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The Last Battle

US Military History Throughout The Years

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

  • The Last Battle: Saturday, October 6, 1781 – After some initial skirmishes and movements, the Continental Army under General George Washington began the siege of British forces under Gen Cornwallis at Yorktown. A combined American and French force would begin digging trenches increasingly closer to the British defenses in order to bombard them with artillery. After several days of bombardment and moving closer the allied American and French force would attack and take several key British positions. The attacks forced the British to attempt an escape across the York River, but they were unsuccessful. The entrenched British force would be forced to surrender after the allied artillery grew stronger and more damaging. For two days negotiations would take place, when finally on the 19th of October British forces would formally surrender. Cornwallis would request that his forces be given traditional Honors of War, which would allow them to march from their defeated position with honor. General Washington denied their request, on the grounds that the British did not allow the Continental Army the same respect when they were defeated at Charleston. This battle was the last major land battle of the American Revolution, the capture of General Cornwallis prompting the British government to begin negotiations to bring the revolution to an end.
  • OEF: Sunday, October 7, 2001 – Operation Enduring Freedom officially began. A combined American and British force would launch airstrikes against Taliban positions across Afghanistan. 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles would also be launched from both American and British submarines and surface ships. US B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers along with several types of other strike aircraft would attack 7 key locations held by the Taliban. Kandahar City alone would see 4 waves of airstrikes, each only around an hour apart. President Bush would speak after the attacks, saying “More than two weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and specific demands: Close terrorist training camps. Hand over leaders of the al Qaeda network, and return all foreign nationals, including American citizens unjustly detained in your country,” Bush said.”None of these demands was met, and now, the Taliban will pay a price”.
  • SGT York: Tuesday, October 8, 1918 – During WW1 Corporal Alvin York would be attached to a group of 17 American Soliders tasked to infiltrate a German machine gun position and silence it. The group would capture a large group of Germans but soon most of his group would be killed or wounded as the Germans attacked. As a result CPL York became the highest ranking member of his small group. Tasking his Soldiers with guarding the German prisoners he would single handedly attack the German machine gun position. He soon ran out of ammunition for his rifle and switched to his pistol as Germans charged him with bayonets. Of the six Germans charging at him, he would kill all of them with his pistol. Soon after the German officer in charge of the position would surrender to CPL York, after firing his pistol at York but missing completely. CPL York and his Soldiers would bring back over 130 German prisoners to American lines, where he was immediately promoted to Sergeant. Initially he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, but after an investigation he was awarded the Medal of Honor. SGT York became an instant American Hero and was greatly praised when he returned from the war. Interestingly, he originally tried to opt out of service, citing his religious beliefs forbidding violence. After the war he returned to his quiet life in Tennessee, only using his fame to help others around him prosper, such as building a Bible school for children in his local area. As prewar tensions rose and became a reality in Europe prior to WW2 York would be a powerful voice in support for American intervention in Europe. He would give a speech in 1941, before war broke out, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier advocating for American support of the Allies and action against the Nazi rise.

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