This Day In History – August 24

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Charles Lee

August 24, 1776 – American Revolution

General Lee recognizes Georgia’s value

On this day in 1776, American General Charles Lee informs Congress that Georgia was more valuable than he had originally suspected. Lee argued that the state’s salubrious climate, crops of rice, numerous harbors and rivers, livestock and proximity to the West Indies made it mandatory to keep out of enemy hands. To safeguard Georgia, Lee recommended that the Continental Army assign to it additional reinforcements.



The Burning of Washington forms the background to this portrait of Rear Admiral George Cockburn

August 24, 1814 – War Of 1812

British capture and burn Washington

During the War of 1812, British forces under General Robert Ross overwhelm American militiamen at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, and march unopposed into Washington, D.C. Most congressmen and officials fled the nation’s capital as soon as word came of the American defeat, but President James Madison and his wife, Dolley, escaped just before the invaders arrived. Earlier in the day, President Madison had been present at the Battle of Bladensburg and had at one point actually taken command of one of the few remaining American batteries, thus becoming the first and only president to exercise in actual battle his authority as commander in chief.


Burning of Washington 1814


Brigadier General George H. Steuart in Confederate uniform

August 24, 1828 – American Civil War

Confederate General George Steuart is born

Confederate General George Hume “Maryland” Steuart is born in Baltimore, Maryland.

Steuart attended West Point and graduated in 1844. He served in various capacities in Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska, and he was part of General Albert S. Johnston’s expedition against the Mormons in Utah. Steuart resigned his commission after the firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1861, because he anticipated that his native state would follow the other Southern states that had already seceded from the Union, and he was appointed major general of the Maryland volunteers who supported secession. When Maryland did not secede, Steuart accepted a commission as lieutenant colonel in the Confederate army. He earned his nickname from his close association with troops from Maryland.


Further reading:

George H. Steuart (brigadier general)

Federal cavalry at Sudley Spring Ford


William Henry Jackson, as a member of the U. S. Geological Survey exploring the Teton country in 1872

August 24, 1873 – The Old West

Elusive Mount of the Holy Cross in Colorado photographed

William Henry Jackson becomes the first person to photograph Colorado’s elusive Mount of the Holy Cross, providing reliable proof of its existence.

Rumors had abounded for years that a natural cross of snow lay hidden high in the rugged mountains of Colorado. Many claimed to have seen the cross, but others were unable to find it. In August 1873, the photographer William Henry Jackson set out to prove its existence by taking a picture of it. Jackson was an experienced wilderness photographer who had accompanied wagon trains to California in 1866 and was employed as expedition photographer on Ferdinand Hayden’s survey of the Yellowstone region in 1871. Published in popular mass-circulation magazines like Harper’s Weekly, his images became immensely popular and showed Americans a rugged western wilderness that most would never see firsthand.


Further reading:

Mount of the Holy Cross
The Holy Cross – An Eye for History
William Henry Jackson

Photochrom print of Mount of the Holy Cross c.1900. This image is a reversed view of the mountain compared to how it actually appears.


U.S. Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher

August 24, 1942 – World War II

Brave volunteers save the day in the Battle of the East Solomon Islands

On this day in 1942, U.S. forces continue to deliver crushing blows to the Japanese, sinking the aircraft carrier Ryuho in the Battle of the East Solomon Islands. Key to the Americans’ success in this battle was the work of coastwatchers, a group of volunteers whose job it is to report on Japanese ship and aircraft movement.

The Marines had landed on Guadalcanal, on the Solomon Islands, on August 7. This was the first American offensive maneuver of the war and would deliver the first real defeat to the Japanese. On August 23, coastwatchers, comprised mostly of Australian and New Zealander volunteers, hidden throughout the Solomon and Bismarck islands and protected by anti-Japanese natives, spotted heavy Japanese reinforcements headed for Guadalcanal. The coastwatchers alerted three U.S. carriers that were within 100 miles of Guadalcanal, which then raced to the scene to intercept the Japanese.


Further reading:

Battle of the Eastern Solomons

USS Enterprise (center left), maneuvering radically under aerial attack and afire on 24 August 1942. Anti-aircraft shell bursts directed at the attacking Japanese dive bombers are visible above the carrier.

A people who do not know their history are rudderless in the face of the whims of the “well meaning” and gales of tyrants. What their ancestors gained by struggles and sorrows, and hoped to bequeath to their posterity will count for nothing. All will have to be struggled for and learned once again.

America remember and honor your history – it will give direction, purpose and security to your future.


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