This Day In History – September 10


John Smith

September 10, 1608 – Early American History

English adventurer John Smith to lead Jamestown

English adventurer John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia–the first permanent English settlement in North America. Smith, a colorful figure, had won popularity in the colony because of his organizational abilities and effectiveness in dealing with local Native American groups.

In May 1607, about 100 English colonists settled along the James River in Virginia to found Jamestown. The settlers fared badly because of famine, disease, and Indian attacks, but were aided by the 27-year-old John Smith, who directed survival efforts and mapped the area. While exploring the Chickahominy River in December 1607, Smith and two colonists were captured by Powhatan warriors. At the time, the Powhatan Indian confederacy consisted of around 30 Tidewater-area tribes led by Chief Wahunsonacock, known as Chief Powhatan to the English. Smith’s companions were killed, but he was spared and released (according to a 1624 account by Smith) because of the dramatic intercession of Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan’s 13-year-old daughter.


The Far East has its Mecca, Palestine its Jerusalem, France its Lourdes, and Italy its Loretto, but America’s only shrines are her altars of patriotism – the first and most potent being Jamestown; the sire of Virginia, and Virginia the mother of this great Republic.
— from a 1907 Virginia guidebook


In 1608, Smith became president of the Jamestown colony, but the settlement continued to suffer. An accidental fire destroyed much of the town, and hunger, disease, and Indian attacks continued. During this time, Pocahontas often came to Jamestown as an emissary of her father, sometimes bearing gifts of food to help the hard-pressed settlers. She befriended the settlers and became acquainted with English ways. In 1609, Smith was injured from a fire in his gunpowder bag and was forced to return to England.

John Smith returned to the New World in 1614 to explore the New England coast, carefully mapping the coast from Penobscot Bay to Cape Cod. That April, Pocahontas married the English planter John Rolfe in Jamestown. On another voyage of exploration, in 1615, Smith was captured by pirates but escaped after three months of captivity. He then returned to England, where he died in 1631.

Source This Day In History

Pocahontas saves John Smith

Further reading:

Historic Jamestowne National Park
America in 1607: Jamestown and the Powhatan – National Geographic
Jamestown Settlement
Captain John Smith


September 10, 1776 – American Revolution

Nathan Hale volunteers to spy behind British lines

In this day in 1776, General George Washington asks for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War.


I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.


Nathan Hale

Disguised as a Dutch schoolmaster, the Yale University-educated Hale slipped behind British lines on Long Island and then successfully gathered information about British troop movements for the next several weeks. While Hale was behind enemy lines, the British invaded the island of Manhattan; they took control of the city on September 15, 1776. When the city was set on fire on September 20, 1776, British soldiers were put on high alert for sympathizers to the Patriot cause. The following evening, on September 21, 1776, Hale was captured while sailing Long Island Sound, trying to cross back into American-controlled territory.


Liberty is our reigning Topic, which loudly calls upon every one to Exert his Tallants & abilities to the utmost in defending of it — now is the time for heros — now is the time for great men to immortalize their names in the deliverance of their Country, and grace the annals of America with their glorious Deeds.— James Hillhouse to Nathan Hale, July 11, 1774


Hale was interrogated by British General William Howe and, when it was discovered that he was carrying incriminating documents, General Howe ordered his execution for spying, which was set for the following morning. After being led to the gallows, legend holds that Hale was asked if he had any last words and that he replied with these now-famous words, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” There is no historical record to prove that Hale actually made this statement, but, if he did, he may have been inspired by these lines in English author Joseph Addison’s 1713 play Cato: “What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country.”

Patriot spy Nathan Hale was hanged by the British on the morning of September 22, 1776. He was just 21 years old. Although rumors later surfaced that Hale’s capture was the result of a betrayal by his first cousin and British Loyalist Samuel Hale, the exact circumstances leading to Hale’s arrest have never been discovered.

Source This Day In History

Further reading:
A Time For Heroes – The Story of Nathan Hale
The Execution of Nathan Hale, 1776
Nathan Hale – Wikipedia

Nathan Hale – Short Film

The Story of a patriot, ‘Nathan Hale’, in 18th Century New York as he goes behind enemy lines for Gen. Washington only to be hung for his actions as a spy. His courage during this time of oppression sparked a fire in the hearts of all Americans. Directed by Vincent M. Biscione


Follow ‘This Day In History’ During Weekdays At FACEBOOK Legacy-America


CSA General John B. Floyd

September 10, 1861 – American Civil War

The Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Western Virginia

The last significant fighting in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia in 1861 (American Civil War). A Union force under General Jacob Cox had been sent to the Kanawha Valley to counter a Confederate force commanded by General Henry A. Wise, an ex-governor of Virginia at the start of July 1861. That expedition had succeeding in pushing the Confederates out of the lower valley, and into the more mountainous upper regions. There, Wise had been joined by another ex-governor, John B. Floyd, bringing the combined Confederate forces in the valley up to 7,900, nearly twice as many as Cox had. Despite this, a Confederate counterattack had been defeated at Gauley Bridge (3 September), mostly because Floyd and Wise loathed each other and refused to cooperate.

This lack of cooperation even stopped the two forces camping together. Floyd was camped upstream from Wise, at Carnifex Ferry. This meant that Wise was between Floyd and Cox, but Cox was not the only Union commander operating in the area. The overall command in West Virginia was held by General Rosecrans. Having secured the centre of West Virginia, at the start of September Rosecrans began an overland march towards the head of the Kanawha Valley. His route would bring him out close to Floyd’s position at Carnifex Ferry.

A romantic image of Rosecrans at Murfreesboro, January 2, 1863

Rosecrans arrived there on the afternoon of 10 September. That morning he had been camped just outside Summersville, perhaps just over ten miles from Carnifex Ferry. At two in the afternoon he had reached a position two miles from Carnifex Ferry, where he briefly paused to pull his army back together after their march, and resumed his march.

Rosecrans now lost control of events. His advance guard soon encountered Floyd’s pickets. When they retreated back into the main camp, the commander of the advance guard misinterpreted this move as a full retreat, and advanced into the attack. Rosecrans had not choice but to throw in extra troops as they became available. After a short sharp fight Rosecrans pulled his men back and began to prepare for a properly organised attack the next day.

Floyd did not wait to be attacked. Rosecrans’s attack had revealed that his camp was not as well sited as he had thought. Floyd had also been wounded himself during the fighting. Overnight he retreated across the river, finally joining with Wise. They were soon joined by Robert E. Lee, but the autumn weather now intervened, making further campaigning increasingly difficult. After another futile attack on the Federal camp at Gauley Bridge, Lee returned to Richmond. The Confederate force was slowly forced out of the valley, until on 12 November Floyd began a retreat that took him back into Virginia. West Virginia was to be plagued by guerrilla warfare, but no more conventional military action.

Source History of War.org
Rickard, J (17 January 2007), Battle of Carnifex Ferry, 10 September 1861 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_carnifex_ferry.html

Further reading:
The Battle of Carnifex Ferry, West Virginia Division of Culture and History
Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park, West Virginia

J. Nep Roesler sketch of the Battle of Carnifex Ferry

J. Nep Roesler sketch of the Battle of Carnifex Ferry


Sierra Trading Post


Wyatt Earp

September 10, 1881 – Old West

Tensions grow in Tombstone, Arizona, after a stage coach robbery

On this day in 1881, tensions near the breaking point between the Earp brothers and the Clanton-McLaury families, the two major power centers in Tombstone, Arizona.

Two days earlier, a stagecoach had been robbed and the Tombstone sheriff formed a posse that included Morgan and Wyatt Earp to find the culprits. On the basis of a boot print found in the dust, the posse arrested Frank Stillwell, a sometimes deputy of the Cochise County Sheriff, John Behan. Stillwell’s actual guilt or innocence aside, two of the leading Cochise County ranching families, the Clantons and McLaurys, saw the arrest as a deliberate attack by the Earps on their continued control of the county.

Tombstone 1881

Many country-living ranch families like the Clantons and McLaurys deeply resented the city folks who increasingly dominated law and politics in Tombstone–especially the ambitious Earp brothers: Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil and James. The ranch families maintained tenuous control over the wide-open country surrounding Tombstone, thanks in large measure to the sympathetic support of Cochise County Sheriff Behan. Sheriff Behan detested the Earps–a sentiment that was entirely mutual–and made a point of ignoring their well-founded complaints that the Clantons and McLaurys were stealing cattle and horses.

Likewise, while the Earps often acted as law officers and posse members, Behan and the ranchers knew the brothers were not above ignoring the law when it came to their own questionable dealings in the Tombstone gambling and saloon business. So when the Tombstone sheriff and the Earps arrested one of Behan’s own deputies for the stagecoach robbery, the Clanton and McLaurys claimed they were being unfairly harassed and warned the Earps that they would retaliate.

Read more at This Day In History

Further reading:

Wyatt Earp – Frontier Lawman – Old West Legends
Tombstone Online

Boot Hill Cemetery, Tombstone, Arizona Territory


General John Pershing

September 10, 1919 – World War I

New York City parade honors World War I veterans

On this day in 1919, almost one year after an armistice officially ended the First World War, New York City holds a parade to welcome home General John J. Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), and some 25,000 soldiers who had served in the AEF’s 1st Division on the Western Front.

The United States, which maintained its neutrality when World War I broke out in Europe in the summer of 1914, declared war on Germany in April 1917. Though the U.S. was initially able to muster only about 100,000 men to send to France under Pershing’s command that summer, President Woodrow Wilson swiftly adopted a policy of conscription. By the time the war ended on November 11, 1918, more than 2 million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of them had lost their lives. Demobilization began in late 1918; by September 1919 the last combat divisions had left France, though an occupation force of 16,000 U.S. soldiers remained until 1923, based in the town of Coblenz, Germany, as part of the post-war Allied presence in the Rhine Valley determined by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Read more at This Day In History

Further reading:
John J. Pershing – Wikipedia

The Parade of the Second Division, Washington DC, 1919


History teaches everything including the future.
Alphonse de Lamartine


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




Related Posts:

    %d bloggers like this: