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Dunmore’s Raid & Surrender

US Military History Throughout The Years

Short bits of history you know and some you may not!

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  • Dunmore’s Raid: Saturday, December 9, 1775 – During the initial tensions in 1775 that would lead to the Revolutionary War, the Royal Governor of Virginia, Dunmore, would seize the gunpowder stores in Williamsburg, the colonial capital. This action prompted local Patriots to form militias in response, and they would quickly converge on the capital. Dunmore would flee to Norfolk and begin raising an army, sending forces out to raid Patriot camps. The only approach to the British camp, due to impassable terrain was Great Bridge. Dunmore would have his forces fortify the area and after some small skirmishes, decide to drive off the Patriot militia. The British forces would form a column and begin crossing the bridge, firing as they went. They would manage to cross the bridge and take some Patriot positions but as they moved more of their force across it, Patriot militia would begin to pick off the British Soldiers. As a result British casualties would quickly start to climb, while the Patriots would only sustain one slightly wounded militiaman. The British would soon withdraw, leaving the Patriots to occupy Norfolk days later, driving out what little British power remained in Virginia. This was one of the few Patriot victories early in the Revolution and one of the first land battles.
  • USS Michigan: Saturday, December 5, 1840 – The US Navy launches its first iron hulled ship. The USS Michigan would be commissioned in 1844 and serve all the way till 1912 when finally decommissioned. The Michigan was built in response to the British using armed steamers in Canada and to test whether iron hulled ships were practical. The ship was a side wheel steamer and would serve in the Great Lakes. During the Civil War the Confederacy at one point planned to board and capture the ship, at which point they would use the ships guns to damage locks and shipping around the Great Lakes. In 1905 the ship was renamed the Wolverine, in order to free up its former name for a new battleship to being built at the time. The ship would serve under its new name till 1912.
  • USS Wake: Monday, December 8, 1941 – The USS Wake becomes the only US ship to surrender during WW2. The ship was a river gunboat operating along the Yangtze river. The Wake mainly served to protect Americans and other foreigners along the river and later as a radio spy ship as the Japanese gained further control of China and the surrounding area. By 1939 the Japanese would escort the ship everywhere it went. When news of the attack at Pearl Harbor reached its commander, the same day due to time differences, he would try to reach his ship and scuttle it. When the crew reached the ship they found it already under Japanese guard and the crew would surrender the ship and become prisoners. The ship would serve under the Japanese for the remainder of the war before recapture by the Americans. After the war the ship would be given to the Chinese Nationalist government in Taiwan, only to be captured by Chinese Communist forces in 1949.
  • Day of Infamy: Sunday, December 7, 1941 – At 7:55 am 183 Japanese aircraft attacked the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The Japanese intended to disable and destroy as much of the American fleet as possible, in order to allow the Japanese as little interference as possible as it began its conquest of the Pacific. The attacking Japanese forces would bomb the local airfields and as well as bombing and launching torpedoes, modified for the shallow harbor, at the anchored ships in the harbor. The initial attacks on the airfields were particularly successful, most of the US aircraft was parked tightly and not ready for operation. It was during this first wave that the most damage was done to the anchored US battleships. The USS Arizona was destroyed along with several other ships in the first 30 minutes of the attack.At 8:50 am the second wave of attacking Japanese aircraft would attack. This attack was no less damaging, with the USS Shaw being split in half by attacks. By 9:00 am the attackers would withdraw back to their carriers.

    The attackers would damage or destroy 19 American ships and over 300 aircraft during the attack. Over 2,300 Americans would be killed with over 1,000 more being injured, with nearly half of the deaths occurring when the USS Arizona exploded.

    The next day Congress would declare war on Japan. The Japanese would declare war on the US the day of the attack but due to time zones, the declaration would not be delivered to the US till the 8th as well.

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