Monday, March 19, 2012

Learn Our History Today: March 19

Learn Our History Today: On March 19, 1865, as the Civil War was in its final days, Union General William T. Sherman and his mighty army was attacked by some 17,000 Rebel forces under Confederate General Joseph Johnston at the Battle of Bentonville, in North Carolina.  In the previous days, Sherman and his troops blazed through the Carolinas, destroying everything in their path to further demoralize the South and speed the end of the war.  While the Confederates had surprised Sherman’s troops on the first day of the battle, more Union troops arrived in the days that followed, giving Sherman a 3-to-1 advantage over the South, forcing Johnston to withdraw.  All in all, the Union suffered 194 confirmed deaths, 221 missing soldiers and 1,112 wounded.  The toll to the Confederates was slightly more severe at 240 killed, 1,500 missing and 1,700 wounded.

Also on this day in U.S. history, the first U.S. air combat mission began in 1916, as eight Curtiss “Jenny” planes were deployed on an 11-month mission to support 7,000 troops who invated Mexico to capture Pancho Villa, a Mexican revolutionary who, on March 9, led a band of guerrillas on a raid of Columbus, New Mexico, killing 17 Americans.  the U.S. failed to capture Villa and in late January, 1917, President Woodrow Willson ordered the troops home.

And on March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush announced the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the mission to take down Saddam Hussein and eliminate his ability to develop weapons of mass destruction.  On live TV, Bush told Americans that Iraq was the next target in the fight against terrorism.  In his speech, he added “helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment” and reaffirmed his administrations refusal to “live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”

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