Diary

RedState's Water Cooler - 4/9/17 - Open Thread - Pick Your Anniversary

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April 9 presents a particular challenge here at the RedState Department of History. Frankly, there’s a lot to choose from. While that makes life fun for a history nerd like me, those of you who follow this thread might have a bit of reading to do. Let’s examine some of the bigger happenings on this date in chronological order:

April 9 , 1865 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. The Battle of Five Forks on April 1 had finally allowed the Army of the Potomac to shift Lee’s army loose from around Petersburg. Richmond fell on April 3 and Lee began a retreat westward. Grant finally caught and surrounded Lee, with the Battle of Appomattox Court House earlier that morning being the final action of Lee’s army. In the front parlor of Wilmer McLean, whose house had been used as headquarters by General P.G.T. Beauregard at the First Battle of Bull Run (of, if you prefer, First Manassas) nearly four years before, Lee signed surrender terms which effectively ended the American Civil War in the East.

April 9, 1867The United States Senate approves the Alaska Purchase from Russia for $7.2 million. The first civil government didn’t appear in Alaska until 1884, but it wasn’t until the discovery of gold in the Yukon in 1889 that the talk of “Seward’s Folly” was finally put to bed.

April 9, 1942Major General Edward P. King surrenders 75,000 American and Filipino troops on Bataan to the Japanese. The resulting transfer of these prisoners to Camp O’Donnell lives in infamy as the Bataan Death March. Read survivor Alf Larson’s account here. To read about conditions at Camp O’Donnell, click here.

April 9, 1959 – NASA introduces the “Mercury Seven” astronauts to the public for the first time. These men fly the Mercury Program missions from 1961-63. They were:

M. Scott Carpenter – Second American to orbit the Earth
L. Gordon Cooper – flew final Mercury mission for 22 orbits of Earth
John H. Glenn – first American to orbit Earth and oldest American in space
Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom – Flew on Mercury and Gemini and was killed in the Apollo 1 flash fire
Walter M. Schirra – only man to fly in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs
Alan B. Shepard – first American in space, only Mercury astronaut to reach the Moon (on Apollo 14)
Donald K. “Deke” Slayton – grounded for years due to a heart condition but eventually flew on the Apollo-Soyuz joint mission

April 9, 1987 – As a result of increased emphasis on special operations in the 1980s, the Special Forces Branch of the United States Army was formed on this day by General Order 35.

That’s plenty to talk about, I think. Enjoy today’s open thread!