This Day in History

July 11, 1782:

British evacuate Savannah Georgia.

https://revolutionarywar.us/year-1779/battle-of-savannah/

On July 11, 1782, British Royal Governor Sir James Wright, along with several civil officials and military officers, flee the city of Savannah, Georgia, and head to Charleston, South Carolina. As part of the British evacuation, a group consisting of British regulars led by General Alured Clarke traveled to New York, while Colonel Thomas Brown led a mixed group of rangers and Indians to St. Augustine, Florida. The remaining British soldiers were transported to the West Indies aboard the frigate HMS Zebra and the sloop of war HMS Vulture.

Wright had been the only colonial governor and Georgia the only colony to successfully implement the Stamp Act in 1765. As revolutionary fervor grew elsewhere in the colonies, Georgia remained the most loyal colony, declining to send delegates to the Continental Congress in 1774. Governor Wright, though, had been taken into custody and placed under house arrest nearly a month earlier on January 18, 1776, by Patriots under the command of Major Joseph Habersham of the Provincial Congress. On February 11, Wright escaped from his residence in Savannah to the safety of a waiting British warship, the HMS Scarborough, anchored at the mouth of the Savannah River, and returned to London. Wright organized a military action and retook Savannah on December 29, 1778. He resumed his role as royal governor on July 22, 1779, and held the city until the British left of their own accord on this day in 1782, following General Charles Cornwallis’ surrender to General George Washington at Yorktown in 1781.

Wright then moved to London, where he died three years later.

July 11, 1804:

Aaron Burr slays Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

https://www.alamy.com/pictured-together-are-aaron-burr-and-alexander-hamilton-who-fought-a-famous-duel-that-led-to-hamiltons-death-image187533498.html

On July 11, 1804, in one of the most famous duels in American history, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America’s political economy, died the following day.

Alexander Hamilton, born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, came to the American colonies in 1773 as a poor immigrant. (There is some controversy as to the year of his birth, but it was either 1755 or 1757.) In 1776, he joined the Continental Army in the American Revolution, and his relentless energy and remarkable intelligence brought him to the attention of General George Washington, who took him on as an aide. Ten years later, Hamilton served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and he led the fight to win ratification of the final document, which created the kind of strong, centralized government that he favored. In 1789, he was appointed the first secretary of the treasury by President Washington, and during the next six years he crafted a sophisticated monetary policy that saved the young U.S. government from collapse. With the emergence of political parties, Hamilton was regarded as a leader of the Federalists.

Aaron Burr, born into a prestigious New Jersey family in 1756, was also intellectually gifted, and he graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) at the age of 17. He joined the Continental Army in 1775 and distinguished himself during the Patriot attack on Quebec. A masterful politician, he was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1784 and later served as state attorney. In 1790, he defeated Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law in a race for the U.S. Senate.

Hamilton came to detest Burr, whom he regarded as a dangerous opportunist, and he often spoke ill of him. When Burr joined Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican ticket (the forerunner of the Democratic Party) as vice president in the 1796 election, Hamilton launched a series of public attacks against Burr, stating, “I feel it is a religious duty to oppose his career.” John Adams won the presidency, and in 1797 Burr left the Senate and returned to the New York Assembly.

In the 1800 election, Jefferson and Burr became running mates again. Burr aided the Democratic-Republican ticket by publishing a confidential document that Hamilton had written criticizing his fellow Federalist President John Adams. This caused a rift in the Federalists and helped Jefferson and Burr win the election with 73 electoral votes each.

Under the electoral procedure then prevailing, president and vice president were not voted for separately; the candidate who received the most votes was elected president, and the second in line, vice president. The vote then went to the House of Representatives. What at first seemed but an electoral technicality—handing Jefferson victory over his running mate—developed into a major constitutional crisis when Federalists in the lame-duck Congress threw their support behind Burr. After a remarkable 35 tie votes, a small group of Federalists changed sides and voted in Jefferson’s favor. Alexander Hamilton, who had supported Jefferson as the lesser of two evils, was instrumental in breaking the deadlock.

Burr became vice president, but Jefferson grew apart from him, and he did not support Burr’s renomination to a second term in 1804. That year, a faction of New York Federalists, who had found their fortunes drastically diminished after the ascendance of Jefferson, sought to enlist the disgruntled Burr into their party and elect him governor. Hamilton campaigned against Burr with great fervor, and Burr lost the Federalist nomination and then, running as an independent for governor, the election. In the campaign, Burr’s character was savagely attacked by Hamilton and others, and after the election he resolved to restore his reputation by challenging Hamilton to a duel, or an “affair of honor,” as they were known.

Affairs of honor were commonplace in America at the time, and the complex rules governing them usually led to an honorable resolution before any actual firing of weapons. In fact, the outspoken Hamilton had been involved in several affairs of honor in his life, and he had resolved most of them peaceably. No such recourse was found with Burr, however, and on July 11, 1804, the enemies met at 7 a.m. at the dueling grounds near Weehawken, New Jersey. It was the same spot where Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to Hamilton’s “second”—his assistant and witness in the duel—Hamilton decided the duel was morally wrong and deliberately fired into the air. Burr’s second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed. What happened next is agreed upon: Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach, and the bullet lodged next to his spine. Hamilton was taken back to New York, and he died the next afternoon.

Few affairs of honor actually resulted in deaths, and the nation was outraged by the killing of a man as eminent as Alexander Hamilton. Charged with murder, Burr, still vice president, returned to Washington, D.C., where he finished his term immune from prosecution.

In 1805, Burr, thoroughly discredited, concocted a plot with James Wilkinson, commander of the U.S. Army, to seize the Louisiana Territory and establish an independent empire, which Burr, presumably, would lead. He contacted the British government and unsuccessfully pleaded for assistance in the scheme. Later, when border trouble with Spanish Mexico heated up, Burr and Wilkinson conspired to seize territory in Spanish America for the same purpose.

In the fall of 1806, Burr led a group of well-armed colonists toward New Orleans, prompting an immediate U.S. investigation. General Wilkinson, in an effort to save himself, turned against Burr and sent dispatches to Washington accusing Burr of treason. In February 1807, Burr was arrested in Louisiana for treason and sent to Virginia to be tried in a U.S. court. In September, he was acquitted on a technicality. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned him as a traitor, and he fled to Europe. He later returned to private life in New York, the murder charges against him forgotten. He died in 1836.

July 11, 1861:

Union notches a victory at the battle of Rich Mountain.

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/civil-war/battles/rich-mountain

On July 11, 1861, Union troops under General George B. McClellan score another major victory in the struggle for western Virginia at the Battle of Rich Mountain. The Yankee success secured the region and ensured the eventual creation of West Virginia.

Western Virginia was a crucial battleground in the early months of the war. The population of the region was deeply divided over the issue of secession, and western Virginia was also a vital east-west link for the Union because the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran through its mountains.

After McClellan scored a series of small victories in western Virginia in June and early July, Confederate General Robert Garnett and Colonel John Pegram positioned their forces at Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill to block two key roads and keep McClellan from penetrating any further east. McClellan crafted a plan to feign an attack against Garnett at Laurel Hill while he sent the bulk of his force against Pegram at Rich Mountain.

Part of McClellan’s force, led by General William Rosecrans, followed a rugged mountain path to swing around behind the Rebels’ left flank. McClellan had promised to attack the Confederate front when he heard gunfire from Rosecrans’s direction. After a difficult march through a drenching rain, Rosecrans struck the Confederate wing. It took several attempts, but he was finally able to drive the Confederates from their position. McClellan shelled the Rebel position, but did not make the expected assault. Each side suffered around 70 casualties.

Pegram was forced to abandon his position, but Rosecrans was blocking his escape route. Two days later, Pegram surrendered his force of 555. Although McClellan became a Union hero as a result of this victory, most historians agree that Rosecrans deserved the credit. Nonetheless, McClellan was on his way to becoming the commander of the Army of the Potomac.

July 11, 1914:

Babe Ruth makes his MBL debut.

https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/ruth-babe

On July 11, 1914, in his major league debut, George Herman “Babe” Ruth pitches seven strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians (now known as the Cleveland Guardians), 4-3.

George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, where his father worked as a saloon keeper on the waterfront. He was the first of eight children, but only he and a sister survived infancy. The young George, known as “Gig” (pronounced jij) to his family, was a magnet for trouble from an early age. At seven, his truancy from school led his parents to declare him incorrigible, and he was sent to an orphanage, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Ruth lived there until he was 19 in 1914, when he was signed as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles.

That same summer, Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox. His teammates called him “Babe” for his naiveté, but his talent was already maturing. In his debut game against the Indians, the 19-year-old Ruth gave up just five hits over the first six innings. In the seventh, the Indians managed two runs on three singles and a sacrifice and Ruth was relieved. His hitting prowess, however, was not on display that first night—he went 0 for 2 at the plate.

Ruth developed quickly as a pitcher and as a hitter. When the Red Sox made the World Series in 1916 and 1918, Ruth starred, setting a record with 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play. His career record as a pitcher for the Red Sox was 89-46.

To the great dismay of Boston fans, Ruth’s contract was sold to the New York Yankees before the 1920 season by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, so that Frazee could finance the musical No, No, Nanette. Ruth switched to the outfield with the Yankees, and hit more home runs than the entire Red Sox team in 10 of the next 12 seasons. “The Sultan of Swat” or “The Bambino,” as he was alternately known, was the greatest gate attraction in baseball until his retirement as a player in 1935. During his career with the New York Yankees, the team won four World Series and seven American League pennants. After getting rid of Ruth, the Red Sox did not win a World Series until 2004, an 85-year drought known to Red Sox fans as “the Curse of the Bambino.”

July 11, 1918:

German command makes final plans for offensive on the Western Front.

Even with a deadly influenza epidemic spreading among German troops, the German High Command decides to go ahead with plans for a renewed assault on the Allies on the Western Front in the summer of 1918, making their final plans on July 11.

The so-called Spanish flu, an unusually powerful strain of influenza, spread throughout North America, Europe and eventually around the world during 1918, claiming millions of lives. The First World War, with its massive movements of men in close quarters, under harsh conditions, undoubtedly acted as a factor in the epidemic. The soldiers fighting for the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary, were hit especially hard by the virus beginning in the early summer of 1918, just as the Allies prepared to counter the German spring offensive on the Western Front.

With Austria-Hungary virtually eliminated as a military force by the third year of World War I, Vienna looked to Germany as the Dual Monarchy’s last chance for survival. People have only one more hope, the German Front, the German ambassador to Austria-Hungary reported to Berlin on July 11. Even a hope in a separate peace does not exist any more. That same day, the German army’s High Command, which had previously considered pushing back their plans for a renewed offensive due to the flu epidemic’s effect on their troops, decided instead to push ahead. The German attack on July 15, near the Marne River in the Champagne region of France, met with resounding failure. It would be the final German offensive of World War I.

Taken from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history

This Day in History

July 5, 1914:

Germany gives Austria-Hungary blank check assurance.

On July 5, 1914, in Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany pledges his country’s unconditional support for whatever action Austria-Hungary chooses to take in its conflict with Serbia, a long-running rivalry thrown into crisis by the assassination, the previous June 28, of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by a Serbian nationalist during an official visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Barely a week after Franz Ferdinand’s murder, the Austrian Foreign Ministry sent an envoy, Alexander, Graf von Hoyos, to Berlin. Hoyos carried a memorandum from the office of the Austrian foreign secretary, Leopold Berchtold, expressing the need for action in the tumultuous Balkans region, as well as a personal letter to the same effect from Emperor Franz Josef to Kaiser Wilhelm. Both documents focused on the need for Austria-Hungary to establish an alliance with Bulgaria, in place of Romania—which Germany had previously favored as a possible Balkan ally—due to the latter nation’s increasing closeness with Serbia and its powerful supporter, Russia. Neither the memorandum nor the emperor’s letter specified that Austria-Hungary wanted war, but the memorandum—a new version of an earlier, less emphatic text written before Franz Ferdinand’s assassination—stressed the need for immediate action, pointed to increased Serbian and Russian aggression and stated as an objective the elimination of Serbia as “a factor of political power in the Balkans.”

Austria’s ambassador to Germany, Ladislaus Szogyeny-Marich, passed Hoyos’ two documents to the kaiser over lunch on July 5, in Potsdam. Wilhelm was outraged by Franz Ferdinand’s murder, and felt a sense of personal loss: the two had met at the archduke’s country estate just two weeks before the assassination to discuss the situation in the Balkans. Though he initially demurred and said he needed to consult the German chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, he eventually—when pressed by the ambassador—responded with uncharacteristic decisiveness, promising Germany’s “faithful support” for Austria-Hungary in whatever action it chose to take towards Serbia, even if Russia intervened. Later that afternoon, Wilhelm assembled a crown council, attended by Bethmann Hollweg, Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann, and War Minister Erich von Falkenhayn, among others. From this meeting, a consensus emerged backing the kaiser’s decision, which Bethmann Hollweg subsequently relayed to the Austrian representatives and Hoyos triumphantly carried back to Vienna.

The kaiser’s pledge, which historians have referred to as the carte blanche or “blank check” assurance, marked a decisive moment in the chain of events leading up to the outbreak of the First World War in Europe during the summer of 1914. Without Germany’s backing, the conflict in the Balkans might have remained localized. With Germany promising to support Austria-Hungary’s punitive actions towards Serbia, even at the cost of war with Russia, whose own powerful allies included France and Great Britain, the possible Balkan War threatened to explode into a general European one.

Taken from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/germany-gives-austria-hungary-blank-check-assurance

This Day in History

April 6, 1917:

The United States officially enters World War One.

https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/u-s-entry-into-world-war-i-1

April 6, 1917: Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I.

When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America’s closest trading partners, and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter’s attempted quarantine of the British Isles. 

Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines, and in February 1915 Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American vessel. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized and called the attack an unfortunate mistake.

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

On June 26, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. After four years of bloody stalemate along the western front, the entrance of America’s well-supplied forces into the conflict marked a major turning point in the war and helped the Allies to victory. When the war finally ended, on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of them had lost their lives.

Taken from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history

This Day in History

March 28, 1915:

First American citizen killed in WWI:

https://www.britannica.com/list/timeline-of-world-war-i

On March 28, 1915, the first American citizen is killed in the eight-month-old European conflict that would become known as the First World War.

Leon Thrasher, a 31-year-old mining engineer and native of Massachusetts, drowned when a German submarine, the U-28, torpedoed the cargo-passenger ship Falaba, on its way from Liverpool to West Africa, off the coast of England. Of the 242 passengers and crew on board the Falaba, 104 drowned. Thrasher, who was employed on the Gold Coast in British West Africa, was returning to his post there from England as a passenger on the ship.

The Germans claimed that the submarine’s crew had followed all protocol when approaching the Falaba, giving the passengers ample time to abandon ship and firing only when British torpedo destroyers began to approach to give aid to the Falaba. The British official press report of the incident claimed that the Germans had acted improperly: It is not true that sufficient time was given the passengers and the crew of this vessel to escape. The German submarine closed in on the Falaba, ascertained her name, signaled her to stop, and gave those on board five minutes to take to the boats. It would have been nothing short of a miracle if all the passengers and crew of a big liner had been able to take to their boats within the time allotted.

The sinking of the Falaba, and Thrasher’s death specifically, was mentioned in a memorandum sent by the U.S. government—drafted by President Woodrow Wilson himself—to the German government after the German submarine attack on the British passenger ship Lusitania on May 7, 1915, in which 1,201 people were drowned, including 128 Americans. The note struck a clear warning tone, calling for the U.S. and Germany to come to a clear and full understanding as to the grave situation which has resulted from the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. Germany abandoned the policy shortly thereafter; its renewal, in early 1917, provided the final impetus for U.S. entry into World War I that April.

Taken from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-american-citizen-killed-during-wwi

Why visiting Kansas City’s World War I Museum should matter to you — Globetrotting Grandpa

Kansas City, Missouri is blessed to have the only National Museum to the “Great War’ in the entire nation. It is important that we remember the sacrifices made by so many and the conflict that took over 40 Million Lives.  If the Korean War is the “Forgotten War,” then WWI is the “Unknown War.” The […]

Why visiting Kansas City’s World War I Museum should matter to you — Globetrotting Grandpa

Christmas Truce of 1914 — History and War

Christmas Truce of 1914 is one of true yet hard to believe war stories. In the midst of heavy fighting during World War I, there was a brief time of “peace on earth and good will toward men”. This event happened on the battlefields of Flanders, where German Imperial Army faced its British and French […]

Christmas Truce of 1914 — History and War

First Battle of Ypres 19th Oct 1914

The Great War. For history fanatics, check this out.

WW1 World War One Ieper 1917

On October 19, 1914, near the Belgian city of Ypres, Allied and German forces begin the first of what would be three battles to control the city and its advantageous positions on the north coast of Belgium during the First World War.

After the German advance through Belgium and eastern France was curtailed by a decisive Allied victory in the Battle of the Marne in late September 1914, the so-called “Race to the Sea” began, as each army attempted to outflank the other on their way northwards, hastily constructing trench fortifications as they went. The race ended in mid-October at Ypres, the ancient Flemish city with its fortifications guarding the ports of the English Channel and access to the North Sea beyond.

After the Germans captured the Belgian city of Antwerp early in October, Antwerp’s remaining Belgian forces along with troops of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), commanded by Sir…

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