This Week in American Military History:
Oct. 11, 1942: The battle of Cape Esperance (also known as the Second Battle of Savo Island) opens between U.S. Naval forces under the command of Rear Admiral Norman Scott and Japanese Naval forces under Rear Admiral Aritomo Gotō.
USS Helena, months before the Battle of Cape Esperance
Scott’s cruisers and destroyers intercept Gotō and his “Tokyo Express” attempting to resupply Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.
The battle, in which Gotō is mortally wounded, will prove to be a victory for the U.S. Navy one day before the U.S. Navy birthday.
Oct. 12, 1862: Confederate cavalry commander Gen. James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart completes his “second ride” around Union Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.
Oct. 13, 1775: Happy Birthday, U.S. Navy!
Revolutionary War painting of the early Continental Navy ship “Confederacy”
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command:
“…meeting in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress voted to fit out two sailing vessels, armed with ten carriage guns, as well as swivel guns, and manned by crews of eighty, and to send them out on a cruise of three months to intercept transports carrying munitions and stores to the British army in America.
“This was the original legislation out of which the Continental Navy grew and as such constitutes the birth certificate of the navy.”
Oct. 14, 1943: In what will become known as “Black Thursday,” U.S. Army Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses – elements of the famed 8th Air Force – attack the ball-bearing plants (critical to Germany’s aviation industry) at the heavily defended Bavarian city of Schweinfurt. Though the raid is successful, scores of bombers – and more than 600 airmen – are lost.
According to Bruce Crawford writing for Aviation History magazine:
“There is not much there to commemorate the carnage that took place overhead so many years ago, and that is too bad, because Schweinfurt should rank with Pickett’s Charge, Bataan, Chosin and other battlefields as an epic of American heroism. As it is, we can only look at grainy wartime pictures of the bombers going down in flames, and try to imagine what it was like for the men trapped inside.”