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Hürtgen Forest & End of an Journey

US Military History Throughout The Years

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

  • Hürtgen Forest: Tuesday, September 19, 1944 – The Battle of Hürtgen Forest. During WW2 this battle would be the longest battle fought on German soil and the longest single battle that the US Army has ever fought. US goals in the heavily forested and mountainous terrain was to tie down German troops from being able to reinforce other German troops to the north and a possible break through to flank other German forces. The German commander, field marshal Model intended to bring the Allied thrust into the area to a standstill. Over the next several months the German defenders would utilize the terrain and the fortifications known as the Siegfried Line to their advantage. Fighting would continue till 16 December 1945, with the German launching of what would become the Battle of the Bulge, causing its final ending. As a result of the relentless German defense, the battle was a defeat for the US Army. In total 250,000 Soldiers, from both sides, would be killed, wounded or captured.
  • Presidential Proclamation 95: Monday, September 22, 1862 – Presidential Proclamation 95, the Emancipation Proclamation. After a year of Civil War, President Lincoln would turn the war to one not just of reunification, but to the ending of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on this day in 1862 and would go into effect on 1 January 1863. The proclamation freed all slaves held in states in rebellion, aka the Confederacy in total, which amounted to around 3.5 million slaves. While in practice the slaves still held in the Confederacy were still captive, as soon as Federal troops took that land or state they were free and escaped in droves to the Union lines. The proclamation would enrage those in the Confederacy and made several European nations that initially offered aid to the south weary of doing so. The proclamation was hailed by abolitionists and upon it going into effect some 20,000 slaves, held by Federal troops in reclaimed Confederate land, were immediately freed. The Emancipation Proclamation did not outlaw slavery on its own and it was not until 1865 with the passing of the 13th Amendment that slavery was officially illegal in the USA.
  • End of an Journey: Tuesday, September 23, 1806 – After 2 years and covering nearly 8,000 miles, the Corps of Discovery under Lewis and Clark returned to St. Louis, Missouri. The expedition explored the land the USA had gained under the Louisiana Purchase, which effectively doubled the size of the USA. The expedition established relations with some two dozen Native American tribes and only lost one member, to sickness early on in their travels. Lewis and Clark would create around 140 maps during their exploring and provided a first look at the geography and botany of the new land. Interestingly, Sacagawea gave birth to a boy soon after joining the expedition and would carry him with her for the duration. Sacagawea was not so much a guide to the Corps, and mainly served as a translator and important member during diplomatic meetings, her infant son soothing tensions with Native Americans at times.

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