This Day In History – September 4


Romulus Augustus resigns the Crown

September 4, 476 – Ancient History

Western Roman Empire falls to Barbarians

Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, is deposed by Odoacer, a German barbarian who proclaims himself king of Italy.

Odoacer was a mercenary leader in the Roman imperial army when he launched his mutiny against the young emperor. At Piacenza, he defeated Roman General Orestes, the emperor’s powerful father, and then took Ravenna, the capital of the Western empire since 402. Although Roman rule continued in the East, the crowning of Odoacer marked the end of the original Roman Empire, which centered in Italy.

Source This Day In History

Further reading:

  • Romulus Augustulus
  • Odoacer
  • Decline of the Roman Empire
  • Western Roman Empire
  • Goths
  • The Western and Eastern Roman Empires by 476


    Francis Marion - The "Swamp Fox"

    September 4, 1780 – American Revolution

    Bravery of Swamp Fox wins recruits at Blue Savannah

    On this day in 1780, Patriot Francis Marion’s Carolina militia routs Loyalists at Blue Savannah, South Carolina, and in the process Marion wins new recruits to the Patriot cause.

    Following their surprising success at Nelson’s Ferry on the Santee River in South Carolina on August 20, Lieutenant Colonel Francis “The Swamp Fox” Marion and 52 of his militiamen rode east in order to evade pursuing British Loyalists. They were successful, but during their escape, another, much larger, force of Loyalists led by Major Micajah Ganey, attacked the militia from the northeast. Marion’s advance guard, led by Major John James, routed Ganey’s advance guard and Marion ambushed the rest, causing Ganey’s main body of 200 Loyalists to panic and flee. The success of Marion’s militia broke the Loyalist stronghold on South Carolina east of the PeeDee River and attracted another 60 volunteers to the Patriot cause.

    Marion, a mere five feet tall, won fame and the “Swamp Fox” moniker for his ability to strike and then quickly retreat into the South Carolina swamps without a trace. He also earned fame as the only senior Continental officer in the area to escape the British following the fall of Charleston on May 12, 1780. His military strategy is considered an 18th-century example of guerilla warfare and served as partial inspiration for Mel Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, in the film The Patriot (2000).

    Read more at This Day In History

    Further reading:

  • Francis Marion
  • The Battle of Blue Savannah
  • General Marion Inviting a British Officer to Share His Meal by John Blake White


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    CSA Gen. John Hunt Morgan

    September 4, 1864 – American Civil War

    Confederate cavalry leader John Hunt Morgan is killed

    John Hunt Morgan, the feared Confederate cavalry leader, is killed during a Union cavalry raid on the town of Greenville, Tennessee.

    An Alabama native, Morgan grew up in Kentucky and attended Transylvania University before being expelled for poor behavior. He served under Zachary Taylor in the Mexican War (1846-48) and became a successful hemp manufacturer in Kentucky afterwards. Morgan was a strong sympathizer with the Southern cause in the 1850s, and moved to Alabama when Kentucky did not secede from the Union.

    After joining the Confederate army, Morgan quickly became a colonel in the cavalry. He fought at Shiloh, Tennessee, and soon became famous for his cavalry raids. In one year, starting in July 1862, Morgan made four spectacular raids on Union-held territory. In the first raid, Morgan rode 1,000 miles around Kentucky, disrupting Yankee supply lines and capturing some 1,200 Union soldiers. His force, consisting of as many as 1,800 troopers, traveled light and lived off the land. By December 1862, Morgan’s raids had successfully diverted some 20,000 Union troops in order to secure supply lines and communications networks.

    Read more at This Day In History

    Further reading:

  • General John Hunt Morgan, CSA
  • Mort Kunstler – America’s Artist – Morgan’s Raiders
  • Morgan's Raiders


    Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s Great Ohio Raid – Reenactment


    Sierra Trading Post


    Geronimo (Goyaałé), a Chiricahua Apache; kneeling with rifle, 1887.

    September 4, 1886 – Old West

    The last American Indian warrior, Apache Geronimo surrenders

    For almost 30 years he had fought the whites who invaded his homeland, but Geronimo, the wiliest and most dangerous Apache warrior of his time, finally surrenders in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, on this day in 1886.

    Known to the Apache as Goyalkla, or “One Who Yawns,” most non-Indians knew him by his Spanish nickname, Geronimo. When he was a young man, Mexican soldiers had murdered his wife and children during a brutal attack on his village in Chihuahua, Mexico. Though Geronimo later remarried and fathered other children, the scars of that early tragedy left him with an abiding hatred for Mexicans.

    Ta-ayz-slath, wife of Geronimo, and child

    Operating in the border region around Mexico’s Sierra Madre and southern Arizona and New Mexico, Geronimo and his band of 50 Apache warriors succeeded in keeping white settlers off Apache lands for decades. Geronimo never learned to use a gun, yet he armed his men with the best modern rifles he could obtain and even used field glasses to aid reconnaissance during his campaigns. He was a brilliant strategist who used the Apache knowledge of the arid desert environment to his advantage, and for years Geronimo and his men successfully evaded two of the U.S. Army’s most talented Indian fighters, General George Crook and General Nelson A. Miles. But by 1886, the great Apache warrior had grown tired of fighting and further resistance seemed increasingly pointless: there were just too many whites and too few Apaches. On September 4, 1886, Geronimo turned himself over to Miles, becoming the last American Indian warrior in history to formally surrender to the United States.

    After several years of imprisonment, Geronimo was given his freedom, and he moved to Oklahoma where he converted to Christianity and became a successful farmer. He even occasionally worked as a scout and adviser for the U.S. army. Transformed into a safe and romantic symbol of the already vanishing era of the Wild West, he became a popular celebrity at world’s fairs and expositions and even rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905. He died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1909, still on the federal payroll as an army scout.

    Source This Day In History

    Further reading:

  • Geronimo – Wikipedia
  • Geronimo – IndegenousPeople.com
  • Geronimo – LegendsOfAmerica.com
  • Band of Apache Indian prisoners at rest stop beside Southern Pacific Railway, near Nueces River, Tex. (Geronimo is third from the right, in front), September 10, 1886.


    Bolshevik (1920), by Boris Kustodiev.

    September 4, 1918 – World War I

    American troops land at Archangel, Russia

    On September 4, 1918, United States troops land at Archangel, in northern Russia. The landing was part of an Allied intervention in the civil war raging in that country after revolution in 1917 led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in favor of a provisional government; the seizure of power by Vladimir Lenin and his radical socialist Bolshevik Party; and, finally, Russia’s withdrawal from participation alongside the Allies in World War I.

    By the spring of 1918, after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended Russia’s war effort against the Central Powers, the country was embroiled in a heated internal conflict. Supporters of the Bolsheviks—known as the Reds—faced off against the Whites, anti-Bolshevik forces loyal to the provisional government, in a power struggle aimed at defining the future course of the Russian state. In this struggle, the leaders of Britain, France and the United States definitively favored the Whites, harboring as they did an intense fear and misunderstanding of Lenin and his forces of radical socialism. With some hesitation, they determined to launch an intervention into the Russian civil war, aimed at defeating the Bolsheviks and installing the Whites in power again, hoping this eventuality would draw Russia back into the war against the Central Powers.

    Read more at This Day In History

    Further reading:

  • North Russia Intervention
  • The Anglo-American Intervention at Archangel, 1918-1919
  • White Movement
  • October Revolution
  • Russian Civil War
  • Bolshevik prisoners under the custody of US troops in Arkhangelsk.


    September 4, 1940 – World War II

    The USS Greer is fired upon

    On this day in 1940, the American destroyer Greer becomes the first U.S. vessel fired on in the war when a German sub aims a few torpedoes at it, sparking heightened tensions between Germany and the United States.

    It was a case of mistaken identity. As the Greer made its way through the North Atlantic, a British patrol bomber spotted a German sub, the U-652. The British bomber alerted the Greer, which responded by tracking the sub. As the American destroyer approached Iceland, the area in which the sub had been spotted, a British aircraft dropped a depth charge into the water, rocking the sub. The U-652, believing the Greer responsible for the charge, fired its torpedoes. They missed. The Greer made it safely to Iceland. Although the United States was still officially a neutral country, Roosevelt unofficially declared war on anyone who further attacked American vessels in the North Atlantic: “If German or Italian vessels of war enter these waters, they do so at their own peril.”

    Source This Day In History

    Further reading:

  • USS Greer (DD-145)
  • German submarine U-652
  • USS Greer (DD-145)


    September 4, 1967 – Vietnam War

    Marines in heavy fighting

    The U.S. 1st Marine Division launches Operation SWIFT, a search and destroy operation in Quang Nam and Quang Tin Provinces in I Corps Tactical Zone (the region south of the Demilitarized Zone). A fierce four-day battle ensued in the Que Son Valley, 25 miles south of Da Nang. During the course of the battle, 114 men of the U.S. 5th Marine Regiment were killed while the North Vietnamese forces suffered 376 casualties.

    Source This Day In History

    Further reading:

  • Operation Swift – 5VietnamVeterans
  • Operation Swift
  • 1st Marine Division (United States)
  • A UH-1D helicopter piloted by Maj. Bruce P. Crandall climbs skyward after discharging a load of US infantrymen on a search and destroy mission.


    The pull, the attraction of history, is in our human nature. What makes us tick? Why do we do what we do? How much is luck the deciding factor? —David McCullough (July 7, 1933) is an American author, narrator, historian, and lecturer.


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




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