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Old 01-01-2009, 10:36 PM  
Amnorix Amnorix is online now
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This Day in History

Today...
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:10 AM   #781
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October 19

202 BC. The Battle of Zama. One of the greatest military leaders in history, Scipio Africanus, defeats another of the greatest military leaders in history, Hannibal, on his home ground near Carthage. This forces CArthage to sue for peace, and effective ends the Second Punic War.

1453. The French take Bordeaux, mercifully bringing the Hundred Years' War to a close, and leaving the English with only Calais in their possession.

1469. Ferdidand of Aragorn marries Isabella of Castille, paving the way for their unification into Spain.

1781. Representatives of Lord Cornwallis, who pled sickness, turn over Cornwallis's sword and formally surrender to George Washington and the French Comte de Rochambeau. And, of course, we celebrate this seminal event by playing rock-paper-scissors. (yes, not really, but...)

1813. The Battle of Leipzig. In a battle involving an estimated 600,000 men, making it the largest in European history prior to WWI, the forces of the Sixth Coalition decisively defeat Napoleon. Combined with his losses in the failed invasion of Russia the prior year, Napoleon, he is flung back into France, and within a year will be forced to abdicate and exiled to the island of Elba.

1864. The Battle of Cedar Creek. An impressive Union victory by General Philip Sheridan over the forces of Confederate Jubal Early ends for the rest of the war any threat by the South to Washington DC or the Shenendoah Valley, and brings some measure of revenge for the North in the Shenendoah, where the Confederacy had repeatedly inflicted humiliating defeats upon them.

1873. Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Rutgers draft the first rules for American football.

1944. MacArthur returns. American forces land in the Philippines.

1987. Black Monday. The Dow Jones falls 22% in one day, the largest one day percentage decline in history.

2005. Saddam Hussein goes on trial in Baghdad for crimes against humanity.
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Old 10-20-2010, 09:31 AM   #782
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October 20

1740. Maria Theresa takes the throne of Austria, setting off the war of Austrian succession as Prussia and France, on the pretext that Salic Law forbade her from ascending to the Hapsburg throne. The war will drag in all of Europe, and also be known as King George's War in the colonies.

1803. The US Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, by a vote of 24-7. I cannot confirm that the 7 nay votes were cast by drunken morons, but it does seem likely.

1818. The Convention of 1818 settles the border between the US and Canada at the 49th parallel for much of the length of the border.

1947. The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation of Hollywood, which will eventually result in the blacklisting of some 300 individuals, barring them from work for years. After the fall of the Committee's spiritual leader of sorts in the Senate, Joseph McCarthy, it will lose favor. By 1959 former President Truman will refer to the committee as "the most Un-American thing in the country today."

1967. Patterson and Gimlin film their purported bigfoot.



1973. The Saturday Night Massacre -- President Nixon fires US Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Attorney General William Rickelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is doing far too good a job of digging into the Watergate situation. Next in line, who is willing to do the dirty deed, is Solicitor General Robert Bork. Bork remains with the DOJ post-firing, not leaving until the change in administrations in 1977. His Supreme Court nomination fight in 1987 would lead to high drama, and his eventual rejection by the Senate.

1977. A plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes in Mississippi, killing the lead singer, guitarist, a backup singer, and road manager, as well as the pilot and copilot.
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:01 AM   #783
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1818. The Convention of 1818 settles the border between the US and Canada at the 49th parallel for much of the length of the border.
That's such an odd number. I'm going to start a movement to change the border to the 50th parallel. Welcome to America Winnipeg and Vancouver!
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:33 AM   #784
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1967. Patterson and Gimlin film their purported Milkman.



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Old 10-20-2010, 01:24 PM   #785
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Old 10-20-2010, 01:34 PM   #786
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October 20

1740. Maria Theresa takes the throne of Austria, setting off the war of Austrian succession as Prussia and France, on the pretext that Salic Law forbade her from ascending to the Hapsburg throne. The war will drag in all of Europe, and also be known as King George's War in the colonies.

1803. The US Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, by a vote of 24-7. I cannot confirm that the 7 nay votes were cast by drunken morons, but it does seem likely.

1818. The Convention of 1818 settles the border between the US and Canada at the 49th parallel for much of the length of the border.

1947. The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation of Hollywood, which will eventually result in the blacklisting of some 300 individuals, barring them from work for years. After the fall of the Committee's spiritual leader of sorts in the Senate, Joseph McCarthy, it will lose favor. By 1959 former President Truman will refer to the committee as "the most Un-American thing in the country today."

1967. Patterson and Gimlin film their purported bigfoot.



1973. The Saturday Night Massacre -- President Nixon fires US Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Attorney General William Rickelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is doing far too good a job of digging into the Watergate situation. Next in line, who is willing to do the dirty deed, is Solicitor General Robert Bork. Bork remains with the DOJ post-firing, not leaving until the change in administrations in 1977. His Supreme Court nomination fight in 1987 would lead to high drama, and his eventual rejection by the Senate.

1977. A plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes in Mississippi, killing the lead singer, guitarist, a backup singer, and road manager, as well as the pilot and copilot.
ok acouple things. That could be a picture of me. Lynyrd Skynyrd rules.

love checkin this thread every couple days.
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Old 10-20-2010, 01:37 PM   #787
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1803. The US Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, by a vote of 24-7. I cannot confirm that the 7 nay votes were cast by drunken morons, but it does seem likely.
One really must wonder why those 7 voted no. It's easy to laugh at them, but I wonder if some if them figured we'd just take it for free at some point. Taking stuff had worked pretty well up to that point in the Ohio Territory.

Or did they think the money was better used for socialized medicine, maybe? Or they were just anti-tax?
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Old 10-20-2010, 02:02 PM   #788
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One really must wonder why those 7 voted no. It's easy to laugh at them, but I wonder if some if them figured we'd just take it for free at some point. Taking stuff had worked pretty well up to that point in the Ohio Territory.

Or did they think the money was better used for socialized medicine, maybe? Or they were just anti-tax?
Actually, it could easily be that they (some of them at least) thought it wasn't even within the powers of the federal government under the Constitution. That was certainly Jefferson's belief, but he went ahead anyway on the theory that it was too good to turn down, even if unconstitutional.
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:05 PM   #789
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October 21. Getting a bit ahead here to save myself some time.

1520. Ferdinand Magellan discovers the critical strait that will bear his name and change European and world politics dramatically.

1797. The USS Constitution is launched.

1879. Thomas Edison tests the first practical incandescent light bulb. It lasted 13-1/2 hours.

1944. As the Battle of Leyte Gulf begins, the first kamikaze attack occurs.

1975. Perhaps the greatest World Series game ever ends when Carlton Fisk waves his arms to help a home run stay fair. That wins Game 6, and ties the series, which the Reds will win with a victory in Game 7.

Absolutely nothing else of any consequence whatsoever happens on this date....












....just kidding. The Battle of Trafalgar will be posted tonight or, more likely, tomorrow.
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Old 10-21-2010, 12:57 PM   #790
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1805. Just for you big guy. All original work.


Europe was aflame. At war, again, as it ever seemed to be. But this time, instead of the usual power politics between emperors and kings, the whole continent struggled against the efforts of one man to subjugate them all. The monarchy of France had fallen, the result of forces that it had unleashed in assisting the Americans in their colonial uprising against their mother country. After years of turmoil and the "efficient" slaughter of thousands to the guillotine, Napoleon had arisen and seized control. Brought order and repeated military victories for France, sweeping all opponents before him. And only a year ago he had seized for himself the title of Emperor. Not King, as Louis XIV had been before losing his head. Emperor! And indeed, it was an empire that he controlled. Spain and Northern Italy were in thrall, as were the Dutch Netherlands. The Treaty of Amiens, less than three years old, was no longer worth the paper it was written on, as Napoleon seemed bent on expanding his power base, and his first target was the ancient French enemy, Britain.

So the situation might have seemed to Admiral Horatio Nelson, pacing the deck of his flagship, HMS Victory, in full dress blue uniform in the pre-dawn hours of this date, 1805. Had he known he would die this day, he may also have thought about his long and glorious career in the British Royal Navy, which stretched back to 1771 when he had joined the Navy as an Ordinary Seaman, at the age of 12. He certainly did not need to look far to see the scars of his many years of service. With his left eye, the one good eye he had, he could see the empty sleeve of his right arm. At least the seasickness that had plagued him throughout his career was not a problem on this day, as his fleet rode the seas of the North Atlantic outside Cadiz, Spain, near Cape Trafalgar, northwest of the Straits of Magellan. For too many days had his fleet lay well out of sight of the harbor, with only a few picket ships to inform the main fleet of anything worth reporting. Now, however, the enemy was sighted, and battle would soon be joined.

Vice Admiral of the White, he commanded a fleet of 27 ships of the line. HMS Victory was as good as the British had, 104 cannons mounted on three decks. Not as big as some of the Spanish leviathans, especially the thrice-cursed Santissima Trinidad, which carried between 120 and 136 guns. The Santa Anna was good for 112 guns, and he was outnumbered by the fleet that he sought to engage, 33 French and Spanish ships riding at anchor in Cadiz these many weeks. But he had the advantages that the British always had -- better seamanship, higher morale and, especially, better gunnery including the all-important superior rate of fire. Relentlessly drilled, the British could often fire three, if not four, broadsides for every two fired by other nations and in battle, it was all about throwing weight of shot and accuracy. Hence Nelson's simple but famous dictum -- always close with the enemy.

Meanwhile, French Admiral Villeneuve had determined to leave the harbor after receiving a stinging rebuke from his Emperor, alleging cowardice. Preemptorily ordered to make sail, he had left the harbor in line of battle a day or two earlier. By dawn on October 21, 1805, Nelson had caught his quarry and signalled his fleet to begin the attack. His captains knew the plan, Nelson had instructed them carefully for weeks. It was not, however, an elaborate plan -- fleet battles rarely were. The vagaries of wind and tides and currents and the smoke and fog of battle made precise coordination difficult if not impossible. The plan was this -- the fleet would split into two squadrons -- one to windward, one to leeward. The one to windward would consist of HMS Victory in the lead, with half the fleet behind her and attempt to cut the Franco-Spanish fleet into roughly 1/3rd and 2/3rds. The leeward, with the other half of the British fleet, the same with the back half of the enemy fleet. The forward ships of the Franco-Spanish fleet would be out of position, and need to turn to engage in the action. Meanwhile, the British, as always under Nelson, would be in close quarters and with superior firepower crush the enemy. Nelson was confident of victory, stating that he expected to capture 20 ships. He had left his captains with this dictum, in the scrum of battle when signals and flags would be impossible -- "No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy."

At 11:45 a.m., as the fleets closed, Nelson informed his signalman that he wanted to hoist a message to the fleet: "England confides that every man will do his duty." Informed that the word "confides" would have to be spelled letter by letter, however, he consented to change the word to "expects". As soon as possible he raised a new, and his last, signal -- close for action.

And that they did. As they charged forward, the ship behind Victory, HMS Temeriare, attempted to overtake the Victory to spare the Admiral the relentless pounding Victory was sure to take from her position in the van. Nelson peremptorily ordered him back into line. Vice Admiral Collingswood, leading the leeward squadron in HMS Royal Sovereign, reached the enemy first. After taking a fearful pounding, she broke through, directly behind Santa Anna, a 112 gun behemoth, and loosed double shot point blank into the Santa Anna's aft. Double shot, which has grape shot on top of round shot, is particularly fearsome if used effectively, and this first broadside reportedly removed 14 guns and 400 sailors from action.

The battle devolved, as Nelson planned, into a melee of isolated ship battles. At point blank range, the gunners fired as rapidly as possible. Cannon balls flew through the bulkheads and hulls of the ships, spraying huge wooden splinters and beams everywhere in their path. The men below decks choked and blinded by the smoke of battle, with barely enough room to stand up straight, loaded, fired and reloaded their guns as fast as possible. The decks had been prepared before battle with sand, to help traction and, inevitably, absorb the blood of their comrades. High in the rigging of the ships marine sharpshooters held onto their precarious perches while firing onto the decks of the enemy with, as always, the primary target being the captains and officers.

The French ship Achille was being raked so thoroughly at such close range that she caught fire from the guns of the enemy, and was soon aflame. The second ship in the British lee column, Belleisle, had become entangled with at least three enemy ships and was soon completely dismasted, her batteries blinded by her own rigging which was down, a floating, helpless hulk awaiting rescue or capture, as the fates might decree. Victory had been so pounded that she lost her wheel, and had to be steered from belowdecks.

Walking on the deck of Victory with the ship's captain, Thomas Hardy, Nelson had no reason to feel anything but satisfaction as the battle progressed. Then Hardy looked next to him and saw Nelson down on the deck. A musket ball shot from the mizzentop of the French ship Redoubtable had struck Nelson in the left shoulder, passed through his sixth and seventh vertebrae and lodged in the muscles of his back two inches below his scapula. As Hardy bent down to see what had happened, Nelson told him, "they finally succeded, I am dead." He was carried below decks, and would live for hours yet.

The battle continued to rage, but as more and more British ships entered the line, the rear of the allied ships were overwhelmed, while the van of the Franco-Spanish fleet tried and took far too long to turn back and join the fray. Eventually, the British took 22 ships, losing none. As he lay dying, Nelson was informed that the battle was won (though not quite yet over), and ordered that the fleet ride at anchor, as a storm was expected. The British surgeon heard Nelson murmur "thank God I have done my duty." Soon thereafter, at about 4:30, three hours after being hit, Nelson died.

The storm did break upon the fleet as expected, and many of the heavily damaged ships were sunk, or thrown onto the shoals. Some were even recaptured by their original crews in the disarray. Only 11 ships reached the safety of Cadiz, of which only five were deemed seaworthy.

Vice Admiral Villeneuve was taken prisoner back to England. Upon his release in 1806, he was en route to Paris when he was found in his inn room stabbed in the chest six times. His death was recorded as a suicide. Nelson's body was placed in a barrel of rum (or brandy, accounts differ) for preservation prior to burial. The Victory put in at Gibraltar for repairs, and his body was transferred to a lead-lined coffin filled with wine spirits aboard HMS Pickle for return to England. And so, sadly but accurately, Nelson's pickled body returned to England aboard HMS Pickle and he was buried with full honors at St. Paul's Cathedral. His funeral procession included 32 admirals, over 100 captains, and 10,000 troops.

HMS Victory herself still remains on display, and is the oldest commissioned ship in the world (though it is drydocked; USS Constitution is therefore the oldest commissioned ship afloat. Reputedly, after many years of service, Victory was scheduled for the scrapyard, and her old captain, Thomas Hardy, now First Sea Lord, had signed the order to scrap her. He went home and told his wife that he had given the order. She burst into tears told him to return to his offices at once and cancel the order. While the story may be apocryphal, the duty log containing the orders for the day in question has a page torn out of it.








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Old 10-21-2010, 02:03 PM   #791
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One more, which is helpful to understanding the tactics. You'd think the British ships would be murdered by the broadsides of the French/Spanish ships by charging headlong, almost as if their T had been crossed.

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Old 10-22-2010, 07:53 AM   #792
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October 22

1707. A fleet of 21 ships under the direct command of Admiral of the Fleet (the highest ranking officer in the British Navy) Sir Cloudesley Shovell is returning to England, and heads into the Channel, or so it thinks. Relentless bad weather had put the ships badly off course, and left the navigators in error as to their position. They are in fact heading for the Isles of Scilly, upon the shoals of which four ships will sink, and Shovell and thousands of sailors will meet their demise.

1746. The College of New Jersey (not yet Princeton University) receives its charter.

1836. Sam Houston, formerly governor of Tennessee, is inaugurated as first President of the Republic of Texas. He will later go on to win election as Governor of Texas, as a Unionist, becoming the first and only man in US history to serve as governor of two different states. (how's that for a great trivia question?) Upon Texas's secession from the Union, however, he will be cast out of office, and break from his state in spectacular fashion writing, after refusing to swear an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy, as follows:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Houston
Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas....I protest....against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.
To avoid additional bloodshed in his state, however, he declined Lincoln's offer of 50,000 troops to help Texas stay in the Union. His failure to swear the oath, however, was not popular, and as he traveled back to his home, he was repeatedly harried by those demanding an explanation. Upon one occassion, from a hotel window, he told the crowd assembled below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Houston
Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South
He died of pneumonia in 1863 and is buried in Huntsville, Texas where there is now a 67 foot tall statue of the man that helped lead Texas into the Union, and didn't want to see it leave.




1907. The Panic of 1907 begins, the last major panic/depression prior to the advent of the Federal Reserve system, and a major impetus for the creation of that system. The panic and depression were very severe, but would have been far worse had J.P. Morgan not stepped in to try to calm the markets, and convincing other bankers to do the same.

1944. After three weeks of heavy fighting, the city of Aachen falls to the Allies, the first German city to be lost by the Nazis.

1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis ramps up. After internal consultations, including with former president Dwight Eisenhower, President Kennedy announces that the United States has observed Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that a naval quarantine on Cuba is in effect.



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Old 10-22-2010, 08:47 AM   #793
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1944. As the Battle of Leyte Gulf begins, the first kamikaze attack occurs
I had the privilege of speaking at length with a survivor of the kamikaze attack on the USS Franklin. He only survived because his CO made him take some report to the other end of the ship. He told me that he walked right past where the Japanese plane impacted a minute before impact.
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Old 10-22-2010, 10:53 AM   #794
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Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
October 22

1707. A fleet of 21 ships under the direct command of Admiral of the Fleet (the highest ranking officer in the British Navy) Sir Cloudesley Shovell is returning to England, and heads into the Channel, or so it thinks. Relentless bad weather had put the ships badly off course, and left the navigators in error as to their position. They are in fact heading for the Isles of Scilly, upon the shoals of which four ships will sink, and Shovell and thousands of sailors will meet their demise.
When I first read this, I thought it said, "Isles of Sicily". I was thinking they must've either been the worst navigators ever or the 'badly off course' was a big understatement.

And thousands of sailors died? How many crew were on these ships? If only four ships went down I wouldn't have guessed the casualty count to be in the thousands.
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Old 10-22-2010, 11:12 AM   #795
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
When I first read this, I thought it said, "Isles of Sicily". I was thinking they must've either been the worst navigators ever or the 'badly off course' was a big understatement.

And thousands of sailors died? How many crew were on these ships? If only four ships went down I wouldn't have guessed the casualty count to be in the thousands.
The Admiral's ship, a 90 gun ship of the line, was 800 crewmembers by itself, and went down with all hands. Estimates of deaths were 1,400 to 2,000.

EDIT: Further to this, the HMS Victory, obviously launched much later than the timeframe of the incident at Scilly Isles, was a 104 gun ship of the line with a normal complement of 850 sailors.

The admiral's ship, presumably being in the van, was the first to go down, as it hit the rocks before any other, and reportedly sank in 3-4 minutes, leaving very little time for the men to react, and thus most/all hands were lost. Three other ships were unable to react swiftly enough to avoid the same fate.

Last edited by Amnorix; 10-22-2010 at 11:33 AM..
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