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Kennedy Hickman

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US Navy: USS Idaho (BB-24)

Sunday April 20, 2014

Laid down in 1904, USS Idaho (BB-24) (right) entered service four years later. The second and final ship of the Mississippi-class, the battleship intially operated in the Caribbean and Atlantic until greeting the returing Great White Fleet in February 1909.  Largely engaged in routine, peacetime operations over the next four years, Idaho did conduct a cruise to Europe and protected American interests off the Mexican coast.  Sold to Greece in the summer of 1914, the battleship entered the Royal Hellenic Navy under the name Lemnos.  Remaining active in various roles, it was sunk in April 1941 by German Ju 87 Stukas during World War II.

US Navy - Connecticut-class Battleships:

Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

American Revolution: The War Begins at Lexington

Friday April 18, 2014

April 19, 1775 - The American Revolution begins with fighting at Lexington (left) and Concord. Early on the morning of April 19, 1775, 700 British troops departed Boston with orders from Gen. Thomas Gage to search for and seize colonial munitions in the town of Concord. Alerted that the British were approaching by Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott, colonial militia and "Minutemen" were able to muster. Forming his men on Lexington Green, Captain John Parker gave them strict instructions not to fire unless fired upon. After the lead elements of the British column, led by Major John Pitcairn, arrived there was an exchange of words and then a shot rang out. While it is not known who fired it, it led to a brief battle in which eight colonists were killed. Moving on the British reached Concord and began their search for munitions. Near the North Bridge, colonial militia was able to defeat a British detachment. Having completed their mission, the British began marching back to Boston. As they moved, colonial forces repeatedly sniped at and ambushed them, ultimately inflicting 273 casualties. Colonial casualties for the day numbered 94. The fighting at Lexington and Concord became the opening battles of the American Revolution.

American Revolution - Boston Campaign:

Photograph Source: Public Domain

American Civil War: Third Battle of Winchester

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Fought September 19, 1864, the Third Battle of Winchester saw Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan advance south and attack Confederate forces led by Lt. Gen. Jubal Early.  Striking with VI and XIX Corps, his early efforts to penetrate Early's line east of Winchester failed to obtain a breakthrough despite heavy fighting.  Bringing up VIII Corps, Sheridan was able to drive back the Confederate left forcing Early to withdraw to a new position closer to the town.  Coming under coordinated assaults by Union infantry, he was nearly surrounded when Maj. Gen. Alfred Torbert appeared north of Winchester with two cavalry divisions.  This threat and the imminent danger of Sheridan shattering his line led Early to order a retreat south to Fisher's Hill.  Forming a new defensive line, he was beaten again by Sheridan two days later.

Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley:

Photograph Courtesy of the National Archives & Records Administration

Vietnam War: First B-52 Flies

Monday April 14, 2014

April 15, 1952 - The B-52 Stratofortress (right) flies for the first time. Introduced in 1955 , the B-52 Stratofortress became the backbone of the US Strategic Air Command. Designed for delivering nuclear weapons in the event of war with the Soviet Union, the B-52 saw service dropping and firing conventional munitions during the Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War. In addition, the aircraft has been used in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. At this time, the B-52H squadrons are stationed at Minot Air Force Base (North Dakota) and Barksdale Air Force Base (Louisiana). An economical aircraft, the US Air Force intends to retain the B-52 until at least 2040, bringing the service life of the design to a remarkable 85 years.

US Air Force Bombers:

Photograph Courtesy of the US Air Force

US Navy: USS Mississippi (BB-23)

Saturday April 12, 2014

Commissioned in 1908, USS Mississippi (BB-23) (right) was the lead ship of its class of battleship.  Designed as a smaller version of the earlier Connecticut-class, the Mississippi-class ultimately consisted of two ships.  Entering service, Mississippi operated in the Atlantic and in early 1909 met the Great White Fleet as it returned from its around-the-world cruise.  Continuing to sail with the Atlantic Fleet, the battleship visited Europe in 1910 before delivering Marines to Cuba two years later.  In early 1914, Mississippi assisted in building Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Embarking seaplanes, it carried them south to support the American occupation of Veracruz that spring.  This marked the first combat deployment of US naval aviators.  Remaining in the vicinity for a month, Mississippi returned to Hampton Roads in the summer of 1914.  Shortly thereafter, it, and its sister ship USS Idaho (BB-24), were sold to Greece.  Renamed Kilkis, the former Mississippi remained in the Royal Hellenic Navy until being sunk during World War II.

US Navy - Connecticut-class Battleships:

Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

Napoleonic Wars: Fireships in Basque Roads

Thursday April 10, 2014

April 11, 1809 - Captain Thomas Cochrane opens the Battle of the Basque Roads (right).  Having blockaded a French fleet of eleven ships of the line in Basque Roads, Adm. Lord Gambier became reluctant to attack.  Annoyed by this inaction, the Admiralty dispatched the daring Cochrane to lead a fire ship attack against the French.  Delayed by Gambier on April 10, Cochrane led an assault in on the night of April 11 using two explosion ships and twenty fire ships.  While the latter were largely ineffective, the former caused great confusion and fear among the French.  As a result, many of the French ships slipped their cables and ran aground in the shallow waters of Basque Roads.  Seeing all but two of the French ships aground at dawn, Cochrane repeatedly signaled Gambier to enter the roads to complete the victory.  When it became clear that Gambier would not attack, Cochrane entered the French anchorage aboard HMS Imperieuse (38 guns) and intentionally became heavily engaged with three French ships of the line.  Signaling Gambier for aid, two British ships of the line and seven frigates finally joined the action.  Before nightfall, Cochrane had captured or destroyed four ships of the line and a frigate.  Though eager to renew the action the next morning, Cochrane was incensed when Gambier recalled the entire fleet.  Returning to Britain, Cochrane was knighted but committed career suicide through constant criticism of Gambier.  Though it became obvious to all that Gambier had failed badly, he was acquitted in a sham court-martial which cleared his name.

Photograph Source: Public Domain

Civil War 150th: Taylor Wins at Mansfield

Tuesday April 8, 2014

April 8, 1864 - Confederate forces win the Battle of Mansfield.  In March 1863, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks began pushing up the Red River with the goal of capturing Shreveport, LA.  Supported by RAdm. David D. Porter's gunboats, the campaign moved slowly and Banks' men became increasingly strung out due to poor roads.  Opposing the Union advance was a small Confederate army led by Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor (right).  After initially withdrawing, he was able to gather sufficient forces to make a stand just south of Mansfield.  Selecting a clearing surrounded by heavy woods, Taylor succeeded in luring Banks' lead elements into battle.  Attacking on April 8, he routed them and drove back Union forces.  Beaten, Banks consolidated his position and turned back Confederate assaults the next day at the Battle of Pleasant Hill.  Despite this success, he elected to break off the campaign and retreat south.

Civil War in the West:

Photograph Courtesy of the National Archives & Records Administration

Napoleonic Wars: Siege of Badajoz Begins

Sunday April 6, 2014

April 6, 1812 - The forces of the Earl of Wellington storm the city of Badajoz, Spain. Following the capture of Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo, the Earl of Wellington moved to take the city of Badajoz. Arriving outside of its walls, British troops invested the city on March 16, 1812. Outnumbering the French garrison nearly 5-to-1, the British began pushing trenches and siege lines towards the city's thick walls. After beating off numerous French sorties, they succeeded in breaching the wall in three places. On April 6, Wellington ordered his men to storm the city. Moving forward, their attacks were repeatedly beaten back by the French defenders. As Wellington began to debate ending the assault, men from Gen. Thomas Picton's division were able to gain a foothold on the walls allowing reinforcements to enter the fray. Fighting through the city, the superior British numbers turned the battle in their favor and the French were forced to retreat to the San Cristobal fortress. Surrounded and outnumbered, the French soon surrendered. In the wake of the fighting, British troops brutally looted the city.

The Peninsular War:

Photograph Source: Public Domain

American Revolution: Siege of Fort Mifflin

Friday April 4, 2014

The Siege of Fort Mifflin began on September 26, 1777, and saw American forces hold out until November 16.  Following the American defeat at Brandywine on September 11, 1777, British forces under Gen. William Howe occupied Philadelphia.  Though they captured the city, the British were cut off from re-supply by sea as Gen. George Washington's troops still held Forts Mifflin and Mercer on the Delaware River.  While the former was located on Mud Island in the middle of the river, the latter was situated on the New Jersey shore.  In mid-October, the British commenced construction of batteries opposite Fort Mifflin.  Later that month, Howe dispatched troops to attack Fort Mercer.  These were bloodily repulsed at the Battle of Red Bank.  To support this effort, a squadron from the Royal Navy moved up the river and bombarded Fort Mifflin.  In the fighting, two ships ran aground and came under heavy fire from Lt. Col. Samuel Smith's (right) garrison.  With the supply situation growing desperate, Howe ordered the batteries expanded.  With support from the Royal Navy, the British began an intense bombardment of Fort Mifflin on November 10.  Though the defenders fought valiantly, they were compelled to abandon the fort on November 16.  Crossing the river, Howe's forces drove the Americans from Fort Mercer four days later and opened the Delaware to British shipping.

American Revolution - 1777:

Photograph Source: Public Domain

World War I: USS New Hampshire (BB-25)

Wednesday April 2, 2014

Commissioned in 1908, USS New Hampshire (BB-25) (right) was the last battleship of the Connecticut-class.  Entering service too late to accompany its sister ships in the Great White Fleet, New Hampshire operated in the Atlantic during 1908 before welcoming the fleet home early the following year.  Largely occupied by peacetime maneuvers over the next five years, it helped support the US Occupation of Veracruz in 1914.  With the US entry into World War I, New Hampshire served as a training ship before commencing convoy escort duty in 1918.  With the end of the war, it assisted in returning American servicemen home from Europe.  Used in secondary roles, New Hampshire was finally decommissioned in 1921 before being sold for scrap three years later.

US Navy - Connecticut-class Battleships:

Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

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