American Military History

Brief Overview of American Military History 

June 17, 1775 - The first major fight between British and American troops occurs at Boston in the Battle of Bunker Hill. American troops are dug in along the high ground of Breed's Hill (the actual location) and are attacked by a frontal assault of over 2000 British soldiers who storm up the hill. The Americans are ordered not to fire until they can see "the whites of their eyes." As the British get within 15 paces, the Americans let loose a deadly volley of musket fire and halt the British advance. The British then regroup and attack 30 minutes later with the same result. A third attack, however, succeeds as the Americans run out of ammunition and are left only with bayonets and stones to defend themselves. The British succeed in taking the hill, but at a loss of half their force, over a thousand casualties, with the Americans losing about 400, including important colonial leader, General Joseph Warren. 

December 25, 1776 - General George Washington and a small army of 2,400 men crossed the Delaware River at McKonkey's Ferry, Pennsylvania on their way to surprise attack and virtually eliminate the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey (Battle of Trenton, 

December 26, 1776). This overwhelming victory helped to preserve the Continental Army and set the stage for the Battle of Princeton the following week. 

April 11, 1783 - Congress officially declares an end to the Revolutionary War. 

April 12, 1861 - At 4:30 a.m. Confederates under Gen. Pierre Beauregard open fire with 50 cannons upon Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War begins. 

Sept 17, 1862 - The bloodiest day in U.S. military history as Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Armies are stopped at Antietam in Maryland by McClellan and numerically superior Union forces. By nightfall 26,000 men are dead, wounded, or missing. 

July 1-3, 1863 - The tide of war turns against the South as the Confederates are defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. 

April 9, 1865 - General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia. Grant allows Rebel officers to keep their sidearms and permits soldiers to keep horses and mules. 

June 28,1914 - Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb student, shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo. The assassination in Sarajevo set into motion a series of fast-moving events that eventually escalated into full-scale war. Austria-Hungary demanded action by Serbia to punish those responsible and, when Austria-Hungary deemed Serbia had not complied, declared war. Major European powers were at war within weeks because of overlapping agreements for collective defense and the complex nature of international alliances. 

November 11, 1918 - An armistice with Germany was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiègne. At 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month — a cease fire came into effect. Opposing armies on the Western Front began to withdraw from their positions. Canadian George Lawrence Price is traditionally regarded as the last soldier killed in the Great War: he was shot by a German sniper and died at 10:58. 

1937-1939 - The Second World War initially began as two separate conflicts. The first began in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War; the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. This global conflict split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis Powers. Spanning much of the globe, World War II resulted in the death of over 60 million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. 

December 7, 1941 - The surprise attack on the United States' naval base at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese navy, on the morning of Sunday, 

December 7, 1941, resulted in the United States becoming involved in World War II. The attack was intended as a preventive action to remove the US Pacific Fleet as a factor in the war Japan was about to wage against Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States. Two aerial attack waves, totaling 353 aircraft, were launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers, intending to reduce or eliminate United States' military power in the Pacific. 

June 6, 1944 - The Battle of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord, was the long awaited Allied invasion of France and the opening of the Second Front during World War II. The initial invasion, which began on June 6, 1944 (commonly known as D-Day), was part of the overall Normandy Campaign, which ended on August 21. Operation Overlord involved over 156,000 troops crossing the English Channel from the United Kingdom to Normandy. Operation Neptune was the codename given to the initial naval assault phase of Operation Overlord; its mission, to gain a foothold on the continent. 

August 6-9, 1945 - The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks during World War II against the Empire of Japan by the United States at the order of President Harry S. Truman. After six months of intense firebombing of 67 other Japanese cities, the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" was dropped on the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, followed on August 9, 1945 by the detonation of the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb over Nagasaki. 

August 15, 1945 - Japan announced its surrender to the Allied Powers, signing the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, officially ending the Pacific War and therefore World War II. (Germany had signed its Instrument of Surrender on May 7, 1945, ending the war in Europe). 

June 25, 1950 - At approximately 4 a.m. on a rainy Sunday morning, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Army (DPRK - North Korea) artillery and mortars open fire on Republic of Korea (ROK - South Korea) Army positions south of the 38th Parallel, the line then serving as the border between the two countries. The opening barrage is followed shortly by tank/infantry attacks at all points along the Parallel. At 11 a.m. North Korea announced a formal declaration of war and what is now known as "The Korean War" officially began. 

July 27, 1953 - The United States, North Korea and China sign an armistice, which ends the war but fails to bring about a permanent peace. To date, the Republic of Korea (South) and Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (North) have not signed a peace treaty. North and South Korea did sign a non-aggression treaty in 1991. 

August 2, 1964 - The USS Maddox, on an intelligence mission along North Vietnam's coast, started a gunfight with torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. However, the Maddox claimed that it was attacked. A second attack was reported two days later on the USS Turner Joy and Maddox in the same area. The second attack led to retaliatory air strikes, prompted Congress to approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and gave the president power to conduct military operations in South East Asia without declaring war. 

January 15, 1973 - President Richard Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action against North Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords on "Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam" were signed on January 27, 1973, officially ending direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A cease-fire was declared across North and south Vietnam. U.S. POWs were released. The agreement guaranteed the territorial integrity of Vietnam and, like the Geneva Conference of 1954, called for national elections in the north and south. 

The Gulf War or Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – February 28, 1991) was a conflict between Iraq and a coalition force from 34 nations authorized by the United Nations (UN) and led primarily by the United States in order to liberate Kuwait. 

Six days after Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, the United States started to deploy Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard units to Saudi Arabia (Operation Desert Shield). By the time the fighting (Operation Desert Storm) began on January 16, 1991, twelve countries had sent naval forces, joining the local nations of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states, as well as the huge array of the U.S. Navy, which deployed six aircraft-carrier battle groups; eight countries had sent ground forces, joining the local troops of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the seventeen heavy and six light brigades of the U.S. Army and nine Marine regiments, with all their vast support and service forces; and four countries had sent combat aircraft, joining the local air forces of Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, as well as the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine aviation, for a grand total of 2,430 fixed-wing aircraft. 

January 16, 1991 - Marlin Fitzwater announces, "The liberation of Kuwait has begun..." 

February 27, 1991 - President George Bush orders a cease fire effective at midnight Kuwaiti time. 

March 2, 1991 - Iraqi leaders formally accept cease fire terms. 

September 11, 2001 - Nineteen terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners (American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175) into the World Trade Center in New York City, one plane into each tower (1 WTC and 2 WTC), resulting in the collapse of both buildings soon afterward and extensive damage to nearby buildings. The hijackers crashed a third airliner (American Airlines Flight 77) into the Pentagon. Passengers and members of the flight crew on the fourth aircraft (United Airlines Flight 93) attempted to retake control of their plane from the hijackers; that plane crashed into a field near the town of Shanksville in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Aside from the 19 hijackers, 2,973 people died as an immediate result of the attacks. Another 24 people are missing and presumed dead, bringing the total number of victims to 2,998. 

The military response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States was assigned the name Operation Enduring Freedom and commenced on October 7, 2001. 

March 19, 2003 - Operation Iraqi Freedom - The United States and United Kingdom forces consisting of 40 cruise missiles and strikes led by 2 F-117s from the 8th Fighter Squadron (supported by Navy EA-6B Prowlers) and other aircraft began conducting military operations against the state of Iraq designed to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and to remove the Iraqi Regime from power. Less than two hours after a deadline expired for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq, the sound of air raid sirens were heard in Baghdad. 

December 13, 2003 - United States military forces captured Saddam Hussein near a farmhouse outside the city of Tikrit. 

December 30, 2006 - Saddam Hussein is hanged for his role in the 1982 Dujail massacre, in which 148 Iraqis were killed after a failed assassination attempts again the then-Iraqi president.