This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
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July 21 is the 202nd day of the year (203rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 163 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1861, the first battle of Bull Run.. In the first major land battle of the Civil War, a large Union force under General Irvin McDowell is routed by a Confederate army under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. . . .
On the morning of July 21, hearing of the proximity of the two opposing forces, hundreds of civilians–men, women, and children–turned out to watch the first major battle of the Civil War. The fighting commenced with three Union divisions crossing the Bull Run stream, and the Confederate flank was driven back to Henry House Hill. However, at this strategic location, Beauregard had fashioned a strong defensive line anchored by a brigade of Virginia infantry under General Thomas J. Jackson. Firing from a concealed slope, Jackson’s men repulsed a series of Federal charges, winning Jackson his famous nickname “Stonewall.”
Meanwhile, Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart captured the Union artillery, and Beauregard ordered a counterattack on the exposed Union right flank. The rebels came charging down the hill, yelling furiously, and McDowell’s line was broken, forcing his troops in a hasty retreat across Bull Run. The retreat soon became an unorganized flight, and supplies littered the road back to Washington. Union forces endured a loss of 3,000 men killed, wounded, or missing in action while the Confederates suffered 2,000 casualties. The scale of this bloodshed horrified not only the frightened spectators at Bull Run but also the U.S. government in Washington, which was faced with an uncertain military strategy in quelling the “Southern insurrection.”
Bull Run was the largest and bloodiest battle in American history up to that point. Union casualties were 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, and 1,312 missing or captured; Confederate casualties were 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, and 13 missing. Among the latter was Col. Francis S. Bartow, who was the first Confederate brigade commander to be killed in the Civil War. General Bee was mortally wounded and died the following day.
Union forces and civilians alike feared that Confederate forces would advance on Washington, D.C., with very little standing in their way. On July 24, Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowe ascended in the balloon Enterprise to observe the Confederates moving in and about Manassas Junction and Fairfax. He saw no evidence of massing Rebel forces, but was forced to land in Confederate territory. It was overnight before he was rescued and could report to headquarters. He reported that his observations “restored confidence” to the Union commanders.
The Northern public was shocked at the unexpected defeat of their army when an easy victory had been widely anticipated. Both sides quickly came to realize the war would be longer and more brutal than they had imagined. On July 22 President Lincoln signed a bill that provided for the enlistment of another 500,000 men for up to three years of service.
The reaction in the Confederacy was more muted. There was little public celebration as the Southerners realized that despite their victory, the greater battles that would inevitably come would mean greater losses for their side as well.
Beauregard was considered the hero of the battle and was promoted that day by President Davis to full general in the Confederate Army. Stonewall Jackson, arguably the most important tactical contributor to the victory, received no special recognition, but would later achieve glory for his 1862 Valley Campaign. Irvin McDowell bore the brunt of the blame for the Union defeat and was soon replaced by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who was named general-in-chief of all the Union armies. McDowell was also present to bear significant blame for the defeat of Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia by Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia thirteen months later, at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Patterson was also removed from command.
356 BC – The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is destroyed by arson.
230 – Pope Pontian succeeds Urban I as the eighteenth pope.
285 – Diocletian appoints Maximian as Caesar and co-ruler.
365 – A tsunami devastates the city of Alexandria, Egypt. The tsunami was caused by the Crete earthquake estimated to be 8.0 on the Richter Scale. 5,000 people perished in Alexandria, and 45,000 more died outside the city.
1403 – Battle of Shrewsbury: King Henry IV of England defeats rebels to the north of the county town of Shropshire, England.
1545 – The first landing of French troops on the coast of the Isle of Wight during the French invasion of the Isle of Wight.
1568 – Eighty Years’ War: Battle of Jemmingen – Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva defeats Louis of Nassau.
1718 – The Treaty of Passarowitz between the Ottoman Empire, Austria and the Republic of Venice is signed.
1774 – Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774: Russia and the Ottoman Empire sign the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji ending the war.
1831 – Inauguration of Leopold I of Belgium, first king of the Belgians.
1861 – American Civil War: First Battle of Bull Run – at Manassas Junction, Virginia, the first major battle of the war begins and ends in a victory for the Confederate army.
1865 – In the market square of Springfield, Missouri, Wild Bill Hickok shoots and kills Davis Tutt in what is regarded as the first western showdown.
1873 – At Adair, Iowa, Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang pull off the first successful train robbery in the American Old West.
1877 – After rioting by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad workers and the deaths of nine rail workers at the hands of the Maryland militia, workers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania stage a sympathy strike that is met with an assault by the state militia.
1904 – Louis Rigolly, a Frenchman, becomes the first man to break the 100 mph (161 km/h) barrier on land. He drove a 15-liter Gobron-Brille in Ostend, Belgium.
1914 – The Crown council of Romania decides the country shall remain neutral in World War I
1918 – U-156 shells Nauset Beach, in Orleans, Massachusetts.
1919 – The dirigible Wingfoot Air Express crashes into the Illinois Trust and Savings Building in Chicago, killing 12 people.
1925 – Scopes Trial: In Dayton, Tennessee, high school biology teacher John T. Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in class and fined $100.
1925 – Sir Malcolm Campbell becomes the first man to break the 150 mph (241 km/h) land barrier at Pendine Sands in Wales. He drove a Sunbeam at a two-way average speed of 150.33 mph (242 km/h).
1944 – World War II: Battle of Guam – American troops land on Guam starting the battle. It would end on August 10.
1944 – World War II: Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and fellow conspirators are executed in Berlin, Germany for the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
1949 – The United States Senate ratifies the North Atlantic Treaty.
1954 – First Indochina War: The Geneva Conference partitions Vietnam into North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
1959 – Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green becomes the first African-American to play for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to integrate. He came in as a pinch runner for Vic Wertz and stayed in as shortstop in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
1961 – Mercury program: Mercury-Redstone 4 Mission – Gus Grissom piloting Liberty Bell 7 becomes the second American to go into space (in a suborbital mission).
1969 – Space Race: Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the Moon, during the Apollo 11 mission (July 20th in North America).
1970 – After 11 years of construction, the Aswan High Dam in Egypt is completed.
1972 – Bloody Friday bombings by the Provisional IRA around Belfast, Northern Ireland – 22 bombs are detonated, killing 9 and seriously injuring 130.
1973 – In the Lillehammer affair in Norway, Israeli Mossad agents kill a waiter whom they mistakenly thought was involved in 1972’s Munich Olympics Massacre.
1976 – Christopher Ewart-Biggs British ambassador to the Republic of Ireland is assassinated by the Provisional IRA.
1977 – The start of the four day long Libyan-Egyptian War.
1995 – Third Taiwan Strait Crisis: The People’s Liberation Army begins firing missiles into the waters north of Taiwan.
1997 – The fully restored USS Constitution (aka Old Ironsides) celebrates her 200th birthday by setting sail for the first time in 116 years.
2001 – At the conclusion of a fireworks display on Okura Beach in Akashi, Hyogo, Japan, 11 people are killed and more than 120 are injured when a pedestrian footbridge connecting the beach to JR Asagiri railway station becomes overcrowded and people leaving the event fall down in a domino effect.
2005 – Four terrorist bombings, occurring exactly two weeks after the similar July 7 bombings, target London’s public transportation system. All four bombs fail to detonate and all four suspected suicide bombers are captured and later convicted and imprisoned for long terms.
2011 – NASA’s Space Shuttle program ends with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-135.
* Christian Feast Day:
* Daniel (Roman Catholic Church)
* Lawrence of Brindisi
* Victor of Marseilles
* July 21 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Liberation Day in 1944 (Guam)
* National Day, celebrates the inauguration of Léopold I, the first king of the Belgians, after its independence from the Netherlands on October 4, 1830. (Belgium)
* Racial Harmony Day (Singapore)
* Summer Kazanskaya (Russia)