Posts Tagged ‘Shenandoah Valley

14
Jun
09

On This Day, June 14: Lee Invades the North

June 14, 1863

Battle of Second Winchester

A small Union garrison in the Shenandoah Valley town of Winchester, Virginia, is easily defeated by the Army of Northern Virginia on the path of the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania.

In early June, General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia began an invasion of the North. Lee’s men pulled out of defenses along the Rappahannock River and swung north and west into the Shenandoah Valley. Using the Blue Ridge Mountains as a screen, the Confederates worked their way northward with little opposition. General Joseph Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac, was unsure of the Confederates’ intentions. He tracked Lee’s army from a distance, staying safely away to protect Washington, D.C.

During this time, Winchester was in Union hands. The city was literally at the crossroads of the war, so it changed hands continually. Robert Milroy, the commander of the Yankees in Winchester, was unaware that the vanguard of Lee’s army was heading his way. He had received some warnings from Washington, but an order to evacuate Winchester did not reach him because the Confederates had cut the telegraph lines. As late as June 11, Milroy bragged that he could hold the town against any Confederate force. His assertion was rendered ridiculous when Richard Ewell’s Rebel corps crashed down on his tiny garrison.

Ewell’s force quickly surrounded the Yankee’s. After a sharp battle, Ewell captured about 4,000 Federals, while Milroy and 2,700 soldiers escaped to safety. Ewell lost just 270 men but captured 300 wagons, hundreds of horses, and 23 artillery pieces. Milroy was relieved of his command and later arrested, although a court of inquiry found that he was not culpable in the disaster.

“Battle of Second Winchester,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2212 [accessed Jun 14, 2009]

On This Day

1775 – The Continental Army was founded by the Continental Congress for purposes of common defense. This event is considered to be the birth of the United States Army. On June 15, George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief.

1777 – The Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the “Stars and Stripes” as the national flag of the United States.

1834 – Cyrus Hall McCormick received a patent for his reaping machine.

1841 – The first Canadian parliament opened in Kingston.

1846 – A group of U.S. settlers in Sonoma proclaimed the Republic of California.

1917 – General John Pershing arrived in Paris during World War I.

1922 – Warren G. Harding became the first U.S. president to be heard on radio. The event was the dedication of the Francis Scott Key memorial at Fort McHenry.

1940 – German troops entered Paris. As Paris became occupied loud speakers announced the implementation of a curfew being imposed for 8 p.m.

1944 – Sixty U.S. B-29 Superfortress’ attacked an iron and steel works factory on Honshu Island. It was the first U.S. raid against mainland Japan.

1951 – “Univac I” was unveiled. It was a computer designed for the U.S. Census Bureau and billed as the world’s first commercial computer.

1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an order adding the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

1982 – Argentine forces surrendered to British troops on the Falkland Islands.

1996 – The FBI released that the White House had done bureau background reports on at least 408 people without justification.

June 14, 1954

First nationwide civil defense drill held

Over 12 million Americans “die” in a mock nuclear attack, as the United States goes through its first nationwide civil defense drill. Though American officials were satisfied with the results of the drill, the event stood as a stark reminder that the United States–and the world-was now living under a nuclear shadow.

The June 1954 civil defense drill was organized and evaluated by the Civil Defense Administration, and included operations in 54 cities in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Alaska, and Hawaii. Canada also participated in the exercise. The basic premise of the drill was that the United States was under massive nuclear assault from both aircraft and submarines, and that most major urban areas had been targeted. At 10 a.m., alarms were sounded in selected cities, at which time all citizens were supposed to get off the streets, seek shelter, and prepare for the onslaught. Each citizen was supposed to know where the closest fallout shelter was located; these included the basements of government buildings and schools, underground subway tunnels, and private shelters. Even President Dwight D. Eisenhower took part in the show, heading to an underground bunker in Washington, D.C. The entire drill lasted only about 10 minutes, at which time an all-clear signal was broadcast and life returned to normal. Civil Defense Administration officials estimated that New York City would suffer the most in such an attack, losing over 2 million people. Other cities, including Washington, D.C., would also endure massive loss of life. In all, it was estimated that over 12 million Americans would die in an attack.

Despite those rather mind-numbing figures, government officials pronounced themselves very pleased with the drill. Minor problems in communication occurred, and one woman in New York City managed to create a massive traffic jam by simply stopping her car in the middle of the road, leaping out, and running for cover. In most cities, however, the streets were deserted just moments after the alarms sounded and there were no signs of panic or criminal behavior. A more cautious assessment came from a retired military officer, who observed that the recent development of the hydrogen bomb by the Soviet Union had “outstripped the progress made in our civil defense strides to defend against it.”

“First nationwide civil defense drill held,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2698 [accessed Jun 14, 2009]

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24
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-24-08: …Safely to Earth

Kennedy’s goal accomplished

At 12:51 EDT, Apollo 11, the U.S. spacecraft that had taken the first astronauts to the surface of the moon, safely returns to Earth.

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon had its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

“Kennedy’s goal accomplished.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Jul 2008, 01:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5203.

 

On This Day

1866 – Tennessee became the first state to be readmitted to the Union after the U.S. Civil War.

1923 – The Treaty of Lausanne, which settled the boundaries of modern Turkey, was concluded in Switzerland.

1929 – U.S. President Hoover proclaimed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which renounced war as an instrument of foreign policy.

1956 – Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis ended their team. They ended the partnership a decade after it began on July 25, 1946.

1974 – The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Nixon had to turn over subpoenaed White House tape recordings to the Watergate special prosecutor.

 

Mormons settle Salt Lake Valley

After 17 months and many miles of travel, Brigham Young leads 148 Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Gazing over the parched earth of the remote location, Young declared, “This is the place,” and the pioneers began preparations for the thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow. Seeking religious and political freedom, the Mormons began planning their great migration from the east after the murder of Joseph Smith, the Christian sect’s founder and first leader.

“Mormons settle Salt Lake Valley.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Jul 2008, 01:42 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6968.

Battle of Kernstown, Virginia

Confederate General Jubal Early defeats Union troops under General George Crook to keep the Shenandoah Valley clear of Yankees.

Early’s victory led to significant changes in the Union approach to the Shenandoah Valley. President Abraham Lincoln urged Grant to secure the area once and for all. Grant sent General Philip Sheridan to command the district in early August, and in the fall Sheridan dealt a series of defeats to Early and pacified the valley.

“Battle of Kernstown, Virginia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Jul 2008, 01:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2257.

Operation Gomorrah is launched

On this day in 1943, British bombers raid Hamburg, Germany, by night in Operation Gomorrah, while Americans bomb it by day in its own “Blitz Week.”

“Operation Gomorrah is launched.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Jul 2008, 01:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6529.

 

I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.
Neil Armstrong

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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