Posts Tagged ‘Yale University

07
Sep
08

On This Day, 9-7-2008: Turtle

World’s first submarine attack

During the Revolutionary War, the American submersible craft Turtle attempts to attach a time bomb to the hull of British Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship Eagle in New York Harbor. It was the first use of a submarine in warfare.

Submarines were first built by Dutch inventor Cornelius van Drebel in the early 17th century, but it was 150 years later before they were first used in naval combat. David Bushnell, an American inventor, began building underwater mines while a student at Yale University. Deciding that a submarine would be the best means of delivering his mines in warfare, he built an eight-foot-long wooden submersible that was christened the Turtle for its shape. Large enough to accommodate one operator, the submarine was entirely hand-powered. Lead ballast kept the craft balanced.

Donated to the Patriot cause after the outbreak of war with Britain in 1775, Ezra Lee piloted the craft unnoticed out to the 64-gun HMS Eagle in New York Harbor on September 7, 1776. As Lee worked to anchor a time bomb to the hull, he could see British seamen on the deck above, but they failed to notice the strange craft below the surface. Lee had almost secured the bomb when his boring tools failed to penetrate a layer of iron sheathing. He retreated, and the bomb exploded nearby, causing no harm to either the Eagle or the Turtle.

During the next week, the Turtle made several more attempts to sink British ships on the Hudson River, but each time it failed, owing to the operator’s lack of skill. Only Bushnell was capable of executing the submarine’s complicated functions, but because of his physical frailty he was unable to pilot the Turtle in any of its combat missions. During the Battle of Fort Lee, the Turtle was lost when the American sloop transporting it was sunk by the British.

Despite the failures of the Turtle, General George Washington gave Bushnell a commission as an army engineer, and the drifting mines he constructed destroyed the British frigate Cereberus and wreaked havoc against other British ships. After the war, he became commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed at West Point.

“World’s first submarine attack.” 2008. The History Channel website. 7 Sep 2008, 05:02 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5325.

 

On This Day

1533 – Queen Elizabeth I, of England, was born in Greenwich.

1812 – Napoleon defeated the Russian army of Alexander I at the battle of Borodino.

1813 – The nickname “Uncle Sam” was first used as a symbolic reference to the United States. The reference appeared in an editorial in the New York’s Troy Post.

1822 – Brazil declared its independence from Portugal.

1901 – The Boxer Rebellion began in China ending the Peace of Beijing.

1936 – Buddy Holly was born.

1940 – London received its initial rain of bombs from Nazi Germany during World War II.

1942 – During World War II, the Russian army counter attacked the German troops outside the city of Stalingrad.

1977 – G. Gordon Liddy was released from prison. He had been incarcerated for more than four years for his involvement in the Watergate conspiracy.

1979 – ESPN, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, made its debut on cable TV.

1995 – U.S. Senator Bob Packwood announced that he would resign after 27 years in the Senate.

 

Panama to control canal

In Washington, President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian dictator Omar Torrijos sign a treaty agreeing to transfer control of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama at the end of the 20th century. The Panama Canal Treaty also authorized the immediate abolishment of the Canal Zone, a 10-mile-wide, 40-mile-long U.S.-controlled area that bisected the Republic of Panama. Many in Congress opposed giving up control of the Panama Canal–an enduring symbol of U.S. power and technological prowess–but America’s colonial-type administration of the strategic waterway had long irritated Panamanians and other Latin Americans.

On September 7, 1977, President Carter had also signed the Neutrality Treaty with Torrijos, which guaranteed the permanent neutrality of the canal and gave the United States the right to use military force, if necessary, to keep the canal open. This treaty was used as rationale for the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, which saw the overthrow of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who had threatened to prematurely seize control of the canal after being indicted in the United States on drug charges.

Democratic rule was restored in Panama in the 1990s, and at noon on December 31, 1999, the Panama Canal was peacefully turned over to Panama. In order to avoid conflict with end-of-the-millennium celebrations, formal ceremonies marking the event were held on December 14. Former president Jimmy Carter represented the United States at the ceremony. After exchanging diplomatic notes with Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, Carter simply told her, “It’s yours.”

“Panama to control canal.” 2008. The History Channel website. 7 Sep 2008, 05:06 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=7013.

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