Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Today in History

Here is an article I received, it explains a little about the creation of militias and the men who were a part of them.

"1792: Militia Act establishes conscription under federal law On this day in 1792, Congress passes the second portion of the Militia Act,requiring that "every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respectiveStates, resident therein, who is or shall be of age eighteen years, andunder the age of forty-five years… be enrolled in the militia." Six days before, Congress had established the president's right to call outthe militia. The outbreak of Shay's Rebellion, a protest against taxationand debt prosecution in western Massachusetts in 1786-87, had firstconvinced many Americans that the federal government should be given thepower to put down rebellions within the states. The inability of theContinental Congress under the Articles of Confederation to respond to thecrisis was a major motivation for the peaceful overthrow of the governmentand the drafting of a new federal Constitution. The Militia Act was tested shortly after its passage, when farmers inwestern Pennsylvania, angered by a federal excise tax on whiskey, attackedthe home of a tax collector and then, with their ranks swollen to 6,000camped outside Pittsburgh, threatened to march on the town. In response,President Washington, under the auspices of the Militia Act, assembled 15000 men from the surrounding states and eastern Pennsylvania as a federalmilitia commanded by Virginia's Henry Lee to march upon the Pittsburghencampment. Upon its arrival, the federal militia found none of the rebelswilling to fight. The mere threat of federal force had quelled the rebellionand established the supremacy of the federal government. 1864: Lee beats Grant to Spotsylvania On this day, Yankee troops arrive at Spotsylvania Court House to find theRebels already there. After the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-6), UlyssesS. Grant's Army of the Potomac marched south in the drive to take Richmond.Grant hoped to control the strategic crossroads at Spotsylvania Court House,so he could draw Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia into open ground. Spotsylvania was important for a number of reasons. The crossroads weresituated between the Wilderness and Hanover Junction, where the tworailroads that supplied Lee's army met. The area also lay past Lee's leftflank, so if Grant beat him there he would not only have a head start towardRichmond, but also the clearest path. Lee would then be forced to attackGrant or race him to Richmond along poor roads. Unbeknownst to Grant, Lee had received reports of Union cavalry movements tothe south of the Wilderness battle lines. On the evening of May 7, Leeordered James Longstreet's corps, which were under the direction of RichardAnderson after Longstreet had been shot the previous day, to march at nightto Spotsylvania. Anderson's men marched the 11 miles entirely in the dark,and won the race to the crossroads, where they took refuge behind hastilyconstructed breastworks and waited. Now it would be up to Grant to force theConfederates from their position. The stage was set for one of the bloodiestengagements of the war. 1919: New celebration of Armistice Day proposed On May 8, 1919, Edward George Honey, a journalist from Melbourne, Australia,living in London at the time, writes a letter to the London Evening Newsproposing that the first anniversary of the armistice ending World WarI-concluded on November 11, 1918-be commemorated by several moments ofsilence. Honey, who briefly served in the British army during World War I beforebeing discharged with a leg injury, had been concerned by the way people inLondon had celebrated on the streets on the actual day of the armistice. Inhis letter to the newspaper the following May, he wrote that a silentcommemoration of the sacrifices made and the lives lost during the war wouldbe a far more appropriate way to mark the first anniversary of its end. "Five little minutes only," Honey wrote. "Five silent minutes of nationalremembrance. A very sacred intercession. Communion with the Glorious Deadwho won us peace, and from the communion new strength, hope and faith in themorrow. Church services, too, if you will, but in the street, the home, thetheatre, anywhere, indeed, where Englishmen and their women chance to be,surely in this five minutes of bitter-sweet silence there will be serviceenough." Though Honey's letter did not immediately bring about a change, a similarsuggestion was made to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick that October and reached KingGeorge V, who on November 17, 1919, made an official proclamation that "atthe hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th dayof the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes acomplete suspension of all our normal activities … so that in perfectstillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverentremembrance of the glorious dead." Though it is not officially recorded thatthe king read and was influenced by Honey's letter, the journalist wasinvited by the king to a palace rehearsal of the two minutes of silence, atradition which is still honored in much of the former British empire. 1945: V-E Day is celebrated in American and Britain On this day in 1945, both Great Britain and the United States celebrateVictory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupiedcities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeatof the Nazi war machine. The eighth of May spelled the day when German troops throughout Europefinally laid down their arms: In Prague, Germans surrendered to their Sovietantagonists, after the latter had lost more than 8,000 soldiers, and theGermans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, nearBerlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark--the Germansurrender was realized in a final cease-fire. More surrender documents weresigned in Berlin and in eastern Germany. The main concern of many German soldiers was to elude the grasp of Sovietforces, to keep from being taken prisoner. About 1 million Germans attempteda mass exodus to the West when the fighting in Czechoslovakia ended, butwere stopped by the Russians and taken captive. The Russians tookapproximately 2 million prisoners in the period just before and after theGerman surrender. Meanwhile, more than 13,000 British POWs were released and sent back toGreat Britain. Pockets of German-Soviet confrontation would continue into the next day. OnMay 9, the Soviets would lose 600 more soldiers in Silesia before theGermans finally surrendered. Consequently, V-E Day was not celebrated untilthe ninth in Moscow, with a radio broadcast salute from Stalin himself: "Theage-long struggle of the Slav nations...has ended in victory. Your couragehas defeated the Nazis. The war is over." 1972: Mining of North Vietnamese harbors is announced President Richard Nixon announces that he has ordered the mining of majorNorth Vietnamese ports, as well as other measures, to prevent the flow ofarms and material to the communist forces that had invaded South Vietnam inMarch. Nixon said that foreign ships in North Vietnamese ports would havethree days to leave before the mines were activated; U.S. Navy ships wouldthen search or seize ships, and Allied forces would bomb rail lines fromChina and take whatever other measures were necessary to stem the flow ofmaterial. Nixon warned that these actions would stop only when all U.S.prisoners of war were returned and an internationally supervised cease-firewas initiated. If these conditions were met, the United States would "stopall acts of force throughout Indochina and proceed with the completewithdrawal of all forces within four months." Nixon's action was in response to the North Vietnamese Nguyen Hue Offensive.On March 30, the North Vietnamese had initiated a massive invasion of SouthVietnam. Committing almost their entire army to the offensive, the NorthVietnamese launched a three-pronged attack. In the initial attack, fourNorth Vietnamese divisions attacked directly across the Demilitarized Zoneinto Quang Tri province. Following that assault, the North Vietnameselaunched two more major attacks: at An Loc in Binh Long Province, 60 milesnorth of Saigon; and at Kontum in the Central Highlands. With the threeattacks, the North Vietnamese committed 500 tanks and 150,000 regular troops(as well as thousands of Viet Cong) supported by heavy rocket and artilleryfire. The North Vietnamese, enjoying much success on the battlefield, didnot respond to Nixon's demands. The announcement that North Vietnamese harbors would be mined led to a waveof antiwar demonstrations at home, which resulted in violent clashes withpolice and 1,800 arrests on college campuses and in cities from Boston toSan Jose, California. Police used wooden bullets and tear gas in Berkeley;three police officers were shot in Madison, Wisconsin; and 715 NationalGuardsmen were activated to quell violence in Minneapolis."
Sally Rolls Pavia sallypavia2001@yahoo.com
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