Tuesday June 18, 2013
Commissioned in 1943, USS Yorktown (CV-10) (right) was an Essex-class aircraft carrier that saw extensive service during World War II. Joining the fleet in April 1943, the ship was named for its predecessor, USS Yorktown (CV-5), which was lost at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Serving with the Fast Carrier Task Force, the second Yorktown supported operations at Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa as well as took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and helped defeat Operation Ten-Go. With the end of the war, the carrier was decommissioned but was later modernized and returned to active duty in 1953. Conducting peacetime duty in the Pacific for much of the next decade, it later served on Yankee Station during the Vietnam War. After recovering Apollo 8 in December 1968, it shifted to the Atlantic where it operated until its retirement in June 1970. USS Yorktown is currently the centerpiece of the Patriot's Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston, SC.
US Navy - Essex-class Carriers:
Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command
Sunday June 16, 2013
June 17, 1775 - American and British forces fight the Battle of Bunker Hill. During the Siege of Boston, American commanders were alerted to British intentions to capture the heights around the city. On the evening of June 16, Col. William Prescott was ordered to move onto the Charlestown Peninsula and fortify Bunker Hill. Advancing, it was decided to occupy Breed's Hill instead. Working the through the night, his men built a sizable redoubt and later extended their line to the north. Spotting the American works the next morning, Lt. Gen. Thomas Gage ordered Maj. Gen. William Howe to take the hill. Attacking that afternoon, Howe was repelled twice with heavy losses. A third assault largely succeeded due to Prescott's men running out of ammunition and being forced to retreat. Though victory of the British, it cost them over 1,000 casualties. The battle startled the British military and led to debates overseas regarding the war. Despite the high cost, the battle failed to change the strategic situation and the siege continued until the British were forced out in March 1776.
American Revolution - Boston Campaign:
Friday June 14, 2013
June 14, 1800 - Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo (right). Advancing over the Alps, Napoleon placed his army across the Austrian lines of communication with the goal of forcing General Michael von Malus to attack him. When no attack came, Napoleon became convinced that the Austrians were planning to retreat. To prevent this, he dispersed his forces to block von Malus' likely routes of escape. On June 12, von Malus launched an assault on Napoleon near the village of Marengo. Fighting on the defensive, French troops managed to hold off the initial Austrian assaults, but were ultimately forced to fall back two miles. Regrouping near the village of San Giuliano, Napoleon's forces were augmented by the arrival of General Louis Charles Antoine Desaix's detachment. Massing their guns, the French, led by Desaix's men, counterattacked the pursuing Austrians. Striking hard and supported by cavalry, Napoleon's men were able to crush the Austrian center forcing them to flee the field. Though Desaix was killed, the French victory forced the Austrians to begin suing for peace.
Photograph Source: Public Domain
Wednesday June 12, 2013
June 10, 1861 - Union troops are defeated at the Battle of Big Bethel. With the start of the Civil War, Union forces were able to hold Fort Monroe at the tip of the Virginia peninsula between the York and James Rivers. Under the guidance of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler (right), the area became an increasingly large Union base. Concerned about this, Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee, commanding Virginia state forces, sent Col. John Magruder to the area to contain the threat. After establishing his headquarters at Yorktown, Magruder constructed earthworks at Big Bethel and an outpost to the south at Little Bethel. Annoyed that Confederate forces from these positions were harassing his men, Butler directed Brig. Gen Ebenezer Peirce to attack them. Moving out on the night of June 9-10, Peirce's complex attack plan failed and resulted in a friendly fire incident. Recovering, he then moved against Big Bethel. Mounting a series of piecemeal attacks on the Confederate earthworks, he had no success and withdrew back to his camps. Though a skirmish by the war's later standards, Big Bethel received extensive coverage at the time as the war was only weeks old and a major engagement had yet to be fought.
Early Battles of the Civil War:
Photograph Courtesy of the National Archives & Records Administration