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This Day In History – September 3

 

September 3, 1777 – American Revolution

The Stars and Stripes flies for the first time in battle

The American flag was flown in battle for the first time on this day in 1777, during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the “Stars and Stripes” banner raised as a detachment of his infantry and cavalry met an advance guard of British and Hessian troops. The rebels were defeated and forced to retreat to Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania, where they joined General George Washington’s main force.

 

Hessian Soldiers

Hessian Soldiers

Three months earlier, on June 14, the Continental Congress had adopted a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The national flag, which became known as the Stars and Stripes, was based on the Grand Union flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes. According to legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the new canton, which consisted of a circle of 13 stars on a blue background, at the request of General George Washington. Historians have been unable to conclusively prove or disprove this legend.

“A thoughtful mind when it sees a nation’s flag, sees not the flag, but the nation itself. And whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag, the government, the principles, the truths, the history that belongs to the nation that sets it forth. The American flag has been a symbol of Liberty and men rejoiced in it.

“The stars upon it were like the bright morning stars of God, and the stripes upon it were beams of morning light. As at early dawn the stars shine forth even while it grows light, and then as the sun advances that light breaks into banks and streaming lines of color, the glowing red and intense white striving together, and ribbing the horizon with bars effulgent, so, on the American flag, stars and beams of many-colored light shine out together . . . .” –Henry Ward Beecher History of the Stars and Stripes

With the entrance of new states into the Union after independence, new stripes and stars were added to represent the new additions. In 1818, however, Congress enacted a law stipulating that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states.

On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the flag. As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country. In the years after the first Flag Day, several states continued to observe the anniversary, and, in 1949, Congress officially designated June 14 as Flag Day, a national day of observance.

Source This Day In History

Further reading:
Betsy Ross Flag
History of the American Flag
The Battle of Cooch’s Bridge
Flag of the United States

Betsy Ross Flag

Betsy Ross 1777, a ca. 1920 depiction by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris of Ross showing George Washington (seated, left) and George Ross how she cut the stars for the flag

 
 

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Signature page of the Treaty of Paris

Signature page of the Treaty of Paris

September 3, 1783 – American Revolution

American Revolution officially draws to a close – Treaty of Paris signed

The American Revolution officially comes to an end when representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Spain and France sign the Treaty of Paris on this day in 1783. The signing signified America’s status as a free nation, as Britain formally recognized the independence of its 13 former American colonies, and the boundaries of the new republic were agreed upon: Florida north to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi River.

The events leading up to the treaty stretched back to April 1775, on a common green in Lexington, Massachusetts, when American colonists answered King George III’s refusal to grant them political and economic reform with armed revolution. On July 4, 1776, more than a year after the first volleys of the war were fired, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. Five difficult years later, in October 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered to American and French forces at Yorktown, Virginia, bringing to an end the last major battle of the Revolution.

Read more at This Day In History

Further reading:
The Treaty of Paris 1783 – Wikipedia
The Treaty of Paris (1783) – Our Documents.Gov

Benjamin West's painting of the delegations at the Treaty of Paris: John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin. The British delegation refused to pose, and the painting was never completed.

 
 

Polk in uniform

September 3, 1861 – American Civil War

Confederate forces enter Kentucky

Confederate General Leonidas Polk commits a major political blunder by marching his troops into Columbus, Kentucky–negating Kentucky’s avowed neutrality and causing the Unionist legislature to invite the U.S. government to drive the invaders away.

Kentucky was heavily divided prior to the war. Although slavery was prevalent in the state, nationalism was strong and Unionists prevented the calling of a convention to consider secession after the firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1861. Governor Beriah Magoffin refused to send troops to either side, and a special session of the legislature in the summer of 1861 issued a warning to both the Confederate and Union armies not to deploy forces in the state. Union and Confederates alike recognized the folly of entering Kentucky into the war, as it would tip the delicate political balance to the other side.

Read more at This Day In History

Further reading:
Kentucky in the Civil War
Leonidas Polk: Southern Civil War General HistoryNet.com

 
 

William Selby Harney

September 3, 1855 – Old West – Indian Wars

Battle of Whitestone Hill, North Dakota

On this day in 1885, General William Harney and 700 soldiers take revenge for the Grattan Massacre with a brutal attack on a Sioux village in Nebraska that left 100 men, women, and children dead.

The path to Harney’s bloody revenge began a year before near Fort Laramie, Wyoming, when a brash young lieutenant named John Grattan and 30 of his men were killed while attempting to arrest a Teton Sioux brave accused of shooting a white man’s cow. Despite the many eyewitness reports that Lieutenant Grattan had foolishly threatened the Sioux and practically forced them to attack, the incident quickly gained infamy around the nation as the “Grattan Massacre.” Americans demanded swift vengeance, and the army turned to the celebrated Indian fighter, General William Harney, to lead a punitive attack against the Sioux. Harney decided an appropriate target for retribution was a village of 250 Sioux led by Chief Little Thunder encamped near Ash Hollow, Nebraska. Refusing to accept Little Thunder’s offer of immediate surrender, Harney ordered a full-scale attack that completely destroyed the village and killed more than 100 Sioux.

Chief Crazy Horse

After later learning more about what had really happened at the Grattan Massacre, Harney softened his attitude toward the Sioux and eventually convened a successful peace council that temporarily calmed tensions. But for the rest of his life the general was plagued with the nickname of “Squaw Killer Harney,” while the unfortunate pattern of revenge and punishment his attack began would only grow more vicious on both sides of the conflict. One Sioux boy who witnessed the brutal massacre would never forget or forgive and would take his own revenge 21 years later at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. His name was Crazy Horse.

Source This Day In History

Other references
Battle of Whitestone Hill Wikipedia
Crazy Horse A Sacred Hero Legends of America
Brule Sioux Indian Chiefs and Leaders

The Battle of White Stone Hill from Harper's Weekly, October 31, 1863

 
 

Woodrow Wilson

September 3, 1919 – World Peace

Wilson embarks on tour to promote League of Nations

On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson embarks on a tour across the United States to promote American membership in the League of Nations, an international body that he hoped would help to solve international conflicts and prevent another bloody world war like the one from which the country had just emerged—World War I. The tour took an enormous toll on Wilson’s health.

The First World War, which had begun in 1914, grimly illustrated to Wilson the unavoidable relationship between international stability and American national security. In January 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War I, Wilson urged leaders from France, Great Britain and Italy to come together with leaders of other nations to draft a Covenant of League of Nations. Wilson hoped such an organization would help countries to mediate conflicts before they caused war.

Read more at This Day In History

Further reading:
Wilson Embarks on League of Nations Tour–September 3, 1919 – Miller Center

 
 

General Mark Wayne Clark

September 3, 1943 – World War II

Allies invade Italian mainland

The British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery begins the Allied invasion of the Italian peninsula, crossing the Strait of Messina from Sicily and landing at Calabria–the “toe” of Italy. On the day of the landing, the Italian government secretly agreed to the Allies’ terms for surrender, but no public announcement was made until September 8.

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini envisioned building Fascist Italy into a new Roman Empire, but a string of military defeats in World War II effectively made his regime a puppet of its stronger Axis partner, Germany. By the spring of 1943, opposition groups in Italy were uniting to overthrow Mussolini and make peace with the Allies, but a strong German military presence in Italy threatened to resist any such action.

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery

On July 10, 1943, the Allies began their invasion of Axis-controlled Europe with landings on the island of Sicily, off mainland Italy. Encountering little resistance from demoralized Sicilian troops, Montgomery’s 8th Army came ashore on the southeast part of the island, while the U.S. 7th Army, under General George S. Patton, landed on Sicily’s south coast. Within three days, 150,000 Allied troops were ashore. On August 17, Patton arrived in Messina before Montgomery, completing the Allied conquest of Sicily and winning the so-called Race to Messina.

Read more at This Day In History

Further reading:
1943: Allied troops invade mainland Italy BBC On This Day
Allied Invasion of Italy Wikipedia

Troops and vehicles being landed under shell fire during the invasion of mainland Italy at Salerno, September 1943.

 
 
 

Southeast Asia

September 3, 1950 – Vietnam War

U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group arrives in Saigon

A U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) of 35 men arrives in Saigon to screen French requests for American military aid, assist in the training of South Vietnamese troops, and advise on strategy.

President Harry Truman had approved National Security Council (NSC) Memorandum 64 in March 1950, proclaiming that French Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) was a key area that could not be allowed to fall to the communists and that the United States would provide support against communist aggression in the area. However, NSC 64 did not identify who would receive the aid, the French or the South Vietnamese. The French did not want the aid to go directly to the South Vietnamese and opposed the presence of any American advisory group. Nevertheless, the U.S. government argued that such a team would be necessary to coordinate requisitioning, procurement, and dissemination of supplies and equipment. Accordingly, an advisory group was dispatched to Saigon. In the long run, however, the French high command ignored the MAAG in formulating strategy, denied them any role in training the Vietnamese, and refused to keep them informed of current operations and future plans. By 1952, the United States would bear roughly one-third of the cost of the war the French were fighting, but find itself with very little influence over French military policy in Southeast Asia or the way the war was waged. Ultimately, the French would be defeated at the battle of Dien Bien Phu and withdraw from Vietnam, passing the torch to the United States. In 1964, MAAG Vietnam would be disbanded and its advisory mission and functions integrated into the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), which had been established in February 1962.

Source This Day In History

Further reading:
Vietnam Timeline
By Sea, Air, and Land – An illustrated history of the U.S. Navy and the War in Southeast Asia – Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center
Battle of Dien Bien Phu

The French deployed a small number of M24 Chaffee light tanks during the battle that proved critical in repelling the enemy attacks.

 
 

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. From speech ‘Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death’, March 23, 1775. –Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786.

 

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

 

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