30 August 2007

This day in history: 30 Aug

1813: Hundreds of settlers, mixed-blood Creeks, and militia were killed by Creek Red Sticks at Fort Mims, Alabama.

1862: Confederate forces under Major General Edmund Kirby Smith routed a Union army under Major General William "Bull" Nelson in the Battle of Richmond. Estimated casualties were some 4900 Yankees, and only 750 Rebels.
That same day, Major General John Pope's Army of Virginia (USA) was defeated in the Second Battle of Bull Run by Robert E Lee's Army of Northern Virginia (CSA). Private Richard Conner, 6th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, returned with a single companion, under heavy fire, to retrieve his regiment's colours, which had been abandoned on the field; the other man was killed, but Conner successfully off the flag. Private Myron H Ranney, 13th New York Infantry, despite being wounded, also rescued his regimental colours after the colour bearer was shot. Conner and Ranney, along with three other men, were awarded the Medal of Honor.

1909: The Burgess Shale fossils were discovered by Charles Doolittle Walcott.

1942: The Battle of Alam Halfa, between Montgomery's Eighth Army and Rommel's Panzerarmee Afrika, began.

1943: First Lieutenant Kenneth A Walsh, Marine Fighting Squadron 124, flying a Chance Vought F4U Corsair, developed engine trouble during an escort mission in the Solomons. Walsh landed at Munda, acquired another plane, and proceeded to rejoin his flight. He was still separated from the rest of the escort group when he encountered approximately 50 Japanese Zeros. He attacked without hesitation, destroying four of the enemy before being forced to make a dead-stick landing off Vella Lavella. For this, and for previous actions at Vella Lavella on 15 August 1943 (when he shot down two Japanese dive bombers and a fighter), Walsh was awarded the Medal of Honor.

1945: British forces liberated Hong Kong, which had been occupied by the Japanese since 25 December 1941.

1983: Guion S Bluford Jr, a former USAF fighter pilot*, became the first black astronaut to reach space, aboard the space shuttle Challenger (mission STS-8). With him were mission commander Richard H Truly, pilot Daniel C Brandenstein, and mission specialists Dale A Gardner and William E Thornton.

1984: The Space Shuttle Discovery (Henry Hartsfield Jr, Michael Coats, Judith Resnik, Steven Hawley, Richard Mullane and Charles Walker) took off from Cape Canaveral on its maiden voyage, mission STS-41-D.

Theodoric the Great (454-526), Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), John Bell Hood (1831–1879), Charles Bronson (1921–2003) and Glenn Ford (1916–2006) died on this date.

And happy birthday to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1851), Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, OM PC FRS (1871-1937), Joan Blondell (1906–1979), Fred MacMurray (1908–1991), Nancy Wake AC GM (1912-TBD), Kitty Wells (1919-TBD), John Phillips (1935–2001), Jean-Claude Killy (1943-TBD), Molly Ivins (1944–2007) and Gary Gordon (1960–1993).

* An F-4 pilot, Bluford flew 144 combat missions, including 65 over North Vietnam, during the Vietnam War.

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