam.

1975 – Work began on the Alaskan oil pipeline.

1990 – Dr. Antonia Novello was sworn in as the first female and Hispanic surgeon general.

 

March 9, 1945

Firebombing of Tokyo

On this day, U.S. warplanes launch a new bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history.

Early on March 9, Air Force crews met on the Mariana Islands of Tinian and Saipan for a military briefing. They were planning a low-level bombing attack on Tokyo that would begin that evening, but with a twist: Their planes would be stripped of all guns except for the tail turret. The decrease in weight would increase the speed of each Superfortress bomber-and would also increase its bomb load capacity by 65 percent, making each plane able to carry more than seven tons. Speed would be crucial, and the crews were warned that if they were shot down, all haste was to be made for the water, which would increase their chances of being picked up by American rescue crews. Should they land within Japanese territory, they could only expect the very worst treatment by civilians, as the mission that night was going to entail the deaths of tens of thousands of those very same civilians. “You’re going to deliver the biggest firecracker the Japanese have ever seen,” said U.S. Gen. Curtis LeMay.

The cluster bombing of the downtown Tokyo suburb of Shitamachi had been approved only a few hours earlier. Shitamachi was composed of roughly 750,000 people living in cramped quarters in wooden-frame buildings. Setting ablaze this “paper city” was a kind of experiment in the effects of firebombing; it would also destroy the light industries, called “shadow factories,” that produced prefabricated war materials destined for Japanese aircraft factories.

The denizens of Shitamachi never had a chance of defending themselves. Their fire brigades were hopelessly undermanned, poorly trained, and poorly equipped. At 5:34 p.m., Superfortress B-29 bombers took off from Saipan and Tinian, reaching their target at 12:15 a.m. on March 10. Three hundred and thirty-four bombers, flying at a mere 500 feet, dropped their loads, creating a giant bonfire fanned by 30-knot winds that helped raze Shitamachi and spread the flames throughout Tokyo. Masses of panicked and terrified Japanese civilians scrambled to escape the inferno, most unsuccessfully. The human carnage was so great that the blood-red mists and stench of burning flesh that wafted up sickened the bomber pilots, forcing them to grab oxygen masks to keep from vomiting.

The raid lasted slightly longer than three hours. “In the black Sumida River, countless bodies were floating, clothed bodies, naked bodies, all black as charcoal. It was unreal,” recorded one doctor at the scene. Only 243 American airmen were lost-considered acceptable losses.

“Firebombing of Tokyo.” 2009. The History Channel website. 9 Mar 2009, 09:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6736.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “On This Day, March 9: Battle of Pensacola”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 281 other followers


%d bloggers like this: