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This Day in History

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY 
July 25

WWII, 1944

Western Front, France

Operation Cobra, the Allied breakout from Normandy, begins. Following a massive aerial bombardment, three infantry divisions of General J. Lawton Collin’s US VII Corps open a breach in the German line between Marigny and St. Gillies, allowing the armor to get through. Within five days, the US spearhead reaches Avranches, turning the west flank of the German Front.

WWII, July 25-29, 1944

Pacific, Marianas

A Japanese counterattack against the US 3rd Marine division on Guam is defeated. The Japanese lose 19,500 dead, while US fatalities number 1744. On the 24th, the US 4th Marine Division lands on the island of Tinian. 

 July 24

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War
The Battle of Winchester II. As Early returns to the Valley from his Maryland raid, he receives orders to prevent reinforcements from being sent to Grant from the Valley. Marching north, his 13,000 Confederates engage Brigadier General George Cook’s three divisions and some cavalry at Winchester. After an hour of resistance at Pritchard’s Hill, the Federal line collapses and the 10,000 Union troops fall back in disarray through the streets of Winchester. Union losses are 1,200; Confederate 600. As a result of this defeat and the burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on July 30, Grant returns the VI and XIX Corps and appoints Sheridan as commander of Union forces in the Valley.

July 23

WWII, 1944

Italy, Tuscany
After taking the vital port of Livorno on the 19th, the US 34th Division enters the town of Pisa.

July 22

The Civil War, 1864

Georgia, Land War

The Battle of Atlanta. Following his defeat at Peachtree Creek, Hood withdraws his main army from Atlanta’s outer line to the inner line as a bait for Sherman to follow. He also sends William J. Hardee with his corps to attack the unprotected Union left and rear, east of the city. However, Hardee is unable to attack until afternoon. Although Hood outmaneuvers Sherman, two of his divisions are repulsed by Major General B. McPherson’s reserves. The Confederate attack stalls on the Union rear but begins to roll up the left flank (at this time a Confederate soldier kills McPherson when he rides out to observe the fighting). Determined attacks continue, but the Union forces hold. At 16:00 hours, Confederate forces in the center are repulsed by 20 cannon on a knoll near Sherman’s headquarters. Major General John A. Logan’s XV Army Corps then counterattacks to restore the Union line. Hood is forced to stop his attacks. He loses 8,000 casualties. Union losses are 3,600.

July 21

WWII, 1944

Politics, Poland

The Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation is formed.

July 20

The Civil War, 1864

Georgia, Land War

The Battle of Peachtree Creek. Confederate President Davis considered the defense of Atlanta by Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston unacceptable passive. On July 17, therefore, he replaced Johnston with John Bell Hood, a commander known for his aggressiveness. Until Hood’s appointment the campaign had been primarily one of maneuver; as soon as he took charge, it changed to one of headlong battle. Today, Hood attacks part of William T. Sherman’s force, George H. Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland, at Peachtree Creek. The Determined assault by the Confederate Army of Tennessee threatens to overrun the Union troops at various locations. However, the Union troops hold, and the Confederates are forced to retire. Hood loses nearly 5,000 men compared to fewer than 2,000 Union casualties.

Virginia, Land War

The Battle of Rutherford’s Farm. Early is forced to adopt defensive positions on Fisher’s Hill after Major General S. D. Ramseur’s Confederate division is routed at Rutherford’s and Carter’s farms.

 

WWII, 1944

Politics, Germany
An attempt is made by German officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Court Schenk von Stauffenberg, chief-of-staff to General Friedrich Fromm, plants a bomb near Hitler in a conference room at the Nazi leader’s East Prussian headquarters at Rastenburg. The bomb explodes at 1242 hours, after von Stauffenberg has left. The bomb fails to kill Hitler and the conspiracy falls apart. Josef Goebbels, Nazi minister for propaganda, acts quickly to convince the Berlin garrison that Hitler is still alive by linking them by telephone. Fromm, to allay suspicion of his involvement in the plot, has von Stauffenberg shot in the evening.
The failure of the plot results in the arrest, torture, and execution of dozens of suspects in the following months. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is among the most notable of those senior military figures aware of the conspiracy.

July 19

WWII, July 19-21, 1944

Pacific, Marinas

US battleships begin the pre-invasion bombardment of Asam and Agat beaches on Guam, the most important island in the Marianas group. Two days later, troops of the 3rd Marine Division and the 77th Infantry Division begin landing on the island. The Japanese fight back hard.

July 18

WWII, 1944

Far East, Burma
The Japanese high command calls off Operation U-Go

WWII, July 18-22, 1944

Western Front, France

In the face of fanatical resistance, US troops enter St. Lo. The German 352nd Division is destroyed in the process. On the eastern sector of the front, the British and Canadians launch Operation Goodwood, a drive east of Caen to provoke heavier German concentrations in the area. The aim is to wear down German armor to such an extent that it is of no further value to them. The Allies lose over 100 Sherman tanks in the assault. By the 22nd, however, the British have cleared southern Caen.

July 17

The Civil War, July 17-18, 1864

Virginia, Land War

The Battle of Cool Springs/Island Ford/Parkers Ford. The Union pursuit of Jubal Early’s retreating soldiers suffers a setback after a heavy defeat at Cool Spring Plantation, suffering 422 casualties.

WWII, 1944

Eastern Front, Ukraine

Units of the Soviet First Guards Tank Army cross the Bug River into Poland.

July 16-22

1940, WWII, Politics, Germany: Adolf Hitler Directive No. 16 reveals his military plan to invade Britain, code-named Operation Sealion. This requires control of the English Channel for transporting the invasion force and the destruction of Britain’s fighter capability to ensure a safe crossing. The air force is made responsible for destroying the strength of the RAF and Royal Navy. Hitler’s plans are further advanced after his final peace offer is rejected by the British on the 22nd.

July 15

WWII, 1944

Eastern Front, Finland

The Battle for the Karelian Isthmus ends with a defensive victory for Finland. Three soviet armies make excellent early progress, but are unable to achieve the objectives laid down in their orders of June 21. The Soviet military leadership orders its troops in Finland to go over to the defensive on the 11th.

July 14

The Civil War, July 14-15, 1864

Mississippi, Land War

The Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg. A Union force under Major General A.J. Smith fights a major engagement with confederate troops at Tupelo. The U. S troops beat back Confederate attacks, but fail in their primary mission of destroying Forrest’s command.

July 13

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War

Jubal Early’s confederate troops begin to pull back from Washington, D.C., having penetrated the city’s suburbs.

The Vietnam War, 1972

France, Peach Talks
The Paris Peace Talks resume after a 10-week break. A Solution to the situation in the Vietnam is even more pressing.

July 12

WWII, 1943, Kursk

With the Battle of Kursk still raging since early July the largest single tank engagement of the war broke out on July 12.  On the outskirts of the south of Prokhorovka, the Germans tried to break through the enemy lines.  The Soviets were well prepared and fought to the death.  Over 1000 tanks fought that day including the Tiger.

July 11

The Civil War, 1864

Washington, D.C., Land War

within the city there is serious concern at the approach of Early’s corps, but not the same level of panic as there has been in 1862 and 1863. Veteran Reserve Corps units made up of men physically unable to survive campaign life but still able to do duty, man the forts as Grant detached his VI Corps and sends it north. This afternoon Early’s men reach the city limits and scout the Federal positions. They can tell they are too strong to take, especially as the veterans of VI Corps file into position among the earthworks. As word comes that the attempt to free the Point Lookout prisoners has failed, Early withdraws slowly back into the Valley and easily repulses a feebly attempt at pursuit. The move on Washington has, however, been a success. Grant’s forces have been reduced in numbers and, with attention drawn back north, have been stalemated. The Valley is in Confederate hands once again.
Grant has decided that he is unable to destroy Lee’s army in the field north of Richmond. Instead, he will head south, link up with the Army of the James and capture Petersburg, south of Richmond, forcing Lee to fight there.

July 9

The Civil War, 1864

Maryland, Land War

The Battle of Monocacy. Robert E. Lee, was desirous of another Jacksonian assault up the Shenandoah Valley, into Maryland if possible, to force the authorities in Washington to weaken Grant’s army significantly to shore up the cities defenses. This lee ordered Early to drive toward Washington. Early II Corps, amounting to a quarter of the entire Army of Northern Virginia, moved into the Valley on June 23. He turned north, and quickly reoccupied Winchester on July 2. Early then sent part of his army to Harpers Ferry, while the rest headed toward Martinsburg, West Virginia. Then, he united his command in Maryland, just across the Potomac River. Early send one cavalry brigade to Baltimore to try to free some 18,000 Confederates held prisoners at Point Lookout, while the rest marched on Washington. He stopped in Hagerstown long enough to receive $20,000 in ransom, then went to Frederick where he took another $200,000.
But Early does not move with the speed of Stonewall Jackson. Federals largely drawn from the Baltimore garrison under regional commander Major General Lee Wallace rush to get between Early and Washington. At the Monocacy River southeast of Frederick, Wallace draws up his battle lines and clashes with Early’s men. Wallace’s makeshift force, which includes some 9 months regiments from Ohio, fights surprisingly well. They fall back across the river after some hard fighting, and the Confederates manage to cross the river after them. Finally, Gordon’s men sweep the Union troops aside and take the field. However, it is too late to continue forward; Wallace has bought a full day for Washington to prepare its defenses. Monocacy is called the “Battle that Saved Washington”.

July 6

1861, Civil War, Cuba, Sea War:

Following raiding actions the CSS Sumter releases seven captured Union vessels in Cuban Waters.

July 5

1933, WWII, Germany, Legal:

Decrees dissolving political parties: the Centre Party.


1861, Civil War, Missouri, Land War:

The Battle of Carthage. Missouri State Guard divisions under Governor Claiborne Jackson force a Union brigade into retreat around Carthage, although the Confederates lose a total of 200 men to the Union’s 44 casualties.

July 4

1933, WWII, Germany, Legal:

Decrees dissolving political parties: DVP and Bavarian Party.

July 3-7

1940, WWII, Sea War, Mediterranean:

Britain, fearing that France’s navy will be seized by Germany, sends two battleships, a battlecruiser, and a carrier (Force H) to neutralize French vessels at Oran and Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria. After negotiations fail, the British sink one battleship and damage two. In Britain, two French battleships, nine destroyers, and other craft are acquired with minimal force. French naval forces in Alexandria, Egypt, and disarmed on the 7th.

July 2

1861,  Civil War, Wisconsin, Land War:

The Battle of Hoke’s Run/Falling Waters/Hainesville. Union Major General Robert Patterson’s division, having crossed the Potomac River near Williamsport, marches on the main road to Martinsburg, near Hoke’s run. Thomas’ and Abercrombie’s Union brigades encounter the Confederate Regiments of Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade, driving them back slowly. Jackson’s orders are to delay the Federal advance only, which he does withdrawing before Patterson’s larger force.

On July 3, Patterson occupied Martinsburg but then was inactive until July 15, when he marches to Bunker Hill. Instead of moving on Winchester, however, he turned east to Charles Town and then withdrew to Harpers Ferry. This took pressure off Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley and allowed Johnston’s Army to march to support General Beauregard at Bull Run.

July 1

1940, WW11,  Sea War, Atlantic: The “Happy Time” begins for U-boat crews as their operational range is increased now that they have bases in French ports. This lasts until October. U-boat crews inflict serious losses on Allied convoys.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
June 30

WWII, 1944

Technology, Germany: The Germans have formed the first operational unit equipped with Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighters. The unit will be deployed to France in the near future.

Air War, Britain: To date, 2000 German VI “Flying Bombs” have been launched against England, mostly against London. In response, the British have increased the number of anti-aircraft guns, fighter aircraft, and barrage balloons. 

June 29

WWII, 1944

Western Front, France: The port of Cherbourg finally surrenders to forces of the US VII Corps. The cost to the US has been 22,000 casualties, while 39,000 Germans are taken prisoner.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Ream’s Station. A Union raid destroys 60 miles (96km) of track of the Weldon Railroad, but loses large numbers of men (around 600) in a major engagement at Ream’s station. Despite this and other local successes it is clear that Lee’s army is now pinned down around Richmond, and is growing steadily weaker. 

June 28

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Sappony Church/Stony Creek Depot. Union cavalry from the failed Staunton River Bridge attack are chased and engaged by pursuing Confederate forces. 

June 27

The Civil War, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. On May 5, General Sherman and his three Union armies, totally nearly 100,000 men, began moving south out of the Tennessee toward Atlanta, Georgia. Johnston’s 60,000 confederate troops tried to block the Union advance by entrenching across its path and inviting an assault against their prepared defenses. The campaign became one of maneuver as Sherman moved to get behind Johnston, and the latter shifted to block him. For a month the two forces moved deeper into Georgia as they battled each other, yet Sherman avoided committing his troops to a full attack. Instead, he used his superior numbers to turn Johnston out of his defenses. By mid-June Johnston’s troops had fallen back to ridgeline anchored by Kennesaw Mountain, west of Marietta, Georgia. Believing that Johnston’s line was stretched too thin, Sherman decided to attack. At dawn today, Union formations advance toward the well-entrenched Confederates. Diversionary attacks against the Confederate flanks have little effect. An assault against Pigeon Hill, south of Kennesaw Mountain, is met by deadly fire, forcing the attackers to withdraw. The main assault occurs just south of Pigeon Hill, where 8,000 Union troops are ordered to advance at a run using only fixed bayonets. The advance soon degenerates into confusion as men are halted by concentrated fire from the earthworks to their front. By noon Sherman’s men can take no more. The battle has proved to be a disaster. Union casualties for the day total 3,000; Confederate losses are 552. After the battle Sherman decides to return to his strategy of maneuver, flanking Johnston to the west and racing for the Chattahoochie River and Atlanta. Johnston has no choice but to move south, hoping once again to entice Sherman into battle on ground favorable to defense.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid: With the deactivation of the 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade, the US Marine participation in the Vietnam War is over after six years and three months of conducting combat operations. Only Marine advisors to the South Vietnamese Marine Corps (VNMC) remain in the country. 

June 26

WWII, 1944

Western Front, France: The British Launch Operation Epsom, a drive west of Caen. Troops and tanks of the 15th and 43rd and 11th Armored Divisions make good initial progress, but are then halted following very heavy losses. 

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces: The 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade deactivates its headquarters. 

June 25

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Staunton River/Blacks and Whites. Union cavalry spend three days tearing up Confederate rail lines, but are prevented from destroying lines over the Staunton River Bridge by the Confederate Home Guard

June 24

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Saint Mary’s Church/Nance’s Shop. Major General Wade Hampton’s Confederate cavalry fail to cut off Union cavalry returning from a raid to Trevilian Station. 

June 23

WWII, 1944

Eastern Front, Belorussia: The Red Army launches its Belorussian offensive. Four fronts – 1st Baltic, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Belorussian, comprising 1.2 million men is all – attack the German divisions of Army Group Center. The Soviets have a four-to-one superiority in tanks and aircraft. 

June 22

WWII, 1944

Far East, India: The British 2nd Division reach the defenders of Imphal, but Japanese resistance continues.

Politics, Germany: Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop visits Helsinki to try to tie Finland more tightly to Germany.

WWII, June 22-26, 1944

Far East, Burma: The Chindits’ 77th Brigade begins attacking Moguang from the southeast. Following bitter fighting, it finally falls on the 26th.

The Civil War, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of Kolb’s Farm. Sherman seeks to envelop Confederate defensive lines, protecting the Western & Atlantic Railroad, along Kennesaw Mountain. The attack fails, but costs the Confederacy over 1,000 men. 

June 21

The Third Reich, 1942

North Africa, Libya: The British retreat into Egypt, losing Tobruk to the Afrika Korps following an intense battle to the south of the port. Rommel is promoted to field marshal.  The Africa Korps reaches El Alamein in Egypt, within 96km (60 miles) of the Nile Delta. The Afrika Korps now has three divisions with supporting units and under Rommel are three Italian corps, including elite Italian armoured forces. The British have divisions from South Africa, India, New Zealand and Australia. Rommel is at the end of a very long and vulnerable supply line. The British, on the other hand, are receiving fresh supplies on a daily basis.

Poland, Final Solution: Mass gassings begin at Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

The Civil War, June 21-24, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road/First Battle of Weldon. The Union’s II and IV Corps move to cut the Weldon Railroad, a supply line to Petersburg. They do not reach the railroad, but increase the extent of their siege lines.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid: As American units redeploy back to bases in the United States and throughout Asia, the US military strength in the Republic of Vietnam is down to 244,900. 

June 20

WWII, 1944

Italy, Umbria: The British XXX Corps opens its attack on Albert Line, one of a series of German rearguard positions in northern Italy, south of Lake Trasimeno, on either side of Chiusi. The fighting is hard; the Germans give ground grudgingly. 

June 19

WWII, June 19-21, 1944

Pacific, Philippine Sea: On hearing of the US assault on Saipan, the Japanese Combined Fleet, under Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, puts to sea immediately with five heavy and four light carriers, five battleships, 11 heavy and two light cruisers, and 28 destroyers. The US 5th Fleet, under Admiral Marc Mitscher’s tactical command, numbers seven heavy and eight light carriers, eight heavy and 13 light cruisers, and 69 destroyers. Aircraft on either side total 573 Japanese 9including 100 based on Guam, Rota, and Yap) and 956 American. Ozawa’s search planes locate the 5th Fleet at day break, 300 miles (480km) from his advance element of four light carriers and 500 miles (800km) from his main body. Ozawa launches an attack in four waves, while Mitscher, on discovering the enemy aircraft, sends out his interceptors. Disaster strikes Ozawa immediately, for US submarines sink the carriers Taibo and Shokaku, and US fighters shoot down many of his aircraft. In the Battle of the Philippine Sea, nicknamed the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” by the Americans, the Japanese lose 346 aircraft and two carriers. US losses are 30 aircraft and slight damage to a battleship. Meanwhile, Mitscher’s bombers neutralize the Japanese airfields on Guam and Rota. On the 20th, Mitscher launches 216 aircraft, which sink another carrier and two oil tankers, and seriously damage several other vessels. While the Americans lose 20 aircraft, Ozawa loses another 65, although many US aircraft are forced to ditch into the sea. Ozawa’s costly battle deals a crippling blow to the Japanese naval air arm, not least through the loss of 460 trained combat pilots.

The Civil War, 1864

Atlantic, Naval War: The southern Commerce raider CSS Alabama, commanded by Captain Raphael Semmes, is sunk outside Cherbourg, France. Built in England, the Alabama mounted eight guns and could reach a speed of more than 13 knots under steams. Starting in august 1862, it destroyed 68 Union vessels in 22 months – without injuring the crews. The sailors boarded the enemy merchantmen and took their seamen prisoners before destroying the vessels. When the Alabama grew too crowded, Semmes would designate the next captured merchantman a “cartel ship,” place the prisoners on board, and let them sail to the nearest port. The Union frigate USS Kearsarge cornered the raider in the port of Cherbourg, France. The Kearsarge waited outside the port. The Alabama sails out to fight but is sunk in a one-hour battle. Semmes goes over the side but is picked up by the Deerhound, a yacht filled with sightseers. They take him to England to avoid capture. 

June 18

WWII, 1944

Western Front, France: US Forces reach the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, trapping the German garrison in Cherbourg. Hitler has ordered the garrison to fight to the death.

Pacific, Marianas The Warships of US Task Force 58 rendezvous west of Saipan.

The Third Reich, 1942

Czechoslovakia, Resistance: The Czech Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague is where the Czech assassins of Heydrich and their helpers have taken sanctuary. The chaplain Vladimir Petrek hid them in the crypt under the floor. Here, members of the Czech Fire Brigade have had to pump water into the crypt in an attempt to flush out their countrymen after they had been engaged in a heroic battle against SS units. The remaining parachutists take their own lines with their last rounds of ammunition. 

June 17

The Civil War, June 17-18, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Lynchburg. A Union attempt to take the Confederate rail and canal depots at Lynchburg fails through lack of supplies, and opens the Shenandoah Valley for a Rebel offensive into Maryland. 

June 16

WWII, 1944

Far East, Burma: The 22nd Division, part of Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell’s Chinese force, has taken Kamaing, the first of his three objectives – the others being Mogaung and Myitkyina. 

June 15

WWII, 1944

Pacific, Marianas: The US Northern Attack force arrives off Saipan. In response, the Japanese Combined Fleet is ordered to gather. On the island itself, landings are conducted on the west coast by the US 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions.

Air War, Japan: The iron and steel works at Yahata on the mainland is bombed by B-29s of the US 20th Army Air Force, which is operating from bases in China.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler and his Army of the James land at Bermuda Hundred, a neck of land north of City Point at the confluence of the James and Appomattox rivers, only 15 miles (25km) south of Richmond. Meanwhile, Union General Grant sends 100,000 men of the Army of the Potomac south from Cold Harbor across the James River to swing west through Petersburg and attack Lee from the rear. However, the Union forces are stopped at Petersburg by a Confederate force hastily organized by General P.G.T Beauregard. Two days later, Lee orders most of his army south to reinforce Petersburg, which is a vital rail center. Confederate forces set up lines of fortifications southeast of the city that cannot be breached by frontal assault. Instead, Grant keeps his army attacking to the west and south. His Objectives are the two railroads that are supplying Lee’s army and the Appomattox River, which marks Lee’s line of retreat to the west.  In late August Union forces cut the railroad running south. Grant attacked again in late September and late October, extending the siege lines to 35 miles (56km) and threatening the last rail lines open to Lee. Lee’s position was now desperate. 

June 14

Civil War, 1863

Virginia, Land War: The Second Battle of Winchester. During the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s invasion of Pennsylvania Confederate General Richard S. Ewell’s II Corps attacks a Union garrison from the Army of the Potomac led by General Robert H. Milroy, which is blocking the Confederate advance and endangering the Army’s communications and supply lines. The Confederates victory at Winchester clears a path for their invasion. 

The Vietnam War, 1969

South Vietnam, Ground War: US Marine, South Korean and ARVN troops begin Operation Pipestone Canyon, south of Da Nang. Before its ending in November of the same year, the North Vietnamese will lose close to 500 troops killed in action. 

June 13

WWII, 1944

Western Front, France: Lieutenant Michael Wittmann, company commander of the SS 501st Heavy Tank Battalion, destroys 27 tanks and armoured vehicles of the British 4th Country of London Yeomanry in a tank battle around the village of Villers-Bocage, Normandy.

Pacific, Japan: The Japanese Combined Fleet is alerted to prepare for Operation A-Go, which is intended to lure the US Pacific Fleet to one of two battle areas – either the Palaus or the Western Carolines – where is can be destroyed. These areas are chosen because they are within range of the greatest possible number of Japanese island airbases, thereby counterbalancing US Aircraft carrier superiority. 

June 12

The Vietnam War, June 12-July 9, 1969

South Vietnam, Ground War: Elements of the 3rd Marine Division launch Operation Utah Mesa. In the four-week operation, the leathernecks will kill over 309 enemy soldiers and capture 7. The Marines suffer 35 killed and 178 wounded in action. 

June 11

WWII, 1944

Pacific, Marianas: The US Task Force 58 begins a heavy bombardment of Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Rota, and Pagan prior to an assault on the islands, the occupation of which will allow the US forces operating in the area to seven the lines of communication to Japan’s units operating in the southern Pacific.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Trevilian Station. As a Federal force under major General  David Hunter now occupies Staunton, western terminus of the Virginia Central Railroad, General Grant sends his cavalry commander, Major General Philip Sheridan, with two divisions to join him. To meet this threat, Lee Sends two brigades west under Breckinridge, as well as most of his cavalry under Wade Hampton. Hampton’s cavalry heads off on a route parallel to Sheridan’s, sending a part of his force on to Trevilian Station, 28 miles (45 km) west of Charlottesville, where he plans to meet Sheridan’s troops. Hampton’s plan is to have Fitzhugh Lee attack Sheridan’s men from the east. As Lee is on the move, however, he is hit by a Union cavalry division, led by a brigade commanded by a young brigadier general, George A. Custer, that drives his brigades back, and captures a number of wagons. Hampton is outnumbered and falls back, to be joined by Fitzhugh Lee on the 11th. Both sides prepared to renew the fight the next day. The Federals attacked, the Confederates held, and at the end of the day Sheridan fell back to Grant, his mission of joining Hunter foiled. Confederates casualties were heavy, with 800 lost from Hampton’s division alone. But the railroad was safe and Hunter’s forces unreinforced.

The Civil War, June 11-12, 1864

Kentucky, Land War: The Battle of Cynthiana/Keller’s Bridge. A Large Confederate attack force attempts to take the town of Cynthiana. It captures around 1,300 Federal prisoners today, but will be pushed back by Union reinforcements tomorrow. 

June 10

WWII, 1944

Western Front, France: The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, moving from its base at Toulouse to Normandy, has been the constant target of members of the French Resistance. In retaliation, the small town of Oradour-sur-Glane is chosen as the target for a brutal reprisal, one intended to be a lesson to the people of France. The men of the village are herded into barns, the woman and children into the church, and the whole town is set on fire. Those who flee are machine-gunned. In total, 642 people are killed, with only 10 able to feign death and escape.

The Third Reich, 1942

Czechoslovakia, Atrocities: Karl Frank, Heydrich’s deputy, immediately threatens reprisals unless the assassins are found. Although there is very little evidence to support his assumption, Frank decides that Lidice should be punished for having harboured the assassins. Hitler orders that this mining village be “wiped from the face of the earth” in retaliation. during the night of 9/10 June, SS troops surrounded Lidice and at 02:00 hours, the villagers were woken and driven to the main square. The men were separated from the woman and children. They were told to take food to last for three days and any valuables if they so wished. This was for an “inspection” they were told, and then they would be returned. The woman and children were taken to the schoolhouse and the men to the farm of the Horak family. At the school there were two SS men with two suitcases where they were told to deposit their valuables. Then they assembled in the classroom and were checked against their police identity cards to ensure all were present. Trucks to the city of Kladno then transported women and children. Some 197 men were killed and the woman and children were sent to concentration camps. On June 12 it was announced that the village of Lidice had been destroyed. The village was then bulldozed and it took volunteers almost a year to raze it completely.

The Civil War, 1864

Mississippi, Land War: The Battle of Brices Cross/Roads/Tishomingo Creek. A confederate cavalry corps under Nathan Forrest defeats a much larger Union force under Brigadier General Samuel Sturgis.  

June 9

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Siege of Petersburg. A Union attempt to take Petersburg is beaten off by Confederate Home Guard forces under General P.G.T Beauregard. 

June 9-July 3, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of Mariette/Pine Hill/Ruff’s Mill. Sherman maneuvers Johnston’s Confederate troops out of defensive position in mountainous territory of Cobb County, in his Atlanta Campaign. 

WWII, June 9-10, 1944

Eastern Front, Finland: The Soviets, in an effort to drive the Finns back to the 1940 frontier and compel them to make peace, launch a major offensive with two armies. The offensive is preceded by sustained barrage from 5500 guns and 880 rocket-launchers. The attack shatters the Finnish front and, on the 10th, Marshal Karl von Mannerheim, Finland’s military leader, orders a retreat to a stronger defensive line.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces: Lieutenant-General W.G Dolvin, US Army, relieves Lieutenant-General J.W. Sutherland, US Army, as commanding General, XXIV Corps. 

June 8

The Third Reich, 1942

Nazi Party, Personalitie:s At 15:00 hours, Heydrich’s coffin is carried into the courtyard of the Reich Chancellery for the state funeral. Hitler and 600 of Germany’s leading officials and industrialist attend to pay homage to him. In addition, there is evidence that the Czech puppet government, headed by President Emil Hacha and his staff, was supporting the Nazi attitude that a great crime had been committed when Heydrich was killed. Hitler bestows upon him the German order, the highest party and state award. It is well known that Heydrich kept files on all the leading Nazis, even on Hitler himself, and many are relieved to see him dead. However, 50,000 Czech workers march in protest in Prague on the day of the funeral, angry about the assassination. Heydrich is buried with full military honours at the Invalidenfriedhof cemetery. 

June 7

Civil War, 1863

Louisiana, Land War: The Battle of Milliken’s Bend. A Confederate attack ejects Union troops from Milliken’s Bend near Vicksburg. The retreat is reversed by two Union gunboats. 

June 6

WWII, 1944

Western Front, France: The Allies launch the greatest amphibious operation in history. The statistics for the invasion force are staggering; 50,000 men for the initial assault; over two million men to be shipped to France in all, comprising a total of 39 divisions; 139 major warships used in the assault, with a further 221 smaller combat vessels; over 1000 mine sweepers and auxiliary vessels; 4000 landing craft; 8-5 merchant ships; 59 blockships; 30o miscellaneous small craft; and 11,000 aircraft, including fighters, bombers, transports and gliders. In addition, the invasion force has the support over 100,000 members of the French Resistance, who launched hit-and-run attacks on German targets. D-day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, code-named Operation Overlord, begins with the assault of three airborne divisions – the US 82nd and 101st on the right flank of the US forces, and the British 6th Airborne on the left flank of the British – while seaborne forces land on five beaches. Utah beach is the target of the US 4th Infantry Division (part of the US VII Corps); Omaha Beach is the target of the US 1st Infantry Division (Part of the US V Corps); Gold Beach is the landing site of the British 50th Infantry Division (part of the British XXX Corps); Juno is the target for the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division (part of the British I Corps); and the British 3rd Infantry Division (also part of the British I Corps) s tasked with seizing Sword Beach. The initial parachute and seaborne landings have mixed results; on Utah resistance is slight and the troops are off the beach by 1200 hours; on Omaha the lack of specialized armor means the Germans can pin down the troops on the beach, with great slaughter; on Gold and Juno the specialized armor of the British and Canadians allow the troops to get off the beaches quickly, and by the afternoon they are probing inland toward Bayeux and Caen; and on Sword the troops are able to link up with airborne units that have been dropped farther inland. This is fortunate, for it is between Juno and Sword that the German’s make their one major counterattack, comprising a battlegroup of the 21st Panzer Division. However, it is defeated. By the end of the day, at a cost of 2500 dead, the Allies have a toehold in German-occupied Europe. 

June 5

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War:  The Battle of Piedmont. Around 8,500 Union troops under General David Hunter defeat 5,500 Confederates under General “Grumble” Jones at Piedmont. Jones is killed and the Federals take nearly 1,000 prisoners. Piedmont is a disaster for the Confederates in the Shenandoah Valley. Hunter advances unimpeded to Staunton, where he is reinforced by Brigadier General George Crook’s Army of West Virginia marching from the west. The combined Union force then advances on Lynchburg. In response to Piedmont, Robert E. Lee rushes J.C. Breckinridge’s division back to Rockfish Gap on June 7 and is then forced to detach II Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia under General Jubal Early to confront Hunter at Lynchburg. These moves limit Lee’s ability to undertake operations around both Richmond and Petersburg. 

June 4

The Third Reich, 1942

Czechoslovakia, Resistance: Heydrich dies from septicemia – caused by foreign bodies – in Prague at the Bulov hospital. Himmler’s first act after he has recovered from the shock of Heydrich’s death is to locate the key to the safe in which Heydrick’s coffin lay in state in the main courtyard of Hradcany Castle and the people of Prague filed by in resemblance of homage, some giving the Nazi salute.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces: The 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade turns over its last bases in Vietnam to the US Army at Camp Books. 

June 3

WWII, 1944

Far East, India: The 64-day Battle of Kohima ends with the remnants of the Japanese 31st Division withdrawing in good order. It is the lack of supplies, rather than the attacks of the British and Indian forces, which has forced the Japanese to fall back. The fighting at Kohima has been among the most savage of the whole war.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Cold Harbor. The major Union attack begins at 04:30 hours. It is a disaster from the start. Only three corps at the southern end of the Union line press forward. They are met by a devastating crossfire from entrenched Confederate infantry and artillery. One division alone loses more than 1,000 men. A Union captain remembers “the dreadful storm of lead and iron seemed more like a volcanic blast than a battle.” One Confederate general just calls it murder. Within half an hour the assault stops under the sheer weight of fire, but Grant does not call off the attack until midday, ordering his men to dig in where they can. The two armies confront each along these battle lines until June 12. Grant later wrote that he regretted that the last attack at Cold Harbor was ever made. Cold Harbor cost the Union army 7,000 casualties for no gain at all. The Confederates only suffered about 1,500 casualties. Lee had held Grant once again, but despite the slaughter could not stop the Union advance. On June 12, Grant began to withdraw his troops and advance once again toward the south, crossing the James River to threaten Petersburg.

WWII, June 3-4, 1944

Italy, Rome: Adolf Hitler reluctantly gives Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, the German commander-in-chief in Italy, permission to abandon Rome. Covered by Expert rearguard actions of IV Parachute Corps, the German Fourteenth Army pulls back across the Tiber River. US troops enter the city on the 5th – the first Axis capital to be captured. 

June 2

The Vietnam War, 1962

North Vietnam, International Relations: Canadian and Indian members of the International Control Commission (ICC) find North Vietnam guilty of subversion and convert aggression against South Vietnam. The Polis Delegation, following the Soviet line, rejects this. 

June 1

WWII, 1944

Far East, Burma: Brigadier Mike Calvert, commander of the Chindits’ 77th Brigade, reaches Lakum near Mogaung.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Cold Harbor. A 7-miles (11km) front has formed extending from Bethesda Church to the Chickahominy River with Cold Harbor in the center. Lee’s 58,000-strong army is in position first. Two Union corps launched a fierce attack but are repulsed. Grant’s army of five corps – more than 112,000 men – takes longer to maneuver into position, marching on unfamiliar roads in the head and dust. 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY 

May 31

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Cold Harbor. Two Union Potomac’s cavalry chief Philip Sheridan advance south from Bethesda Church and drive off Confederate cavalry holding the Cold Harbor crossroads. They are then counterattacked by two divisions of infantry ordered up by Lee. Meade tells Sheridan to hold the crossroads “at all hazards” and orders the Union VI Corps to Cold Harbor to support Sheridan. 

May 30

Preparation D-Day, 1944

Planning, Airborne Assault: Leigh-Mallory goes to see General Eisenhower to press his objections to the Utah Beach air drop. It will be, he tells the Supreme Commander, a “futile slaughter” of two divisions. Eisenhower considers the problem and phones Leigh-Mallory later that night. The air chief is told that the attack on Utah must go ahead and the airborne drop must go in to support it, though the risks, Eisenhower admits are great. Following Leigh-Mallory’s objections and the evidence of a German build-up in the Cotentin, the landing zones for the 82nd Airborne are revised, to about 9km (6 miles) closer to Utah Beach. Instead of landing around St. Sauveur-le- Vicomte and the River Douve, it will concentrate its effort astride the River Merderet and the road Junction through the village of Ste Mere Eglise. Once these objectives are secure, the division is to move west towards the Douve. 

May 29

WWII, 1944

Pacific, Papua New Guinea: The first tank battle of the pacific campaign is fought on the Biak Island, off New Guinea, between Japanese and Americans. It is a US victory.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Cold Harbor. The army of the Potomac is just 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Richmond. Lee has Grant’s line of march south covered, but to the east, on his far right flank, lays the Cold Harbor crossroads. Named for an old tavern, Cold Harbor is only a few miles north of the Chickahominy River, the last natural obstacle between the Union troops and Richmond. If Grant gains control of it, his route south is open once again. His far left flank is at Bethesda Church, several miles north of Cold Harbor. Both Grant and Lee begin to concentrate their armies around it. Totopotomoy Creek to the east, a main highway to Richmond that leads to Mechanicsville. The Confederate General Early sees an opportunity to turn its flank and receives permission from Lee to try it. Most of Early’s men move to around Bethesda Church on the Old church Road, parallel to the road. Then they attack, brushing through skirmishers in their drive to roll up the Union flank. Federal Infantry and artillery quickly come to the assistance of the threatened post. Early’s men are forced to retire to Old Cold Harbor, allowing Sheridan, chief of cavalry, to capture the crossroads the next day. 

May 28

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Enon Church. The Army of the Potomac has been probing Confederate positions before pulling out and recrossing the North Anna for yet another swing to the Confederate left. Grant has moved his army along the Pamunkey River toward Hanovertown only 15 miles (24km) from Richmond. With Lee and his subordinates ill, Grant has been able to steal a march, reaching Hanovertown – from where he has a number of options – to head toward Richmond, with three infantry corps in position by this afternoon. No Confederate infantry are there to oppose him. The Confederates gather at Atlee, a station only 9 miles (14km) from Richmond along the Virginia Central Railroad and 10 miles (16km) west from the Federals at Hanovertown. Lee puts together a cavalry force with Fitzhugh Lee’s two brigades on one wing and Wade Hampton’s on the other. He then sends this force to Haws shop to probe the enemy. It runs into Union cavalry which, on seeing the Confederates, organizes a charge. The Confederates dismount and form a battle line on either side of a road at a clearing from Enon Church. There from behind fence rails piled up as a defensive work, they drive back the Federal charges again and again. The Union cavalry is reinforced by another division, and its Michigan Brigade is sent in with a dismounted charge that finally overruns the Confederate lines. The Confederates make their way back to their horses and dash off while the exhausted Federals watch them go and made no attempt to pursue. In this inconclusive battle Union losses are 344, Confederate 400.

 The Civil War, May 28-30, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Totopotomoy Creek/Shady Grove Road. Three days of heavy fighting occurs between Lee’s and Grant’s forces around Totopotomoy Creek, costing 1,100 casualties on each side. 

May 27

The Third Reich, 1942

Czechoslovakia, Resistance: A plan, implemented in London for the assassination of Heydrich, is carried out by British-trained Czech assassins. This decision has always caused speculation, as he was the only Nazi leader thus targeted. In late spring of 1942, a section of Czech soldiers flew from England and were dropped outside Prague. Heydrich, possibly through bravado, rode in an open-topped, unprotected car on his way from his residence to the palace. The assassination team struck during the journey. He was  machine-gunned on the Kirchmayer Boulevard. Heydrich was injured and drew his pistol. Then the Czech Sten gun jammed. Heydrich was about to pursue the assassin when a grenade, thrown by another member, Kubis, exploded, impregnating him with horsehair stuffing and pieces of metal springs from the car seat. At 21:10 hours that evening, Karl Hermann Frank, former deputy leader of the Sudeten German Party, Secretary of State and Chief of Police in Bohemia and Moravia under Heydrich, was ordered by Himmler via telegram to arrest 10,000 hostages from amongst the Czech intelligentsia and to shoot 100 of the most important that same night. Heydrich died of his injuries on 4 June 1942

The Civil War, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of Pickett’s Mills/New Hope. In the Atlanta fighting, Confederate forces repel a Union attack against General Johnston’s right flank. 

May 26

The Third Reich, 1942

North Africa, Libya: Rommel’s Afrika Korps outflanks the British and attacks towards Tobruk, and although delayed by Free French outpost at Bir Hacheim, takes the offensive, driving British out of Libya. 

Air War, Germany British air raids on German cities intensify.

The Civil War, May 26 – June 1, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of Dallas/Pumpkinvine Creek. The Confederates are forced to abandon defensive lines around Dallas after several days of heavy fighting and a Union move toward the railhead at Allatoona Pass.

May 25

WWII, 1944

Balkans, Yugoslavia: The Germans launch an air glider, and mortar attack on the partisan headquarters at Divar, in which Marshall Tito Narrowly escapes capture. The attack is believed to have been the plan of SS Major Otto Skorzeny, the officers who rescued Mussolini. 

The Civil War, May 25-26, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of New Hope Church. General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee inflicts a defeat on a Union corps as the Federals attempt to move on Dallas. 

May 24

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Wilson’s Wharf/Fort Pocahontas. Major General Fitzhugh Lee’s Cavalry attacks a Union supply depot at Wilson’s Wharf, but is beaten off by two African-American regiments. 

May 23

WWII, 23- 31, 1944

Italy Anzio: Troops of the US VI Corps begin the breakout from the Anzio beachhead in the face of stubborn German resistance. The linkup with troops of the US II Corps occurs on the 25th, four months after the original Anzio landing. Steady gains are made by the Allies, although taking the Adolf Hitler Line, which runs from Terracina on the coast along the Foni to Pico road to Pontecorvo and across the Liri valley through Aquino and Piedmonte to Monte Cairo, does result in heavy Allied losses. Once again the Germans have proved adept at defense.  On the 25th, the US Fifth Army attacks toward Rome, but is held by the Germans, who have had time to dig in around Valmontone along the Caesar Line. It is not until the night of May 30 – when Major General Fred L. Walter’s US 36th Division moves silently up Monte Artemisio and breaks the Valmontone defenses – that the final defensive line barring the entrance to Rome is Cut. The Civil War, May 23-26, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of North Anna/Jericho Mill/Hanover Junction. Union troops attempt to break Lee’s defensive line on the North Anna River. Grant Ultimately outflanks the position to advance on Richmond. 

May 22

Preparation D-Day, 1944

Security, Codenames: In Today’s Daily Telegraph, another invasion code word appears in a crossword clue: 3 Down, with give letters is: “Red Indian on the Missouri”. The Answer is Omaha. Two codewords appearing within three weeks in the same series of crosswords is, for some, surely stretching coincidence. 

May 21

Preparation D-Day, 1944

Air Campaign, Rail Targets: The Decision is made to extend attacks on the French rail network and make moving trains legitimate targets. Until now these have been forbidden, because the trains may be civilian ones. But this policy has changed. By now the bomb damage to the French rail system has been so extensive that the only movement on the network is expected to be German military. RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force and US Eighth and Ninth Army Air Forces all send sorties out today with orders to destroy locomotives and rolling stock. Thunderbolts, Typhoons, Spitfires, Tempests and Marauders fly as far as Germany. By the end of the day Eighth Army Air Force alone claims 91 locomotives destroyed out of 225 attacked. 

May 20

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Ware Bottom Church. Confederate forces make a major attack against the Bermuda Hundred Line near Ware Bottom Church, pushing back the Federal troops into their defenses and freeing up soldiers to provide reinforcements for Lee at Cold Harbor. 

May 19

WWII, 1944

Home Front, Germany: Following their recapture after a mass breakout from Stalag Luft III near Sagan, Silesia, 50 Allied airmen are shot by Gestapo. Only three of the escaped prisoners – two Norwegians and a Dutchman – reach England.

May 18

WWII, 1944

Pacific, Admiralties: The last pockets of Japanese resistance on the islands have been crushed. This effectively isolates the main Japanese bases at Rabaul and Kavieng in the Southwest Pacific. 

The Civil War, 1864

Louisiana, Land War: The Battle of Yellow Bayou/Norwood’s Plantation. Union troops of Bank’s Red River Campaign fight a delaying action at Yellow Bayou, allowing the bulk of the Union forces to escape across the Atchafalaya River. 

May 17

The Civil War, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of Adairsville. General Joseph E. Johnston Johnston’s Army of Tennessee fight a successful delaying action against pursuing Union forces at Adairsville. 

May 16

The Civil War, 1864

Louisiana, Land War: The Battle of Mansura/Smith’s Place/Marksville. Confederate forces under General Dick Taylor launch an attack against Nathaniel Bank’s Red River Expeditionary Force at Mansura, but are unable to halt the Union Force. 

May 15

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of New Market. As part of Grant’s mission, to destroy the railroad and canal complex at Lynchburg, Major General Franz Sigel advances up the Shenandoah Valley along the Valley Pike with 10,000 men. At New Market he is attacked by a makeshift confederate army of about 4,100 men commanded by Major General John C. Breckinridge. At one stage in the battle a Union battery withdraws from the line to replenish its ammunition, leaving a gap that Breckinridge exploits. He orders his entire force forward, and the Union line collapses. Threatened by Confederate cavalry on his left flank and rear, Sigel orders a general withdrawal. He retreats to Strasburg, having suffered 840 casualties. Confederate losses are 540. 

May 14

The Civil War, 1863

Mississippi, Land War

The Battle of Jackson. Jackson, the state capital, is an important transportation hub 38 miles (60km) east of Vicksburg. On April 30, 1863, Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee began crossing the Mississippi at Bruinsburg. 30 miles (48km) south of Vicksburg. Grant did not advance directly on the city. Instead, he sent his army east to mislead the Confederate commander. John C. Pemberton, and to prevent Pemberton’s army from receiving reinforcements. Grand’s 40,000 troops outnumbered Pemberton’s 30,000. On May 9 an alarmed President Davis ordered Joseph E. Johnston to march to Pemberton’s aid, and drive away Grant’s Army. But Johnston quickly concluded that he has no chance of rescuing Pemberton. Instead, he withdrew his own force, leaving 6,000 men under John Gregg to cover the retreat.
Gregg places his force just west of Jackson and waits for the Union attack. Grant’s XVII Corps under James B. McPherson locates Gregg’s troops and deploys for battle. Meanwhile, William T. Sherman’s XV Corps moves up from the south. At 11:00 hours McPherson launches his first assault, which drives Gregg’s men back to defensive line near the town. He is preparing a second attack when word arrives that the Rebels have abandoned the field. At 16:00 hours Union forces enter Jackson – the fourth Southern state capital to fall. Although hardly a pitched battle – confederate losses total 850 men, Union losses are 300 – the victory has two important results. First, it allows Grant’s troops to destroy much of Jackson’s railroads and war factories. Second, it means that Pemberton’s army, outnumbered and out-generaled, has to face Grant alone. The stage was set for Pemberton’s defeats at Champion Hill and Big Black River. Pemberton’s army retreated into Vicksburg on May 18 and Grants began to besiege the city.

May 13

The Civil War, May 13-15, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of Resaca. General Joseph E. Johnston (Confederate) is forced from defensive positions on the hills around Resaca after Union forces engaged in the Atlanta Campaign threaten his railroad supply line. However, in three days of fighting General Sherman has lost 6,800 men. 

May 12

The Third Reich, 1942

Sea War, Baltic The Stier leaves Kiel on her first war cruise as an auxiliary cruiser.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, Ground War: Operation Imperial Lake, the last major US Marine operation, ends with 305 NVA/Viet Cong killed. The Marines loses 24 killed in combat operations. 

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House/Corbin’s Bridge. After the inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, General Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac attempted to move south and east toward Richmond. Grant’s objective was the road junction at Spotsylvania Court House, from where he could cut Lee’s line of supplies and prevent his retreat to the Confederate capital. Both Armies emerged from the tangled woodlands of the Wilderness on the night of May 7, but it was the Confederates who won the race to Spotsylvania. Lee established a strong, well-fortified defensive line north of the village, but his position had one weakness. A bulge, or salient, where his line followed a piece of high ground offered a tempting target for assault. After inconclusive attacks on the 8th and 9th, Union Colonel Emory Upton led an assault on this salient that temporarily pierced the confederate line before being driven back.  Grant attacks again today, achieving a second breakthrough and capturing almost an entire division of Lee’s army. The Confederates manage to plug the gap, and there follows 24 hours of hand-to-hand combat in drenching rain. This fight at the “Bloody angle” is among the most desperate of the war. An oak tree with a 20-inch (50cm) diameter standing in the defensive lines is literally sawn down by bullets, and thousands of killed and wounded soldiers litter the earthworks. Bold Confederate counterattacks, at one point personally led by Lee, eventually restore the situation, but Lee is convinced of the need to withdraw to a stronger position. He does so beginning on May 14, and subsequent attacks by both armies on different parts of this new line are unsuccessful. Inclusive fighting continued until May 19, when Grant disengaged to move east in another attempt to outflank Lee. Like the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania was draw.

The Civil War, May 12-16, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Proctor’s Creek/Drewry’s Bluff/Fort Darling. Major General Benjamin Butler, having advanced at a snail’s pace during his mission to threaten Richmond, suffers a series of defeats against the Confederates around the Bermuda Hundred Line, into which he eventually withdraws.

May 11

WWII, May 11-18, 1944

Italy, Cassino: The Allied 15th Army Group begins its offensive to outflank the monastery. On the 12th, the French Expeditionary Corps takes Monte Faito, but the Polish 5th Division fails to capture Colle Sant’Angelo. On the 13th, the French open the way to Rome, while the US II Corps takes Santa Maria Infante, and the British 4th Division begins to enlarge its bridgehead across the Rapido River. On the 17th, the Germans evacuate the monastery at Monte Cassino because of the deep breakthroughts by the French Expeditionary Corps and the US II Corps. The next day, the Polish 12th Podolski Regiment storms the ruins of Monte Cassino.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid: The 2rd Combined Action Group headquarters is deactivated, signalling the end of the US Marine Corps pacification and civic action campaigns in South Vietnam.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Yellow Tavern. A Union cavalry raid against Richmond leads to the defeat of confederate Cavalry at Yellow Tavern. During the battle “Jeb” Stuart is mortally wounded. 

 

May 10

The Vietnam War, 1969

Operation Apache Snow begins in the southern Da Krong Valley and ends on June 7 in the northern A Shau Valley, and involves the 9th Marines and elements of the 101st Airborne Division. During the operation, the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division assault and capture the heavily fortified Dong Ap Bi, or, as it later becomes known, “Hamburger Hill”.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Chester Station. The Confederates push back a Union raid that was in the process of destroying the railroad at Chester Station.

Virginia Land War: The Battle of Cove Mountain. Rebel forces withdraw after attempting to stop the Crook-Averell Raid on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad at Cove Mountain. 

May 9

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Swift Creek/Arrowfield Church. A Union push toward Ptersburg by Major General Benjamin Butler defeats a confederate counterattack at Arrowfield Church Butler does not pursue the defeated confederates.

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain. Three brigades of Union raiders in southwestern Virginia fight violent hand-to-hand actions on Cloyd’s Mountain, resulting in a narrow union victory and the death of the confederate commander, Brigadier General Albert Jenkins.

WWII, 1944

Eastern Front, Crimea: The Soviet 4th Ukrainian Front liberates the port of Sebastopol. It is a crushing defeat for the German defenders, who have lost 100,000 men killed and captured during the fighting. 

May 8

The Third Reich, 1942

Eastern Front, Crimea: Generalfeldmarschall Erich Von Manstein’s army enters the Crimea and besieges Sevastopol, which falls in July. Satisfied with this, Hitler moves Manstein north to tackle the siege of Leningrad, which has been going on since September 1941. Bock’s Army Group south defeats Russian tank forces in the Ukraine and takes Kursk, but when Bock pauses in his attack on Voronezh, Hitler dismisses him. 

May 7

The Civil War, 7-13, 1864

Georgia, Land War: The Battle of Rocky Face Ridge/Mill Creek/Dug Gap. A Union movement to cut the Western & Atlantic Railroad at Resaca encounters the enemy on Rocky Face Ridge, which the Confederates are forces to relinquish on the 12th.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid: The 3rd MAB units cease all ground combat as well as fixed-wing aviation operations in Vietnam. 

May 6

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Wilderness/Furnace/Todd’s Tavern. At dawn both sides attack again. By 07:00 hours, Union forces are about to break the confederate line when they are counterattacked by Longstreet’s troops, which have arrived overnight. With Union troops in retreat, Longstreet’s takes advantage of his men’s local knowledge to mount a surprise attack along the concealed roadbed of an unfinished railroad. The Federals are caught off guard, and the Confederates are soon in a position to push back the whole of the Union left, but their attack stalls in the thick undergrowth. Longstreet’s corps becomes muddles with Hill’s, and Longstreet himself is shot and seriously wounded in the shoulder by one of his own side. He will be out of action for several months.  By late afternoon fresh troops have arrived on the Union line, and Grant orders a new attack down the Plank Road. Lee strikes first, however, with a frontal assault over Union breastworks. Darkness ends the fighting on the Plank Road, but it suddenly flares again north of the Orange Turnpike with a confederate attack on the Union right. Panic races through the Union ranks as unpleasant memories of their defeat at Chancellorsville resurface. However, Grant’s refusal to be overawed by Lee’s reputation and the arrival of fresh reserve stops the rout. The inconclusive battle costs Lee 8,700 casualties. Grant suffers 17,000 dead and wounded, but the heavy losses do not shake his resolve. For the first time, instead of ordering the Army of the Potomac to retreat – the usual move after initial Union defeats in Virginia – Grant orders his troops to continue the advance south toward Spotsylvania. Lee will not shake off Grant until his surrender at Appomattox.

The Civil War, May 6-7, 1864

Virginia, Land War: Port Walthall Junction. A Union force of 33,000 cuts the Richmond-Petersburg Railroad at Port Walthall Junction. 

May 5

The Civil War, 1864

North Carolina, Naval War: The Battle of Albemarle Sound. The CSS Albemarle attacks Union blockade ships on the Roanoke River. The action is inconclusive, with damage to both sides.

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Wilderness/Furnace/Todd’s Tavern. The battle begins early with Confederate attacks along the Orange Turnpike and Plank Road. The two sides are barely yards apart in places, but are hidden from one another by thick undergrowth and clouds of smoke from musket fire. The battle continues all day, but Union forces hold on and by nightfall are in a position to attack Lee’s right. 

May 4

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land:  The Battle of Wilderness/Furnace/Todd’s Tavern. Union troops move into the Wilderness along the Germanna Plank Road and Ely’s Ford Road. When Lee learns of the union presence, he decides to attack, knowing that fighting in the thick undergrowth of the Wilderness will neutralize Grant’s superior numbers. Lee orders Richard S. Ewell’s corps to advance down the Orange Turnpike, while Ambrose P. Hill is to attack down the Orange Plank Road. James Longstreet’s corps, located 30 miles (48km) away, is ordered up but will not arrive until tomorrow.

Alabama, Land War:  The Battle of Day’s Gap/Sand Mountain. A Union raid to cut the Western & Atlantic Railroad fights off Confederate interdictions, although it will eventually be forced to surrender.

Georgia, Land War: Union General George Thomas begins to move slowly east along the Western and Atlantic Railroad from Ringgold, this beginning Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. 

May 3

WWII, 1944

Politics: Japan Admiral Soemu Toyoda is appointed commander-in-chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet. He replaces Admiral Mineichi Koga, who has been killed in a plane crash on March 31.

The Vietnam War, May 3-4, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid:  Marines from the US Marine Corps Base, Quantico, VA., and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, deploy to Washington, D.C., in order to assist the police in controlling antiwar protestors.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War:  The Battle of Wilderness/Furnace/Todd’s Tavern. The Union Army of the Potomac begins moving south over the Rapidan River. Grant plans to bring General Lee’s army out from its trenches and fight on the open ground to the south; but first his 120,000-strong army has to get through the Wilderness – a marshy area of dense woodland and scrub close to where the Union army suffered a crushing defeat last year at the battle of Chancellorsville. 

May 2

Preparation D-Day, 1944

Planning, Invasion Timing:  At Bushy Park, the Supreme Commander’s conference to decide H-Hour concludes. It is agreed that H-Hour for all beaches will be made on a rising ride three hours before high water and between 12 minutes before and 90 minutes after sunrise – which will be at 05:58 hours, British double Summer Time, as the tide moves from west to east this will mean a different H-Hour for each beach, beginning at Utah, at 06:30 hours, and ending at Sword, at 07:55 hours. The choice of day would depend on the moon. Planning staff scour the lunar Almanacs and come up with two sets of dates next month when the maximum amount of moonlight is available; June 5-7 and 18-20. Some provision will have to be made for possible post-ponement for bad weather, but General Eisenhower’s decision, as of today, is to make D-Day June 5, the earliest possible date. Admiral Ramsay is to advise him whether this date fits in with his own movement schedules for Operation Neptune. 

May 1

Preparation D-Day, 1944

Intelligence, U-boats: An assessment of U-boat numbers in the Channel by the Royal Navy’s Operational Intelligence Centre in Whitehall makes for sombre reading. Analysts estimate that as many as 44 Type VIII boats are currently stationed within reach of the Channel and that they will all sail “on or before D-Day or at least D+1”. This estimate is far lower than that of early February, which put the numbers at about 175; but it is still a warning against complacency. 

Planning, Invasion Timing: At SHAEF’s current HQ, the former air force base in Bushy Park, London, a meeting begins between the Supreme Commander, Tedder, Montgomery, Leigh-Mallory and Ramsay to decide on the final timing of H-House, the code-name for the landing times of the first assault wave on D-Day Recent photo-reconnaissance has shown an enormous increase in beach obstacles constructed by the Germans along the low water line of the landing beaches. To allow enough time for these to be destroyed on a rising ride, which will also be needed to bring the assault units ashore, and to have enough dawn light to allow the pre-invasion bombardment to begin, is a tricky calculation. It will also have taken into account the need for sufficient moonlight the previous night to help airborne assault. These considerations will, by necessity, result in a change in the invasion date, currently May 31. The chance of catching a period of full moon this month has now been missed so the date will have to move back to June. 

April 30

The Civil War, 1864

Arkansas, Land War:  The Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. Union Major General Fred Steele’s worsted army successfully crosses the swollen Saline River, despite Confederate attempts to finish off the Union force at Jenkins’ Ferry. Union losses are 521; Confederate 443.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid:  President Nixon welcomes home the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. The 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB) includes the following units: Headquarters, 3rd MAB, Regimental Landing Team 1, which includes the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines; 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines; and 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. The US Marine Security Guard Detachment comes under the overall command of Sub-Unit 1, 1st Angelico, and the Marine Advisory Unit, as the only US Marine Commands remaining in Vietnam. The 3rd MAB also has attached air assets. 

April 29

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces:  At the US Embassy compound in Saigon, Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker presents E Company, Marine Security Guard Detachment, with the “Meritorious Unit Commendation for meritorious service as the immediate defense and security force for the US Mission Saigon, RVN, from February 1, 1969 to December 31, 1971.” The Marine Security Guards played a pivotal role in the defence of the US Embassy in Saigon in January 1968 during the Tet Offensive, and will repeat that pivotal role during the evacuation from Saigon on April 29, 1975. 

April 28

Planning D-Day, 1944

Operation Neptune, Rehearsal:  Disaster strikes Exercise Tiger. At about 01:30 hours nine torpedo-armed E-boats, out of Cherbourg, attack the follow-up convoy of eight Landing Ships, Tanks (LSTs) in Lyme Bay. The German boats have avoided a patrol of Royal Navy destroyers and motor torpedo boats, and only one small warship, the British Corvette HMS Azalea, is in close escort. The E-boats attack the rear of the convoy and the first LST to be torpedoed is 507, which withstands the explosion but catches fire. Soldiers and sailors abandon ship only to find themselves in a burning sea, as fuel oil ignites. The chaos is made far worse because the men have not been told how to use life belts. Then LST 531 is hit amidships by two torpedoes, and in 10 minutes has capsized and is sinking. There is now panic and wild firing from the remaining transports in the convoy. At about 02:30 hours the E-boats strike again, and LST 289 has her stern blown off. The crew contain the fire and she remains afloat and under power. The five remaining landing ships exchange fire with the E-boats, which disengage at 03:30 hours, at about the same time as the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Saladin arrives. A search for survivors does not begin in earnest until 05:30 hours, by which time some men have been in the freezing Channel waters for over two hours, causing even more deaths. This attack has dealt a serious blow to invasion preparations. Nearly 200 sailors and 500 soldiers are dead. Most of the soldiers are from one unit, the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, and they are specialists in the job of building and maintaining the invasion beachhead. They are men that the Allies can ill-afford to lose. Two of the LSTs have been sunk and one seriously damaged. This loss wipes out the operational reserve of LSTs for Operation Overlord, and will mean that three replacement landing ships will have to be ordered to sail from the Mediterranean immediately. 

April 27

Planning D-Day, 1944

Operation Neptune, Rehearsal:  By this second day of Exercise Tiger, Admiral Moon’s Force U has doubled back towards the Devon coast during the night and, by morning, has anchored in Start Bay, off Slapton Sands: Watching proceedings are Admiral Ramsay and General Montgomery. After an initial naval bombardment, the 4th Infantry Division attempts to land. Ramsay is unimpressed. He describes the exercise privately as a “flop”. Communications break down between the navy and the assault units, with the result that only two infantry companies get ashore in the first wave. However, the exercise continues and throughout the day the 4th Infantry is landed. A follow-up convoy of mine LSTs are expected off Slapton Sands early Friday morning. 

April 26

Planning D-Day, 1944

Operation Neptune, Rehearsal:  A full-scale rehearsal of Operation Neptune begins, known as Exercise Tiger. It involves Force U, commanded by Rear-Admiral Don P. Moon, US Navy. During the day the US 4th Infantry Division, VII Corps, under Major General Raymond O. Barton, embarks from ports on the south Devon coast. Force U then sails into Lyme Bay proceeded by minesweepers.

German Air force, Port Raid:  This day there is another German air raid on Portsmouth. At least 80 bombers make the attack and sortie farther north towards Basingstoke. 

April 25

The Civil War, 1864

Arkansas, Land War:  The Battle of Marks’ Mills. A Union supply train of 240 wagons is captured by Confederate forces. This defeat forces Steele to look to save his army rather than unite with the forces of Nathaniel Banks on the Red River. 

April 24

The Third Reich, 1942

Sea War, Kriegsmarine:  The motor torpedo-boats, which previously had been under the jurisdiction of the Flag Officer for Destroyers, are given their own autonomous command under Kapitan zur See Rudolf Peterson. 

April 23

The Civil War, 1864

Louisiana, Land War:  The Battle of Monett’s Ferry/Cane River Crossing. Retreating Union troops of the Red River Campaign overthrow a Confederate cavalry division set in defense around Monett’s Ferry. 

April 22

WWII, 1944

Pacific, Papua New Guinea:  General Douglas MacArthur, leading a 52,000-strong Allied invasion force, makes an amphibious landing in Hollandia, northern New Guinea. Hollandia will be the base for the next phase of MacArthur’s Operation Cartwheel, which is designed to drive the Japanese from northwest New Guinea.  

April 21

WWII, 1943

Squadron RAF No. 341, composed of members of the Free French forces fighting with the Allies,   arrives at Biggin Hill in the south east of England. They are equipped with Supermarine Spitfire L.F Mk.IXs. From Biggins Hill they mounted sweep patrols over the English Channel, probing the German defences of occupied Europe. 

April 20

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid:  Included in President Nixon’s announced troops cups. VMA (AW) 225, the last A-6 Intruder Squadron, stands down in preparation for its return to its base at US Marine Corps Air Station, EL Toro, California. 

April 19

Planning D-Day, 1944

Security, Communications:  The diplomatic movement ban is extended to include military personnel of the governments-in-exile in Great Britain. The ban will run until June 19. 

April 18

The Civil War, 1864

Arkansas, Land War:  The Battle of Poison Spring. A Union raid out of Camden, send by Major General Fred Steele, to acquire corn is crushed by the Confederates on its return journey at Lee’s Plantation, the Union force losing 198 supply wagons. 

April 17

The Civil War, April 17-20, 1864

North Carolina, Land/Naval War:  The Battle of Plymouth. Opposing land and naval forces fight a major engagement. The Confederates secure an important victory on the Atlantic coast when Plymouth falls on the 20th. 

April 16

Planning D-Day, 1944

Order of Battle, US Forces:  The lead units of the US 79th Infantry Division arrive in the England. The division will be organized into VII Corps, First Army, and it scheduled to land in Normandy on D+8.

Logistics, Landing Craft:  Despite the “Landing Craft conference” held in February, and the postponement of Operation Anvil, there are still not enough LSTs (Landing Ships, Tanks) in Great Britain to carry all the necessary vehicles. The problem is fast becoming a crisis, which just seven weeks left until the planned invasion date. Churchill is to send a personal message to the US Chief of Staff, General Marshall, asking for his help and reminding the general what the judgement of history might be if the problem isn’t solved. “How it is”, the prime minister writes, “that the plans of two great empires like Britain and the United States should be so much hamstrung and limited by a hundred or two of these particular vessels will never be understood by history ….the absence of these special vessels may limit our whole war effort on our left flank, and I fear we shall be accused unjustly of not doing out best, as we are resolved to do.”

April 15

WWII, 1944

Air War, Europe: The US 8th Army Air Force and RAF Bomber Command decide to switch bombing from German urban centers to railroads in Belgium and France to prepare for the forthcoming Allied invasion by preventing German reinforcements reaching the front. A Force of 448 Flying Fortresses and Liberators of the US 15th Army Air Force, escorted by 150 Mustang fighters, also attacks the oil fields at Ploesti and Romanian capital, Bucharest. During the night the RAF bombs the railroad lines at Turnu Severin in Romania.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US: Aid The Strength of the 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade on its activation is 1322 Marine and 124 US Navy officers and 13,359 Marine and 711 US Navy enlisted men. The ground combat element is the 1st Marines and the air element consists of two aircraft grounds: Marine Air Group 11 and Marine Air Group 16. The 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade includes numerous combat supports and service support units. The last four CUPP squads of M Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, are deactivated, ending the CUPP programme. In the 18 months of its existence, the CUPP programme has accounted for 578 enemy killed while the Marines have lost 46 killed in action. 

April 14

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid:  III Marine Amphibious Force, under the command of Lieutenant-General Donn J. Robertson, along with the 1st Marine Division and 1st Marine Air Wing, leaves Vietnam. It has been “in country” since May 6, 1965. The 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB) is officially established in the Republic of Vietnam. Lieutenant-General Robertson, Commanding General (CG), III MAF, relocates to Camp Courtney, Okinawa, and Major-General Armstrong, the Commanding General, 1st Marine Air Wing (MAW), assumes command of all units remaining in the Republic of Vietnam. He reports to the Commanding General, 1st Marine Air Reserve (Rear), and Major-General Widdecke, CG, 1st Marine Division, relocates to Camp Pendleton. 

April 13

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces:  The US Army’s 196th Light Infantry Brigade, which will be the last US ground combat element in Quang Nam Province, moves into the Que Son Area.  

April 12

The Civil War, 1864

Tennessee, Land War:  The Union garrison at Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi River, made up of 295 white Tennessee troops and 262 U.S. colored troops, all under the command of Major Lionel F. Booth, is attacked by Confederates under Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest with a Cavalry division of 2,500 men. Forrest seizes the older outworks, with high knolls commanding the Union position, and surrounds Booth’s force. Rebel sharpshooters on the knolls fire into the fort, killing Booth, but the garrison cannot depress its artillery enough to cover the approaches to the fort. The Confederates launch an attack at 11:00 hours, occupying more strategic locations around the fort. Forrest demands unconditional surrender. The garrison refuses and the Confederates renew the attack, overrunning the fort and driving the Federals down the rivers bluff. Only 60 of the Union colored troops survive the fight (the Confederates are accused of massacring the black troops). The Confederates evacuate Fort Pillow in the evening. “Remember Fort Pillow” becomes a rallying cry along black troops in the last year of war.

The Civil War, April 12-13 1864

Louisiana, Land/River War:  The Battle of Blair’s Landing/Pleasant Hill Landing. Brigadier General tom Green’s Confederate cavalry attack grounded Union transport boats at Pleasant Hill on the Red River. Gunboat and withering infantry fire beat off the attack and kill Green.

WWII, 1944

Politics, Romania: In reply to a Romanian mission regarding the conditions for an armistice between Romania and the Soviet Union, Moscow demands that Romania break with the Germans, that its forces fight alongside the Red Army, and insists on the restoration of the Romanian and Soviet border. It also calls for reparations for damage inflicted on the Soviet Union by Romania, freedom of movement through the country for Soviet and other Allied forces and the repatriation  of soviet prisoners. The Romanians reject these conditions and remain with the Axis. 

April 11

Planning D-Day, 1944

German Defences, France: Grand Admiral Donitz sends a message to the U-boat captains of Group Landwirt (Farmer) in France. In terms that resound with desperation he exhorts his men to take extreme measures against the coming Allies invasion, going so far as to suggest suicide attacks. “Every vessel taking part in the landing,” he writes, “even if it has but a handful of men or solitary tank aboard, is a target of the utmost importance which must be attacked regardless of cost.” He goes on: “Every boat that inflicts losses on the enemy while he is landing has fulfilled its primary function, even though it perishes in so doing.” 

April 10

The Civil War, April 10-13, 1864

Arkansas, Land War: The Battle of Prairie D’Ane/Gum Grove/Moscow. A major clash at Prairie D’Ane sees Union forces eventually gain the upper hand over four days of fighting and go on to take Camden. 

April 9

WWII, 1944

Eastern Front, Ukraine:  The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front reaches the outskirts of Odessa.

The Civil War, 1864

Louisiana, Land War:  The Battle of Pleasant Hill. Union forces, retreating after the Mansfield defeat, stop and turn to face a major Confederate attack near Pleasant Hill. Both sides lose over 1,500 troops. 

April 8

WWII, 1944

Eastern Front, Crimea: General Fedor I. Tolbukhin’s 4th Ukrainian Front (470,000 men, 6000 field guns and mortars, 560 tanks and self-propelled guns, and 1250 combat aircraft) begins the liberation of the peninsula. The German and Romanian forces defending the region as part of the Seventeenth Army can muster only 200,000 men, 3600 field guns and mortars, 200 tanks and self-propelled guns and 150 aircraft.

The Civil War, 1864

Louisiana, Land War: The Battle of Mansfield/Pleasant Grove/Sabine Crossroads. When General Ulysses S. Grant took command of the Union armies in early 1864, he planned a series of offensives, one of which under General Nathaniel P. Banks, would move from New Orleans, Louisiana, against the port of Mobile in Alabama. Banks had other ideas. He decided to embark on a campaign northwest up the Red River. He envisioned a combined army and navy force, with troops and gunboats under David D. Porter, moving up the Red River to cooperate with another Union force under General Frederick Steele in capturing Shreveport, Louisiana, a major supply depot and gateway to Texas. Banks hoped to capture large supplies of cotton as well. Banks and Porter got underway from St. Martinville, Louisiana, on March 12, with the troops loaded on slow-moving transport boats. Porter’s gunboats moved more quickly and on March 16 captured Alexandria, Louisiana, which was roughly halfway to Shreveport. It took Banks and his transports almost two weeks to catch up. As Porter moved to Shreveport, Banks marches his men along the west side of the Red River. Today, a Confederate force traps and defeats Banks at Mansfield, south of Shreveport. And then Steele fails to march to support him as originally plans. Banks falls back and decides to turn the entire expedition around and retreat to New Orleans. Porter’s naval flotilla is stranded by falling river levels at Alexandria and is almost lost to Confederates firing on the fleet from the banks of the river. Only the heroic construction of river dams near Alexandria by 3,000 soldiers, sailors, and marines rescue the marooned boats and allows them to escape. The Red River Campaign thus ends in complete failure.

April 7

The Vietnam War, April 7-12, 1971

South Vietnam, Ground War:  So as not to give the impression that the United States has given up on its South Vietnamese ally, the US 1st Marine Regiment launches a five-day offensive, called Operation Scott Orchard, in the area west of An Hoa. The Marines comb the areas around Pickens forest and Catawba falls. A 105mm and 155mm howitzer battery are set up at Fire Support Base Dagger as give companies, under the operational control of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, are then inserted into the area. After five days of operations, only scattered resistance is encountered. Four NVA soldiers are killed and 12 individual weapons captured. The US Marines suffer only minor casualties.

The Vietnam War, 1971

South Vietnam, US Aid:  In a further sign that the ground role of US forces is over, President Nixon announces further troop cuts in American forces in Vietnam and states that they will be gone by June 30. Among US Marine forces named in these cutbacks are the 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade and the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines.

April 6

WWII, April 6-11, 1944

Far East, Burma:  Japanese forces attack the Chindit fortified position at “White City”, which is subsequently evacuated.

April 5

WWII, 1944

Eastern Front, Ukraine: The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian front captures Razdelnaya station and cuts the local German forces in two, one of which is forced to withdraw toward Odessa and the other toward Tiraspol.

April 4

WWII, April 4-13, 1944

Far East, India: The first stage of the Imphal Battle has ended. The Japanese have failed to destroy the Allied defense line. The British IV Corps, now concentrated around Imphal, can turn its attention to the destruction of the Japanese. By April 13, the Japanese have been ejected from Nungshigum, one of the hills commanding the Imphal plain, and their 15th Division is being harried down the road to Ukhrul. 

The Third Reich, 1942

Sea War, Baltic: The Gneisenau is moved to Gotenhafen.

April 3

WWII, 1944

Air War, Norway:  The German battleship Tirpitz has been damaged in Altenfiord, Norway, by Royal Navy aircraft flown from the British carriers Victorious and Furious. Tirpitz has been hit 14 times, which means that it will not sail again for several months.

The Civil War, April 3-4, 1864

Arkansas, Land War: The Battle of Elkin’s Ferry/Okolona. During the Unions Camden Expedition, Confederate troops fail to prevent Union forces from crossing the Little Missouri River at Elkin’s Ferry.

April 2

Planning D-Day, 1944

Home Front, Great Britain: The Chiefs of Staff obtain Churchill’s agreement to reorganize Britain’s anti-aircraft defences to protect the invasion fleet. /selected batteries will now be moved from civilian areas to embarkation ports. It is a risk, ass the German air raids on cities continue. In March, civilian casualties from raids over London, northeast England and south Wales were 279 killed and 633 injured.

April 1

Planning D-Day, 1944

Logistics, Mulberry: The Bombardon sea barriers undergo their first, and successful, sea trials, off Weymouth Bay. The floating concrete boxes withstand 2.4m (8ft) seas for 10 hours.

Security, Coast/Free French: The visitors ban comes into effect. Its terms are strict. No civilians will be allowed into an exclusive zone extending 16km (10 miles) inland from the coast, and residents will only be permitted to travel a few miles from their homes. The zone covers a stretch of coast from the River Humber to Penzance, as well as Milford Haven, Portishead and estuaries of the rivers Forth, Tay and Clyde. The need to maintain strict security is also having a serious impact on the Allies’ relationship with the Free French. SHAEF fears that the ciphers used by de Gaulle’s Committee of National Liberation are compromised, and there are concerns about its communist members. From today the Combined Chiefs of Staff order that no information about Neptune/Overlord be passed to the committee. In effect, France is to be invaded without its self-appointed provisional government being informed. 

March 11

WWII, 1944

Eastern Front, Ukraine General Rodion Malinovsky’s 2nd Ukrainian Front reaches the Bug River, brushing aside resistance from the German Eighth Army. The Germans hope to halt the Red Army on this great water barrier.

WWII, March 11-12, 1944

Far East, Burma In the Arakan, northern Burma, the Allies recapture Buthidaung and then surround and capture the Japanese fortress at Razabil.

March 10

D-Day Planning, 1944

Rommel’s Army Group B headquarters moves from Fontainebleau to the castle of La Roche-Guyon, northwest of Paris. It will not be closer to the coast and the OB West HQ at St Germain.

Security, Coasts After weeks of discussion, Churchill finally agrees to the ban on the movement of civilians to and from the south and east coasts. 

March 8

WWII, 1944

Air War, Germany
The US 8th Army Air Force launches a massive daylight precision raid on the Erker Ball-Bearing Works, Berlin. A total of 590 aircraft mount the raid. There are 75 direct hits on the target, but the Americans lose 37 aircraft. This is the third US raid on Berlin under the escort of P-51 Mustang fighters. It results in the halting of ball-bearing production for some time.

March 7

WWII, March 7-8, 1944

Far East, Burma/India Operation U-Go, the Japanese offensive to drive the Allies back into India by destroying their bases at Imphal and Kohima, begins with moves to sever the Tiddim to Imphal road. The Japanese 33rd Division has orders to cut off the 17th Indian Division at Tiddim and force the British to commit their reserves to rescue it, while the 31st and 15th Divisions are to cross the Chindwin farther north and fall on Imphal and Kohima.

WWII, 1944

Home Front Germany: Members of the Nazi organization for woman are making house-to-house calls to recruit females born between the ages of 17 and 45 to work “in the service of the community.” This is to bolster Germany’s depleted labor force.

D-Day Planning, 1944

Planning & Security:  The invasion poses a huge problem for the security services: for those involved it is the secret everyone wants to talk about, but which no one is allowed to mention in public. In this climate of frustrated gossip someone is bound to say something and today’s security breach comes via and London Evening News. Despite undertakings not to publish such speculation, the newspaper reports the Canadian minister of munitions as predicting major Allied operations will take place “within the next three or four months”. The story is known to Churchill, who sends a stiffly worded personal telegram to the Canadian prime minister, reminding him that ministers should not make any reference to the “timing scope or direction of forthcoming operations”.

March 6

D-Day Planning, 1944

RAF Bomber Command carriers out the first raids on French rail targets to test the feasibility of Zuckerman’s Transportation Plan. The 261 Halifax bombers attack the rail centre of Trappes, southwest of Paris, and knock out the entire electrified line from Chartres to Paris. The bombers return without loss. There have been doubts that these strategic aircraft can bomb accurately enough to hit such small targets at night, but Bomber Command finds these results very encouraging. One of Harris’s staff officers reports that “it is appreciated that this new-found ability to saturate with bomb strikes a given area of approx. 500 x 1,000 yards square constitutes a weapon of war of enormous power”. Raids on French rail targets will continue over the next three weeks, with attacks on the nights of March 13-14, 15-16, 23-24, 25-26, and 26-27.

Deception, Fortitude North As part of Fortitude North, Colonel R.M. Macleod arrives in Edinburgh to establish the headquarters of the phantom British Fourth Army. The deception is designed to give the impression that an Allied attack on Norway from Scotland is imminent. It is created by Macleod and a staff of 30, who generate enough radio traffic between Edinburgh, Stirling and Dundee to convince the Germans that there is a force of 250,000 men, complete with armoured division and tactical air support, being organized to strike across the North Sea.

March 5

WWII March 5- 11, 1944

Far East, Burma Brigadier Mike Calvert’s 77th Brigade of the Cindits begins landing by glider at two selected points code-named “Broadway” and “Piccadilly” in the Kaukkwe Valley, northern Burma. During the first lift, 61 gliders are used, although only 35 reach their target. By the 11th, the whole of Calvert’s brigade has been flown in.

March 4

D-Day Planning, 1944

Planning: Headquarters  SHEAF HQ begins a move out of Norfolk House. The building is too small, and recent German air raids on central London have convinced Eisenhower that a new location is needed. It is moving to former Eighth Army Air Force headquarters in Bushy Park, in the suburbs of southwest London. The move will be completed by Monday, but plans have already been made to create a forward HQ at Southwick House, near Portsmouth. March 3

D-Day Planning, 1944

Deception, Bodyguard:  In Moscow, the Soviet-Allied talks over Operation Bodyguard come to a successful conclusion. The Soviets agree to participate fully. Their role will be threefold. They will begin their summer offensive after Overlord has begun, and will make every appearance of preparing attacks on northern Norway and the Black Sea coasts of Romania and Bulgaria.

March 2

The Vietnam War, 1971

Laos, Ground War: The South Vietnamese Marine Brigade 147 makes a heliborne assault into Laos during Operation Lam Son-719 at Fire Support Base Delta, and relieves the ARVN forces which are currently operating there.

WWII, 1944

Politics, Allies The Allies cut off all aid to Turkey due to its government’s reluctance to help their war effort.

The Civil War, 1864

Virginia, Land War: The Battle of Walkerton/Mantapike Hill. An abortive Union raid against Richmond’s defenses ends in the destruction or capture of much of attackers. Captured papers refer to the burning of Richmond and killing of President Davis as primary objectives.

The Union, Armed Forces: Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant is made commander of all the armies of the United States.

March 1

WWII, 1944

Far East Burma The Chindits’ 16th Brigade crosses the Chindwin River, as Chinese forces and Merrill’s Marauders (a US commando force) under General Joseph Stilwell, advance toward Myitkyina.

D-Day Planning, 1944

The Cabinet’s Home Defence Committee meets again. It endorses the proposal for a visitor ban along the south coast, recommended on February 28, and suggests extending it to other areas of the country, including Milford Haven in Wales, Portishead on the Severn Estuary near Bristol and the estuaries of the Forth, Tay and Clyde in Scotland. It also recommends a ban on all diplomatic communications by the British representatives of neutral and friendly countries prior to the invasions – except, of course, the United States.

Home Front:  Great Britain Churchill holds the first weekly meeting of the Government’s Overlord Preparation Committee. Its brief is far-reaching and covers every aspect of Overlord as it affects the Home Front. Presents are 12 ministers, responsible for labour, health, war transport, food, fuel and power, plus representatives of the War Officer, Air Ministry and Admiralty. Among their first discussions are proposals to clear civilian hospitals of patients, in order to make room for the thousands of military casualties expected on D-Day.

 

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