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  1. #136
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 9, 1940 -

    Adolf Hitler issued the order to commence the invasion of France and the Low Countries at dawn on the following day. At noon German meteorologists made a firm forecast of clear skies on the following morning; Adolf Hitler gave the meteorology officer a medal on the spot. In the afternoon, Hitler departed Berlin, Germany for this temporary forward headquarters codenamed Felsennest near Bad Münsereifel in the Rhineland region of Germany to observe the coming invasion.

    May 9, 1942 -

    Joseph Rochefort's cryptanalytic team in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii intercepted a Japanese Navy radio message ordering carrier Akagi to make rendezvous with another fleet at Sasebo, Japan on 20 May 1942. One of the US's first hint of the impending Jap strike on Target AF (later determined to be Midway Island)

    May 9, 1944 -

    Rudolf Höss returned to Auschwitz Concentration Camp and ordered the expansion of the rail platforms, the activation of Crematorium V, the reactivation of Bunker 2 (gas chamber), the digging of five pits, among other items, in preparation for the arrival of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz



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  2. #137
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    Re: This Date in History

    Quote Originally Posted by SicemDawgz View Post
    Famous Last Words!

    Today in History -- On today’s date 158 years ago, Monday, May 9, 1864 during the War Between the States, noted Union Army Major General John Sedgwick (1813-1864) met his earthly demise at the age of 50 when he was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, becoming the highest-ranking Union casualty during the entire War.
    During the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, General Sedgwick became outraged that his men were ducking in a “cowardly” manner because of musket balls fired by Confederate sharpshooters from a distance of approximately 1,000 yards, so he stepped out into the open & declared: “Why are you dodging like this?” General Sedgwick then uttered his famous last words: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance!” A split second later the general was killed instantly by a shot that penetrated his left eye socket.
    The .451 calibre English-made Whitworth rifled musket that was used to shoot General Sedgwick was legendary for its long range accuracy, as General Sedgwick later found out.
    John Reynolds held the rank of Major General when he was killed, by a Confederate sniper first day at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863.

  3. #138
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 10, 1864

    Most of the Union navy, the Mississippi Squadron under Admiral David Porter, was trapped above the rocky falls at Alexandria. General Nathanial Banks was ready to resume his retreat to Baton Rouge with the army, but that would leave the navy helpless and lead to the scuttling of the fleet. Colonel Joseph Bailey was chief engineer for the expedition and proposed a plan. He hailed from Wisconsin and had spent his career building things, including dams on rivers. Bailey proposed to build a dam across the Red River which would trap the water, allow it to build up to a level the ships could pass over the rapids, then open the dam allowing the ships to reach deeper water. Banks agreed but gave Bailey only three days to prove his concept would work. Bailey jumped right into it and began directing hundreds of soldiers in the construction.

  4. #139
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 11

    By nightfall on the 10th Bailey had secured the services of 3,000 men to work on the dam, working under torchlight. Most of the men were soldiers but some were former slaves who volunteered to help build the structure. By dawn on the 11th a 760-foot dam spanned the river. It worked, water piled up behind the dam and the water level rose allowing many of the smaller boats, with shallow drafts, to pass the rocky falls. The ironclad the USS Lexington was the first in line of the heavier boats and she waited, with steam up, just above the falls. All day the Yanks watched the water level rise. Bailey had placed a piling in the river marked in 1-foot intervals and monitored it.

    By mid-afternoon Banks convened a meeting of his commanders and ordered the army be ready to march at first light the next day. Admiral Porter expressed concerns about being abandoned with a good portion of his fleet still above the rocky falls. General William Franklin said he would have Colonel Bailey remain with enough men to manage the dam until all boats were safe. Then, as if to send a message, the dam broke. Shouts rose from the structure and men on the dam leapt to safety as a coal barge serving as the "gate" broke loose and dragged portions of the dam with it. Water gushed through the gap. The captain of the Lexington was on the bridge when it happened and seized the moment. He ordered full speed ahead and the ironclad raced for the gap. It bumped across the rocky falls with a loud grating sound, but she made it. Cheers echoed from the banks of the river and Lexington bellowed her steam whistle.

    Although it had busted, the dam had worked. Bailey immediately set about repairing the gap and then decided to speed up the process by building second, upper dam, this to funnel water quicker toward the main dam. This worked well and in just two more days the water level would rise allowing all boats to float past the rocky falls.

    General Richard Taylor sat on his horse with a couple of his officers and watched from a wooded area on the riverbank. He would quip, damn Yankees, they're going to save the fleet.

  5. #140
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 13

    General Taylor gave up any hope sufficient reinforcements would be sent by his superior, General E. Kirby Smith, so that he could deliver a blow to the Union army and navy sitting in front of him at Alexandria. Bailey's dam was fully functioning, and one by one the trapped Union ironclads were passing the rocky falls. Yet, Taylor was determined to do something.

    Taylor ordered General Polignac to move his infantry division and Major Brent to move most of his guns to the town of Evergreen, which was 16 miles southwest of Mansura on the main road the Union army was sure to use heading back to Simmesport on the Atchafalaya River. To reach Baton Rouge the Union army would have to cross the Atchafalaya, meaning bridges would have to be built. Taylor then divided his mounted brigades giving half to General Wharton and half to General John Major. Wharton was to operate in the rear of the Union army, striking their supply trains, while Major would harass the Union vanguard slowing them down as much as possible. And General Liddell would operate on the eastern bank creating as much havoc as possible, concentrating on attacking the Yankee fleet. Taylor had a total of 8,500 men under his command, while the Union army numbered close to 40,000.

  6. #141
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 16, 1864 Battle of Mansura

    General Taylor moved his "army" into Mansura during the early morning hours on the 16th, this to block the main road leading to Simmesport on the Atchafalaya River. He had 5,000 men and 32 guns under the able command of Major Brent. Heading toward him was the Union army under General Banks, nearly 40,000 men. Trailing behind and harassing the Yanks was General Wharton with 2,000 mounted troops and two batteries of light artillery.

    Banks received reports from his forward calvary unit that the Confederates were dug in blocking the road. Banks then decided to deploy the entire army, rather than just ordering General Emory, who was upfront, to deal with the matter. Emory had over 12,000 infantry and another 3,000 cavalry under his direct command and could have pushed Taylor out of Mansura. Instead, Banks wanted a grand advance and asked all his commanders to plan to participate in the attack. This would take all day to move and position that many men for an attack. It was a combined 132 regiments from four different corps.

    With bands playing and banners snapping in the breeze, this huge Union army advanced across the open fields of the Avoyelles Prairie. One Iowa soldier noted in his diary, "it was grand and splendid, like a dress parade." The Yanks were not ready until nearly 5:00 to begin the advance. Brent's guns roared to life and tore holes in the Yankee lines. The Federals lacked sufficient artillery to provide counter-battery fire. At about 6:00 the Union line had gotten close and Taylor ordered General Polignac to pull his infantry out. And Brent began moving his guns out, battery by battery. At one point Union cavalry advanced and was about to over-run Brent's guns when Wharton's brigades suddenly appeared and saved them. Wharton had ridden around the Union army as he "went to the sound of the guns" as good field commanders were taught to do. In another 20 minutes Taylor had no choice but to retire and moved his small army back toward Evergreen.

    Banks' army suffered some casualties, but claimed a big victory, and then proceeded on to Simmesport.

  7. #142
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 18, 1864 Battle of Yellow Bayou

    On the 17th Confederate cavalry overran Union engineers and navy personnel trying to remove the big guns from Fort DeRussey. Union cavalry had been providing a screen, but they were ordered to rejoin the main body of the army leaving the men at the fort unprotected. Among the guns the Confederates captured was a 4-gun battery of 30 pounder Parrot rifles, the heaviest, most powerful field pieces used in the war. That evening Colonel Vincent of the 3rd Louisiana Cavalry happily delivered the 30's to Major Brent.

    General Taylor read the reports from his scouts and spies on the activity of the Yanks at Simmesport. Union engineers were building pontoon bridges across the Atchafalaya River. He planned to shell the bridges, destroying them, and trapping the huge Union army in Simmesport. Meanwhile General A.J. Smith, 16th Corps, recognized the danger and dispatched General Mower with the 1st Division Infantry, a brigade of cavalry, and supporting artillery two miles back to Yellow Bayou. They would be the rearguard designed to prevent Taylor from launching an attack. Taylor planned to attack late in the day, after 6PM which would provide enough daylight for his attack but then darkness would hamper any Yankee counter attack. As with most such plans, it went awry.

    Mower was spoiling for a fight, instead of digging in along the bayou as ordered, he crossed it and went seeking the Confederates. One of his brigades was making its way across a neglected sugarcane field and they noisily busted through the dried stalks. Lounging in the shade of a creek bottom, the Louisiana Brigade under Colonel Henry Gray heard their approach. Gray deployed his regiments in an "L" shape flanking the Yanks and they opened a horrific musketry. The Union troops were shot to pieces and made a hasty retreat. Now the Texas Brigade of Polignac's division attacked following the retreating Yanks back to the bayou where they encountered Union troops dug in on the opposite side of the lazy stream. The two sides exchanged up-close musketry and the Texans were forced to pull back. Now both sides began inserting units into the fight piecemeal and what followed was a confused brawl across the sugarcane fields and patches of thick woods. All afternoon General Taylor tried to get control of the battle. His unit commanders were acting on their own, not cooperating and it was a total mess. General Mower had better control of his units and inserted brigades as he thought was best, but each time Confederates appeared "out of nowhere" and drove the Yanks back. Finally, as the sun began to set both sides retired back to their original lines.

    During all the fighting Major Brent found that the Union cavalry which had been in his front and ridden toward the melee leaving him an opportunity. Brent advanced his main batteries to within one mile of the pontoon bridges and opened a horrific artillery barrage. He had spotters, civilian spies, placed inside the town that sent back messages directing his fire. One of the pontoons received several direct hits destroying it. The other three had been hit but remained intact.

    Taylor ordered a night attack against the Yanks along Yellow Bayou. Each side would identify the location of the other by the muzzle flashes of the muskets. A Texas cavalry regiment, fighting dismounted, waded the bayou and flanked the Yanks, but a concerted counter attack drove the Confederates back across the bayou. And so it went late into the night. Brent's guns shook the ground for many miles around and the fighting along the bayou was intense. Finally, a Union cavalry regiment in the town managed to get organized and drove Brent's guns back. At about 2am Taylor found several of his commanders with their exhausted troops. It was decided to call off the battle and wait to daylight. It was now May 19th.

    The Battle of Yellow Bayou had been a bloody affair. In terms of percentages, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the entire "Civil War." Taylor lost 650 men, Mower about 450.

  8. #143
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 19, 1864

    With Taylor's guns withdrawn it was now safe for the Union army to cross the pontoon bridges. Three brigades of cavalry led the way, followed by the 19th Corps Infantry, the divisions under Emory and Grover.

    Also crossing that morning was General Nathanial Banks, accompanied by a squadron of the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry and a few staff officers. Banks had been ordered to report to HQ in New Orleans...he had been sacked. A speedy mailboat had arrived during the night at Simmesport, her captain bore a telegram he was to personally hand to Banks. It had been sent from the War Department, Washington City, and the telegram was signed by General U.S. Grant, the new General-in-chief of the Union army. Banks was removed from command, General William Franklin appointed as temporary commander, and whose only job was to move the army to Baton Rouge, whereupon Franklin was handed a telegram, he too was sacked.

    General Polignac represented Taylor and General Lynch, 2nd Division, 16th Corps represented Franklin as negotiations for prisoner exchanges and how to handle all the wounded, left behind, was to be conducted. General Lynch had a sack of money, "greenbacks" and offered to pay the Confederates to provide care for the Union wounded...scattered across central and northwest Louisiana in various field hospitals. Polignac replied the "greenbacks" held no value here, in Louisiana, and besides, we would provide all the care possible to wounded soldiers who had fought bravely.

    It would take 5 days for the entire Union army to cross the river. May 24, 1864 is recorded as the official end of the Red River Campaign. The last major Confederate victory of the war.

  9. #144
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 22, 1864

    Units crossing the pontoons had to be halted as two of the bridges began showing signs of damage, wrought by the artillery shelling. Colonel Joseph Bailey's engineer battalion spent the rest of the day securing the pontoons. They had this luxury since General Taylor had agreed to a truce to remove wounded across the river. Most of the Union combat units had already crossed.

    Aftermath...

    General Bank's Union army suffered 12,000 casualties in the campaign, which lasted from March-May, 1864. Of that number the losses were, roughly, 2,000 KIA, 4,000 wounded, and 6,000 captured, with most of those sent to the POW camp at Tyler, Texas, called Camp Ford. Taylor lost 3,000 men, with 1,200 KIA, 1,500 wounded, and 300 captured, most of those being the garrison at Fort De Russey. The Union navy lost the ironclad, USS Eastport, two gunboats (tinclads), three pumpers (the Champions), and three transport/supply ships.

    By any measure it was a crushing Confederate victory, both tactically and strategically. However, as Richard Taylor wrote in his memoires, it was an incomplete victory. Before the end of 1864 the Union troops allowed to escape would show up on several major battlefields and render critical service to the Northern effort.

  10. #145
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    Re: This Date in History

    So, what spurred this dive into Civil War history? Just being curious. It's sent me down a lot of other research holes (appreciate it).

  11. #146
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    Re: This Date in History

    Quote Originally Posted by JuBru View Post
    So, what spurred this dive into Civil War history? Just being curious. It's sent me down a lot of other research holes (appreciate it).
    It's always been a passion of mine. My Dad was a huge Civil War buff and he got me interested in it. Also, I just attended a CW symposium and had the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion of the Red River Campaign. I also conduct tours of the Red River Campaign sites.

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    Re: This Date in History

    Didn't know there was a tour. I thought the Vicksburg National Military Park was the nearest Civil War thing to Ruston.

  13. #148
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    Re: This Date in History

    Quote Originally Posted by JuBru View Post
    Didn't know there was a tour. I thought the Vicksburg National Military Park was the nearest Civil War thing to Ruston.
    http://www.tournatchitocheswithbarbara.com/

    I operate under Barbara Bailey's Tour Service.

  14. #149
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    Re: This Date in History

    May 23, 1934

    Bonnie & Clyde killed in ambush on rural Louisiana highway.

  15. #150
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    Re: This Date in History

    June 6, 1944

    God bless those heroes.

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