Military Milestones from Rogers' Rangers to Richard Byrd

This Week in American Military History:

Nov. 29, 1760:  Rogers’ Rangers under the command of Massachusetts-born Maj. (future Lt. Col.) Robert Rogers capture Fort Detroit from the French.  U.S. Army Rangers in the 20th and 21st centuries will trace their lineage to Rogers and his British Colonial irregulars.

Nov. 29, 1890:  Navy beats Army, 24-zip, in the first-ever Army (West Point) — Navy (Annapolis) football game.

Nov. 29, 1929:  U.S. Navy Commander Richard E. Byrd Jr. makes the first-ever flight over the South Pole.

Byrd — a future rear admiral and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his 1926 flight over the North Pole — is the navigator of the South Pole flight. His companions include pilot Bernt Balchen, radio operator Harold June, and photographer Ashley McKinley.

The team crosses the Pole in a modified Ford tri-motor airplane.

Nov. 30, 1864:  Confederate Army forces under the command of Gen. John Bell Hood (yes, Fort Hood, Texas is named in his honor) clash with Union forces under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield (yes, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii is named in his honor) near Franklin, Tennessee in what is about to become a Union victory and one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

By early evening, thousands on both sides will have been killed, and six Confederate generals will be dead or mortally wounded.

Confederate Private Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment will describe the battle as: “the blackest page in the history of the War of the Lost Cause. It was the bloodiest battle of modern times in any war. It was the finishing stroke to the Independence of the Southern Confederacy. I was there. I saw it.”

Schofield, who will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the 1861 Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Missouri), is destined for a third star, a posting as U.S. Secretary of War, and the title, commanding general of the U.S. Army.

Dec. 3, 1775:  The Grand Union Flag (not to be confused with S.C. militia Col. Christopher Gadsden’s rattlesnake flag or the Betsy Ross flag) is raised above the 20-gun Continental ship, Alfred.  The ship, originally named Black Prince, has been renamed in honor of Alfred the Great.
The hoisting of the “Grand Union” colors is the first time an American flag is raised above an American warship.

On an interesting aside, Alfred will be part of the small flotilla that participates in America’s first amphibious operation — Continental Marines and sailors seizing gunpowder and a few cannon from British-held Fort Montague in the Bahamas — the following March.

Dec. 4, 1783:  Gen. George Washington bids farewell to the officers of the Continental Army at Fraunces Tavern in New York.

According to the memoirs of Col. Benjamin Tallmadge:  “After the officers had taken a glass of wine, General Washington said ‘I cannot come to each of you but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.’ General Knox being nearest to him turned to the Commander-in-chief who, suffused in tears, was incapable of utterance but grasped his hand when they embraced each other in silence. In the same affectionate manner every officer in the room marched up and parted with his general in chief.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: “This Week in American Military History,” appears every week as a feature of HUMAN EVENTS.

Let’s increase awareness of American military tradition and honor America’s greatest heroes by supporting the Medal of Honor Society’s 2010 Convention to be held in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, 2010 (for more information, click here).