Year
1864

Battle of Dalton, Georgia, begins

On this day in 1864, Union General George Thomas attacks Joseph Johnston’s Confederates near Dalton, Georgia, as the Yankees probe Johnston’s defenses in search of a weakness. Thomas found the position too strong and ceased the offensive the next day, but the Yankees learned a lesson they would apply during the Atlanta campaign that summer.

General Ulysses S. Grant, the overall commander of Union troops in the West, drove the Confederates out of Tennessee at the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge in November 1863. The Army of Tennessee, then commanded by General Braxton Bragg, fell back to northern Georgia, where Bragg was replaced by Johnston. The defensive-minded Johnston arranged his force along the imposing Rocky Face Ridge near Dalton.

Grant sent part of his army under General William T. Sherman to Mississippi for a campaign against Meridian, a major supply center. This forced Johnston to send part of his army to reinforce Leonidas Polk, who was defending Meridian against Sherman. When Grant became aware of this transfer, he sent Thomas to probe Johnston’s defenses in hopes of finding a weak spot among the depleted Confederates. The Yankees enjoyed initial success but soon found that Johnston’s troops were strong. The reinforcements sent towards Mississippi were no longer needed after Polk abandoned Meridian, so they returned to Johnston’s army. Now, Thomas was outnumbered and was forced to retreat after February 25.

Casualties were light. Thomas suffered fewer than 300 men killed, wounded, or captured, while Johnston lost around 140 troops. The Union generals did learn a valuable lesson, however; a direct attack against Rocky Face Ridge was foolish. Three months later, Sherman, in command after Grant was promoted to commander of all forces, sent part of his army further south to another gap that was undefended by the Confederates. The intelligence garnered from the Battle of Dalton helped pave the way for a Union victory that summer.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Tet offensive halted

On February 24, 1968, the Tet Offensive ends as U.S. and South Vietnamese troops recapture the ancient capital of Hue from communist forces. Although scattered fighting continued across South Vietnam for another week, the battle for Hue was the last major engagement of the ...read more

Peron elected in Argentina

Juan Domingo Peron, the controversial former vice president of Argentina, is elected president. In 1943, as an army officer, he joined a military coup against Argentina’s ineffectual civilian government. Appointed secretary of labor, his influence grew and in 1944 he also became ...read more

President Andrew Johnson impeached

The U.S. House of Representatives votes 11 articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson, nine of which cite Johnson’s removal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. The House vote made President Johnson the first president to be ...read more

Gulf War ground offensive begins

After six weeks of intensive bombing against Iraq and its armed forces, U.S.-led coalition forces launch a ground invasion of Kuwait and Iraq. On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, its tiny oil-rich neighbor, and within hours had occupied most strategic positions in the ...read more

Alamo defenders call for help

On this day in 1836, in San Antonio, Texas, Colonel William Travis issues a call for help on behalf of the Texan troops defending the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress under attack by the Mexican army. A native of Alabama, Travis moved to the Mexican state of Texas in ...read more

Hue recaptured

The Imperial Palace in Hue is recaptured by South Vietnamese troops. Although the Battle of Hue was not officially declared over for another week, it was the last major engagement of the Tet Offensive. At dawn on the first day of the Tet holiday truce, Viet Cong forces, supported ...read more

The Great One scores 77th goal

On February 24, 1982, Wayne Gretzky scores his 77th goal, breaking a record held by Phil Esposito of 76 goals in a single season that was previously thought unbeatable by many fans. A hockey prodigy, Gretzky, an Ontario native, turned pro at 17 and joined the Indianapolis Racers ...read more

Travis sends for help at the Alamo

Texan Colonel William Travis sends a desperate plea for help for the besieged defenders of the Alamo, ending the message with the famous last words, “Victory or Death.” Travis’ path to the Alamo began five years earlier when he moved to the Mexican state of Texas to start fresh ...read more

Wilhelm Grimm is born

On this day in 1786, Wilhelm Karl Grimm, the younger of the two Brothers Grimm, is born in Hanau, Germany. As young men, the two brothers assisted friends in compiling an important collection of folk lyrics. One of the authors, impressed by the brothers’ work, suggested they ...read more

Avalanche buries homes in Austria

A massive avalanche in the Austrian Alps buries homes and kills 13 people in Valzur on this day in 1999. The avalanche came only one day after an avalanche in the neighboring village of Galtur killed 25 people. The winter of 1998-99 featured continuously heavy snow in much of ...read more

Reagan announces Caribbean Basin Initiative

President Ronald Reagan announces a new program of economic and military assistance to nations of the Caribbean designed to “prevent the overthrow of the governments in the region” by the “brutal and totalitarian” forces of communism. The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) was part ...read more