1807: Off the coast of Norfolk, Va., the British frigate HMS Leopold attacks the American vessel USS Chesapeake, forcing Commodore James Barron to surrender the ship after only managing to fire one shot. Four Americans are killed and 17 wounded in the attack, and the British board Chesapeake, taking four British deserters. The British force thousands of American sailors into their service during the Napoleonic War, but “Chesapeake-Leopard Affair” outrages the Americans and will ultimately lead to the War of 1812.
1813: Some 2,000 Royal Marines and British soldiers attempt to attack the American fortifications at Craney Island, guarding Hampton Roads, Va. But unlike the crew of the Chesapeake six years ago (which in fact, took place near the site of Craney Island), the defenders are prepared – and repel the invasion. The American guns inflict 200 casualties in one of the first engagements of the War of 1812.
1865: The Confederate commerce raider CSS Shenandoah fires the last shot of the Civil War – a warning shot at a U.S. whaling vessel in the Bering Straight. Shenandoah captured 38 ships and some 1,000 sailors during the Civil War, and becomes the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe when it sails to England to surrender – marking the last time the Confederate colors are struck.
1884: After three years of being stranded by ice in the Canadian Arctic, a rescue expedition led by Cmdr. Winfield S. Schley finds Lt. Adolphus W. Greely and six of his men from the ill-fated Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. 16 of Greely’s men had perished from hypothermia, starvation, drowning, and one man was ordered shot for repeatedly stealing food rations.
1898: The “Rough Riders” of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, led by Col. Leonard Wood and Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, begin landing at Daiquiri, Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
1900: Ordinary Seaman (seaman apprentice in today’s Navy) William Search and a band of Americans attack and breach a Chinese fort, then turn the fort’s guns on the defenders. On June 13, the USS Newark (C-1) sailor participated in a bayonet charge on 300 Imperial Chinese troops that broke off the enemy attack. A week later, Seach charged across open ground and cleaned out Chinese sniper nests. The following day, he was cited for defending American gun emplacements during a surprise sabre charge by enemy cavalry. For these actions, Seaman Seach was awarded the Medal of Honor.
1944: (featured image) Following a preparatory airstrike, the U.S. VII Corps launches an assault against German forces at the French town of Cherbourg. The Allies meet stiff resistance at first, but 30,000 German defenders will surrender after a week of fighting. The Germans and Allies take heavy casualties – with both sides losing 8,000 soldiers killed in action or missing apiece.
1963: Four ballistic missile submarines are launched in one day – USS Tecumseh (SSBN-628), USS Daniel Boone (SSBN-629), USS Flasher (SSN-613), and USS John Calhoun (SSBN-630). The James Madison-class subs each carry 16 of the new Polaris A3 nuclear missiles, with a range of 2,500 nautical miles. The A3 carried three W-58 warheads with a yield of 200 kilotons apiece.
A Polaris A3 fleet ballistic missile lifts off at 12:33 p.m. EST during a launch from the nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS ROBERT E. LEE (SSBN-601).