Events in History over the next 15 day period that had U.S. military involvement or impacted in some way on U.S military operations or American interests
- Nov 16 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Hessians Capture Fort Washington » During the Revolutionary War, Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen and a force of 3,000 Hessian mercenaries lay siege to Fort Washington on Long Island. Throughout the morning, Knyphausen met stiff resistance from the Patriot riflemen inside, but by the afternoon the Americans were overwhelmed, and the garrison commander, Colonel Robert Magaw, surrendered. Valuable ammunition and supplies were lost to the Hessians and 2,818 Americans were taken prisoner. The prisoners faced a particularly grim fate. Many later died from deprivation and disease aboard British prison ships anchored in New York Harbor.
Among the 53 dead and 96 wounded Patriots were John and Margaret Corbin of Virginia. When John died in action, his wife Margaret took over his cannon, cleaning, loading and firing the gun until she too was severely wounded. The first woman known to have fought for the Continental Army, Margaret survived, but lost the use of her left arm.
Two weeks earlier, William Demont had deserted from the Fifth Pennsylvania Battalion and given British intelligence agents information about the Patriot defense of New York, including information about the location and defense of Fort Washington. Demont was the first traitor to the Patriot cause, and his treason contributed significantly to Knyphausen’s victory.
- Nov 16 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: The United Provinces recognize the independence of the United States. The United Provinces were a Dutch republic (1581–1795) formed by the union of the seven northern provinces of the Netherlands, which were in revolt against their suzerain, Philip II of Spain.
- Nov 16 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: The first salute of an American flag (Grand Union Flag) by a foreign power is rendered by the Dutch at St. Eustatius, West Indies in reply to a salute by the Continental ship Andrew Doria.
- Nov 16 1798 – U.S. Navy: British seamen off Havana board the U.S. frigate Baltimore and impress 55 of the crewmen, who could not prove American citizenship, as alleged deserters. A practice that will contribute to the War of 1812. Fifty of the U.S. warship’s crew are later freed.
- Nov 16 1813 – War of 1812: The British announce a blockade of Long Island Sound, leaving only the New England coast open to shipping.
- Nov 16 1846 – Mexican American War: 1846 General Zachary Taylor, without a fight, takes Saltillo, Mexico.
- Nov 16 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Campbell Station, Tennessee » Confederates under General James Longstreet fail to defeat a Union force under General Ambrose Burnside at the Battle of Campbell Station near Knoxville, Tennessee.
After the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in early July 1863, General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, allowed Longstreet to take two divisions to reinforce General Braxton Bragg’s army around Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Confederate leadership realized that they were losing the war in the West, and relief was needed. Longstreet arrived just in time to execute a crucial attack in the Confederate victory at Chickamauga in northern Georgia. He stayed to help Bragg in the siege of Chattanooga, but the two men quarreled frequently. In late October, Union troops drove Longstreet’s force away from Brown’s Ferry, allowing the beleaguered Union troops in Chattanooga to resume shipping supplies via the Tennessee River. This led to a permanent split between the Confederate generals, and Bragg allowed Longstreet to head for eastern Tennessee in an attempt to secure that area for the Confederates. Campbell Station was the first engagement of his attempt to capture Knoxville, an area of intense anti-Confederate sentiment.
Burnside had only about 5,000 men in his command, but he hoped to keep Longstreet moving away from Chattanooga, where Union forces were pinned inside of a Confederate semicircle. Burnside allowed the Rebels to cross the Tennessee River but then realized that Longstreet could trap him along the river. He began a mad race to the strategic crossroads at Campbell Station, even abandoning many of his supply wagons in order to move more quickly. The Yankees reached the intersection first, and Burnside planned to fight a delaying action. Longstreet caught up with him by the late afternoon, and a short battle ensued. A poorly coordinated attack by the Confederates failed to turn Burnside’s flank, and the Union repulsed them with ease. The fighting ended at nightfall, and Burnside escaped into the defenses around Knoxville. The Union lost 318 men killed and wounded; the Confederates lost 174.
- Nov 16 1914 – WWI Era: Germany’s New Fatherland League Launched » A small group of intellectuals led by the physician Georg Nicolai launch Bund Neues Vaterland, the New Fatherland League in Germany. One of the league’s most active supporters was Nicolai’s friend, the great physicist Albert Einstein. Together, Einstein and Nicolai had written a pacifist answer to the famous pro-war manifesto of October 1914, which had been signed by 93 leading German intellectuals from various fields, including the physicist Max Planck, the painter Max Lieberman and the poet Gerhart Hauptmann. When their counter-manifesto failed to attract much support, Nicolai and Einstein concentrated their efforts into the New Fatherland League.
First and foremost, the league argued, World War I, which had begun the previous August, should end promptly in favor of “a just peace without annexations.” Secondly, an international organization should be established in order to prevent future wars. According to Dr. Franziska Baumgartner-Tramer, who attended some of the league’s meetings, Einstein spoke “with great pessimism about the future of human relations….I managed to get to him on one occasion, when I was depressed by the news of one German victory after another and the resultant intolerable arrogance and gloating of the people of Berlin. ‘What will happen, Herr Professor?’ I asked anxiously. Einstein looked at me, raised his right fist, and replied ‘This will govern!’”
Frustrated by the League of Nations’ failure to enforce disarmament and prevent further international conflicts in the decades following World War I, Albert Einstein became one of the world’s most powerful voices in support of pacifism. He was also committed to Zionism, the political movement aimed at creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. When the state of Israel was created after World War II, its prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, offered Einstein the post of president. The great man declined, but remained deeply involved with Israel and with Jewish affairs until the end of his life.
- Nov 16 1941 – WW2: Creed of Hate Published » Joseph Goebbels publishes in the German magazine Das Reich that “The Jews wanted the war, and now they have it”—referring to the Nazi propaganda scheme to shift the blame for the world war onto European Jewry, thereby giving the Nazis a rationalization for the so-called Final Solution.
Just two days earlier, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, having read more than a dozen decoded messages from German police which betrayed the atrocities to which European Jews were being subjected, had written in a letter to the Jewish Chronicle that “The Jew bore the brunt of the Nazis’ first onslaught upon the citadels of freedom and human dignity… He has not allowed it to break his spirit: he has never lost the will to resist.” And active Jewish resistance was increasing, especially in the USSR, where Jews were joining partisans in fighting the German incursions into Russian territory.
But it was proving too little too late, as Goebbels, Himmler, and the rest of Hitler’s henchmen carried out with fanatical glee the “elimination of the Jews,” using propaganda and anti-Bolshevik rhetoric to infuse SS soldiers with enthusiasm for their work. As Goebbels wrote in Das Reich: “[T]he prophecy which the Fuhrer made… that should international finance Jewry succeed in plunging the nations into a world war once again, the result would not be the Bolshevization of the world…but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. We are in the midst of that process… Compassion or regret are entirely out of place here.”
- Nov 16 1942 – WW2: USS Woolsey (DD-437), USS Swanson (DD-443), and USS Quick (DD 490) sink the German submarine U-173 off Casablanca, French Morocco.
- Nov 16 1943 – WW2: 160 American bombers strike a hydro-electric power facility and heavy water factory in German-controlled Vemork, Norway
- Nov 16 1944 – WW2: Operation Queen, the costly Allied thrust to the Rur, is launched. Casualties and losses: US & UK ~38,500 – Ger ~35,500.
- Nov 16 1943 – WW2: USS Corvina (SS–226) torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-176 south of Truk. 82 killed
- Nov 16 1944 – WW2: Dueren, Germany is completely destroyed by Allied bombers.
- Nov 16 1945 – Cold War: Operation Paperclip » This was a secret program of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) largely carried out by Special Agents of Army CIC, in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians, such as Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team, were taken from Germany to America for U.S. government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959. Many were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party. The primary purpose for Operation Paperclip was U.S. military advantage in the Soviet–American Cold War, and the Space Race. The Soviet Union was more aggressive in forcibly recruiting more than 2,200 German specialists—a total of more than 6,000 people including family members—with Operation Osoaviakhim during one night on October 22, 1946.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) established the first secret recruitment program, called Operation Overcast, on July 20, 1945, initially “to assist in shortening the Japanese war and to aid our postwar military research”. The term “Overcast” was the name first given by the German scientists’ family members for the housing camp where they were held in Bavaria. In late summer 1945, the JCS established the JIOA, a subcommittee of the Joint Intelligence Community, to directly oversee Operation Overcast and later Operation Paperclip. The JIOA representatives included the army’s director of intelligence, the chief of naval intelligence, the assistant chief of Air Staff-2 (air force intelligence), and a representative from the State Department. In November 1945, Operation Overcast was renamed Operation Paperclip by Ordnance Corps (United States Army) officers, who would attach a paperclip to the folders of those rocket experts whom they wished to employ in America.
In a secret directive circulated on September 3, 1946, President Truman officially approved Operation Paperclip and expanded it to include one thousand German scientists under “temporary, limited military custody”.
- Nov 16 1948 – Cold War: President Harry S. Truman rejects four-power talks on Berlin until the blockade is removed.
- Nov 16 1955 – Cold War: The Big Four talks, taking place in Geneva on German reunification, end in failure.
- Nov 16 1961 – Vietnam: Kennedy Decides to Increase Military Aid to Saigon » President John F. Kennedy decides to increase military aid to South Vietnam without committing U.S. combat troops. Kennedy was concerned at the advances being made by the communist Viet Cong, but did not want to become involved in a land war in Vietnam. He hoped that the military aid would be sufficient to strengthen the Saigon government and its armed forces against the Viet Cong. Ultimately it was not, and Kennedy ended up sending additional support in the form of U.S. military advisors and American helicopter units. By the time of his assassination in 1963, there were 16,000 U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam.
- Nov 16 1963 – Cold War: President John F. Kennedy, on board USS Observation Island (EAG 154), witnesses the launch of Polaris A-2 missile by USS Andrew Jackson (SSBN 619).
- Nov 16 1965 – Vietnam War: In the last day of the fighting at Landing Zone X-Ray, regiments of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division repulse NVA forces in the Ia Drang Valley.
- Nov 16 1967 – Vietnam War: U.S. planes hit Haiphong shipyard in North Vietnam for the first time.
- Nov 16 1970 – Vietnam War: Ky Defends South Vietnamese Operations in Cambodia » South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky, speaking at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, says Cambodia would be overrun by communist forces “within 24 hours” if South Vietnamese troops currently operating there are withdrawn.
Ky described the Cambodian operation of the previous spring (the so-called “Cambodian Incursion,” in which President Nixon had sent U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers into Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese base camps) as the “turning point” of the war. He said that as a result of that operation, the enemy had been forced to revert to low-level guerrilla warfare. Ky also reported that his government was concerned that the Nixon administration might be yielding to the “pressure of the antiwar groups” and pulling out the remaining U.S. troops too quickly.
- Nov 16 1971 – Vietnam War: U.S. Provides Support to Beleaguered Cambodians » As the fighting gets closer to Phnom Penh, the United States steps up its air activities in support of the Cambodian government. U.S. helicopter gunships struck at North Vietnamese emplacements at Tuol Leap, 10 miles north of Phnom Penh.
- Nov 16 1973 – Cold War: Skylab 4 is launched and recovery is performed by USS New Orleans (LPH 11).
- Nov 17 1777 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Articles of Confederation Submitted to the States » Congress submits the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification. The Articles had been signed by Congress two days earlier, after 16 months of debate. Bickering over land claims between Virginia and Maryland delayed final ratification for almost four more years. Maryland became the last state to approve the Articles on March 1, 1781, affirming them as the outline of the official government of the United States. The nation was guided by the document until the implementation of the current U.S. Constitution in 1789.
The critical distinction between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution–the primacy of the states under the Articles–is best understood by comparing the following lines.
- The Articles of Confederation begin: “To all to whom these Present shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States…”
- By contrast, the Constitution begins: “We the People of the United States…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
- The predominance of the states under the Articles of Confederation is made even more explicit by the claims of Article II: “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”
Less than five years after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, enough leading Americans decided that the system was inadequate to the task of governance that they peacefully overthrew their second government in just over 20 years. The difference between a collection of sovereign states forming a confederation and a federal government created by a sovereign people lay at the heart of the debate as the new American people decided what form their government would take. Between 1776 and 1787, Americans went from living under a sovereign king, to living in sovereign states, to becoming a sovereign people. That transformation defined the American Revolution.
- Nov 17 1847 – Mexican-American War: 17 Marines and 50 Sailors from the sloop-of-war Dale land at Guaymas, Mexico. The Americans are pinned down in a brief fire-fight and their commander is seriously wounded before the defenders dispersed.
- Nov 17 1856 – Old West: U.S. Establishes Fort Buchanan » The United States buttresses its control over the Gadsden Purchase with the establishment of Fort Buchanan. Named for recently elected President James Buchanan, Fort Buchanan was located on the Sonoita River in present-day southern Arizona. The U.S. acquired the bulk of the southwestern corner of the nation from Mexico in 1848 as victors’ spoil after the Mexican War. However, congressional leaders, eager to begin construction of a southern railroad, wished to push the border farther to the south. The government directed the American minister to Mexico, James Gadsden, to negotiate the purchase of an additional 29,000 square miles.
Despite having been badly beaten in war only five years earlier and forced to cede huge tracts of land to the victorious Americans, the Mexican ruler Santa Ana was eager to do business with the U.S. Having only recently regained power, Santa Ana was in danger of losing office unless he could quickly find funds to replenish his nearly bankrupt nation. Gadsden and Santa Ana agreed that the narrow strip of southwestern desert land was worth $10 million. When the treaty was signed on December 30, 1853, it became the last addition of territory (aside from the purchase of Alaska in 1867) to the continental United States. The purchase completed the modern-day boundaries of the American West.
The government established Fort Buchanan to protect emigrants traveling through the new territory from the Apache Indians, who were strongly resisting Anglo incursions. However, the government was never able to fulfill its original purpose for buying the land and establishing the fort—a southern transcontinental railroad. With the outbreak of the Civil War four years later, northern politicians abandoned the idea of a southern line in favor of a northern route that eventually became the Union Pacific line.
- Nov 17 1863 – Civil War: Siege of Knoxville, Tennessee (17 Nov – 4 Dec) » Confederate General James Longstreet places the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, under siege. After two weeks and one failed attack, he abandoned the siege and rejoined General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
The Knoxville campaign began in November when Longstreet took 17,000 troops from Chattanooga and moved to secure eastern Tennessee for the Confederates. Longstreet’s corps was normally part of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, but after the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in July 1863, Longstreet took two of his divisions to shore up the Confederate effort in the West. He and his troops participated in the victory at Chickamauga in September and the siege of Chattanooga in October and November. Longstreet quarreled with Braxton Bragg, the Confederate commander in the West, and was given independent command of the Department of East Tennessee.
Longstreet took his troops and moved toward Knoxville. Facing him was General Ambrose Burnside and 5,000 Yankees. Burnside fought a delaying action at Campbell Station on November 16 before retreating into the Knoxville defenses. The next day, Longstreet pulled into position around the north side of the city, but could not cut off supplies to the Union troops. Longstreet waited for reinforcements to arrive, which they did on 28 NOV. He attacked, but was repulsed with heavy loses. Longstreet continued the siege in order to draw troops away from Chattanooga. The ruse worked, and 25,000 Union troops were dispatched from Chattanooga to chase Longstreet’s force away.
Ultimately, Longstreet retreated back to Virginia. His Knoxville campaign was disappointing for the Confederates, who had hoped to secure eastern Tennessee. Longstreet rejoined Lee in the spring after his disappointing turn as head of an independent command.
- Nov 17 1863 – Civil War: The screw sloop Monongahela escorts Army troops and covers their landing on Mustang Island, Texas while her Sailors shell Confederate works until the defenders surrender.
- Nov 17 1869 – Egypt: Suez Canal Opens » The canal, connecting the Mediterranean and the Red seas, is inaugurated in an elaborate ceremony attended by French Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. In 1854, Ferdinand de Lesseps, the former French consul to Cairo, secured an agreement with the Ottoman governor of Egypt to build a canal 100 miles across the Isthmus of Suez. An international team of engineers drew up a construction plan, and in 1856 the Suez Canal Company was formed and granted the right to operate the canal for 99 years after completion of the work. Construction began in April 1859, and at first digging was done by hand with picks and shovels wielded by forced laborers. Later, European workers with dredgers and steam shovels arrived. Labor disputes and a cholera epidemic slowed construction, and the Suez Canal was not completed until 1869–four years behind schedule. On November 17, 1869, the Suez Canal was opened to navigation. Ferdinand de Lesseps would later attempt, unsuccessfully, to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama.
When it opened, it was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom, and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. Consequently, fewer than 500 ships navigated it in its first full year of operation. Major improvements began in 1876, however, and the canal soon grew into the one of the world’s most heavily traveled shipping lanes. In 1875, Great Britain became the largest shareholder in the Suez Canal Company when it bought up the stock of the new Ottoman governor of Egypt. Seven years later, in 1882, Britain invaded Egypt, beginning a long occupation of the country. The Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 made Egypt virtually independent, but Britain reserved rights for the protection of the canal.
After World War II, Egypt pressed for evacuation of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone, and in July 1956 Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal, hoping to charge tolls that would pay for construction of a massive dam on the Nile River. In response, Israel invaded in late October, and British and French troops landed in early November, occupying the Canal Zone. Under pressure from the United Nations, Britain and France withdrew in December, and Israeli forces departed in March 1957. That month, Egypt took control of the canal and reopened it to commercial shipping.
Ten years later, Egypt shut down the canal again following the Six Day War and Israel’s occupation of the Sinai Peninsula. For the next eight years, the Suez Canal, which separates the Sinai from the rest of Egypt, existed as the front line between the Egyptian and Israeli armies. In 1975, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat reopened the Suez Canal as a gesture of peace after talks with Israel. Today, an average of 50 ships navigate the canal daily, carrying more than 300 million tons of goods a year.
- Nov 17 1914 – WWI Era: Germans Make Last Stab at Ypres » The German 15th Corps makes a final, desperate attempt to advance against Allied positions in the Ypres Salient, the much-contested region in Flanders, Belgium.
After advancing relatively quickly through Belgium and eastern France during the first weeks of World War I, the Germans were defeated by the Allies in late September 1914 in the Battle of the Marne. The two enemies then began the so-called “Race to the Sea,” moving northwards at a hectic pace in order to establish positions with access to the English Channel and the North Sea beyond. On October 19, the Germans launched an offensive aimed at seizing control of Ypres–the fortress city blocking the ports of the English Channel in Flanders–from the British, French and Belgian forces guarding it. For their part, the Allies held fast in their resistance, knowing a defeat would mean the loss of a crucial advantage.
On the last day of October, German cavalry units began a more concentrated attack, kicking the First Battle of Ypres into high gear. Over the next three weeks, the chaotic nature of the fighting only increased its bloody nature, with casualty figures on both sides mounting as the weather grew colder and more blustery. The attempt by the 15th Corps on 17 NOV–which allied forces repulsed–marked the last movement of the battle, as the Germans thereafter confined themselves to intermittent cannon blasts against the Allied lines. Five days later, amid high winds and blizzards, fighting was suspended completely, and the First Battle of Ypres came to an end after taking the lives of more than 5,000 British and 5,000 German soldiers.
- Nov 17 1917 – WWI: USS Fanning (DD-37) and USS Nicholson (DD-52) sink the first German submarine, U-58, off Milford Haven, Wales, upon entering World War I.
- Nov 17 1941 – WW2 Era: Congress amends the Neutrality Act to allow U.S. merchant ships to be armed.
- Nov 17 1944 – WW2: TBMs (VC-82) from escort carrier USS Anzio (CVE-57) and USS Lawrence C. Taylor (DE-415) sink Japanese submarine I-26 in the Philippine Sea while USS Spadefish (SS-411) sinks escort carrier Shinyo in the Yellow Sea.
- Nov 17 1944 WW2: Operation Queen (16 NOV – 16 DEC) » The costly Allied thrust to the Ruhr River was launched. Operation Queen was Omar Bradley’s major autumn offensive on the Siegfried line, but it was repeatedly delayed. The principal problem was the rainy and overcast weather that prevented the planned air strike, which was larger than any other previous Allied effort in that area. The Americans wanted to cross the Rur River as a staging point to crossing the Rhine into Germany. When the allies finally reached the Rur they tried to capture its important dams. But the Germans launched their own offensive, Operation Watch on the Rhine. The resulting Battle of the Bulge led to the immediate cessation of the allied advance into Germany until the Wehrmacht’s attack was stopped.
The Battle of the Bulge crippled the Wehrmacht in the west. In January 1945 the Red army launched its main offensive over the river Oder, rumbling towards Berlin. Priority for troops and equipment shifted back to the Russian front and the Wehrmacht in the west made due with leftovers. With the Bulge cleared the Allied offensive in western Germany was renewed, and the Third Reich’s days were numbered. The Siegfried line campaign was one of the most costly fought by the U.S. Army in WWII.
- Nov 17 1958 – U.S. Navy: USNS Chain (T AGOR 17), the first of the Navy’s new oceanographic research ships, is placed in service and serves with the Military Sea Transportation Service.
- Nov 17 1965 – Vietnam War: Battle of the Ia Drang Valley » A battalion from the 1st Cavalry Division is ambushed by the 8th Battalion of the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment. The battle started several days earlier when the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry engaged a large North Vietnamese force at Landing Zone X-Ray at the base of the Cheu Pong hills (Central Highlands).
- Nov 17 1967 – Vietnam War: Acting on optimistic reports that he had been given on November 13, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson tells the nation that, while much remained to be done, “We are inflicting greater losses than we’re taking…We are making progress.”
- Nov 17 1969 – Cold War: SALT I Negotiations Begin » Soviet and U.S. negotiators meet in Helsinki to begin the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). The meeting was the climax of years of discussions between the two nations concerning the means to curb the Cold War arms race. Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Gerard Smith was put in charge of the U.S. delegation. At the same time, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger began negotiations with the Soviet ambassador in America.
The negotiations continued for nearly three years, until the signing of the SALT I agreement in May 1972.Talks centered around two main weapon systems: anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) and multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs- missiles with multiple warheads, each capable of striking different targets). At the time the talks began, the Soviets held a slight advantage in ABM technology; the United States, however, was quickly moving ahead in developing MIRVs, which would give it a tremendous qualitative advantage over Soviet offensive missile systems. From the U.S. perspective, control of ABMs was key. After all, no matter how many missiles the United States developed, if the Soviets could shoot them down before they struck their targets they were of limited use. And, since the Soviets had a quantitative lead in the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), an effective Soviet ABM system meant that the Russians could launch devastating nuclear attacks with little fear of reprisal.
From the Soviet side, the U.S. development of MIRV technology was particularly frightening. Not only were MIRV missiles technologically superior to Soviet weapons, there were also questions as to whether even an advanced ABM system could protect the Soviet Union from this type of missile. It was obviously time to discuss what seemed to be a never-ending arms race. The SALT I agreement reached in May 1972 limited each nation to no more than 100 ABM launchers at each of two sites of their own choosing. Offensive weapons were also limited. The United States would be held to 1,000 ICBMs and 710 SLBMs; the Soviets could have 1,409 ICBMs and 950 SLBMs.
The administration of President Richard Nixon defended the apparent disparity by noting that nothing had been agreed to concerning MIRVs. American missiles, though fewer in number, could therefore carry more warheads. Whether all of this made the world much safer was hard to say. The United States and Soviet Union essentially said they would limit efforts to both defend themselves and destroy the other. Their nuclear arsenals, however, were still sufficient to destroy the world many times over.
- Nov 17 1970 – Vietnam War: As the fighting gets closer to Phnom Penh, the United States steps up its air activities in support of the Cambodian government. U.S. helicopter gunships struck at North Vietnamese emplacements at Tuol Leap, 10 miles north of Phnom Penh.
- Nov 17 1970 – Vietnam War: The court-martial of 1st Lt. William Calley begins. Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division, had led his men in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My Lai 4 on March 16, 1968. My Lai 4 was one of a cluster of hamlets that made up Son My village in the northern area of South Vietnam.
- Nov 18 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Fort Washington Becomes Fort Knyphausen » In honor of Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, who had stormed the post five days earlier, British Commander in Chief General William Howe renames Fort Washington “Fort Knyphausen” on this day in 1776.
- Nov 18 1863 – Civil War: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Trip » President Abraham Lincoln boards a train for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to deliver a short speech at the dedication of a cemetery of soldiers killed during the battle there on July 1 to July 3, 1863. The address Lincoln gave in Gettysburg became one of the most famous speeches in American history.
Lincoln had given much thought to what he wanted to say at Gettysburg, but nearly missed his chance to say it. Shortly before the trip, Lincoln’s son, Tad, became ill with a fever. The president and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln were no strangers to juvenile illness: They had already lost two sons to disease. Prone to fits of hysteria, Mary Lincoln panicked when her husband prepared to leave. However, Lincoln feltthe opportunity to speak at Gettysburg and present his defense of the war was too important to miss, so he boarded a train and headed to Pennsylvania.
Despite his son’s illness, Lincoln was in good spirits during the journey. He was accompanied by an entourage that included Secretary of State William Seward, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, Interior Secretary John Usher, Lincoln’s personal secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay, several members of the diplomat corps, some foreign visitors, a Marine band, and a military escort. When Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg, he was handed a telegram that lifted his spirits: Tad was feeling much better. Lincoln enjoyed an evening dinner and a serenade by the Fifth New York Artillery Band before he retired to finalize his famous Gettysburg Address.
- Nov 18 1889 – U.S. Navy: The battleship Maine (ACR-1) launches at the New York Navy Yard.
- Nov 18 1909 – Nicaragua: Two United States warships are sent to Nicaragua after 500 revolutionaries (including two Americans) are executed by order of José Santos Zelaya.
- Nov 18 1916 – WWI Era: Haig Ends Battle of Somme » Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in World War I, calls off the Battle of the Somme in France after nearly five months of mass slaughter. The massive Allied offensive began at 7:30 a.m. on July 1, 1916, when 100,000 British soldiers poured out of their trenches and into no-man’s-land. During the preceding week, 250,000 Allied shells had pounded German positions near the Somme River, and the British expected to find the way cleared for them. However, scores of heavy German machine guns had survived the artillery onslaught, and the invading infantry were massacred. By the end of the day, 20,000 British soldiers were dead and 40,000 wounded. It was the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history.
After the initial disaster, Haig resigned himself to smaller but equally ineffectual advances, and more than 1,000 Allied lives were extinguished for every 100 yards gained on the Germans. Even Britain’s September 15 introduction of tanks into warfare for the first time in history failed to break the deadlock in the Battle of the Somme. In October, heavy rains turned the battlefield into a sea of mud, and on November 18 Haig called off the Somme offensive after more than four months of slaughter.
Except for its effect of diverting German troops from the Battle of Verdun, the offensive was a miserable disaster. It amounted to a total gain of just 125 square miles for the Allies, with more than 600,000 British and French soldiers killed, wounded, or missing in action. German casualties were more than 650,000. Although Haig was severely criticized for the costly battle, his willingness to commit massive amounts of men and resources to the stalemate along the western front eventually contributed to the collapse of an exhausted Germany in 1918
- Nov 18 1918 – WWI: Belgian troops re-enter Brussels, lost to the German invaders on 20 August 1914.
- Nov 18 1922 – U.S. Navy: In a PT seaplane, Cmdr. Kenneth Whiting makes the first catapult launching from an aircraft carrier at anchor, USS Langley (CV-1), in the York River.
- Nov 18 1940 – WW2: Hitler Furious over Italy’s Debacle in Greece » Adolf Hitler meets with Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano over Mussolini’s disastrous invasion of Greece. Mussolini surprised everyone with a move against Greece; his ally, Hitler, was caught off guard, especially since the Duce had led Hitler to believe he had no such intention. Even Mussolini’s own chief of army staff found out about the invasion only after the fact!
Despite being warned off an invasion of Greece by his own generals, despite the lack of preparedness on the part of his military, despite that it would mean getting bogged down in a mountainous country during the rainy season against an army willing to fight tooth and nail to defend its autonomy, Mussolini moved ahead out of sheer hubris, convinced he could defeat the inferior Greeks in a matter of days. He also knew a secret, that millions of lire had been put aside to bribe Greek politicians and generals not to resist the Italian invasion. Whether the money ever made it past the Italian fascist agents delegated with the responsibility is unclear; if it did, it clearly made no difference whatsoever—the Greeks succeeded in pushing the Italian invaders back into Albania after just one week. The Axis power spent the next three months fighting for its life in a defensive battle. To make matters worse, virtually half the Italian fleet at Taranto had been crippled by a British carrier-based attack.
At their meeting in Obersalzberg, Hitler excoriated Ciano for opening an opportunity for the British to enter Greece and establish an airbase in Athens, putting the Brits within striking distance of valuable oil reserves in Romania, which Hitler relied upon for his war machine. It also meant that Hitler would have to divert forces from North Africa, a high strategic priority, to Greece in order to bail Mussolini out. Hitler considered leaving the Italians to fight their own way out of this debacle—possibly even making peace with the Greeks as a way of forestalling an Allied intervention. But Germany would eventually invade, in April 1941, adding Greece to its list of conquests.
- Nov 18 1941 – WW2 Era: Operation Crusade Launched » British effort intended to by-pass Axis defenses on the Egyptian–Libyan frontier, defeat the Axis armored forces in North Africa commanded by Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel and relieve the 1941 Siege of Tobruk. On 18 NOV the British Eighth Army launched a surprise attack. Up to 22 NOV their armored force became dispersed and suffered 530 tank losses against Axis losses of about 100 tanks. On 23 NOV the 5th South African Brigade was destroyed at Sidi Rezegh, while inflicting many German tank casualties. On 24 NOV Rommel ordered the “dash to the wire”, causing chaos in the British rear echelons but allowing the British armored forces to recover. On 27 NOV the New Zealanders reached the Tobruk garrison, relieving its 241 day siege.
The battle continued into December, when supply shortages forced Rommel to narrow his front and shorten his lines of communication. On 7 December 1941 Rommel withdrew the Axis forces to the Gazala position and on 15 DEC ordered a withdrawal to El Agheila. The 2nd South African Division captured Bardia on 2 January 1942, Sollum on 12 JAN and the fortified Halfaya position on 17 JAN, taking about 13,800 prisoners. On 21 JAN Rommel launched a surprise counter-attack and drove the Eighth Army back to Gazala, where both sides regrouped. This was followed by the Battle of Gazala at the end of May 1942.
- Nov 18 1943 – WW2: Battle of Berlin » On 18 NOV 444 British heavy bombers attack Berlin, Germany, marking the first attack of the Battle of Berlin. Aided by good cloud cover, the planes made it to Berlin and dropped their load before returning home. The cloud cover which had protected the pilots also obscured their targets however, and with damage to the city minimal many more raids would be needed. Over the next few months the heavily defended city was bruised and pummeled by constant attacks. The 22nd November saw much of the city consumed by fire from incendiary bombs, which also partially destroyed the Kaiser Wilhelm Church, which now stands unfixed as a memorial of the war.
Victims of an air raid on Germany laid out in a hall so they can be identified.
This had a major effect on civilian morale and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless overnight, crammed into temporary accommodation as the raids continued. Over the next few months the railway system was destroyed, factories flattened and over a quarter of Berlin made officially uninhabitable. The inhabitants, however, remained defiant, and there was no sign of any surrender or loss of morale. As the Luftwaffe had bombed London in the Blitz in 1940 with similar results, it is questionable why Harris expected a different outcome. In addition, the raids came at a heavy cost, with 2700 crewmen dead, 1000 captured and 500 planes destroyed – casualties which were defined as unsustainable and unacceptable according to RAF rules.
- Nov 18 1943 – WW2: USS Bluefish (SS-222), launched 21 FEB 1943, sinks the Japanese destroyer Sanae and damages the oiler Ondo 90 miles south of Basilan Island.
- Nov 18 1944 – WW2: USS Blackfin (SS-322) diverts from her war patrol and picks up captured Japanese cryptographic and technical equipment, along with other secret documents, west of Camurong River on the north coast of Mindoro, Philippines.
- Nov 18 1944 – WW2: USS Peto (SS-265), USS Spadefish (SS-411), and USS Sunfish (SS-281) attack the same Japanese convoy in the East China. Peto sinks army cargo ships Aisakasan Maru and Chinkai Maru. Spadefish sinks auxiliary submarine chaser Cha 156 and Sunfish sinks army transport Seisho Maru.
- Nov 18 1961 – Vietnam: United States President John F. Kennedy sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.
- Nov 18 1962 – U.S. Navy: USS Currituck (AV-7) rescues 13 Japanese fishermen from their disabled fishing boat Seiyu Maru, which was damaged in Typhoon Karen.
- Nov 18 1964 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese Conduct Largest Air Assault to Date » In the largest air assault of the war thus far, 116 U.S. and South Vietnamese aircraft fly 1,100 South Vietnamese troops into Binh Duong and Tay Ninh Provinces to attack what is believed to be a major communist stronghold. General Nguyen Khanh personally directed the operation, but the troops made only light contact with the Viet Cong.
- Nov 18 1969 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese Fight First Major Battle after U.S. Troops Are Withdrawn » Sixty South Vietnamese men are killed or wounded when their troops clash with communist forces in the Mekong Delta. The North Vietnamese lost only 14 men. A South Vietnamese spokesman said that the high South Vietnamese casualties were “due to bad fighting on our part.” The battle was the first major action in the northern delta since the U.S. 9th Division was withdrawn and the South Vietnamese assumed responsibility for the area.
- Nov 18 1970 – Vietnam War: Nixon Appeals to Congress for Funds for Cambodia » President Nixon asks Congress for supplemental appropriations for the Cambodian government of Premier Lon Nol. Nixon requested $155 million in new funds for Cambodia—$85 million of which would be for military assistance, mainly in the form of ammunition. He also asked for an additional $100 million to restore funds taken from other foreign appropriations during the year by “presidential determination” and given to Cambodia. Nixon wanted the funds to provide aid and assistance to Lon Nol to preclude the fall of Cambodia to the communist Khmer Rouge and their North Vietnamese allies. Lon Nol was a Cambodian general who had overthrown the government of Prince Norodom Sihanouk in March 1970. He and his army, the Forces Armees Nationale Khmer (FANK), were engaged in a desperate struggle with the communists for control of the Cambodian countryside. The Nixon administration had initiated a program of aid to Lon Nol in April 1970 with $7.5 million in arms and supplies. This aid did not have an immediate impact as the government forces reeled under heavy communist attacks. Besides trying to get additional funds for more military aid for Cambodia, Nixon also committed U.S. aircraft in direct support of Cambodian government troops and initiated a program whereby U.S. Army Special Forces would train Lon Nol’s troops.
With this U.S. support, Lon Nol was able to successfully withdraw most of his forces (which numbered over 200,000 troops) from the rural areas to the larger urban centers, where they were able to hold out against the communist attacks. The fighting continued, but generally a stalemate prevailed so that neither side gained the upper hand. This situation changed in 1973 after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. Under the provisions of that agreement, the United States withdrew its forces from South Vietnam and both the Cambodians and South Vietnamese found themselves fighting the communists alone.
Without U.S. support, Lon Nol’s forces succumbed to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975. During the five years of bitter fighting, approximately 10 percent of Cambodia’s 7 million people died, but the suffering of the Cambodian people did not end with the communist takeover. The victorious Khmer Rouge evacuated Phnom Penh and set about to reorder Cambodian society, which resulted in a killing spree and the notorious “killing fields.” During this period, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died from murder, exhaustion, hunger, and disease.
- Nov 18 1987 – Middle East: Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini charges US ambassador and embassy with espionage.
- Nov 18 1987 – Cold War: Congress Issues Final Report on Iran-Contra Scandal » After nearly a year of hearings into the Iran-Contra scandal, the joint Congressional investigating committee issues its final report. It concluded that the scandal, involving a complicated plan whereby some of the funds from secret weapons sales to Iran were used to finance the Contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, was one in which the administration of Ronald Reagan exhibited “secrecy, deception, and disdain for the law.” Naming several members of the Reagan administration as having been directly involved in the scheme (including National Security Advisor John Poindexter and deceased CIA Director William Casey), the report stated that Reagan must bear “ultimate responsibility.” A number of government officials were charged and convicted of various crimes associated with the scandal.
A minority opinion by some of the Republican members of the committee contained in the report argued that the hearings had been politically motivated. They also suggested that while Reagan administration officials might have used poor judgment, the ultimate end-continuing the fight against the leftist regime in Nicaragua-was a worthy goal. The differences in opinion, while partially reflective of partisan biases, were also evidence of a question that had plagued U.S. policy makers since the early days of the Cold War: in the battle against communism, were the ends more important than the means?
- Nov 19 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Congress Pleads for Soldiers » Congress pleads for the states to send more soldiers to serve in the Continental Army, reminding them “how indispensable it is to the common safety, that they pursue the most immediate and vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of Troops for the new Army, as the time of service for which the present Army was enlisted, is so near expiring.”
Just as the British had discovered the difficulties of waging war with obstreperous Yankees for soldiers during the Seven Years’ War, Commander in Chief George Washington, the Virginia planter-cum-soldier, was unimpressed upon meeting his supposed army outside Boston in 1775. He saw “stupidity” among the enlisted men, who were used to the easy familiarity of being commanded by neighbors in local militias with elected officers. Washington promptly insisted that the officers behave with decorum and the enlisted men with deference. Although he enjoyed some success with this original army, the New Englanders went home to their farms at the end of 1775, and Washington had to start fresh with new recruits in 1776. Washington and Congress struggled to reconstitute the army at the beginning of each new year throughout the war.
Washington fought an uphill battle for military order until Friedrich von Steuben arrived at the Continental Army encampment at Valley Forge on February 23, 1778. The Prussian military officer commenced training soldiers in close-order drill, instilling new confidence and discipline in the demoralized Continental Army. Before von Steuben’s arrival, colonial American soldiers were notorious for their slovenly camp conditions. Von Steuben insisted on reorganization to establish basic hygiene, ordering that kitchens and latrines be put on opposite sides of the camp, with latrines facing a downhill slope. Just having latrines was a novelty to the Continental troops, who were accustomed to living in their own filth.
- Nov 19 1813 – U.S. Navy: Capt. David Porter, commander of the man-of-war Essex, claims the Marquesas Islands for the U.S. In the following weeks, he establishes a base to overhaul Essex and builds a fort.
- Nov 19 1861 – Civil War: Julia Ward Howe writes “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” while visiting Union troops near Washington D.C.
- Nov 19 1861 – Civil War: The Confederate raider Nashville captured and burned the Union clipper ship Harvey Birch in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Nov 19 1863 – Civil War: Lincoln Delivers Gettysburg Address » At the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.
The Battle of Gettysburg, fought some four months earlier, was the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Over the course of three days, more than 45,000 men were killed, injured, captured or went missing. The battle also proved to be the turning point of the war: General Robert E. Lee’s defeat and retreat from Gettysburg marked the last Confederate invasion of Northern territory and the beginning of the Southern army’s ultimate decline.
Charged by Pennsylvania’s governor, Andrew Curtin, to care for the Gettysburg dead, an attorney named David Wills bought 17 acres of pasture to turn into a cemetery for the more than 7,500 who fell in battle. Wills invited Edward Everett, one of the most famous orators of the day, to deliver a speech at the cemetery’s dedication. Almost as an afterthought, Wills also sent a letter to Lincoln—just two weeks before the ceremony—requesting “a few appropriate remarks” to consecrate the grounds.
At the dedication, the crowd listened for two hours to Everett before Lincoln spoke. Lincoln’s address lasted just two or three minutes. The speech reflected his redefined belief that the Civil War was not just a fight to save the Union, but a struggle for freedom and equality for all, an idea Lincoln had not championed in the years leading up to the war. This was his stirring conclusion: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Reception of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was initially mixed, divided strictly along partisan lines. Nevertheless, the “little speech,” as he later called it, is thought by many today to be the most eloquent articulation of the democratic vision ever written.
- Nov 19 1915 – WWI Era: British Pilot Makes Heroic Rescue » In one of the most exciting episodes of the air war during World War I, the British airman Richard Bell Davies performs a daring rescue on November 19, 1915, swooping down in his plane to whisk a downed fellow pilot from behind the Turkish lines at Ferrijik Junction.
A squadron commander in the Royal Naval Air Service, Davies was flying alongside Flight Sub-Lieutenant Gilbert F. Smylie on a bombing mission. Their target was the railway junction at Ferrijik, located near the Aegean Sea and the border between Bulgaria and Ottoman-controlled Europe. When the Turks hit Smylie’s plane with anti-aircraft fire, he was forced to land. As he made his way to the ground, Smylie was able to release all his bombs but one before making a safe landing behind enemy lines. Smylie was then unable to restart his plane and immediately set fire to the aircraft in order to disable it.
Meanwhile, Davies saw his comrade’s distress from the air and quickly moved to land his own plane nearby. Seeing Davies coming to his rescue and fearing the remaining bomb on his plane would explode, injuring or killing them both, Smylie quickly took aim at his machine with his revolver and fired, exploding the bomb safely just before Davies came within its reach. Davies then rushed to grab hold of Smylie, hauling him on board his aircraft just as a group of Turkish soldiers approached. Before the Turks could reach them, Davies took off, flying himself and Smylie to safety behind British lines.
Calling Davies’ act a “feat of airmanship that can seldom have been equaled for skill and gallantry,” the British government awarded him the Victoria Cross on January 1, 1916. The quick-thinking Smylie was rewarded as well; he received the Distinguished Service Cross.
- Nov 19 1919 – Post WWI: Treaty of Versailles & League of Nations » As the war drew to a close, Woodrow Wilson set forth his plan for a “just peace.” Wilson believed that fundamental flaws in international relations created an unhealthy climate that led inexorably to the World War. His Fourteen Points outlined his vision for a safer world. Wilson called for an end to secret diplomacy, a reduction of armaments, and freedom of the seas. He claimed that reductions to trade barriers, fair adjustment of colonies, and respect for national self-determination would reduce economic and nationalist sentiments that lead to war. Finally, Wilson proposed an international organization comprising representatives of all the world’s nations that would serve as a forum against allowing any conflict to escalate. Unfortunately, Wilson could not impose his world view on the victorious Allied Powers.
When they met in Paris to hammer out the terms of the peace, the European leaders had other ideas. The European leaders were not interested in a just peace. They were interested in retribution. Over Wilson’s protests, they ignored the Fourteen Points one by one. Germany was to admit guilt for the war and pay unlimited reparations. The German military was reduced to a domestic police force and its territory was truncated to benefit the new nations of Eastern Europe. The territories of Alsace and Lorraine were restored to France. German colonies were handed in trusteeship to the victorious Allies. No provisions were made to end secret diplomacy or preserve freedom of the seas. Wilson did gain approval for his proposal for a League of Nations. Dismayed by the overall results, but hopeful that a strong League could prevent future wars, he returned to present the Treaty of Versailles to the Senate.
Unfortunately for Wilson, he was met with stiff opposition. The Republican leader of the Senate, Henry Cabot Lodge, was very suspicious of Wilson and his treaty. Article X of the League of Nations required the United States to respect the territorial integrity of member states. Although there was no requirement compelling an American declaration of war, the United States might be bound to impose an economic embargo or to sever diplomatic relations. Lodge viewed the League as a supranational government that would limit the power of the American government from determining its own affairs. Others believed the League was the sort of entangling alliance the United States had avoided since George Washington’s Farewell Address. Lodge sabotaged the League covenant by declaring the United States exempt from Article X. He attached reservations, or amendments, to the treaty to this effect. Wilson, bedridden from a debilitating stroke, was unable to accept these changes. He asked Senate Democrats to vote against the Treaty of Versailles unless the Lodge reservations were dropped. Neither side budged, and the treaty went down to defeat with the US Senate 55-39 vote for rejection.
- Nov 19 1940 – WW2 Era: Hitler Urges Spain to Grab Gibraltar » Adolf Hitler tells Spanish Foreign Minister Serano Suner to make good on an agreement for Spain to attack Gibraltar, a British-controlled region. This would seal off the Mediterranean and trap British troops in North Africa.
Spain had just emerged from a three-year (1936-39) civil war, leaving Gen. Francisco Franco in dictatorial control of the nation. Although Franco had accepted aid for his Nationalist forces from the fascist governments of Germany and Italy during his war against the left-wing Republicans, he had maintained a posture of “neutrality” once the Second World War broke out. Two factors led the Caudillo, or chief of state, to reconsider this stance: (1) the fact that early Italian victories in Africa and German victories in Europe made a fascist victory more than just a possibility, and (2) his own desire to regain control of Gibraltar, a tiny peninsula south of Spain and a British colony. Toward this end, Franco began manipulating his own people to the point of exercising frenzied mobs to demand war against England to retake Gibraltar, which Spain lost during the War of Spanish Succession in 1704.
Gibraltar was a key strategic region, the only point of access to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean and long a significant air and naval base for the United Kingdom. If Spain could occupy Gibraltar, it would cut Britain off from its own troops in North Africa and frustrate plans to drive back Rommel and his Afrika Korps, as well as stop any British plans to invade Italy. Hitler was keen on pushing Spain in this direction. But when the Fuhrer emphasized the need to move quickly, the Spanish foreign minister, on orders from Franco, insisted that Spain would need 400,000 tons of grain before it could wage war against Britain. Hitler knew this was merely a delaying tactic; Franco did not want to commit his country to the war, even as he allowed German subs to refuel in Spanish ports and German spies to keep tabs on British naval forces in Gibraltar.
But as the war began to turn against the Axis powers, so did Franco, who saw a future of negotiating trade deals with the Western democracies. The Caudillo began to cooperate with the Allies in a variety of ways, including allowing Free French forces to cross Spain from Vichy France to Resistance bases in North Africa. But the Allies saw Franco as a mere opportunist, and Spain was not allowed into the United Nations until 1955.
- Nov 19 1940 – WW2 Era: Birmingham Blitz » In November 1940, a series of heavy German air raids on Birmingham England took place. Between the 19th and 28th of that month around 800 people were killed and 2,345 injured, with 20,000 civilians made homeless.
On the first evening of the bombing, just five days after the devastating attack on nearby Coventry, the first major air raid was launched against Birmingham, when around 440 bombers attacked the city, killing 450 people and badly injuring 540. Around 400 tonnes of high explosives were dropped during the raid, including 18 parachute mines. The raid turned out to be the most severe attack on Birmingham in the course of the war. A number of factories were badly damaged in the raid, including the Lucas Industries and GEC works. The Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) factory was badly damaged, causing loss of production and trapping hundreds of workers. 53 employees were killed, 89 were injured, 30 of them seriously, and rifle production was halted for three months. A member of the Home Guard and one of the company’s electricians were later awarded the George Medal for their bravery in helping the trapped workers.
The following night 200 bombers returned for another heavy raid, dropping 118 tonnes of explosives and 9,500 incendiaries, causing widespread damage. The main bus depot in Hockley was among the buildings hit, destroying or damaging 100 vehicles. A third consecutive major raid followed on 21/22 November. During this eleven-hour raid, large numbers of incendiaries were dropped, starting over 600 fires. The water supply system was badly damaged by bombs, causing three fifths of the city to lose mains water supply, firefighters therefore had to draw water from the city’s canals. Supporting fire brigades from across the country were drafted in to help, and the fires were eventually brought under control. Nevertheless, Birmingham’s water supply remained in a critical state, only one fifth of the normal quantity would have been available if there had been another raid, leading the Regional Commissioner to comment “Birmingham will burn down if the Luftwaffe comes again tonight.” However, there wasn’t another raid that night, and this gave engineers time to repair the water mains.
Overall, beginning on 9 August 1940 and ending on 23 April 1943, there were 365 air raid alerts, and 77 actual air raids on Birmingham, eight of which were classified as major (in which at least 100 tons of bombs were dropped). Official figures state that 5,129 high explosive bombs and 48 parachute mines landed on the city, along with many thousands of incendiary bombs. Of the high explosive bombs, around one fifth failed to detonate and one third of the parachute mines were left suspended after the parachute cords became caught in various obstacles such as trees. In total, 2,241 people were killed, and 3,010 seriously injured. A further 3,682 sustained lesser injuries. 12,391 houses, 302 factories and 239 other buildings were destroyed, with many more damaged.
- Nov 19 1941 – WW2 Era: Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney (D48) and the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran sink each other off the coast of Western Australia. All 648 crewmen were lost on HMAS Sydney while 318 of the 399 aboard the German ship were rescued and placed in prisoner of war camps for the duration of World War II.
- Nov 19 1942 – WW2: Operation Uranus (19-23 Nov) » The Soviet Red Army under General Georgi Zhukov launched the great Soviet counteroffensive that turned the tide in the Battle of Stalingrad.
On June 22, 1941, despite the terms of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, Nazi Germany launched a massive invasion against the USSR. Aided by its greatly superior air force, the German army raced across the Russian plains, inflicting terrible casualties on the Red Army and the Soviet population. With the assistance of troops from their Axis allies, the Germans conquered vast territory, and by mid-October the Russian cities of Leningrad and Moscow were under siege. However, the Soviets held on, and the coming of winter forced the German offensive to pause.
For the 1942 summer offensive, Adolf Hitler ordered the Sixth Army, under General Friedrich von Paulus, to take Stalingrad in the south, an industrial center and obstacle to Nazi control of the precious Caucasus oil wells. In August, the German Sixth Army made advances across the Volga River while the German Fourth Air Fleet reduced Stalingrad to burning rubble, killing more than 40,000 civilians. In early September, General Paulus ordered the first offensives into Stalingrad, estimating that it would take his army about 10 days to capture the city. Thus began one of the most horrific battles of World War II and arguably the most important because it was the turning point in the war between Germany and the USSR.
In their attempt to take Stalingrad, the German Sixth Army faced General Vasily Zhukov leading a bitter Red Army employing the ruined city to their advantage, transforming destroyed buildings and rubble into natural defensive fortifications. In a method of fighting the Germans began to call the Rattenkrieg, or “Rat’s War,” the opposing forces broke into squads eight or 10 strong and fought each other for every house and yard of territory. The battle saw rapid advances in street-fighting technology, such as a German machine gun that shot around corners and a light Russian plane that glided silently over German positions at night, dropping bombs without warning. However, both sides lacked necessary food, water, or medical supplies, and tens of thousands perished every week.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was determined to liberate the city named after him, and in November he ordered massive reinforcements to the area. On November 19, General Zhukov launched a great Soviet counteroffensive out of the rubble of Stalingrad. German command underestimated the scale of the counterattack, and the Sixth Army was quickly overwhelmed by the offensive, which involved 500,000 Soviet troops, 900 tanks, and 1,400 aircraft. Within three days, the entire German force of more than 200,000 men was encircled.
Italian and Romanian troops at Stalingrad surrendered, but the Germans hung on, receiving limited supplies by air and waiting for reinforcements. Hitler ordered Von Paulus to remain in place and promoted him to field marshal, as no Nazi field marshal had ever surrendered. Starvation and the bitter Russian winter took as many lives as the merciless Soviet troops, and on January 21, 1943, the last of the airports held by the Germans fell to the Soviets, completely cutting off the Germans from supplies. On January 31, Von Paulus surrendered German forces in the southern sector, and on February 2 the remaining German troops surrendered. Only 90,000 German soldiers were still alive, and of these only 5,000 troops would survive the Soviet prisoner-of-war camps and make it back to Germany.
The Battle of Stalingrad turned the tide in the war between Germany and the Soviet Union. General Zhukov, who had played such an important role in the victory, later led the Soviet drive on Berlin. On May 1, 1945, he personally accepted the German surrender of Berlin. Von Paulus, meanwhile, agitated against Adolf Hitler among the German prisoners of war in the Soviet Union and in 1946 provided testimony at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. After his release by the Soviets in 1953, he settled in East Germany.
- Nov 19 1943 – WW2: USS Sculpin (SS-191) is damaged by Japanese destroyer Yamagumo and later scuttled north of Truk. Forty-one Sailors are taken as POWs, 21 of whom are taken on Japanese carrier Chuyo that is later sunk by USS Sailfish (SS-192). 20 POWs survived.
- Nov 19 1943 – WW2: German submarine U-211 sinks in Atlantic Ocean after being attacked by a British aircraft. 54 men died; there were no survivors. A member of eight wolfpacks, she sank one warship of 1,350 tons and damaged three commercial vessels totaling 12,556 gross register tons in five patrols.
- Nov 19 1943 – WW2: German submarine U-536 sinks in Atlantic Ocean after being attacked by the British frigate Nene and Canadian corvette Snowberry while she was attacking Convoy SL 139/MKS 30 northeast of the Azores. Thirty-eight men died; there were seventeen survivors. She carried out two patrols, but did not sink any ships. She was a member of one wolfpack.
- Nov 19 1943 – WW2: USS Nautilus (SS-168) enters Tarawa lagoon for the first submarine photograph reconnaissance mission. It is later damaged by friendly fire from USS Santa Fe (CL-60) and USS Ringgold (DD-500) off Tarawa because Nautilus’ presence was unknown to the vessels due to the its mission.
- Nov 19 1944 – WW2: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces the 6th War Loan Drive, aimed at selling US$14 billion in war bonds to help pay for the war effort.
- Nov 19 1944 – WW2: USS Conklin (DE-439) and USS McCoy Reynolds (DE-440) sink the Japanese submarine I-37 100 miles west of Palaus.
- Nov 19 1950 – Cold War: US General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes Supreme Commander of NATO-Europe.
- Nov 19 1962 – Cold War: 1962 Fidel Castro accepts removal of Soviet weapons.
- Nov 19 1967 – Vietnam War: Chaplain Charles Watters Receives Medal of Honor » For action this date, Chaplain (Major) Charles Watters of the 173rd Airborne Brigade is awarded the Medal of Honor. Chaplain Watters was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry when it conducted an attack against North Vietnamese forces entrenched on Hill 875 during the Battle of Dak To. The Catholic priest from New Jersey moved among the paratroopers during the intense fighting, giving encouragement and first aid to the wounded. At least six times he left the defensive perimeter with total disregard regard for his own personal safety to retrieve casualties and take them for medical attention. Once he was satisfied that all of the wounded were inside the perimeter, he busied himself helping the medics, applying bandages, and providing spiritual strength and support. According to reports filed by survivors of the battle, Father Watters was on his knees giving last rites to a dying soldier when an American bomber accidentally dropped a 500-pound bomb onto the group of paratroopers. Father Watters was killed instantly. He was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor on November 4, 1969, in a ceremony at the White House.
- Nov 19 1967 – Vietnam War: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passes a resolution to curb the commitment of U.S. armed forces and a resolution urging the President Johnson to take the initiative to have the Vietnamese conflict brought before the United Nations Security Council.
- Nov 19 1969 – Cold War: Navy astronauts Cmdr. Charles Conrad, Jr. and Cmdr. Alan L. Bean become the third and fourth men to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 12 mission.
- Nov 19 1971 – Vietnam War: Cambodians Appeal for Help » Cambodians appeal to Saigon for help as communist forces move closer to Phnom Penh. Cambodian Premier Lon Nol and his troops were involved in a life or death struggle with the communist Khmer Rouge force and their North Vietnamese allies for control of the country.
- Nov 19 1979 – Middle East: Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini orders the release of 13 female and black American hostages being held at the US Embassy in Tehran.
- Nov 19 1985 – Cold War: Reagan and Gorbachev Hold their First Summit Meeting » For the first time in eight years, the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States hold a summit conference. Meeting in Geneva, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev produced no earth-shattering agreements. However, the meeting boded well for the future, as the two men engaged in long, personal talks and seemed to develop a sincere and close relationship.
The meeting came as somewhat of a surprise to some in the United States, considering Reagan’s often incendiary rhetoric concerning communism and the Soviet Union, but it was in keeping with the president’s often stated desire to bring the nuclear arms race under control. For Gorbachev, the meeting was another clear signal of his desire to obtain better relations with the United States so that he could better pursue his domestic reforms.
Little of substance was accomplished. Six agreements were reached, ranging from cultural and scientific exchanges to environmental issues. Both Reagan and Gorbachev, however, expressed satisfaction with the summit, which ended on November 21. The next summit was held in October 1986 in Reykjavik and ended somewhat disastrously, with Reagan’s commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative (the so-called “Star Wars” missile defense system) providing a major obstacle to progress on arms control talks. However, by the time of their third summit in Washington, D.C. in 1987, both sides made concessions in order to achieve agreement on a wide range of arms control issues.
- Nov 19 2005 – Middle East: Haditha Massacre » Incident in which 24 unarmed Iraqi men, women and children, all civilians, were killed by a group of United States Marines in Haditha, Iraq. The dead included several children and elderly people, who were shot multiple times at close range while unarmed. It has been alleged that the killings were retribution for the attack on a convoy of Marines with an improvised explosive device that killed Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas.
- Nov 20 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: British forces land at the Palisades and then attack Fort Lee. The Continental Army starts to retreat across New Jersey.
- Nov 20 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: New Jersey Ratifies the Bill of Rights » As the first state to do so, New Jersey’s action was a first step toward making the first 10 amendments to the Constitution law and completing the revolutionary reforms begun by the Declaration of Independence.
The Anti-Federalist critics of the U.S. Constitution were afraid that a too-strong federal government would become just another sort of the monarchical regime from which they had recently been freed. They believed that the Constitution gave too much power to the federal government by outlining its rights but failing to delineate the rights of the individuals living under it. Before the Massachusetts ratifying convention would accept the Constitution, then, which they finally did in February 1788, the document’s Federalist supporters had to promise to create a Bill of Rights to be amended to the Constitution immediately upon the creation of a new government under the document. This helped to assuage the Anti-Federalists’ concerns.
As promised, the newly elected Congress drafted the Bill of Rights on December 25, 1789. Drafted by James Madison and loosely based on Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, the first 10 amendments give the following rights to all United States citizens:
- Freedom of religion, speech and assembly
- Right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of a well-regulated militia
- No forcible quartering of soldiers during peacetime
- Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure
- Right to a grand jury for capital crimes and due process. Protection from double jeopardy, self-incrimination and public confiscation of private property without “just compensation”
- Right to “speedy and public” trial by jury and a competent defense
- Right to trial by jury for monetary cases above $20
- Protection against “excessive” bail or fines and “cruel and unusual” punishments
- Rights not enumerated are “retained by the people” 1
- Rights not given to the federal government or prohibited the state governments by the Constitution, “are reserved to the States… or to the people”
- Nov 20 1856 – China: During the Second Opium War, 287 Marines and Sailors from U.S. Navy ships Levant, Portsmouth, and San Jacinto land at Canton, China under the command of Cmdr. Andrew Foote. This action opens up diplomatic relations with China and the U.S. gains neutrality.
- Nov 20 1862 – Civil War: Confederate armies of Mississippi and Kentucky merge as Army of Tennessee, under General Braxton Bragg.
- Nov 20 1864 – Civil War: Sherman on the Move » Nearly a week into the famous March to the Sea, the army of Union General William T. Sherman moves toward central Georgia, destroying property and routing small militia units it its path. Advanced units of the army skirmished with scattered Rebel forces at Clinton, Walnut Creek, East Macon, and Griswoldville, all in the vicinity of Macon.
The march began on November 15 and ended on December 21, 1864. Sherman led 62,000 troops for some 285 miles across Georgia and cut a path of destruction more than 50 miles wide. He divided his force into two columns and widened the swath of destruction. The Yankees cut away from their supply lines at Atlanta and generally lived off the land. What they did not consume, they destroyed. More than 13,000 cattle fell into Union hands, as well as 90,000 bales of cotton and numerous sawmills, foundries, cotton gins, and warehouses.
Sherman’s superiors, President Abraham Lincoln and General in Chief Ulysses S. Grant, endorsed his controversial tactic. Sherman planned, in his words, to “make Georgia howl,” and argued that, although it would be brutal, destroying the resources of the South could bring the war to a quicker end. Though he did not permit violence against civilians or the wanton destruction of property, there seemed to be little enforcement of that policy. The Union troops moved nearly unopposed across the region until they reached Savannah on December 21. The March to the Sea devastated Southern morale and earned Sherman the lasting hatred of many Southerners.
- Nov 20 1917 – WWI: 1st Successful Tank Use in Battle » At dawn on the morning of November 20, 1917, six infantry and two cavalry divisions of the British Expeditionary Force–with additional support from 14 squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps–join the British Tank Corps in a surprise attack on the German lines near Cambrai, France.
After the British debuted the first armored tanks during the massive Somme offensive in September 1916, their effectiveness as a weapon–aside from the initial value of surprise–was quickly thrown into doubt. The early tanks were maddeningly slow and unwieldy; navigation and visibility from their controls were poor and though they were impervious to small arms fire, they could be destroyed easily by shellfire. Moreover, the tanks often bogged down in the muddy terrain of the Western Front in fall and winter, rendering them completely useless.
As a result, by the fall of 1917 many on the Allied side had come to doubt the viability of the tank as a major force on the battlefield. Commanders of the British Tank Corps nevertheless continued to press for a new offensive, including the large-scale use of tanks on a comparably dry stretch of battlefield in northern France, between the Canal du Nord and St. Quentin, towards the Belgian border. After initially vetoing the idea, British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig changed his mind and authorized the operation, hoping to achieve at least one useful victory before the year was out. The attack, led by General Julian Byng of the British 3rd Army, went ahead on the morning of November 20, 1917, with all available tanks–some 476 of them–advancing on the German lines with infantry, cavalry and air support. Within hours, the British forced the German 2nd Army back to Cambrai, to the north, taking some 8,000 prisoners and 100 guns on their way.
The British lacked adequate support for their initial advance, however, and more gains were significantly harder to obtain. Though German Commander in Chief Erich Ludendorff briefly considered a general withdrawal of troops from the area, his commander in the region, Georg von der Marwitz, managed to muster a sharp German counterattack of nearly 20 divisions to regain nearly all the ground lost. Casualties were high on both sides, with German losses of 50,000 compared to 45,000 for the British. While the use of tanks at Cambrai failed to achieve the major breakthrough for which Byng had been hoping, the attack nonetheless boosted the tank’s reputation as a potentially effective weapon for targeted use during offensive operations.
- Nov 20 1931 – Manchuria: Japan and China reject the League of Council terms for Manchuria at Geneva. Relations between Japan and China remained strained in the following years, then finally erupted into full-scale war in 1937. In the minds of a number of authorities, the road to World War II began in Manchuria in 1931, when it became apparent to all that treaties and the efforts of the League of Nations were not sufficient to halt a nation bent on aggression. Nathaniel Peffer wrote in Harper`s issue of February 1933:
- Nov 20 1933 – U.S. Navy: Lt. Cmdr. Thomas G. W. Settle and Maj. Chester I. Fordney set a world altitude record at 61,237 ft. in a balloon flight into the stratosphere at Akron, Ohio.
- Nov 20 1943 – WW2: The Battle of Tarawa 20-23 Nov) » Vice Adm. Raymond A. Spruance’s 5th Fleet lands U.S. Marine Corps and Army forces on Tarawa and Makin Atolls in the Gilbert Islands during Operation Galvanic. The battle is the first American offensive in the critical central Pacific region and the first time in the Pacific War that the U.S. Marines face serious Japanese opposition upon landing on the atoll
- Nov 20 1943 – WW2: PBY aircraft sink Japanese cargo vessel Naples Maru off New Ireland.
- Nov 20 1944 – WW2: 1st Japanese Suicide Submarine Attack » At anchored at in the laggon atUlithi Atol, Carolines the USS Mississinewa (AO-59) is sunk by a kaiten manned human torpedo launched point by the Japanese submarine I-47. When the 3,418 pounds of explosives loaded into the front part of the kaiten exploded after hitting the ship’s starboard side, the oiler became engulfed in flames and burned out of control. The water with flaming oil around much the ship made escape difficult for those who remained alive after the initial explosion. The 5-inch/38 caliber gun magazine blew up at 0605, and Mississinewa disappeared beneath the surface of Ulithi Lagoon at 0905. The kaiten attack killed 63 men and wounded many more out of total crew of 278 men.
- Nov 20 1945 – Post WW2: Nuremberg Trials Begin » Twenty-four high-ranking Nazis go on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, for atrocities committed during World War II. The Nuremberg Trials were conducted by an international tribunal made up of representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain. It was the first trial of its kind in history, and the defendants faced charges ranging from crimes against peace, to crimes of war, to crimes against humanity. Lord Justice Geoffrey Lawrence, the British member, presided over the proceedings, which lasted 10 months and consisted of 216 court sessions.
On October 1, 1946, 12 architects of Nazi policy were sentenced to death. Seven others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life, and three were acquitted. Of the original 24 defendants, one, Robert Ley, committed suicide while in prison, and another, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, was deemed mentally and physically incompetent to stand trial. Among those condemned to death by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs; Hermann Goering, leader of the Gestapo and the Luftwaffe; Alfred Jodl, head of the German armed forces staff; and Wilhelm Frick, minister of the interior.
On October 16, 10 of the architects of Nazi policy were hanged. Goering, who at sentencing was called the “leading war aggressor and creator of the oppressive program against the Jews,” committed suicide by poison on the eve of his scheduled execution. Nazi Party leader Martin Bormann was condemned to death in absentia (but is now believed to have died in May 1945). Trials of lesser German and Axis war criminals continued in Germany into the 1950s and resulted in the conviction of 5,025 other defendants and the execution of 806.
- Nov 20 1948 – Cold War: American Consul in China Held “Hostage” by Communists » In what begins as a fairly minor incident, the American consul and his staff in Mukden, China, are made virtual hostages by communist forces in China. The crisis did not end until a year later, by which time U.S. relations with the new communist government in China had been seriously damaged.
Mukden was one of the first major trade centers in China to be occupied by Mao’s communist forces in October 1948 during the revolution against the Nationalist Chinese government. In November, American Consul Angus Ward refused to surrender the consulate’s radio transmitter to the communists. In response, armed troops surrounded the consulate, trapping Ward and 21 staff members. The Chinese cut off all communication, as well as water and electricity. For months, almost nothing was heard from Ward and the other Americans.
The U.S. response to the situation was to first order the consulate closed and call for the withdrawal of Ward and his staff. However, Ward was prevented from doing so after the Chinese communists, in June 1949, charged the consulate with being a headquarters for spies. With the situation worsening, the United States tried to exert diplomatic pressure by calling upon its allies to withhold recognition of the new communist Chinese government. Chinese forces thereupon arrested Ward, charging him and some of his staff with inciting a riot outside the consulate in October 1949. President Harry Truman was incensed at this action and met with his military advisors to discuss the feasibility of military action. Secretary of State Dean Acheson bluntly and angrily informed the new People’s Republic of China that no U.S. recognition would ever be forthcoming until the Americans at Mukden were released.
Group portrait of American Consul Angus Ward (center left, in fur hat), his staff, and their families as they pose
on the deck of the ‘Lakeland Victory,’ December 1949.
On November 24, 1949, Ward and his staff were allowed to leave the consulate. Ward and four other Americans had actually been found guilty of the inciting-to-riot charge and were ordered deported. Together with the other Americans, they left China in December. The Chinese actions, which are still difficult to explain or understand, no doubt damaged any possibilities that might have existed for U.S. recognition of the People’s Republic of China. Truman, already under heavy attacks at home for not “saving” the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, could ill-afford to show weakness in dealing with the Chinese communists, particularly after the arrest of Ward and the other Americans so angered the American public.
- Nov 20 1950 – Korea: U.S. troops push to the Yalu River, within five miles of Manchuria.
- Nov 20 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: In response to the Soviet Union agreeing to remove its missiles from Cuba, U.S. President John F. Kennedy ends the quarantine of the Caribbean nation.
- Nov 20 1967 – Vietnam War: Students Demonstrate Against Dow Chemical Company » San Jose State College students demonstrate against the Dow Chemical Company, the maker of napalm. Police were sent in, but the students refused to disperse and several protest leaders were arrested. The next day the students defied California governor Ronald Reagan’s warning against further demonstrations and again staged an anti-Dow demonstration.
Napalm was an acronym derived from naphthetic and palmic acids, whose salts were used to manufacture the jellied gasoline–napalm–that was used in flame-throwers and bombs. Napalm first came into widespread use during World War II, especially in flame throwers used to destroy entrenched Japanese positions in the Pacific war. It was also used extensively in aerial bombs during the Korean War against Chinese and North Korean entrenchments. The use of napalm in the Vietnam War concerned many Americans who considered it an especially cruel and barbaric weapon.
- Nov 20 1969 – Vietnam War: Seymour Hersh Files Follow-Up to My Lai Story » The independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh files a second My Lai story based on interviews with Michael Terry and Michael Bernhardt, who served under 1st Lt. William Calley during the action that was later dubbed the My Lai massacre.
Also on this day, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published explicit photos of the dead at My Lai. The American public was stunned. Hersh broke the story earlier in the month, describing how soldiers from the Americal Division conducting a sweep of My Lai indiscriminately shot people as they ran from their huts, and then systematically rounded up the survivors, allegedly leading them to a ditch where they were executed per Calley’s orders.
Despite the fact that an Army board of inquiry found that 30 persons either participated in the atrocity or knew of it and failed to do anything, only 14 were charged with crimes. All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted, except Calley, who was found guilty of murdering 22 civilians and was sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was reduced twice and he was paroled in November 1974.
- Nov 20 1998 – Cold War: The first module of the International Space Station, Zarya, is launched.
- Nov 21 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Washington Orders General Lee to New Jersey » In what proved a fateful decision on this day in 1776, Continental Commander in Chief General George Washington writes to General Charles Lee in Westchester County, New York, to report the loss of Fort Lee, New Jersey, and to order Lee to bring his forces to New Jersey. Lee wanted to stay in New York, so he dawdled in departing and crossing the small state of New Jersey to the Delaware River, where Washington impatiently awaited the arrival of his reinforcements. Lee, who took a commission in the British army upon finishing military school at age 12 and served in North America during the Seven Years’ War, felt slighted that the less experienced Washington had been given command of the Continental Army and showed no inclination to rush.
Famed for his temper and intemperance, the Mohawk had dubbed Lee “Boiling Water.” Lee was an adopted tribesman through his marriage to a Mohawk woman, but his union apparently failed to quell his interest in prostitutes. On December 13, Lee left his army, still dallying on its way to join Washington, and rode—with minimal guard–in search of female sociability at Widow White’s Tavern in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. It was there that British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and the 16th Queen’s Light Dragoons captured him on the morning of December 15.
Former comrades in the British army, Tarleton and Lee were now captor and captive. After being disappointed in his efforts to secure a lucrative royal appointment, Lee had retired to the colonies in 1773 and quickly joined the Patriot cause. Tarleton had sworn in a London club that he would hunt down the traitor to the crown and relieve him of his head. Fortunately for Lee, Tarleton failed to keep his promise, although the vain general may well have preferred a quick end to the humiliation of being led from Widow White’s Tavern to New York City in his nightdress.
The British rejoiced at the capture of the Patriots’ best-trained commander, while Washington fruitlessly negotiated for his release. Meanwhile, Lee enjoyed his captivity, even drafting a battle plan for his captors from plush accommodations in which his personal servant maintained his three rooms and no doubt served his food and wine in a most civilized fashion. The British did not act upon his plan, and Lee reported to Valley Forge upon his release in May 1778. After a series of arguments with Washington, Lee was suspended from the army in December 1778 and dismissed in 1780.
- Nov 21 1817 – Seminole Wars: First Seminole War (1817-1818) » These wars began in response to Andrew Jackson’s attacks into Spanish Florida against the Seminole Indians. This was not the first time the United States had made military excursions into the Spanish territory. Although Spain expressed outrage at having foreign military troops in their territory they eventually decided to cede the Floridas to the United States in 1819. Once the Adams-Onis Treaty took effect in 1821 the subsequent Second and Third Seminole Wars were attempts by the United States to drive the Seminoles out of its newly acquired territory.
The 1st War ignited on 21 NOV when U.S. troops attacked the Creek Indian village of Fowltown in what is now Decatur County, Georgia. The attacks on Fowltown ended a war of words that had gone on for months between Neamathla, the chief of the village, and Major David E. Twiggs, the commanding officer at Fort Scott on the lower Flint River. The chief refused to remove his people from lands ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Fort Jackson, pointing out that he had not been a party to that agreement. The land was his, he told Twiggs, and he was “directed by the Powers above to defend it.”
The first attack on Fowltown took place in the dark of night and ended in a brief skirmish when the warriors of the town tried to defend themselves from encircling U.S. soldiers. The troops came again two days later and were raiding the village corn cribs when Neamathla and his warriors suddenly emerged from the swamps and attacked them. The resulting encounter, remembered as the Battle of Fowltown, left 1 U.S. soldier dead and 3 wounded. Indian losses were estimated at 6 to 8 killed. Aaron Hughes, a fifer from the 7th Infantry, was the first American soldier killed in the Seminole Wars.
The attacks on Fowltown outraged not just the Lower Creeks, but also the Seminoles of Florida. African American warriors from the Suwannee River (the “black Seminoles”) joined the growing Indian army, as did the refugee Red Sticks who had fled their homes in Central Alabama following their defeat at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814.
- Nov 21 1861 – Civil War: The screw steamer New London, along with screw steamer R.R. Cuyler and crew members of the screw steamer Massachusetts, capture the Confederate schooner Olive with a cargo of lumber in Mississippi Sound.
- Nov 21 1861 – Civil War: Judah Benjamin Becomes Confederate Secretary of War » Confederate President Jefferson Davis names Judah P Benjamin the secretary of war. A Jew who was born in the West Indies in 1811, Judah Benjamin was an exception to the rule in the Protestant South. After growing up largely in South Carolina, Benjamin attended Yale Law School and went on to practice law and own a slave plantation near New Orleans. He married the daughter of a wealthy Catholic couple, but the marriage was distant–Natalie Benjamin moved to Paris soon after the birth of their daughter and the couple spent little of their 50-plus-year marriage together.
Benjamin became a representative in the Louisiana state legislature in 1842, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1852. While there, he became a close friend of Jefferson Davis, who was then a Mississippi senator. Benjamin resigned during the secession crisis of 1860 and 1861, even before Louisiana officially left the Union. Davis selected Benjamin as the Confederacy’s first attorney general, and he quickly became the president’s most trusted advisor. After the Battle of First Bull Run, Virginia, in July 1861, Secretary of War Leroy Walker resigned amid criticism that the Confederate army did not pursue the defeated Yankees. Davis appointed Benjamin to the position.
Although Benjamin had no military experience, his appointment allowed Davis to dominate Confederate military affairs. Placing his trusted friend in the position of secretary of war ensured that Davis would not be challenged on important military decisions. Benjamin efficiently managed the day-to-day work of the war department, but began to quarrel with some of the top generals who resented taking orders from a non-military bureaucrat. Benjamin also drew criticism because of his religion–many openly questioned his loyalty because of his Jewish faith.
When Roanoke Island fell to the Yankees in March 1862, criticism of Benjamin peaked. Many censured him for not sending men and supplies to the island’s garrison. Furthermore, the war was going badly for the Confederates in the West. Davis recognized that the storm of complaints was crippling Benjamin’s ability to perform his duty, so he appointed Benjamin secretary of state when Robert M. T. Hunter resigned that position. As the outlook for the Confederacy grew bleaker in 1863 and 1864, Benjamin floated the idea that the South could obtain foreign recognition only by promising emancipation. This radical concept fell on deaf ears until the last weeks of the war.
When the Confederacy finally collapsed, Benjamin fled with the rest of the Confederate government to Danville, Virginia. When President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, it was discovered that Benjamin had ties to the Surratt family, who were implicated in the conspiracy to kill the president. Fearing capture and prosecution, Benjamin fled the country. He settled in England and practiced law there, often visiting his wife and daughter in Paris. During the rest of his life, Benjamin rarely spoke of his service to the Confederacy. He died in Paris in 1884.
- Nov 21 1864 – Civil War: From Georgia, Confederate General John B. Hood launches the Franklin–Nashville Campaign into Tennessee.
- Nov 21 1864 – Civil War: Battle at Griswoldville, GA (21-22 NOV) » Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman departed from Atlanta, Georgia 15 NOV on a march towards the Atlantic coast at Savannah. The right wing of Sherman’s 60-mile wide column was the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard. On 21 NOV, a screening column of Union cavalry captured a train full of military supplies near the industrial community of Griswoldville and, in accordance with Sherman’s desire to “make Georgia howl,” burned some factories there as well. The next day, a brigade under the command of Brig. Gen. Charles Walcutt from Howard’s army wing was ordered to make a demonstration toward Macon, Georgia to ascertain the disposition of enemy troops in that direction.
That morning, after a short march, Walcutt ran into some of Confederate Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry and, after some fighting, drove them beyond Griswoldville. Walcutt retired to a position at Duncan’s Farm and fortified it to meet an expected Rebel counterattack. Around 2:00pm, a passing column of Georgia Militia under Brig. Gen. Pleasant Phillips, marching to Augusta, attacked Walcutt’s brigade without orders to do so. Walcutt withstood three determined charges before receiving reinforcements to protect his flanks. Phillips did not attack again and withdrew after dark. The industrial facilities at Griswoldville were some of the first targets of Sherman’s march to the sea, and the action there was the only pitched battle to oppose Sherman’s march. The town was not rebuilt after the war.
- Nov 21 1910 – Brazil: Revolt of the Lash » Sailors on board Brazil’s most powerful military units, including the brand-new warships Minas Geraes, São Paulo, and Bahia, violently rebel in what comes to be known as the Revolta da Chibata (Revolt of the Lash). The rebellion is the direct result of the use of whips (“lashes”) by white naval officers when punishing Afro-Brazilian and mulatto enlisted sailors
- Nov 21 1916 – WWI Era: HMHS Britannic Sunk » The Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic, sinks in the Aegean Sea on November 21, 1916, killing 30 people. More than 1,000 others were rescued. In the wake of the Titanic disaster on April 14, 1912, the White Star Line made several modifications in the construction of its already-planned sister ship. First, the name was changed from Gigantic to Britannic (probably because it seemed more humble) and the design of the hull was altered to make it less vulnerable to icebergs. In addition, it was mandated that there be enough lifeboats on board to accommodate all passengers, which had not been the case with the Titanic.
The nearly 50,000-ton luxury vessel, the largest in the world, was launched in 1914, but was requisitioned soon afterward by the British government to serve as a hospital ship during World War I. In this capacity, Captain Charlie Bartlett led the Britannic on five successful voyages bringing wounded British troops back to England from various ports around the world. On November 21, the Britannic was on its way to pick up more wounded soldiers near the Gulf of Athens, when at 8:12 a.m., a violent explosion rocked the ship. Captain Bartlett ordered the closure of the watertight doors and sent out a distress signal. However, the blast had already managed to flood six whole compartments—even more extensive damage than that which had sunk the Titanic. Still, the Britannic had been prepared for such a disaster and would have stayed afloat except for two critical matters.
First, Captain Bartlett decided to try to run the Britannic aground on the nearby island of Kea. This might have been successful, but, earlier, the ship’s nursing staff had opened the portholes to air out the sick wards. Water poured in through the portholes as the Britannic headed toward Kea. Second, the disaster was compounded when some of the crew attempted to launch lifeboats without orders. Since the ship was still moving as fast as it could, the boats were sucked into the propellers, killing those on board.
Less than 30 minutes later, Bartlett realized that the ship was going to sink and ordered it abandoned. The lifeboats were launched and even though the Britannic sank at 9:07, less than an hour after the explosion, nearly 1,100 people managed to make it off the ship. In fact, most of the 30 people who died were in the prematurely launched lifeboats. In 1976, famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau found the Britannic lying on its side 400 feet below the surface of the Aegean. The cause of the explosion remains unknown, but many believe that the Britannic hit a mine.
- Nov 21 1917 – WWI: German ace Rudolf von Eschwege is killed over Macedonia when he attacks a booby-trapped observation balloon packed with explosives.
- Nov 21 1918 – WWI: The last German troops leave Alsace-Lorraine, France.
- Nov 21 1918 – WWI: U.S. battleships witness the surrender of German High Seas fleet of 5 battlecruisers, 9 battleships, 7 cruisers and 49 destroyers surrendered to the British Grand Fleet and being shepherded into the Firth of Forth, Scotland to U.S. and British fleets.
The German battlecruiser Hindenburg is photographed as it comes in to surrender
- Nov 21 1938 – WW2 Era: Nazi forces occupy western Czechoslovakia and declare inhabitants to be German citizens
- Nov 21 1941 – WW2: German troops occupy Rostov-on-Don, Southern Russia.
- Nov 21 1941 – WW2: Nazi Chief Architect Requests POWs to Labor for a New Berlin » Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s chief architect and minister for armaments and war production, asks for 30,000 Soviet prisoners of war to use as slave laborers to begin a massive Berlin building program.
Speer was born March 19, 1905, in Mannheim, Germany. At the age of 22, he received his architectural license, having studied at three German technical schools. He became an ardent Nazi after hearing Hitler orate at a rally in late 1930, and joined the party in January 1931. Hitler, always impressed by academic credentials and any kind of artistic or technical talent, made Speer his personal architect. Among the projects with which the Fuhrer entrusted Speer was the design of the parade grounds for the Nuremberg Party Congress in 1934, which Leni Riefienstahl made famous in her famous propaganda film Triumph of the Will.
As minister of armaments and munitions, Speer’s job description expanded to include not only armament production and transportation, but also the direction of raw material use and finally the conscription of slave labor, culled from concentration camps, for war material production. These slave laborers would come in handy for Hitler’s “new” Berlin. Speer wanted to begin construction even as the war waged. Despite the drain on resources Hitler agreed. Speer beguiled the Fuhrer with models of a Great Hall for the Chancellery and a grand office for Goering.
But as the war turned against Nazi Germany, the rebuilding plans were scrapped. When the war was over, Hitler was dead, and Speer was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg, the site of his grand parade, and sentenced to 20 years in Spandau prison in Berlin. In his last years, Mr. Speer lived quietly and comfortably in a rustic cottage his father built in the hills near Heidelberg when his son was born. He died at age 76 on 2 SEP 1981 and was survived by his wife, Margarethe, six children and a dozen grandchildren.
- Nov 21 1942 – WW2: USS Cincinnati (CL-6) and USS Somers (DD-381) uncover the Norwegian ship SS Skjilbred as being the German blockade runner Anneliese Essberger after setting explosions and boarding the ship. Survivors are taken on board USS Milwaukee (CL-5).
- Nov 21 1943 – WW2: USS Nautilus (SS-168) lands U.S. Marine Corps Reconnaissance Company on Abemama, Gilberts while USS Trigger (SS-237) sinks Japanese freighter Eizan Maru in the Yellow Sea.
- Nov 21 1944 – WW2: USS Sealion (SS-315) sinks the Japanese battleship Kongo and destroyer Urakaze north-northwest of Formosa.
- Nov 21 1946 – U.S. Navy: Harry Truman becomes 1st US President to travel in a submerged sub.
- Nov 21 1967 – Vietnam War: Westmoreland Tells Media the Communists Are Losing » Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, tells U.S. news reporters: “I am absolutely certain that whereas in 1965 the enemy was winning, today he is certainly losing.” Having been reassured by the general, most Americans were stunned when the communists launched a massive offensive during the Vietnamese Tet New Year holiday on January 30, 1968. During this offensive, communist forces struck 36 of 44 provincial capitals, 5 of 6 autonomous cities, 64 of 242 district capitals and about 50 hamlets. At one point during the initial attack on Saigon, communists’ troops actually penetrated the ground floor of the U.S. Embassy.
The fighting raged all over South Vietnam and lasted almost until the end of February. Overcoming the initial surprise of the attack, the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces recovered and ultimately inflicted a major military defeat on the communists. Nevertheless, Hanoi won a great psychological victory by launching such a widespread attack after Westmoreland assured the American people that the corner had been turned in South Vietnam. As a result of the unexpected Tet Offensive, many Americans came out forcefully against the war. Even CBS television anchorman Walter Cronkite, widely regarded as the most trusted man in American, publicly questioned U.S. policy in Vietnam.
- Nov 21 1969 – Japan: U.S. President Richard Nixon and Japanese Premier Eisaku Sato agree in Washington, D.C. on the return of Okinawa to Japanese control in 1972. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. is to retain its rights to bases on the island, but these are to be nuclear-free.
- Nov 21 1970 – Vietnam War: U.S. Force Raids Son Tay Prison Camp » A combined U.S. Air Force and Army team of 40 Americans–led by Army Colonel “Bull” Simons–conducts a raid on the Son Tay prison camp, 23 miles west of Hanoi, in an attempt to free between 70 and 100 Americans suspected of being held there. Planning for the mission–code-named Operation Ivory Coast–began in June 1970. The plan called for U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) to be flown to Son Tay by helicopter and crash-land inside the compound. The plan was for one group of Green Berets to pour out of the helicopter and neutralize any opposition while Green Berets in other helicopters, landing outside the walls, would break in and complete the rescue operation.
At 11:30 p.m. on November 20, the raiding force departed Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. As the force approached the camp, U.S. Air Force and Navy warplanes struck North Vietnamese troop installations and antiaircraft sites in the area. Part of the force initially landed at the wrong compound, but otherwise the mission came off without a hitch.
Unfortunately, the Green Berets could not locate any prisoners in the huts. After a sharp firefight with the North Vietnamese troops in the area, the order was given to withdraw–27 minutes after the raid began, the force was in the air headed back to Thailand. The raid was accomplished in a superb manner and all Americans returned safely, but it was learned later that the prisoners had been moved elsewhere in July. Despite that disappointment, the raid was a tactical success and sent a message to the North Vietnamese that the United States was capable of inserting a combat force undetected only miles from their capital. Stunned by the raid, high Hanoi officials ordered all U.S. POWs moved to several central prison complexes. This was actually a welcome change–the move afforded the prisoners more contact with each other and boosted their morale.
- Nov 21 1975 – Cold War: Congressional Report Charges U.S. Involvement in Assassination Plots » A Senate committee issues a report charging that U.S. government officials were behind assassination plots against two foreign leaders and were heavily involved in at least three other plots. The shocking revelations suggested that the United States was willing to go to murderous levels in pursuing its Cold War policies. The Senate Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church, alleged that U.S. officials instigated plots to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo. In addition, the U.S. officials “encouraged or were privy to” plots that led to the assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, General Rene Schneider of Chile, and Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic.
The attempts against Castro failed, but the other four leaders were killed. There was also evidence suggesting U.S. involvement in a number of other assassination plots against foreign leaders. The committee indicated that it had no specific evidence that an American president ever authorized an assassination. However, it went on to declare that “whether or not the President in fact knows about the assassination plots, and even if their subordinates failed in their duty of full disclosure, it still follows that the President should have known about the plots.” The Central Intelligence Agency came in for special condemnation for its efforts to recruit Mafia hit men to kill Castro and mercenaries to assassinate Lumumba.
In the report’s conclusion, the committee declared that, “We condemn the use of assassination as a tool of foreign policy [and] find that assassination violates moral precepts fundamental to our way of life.” President Gerald Ford criticized the decision to release the report, claiming that it would do “grievous damage to our country” and would be used by “groups hostile to the United States in a manner designed to do maximum damage to the reputation and foreign policy of the United States.”
- Nov 21 1985 – U.S. Navy: Israeli Spy Arrested in United States » Jonathan Jay Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst and Jewish American, is arrested on charges of illegally passing classified U.S. security information about Arab nations to Israel. Pollard, an employee at the navy intelligence center in Suitland, Maryland, was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison under the recommendation of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. The Israeli government did not officially object to the sentencing and most of Israel regarded the incident as an unfortunate embarrassment. However, Israeli calls for Pollard’s release mounted during the next decade, and top Israeli officials complained that Pollard received a far stiffer sentence than other individuals found in the past to have been passing information to “friendly” nations. In 1995, Israel awarded Pollard Israeli citizenship. He remains behind bars for his espionage.
- Nov 21 1986 – Iran-Contra: Oliver North Starts Feeding Documents Into the Shredding Machine » National Security Council staff member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, begin shredding documents that would have exposed their participation in a range of illegal activities regarding the sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of the proceeds to a rebel Nicaraguan group. On November 25, North was fired but Hall continued to sneak documents to him by stuffing them in her skirt and boots. The Iran-Contra scandal, as it came to be known, became an embarrassment and a sticky legal problem for the Reagan administration.
Only six years earlier, Iran had become an enemy of the United States after taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. At the time, Ronald Reagan had repeatedly insisted that the United States would never deal with terrorists. When the revelation surfaced that his top officials at the National Security Council had begun selling arms to Iran, it was a public relations disaster. During the televised Iran-Contra hearings, the public learned that the money received for the arms was sent to support the Contras in Nicaragua, despite Congress’ Boland Amendment, which expressly prohibited U.S. assistance to the Contras. Though the communist Sandinistas had been legitimately elected in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration sought to oust them by supporting the Contras, an anti-Communist group.
U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North
During the hearings, North claimed that the entire Reagan administration had known about the illegal plan. After admitting that he had lied to Congress, he was convicted of shredding documents, obstruction of justice, and illegally receiving a security fence for his own residence. He received a light sentence of a fine, probation, and community service. A year later in July 1990, an appellate court voted 2-1 to overturn his conviction based on the possibility that some of the evidence may have come from testimony that Congress had immunized in their own hearings on the matter. President Reagan and Vice President George Bush maintained that they had no knowledge of the scheme.
- Nov 22 1812 – War of 1812: In a 1250 man punitive expedition against a Native American coalition of 3 tribes supported by Great Britain seventeen Indiana Rangers are killed and 3 are wounded at the Battle of Wild Cat Creek. Indian casualties are unknown.
- Nov 22 1861 – Civil War: Battle of Fort McRee, Florida » Three tiers high and almost completely exposed, Fort McRee was never intended by its designers to be held against an enemy that also had control of Fort Pickens across the channel. Not only was it within range of the heavy guns at Pickens, without the support of that fort it was at the mercy of enemy warships that could close to within range from behind it. When Union troops managed to hang on to Fort Pickens at the beginning of the war, Fort McRee was doomed. The proof came on November 22, 1861, when the opposing forces opened the Battle of Pensacola Bay.
Fort Barrancas, on the mainland, held its own against Union cannon fire from massive Fort Pickens, but Fort McRee did not. The fort initially responded well to the incoming fire from Fort Pickens and the Union warships USS Niagara and USS Richmond. As the day wore on, however, the accuracy of the Federal cannon improved and one by one the guns of Fort McRee were silenced. For Colonel John Villepigue and his men from Georgia and Mississippi, the defense of Fort McRee was waged under desperate conditions. Overall commander General Braxton Bragg explained: The magazines were laid bare to the enemy’s shells, which constantly exploded around them, and a wooden building to the windward, on the outside of the fort, taking fire, showers of live cinders were constantly driven through the broken doors of one magazine, threatening destruction to the whole garrison.
Bragg reported that the wooden parts of the fort caught fire three times and that courage of Villepigue and his men was witnessed by the whole Confederate army. In the midst of this terrible ordeal the cool-ness and self-possession of the commander inspired all with confidence, and enabled him to hold a position which seemed to otherutterly untenable. Six lives were lost at Fort McRee when a powder magazine collapsed. A number of other men were wounded, Colonel Villepigue among them. Even though the garrison could do little to defend itself after the first day of the battle, the fort held out through two days of fighting.
By the time the smoke of battle cleared, Fort McRee had been literally riddled by Union shot and shells. Confederate soldiers held on until May of 1862 when they gave up the fort as they abandoned Pensacola. They burned the remaining woodwork as they withdrew, but the military usefulness of Fort
McRee was over.
- Nov 22 1863 – Civil War: The screw steam gunboat Aroostook captures schooner Eureka off Galveston, Texas which had been bound for Havana with a cargo of cotton. Also on this date, the side-wheel gunboat Jacob Bell transports and supports a troop landing at St. George’s Island, Md. where some 30 Confederates, some of whom were blockade runners, are captured.
- Nov 22 1864 – Civil War: Battle at Griswoldville, Georgia, ends after 650 casualties.
- Nov 22 1864 – Civil War: Hood Enters Tennessee » Confederate General John Bell Hood invades Tennessee in a desperate attempt to draw Union General William T. Sherman out of Georgia. This movement was part of the saga of Hood’s Army of Tennessee in 1864. In the spring, the army, commanded then by Joseph Johnston, blocked Sherman’s path to Atlanta from Chattanooga. During the summer, Sherman and Johnston fought a series of relatively small engagements as Sherman tried to flank the Rebel army. Johnston slowly retreated toward Atlanta, but kept his army intact. By July, Confederate President Jefferson Davis had seen enough territory lost to the Yankees, so he replaced the defensive Johnston with the aggressive Hood. Hood made a series of attacks on Sherman outside of Atlanta that did nothing but diminish his own army’s capabilities. After a one-month siege, Hood was forced to withdraw from Atlanta.
He took his army south, then swung around west of Atlanta in an attempt to cut Sherman’s supply line. This line ran down the corridor from Chattanooga covering the same ground over which the two armies had fought in the summer. Although Sherman had to commit a substantial part of his force to protect the lines, Hood could do little more than pick at them. In October, Hood headed into Alabama to rest his beleaguered army. Hood then embarked on a bold expedition to save the western theater for the Confederates. He planned to move toward Nashville, into Kentucky and maybe even into the Northern states before turning east and joining up with General Robert E. Lee’s army, which was under siege at Petersburg, Virginia. It was an enormous task, but Hood was determined to carry it out.
The 22 NOV passage into Tennessee marked the start of a new campaign that spelled disaster for the Confederates. In early November, Sherman took part of his force, cut loose from his supply lines, and began his March to the Sea, which would end with the capture of Savannah, Georgia, just before Christmas. He sent the rest of the force under George Thomas back to Nashville to guard against Hood. Hood charged toward Thomas and attacked part of his force at Franklin, Tennessee, on 30 NOV. Hood suffered a devastating defeat there but continued on to attack Thomas at Nashville on 15 DEC. After that attack, little remained of Hood’s once-proud Army of Tennessee.
- Nov 22, 1914 – WWI Era: The first extended battle fought between Allied and German forces in the much-contested Ypres Salient comes to an end after over one month of fighting. UK & Ger losses ~5,000 each.
- Nov 22, 1941 – WW2: HMS Devonshire Sinks Atlantis » The German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis (HSK 2), known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 16 and to the Royal Navy as Raider-C, was a converted German auxiliary cruiser, or merchant or commerce raider of the Kriegsmarine, which, in World War II, travelled more than 100,000 mi in 602 days, and sank or captured 22 ships with a combined tonnage of 144,384. Commerce raiders do not seek to engage warships, but rather attack enemy merchant shipping; the measures of success are tonnage destroyed (or captured) and time spent at large. Atlantis was second only to Pinguin in tonnage destroyed, and had the longest raiding career of any German commerce raider in either world war. She captured highly secret documents from SS Automedon.
Early on the morning of 22 NOV, Atlantis was intercepted by HMS Devonshire. The German submarine U-126 dived, leaving her captain behind, as he had gone aboard Atlantis. At 08:40, Atlantis transmitted a raider report posing as the Dutch ship Polyphemus. By 09:34, Devonshire had received confirmation this report was false. From a distance of 8 to 9 miles outside the range of Atlantis’s 5.9 in guns, Devonshire commenced fire with her 8 in battery. The second and third salvos hit Atlantis. Seven sailors were killed as the crew abandoned ship. Ammunition exploded, the bow rose into the air, and the ship sank.
After Devonshire left the area, U-126 resurfaced and picked up 300 German sailors and a wounded American prisoner. U-126 carried or towed rafts towards the still-neutral Brazil (930 mi) west). Two days later the German refueling ship Python arrived and took the survivors aboard. On 1 DEC while Python was refueling U-126 and UA, another of the British cruisers seeking the raiders, HMS Dorsetshire, appeared. The U-boats dived immediately with Python’s crew scuttling her; Dorsetshire departed, leaving the U-boats to recover the survivors. Eventually various German and Italian submarines took Atlantis’ crew back to St. Nazaire, France.
- Nov 22, 1941 – WW2: NZ Forces Capture Fort Capuzzo, Libya » On 10 APR, after the Axis advance from El Agheila, small British mobile columns began to harass Afrika Korps units around Fort Capuzzo, which was captured by the Germans on 12 APR. Attacks by Kampfgruppe Herf from 25 to 26 APR, led the British columns to fall back. During Operation Brevity (15–16 May) an operation to capture the area between Sollum and the fort and inflict casualties, the 22nd Guards Brigade Group and the 4th RTR was to capture the fort and then attack northwards. The operation began on 15 May and the fort was captured by the 1st Durham Light Infantry (1st DLI) and a squadron of I tanks. A counter-attack by II Battalion, Panzer Regiment 5 (with eight operational tanks) inflicted many losses and forced the 1st DLI back to Musaid. The German force advanced from Fort Capuzzo on the following afternoon.
Three Italian battalions with artillery from the 102nd Motorised Division Trento took over the area between Sollum, Musaid and Fort Capuzzo. Late on 15 JUN, the 7th Royal Tank Regiment attacked Fort Capuzzo during Operation Battleaxe (15–17 JUN) and scattered the defenders. The British tanks broke through but infantry were slow to follow up and the tanks were not able rapidly to exploit the success. Next day, the 22nd Guards Brigade consolidated at the fort and Panzer Regiment 8 attacked near Capuzzo, only to be repulsed by the 4th Armoured Brigade. German attempts to work round the British flank failed but reduced the tank regiments in the area to 21 runners.
On 17 JUN, the danger of encirclement increased as German attacks reached Sidi Suleiman and the 22nd Guards Brigade was ordered to retreat at 11:00 a.m. The remnants of the armoured brigades covered the British withdrawal, eventually to the start line, assisted by the RAF. On 22 NOV, the fort was captured by the 2nd New Zealand Division, during Operation Crusader (18 NOV– 30 DEC) which then advanced on Tobruk, apart from the 5th New Zealand Brigade which remained to capture the Sollum barracks.
- Nov 22, 1942 – WW2: Soviets Encircle Germans at Stalingrad » A Soviet counteroffensive against the German armies pays off as the Red Army traps about a quarter-million German soldiers south of Kalach, on the Don River, within Stalingrad. As the Soviets’ circle tightened, German General Friedrich Paulus requested permission from Berlin to withdraw.
The Battle of Stalingrad began in the summer of 1942, as German forces assaulted the city, a major industrial center and a prize strategic coup, if it could be occupied. But despite repeated attempts, the German 6th Army, under Paulus, and part of the 4th Panzer Army, under Ewald von Kleist, could not break past the adamantine defense by the Soviet 62nd Army, commanded by Gen. Vasily I. Chuikov, despite having pushed the Soviets almost to the Volga River in mid-October and encircling Stalingrad.
Diminishing resources, partisan guerilla attacks, and the cruelty of the Russian winter began to take their toll on the Germans. On November 19, the Soviets made their move, launching a counteroffensive that began with a massive artillery bombardment of the German position. The Soviets then assaulted the weakest link in the German force-inexperienced Romanian troops; 65,000 were ultimately taken prisoner by the Soviets.
The Soviets then made a bold strategic move, encircling the enemy, launching pincer movements from north and south simultaneously, even as the Germans encircled Stalingrad. The Germans should have withdrawn, but Hitler wouldn’t allow it. He wanted his armies to hold out until they could be reinforced. By the time those fresh troops arrived in December, it was too late. The Soviet position was too strong, and the Germans were exhausted. It was then only a matter of time before the Germans would be forced to surrender.
- Nov 22 1943 – WW2: USS Frazier’s (DD-607) bow is badly damaged when she intentionally rams and eventually sinks Japanese submarine I 35 off Tarawa in tandem with USS Meade (DD-602). No injuries or casualties are suffered and two days later Frazier sails for repairs at Pearl Harbor.
- Nov 22 1943 – WW2: US troops land on Abemada, Gilbert Island.
- Nov 22 1943 – WW2: Cairo Conference (22-26 NOV) – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek meet in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss ways to defeat Japan (see Cairo Conference).
- Nov 22 1944 – WW2: Operation Clipper (10-22 NOV) » An Allied offensive by the British XXX Corps (which included the American 84th Infantry Division) to reduce the Geilenkirchen salient in mid-November 1944. Clipper was the preliminary to a wider Allied operation, Operation Queen, to gain control of the Roer valley and the Hürtgen Forest. The salient was a German position on the Siegfried Line at the boundary between the British 2nd Army and the American 9th Army. It restricted the movement of Allied forces and was a potential threat.
Before dawn, on 18 NOV, giant searchlights of the 357th Searchlight Battery, Royal Artillery provided hazy indirect light for the mine-clearing flail tanks supporting the infantry. These tanks moved toward the German mine field between Geilenkirchen and Immendorf, but, on the wet ground, mud lessened the flails′ effectiveness and so engineers followed with mine detectors. After a brief artillery bombardment, the 334th Infantry Regiment advanced through the cleared strips at 07:00 and easily secured the high ground east of Geilenkirchen. The right flank gave some concern to U.S. commanders as a counter-attack was expected and fresh German troops appeared to be in the area; the advance to Prummern was delayed until the flank was secured. When the attack resumed, supported by British Sherman tanks, there was steady progress and the regiment′s objectives were achieved by late afternoon.
The British attack north and west of the town also achieved its objectives by nightfall. The Worcestershire Regiment advanced on Tripsrath, capturing its intermediate objectives of Rischden and intervening woods with little opposition and few casualties. The preparatory bombardment had reduced the Germans′ will to resist and rain had exposed much of the minefields. The rain, however, also made it difficult to bring-up armored support, anti-tank guns and supplies. An unsupported British advance on a copse—using universal carriers—was engaged by two self-propelled guns and forced back, with heavy casualties. Despite further counter-attacks and “friendly fire” casualties, the Worcestershires occupied Tripsrath after dark, aided by artillery, and held most of the village sometimes with Germans as next-door neighbors
On the 19th, the Worcestershires had been denied supply and support by the lack of a usable supply route, but they fought off a counter-attack by the 104th Panzer Grenadier Regiment of the 15th Panzergrenadier Division. Five Shermans of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards—equipped for traversing mud—arrived, but four were almost immediately knocked out by artillery and a Panzerfaust. A second German attack on Rischden, this time supported by two Tigers and two self-propelled guns, was engaged by PIATs, anti-tank guns and tanks that had arrived and by flanking fire from Tripsrath and it was beaten off with severe losses for the Germans. Events in the Prummern area had made American commanders cautious, particularly as there was now a gap in the American line between the 84th Division and the U.S. 2nd Armored Division 1.5 mi distant at Apweiler. This was plugged by the temporary attachment of the 405th Infantry Regiment.
Geilenkirchen itself was subdued relatively easily by the 333rd Infantry Regiment on 19 NOV, but the Allied advance suffered from the lack of artillery support which had been held back by the fear of friendly fire incidents, as had occurred earlier in the British sector. Two troops of tanks from the British Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry provided close support, although they could not make up entirely for lack of artillery. From Geilenkirchen, the advance continued northeast along the Wurm toward Süggerath. Flame-throwing Crocodiles subdued the increasing German resistance, especially two pillboxes guarding the road into Süggerath. “A few squirts from the flame-throwers, and the Germans poured out … The bastards are afraid of those flame-throwers and won’t be caught inside a pillbox …”, said one U.S. company commander.
The capture of Geilenkirchen opened a supply route to Tripsrath. German artillery heavily bombarded Tripsrath for the next four days, but, sheltering in basements, the British infantry suffered few losses. On the other hand, German defenders of the neighboring hamlet of Bauchem were subdued by a ferociously effective and uniquely concentrated four-hour artillery bombardment on the 20th, and advancing infantry occupied it with no effective resistance. The lead battalion of the 333rd passed through Süggerath, by-passing determined German strongholds. Augmented by a second, fresh battalion, Süggerath was cleared during the night of 19/20 November. The 333rd Infantry was still over a mile short of its final objective of Würm, but there was the possibility of establishing a coherent frontline with XXX Corps on its left and 334th Infantry Regiment on its right. The weather, however, intervened.
Despite the frustrations of 21–22 NOV, and the failure to capture the final objectives, the purpose of the operation had, in fact, now been achieved. The Geilenkirchen salient had been substantially removed and the U.S. XIII Corps now had room to man oeuvre. The 84th Infantry Division reverted to U.S. command and further attacks were abandoned on the 23rd.
- Nov 22 1944 – WW2: USS Besugo (SS 321) sinks the Japanese landing ship T-151 off the northern tip of Palawan while USS Guavina (SS-362) sinks the Japanese army cargo ship Dowa Maru northwest of Borneo.
- Nov 22 1961 – USMC: U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Robert B. Robinson, flying an F4H-1 Phantom II, sets a world speed record, averaging 1606.3 mph in two runs over the 15 to 25-kilometer course at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
- Nov 22 1963 – Vietnam War: US President John F. Kennedy assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald while riding in an open-topped motorcade in Dallas, Texas.
- Nov 22 1967 – Vietnam War: Westmoreland Claims U.S. Victory at Dak To » General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, briefs officials at the Pentagon and says that the battle around Dak To was “the beginning of a great defeat for the enemy.”
On 3 NOV the battle for Dak To began when 4,500 U.S. troops from the U.S. 4th Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade engaged four communist regiments of about 6,000 troops in the Central Highlands. The climax of the operation came in a savage battle that began on 19 NOV on Hill 875, 12 miles southwest of Dak To. The 173rd defeated the North Vietnamese, causing them to abandon their last defensive line on the ridge of Hill 875. However, it was a costly victory for the Americans, who suffered the loss of 135 men. In the 19 days of the battle in and around Dak To, North Vietnamese fatalities were estimated at 1,455. Total U.S. casualties included 285 killed, 985 wounded, and 18 missing.
In his briefing at the Pentagon, Westmoreland stressed the positive outcome of the battle. He revealed that a document removed from the body of a dead North Vietnamese soldier on 6 NOV stated that the Dak To battle was to be the beginning of a winter/spring offensive by the Communist B-3 Front. This document also revealed that the main objective of the action at Dak To was the destruction of a major American unit. The communists came close but ultimately failed in this objective. The Americans, despite heavy losses, defeated the North Vietnamese, mauling three enemy regiments so badly that they had to be withdrawn from South Vietnam to Cambodian and Laotian sanctuaries for refitting.
Westmoreland was reportedly brought home from Vietnam by President Johnson to fulfill a public relations task and revive flagging morale throughout the country. His message on U.S. military prospects in Vietnam was continually optimistic, as he emphasized that progress was being made in the fight against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. These public statements came back to haunt him when the communists launch a massive offensive during the Tet New Year holiday on January 30, 1968.
- Nov 22 1977 – Vietnam War: First B-52 Shot Down Over North Vietnam » The eight-engine bomber was brought down by a North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile near Vinh on the day when B-52s flew their heaviest raids of the war over North Vietnam. The Communists claimed 19 B-52s shot down to date.
In December 1972 the B-52 shown in the video at https://youtu.be/rcOCzMAKNwk was shot down by the PAVN Air defense during the Operation Linebacker II Also know like “Bombing Christmas” In nine days 16 B-52 were down and about other 20 more were damaged. In all 31 B-52’s were lost during the war (17 in combat, two more being scrapped after sustaining battle damage, and 12 crashed in flight accidents). However, some of the B-52 was counted as “crashed in flight accidents” certainly crashed by missiles or anti-aircraft guns. It is known that when landing on an airfield in Thailand, one B-52 was heavily damaged by SAM, rolled out of the runway and blown up on mines installed around the airfield to protect the guerrillas, only one crewman survived. Subsequently, this B-52 was counted as “crashed in flight accidents”
First losses were operational (non-combat) mid-air collision 2 B-52F 57-0047 and 57-0179 (441st Bomb Squadron, 320th Bomb Wing), 18 June 1965, South China Sea during air refueling orbit, 8 of 12 crewmen killed. Final loss: B-52D 55-0056 (307th Bomb Wing Provisional) to SAM 4 January 1973, crew rescued from Gulf of Tonkin
- Nov 22 1988 – Cold War: Stealth Bomber Unveiled » In the presence of members of Congress and the media, the Northrop B-2 “stealth” bomber is shown publicly for the first time at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The aircraft, which was developed in great secrecy for nearly a decade, was designed with stealth characteristics that would allow it to penetrate an enemy’s most sophisticated defenses unnoticed. At the time of its public unveiling, the B-2 had not even been flown on a test flight. It rapidly came under fire for its massive cost–more than $40 billion for development and a $1 billion price tag for each unit. In 1989, the B-2 was successfully flown, performing favorably. Although the aircraft had a wingspan of nearly half a football field, its radar signal was as negligible as that of a bird. The B-2 also successfully evaded infrared, sound detectors, and the visible eye.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the original order for the production of 132 stealth bombers was reduced to 21 aircraft. The B-2 has won a prominent place in the modern U.S. Air Force fleet, serving well in bombing missions during the 1990s.
- Nov 23 1777 – U.S. Revolutionary War: The Continental sloop Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones, captures the British brig Mary. Two days later, Ranger captures the British brig George. The prizes are then sent to Bordeaux and Nantes.
- Nov 23 1838 – U.S. Navy: The sloop-of-war Vincennes reaches Rio de Janeiro en route to the South Pacific during the U.S. Exploring Expedition.
- Nov 23 1861 – Civil War: CSS Sumter evades the steam sloop-of-war Iroquois at Martinique then steams for Europe.
- Nov 23 1863 – Civil War: Union forces win the Battle of Orchard Knob, Tennessee.
- Nov 23 1863 – Civil War: The 3rd Battle of Chattanooga in Tennessee, one of the most decisive battles of the War, begins. Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant reinforce troops at Chattanooga, Tennessee and counter-attack Confederate troops.
- Nov 23 1904 – Russo*Japanese War: The Russo-Japanese war erupted when negotiations over Korea and Manchuria broke down. The Japanese began the war with a successful surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur. The port was then blockaded by the Japanese. Russian attempts to break the blockade failed after the battleship Petropavlosk was lost. Russia was also unsuccessful in ground battles with the Japanese, and eventually the Japanese surrounded Port Arthur both on land and at sea. On 5 September of the following year President Roosevelt acted as the mediator in peace talks between the Russians and the Japanese to conclude their war, which Japan had won. President Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. US mediation was another sign of emerging US power in the world.
- Nov 23 1914 – Mexican Revolution: The last of U.S. forces withdraw from Veracruz, occupied seven months earlier in response to the Tampico Affair, after the ABC Powers Conference mediated many of the issues between the two nations.
- Nov 23 1915 – WWI Era: Fighting between Allied and Turkish forces continues into a second day during the Battle of Ctesiphon (or Selman Pak), on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq.
- Nov 23 1934 – U.S. Navy: The United States and Great Britain agree on a 5-5-3 naval ratio, with both countries allowed to build five million tons of naval ships while Japan can only build three. Japan will denounce the treaty.
- Nov 23 1940 – WW2 Era: President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints Adm. William D. Leahy, then retired, as the U.S. Ambassador to Vichy France in an attempt to prevent the French fleet and naval bases from falling into German hands.
- Nov 23 1940 –WW2 Era: Romania Becomes an Axis “Power” » Romania signs the Tripartite Pact, officially allying itself with Germany, Italy, and Japan. As early as 1937, Romania had come under control of a fascist government that bore great resemblance to that of Germany’s, including similar anti-Jewish laws. Romania’s king, Carol II, dissolved the government a year later because of a failing economy and installed Romania’s Orthodox Patriarch as prime minister. But the Patriarch’s death and peasant uprising provoked renewed agitation by the fascist Iron Guard paramilitary organization, which sought to impose order. In June 1940, the Soviet Union co-opted two Romanian provinces, and the king searched for an ally to help protect it and appease the far right within its own borders. So on July 5, 1940, Romania allied itself with Nazi Germany—only to be invaded by its “ally” as part of Hitler’s strategy to create one huge eastern front against the Soviet Union.
King Carol abdicated on September 6, 1940, leaving the country in the control of fascist Prime Minister Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Signing the Tripartite Pact was now inevitable. Originally formulated in Berlin on 27 SEP, the pact formally recognized an alliance between Germany, Italy, and Japan, termed the “Axis.” As more European nations became subject to fascist domination and invasion, they too were drawn into the pact, albeit as unequal partners (Hungary was made an Axis “power” on 20 NOV). Now it was Romania’s turn.
While Romania would recapture the territory lost to the Soviet Union when the Germans invaded Russia, it would also have to endure the Germans’ raping its resources as part of the Nazi war effort. Besides taking control of Romania’s oil wells and installations, Hitler would help himself to Romania’s food crops, causing a food shortage for native Romanians.
- Nov 23 1941 – WW2: U.S. troops move into Dutch Guiana, by agreement with the Netherlands Government in exile, to guard the bauxite mines to protect aluminum ore supplies from the mines in Surinam.
- Nov 23 1943 – U.S. Navy: The enlisted rating of Ships Servicemen (SH) is established. Ships Servicemen manage and operate retail and service activities afloat, along with managing and operating the ships barber, laundry, and tailor shops.
- Nov 23 1943 – WW2: U.S. Marines declare the island of Tarawa secure.
- Nov 23 1944 – WW2: USS Bang (SS-385) sinks Japanese freighter Sakae Maru and transport Amakusa Maru, USS Redfish (SS-395) sinks freighter Hozan Maru, and USS Picuda (SS-382) sinks freighters Fukuju Maru and Shuyo Maru.
- Nov 23 1944 – WW2: The first bombing raid against Tokyo is carried out by 88 American aircraft from Saipan.
- Nov 23 1945 – Post WW2: Wartime meat and butter rationing ends in the United States.
- Nov 23 1968 – Vietnam War: Battle of Nui Chom Mountain. The 4th Bn, 31st Infantry, 196th Inf Bde fought and destroyed the 21st NVA Regiment on Nui Chom Mountain southwest of Da Nang in a fierce six day battle.
- Nov 23 1972 – Vietnam War: Paris Peace Talks Deadlocked » Secret peace talks resume in Paris between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the North Vietnamese representative, but almost immediately reach an impasse. The sticking points were the implementation of the international supervisory force and Saigon’s insistence on the withdrawal of all North Vietnamese troops from South Vietnam. When the talks became hopelessly deadlocked, President Nixon ordered what became known as the “Christmas bombing” to force the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table.
Nixon halted the bombing when the communists agreed to return to Paris; a peace agreement was signed in January 1973. Because the United States was in such a hurry to end American participation in the war, the insistence on the withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops from South Vietnam ceased to be an issue. More than 100,000 communist troops were left in the south when the cease-fire went into effect. This played a major role in the fall of South Vietnam to the communists in April 1975.
- Nov 23 1981 – Cold War: Reagan Gives CIA Authority to Establish the Contras » President Ronald Reagan signs off on a top secret document, National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), which gives the Central Intelligence Agency the power to recruit and support a 500-man force of Nicaraguan rebels to conduct covert actions against the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. A budget of $19 million was established for that purpose. NSDD-17 marked the beginning of official U.S. support for the so-called Contras in their struggle against the Sandinistas.
The decision came several months after President Reagan directed the CIA to develop a plan to stop what his administration believed to be a serious flow of arms from Nicaragua to rebels in neighboring El Salvador. The administration also believed that the Sandinista regime was merely a cat’s paw for the Soviet Union. CIA officials subsequently set about securing pledges from Honduras to provide training bases and Argentina to give training to about 1,000 rebels (these would be in addition to the 500-man force trained and supplied by the CIA). Beyond the original goal of halting the flow of arms from Nicaragua, the tasks of the rebels were expanded to include spy missions and even paramilitary actions inside Nicaragua.
News of the directive leaked out to the press in March 1982, but Reagan administration officials quickly downplayed the significance of the action. They argued that the CIA plan was designed to support Nicaraguan “moderates” who opposed the Sandinista regime, not the disreputable former soldiers and allies of Anastasio Somoza, whom the Sandinista overthrew in 1979. Deputy Director of the CIA Admiral Bobby R. Inman argued that the $19 million allocation provided little buying power for arms and other materials, saying that “Nineteen million or $29 million isn’t going to buy you much of any kind these days, and certainly not against that kind of military force.”
In the years to come, U.S. support of the Contras became a highly charged issue among the American public. Congressional and public criticisms of the program eventually drove the Reagan administration to subvert congressional bans on aid to the Contras. These actions resulted in what came to be known as the Iran-Contra scandal of 1986.
- Nov 24 1862 – Civil War: The screw steam gunboat Monticello destroys two Confederate salt works near Little River, N.C., while the screw steam gunboat Sagamore captures two British blockade runners, schooner Agnes and sloop Ellen, in Indian River, Fla.
- Nov 24 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Lookout Mountain » Union troops capture Lookout Mountain southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee ,as they begin to break the Confederate siege of the city. In the “battle above the clouds,” the Yankees scaled the slopes of the mountain on the periphery of the Chattanooga lines.
For nearly two months following the Battle of Chickamauga, the Confederates, commanded by General Braxton Bragg, had pinned the Union army inside Chattanooga. They were not able to surround the city, though, and occupied Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge to the south and east of the city instead. In late October, arriving to take command, Union General Ulysses S. Grant immediately began to form an offensive. On October 27, Union troops attacked Brown’s Ferry southwest of Chattanooga and opened the Tennessee River to boats that brought much needed supplies to the besieged Yankees.
On 23 NOV, Grant began to attack the center of the lines around the city. Lookout Mountain lay on the Union’s far right, and the action there commenced on 24 NOV. Yankee General Joseph Hooker commanded this wing, and his men advanced toward the fog-covered peak. Hooker did not plan to attack the entire mountain that day, thinking the granite crags would be difficult to overcome. The fog masked the Union advance, however, and Hooker’s men climbed relatively easily. The Confederates had overestimated the advantages offered by the mountain, and 1,200 Rebels faced nearly 12,000 attacking Yankees. Artillery proved of little use, as the hill was so steep that the attackers could not even be seen until they appeared near the summit. Bragg did not send reinforcements because the Union attack against the Confederate center was more threatening than the sideshow around Lookout Mountain. The Confederates abandoned the mountain by late afternoon. The next day, Union forces launched a devastating attack against Missionary Ridge and successfully broke the Confederate lines around Chattanooga
- Nov 24 1877 – U.S. Navy: While en route to Cuba to collect scientific information, the screw steam gunboat Huron wrecks in a storm near Nag’s Head, N.C. The crew attempts to free their ship but it soon heels over, killing 98 officers and men.
- Nov 24 1943 – WW2: Japanese submarine I-175 sinks USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) southeast of Makin Island. Though 272 of her crew are rescued, she loses 55 officers and 591 enlisted men, including Navy Cross recipient Cook 3rd Class Doris Miller.
- Nov 24 1943 – WW2: USS Nautilus (SS-168) and USS Gansevoort (DD-608) shell Japanese positions on Abemama Atoll, Gilbert Islands.
- Nov 24 1947 – Cold War: “Hollywood 10″ Cited for Contempt of Congress » The House of Representatives votes 346 to 17 to approve citations of contempt against 10 Hollywood writers, directors, and producers. These men had refused to cooperate at hearings dealing with communism in the movie industry held by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The “Hollywood 10,” as the men were known, are sentenced to one year in jail. The Supreme Court later upheld the contempt charges. The contempt charges stemmed from the refusal of the 10 men to answer questions posed by HUAC as to whether they were or had ever been members of the Communist Party. In hearings that often exploded with rancor, the men denounced the questions as violations of their First Amendment rights. Albert Maltz, Dalton Trumbo, John Howard Lawson, Samuel Ornitz, Ring Lardner, Jr., Lester Cole, Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Edward Dmytryk, and Robert Adrian Scott were thereupon charged with contempt of Congress.
The chairman of HUAC, J. Parnell Thomas, dismissed the arguments raised by the men, claiming that Congress had every right to ask people what their political affiliations were. “The Constitution,” he declared, “was never intended to cloak or shield those who would destroy it.” The Hollywood 10 responded with a joint statement in which they argued that HUAC had succeeded in having “the Congress cite the Bill of Rights for contempt.” “The United States,” the statement concluded, “can keep its constitutional liberties or it can keep the Thomas committee. It can’t keep both.”
The impact of the charges against the Hollywood 10 was immediate and long-lasting. Hollywood quickly established the so-called “blacklist,” a collection of names of Hollywood personalities suspected of having communist ties. Those on the list rarely found work in the movies. The contempt charges also created a chilling effect on the Hollywood film industry, and producers, directors, and writers shied away from subject matter that might be considered the least bit controversial or open them up to charges of being soft on communism. The blacklist was not completely broken until the 1960s.
- Nov 24 1963 – Vietnam War: LBJ to Continue Kennedy Policy in Vietnam » Two days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson confirms the U.S. intention to continue military and economic support to South Vietnam. He instructed Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, in Washington for consultations following South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem’s assassination, to communicate his intention to the new South Vietnamese leadership. Johnson’s first decision about Vietnam was effectively to continue Kennedy’s policy.
- Nov 24 1979 – Vietnam War: U.S. Army Announces Calley Will be Tried » U.S. Army officials announce 1st Lt. William Calley will be court-martialed for the premeditated murder of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. In Washington, Army Secretary Stanley Resor and Army Chief of Staff William C. Westmoreland announced the appointment of Lt. Gen. William R. Peers to “explore the nature and scope” of the original investigation of the My Lai slayings in April 1968. The initial probe, conducted by the unit involved in the affair, concluded that no massacre occurred and that no further action was warranted.
April 23, 1971 March 16, 1968 April 10, 2012
The My Lai Massacre took place in March 1968, when between 200 and 500 South Vietnamese civilians were murdered by U.S. soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. During a sweep of a cluster of hamlets, the U.S. soldiers, particularly those from Calley’s first platoon, indiscriminately shot people as they ran from their huts. They then systematically rounded up the survivors, allegedly leading them to a ditch where Calley gave the order to “finish them off.”
After an investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Division, 14 were charged with crimes. All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted, except Calley, who was found guilty of murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was reduced twice and he was paroled in November 1974.
- Nov 24 1979 – Vietnam War: U.S. Casualty Rates Hit New High » U.S. casualty statistics reflect the intensified fighting in the Ia Drang Valley and other parts of the Central Highlands. In their first significant contacts, U.S. forces and North Vietnamese regulars fought a series of major battles in the Highlands that led to high casualties for both sides. A record 240 American soldiers were killed and another 470 were wounded during the previous week. These figures were a portent of things to come–U.S. and North Vietnamese forces began to engage each other on a regular basis shortly thereafter.
- Nov 24 1979 – Post Vietnam: The United States admits that thousands of troops in Vietnam were exposed to the toxic Agent Orange.
- Nov 25 1758 – French and Indian War: British forces capture Fort Duquesne from French control. Fort Pitt is built nearby and it grows into modern Pittsburgh.
- Nov 25 1783 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Last British Soldiers Leave New York » Nearly three months after the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the American Revolution, the last British soldiers withdraw from New York City, the last British military position in the United States. After the last Redcoat departed New York, U.S. General George Washington entered the city in triumph to the cheers of New Yorkers. The city had remained in British hands since its capture in September 1776.Four months after New York was returned to the victorious Patriots, the city was declared to be the capital of the United States. In 1789, it was the site of Washington’s inauguration as the first U.S. president and remained the nation’s capital until 1790, when Philadelphia became the second capital of the United States under the U.S. Constitution.
New Yorkers shaped the history of two new nations. The British evacuated their New York Loyalists to remaining British territories, mainly in Canada. These families had been dispossessed of their land and belongings by the victorious Patriots because of their continued support of the British king and were able to regain some financial independence through lands granted to them by the British in western Quebec (now Ontario) and Nova Scotia. Their arrival in Canada permanently shifted the demographics of what had been French-speaking New France until 1763 into an English-speaking colony, and later nation, with the exception of a French-speaking and culturally French area in eastern Canada that is now Quebec.
In 1784, one year after their arrival, the new Loyalist population spurred the creation of New Brunswick in the previously unpopulated (by Europeans, at least) lands west of the Bay of Fundy in what had been Nova Scotia. In 1785, the Loyalists yet again made their mark on Canadian history when their combined settlements at Parrtown and Carleton of approximately 14,000 people became British North America’s first incorporated city under the name City of Saint John. The division between the Anglophile and Francophile sections was ultimately recognized by creating the English-dominant province of Ontario, west of Quebec, in 1867.
- Nov 25 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Missionary Ridge » Union General Ulysses S. Grant breaks the siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in stunning fashion by routing the Confederates under General Braxton Bragg at Missionary Ridge.
For two months following the Battle of Chattanooga, the Confederates had kept the Union army bottled up inside a tight semicircle around Chattanooga. When Grant arrived in October, however, he immediately reversed the defensive posture of his army. After opening a supply line by driving the Confederates away from the Tennessee River in late October, Grant prepared for a major offensive in late November. It was launched on November 23 when he sent General George Thomas to probe the center of the Confederate line. This simple plan turned into a complete victory, and the Rebels retreated higher up Missionary Ridge. On November 24, the Yankees captured Lookout Mountain on the extreme right of the Union lines, and this set the stage for the Battle of Missionary Ridge.
The attack took place in three parts. On the Union left, General William T. Sherman attacked troops under Patrick Cleburne at Tunnel Hill, an extension of Missionary Ridge. In difficult fighting, Cleburne managed to hold the hill. On the other end of the Union lines, General Joseph Hooker was advancing slowly from Lookout Mountain, and his force had little impact on the battle. It was at the center that the Union achieved its greatest success. The soldiers on both sides received confusing orders. Some Union troops thought they were only supposed to take the rifle pits at the base of the ridge, while others understood that they were to advance to the top. Some of the Confederates heard that they were to hold the pits, while others thought they were to retreat to the top of Missionary Ridge. Furthermore, poor placement of Confederate trenches on the top of the ridge made it difficult to fire at the advancing Union troops without hitting their own men, who were retreating from the rifle pits. The result was that the attack on the Confederate center turned into a major Union victory. After the center collapsed, the Confederate troops retreated on November 26, and Bragg pulled his troops away from Chattanooga. He resigned shortly thereafter, having lost the confidence of his army.
The Confederates suffered some 6,600 men killed, wounded, and missing, and the Union lost around 5,800. Grant missed an opportunity to destroy the Confederate army when he chose not to pursue the retreating Rebels, but Chattanooga was secured. Sherman resumed the attack in the spring after Grant was promoted to general in chief of all Federal forces.
- Nov 25 1864 – Civil War: A group of Confederate operatives calling themselves the Confederate Army of Manhattan starts fires in more than 20 locations in an unsuccessful attempt to burn down New York City.
- Nov 25 1864 – Civil War: Battle of Sandersville, GA (25-25 NOV) » This was a minor battle that consisted of two skirmishes. On the eve of the Civil War, Sandersville was a dusty village nestled in east-central Georgia. With a population of about five hundred people, the hamlet was a typical small Georgian settlement with roots in the colonial period. When Sherman arrived in the village on 25 NOV, he found only a handful of wooden shops, a few homes, three brick buildings, and a courthouse square. A Confederate cavalry unit under Joe Wheeler launched a brief defensive action, and Union prisoners taken from rebel stockades were massacred.
Federal troops led by Sherman, however, brought superior force to bear on the town, compelling the defenders to quit Sandersville altogether on 26 NOV. The triumphant Union general, who had frequently visited brutality and suffering upon civilians–ranging from freed blacks to ardent Confederate sympathizers–his army had encountered during the campaign, allowed his men to raze the courthouse (“a handsome Greek Revival building of stuccoed brick”), the local jail, and the railroad depot in the adjacent town of Tennille. Like so many other parts of Georgia, Sandersville was simply another refrain in Sherman’s anthem to total war.
- Nov 25 1876 – Old West: U.S. Army Retaliates for the Little Bighorn Massacre » The battle of the Little Big Horn was fought between federal troops led by Lt. Gen George Armstrong Custer and a band of Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors led by chief sitting Bull. Tensions between the two groups had been rising since the discovery of gold on Native American lands, and when several tribes did not move to reservations per U.S. government demands, Custer and his 7th Cavalry confronted them at the Little Big Horn. But the Army was outnumbered and quickly overwhelmed in what became known as Custer’s Last Stand.
Although the Sioux and Cheyenne won one of their greatest victories at Little Bighorn, the battle actually marked the beginning of the end of their ability to resist the U.S. government. News of the massacre of Custer and his men reached the East Coast in the midst of nationwide centennial celebrations on July 4, 1876. Outraged at the killing of one of their most popular Civil War heroes, many Americans demanded an intensified military campaign against the offending Indians.
The government responded by sending one of its most successful Indian fighters to the region, General Ranald Mackenzie, who had previously been the scourge of Comanche and Kiowa Indians in Texas. Mackenzie led an expeditionary force up the Powder River in central Wyoming, where he located a village of Cheyenne living with Chief Dull Knife. Although Dull Knife himself does not appear to have been involved in the battle at Little Bighorn, there is no question that many of his people were, including one of his sons.
At dawn, Mackenzie and over 1,000 soldiers and 400 Indian scouts opened fire on the sleeping village, killing many Indians within the first few minutes. Some of the Cheyenne, though, managed to run into the surrounding hills. They watched as the soldiers burned more than 200 lodges-containing all their winter food and clothing-and then cut the throats of their ponies. When the soldiers found souvenirs taken by the Cheyenne from soldiers they had killed at Little Bighorn, the assailants felt justified in their attack.
The surviving Cheyenne, many of them half-naked, began an 11-day walk north to the Tongue River where Crazy Horse’s camp of Oglalas took them in. However, many of the small children and old people did not survive the frigid journey. Devastated by his losses, the next spring Dull Knife convinced the remaining Cheyenne to surrender. The army sent them south to Indian Territory, where other defeated survivors of the final years of the Plains Indian wars soon joined them.
- NOV 25 1918 – WWI: France Recovers Strasbourg after 50 Years » Since the Western Front armistice came into effect the Germans have been retreating and the Allies advancing to recover the lost territory. This leads to emotional scenes as places that have been under German occupation since the war’s start are now liberated. King Albert of Belgium returned to Brussels, seeing his capital for the first time since 1914, and is greeted by cheering crowds. French troops on 11 NOV arrive in Strasbourg, capital of Alsace, which, like nearby Lorraine, was lost to France after the war of 1870. The return of the Tricolour to the streets of Strasbourg gives rise to more emotional scenes, but patriotic joy here may not be entirely universal, as one of the first acts of the French soldiers is to suppress a revolutionary council that had established itself in the town.
- Nov 25 1918 – WWI: German Commander in East Africa Surrenders » A full two weeks after an armistice ended World War I in Europe, Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck of Germany finally surrenders his forces in German East Africa. A master of guerrilla warfare known for his brave and honorable conduct, Lettow-Vorbeck emerged from the First World War as the only undefeated military commander on either side of the conflict. From the beginning, the colonel knew the British navy’s dominance of the seas meant that few reinforcements would be sent from his homeland and, as a result that the German war effort in its African colonies would have to be carried out on his own initiative.
In classic Prussian fashion, Lettow-Vorbeck organized his African soldiers—called askaris—into independent field companies and trained them in the skills of bush fighting. With successful raids against the British colonies of Kenya and Rhodesia, the confidence of Lettow-Vorbeck’s troops only continued to rise. Meanwhile, on the British side, consistently confused command and lack of cooperation between army and navy forces—as well as a decision not to divert any resources from the Western Front for the campaign in Africa—contributed to a string of failed amphibious expeditions along the coast of East Africa, from Uganda to the Zambezi River. With a force that never exceeded 14,000–including 3,000 German and 11,000 askari troops–Lettow-Vorbeck managed to consistently defeat Allied forces (mostly British and South African) of 10 times that number. In November 1918, when World War I ended, Lettow-Vorbeck was alive and well, with 3,000 soldiers at his command. He chose to surrender at Mbaala, Zambia, on November 25, 1918, returning to Germany, where he was greeted as a national hero.
Immediately following the war, Lettow-Vorbeck joined the Freikorps, the military police force, helping to squelch the radical socialist Spartacist uprising in early 1919. The following year, however, he was forced to resign from the army after supporting the failed right-wing Kapp Putsch against the Weimar government. After publishing his memoirs, called My Reminiscences of East Africa, he returned to public life, serving as a deputy in the German Reichstag from May 1929 until July 1930. During the subsequent years, Lettow-Vorbeck unsuccessfully attempted to establish a conservative opposition to Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party. By the end of World War II, the former hero was living in poverty. In a testament to his greatness, a group of former South African and British officers led by his former nemesis, the South African leader Jan Smuts, arranged for a small pension to be paid him until his death, on March 9, 1964.
- Nov 25 1936 –WW2 Era: Anti-Comintern Pact » An anti-Communist pact concluded between Germany and Japan this day in 1936, which was directed against the Communist International (Comintern). It was signed by German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Japanese ambassador to Germany Kintomo Mushakoji. Italy, Spain and other countries joined it until November 1941. The Japanese signatories had hoped that the Anti-Comintern Pact would effectively be an alliance against the Soviet Union, which is certainly how the USSR perceived it. There was also a secret additional protocol which specified a joint German-Japanese policy specifically aimed against the Soviet Union. However, after the accession of Italy to the pact and especially the German-Soviet rapprochement after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, it gained an increasingly anti-western and anti-British identity as well.
After August 1939, Japan distanced itself from Germany as a result of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. The Anti-Comintern Pact was supplanted by the September 1940 Tripartite Pact, which identified the United States as the primary threat rather than the Soviet Union, as the principal document that united the interests of the Axis powers. Afterwards, membership in the Anti-Comintern Pact became largely ceremonial, but the renewal in November 1941 saw the entry of several new members into the pact.
- Nov 25 1940 – WW2 Era: First flight of the deHavilland Mosquito and Martin B-26 Marauder.
- Nov 25 1941 – WW2 Era: HMS Barham Sunk » U-331 sinks British battleship HMS Barham while covering Mediterranean convoys. All four of the submarine’s bow torpedoes were ordered to be fired at 4:25 p.m. from a range of 410 yards. Because there wasn’t time to take any evasive action, three of the four torpedoes hit so close to one another between ships that one massive column of water was thrown up causing the Barham to capsize quickly to port. The ship was on her side about four minutes after the torpedoes struck when a massive magazine explosion occurred, and she sank. Due to the speed at which she sank, 862 officers and ratings were killed, including two who died of their wounds after being rescued. The destroyer Hotspur rescued some 337 survivors, including Vice-Admiral Henry Pridham-Wippell and the pair who later died of their wounds, while the Australian destroyer Nizam reportedly rescued some 150 men. Captain Geoffrey Cooke went down with his ship. The sinking was captured on film by a cameraman from Pathé News, aboard Valiant. n an effort to conceal the sinking from the Germans and to protect British morale, the Board of Admiralty censored all news of Barham’s sinking until 27 JAN 1942.
- Nov 25 1941 – WW2 Era: A “War Warning” Is Sent to Commanders in the Pacific » Adm. Harold R. Stark, U.S. chief of naval operations, tells Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, that both President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull think a Japanese surprise attack is a distinct possibility. “We are likely to be attacked next Monday, for the Japs are notorious for attacking without warning,” Roosevelt had informed his Cabinet. “We must all prepare for trouble, possibly soon,” he telegraphed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Kimmel’s command was specifically at the mid-Pacific base at Oahu, which comprised, in part, Pearl Harbor. At the time he received the “warning” from Stark, he was negotiating with Army Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short, commander of all U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor, about sending U.S. warships out from Pearl Harbor in order to reinforce Wake and Midway Islands, which, along with the Philippines, were possible Japanese targets. But the Army had no antiaircraft artillery to spare.
War worries had struck because of an intercepted Japanese diplomatic message, which gave November 25 as a deadline of sorts. If Japanese diplomacy had failed to convince the Americans to revoke the economic sanctions against Japan, “things will automatically begin to happen,” the message related. Those “things” were becoming obvious, in the form of Japanese troop movements off Formosa (Taiwan) apparently toward Malaya. In fact, they were headed for Pearl Harbor, as was the Japanese First Air Fleet. Despite the fact that so many in positions of command anticipated a Japanese attack, especially given the failure of diplomacy (Japan refused U.S. demands to withdraw from both the Axis pact and occupied territories in China and Indochina), no one expected Hawaii as the target.
- Nov 25 1941 – Holocaust: German Jews in Netherlands declared stateless (loss of nationality) by the Nazis.
- Nov 25 1943 – WW2: At the Battle of Cape St. George, Destroyer Squadron 23 intercepts five Japanese destroyers attempting to land reinforcements at Buka on Bougainville. During this night engagement, the Japanese destroyers Onami, Makiname, and Yugiri are sunk.
- Nov 25 1943 – WW2: USS Radford (DD-446) sinks Japanese submarine I-19 with depth charges north of the Gilbert Islands after having detected her on the surface with radar. She was a Japanese Type B1 submarine which damaged and destroyed several allied ships while serving in the Imperial Japanese Navy.
On February 23, 1942, I-19’s Yokosuka E14Y (Glen) floatplane made a night reconnaissance over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in preparation for Operation K-1, the second attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy. On 4 MAR, she arrived at the French Frigate Shoals to serve as a radio beacon for the Kawanishi H8K (Emily) flying boats that were to attack Pearl Harbor but did not otherwise participate in the attack, which was carried out effectually by two of the planned five H8Ks. During the Guadalcanal Campaign, with a single torpedo salvo, the submarine sank the aircraft carrier USS Wasp and the destroyer USS O’Brien, and damaged the battleship USS North Carolina.
- Nov 25 1943 – WW2: German U-600 sunk in Atlantic Ocean by depth charges from Royal Navy frigates HMS Bazely and HMS Blackwood. All 45 hands were lost. In six patrols U-600 had sunk five merchant ships, for a total of 28,600 GRT, plus three merchant ships damaged.
- Nov 25 1943 – WW2: PB4Y-1 aircraft, piloted by Lt. j.g. Vance Dawkins from VB-107, sinks German submarine U-849 in the South Atlantic west of the Congo estuary.
- Nov 25 1944 – WW2: Holocaust » As Soviet forces continue to approach, SS chief Heinrich Himmler orders the destruction of the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers and crematoria. During this SS attempt to destroy the evidence of mass killings, prisoners were forced to dismantle and dynamite the structures.
- Nov 25 1944 – WW2: USS Hardhead (SS-365) attacks a Japanese convoy 60 miles west of Manila and sinks Coast Defense Vessel No.38 off Bataan Peninsula while USS Atule (SS-403) sinks Japanese freighter Santos Maru off Sabtang Island, Luzon. Also, USS Mingo (SS-261) sinks Japanese army transport Manila Maru.
- Nov 25 1944 – WW2: V2 Woolworths Disaster » A German V-2 rocket scored a direct hit on a Woolworths store in New Cross. The V2 hit Woolworths when it was crowded with Saturday morning shoppers: the official death toll was 168, but it was often said that the real figure was much higher – although it seems unlikely that a significantly higher casualty number could have been withheld until now.
The V2 was unlike the earlier ‘Vengeance Weapon’, the V1 (A.K.A. ‘doodlebug’, a cruise missile) in that it was impossible to detect – let alone intercept – before it exploded. The first impact in Chiswick in September 1944 was first thought to have been caused by a gas explosion. Their sudden deployment was a source of grave concern to Churchill, and prompted the construction of deep-level air raid shelters in Bloomsbury, Clapham and Stockwell. South and east London received a disproportionately high number of V-strikes, largely because of a British intelligence coup: the double agent Eddie Chapman managed to convince his Nazi ‘handlers’ that V1s were overshooting the center of London (they weren’t), hence the rocket launchers recalibrated and bombs began falling on Brockley, Woolwich, Deptford, Catford, Barking, Ilford, etc., and across Kent and Surrey.
The literal impact of these weapons may still be seen in London, where pockets of undeveloped bombsites remain – like the dead spot on Tottenham Court Road opposite Heals, final destination of a V2. South London is peppered with anomalous green spaces or abrupt changes in architectural style on a residential street, characteristic traces of Vengeance weapons. Perhaps the most bizarre legacy of the V2 campaign was the subsequent career of the project’s architect, Werner von Braun. The majestic Saturn V rocket which took Neil Armstrong towards the Moon was von Braun’s creation, the end result of his wartime experiments in rocketry and ballistics.
- Nov 25 1952 – Korean War: After 42 days of fighting, the Battle of Triangle Hill ends as American and South Korean units abandon their attempt to capture the “Iron Triangle”. Casualties and losses: US 1,540 TOK 4,689 – CH 11,529.
- Nov 25 1961 – U.S. Navy: USS Enterprise (CVAN 65), the U.S. Navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is commissioned in Newport News, Va.
- Nov 25 1963 – Presidential Assassination: Kennedy Laid To Rest at Arlington » President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated three days earlier, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It was his son’s third birthday. Kennedy’s coffin had lain in state in the rotunda of the Capitol building the previous day. Approximately 250,000 people streamed by the closed flag-draped coffin in a massive outpouring of respect. The next day, television and movie cameras rolled while Kennedy’s wife Jackie, his brothers Robert and Ted, political leaders and foreign dignitaries formed a solemn funeral procession behind Kennedy’s coffin as it was transferred atop a horse-drawn caisson to St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Observers noted the only sounds that could be heard were the cadence of drum beats and horses’ hooves and muffled sobs from the approximately 1 million people who lined the route between the Capitol and the cathedral. At one point, Kennedy’s son, John Jr., who turned three that day, was filmed saluting his father’s coffin.
President De Gaulle of France and other dignitaries salute as servicemen hold an American flag over
above the casket of slain President Kennedy at Arlington
After the state funeral at St. Matthew’s–the family had held a private mass at the White House on November 23–the mourners proceeded to Arlington National Cemetery by car where Kennedy, a decorated World War II hero, was buried with military honors. Kennedy was the second president to be buried at Arlington; President William Howard Taft had been interred there in 1930.
Although Kennedy had not specified where he wanted to be buried, most assumed his gravesite would be in his home state of Massachusetts. In March 1963, though, President Kennedy had made an unscheduled tour of Arlington and had reportedly remarked to a friend on the view of the Potomac River from the cemetery’s Custis-Lee Mansion, saying it was “so magnificent I could stay forever.” After the assassination, Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, suggested Arlington be Kennedy’s final resting place. Jackie toured the site on November 24 and made the final decision, saying “he belongs to the people.”
- Nov 25 1967 – Vietnam War: Catholic Official Reports Support Provided to North Vietnam » In the weekly magazine Ave Maria, which hit newsstands on this day, the Very Reverend Edward Swanstrom, auxiliary Roman Catholic Bishop of New York and head of Catholic Relief Services, wrote that the overseas relief agency of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States provided funds for sending medical supplies and hospital equipment to North Vietnam.
- Nov 25 1969 – Vietnam War: Communist Activity Increases along Cambodian border » Communist forces step up attacks against U.S. troops shielding Allied installations near the Cambodian border. Ten Americans were killed and 70 wounded. U.S. troops reported killing 115 enemy soldiers. North Vietnamese troops destroyed more than a dozen tanks and tons of ammunition near the Cambodian border.
- Nov 25 1969 – Nicaragua: Iran-Contra Connection Revealed » Three weeks after a Lebanese magazine reported that the United States had been secretly selling arms to Iran, Attorney General Edwin Meese reveals that proceeds from the arms sales were illegally diverted to the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua. On 3 NOV, the Lebanese magazine Ash Shiraa reported that the United States had been secretly selling arms to Iran in an effort to secure the release of seven American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon. The revelation, confirmed by U.S. intelligence sources on November 6, came as a shock to officials outside President Ronald Reagan’s inner circle and went against the stated policy of the administration. In addition to violating the U.S. arms embargo against Iran, the arms sales contradicted President Reagan’s vow never to negotiate with terrorists.
On 25 NOV, controversy over the administration’s secret dealings with Iran deepened dramatically when Attorney General Meese announced that the arms sales proceeds were diverted to fund Nicaraguan rebels–the Contras–who were fighting a guerrilla war against the elected leftist government of Nicaragua. The Contra connection caused outrage in Congress, which in 1982 had passed the Boland Amendment prohibiting the use of federal money “for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.” The same day that the Iran-Contra connection was disclosed, President Reagan accepted the resignation of his national security adviser, Vice Admiral John Poindexter, and fired Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, a Poindexter aide. Both men had played key roles in the Iran-Contra operation. Reagan accepted responsibility for the arms-for-hostages deal but denied any knowledge of the diversion of funds to the Contras.
In DEC 1986, Lawrence Walsh was named special prosecutor to investigate the matter, and in the summer of 1987 Congress held televised hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal. Both investigations revealed that North and other administration officials had attempted to cover-up illegally their illicit dealings with the Contras and Iran. In the course of Walsh’s investigation, eleven White House, State Department, and intelligence officials were found guilty on charges ranging from perjury, to withholding information from Congress, to conspiracy to defraud the United States. In his final report, Walsh concluded that neither Reagan nor Vice President George Bush violated any laws in connection with the affair, but that Reagan had set the stage for the illegal activities of others by ordering continued support of the Contras after Congress prohibited it. The report also found that Reagan and Bush engaged in conduct that contributed to a “concerted effort to deceive Congress and the public” about the Iran-Contra affair.
On Christmas Eve in 1992, shortly after being defeated in his reelection bid by Bill Clinton, President George Bush pardoned six major figures in the Iran-Contra affair. Two of the men, former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger and former chief of CIA operations Duane Clarridge, had trials for perjury pending.
- Nov 25 1990 – Middle East: Mikhail Gorbachev Tells Iraq to Get out of Kuwait » In August 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government invaded Kuwait; Gorbachev endorsed Bush’s condemnation of it. This brought criticism from many in the Soviet state apparatus, who saw Hussein as a key ally in the Persian Gulf and feared for the safety of the 9,000 Soviet citizens in Iraq, although Gorbachev argued that the Iraqis were the clear aggressors in the situation. In November the Soviets endorsed a UN Resolution permitting force to be used in expelling the Iraqi Army from Kuwait. Gorbachev later called it a “watershed” in world politics, “the first time the superpowers acted together in a regional crisis.” However, when the U.S. announced plans for a ground invasion, Gorbachev opposed it, urging instead a peaceful solution. In October 1990, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; he was flattered but acknowledged “mixed feelings” about the accolade. Polls indicated that 90% of Soviet citizens disapproved of the award.
- Nov 26 1774 – Pre American Revolution: A congress of colonial leaders criticizes British influence in the colonies and affirms their right to “Life, liberty and property.”
- Nov 26 1776 – American Revolutionary War: The Continental sloop Independence, commanded by Capt. John Young, captures the British merchant ship Sam with $20,000 in coin on board.
- Nov 26 1789 – Post American Revolution: George Washington proclaims this a National Thanksgiving Day in honor of the new Constitution. This date was later used to set the date for Thanksgiving.
- Nov 26 1862 – Civil War: Cold Knob Mountains, VA » Maj. William H. Powell led an advance detachment of 21 Union cavalrymen to the foot of the Cold Knob Mountains. They discovered the location of two Confederate camps in the area. When he decided to attack the camp, he ordered his men to use their swords instead of their pistols to keep the other camp from hearing any gunfire, thus giving away the surprise. The Federals rode into camp and surprised the Confederates. After a brief struggle, Powell called for the camp commander, Lt. Col. John A. Gibson, and demanded that the Confederates surrender. The commander agreed to the surrender terms. Without a loss of life, the Federals managed to capture 500 confederates.
- Nov 26 1863 – Civil War: The side-wheel steamship James Adger, commanded by Cmdr. F.H. Patterson, seizes British blockade runner Ella off Masonboro.
- Nov 26 1863 – Civil War: Mine Run Campaign (26 Nov – 2 Dec) » Around a small valley called Mine Run in Virginia, Union General George Meade moves against Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia after months of inaction following the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in July of that year. Meade’s troops found no weaknesses in Lee’s lines, and the offensive was abandoned after five days.
Meade was under pressure from President Abraham Lincoln’s administration to act before the end of 1863. For months after Gettysburg, the two battered armies nursed their wounds and gazed warily at one another across the Rappahannock River. In October 1863, Lee attempted to move his army between the Union force and Washington, D.C., but his offensive failed at Bristoe Station, Virginia. Now, Meade hoped to attack part of Lee’s army.
On 26 NOV, Meade sent three corps against Lee’s right flank near Mine Run. Unfortunately for the Union, William French’s Third Corps took the wrong road and did not cross the Rapidan River (just south of the Rappahannock) on time. Lee moved part of his army east to meet the threat. While French’s corps wandered in the Virginia wilderness, Confederate General Edward Johnson moved to block their advance. French’s men fought Johnson’s at Payne’s Farm; French suffered some 950 men killed and wounded to Johnson’s 545. The blunder cost the Union heavily. Lee’s men took up strong positions along Mine Run, and Meade realized that to attack head on would be foolish.
By 1 DEC, Meade began pulling his men back across the Rappahannock and into winter quarters. There would be no further activity between the two great armies until spring. Casualties and losses: Union 1,272 of a force of 81,000 – CSA 680 of a force of 41,000.
- Nov 26 1864 – Civil War: The Sassacus class “double-ender” steam gunboat Metacomet (below), commanded by Lt. Cmdr. J.E. Jouett, captures Confederate blockade runner steamer Susanna in the Gulf of Mexico off Campeche Banks. Half her cargo of cotton is thrown overboard in the chase.
- Nov 26 1909 – Nicaragua: U.S. troops land in Blue fields, Nicaragua, to protect American interests there.
- Nov 26 1916 –WWI Era: Addressing the Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati, US President Woodrow Wilson declares that ‘The business of neutrality is over. The nature of modern war leaves no state untouched’.
- Nov 26 1916 – WWI Era : Battleship HMS Bulwark Explodes » A powerful internal explosion ripped Bulwark apart at about 07:53 while she was moored at Number 17 buoy in Kethole Reach, 4 nautical miles west of Sheerness in the estuary of the River Medway. All the ship’s officers were killed in the explosion and only a dozen ratings survived. A total of 741 men were lost, including members of the band of the gunnery school, HMS Excellent, which was playing aboard. Only about 30 bodies were recovered after the explosion. In terms of loss of life, the incident remains the second most catastrophic accidental explosion in the history of the United Kingdom, exceeded only by the explosion of the dreadnought battleship Vanguard, caused by a stokehold fire detonating a magazine, at Scapa Flow in 1917.
A naval court of enquiry into the causes of the explosion that was held on 28 NOVruled out external explosions such as a torpedo or a mine because eyewitnesses spoke of a flash of flame near the aft turret and then one or two explosions quickly following, not the towering column of water associated with explosions against the outer hull. The gunnery logbook, recovered partially intact, and the testimony of the chief gunner’s clerk, as well as several other survivors, said the six-inch ammunition magazines were being restowed to keep the cordite propellant charges together in lots that morning. This meant at least 30 exposed charges had been left in the cross-passages between the ship’s magazines with the magazine doors left open when the ship’s company was called to breakfast at 07:45.
These passages were also used to stow hundreds of six-inch and twelve-pounder shells, and the board concluded that the cordite charges had been stowed against one of the boiler-room bulkheads which was increasing in temperature as the boilers were fired up. This ignited the cordite charges which detonated the nearby shells and spread to the aft twelve-inch magazine, which exploded. On 29 NOV divers sent to find the wreck reported that the ship’s port bow as far aft as the sick bay had been blown off by the explosion and lay 50 ft east of the mooring. The starboard bow lay 30 ft further away. The remainder of the ship had been torn apart so violently that no other large portions of the wreck could be found. One 12-inch gun was located on 28 DEC, a considerable distance away from her mooring, and later recovered
- Nov 26 1936 –WW2 Era: Great Britain’s Anthony Eden warns Adolf Hitler that Britain will fight to protect Belgium.
- Nov 26 1938 –WW2 Era: Poland renews its nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union to protect against a German invasion.
- Nov 26 1939 –WW2 Era: The Soviet Union charges Finland with an artillery attack on its border.
- Nov 26 1941 – WW2 Era: Japanese Task Force Leaves for Pearl Harbor » Adm. Chuichi Nagumo leads the Japanese First Air Fleet, an aircraft carrier strike force, toward Pearl Harbor, with the understanding that should “negotiations with the United States reach a successful conclusion, the task force will immediately put about and return to the homeland.”
Negotiations had been ongoing for months. Japan wanted an end to U.S. economic sanctions. The Americans wanted Japan out of China and Southeast Asia-and to repudiate the Tripartite “Axis” Pact with Germany and Italy as conditions to be met before those sanctions could be lifted. Neither side was budging. President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull were anticipating a Japanese strike as retaliation—they just didn’t know where. The Philippines, Wake Island, Midway—all were possibilities. American intelligence reports had sighted the Japanese fleet movement out from Formosa (Taiwan), apparently headed for Indochina. As a result of this “bad faith” action, President Roosevelt ordered that a conciliatory gesture of resuming monthly oil supplies for Japanese civilian needs canceled. Hull also rejected Tokyo’s “Plan B,” a temporary relaxation of the crisis, and of sanctions, but without any concessions on Japan’s part. Prime Minister Tojo considered this an ultimatum, and more or less gave up on diplomatic channels as the means of resolving the impasse.
Nagumo had no experience with naval aviation, having never commanded a fleet of aircraft carriers in his life. This role was a reward for a lifetime of faithful service. Nagumo, while a man of action, did not like taking unnecessary risks—which he considered an attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor to be. But Chief of Staff Rear Adm. Isoruku Yamamoto thought differently; while also opposing war with the United States, he believed the only hope for a Japanese victory was a swift surprise attack, via carrier warfare, against the U.S. fleet. And as far as the Roosevelt War Department was concerned, if war was inevitable, it desired “that Japan commit the first overt act.”
- Nov 26 1942 – WW2: The French fleet in Toulon is scuttled to keep it from Germany.
- Nov 26 1944 – WW2: USS Bon Homme Richard (CV 31) is commissioned.
- Nov 26 1950 – Korean War: Chinese Counterattacks in Korea Change Nature of War » In some of the fiercest fighting of the Korean War, thousands of communist Chinese troops launch massive counterattacks against U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) troops, driving the Allied forces before them and putting an end to any thoughts for a quick or conclusive U.S. victory. When the counterattacks had been stemmed, U.S. and ROK forces had been driven from North Korea and the war settled into a grinding and frustrating stalemate for the next two-and-a-half years.
In the weeks prior to the Chinese attacks, ROK and U.S. forces, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, had succeeded in driving deeper into North Korea and were nearing the border with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The PRC issued warnings that the Allied forces should keep their distance, and beginning in October 1950 troops from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army began to cross the border to assist their North Korean ally. Their numbers grew to around 300,000 by early November. Some bloody encounters occurred between the Chinese and ROK and U.S. forces, but the Chinese troops suddenly broke off offensive operations on 6 NOV. This spurred MacArthur, who had always discounted the military effectiveness of the Chinese troops, to propose a massive new offensive by U.S. and ROK forces.
Alternately referred to as the “End the War” or “Home by Christmas” offensive, the attack began on 24 NOV. The offensive almost immediately encountered heavy resistance, and by 26 NOV the Chinese were launching destructive counterattacks along a 25-mile front. By December, U.S. and ROK forces had been pushed out of North Korea. Eventually, U.S. and ROK forces stopped the Chinese troops and the war settled into a military stalemate. The massive Chinese attack brought an end to any thoughts that U.S. boys would be “home by Christmas.” It also raised the specter of the war expanding beyond the borders of the Korean peninsula, something U.S. policymakers-leery of becoming entangled in a land war in Asia that might escalate into a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets-were anxious to avoid. Casualties and losses: Est. UN 11,000 – CH 40,000 & UN 17,843 – CH 48,156.
- Nov 26 1951 – Korean War: Rear Adm. R.E. Libby relieves Rear Adm. Arleigh Burke as the United Nations delegate to the Panmunjom Peace Talks.
- Nov 26 1954 – Cold War: Alger Hiss, convicted of being a Soviet spy, is freed after 44 months in prison.
- Nov 26 1968 – Vietnam War: Air Force Helicopter Pilot Rescues Special Forces Team » While returning to base from another mission, Air Force 1st Lt. James P. Fleming and four other Bell UH-1F helicopter pilots get an urgent message from an Army Special Forces team pinned down by enemy fire.
Although several of the other helicopters had to leave the area because of low fuel, Lieutenant Fleming and another pilot pressed on with the rescue effort. The first attempt failed because of intense ground fire, but refusing to abandon the Army green berets, Fleming managed to land and pick up the team. When he safely arrived at his base near Duc Co, it was discovered that his aircraft was nearly out of fuel. Lieutenant Fleming was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
- Nov 26 1984 – Gibraltar: Britain and Spain sign the Brussels Agreement to enter discussions over the status of Gibraltar.
- Nov 26 2011 – Afghanistan: NATO forces in Afghanistan attack a Pakistani checkpost in a friendly fire incident, killing 24 soldiers and wounding 13 others.
- Nov 27 1863 – Civil War: John Hunt Morgan Escapes From the Ohio Penitentiary » Confederate cavalry raider John Hunt Morgan and several of his men break out of the Ohio state prison and escape to the South.
Morgan was raised in Kentucky and served in the Mexican War (1846-48) under General Zachary Taylor. A successful hemp manufacturer before the Civil War, Morgan moved to Alabama when Kentucky did not secede with the rest of the South. He became a hero in the South when he made four daring raids on Northern-held territory in 1862 and 1863. Though these raids were of limited strategic value, they boosted Southern morale and kept thousands of Federal troops occupied trying to hunt down Morgan.
On his last raid, however, Morgan’s reach exceeded his grasp. He took a large band and headed through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. After riding past Cincinnati, Morgan and his men tried to cross the Ohio River back into Kentucky, but they were surprised and routed by a larger Federal force at Buffington Island, Ohio. With his escape blocked, Morgan turned into northeastern Ohio but was finally surrounded by pursuing Yankee cavalry at Salineville on July 26, 1863.
Morgan and several of his top officers were incarcerated in the newly constructed Ohio State Penitentiary at Columbus, while the rest of his men were sent to various Northern prisoner-of-war camps. In November 1863, Morgan and his men burrowed out of the prison by cutting a hole in a prison cell. Below the cell was a crawl space for ventilation through which they tunneled to the outside and journeyed safely to Confederate territory. Morgan returned to his cavalry activities in Tennessee after his escape. However, at Greeneville, Tennessee in 1864, he was killed by Yankee cavalry.
- Nov 27 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Mine Run (27 Nov – 02 Dec) » Also known as Payne’s Farm, or New Hope Church, or the Mine Run campaign was conducted in Orange County, Virginia. It was an unsuccessful attempt of the Union Army of the Potomac General George Meade with 81,000 troops to defeat the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee with 48,000 troops. It was marked by false starts and low casualties and ended hostilities in the Eastern Theater for the year. Casualties and losses: US 1,272 – CSA 680.
After the Battle the Army of the Potomac went into winter quarters at Brandy Station, Virginia. Mine Run had been Meade’s final opportunity to plan a strategic offensive before the arrival of Ulysses S. Grant as general-in-chief the following spring. Lee also regretted the inconclusive results. He was quoted as saying, “I am too old to command this army. We never should have permitted those people to get away.” Confederate hopes of repeating their Chancellorsville triumph had been dashed. The Mine Run Campaign was Meade’s last and failed attempt in 1863 to destroy Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia before winter halted military operations.
- Nov 27 1863 – Civil War: Battle at Fort Esperanza Texas (27-20 NOV) » Following the engagements of Brownsville and Mustang Island a Union expedition, led by Maj. Gen. Cadwallader C. Washburn, continued up the Texas coast toward Matagorda Island. On the north end of Matagorda Island lay Fort Esperanza commanded by Colonel William R. Bradfute with a garrison of detachments from his own 8th Texas Infantry and the 5th Texas Militia regiment as well as a few local militiamen from the area.
Leading General Washburn’s expedition was Brig. Gen. Thomas E. G. Ransom’s Federal brigade. On 23 NOV Ransom’s men had difficulty crossing Cedar Bayou due to light skirmishing and bad weather but once across they encamped to wait for the next Federal brigade under Colonel Henry D. Washburn to cross. On 27 NOV General Washburn arrived on the scene and ordered Ransom’s brigade up the center of the island while Colonel Washburn’s brigade moved on a parallel route along the coast. Washburn’s brigade reached Fort Esperanza first. The Federals encountered pickets from the 8th Texas Infantry who retreated within the fortification after a brief reconnoitering skirmish. Bad weather limited activity on 28 NOV to minor skirmishing and occasional artillery fire which produced no results for either side.
On 29 NOV with Ransom’s brigade in place two Union batteries opened the fight with an artillery bombardment. Union infantry then drove in the Texas infantry from the exterior rifle pits while artillery continued with great accuracy against the Confederate defenses. Colonel Bradfute held a council of war that evening and decided to abandon the fort. Shortly after midnight on 30 NOV Bradfute’s men detonated the fort’s magazines, spiked the cannon and withdrew. The explosion signaled the Confederates’ evacuation and the Union force entered the fort only to realize the Confederate had already withdrawn.
Two Indiana regiments were ordered to pursue the retreating garrison but managed only to capture an artillery piece used to guard the crossing point. Though much of the artillery and ammunition was destroyed General Washburn’s expedition succeeded in capturing the fort and found much needed supplies left behind. The Confederate suffered one killed and ten captured while the Union soldiers suffered 1 killed and ten wounded.
- Nov 27 1868 – Native Americans: Custer Massacres Cheyenne on Washita River » Without bothering to identify the village or do any reconnaissance, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer leads an early morning attack on a band of peaceful Cheyenne living with Chief Black Kettle.
Convicted of desertion and mistreatment of soldiers earlier that year in a military court, the government had suspended Custer from rank and command for one year. Ten months into his punishment, in September 1868, General Philip Sheridan reinstated Custer to lead a campaign against Cheyenne Indians who had been making raids in Kansas and Oklahoma that summer. Sheridan was frustrated by the inability of his other officers to find and engage the enemy, and despite his poor record and unpopularity with the men of the 7th Cavalry, Custer was a good fighter.
Sheridan determined that a campaign in winter might prove more effective, since the Indians could be caught off guard while in their permanent camps. On 26 NOV, Custer located a large village of Cheyenne encamped near the Washita River, just outside of present-day Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Custer did not attempt to identify which group of Cheyenne was in the village, or to make even a cursory reconnaissance of the situation. Had he done so, Custer would have discovered that they were peaceful people and the village was on reservation soil, where the commander of Fort Cobb had guaranteed them safety. There was even a white flag flying from one of the main dwellings, indicating that the tribe was actively avoiding conflict.
Having surrounded the village the night before, at dawn Custer called for the regimental band to play “Garry Owen,” which signaled for four columns of soldiers to charge into the sleeping village. Outnumbered and caught unaware, scores of Cheyenne were killed in the first 15 minutes of the “battle,” though a small number of the warriors managed to escape to the trees and return fire. Within a few hours, the village was destroyed–the soldiers had killed 103 Cheyenne, including the peaceful Black Kettle and many women and children.
Hailed as the first substantial American victory in the Indian wars, the Battle of the Washita helped to restore Custer’s reputation and succeeded in persuading many Cheyenne to move to the reservation. However, Custer’s habit of boldly charging Indian encampments of unknown strength would eventually lead him to his death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
- Nov 27 1901 – U.S. Army: U.S. Army War College » The College was founded by Secretary of War Elihu Root and U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and formally established by General Order 155 from the principles learned in the Spanish–American War. According to U.S. Army regulation 10–44, the mission of the War College is “To prepare selected military, civilian, and international leaders for the responsibilities of strategic leadership; educate current and future leaders on the development and employment of landpower in a joint, multinational and interagency environment; conduct research and publish on national security and military strategy; and engage in activities in support of the Army’s strategic communication efforts.”
- Nov 27 1914 – WWI Era: Hindenburg Celebrates Warsaw Campaign » German commander Paul von Hindenburg issues a triumphant proclamation from the battlefields of the Eastern Front, celebrating his army’s campaign against Russian forces in the Polish city of Warsaw.
On 1 NOV, Hindenburg had been appointed commander in chief of all German troops on the Eastern Front; his chief of staff was Erich Ludendorff, who had aided him in commanding several earlier victories against Russian forces in East Prussia. The new command, dubbed OberOst, had two objectives: First, they were to mount a counterattack in Poland while their colleague, Erich von Falkenhayn, managed German forces fighting in the Ypres region on the Western Front. Second, they were to balance the faltering Austrian command headed by Conrad von Hotzendorff. Earlier, Conrad had audaciously blamed his army’s failure against Russia on a lack of sufficient German support and demanded that 30 new German divisions be sent east, a notion that Falkenhayn steadfastly opposed.
The German campaign against Warsaw, launched in early November 1914, aimed to draw Russian manpower and other resources away from their ferocious assault on the struggling army of Germany’s ally, Austria-Hungary. In this it proved successful. The Germans scored several significant victories, most notably at the neighboring city of Lodz. Though the broader German assault ultimately failed, leaving Warsaw still in Russian hands, the Kaiser rewarded Hindenburg by promoting him to field marshal, the highest rank in the German army.
In his statement of 27 NOV, Hindenburg expressed his satisfaction with the results of the campaign and, of course, with his promotion. “I am proud at having reached the highest military rank at the head of such troops. Your fighting spirit and perseverance have in a marvelous manner inflicted the greatest losses on the enemy. Over 60,000 prisoners, 150 guns and about 200 machine guns have fallen into our hands, but the enemy is not yet annihilated. Therefore, forward with God, for King and Fatherland, till the last Russian lies beaten at our feet. Hurrah!”
- Nov 27 1941 – WW2 Era: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Harold R. Stark sends “war warning” to Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Adm. Husband E. Kimmell, and Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, Adm. Ernest J. King.
- Nov 27 1942 – WW2: By orders of French Vice Adm. Jean de Borde, the French fleet is scuttled in Toulon, France to prevent the ships being used by the Germans.
- Nov 27 1943 – WW2: USS Callaghan (DD-792) is commissioned. Named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Rear Adm. Daniel J. Callaghan, who was killed during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal November 1942, she serves in the Pacific until she is sunk by a Japanese kamikaze July 28, 1945.
- Nov 27 1943 – WW2: USS Bowfin (SS-287) sinks the Vichy French cargo ship Van Vollenhoven off the coast of French Indochina while USS Seahorse (SS-304) sinks the Japanese fleet tanker San Ramon Maru in the East China Sea.
- Nov 27 1944 – WW2: RAF Fauld Explosion » The RAF Fauld underground munitions storage depot explosion was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history and the largest to occur on UK soil. Between 3,500 and 4,000 tonnes of ordnance exploded—mostly comprising high explosive (HE)-filled bombs, but including a variety of other types of weapons and including 500 million rounds of rifle ammunition. The explosion crater with a depth of 300 feet and 250 yards across is still visible just south of Fauld, to the east of Hanbury in Staffordshire, England. It is now known as the Hanbury Crater. A nearby reservoir containing 450,000 cubic meters of water was obliterated in the incident, along with several buildings including a complete farm. Flooding caused by destruction of the reservoir added to the damage directly caused by the explosion. The exact death toll is uncertain; it is believed that about 70 people died in the explosion.
The cause of the disaster was not made clear at the time. There had been staff shortages, a management position had remained empty for a year, and 189 inexperienced Italian POWs were working in the mines at the time of the accident. In 1974, it was announced that the cause of the explosion was probably a site worker removing a detonator from a live bomb using a brass chisel rather than a wooden batten. An eyewitness testified that he had seen a worker using brass chisels in defiance of the strict regulations in force. Much of the storage facility was annihilated by the explosion, but the site itself continued to be used by the RAF for munitions storage until 1966.
- Nov 27 1944 – WW2: US 121st Infantry regiment opens assault on Hurtgen forest.
- Nov 27 1944 – WW2: Japanese kamikazes sink the submarine chaser SC 744 and damage USS Colorado (BB 45), USS St. Louis (CL 49) and USS Montpelier (CL 57). All the light cruisers are repaired and return to combat duty for the rest of World War II.
- Nov 27 1944 – WW2: Leyte Campaign Last Raids » Aircraft from seven aircraft carriers of Task Force 38 carry out the task force’s last raids in support of the Leyte campaign, raiding Japanese bases on Luzon, attacking a coastal convoy, and destroying 26 Japanese aircraft in the air and 29 on the ground. Aircraft from USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) sink the Japanese heavy cruiser Kumano in Dasol Bay. Kamikazes respond by damaging the aircraft carriers USS Intrepid (CV-11), USS Essex (CV-9), and USS Cabot (CVL-28); damage to the carriers forces cancellation of strikes against Japanese shipping in the Visayas the next day.
- Nov 27 1950 – Korea: East of the Choosing River, Chinese forces annihilate an American task force.
- Nov 27 1951 – Korea: Cease-fire & demarcation zone accord signed in Panmunjon, Korea.
- Nov 27 1965 – Vietnam War: Pentagon Calls for Troop Increase » The Pentagon informs President Johnson that if General Westmoreland is to conduct the major sweep operations necessary to destroy enemy forces during the coming year, U.S. troop strength should be increased from 120,000 to 400,000 men.
- Nov 27 1965 – Vietnam War: The Viet Cong release two U.S. special forces soldiers captured two years earlier during a battle of Hiep Hoa, 40 miles southwest of Saigon. At a news conference in Phnom Penh three days later, the two Americans, Sgt. George Smith and Specialist 5th Class Claude McClure, declared that they opposed U.S. actions in Vietnam and would campaign for the withdrawal of American troops. Although Smith later denied making the statement, U.S. authorities announced that the two men would face trial for cooperating with the enemy.
- Nov 27 1965 – Vietnam War: In Washington, nearly 35,000 war protestors circle the White House for two hours before moving on to the Washington Monument. Dr. Benjamin Spock, Coretta Scott King, and activist Norman Thomas were among those who gave speeches.
- Nov 27 1970 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese forces attacked near Cambodian border » A South Vietnamese task force, operating in southeastern Cambodia, comes under North Vietnamese attack near the town of Krek. The South Vietnamese command reported repelling the assault and killing enemy soldiers. The South Vietnamese command also reported killing 33 Viet Cong in the Rung Sat special zone, 23 miles southeast of Saigon.
- Nov 28 1777 – U.S. Revolutionary War: John Adams Replaces Silas Deane » After the judgment and loyalty of Silas Deane is called into question, Congress appoints John Adams to succeed Deane as the commissioner to France on this day in 1777.
Deane had been recalled to America by Congress after fellow diplomat Arthur Lee accused him of misappropriating French funds. Whereas Deane was born and raised in Connecticut and educated at Yale, Arthur Lee was a Virginian following the educational and career path of the British elite when revolutionary politics intervened. The lesser-known brother of Francis Lightfoot Lee and Richard Henry Lee, he left the colonies to enroll at the aristocratic boarding school Eton College in England. He then pursued medical studies at the prestigious University of Edinburgh in Scotland, receiving his degree in 1765. In 1766, Lee went to London and began legal studies at the equally renowned Temple Bar until 1770, when he began a legal practice in London at which he worked until the outbreak of revolution in 1776. It was then that he was named, along with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, as an American commissioner to France.
Lee never got along with his two colleagues and instigated Deane’s recall by accusing him of financial mismanagement and corruption. Deane’s replacement, John Adams, was also a New Englander (although from Massachusetts and Harvard) and defended Deane. Nonetheless, Deane was unable to clear his name and was forced to live in exile until his death in 1789. In 1842, Congress reopened the investigation into Deane’s accounts and, finding no evidence of misconduct, ordered that his heirs be paid $37,000 in reparations.
Despite personal vendettas among the members of the congressional delegation, they eventually managed to succeed in their goal of winning French support for the American war effort. On February 6, 1778, the Treaties of Amity and Commerce and Alliance were signed; they were ratified by the Continental Congress in May 1778. One month later, war between Britain and France formally began when a British squadron fired on two French ships. During the American Revolution, French naval fleets proved critical in the defeat of the British, which was assured at the Battle of Yorktown in October 1781.
- Nov 28 1812– War of 1812: U.S. Marines participated in the “Battle of Red House” in Canada
- Nov 28 1861– Civil War: The Confederate Congress admits Missouri to the Confederacy, although Missouri has not yet seceded from the Union.
- Nov 28 1862 – Civil War: Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas » During the Battle of Cane Hill, Union troops under General John Blunt drive Confederates under General John Marmaduke back into the Boston Mountains in northwestern Arkansas.
The battle was part of a Confederate attempt to push the Yankees back into Missouri and recapture ground lost during the Pea Ridge campaign of early 1862, when Union forces secured parts of northern Arkansas. Now, Confederate General Thomas Hindman moved his army of 11,000 soldiers into Fort Smith, Arkansas, and prepared to move across the Boston Mountains into the extreme northwestern corner of the state. Awaiting him there was Blunt with 5,000 troops. Hindman hoped to attack Blunt’s force, which was over 70 miles from the nearest Union reinforcements. The Rebel general dispatched Marmaduke and 2,000 cavalry troopers to hold Blunt in place. Meanwhile, Hindman moved the rest of his force through the mountains.
General John Blunt General John Marmaduke
Blunt disrupted the Confederate plan by advancing south when he heard of Marmaduke’s approach. Marmaduke was not prepared to meet Blunt, who was 35 miles further south than expected. Marmaduke’s troops were surprised and outnumbered when Blunt suddenly attacked on 28 NOV. Marmaduke began a hasty retreat and ordered General Joseph Shelby to fight a delaying action while the rest of the Confederates headed for the mountains. Blunt pursued Marmaduke’s forces for 12 miles before the Confederates reached the safety of the hills. Though the conflict lasted for nine hours, casualties were light. The Yankees suffered 41 men killed or wounded, while the Confederates lost 45.
This small engagement was a prelude to a much larger clash at Prairie Grove, Arkansas, nine days later. Blunt’s advance left him dangerously isolated from Union forces in Springfield, Missouri, but when Hindman attacked again on 7 DEC, he still failed to expel Blunt from northwestern Arkansas.
- Nov 28 1863 – Civil War: The screw steam gunboat Chippewa convoys Army transport Monohansett and Mayflower up Skull Creek, S.C., on a reconnaissance mission.
- Nov 28 1872 – Native Americans: The Modoc War of 1872-73 begins in northern California when fighting breaks out between Modoc Chief Captain Jack and a cavalry detail led by Captain James Jackson.
- Nov 28 1914 – WWI Era: New York Stock Exchange Resumes Bond Trading » The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reopens for bond trading after nearly four months, the longest stoppage in the exchange’s history. The outbreak of World War I in Europe forced the NYSE to shut its doors on July 31, 1914, after large numbers of foreign investors began selling their holdings in hopes of raising money for the war effort. All of the world’s financial markets followed suit and closed their doors by 1 AUG.
By the end of November, however, American officials had decided to reopen the NYSE because it was thought that bond trading, albeit with a set of restrictions designed to safeguard the American economy, could help prevent the financial ruin of the belligerent countries by raising money for the war effort. Trading of stocks didn’t resume until December 12, 1914, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)–the most important of various stock indices used to gauge market performance–suffered its worst percentage drop (24.39 percent) since it was first published in 1896. This precipitous fall underlined the risky nature of business during the first months of the war, when nobody knew exactly how long the conflict would last or exactly what role the then-neutral U.S. would eventually end up playing.
Although the stock market would remain volatile–including a 40-percent drop in the DJIA from late 1916 to early 1917–World War I was a clear turning point in the realm of international finance. In its wake, New York would replace London as the top investment capital and the NYSE would become, for better or worse, the undisputed barometer of the world’s economies. The NYSE did not close its doors for any extended period of time again until the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, when trading was suspended for three days.
- Nov 28 1935 – Pre WW2: The German Reich declares all men ages 18 to 45 as army reservists.
- Nov 28 1939 –WW2 Era: The Soviet Union scraps its nonaggression pact with Finland.
- Nov 28 1941 –WW2 Era: USS Enterprise (CV-6) sails from Pearl Harbor for Wake Island to ferry Marine F4F Wildcat fighters to the island. By Dec. 5, there are no carriers left at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attack.
- Nov 28 1943 – WW2: FDR Attends Tehran Conference (28 Nov – 01 Dec) » President Franklin Delano Roosevelt joins British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at a conference in Iran to discuss strategies for winning World War II and potential terms for a peace settlement.
Tehran, Iran, was chosen as the site for the talks largely due to its strategic importance to the Allies. The United States was able to get supplies to the Soviets through Iran when Germany controlled most of Europe, the Balkans and North Africa, and German U-boat attacks on Allied shipping in the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea made transport treacherous. When first lady Eleanor and the couple’s daughter Anna expressed a desire to accompany Roosevelt to Iran, he flatly refused, saying there would be no women allowed at the preliminary conference between himself and Churchill in Cairo or at the Tehran meeting. Eleanor and Anna were incensed to find out later that Churchill’s wife and Madame Chiang Kai Shek from China had made the trip.
Roosevelt was in his third term as president in 1943. According to biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, instead of feeling trepidation about the dangers of a secret trip through war zones, Roosevelt was eager to meet again with his friend Churchill. He also expressed excitement at the prospect of meeting Stalin for the first time and relished the challenge of bringing the stern, forbidding Soviet leader into the Pacific war against Japan. The “Big Three,” as the leaders were known, discussed ways to defeat Nazi Germany and agreed upon an invasion of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord, which was launched in June 1944. In return for America’s help in defeating Germany on the eastern front, Stalin promised to help the United States win its war against Japan. The meeting was so friendly that Churchill later expressed unease at Roosevelt’s extraordinary effort to charm and accommodate Stalin. Churchill would have preferred an indirect assault on Germany to Overlord, and mistrusted the Soviet leader. For his part, Stalin wanted a territorial buffer between the Soviet Union and Germany, made up of the former Baltic nations, Poland and part of Germany, to be part of any post-war peace settlement.
In a joint declaration issued 1 DEC Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt recognized “the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming mass of the peoples of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.” After the Tehran meeting, Roosevelt and Churchill traveled back to Cairo, where they discussed who would lead Operation Overlord. After some discussion, they agreed upon General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who in 1953 would become the 34th president of the United States.
- Nov 28 1944 – WW2: In a multi-destroyer gun action, USS Saufley (DD-465), USS Waller (DD 466), USS Pringle (DD-477), and USS Renshaw (DD-499) sink the Japanese submarine I-46 in Leyte Gulf.
- Nov 28 1944 – WW2: The first shipment of supplies reach Antwerp, Belgium by convoy, a new route for the Allies.
- Nov 28 1944 – Korean War: In Korea, 200,000 Communist troops launch an attack on UN forces.
- Nov 28 1964 – Vietnam War: Johnson Advised to Bomb North Vietnam » President Lyndon Johnson’s top advisers–Maxwell Taylor, Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, and other members of the National Security Council–agree to recommend that the president adopt a plan for a two-stage escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam.
The purpose of this bombing was three-fold: to boost South Vietnamese morale, to cut down infiltration of Communist troops from the north, and to force Hanoi to stop its support of the insurgency in South Vietnam. While his advisors agreed that bombing was necessary, there was a difference of opinion about the best way to go about it. Johnson’s senior military advisers pressed for a “fast and full squeeze,” massive attacks against major industries and military targets in the north. His civilian advisers advocated a “slow squeeze,” a graduated series of attacks beginning with the infiltration routes in Laos and slowly extending to the targets in North Vietnam. Ultimately, the civilian advisers convinced Johnson to use the graduated approach. The bombing campaign, code-named Rolling Thunder, began in March 1965 and lasted through October 1968.
- Nov 28 1965 – Vietnam War: The Philippines Agrees to Send Troops to South Vietnam » President Elect Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines states that he will send troops to South Vietnam, in response to President Lyndon Johnson’s call for “more flags” in Vietnam.
Johnson hoped to enlist other nations to send military aid and troops to support the American cause in South Vietnam. The level of support was not the primary issue; Johnson wanted to portray international solidarity and consensus for U.S. policies in Southeast Asia. The Philippines sent a 1,500-man civic action force in 1966; the United States paid for the group’s operating costs and also provided additional military and economic aid to Marcos in return for sending his troops.
Several other countries–including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Thailand–responded to Johnson’s call and sent troops to South Vietnam. Collectively, these troops were known as the Free World Military Forces, and they fought alongside American and South Vietnamese troops.
- Nov 28 1980 – Middle East: Operation Morvarid takes place 28-29 NOV; the Iranian Navy destroys over 70% of the Iraqi Navy.
- Nov 28 1989 – Czechoslovakia: Confronted by the collapse of communist regimes in neighboring countries and growing protests in the streets, officials of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party announce that they will give up their monopoly on political power.
- Nov 29 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: The Battle of Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia comes to an end with the arrival of British reinforcements.
- Nov 29 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Continental brig Reprisal arrives in Quiberon Bay, France, becoming the first Continental vessel to arrive in Europe. Reprisal was carrying Benjamin Franklin who was acting as the diplomatic agent to the country.
- Nov 29 1812 – War of 1812: U.S. Marine, Lt Presley O’Bannon and seven Marines landed in Alexandria, Egypt
- Nov 29 1847 – Old West: Whitman Massacre – Missionaries Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and 15 others are killed by Cayuse and Umatilla Indians, causing the Cayuse War.
- Nov 29 1863 – Civil War: The Battle of Fort Sanders » In attempting to take Knoxville TN, the Confederates decided that Fort Sanders was the only vulnerable place where they could penetrate Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s fortifications, which enclosed the city, and successfully conclude the siege, already a week long. The fort surmounted an eminence just northwest of Knoxville. Northwest of the fort, the land dropped off abruptly. Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet believed he could assemble a storming party, undetected at night, below the fortifications and, before dawn, overwhelm Fort Sanders by a coup de main. Following a brief artillery barrage directed at the fort’s interior, three Rebel brigades charged. Union wire entanglements-–telegraph wire stretched from one tree stump to another to another-–delayed the attack, but the fort’s outer ditch halted the Confederates.
This ditch was twelve feet wide and from four to ten feet deep with vertical sides. The fort’s exterior slope was almost vertical, also. Crossing the ditch was nearly impossible, especially under withering defensive fire from musketry and canister. Confederate officers did lead their men into the ditch, but, without scaling ladders, few emerged on the scarp side and a small number entered the fort to be wounded, killed, or captured. The attack lasted a short twenty minutes. Longstreet undertook his Knoxville expedition to divert Union troops from Chattanooga and to get away from Gen. Braxton Bragg, with whom he was engaged in a bitter feud. His failure to take Knoxville scuttled his purpose. This was the decisive battle of the Knoxville Campaign. This Confederate defeat, plus the loss of Chattanooga on 25 NOV, put much of East Tennessee in the Union camp.
- Nov 29 1864 – Native Americans: Sand Creek Massacre » Peaceful Southern Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians are massacred by a band of Colonel John Chivington’s Colorado volunteers at Sand Creek, Colorado.
The causes of the Sand Creek massacre were rooted in the long conflict for control of the Great Plains of eastern Colorado. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 guaranteed ownership of the area north of the Arkansas River to the Nebraska border to the Cheyenne and Arapahoe. However, by the end of the decade, waves of Euro-American miners flooded across the region in search of gold in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, placing extreme pressure on the resources of the arid plains. By 1861, tensions between new settlers and Native Americans were rising. On 8 FEB of that year, a Cheyenne delegation, headed by Chief Black Kettle, along with some Arapahoe leaders, accepted a new settlement with the Federal government. The Native Americans ceded most of their land but secured a 600-square mile reservation and annuity payments. The delegation reasoned that continued hostilities would jeopardize their bargaining power. In the decentralized political world of the tribes, Black Kettle and his fellow delegates represented only part of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes. Many did not accept this new agreement, called the Treaty of Fort Wise.
The new reservation and Federal payments proved unable to sustain the tribes. During the Civil War, tensions again rose and sporadic violence broke out between Anglos and Native Americans. In June 1864, John Evans, governor of the territory of Colorado, attempted to isolate recalcitrant Native Americans by inviting “friendly Indians” to camp near military forts and receive provisions and protection. He also called for volunteers to fill the military void left when most of the regular army troops in Colorado were sent to other areas during the Civil War.
In August 1864, Evans met with Black Kettle and several other chiefs to forge a new peace, and all parties left satisfied. Black Kettle moved his band to Fort Lyon, Colorado, where the commanding officer encouraged him to hunt near Sand Creek. In what can only be considered an act of treachery, Chivington moved his troops to the plains, and on 29 NOV, they attacked the unsuspecting Native Americans, scattering men, women, and children and hunting them down. The casualties reflect the one-sided nature of the fight. Nine of Chivington’s men were killed; 148 of Black Kettle’s followers were slaughtered, more than half of them women and children. The Colorado volunteers returned and killed the wounded, mutilated the bodies, and set fire to the village.
The atrocities committed by the soldiers were initially praised, but then condemned as the circumstances of the massacre emerged. Chivington resigned from the military and aborted his budding political career. Black Kettle survived and continued his peace efforts. In 1865, his followers accepted a new reservation in Indian Territory.
- Nov 29 1864 – Civil War: Battle of Spring Hill – Confederate advance into Tennessee misses opportunity to crush Union army. As part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign the 12,000 man Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood, attacked a 7,000 man Union force under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield as it retreated from Columbia through Spring Hill. Because of a series of command failures, the Confederates were unable to inflict serious damage on the Federals and could not prevent their safe passage north to Franklin during the night.
The Battle of Spring Hill was a minor affair in terms of casualties—about 350 Union and 500 Confederate—but the result of miscommunication and simply bad military management was that during the night all of Schofield’s command, including Cox, passed from Columbia through Spring Hill while the Confederate commanders slept. The passage of the army did not go unnoticed by some of the soldiers, but no concerted effort was made to block the pike. The next day, Hood pursued Schofield and attacked his fortifications in the Battle of Franklin, resulting in severe Confederate casualties.
- Nov 29 1872 – Native Americans: The Modoc War begins with the Battle of Lost River when U.S. troops attempt to relocate them. Casualties and losses: US 7 – Modacs 5.
- Nov 29 1929 – U.S. Navy: Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd makes the first flight over the South Pole.
- Nov 29 1939 – WW2 Era: Soviet planes bomb an airfield at Helsinki, Finland.
- Nov 29 1941 – WW2 Era: Passenger ship Lurline sends radio signal of sighting Japanese war fleet.
- Nov 29 1942 – WW2: Coffee joins the list of items rationed in the United States. Despite record coffee production in Latin American countries, the growing demand for the bean from both military and civilian sources, and the demands placed on shipping, which was needed for other purposes, required the limiting of its availability.
- Nov 29 1942 – WW2: The cruiser USS Minneapolis was seriously damaged during an engagement with Japanese destroyers near Guadalcanal at night. Her bow was blown off by a Japanese torpedo.
- Nov 29 1943 – WW2: TBF aircraft of VC-19 based on board USS Bogue (CVE-9) sink the German submarine U-86 about 385 miles east of Terceira, Azores.
- Nov 29 1943 – WW2: US aircraft carrier Hornet launched.
- Nov 29 1944 – WW2: USS Maryland (BB-46) is hit by a kamikaze off Leyte. She is repaired in time for Okinawa Invasion where she is hit by a kamikaze again April 7, 1945.
Maryland in February 1942, after the completion of her repairs
- Nov 29 1944 – WW2: USS Archerish (SS-311) sinks Japanese carrier Shinano on her maiden voyage 160 nautical miles southwest of Tokyo Bay. Shinano is the largest warship sunk by any combatant submarines during World War II. Also on this date, USS Scabbardfish (SS-397) sinks Japanese submarine I-365 east of Honshu.
- Nov 29 1944 – WW2: Albania Liberated from Nazi Control » After Italy was defeated by the Allies, Germany occupied Albania by September 1943, dropping paratroopers into Tirana before the Albanian guerrillas could take the capital, and the German army soon drove the guerrillas into the hills and to the south. Berlin subsequently announced it would recognize the independence of a neutral Albania and organized an Albanian government, police, and military. Many Balli Kombëtar units collaborated with the Germans against the communists, and several Balli Kombëtar leaders held positions in the German-sponsored regime.
The partisans entirely liberated Albania from German occupation on 29 NOV. The National Liberation Army, which in October 1944 consisted of 70,000 regulars, also took part in the war alongside the antifascist coalition. The Albanian partisans also liberated Kosovo and assisted Tito’s communist forces in liberating part of Montenegro and southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. By that time, the Soviet Army was also entering neighboring Yugoslavia, and the German Army was evacuating from Greece into Yugoslavia
- Nov 29 1949 – Cold War: The United States announces it will conduct atomic tests at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.
- Nov 29 1950 – Korea: Chinese Overwhelm Allies in North Korea » Three weeks after U.S. General Douglas MacArthur first reported Chinese communist troops in action in North Korea, U.S.-led U.N. troops begin a desperate retreat out of North Korea under heavy fire from the Chinese.
Near the end of World War II, the “Big Three” Allied powers–the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain–agreed to divide Korea into two separate occupation zones and temporarily govern the nation. The country was split along the 38th parallel, with Soviet forces occupying the northern zone and Americans stationed in the south. By 1949, separate Korean governments had been established, and both the United States and the USSR withdrew the majority of their troops from the Korean Peninsula. The 38th parallel was heavily fortified on both sides, but the South Koreans were unprepared for the hordes of North Korean troops and Soviet-made tanks that suddenly rolled across the border on June 25, 1950.
Two days later, President Harry Truman announced that the United States would intervene in the Korean conflict to stem the spread of communism, and on 28 JUN the United Nations approved the use of force against communist North Korea. In the opening months of the war, the U.S.-led U.N. forces rapidly advanced against the North Koreans, but in October, Chinese communist troops entered the fray, throwing the Allies into retreat. By May 1951, the communists were pushed back to the 38th parallel, where the battle line remained for the rest of the war.
In 1953, an armistice was signed, ending the war and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today. Approximately 150,000 troops from South Korea, the United States, and participating U.N. nations were killed in the Korean War, and as many as one million South Korean civilians perished. An estimated 800,000 communist soldiers were killed, and more than 200,000 North Korean civilians died.
The original figure of American troops lost–54,246 killed–became controversial when the Pentagon acknowledged in 2000 that all U.S. troops killed around the world during the period of the Korean War were incorporated into that number. For example, any American soldier killed in a car accident anywhere in the world from June 1950 to July 1953 was considered a casualty of the Korean War. If these deaths are subtracted from the 54,246 total, leaving just the Americans who died (from whatever cause) in the Korean theater of operations, the total U.S. dead in the Korean War numbers 36,516.
- Nov 29 1952 – Korea: President Eisenhower Goes to Korea » Making good on his most dramatic presidential campaign promise, newly elected Dwight D. Eisenhower goes to Korea to see whether he can find the key to ending the bitter and frustrating Korean War.
During the presidential campaign of 1952, Republican candidate Eisenhower was critical of the Truman administration’s foreign policy, particularly its inability to bring an end to the conflict in Korea. President Truman challenged Eisenhower on 24 OCT to come up with an alternate policy. Eisenhower responded with the startling announcement that if he were elected, he would personally go to Korea to get a firsthand view of the situation. The promise boosted Eisenhower’s popularity and he handily defeated Democratic candidate Adlai E. Stevenson. Shortly after his election, Eisenhower fulfilled his campaign pledge, though he was not very specific about exactly what he hoped to accomplish. After a short stay he returned to the United States, yet remained mum about his plans concerning the Korean War.
After taking office, however, Eisenhower adopted a get-tough policy toward the communists in Korea. He suggested that he would “unleash” the Nationalist Chinese forces on Taiwan against communist China, and he sent only slightly veiled messages that he would use any force necessary (including the use of nuclear weapons) to bring the war to an end unless peace negotiations began to move forward. The Chinese, exhausted by more than two years of war, finally agreed to terms and an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. The United States suffered over 50,000 casualties in this “forgotten war,” and spent nearly $70 billion. The most frustrating war in U.S. history had come to an end. America’s first experience with a “limited war,” one in which the nation did not seek (and did not obtain) absolute victory over the enemy, did not bode well for the future. Conflict in Vietnam was just around the corner.
- Nov 29 1961 – Cold War: NASA launches a chimpanzee named Enos into Earth orbit.
- Nov 29 1961 – U.S.*Cuba: CIA Director Allen Dulles Resigns » Following the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion CIA Director Dulles resigns and is replaced by John McCone. A 300-page internal CIA history document reveals that the architects themselves foresaw failure during a Nov. 15, 1960, meeting to prepare a briefing for President-elect John F. Kennedy and recorded it in a memo. “There will not be the internal unrest earlier believed possible, nor will Castro’s defense permit the type of strike first planned,” say notes of the meeting, according to the official CIA historian, Jack Pfeiffer. “Our second concept (1,500-3,000) man force to secure a beach with airstrip is also now seen to be unachievable, except as a joint Agency/DOD CIA/Pentagon action.”
Historians say it is unclear whether CIA Director Allen Dulles and his deputy passed this assessment along three days later, at Kennedy’s post-election national security briefing in Palm Beach, Fla. – and whether changes were made as a result of the finding. But, with Kennedy’s blessing, the so-called “unachievable” CIA-only second concept went forward five months later, on April 17, 1961 – with devastating consequences.
- Nov 29 1967 – Vietnam War: Robert S. McNamara announces that he will resign as Secretary of Defense and will become president of the World Bank. Early in November, he submitted a memorandum to Johnson recommending that the United States freeze its troop levels, cease the bombing of the north, and turn over responsibility for fighting the ground war to the South Vietnamese. Johnson rejected these recommendations outright. McNamara subsequently resigned; Johnson adviser Clark Clifford succeeded him.
- Nov 29 1968 – Vietnam War: Communists Vow to Smash Phoenix Program » The Viet Cong High Command orders an all-out attempt to smash the Phoenix program. Hanoi Radio broadcasted a National Liberation Front directive calling for a new offensive to “utterly destroy” Allied forces. The broadcast added that the new operation was particularly concerned with eliminating the “Phoenix Organization.” The Phoenix program (or “Phuong Hoang” as it was called in Vietnamese) was a hamlet security initiative run by the Central Intelligence Agency that relied on centralized, computerized intelligence gathering aimed at identifying and eliminating the Viet Cong infrastructure–the upper echelon of the National Liberation Front political cadres and party members.
The program became one of the most controversial operations undertaken by U.S. personnel in South Vietnam. Critics charged that American-led South Vietnamese “hit teams” indiscriminately arrested and murdered many communist suspects on flimsy pretexts. Despite the criticism and media attention, the program was acknowledged by top-level U.S. government officials, as well as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese leaders after the war, to have been very effective in reducing the power of the local communist cadres in the South Vietnamese countryside.
- Nov 29 1971 – Vietnam War: Americal Division Stands Down and Departs » The U.S. 23rd Division (Americal) ceases combat operations and begins its withdrawal from South Vietnam. The division had been activated in Vietnam on September 25, 1967, after which it assumed control of the 11th, 198th, and 199th Infantry Brigades (and associated support troops). Its headquarters was at Chu Lai in I Corps Tactical Zone and division troops conducted operations in Quang Nam, Quang Tri, and Quang Ngai Provinces.
In 1970, the division continued to fight in the Duc Pho, Chu Lai, and Tam Ky areas along the coast. When the division headquarters departed South Vietnam, the division colors were returned to Fort Lewis, Washington, where the Americal Division was officially inactivated. The only unit that remained in South Vietnam was the 199th Infantry Brigade, which continued to conduct operations as a separate brigade.
- Nov 29 1990 – Middle East: UN Security Council approves US-sponsored resolution authorizing the use of force in the Persian Gulf if Iraq does not withdrawal from Kuwait by Jan. 15, 1991.
- Nov 30 1776 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Howe Brothers Offer Amnesty » Admiral Richard Howe and General William Howe, “the King’s Commissioners for restoring Peace,” issue a proclamation from New York City, promising pardon to those who will within 60 days subscribe to a declaration that they will desist from “Treasonable Actings and Doings.” The Howes’ offer appealed to thousands of residents from downstate New York, who were willing to trade in their weapons for pardons. At the time, Westchester, Manhattan and Long Island were securely in British hands and would remain so until after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783.
General William Howe’s large army had arrived on Long Island on 22 AUG, hoping to capture New York City and gain control of the Hudson River, a victory that would divide the rebellious colonies in half. Five days later, on 27 AUG, the Redcoats marched against the Patriot position at Brooklyn Heights, overcoming the Americans at Gowanus Pass and then outflanking the entire Continental Army. The Americans suffered 1,000 casualties to the British loss of only 400 men during the fighting. Howe chose not to follow the advice of his subordinates, however, and did not storm the Patriot redoubts at Brooklyn Heights, where he could have taken the Patriots’ military leadership prisoner and ended the rebellion.
General Washington ordered a retreat to Manhattan by boat. The British could easily have prevented this withdrawal and captured most of the Patriot officer corps, including Washington. However, General William and Admiral Richard Howe still hoped to convince the Americans to rejoin the British Empire in the wake of the humiliating defeat, instead of forcing the former colonies into submission after executing Washington and his officers as traitors. On 11 SEP, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and other congressional representatives reopened negotiations with the Howe brothers on Staten Island. The negotiations fell through when the British refused to accept American independence.
The British captured New York City on 15 SEP; it would remain in British hands until the end of the war. By contrast, upstate New York suffered through a civil war between Patriot and Loyalist fighters, most of whom were New York born and bred. After the Treaty of Paris, the British evacuated their New York Loyalists to remaining British territories, mainly in Canada, where they ultimately created the present-day province of Ontario.
- Nov 30 1782 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Treaty of Paris Drafted » This was the document to end the American Revolutionary War. Peace negotiations began in Paris in April 1782 and continued through the summer. Representing the United States were Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and John Adams. David Hartley and Richard Oswald represented Great Britain. The treaty was drafted on November 30, 1782, and signed at the Hotel d’York (at present 56 Rue Jacob) in Paris on September 3, 1783, by Adams, Franklin, Jay, and Hartley.
The treaty set the boundaries between the British Empire in North America and the United States of America, on lines “exceedingly generous” the latter. Details included fishing rights and restoration of property and prisoners of war. This treaty and the separate peace treaties between Great Britain and the nations that supported the American cause—France, Spain, and the Dutch Republic—are known collectively as the Peace of Paris. Only Article 1 of the treaty, which acknowledges the United States’ existence as free, sovereign, and independent states, remains in force.
Historians have often commented that the treaty was very generous to the United States in terms of greatly enlarged boundaries. Historians such as Alvord, Harlow, and Ritcheson have emphasized that British generosity was based on a statesmanlike vision of close economic ties between Britain and the United States. The concession of the vast trans-Appalachian region was designed to facilitate the growth of the American population and create lucrative markets for British merchants, without any military or administrative costs to Britain. The point was the United States would become a major trading partner. As the French foreign minister Vergennes later put it, “The English buy peace rather than make it”. Vermont was included within the boundaries because the state of New York insisted that Vermont was a part of New York, although Vermont was then under a government that considered Vermont not to be a part of the United States.
Privileges that the Americans had received from Britain automatically when they had colonial status (including protection from pirates in the Mediterranean Sea) were withdrawn. Individual states ignored federal recommendations, under Article 5, to restore confiscated Loyalist property, and also ignored Article 6 (e.g., by confiscating Loyalist property for “unpaid debts”). Some, notably Virginia, also defied Article 4 and maintained laws against payment of debts to British creditors. The British often ignored the provision of Article 7 about removal of slaves.
The actual geography of North America turned out not to match the details used in the treaty. The Treaty specified a southern boundary for the United States, but the separate Anglo-Spanish agreement did not specify a northern boundary for Florida, and the Spanish government assumed that the boundary was the same as in the 1763 agreement by which they had first given their territory in Florida to Britain. While that West Florida Controversy continued, Spain used its new control of Florida to block American access to the Mississippi, in defiance of Article 8. The treaty stated that the boundary of the United States extended from the “most northwestern most point” of the Lake of the Woods (now partly in Minnesota, partly in Manitoba, and partly in Ontario) directly westward until it reached the Mississippi River. But in fact the Mississippi does not extend that far northward; the line going west from the Lake of the Woods never intersects the river.
Great Britain violated the treaty stipulation that they should relinquish control of forts in United States territory “with all convenient speed.” British troops remained stationed at six forts in the Great Lakes region, plus two at the north end of Lake Champlain. The British also built an additional fort in present-day Ohio in 1794, during the Northwest Indian War. They found justification for these actions in the unstable and extremely tense situation that existed in the area following the war, in the failure of the United States government to fulfill commitments made to compensate loyalists for their losses, and in the British need for time to liquidate various assets in the region. All posts were subsequently relinquished peacefully through diplomatic means as a result of the 1794 Jay Treaty.
- Nov 30 1864 – Civil War: The British Parliament sends to Queen Victoria an ultimatum for the United States, demanding the release of two Confederate diplomats who were seized on the British ship Trent.
- Nov 30 1864 – Civil War: Battle of Franklin » The Confederate States Army suffered its worst disaster of the war. The Confederate Army of Tennessee led by General John Bell Hood mounts a dramatically unsuccessful frontal assault on Union positions with Hood losing six generals and almost a third of his troops. Casualties and losses: US 2,326 – CSA 6,252.
- Nov 30 1917 – WWI: German Foreign Minister Celebrates Revolution in Russia » Foreign Minister Richard Von Kuhlmann stands before the German Reichstag government to deliver a speech applauding the recent rise to power in Russia of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and his radical socialist Bolshevik Party.
Soon after November 7, 1917, when the Bolsheviks seized control in Petrograd from the provisional government–in place since the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in March–Lenin moved to secure an immediate armistice with the Central Powers in the First World War. Not surprisingly, Austria-Hungary and Germany welcomed this development with open arms; the latter nation had actually helped smuggle the exiled Lenin back to Russia the previous April. The German chancellor, Count Georg von Hertling, went so far as to suggest to Kuhlmann on November 29 that Germany make the new Russia one of its allies.
The following day, Kuhlmann addressed the Reichstag, declaring that “Our eyes at the present moment are turned toward the east. Russia has set the world ablaze.” The mobilization of Russia, he continued, was “the actual and immediate cause” of the entire war; only now was Russia in the hands of leaders who would set things right and seek immediate peace with Germany. According to Kuhlmann, Russia’s allies–Britain and France–would do well to consider following its lead, as “the German people will stand up and be prepared to beat force with force until the dawn of the better and more humane understanding which is beginning to appear in the eastern sky shall arise in the nations of the west, which are as yet filled with greed for money and power.”
While the Central Powers rejoiced at the turn of events in Petrograd, the Allies were filled with a sense of dread. With Russia out of the war, Germany would be free to transfer more manpower to the Western Front; to the south, Austria-Hungary seemed close to overpowering Italy. Although the United States had entered the war on the side of the Allies in April 1917, it was not expected to deliver troops in significant numbers until the following summer. By the end of 1917, with casualties mounting on the Western Front, the Allies looked ahead with trepidation as the possibility of victory seemed to recede ever further into the distance.
- Nov 30 1912 – U.S. Navy: Lt. Theodore G. Ellyson, the first U.S. Navy officer to qualify as an airplane pilot, tests the Navy’s first C-1 flying boat at Hammondsport, N.Y.
- Nov 30 1935 – Germany: Non-belief in Nazism is proclaimed grounds for divorce in Germany.
- Nov 30 1939 – WW2 Era: Air raid on Helsinki, Finland by Russia who claimed Finnish army was ready to invade them. At the same time it was stated that Russian troops were coming over the Finnish Karelian border.
- Nov 30 1939 – WW2 Era: Winter War » It began with The Red Army crossing the Soviet-Finnish border with 465,000 men and 1,000 aircraft and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the organization. Helsinki was bombed, while publicly insisting that they are airdropping bread to its starving populace. Killed in the air raid were 61 Finns which steeled the Finns for resistance, not capitulation.
Finnish machine gun crew during the Winter War
The Soviets made several demands, including that Finland cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons—primarily the protection of Leningrad 20 miles from the Finnish border. When Finland refused, the USSR invaded. Many sources conclude that the Soviet Union had intended to conquer all of Finland, and use the establishment of the puppet Finnish Communist government and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact’s secret protocols as evidence of this, while other sources argue against the idea of the full Soviet conquest. Finland repelled Soviet attacks for more than two months and inflicted substantial losses on the invaders while temperatures ranged as low as −45 °F. After the Soviet military reorganized and adopted different tactics, they renewed their offensive in February and overcame Finnish defenses.
Hostilities ceased in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded 11 percent of its territory, representing 30 percent of its economy, to the Soviet Union. Soviet losses were heavy, and the country’s international reputation suffered. Soviet gains exceeded their pre-war demands and the USSR received substantial territory along Lake Ladoga and in northern Finland. Finland retained its sovereignty and enhanced its international reputation. The poor performance of the Red Army both encouraged German leader Adolf Hitler to believe that an attack on the Soviet Union would be successful and confirmed negative Western opinions of the Soviet military. After 15 months of Interim Peace, in June 1941, Nazi Germany commenced Operation Barbarossa and the Continuation War between Finland and the USSR began.
- Nov 30 1942 – WW2: Guadalcanal Campaign Battle of Tassafaronga – A smaller squadron of 8 Japanese destroyers defeats a US cruiser force of 5 cruisers and 4 destroyers. Casualties and losses: US 1 cruiser sunk, 3 cruisers heavily damaged, & 395 killed – JP 1 destroyer sunk & 197 killed.
USS Minneapolis at Tulagi with torpedo damage a few hours after the battle
- Nov 30 1942 – WW2: USS Northampton (CA-26) is sunk and USS Pensacola (CA-24), USS New Orleans (CA-32), and USS Minneapolis (CA-36) are badly damaged by a Japanese torpedo counter-attack during the Battle of Tassafaronga at Guadalcanal.
- Nov 30 1943 – WW2: PBY aircraft sink the Palau-bound Japanese cargo ship Himalaya Maru south of New Hanover, Bismarck Archipelago.
- Nov 30 1945 – WW2: Russian forces take Danzig in Poland and invade Austria.
- Nov 30 1948 – Cold War: The Soviet Union completes the division of Berlin, installing the government in the Soviet sector.
- Nov 30 1950 – Korea: President Truman declares that the United States will use the A-Bomb to get peace.
- Nov 30 1961 – Middle East: The Soviet Union vetoes a UN seat for Kuwait, pleasing Iraq.
- Nov 30 1965 – Vietnam War: McNamara Warns Johnson that Communists are Gaining Strength in South Vietnam » Following a visit to South Vietnam, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara reports in a memorandum to President Lyndon B. Johnson that the South Vietnamese government of Nguyen Cao Ky “is surviving, but not acquiring wide support or generating actions.”
He said that Viet Cong recruiting successes coupled with a continuing heavy infiltration of North Vietnamese forces indicated that “the enemy can be expected to enlarge his present strength of 110 battalion equivalents to more than 150 battalion equivalents by the end of 1966.” McNamara said that U.S. policymakers faced two options: to seek a compromise settlement and keep further military commitments to a minimum, or to continue to press for a military solution, which would require substantial bombing of North Vietnam.
In conclusion, McNamara warned that there was no guarantee of U.S. military success and that there was a real possibility of a strategic stalemate, saying that “U.S. killed in action can be expected to reach 1,000 a month.” In essence, McNamara cautioned Johnson that sending additional troops was not likely to prevent the stalemate. In the end, however, Johnson chose to seek a military solution. By 1969, there were more than 500,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam.
- Nov 30 1966 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese Draft Articles for New Constitution » In Saigon, the South Vietnamese Constituent Assembly begins drawing up draft articles for a new constitution. On 15 DEC, the Assembly approved the proposal for the future civil regime to be headed by a popularly elected president, and a proposal empowering the president, rather than the legislature, to appoint a premier. On 21 DEC, the assembly approved the establishment of a legislature made up of a senate and a house of representatives.
- Nov 30 1967 – Vietnam War: McCarthy to Enter Democratic Presidential Primary » Liberal Democratic Senator Eugene J. McCarthy from Minnesota, an advocate of a negotiated end to the war in Vietnam, declares that he intends to enter several Democratic Presidential primaries in 1968.
McCarthy believed that the majority of Americans were unhappy with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s handling of the war, and he planned to challenge the president for the Democratic nomination. McCarthy conducted his campaign outside normal Democratic Party channels, relying on volunteers who conducted a grassroots campaign that emphasized the moral indefensibility of U.S. action in Vietnam and the need for a negotiated settlement of the war.
McCarthy shocked the political establishment when he almost defeated Johnson in the New Hampshire primary. When Johnson announced that he would not run for re-election, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey defeated McCarthy for the presidential nomination at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Ultimately, Humphrey was defeated in the national election by Republican Richard M. Nixon.
- Nov 30 1972 – Vietnam War: White House Announces No Full Withdrawal Until Final Truce Agreement Signed » White House Press Secretary Ron Zeigler announces to the press that the administration will make no more public statements concerning U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam since the level of U.S. presence had fallen to 27,000 men. Defense Department sources said that there would not be a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam until a final truce agreement was signed, and that such an agreement would not affect the 54,000 U.S. servicemen in Thailand or the 60,000 aboard 7th Fleet ships off the Vietnamese coast. All U.S. forces were withdrawn from South Vietnam in March 1973 as part of the terms of the Paris Peace Accords, which were signed in January of that year.
- Nov 30 1981 – Cold War: Representatives from the U.S and the U.S.S.R open talks to reduce their intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Europe. The talks lasted until 17 DEC, but ended inconclusively. SALT I (1972) and SALT II (1979) reduced the number of strategic nuclear weapons held by the two superpowers, but left unresolved the issue of the growing number of non-strategic weapons-the so-called intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
- Nov 30 1995 – Middle East: Operation Desert Storm officially comes to an end.