Today in History

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by limbkiller, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. limbkiller

    limbkiller Pulling my hair. Supporting Addict

    Aug 18, 2011
    1779
    Congress establishes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    On this day in 1779, Congress establishes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help plan, design and prepare environmental and structural facilities for the U.S. Army. Made up of civilian workers, members of the Continental Army and French officers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers played an essential role in the critical Revolutionary War battles at Bunker Hill, Saratoga and Yorktown.

    The members of the Corps who had joined at the time of its founding in 1779 left the army with their fellow veterans at the end of the War for Independence. In 1794, Congress created a Corps of Artillerists and Engineers to serve the same purpose under the new federal government. The Corps of Engineers itself was reestablished as an enduring division of the federal government in 1802.

    Upon its reestablishment, the Corps began its chief task of creating and maintaining military fortifications. These responsibilities increased in urgency as the new United States prepared for a second war with Britain in the years before 1812. The Corps’ greatest contribution during this era was to the defense of New York Harbor—the fortifications it built not only persuaded British naval commanders to stay away from the city during the War of 1812, but later served as the foundations for the Statue of Liberty.

    In subsequent years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers evolved from providing services for the military to helping map out the uncharted territories that would become the western United States. Beginning in 1824, the Corps also took responsibility for navigation and flood control of the nation’s river systems.

    Today, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is made up of more than 35,000 civilian and enlisted men and women. In recent years, the Corps has worked on rebuilding projects in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the reconstruction of the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.


    1884
    Gunslinger Ben Thompson dies

    Texas gunslinger Ben Thompson dies in a San Antonio theatre where accomplices of his longtime enemies ambushed and murdered him.

    Thompson’s career as a gunman began early. In 1858, when he was only 16, he wounded a black youth during a quarrel in Austin, Texas. Local citizens demanded action against Thompson, so he served a short jail term and paid a fine. A few years later, he left Austin and tried to make a peaceable living as a typesetter in New Orleans, but the gambling houses of New Orleans proved more attractive to Thompson than the boring grind of an honest day’s work.

    As with so many other western gunslingers, Thompson’s real education as a killer came from fighting in wars. Although his record as confederate solider in the Civil War was undistinguished, he apparently quarreled and fought with his army comrades a great deal. After the war, he became a mercenary to the emperor of Mexico, where his talents as a killer were encouraged and rewarded.

    In 1872, Thompson traveled to Ellsworth, Kansas, to join his brother Billy as a professional gambler. A year later, a local deputy angered the two brothers when he intervened in a gambling dispute. The Ellsworth sheriff, Chauncey Whitney, came to his deputy’s rescue and tried to calm the angry brothers. Whitney thought he had defused the situation, but as he walked across the street with the two brothers, the volatile Billy suddenly pulled his gun and shot the sheriff dead. Thompson came to Billy’s rescue by recruiting a large gang of Texas cowboys to intimidate the Ellsworth police long enough for Billy to escape.

    No longer welcome in Ellsworth, Thompson spent the next decade drifting around Kansas. In 1879, he joined Bat Masterson and others as a hired gunman for the Santa Fe Railroad. With the money he earned working for the railroad, he invested in a chain of Texas gambling houses that eventually returned sizeable profits. Using his newfound wealth to buy respectability, in 1880 he returned to Austin and made a successful run for town sheriff.

    Thompson’s shift to the side of law enforcement, though, did not end his involvement with the shady world of gambling. In 1880, he quarreled with three San Antonio gamblers—Joe Foster, Jack Harris and Bill Simms—over a debt Foster claimed Thompson owed him. A few years later, the quarrel led to a gunfight in which Thompson killed Harris, further incensing the other two. In 1884, Foster and Simms laid a trap for Thompson at the Vaudeville Theatre in San Antonio. Apparently attempting to make peace with his two old enemies, Thompson approached them in the theatre. The men began to argue, and when the dispute threatened to become violent, a volley of shots rang out. Two hidden accomplices of Foster and Simms killed Thompson.


    1942
    MacArthur leaves Corregidor

    After struggling against great odds to save the Philippines from Japanese conquest, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur abandons the island fortress of Corregidor under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt. Left behind at Corregidor and on the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino troops, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive.

    After leaving Corregidor, MacArthur and his family traveled by boat 560 miles to the Philippine island of Mindanao, braving mines, rough seas, and the Japanese Navy. At the end of the hair-raising 35-hour journey, MacArthur told the boat commander, John D. Bulkeley, “You’ve taken me out of the jaws of death, and I won’t forget it.” On March 17, the general and his family boarded a B-17 Flying Fortress for Northern Australia. He then took another aircraft and a long train ride down to Melbourne. During this journey, he was informed that there were far fewer Allied troops in Australia than he had hoped. Relief of his forces trapped in the Philippines would not be forthcoming. Deeply disappointed, he issued a statement to the press in which he promised his men and the people of the Philippines, “I shall return.” The promise would become his mantra during the next two and a half years, and he would repeat it often in public appearances.

    For his valiant defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and celebrated as “America’s First Soldier.” Put in command of Allied forces in the Southwestern Pacific, his first duty was conducting the defense of Australia. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Bataan fell in April, and the 70,000 American and Filipino soldiers captured there were forced to undertake a death march in which at least 7,000 perished. Then, in May, Corregidor surrendered, and 15,000 more Americans and Filipinos were captured. The Philippines–MacArthur’s adopted home–were lost, and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had no immediate plans for their liberation.

    After the U.S. victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942, most Allied resources in the Pacific went to U.S. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who as commander of the Pacific Fleet planned a more direct route to Japan than via the Philippines. Unperturbed, MacArthur launched a major offensive in New Guinea, winning a string of victories with his limited forces. By September 1944, he was poised to launch an invasion of the Philippines, but he needed the support of Nimitz’s Pacific Fleet. After a period of indecision about whether to invade the Philippines or Formosa, the Joint Chiefs put their support behind MacArthur’s plan, which logistically could be carried out sooner than a Formosa invasion.

    On October 20, 1944, a few hours after his troops landed, MacArthur waded ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte. That day, he made a radio broadcast in which he declared, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!” In January 1945, his forces invaded the main Philippine island of Luzon. In February, Japanese forces at Bataan were cut off, and Corregidor was captured. Manila, the Philippine capital, fell in March, and in June MacArthur announced his offensive operations on Luzon to be at an end; although scattered Japanese resistance continued until the end of the war in August. Only one-third of the men MacArthur left behind on March 11, 1942, survived to see his return. “I’m a little late,” he told them, “but we finally came.”
     
  2. xerts1191

    xerts1191 Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2017

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