Year
1864

Grant extends the Petersburg line

On this day, Union General Ulysses S. Grant stretches his lines further around Petersburg, Virginia, accompanied by his commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln. After six weeks of heavy fighting between his Army of the Potomac and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a series of battles around Richmond, Grant chose a different strategy. Now south of Richmond, outside of Petersburg, he was no longer willing to wage the destructive open-field battles that had lost so many lives.

Grant was content to starve out Lee and his men. After the disastrous attack at Cold Harbor, he pulled further south in an attempt to sever Confederate supply lines at the rail center at Petersburg. On June 21, Grant moved closer to a siege when he sent his Second and Sixth Corps to extend the left flank of his position. The goal was to take control of the Weldon Railroad, which ran into Petersburg from the south, and run the Union line to the Appomattox River. This would complete a semicircle around the city and effectively bottle Petersburg and Richmond. The Confederates, however, halted this attempt the next day and saved a vital lifeline into Petersburg.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

French defeated in Spain

At Vitoria, Spain, a massive allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish force under British General Arthur Wellesley routs the French, effectively ending the Peninsular War.On February 16, 1808, under the pretext of sending reinforcements to the French army occupying Portugal, ...read more

Pershing attacked by Mexican troops

The controversial U.S. military expedition against Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa brings the United States and Mexico closer to war when Mexican government troops attack U.S. Brigadier General John J. Pershing’s force at Carrizal, Mexico. The Americans suffered 22 casualties, ...read more

Civil rights workers disappear

In Neshoba County in central Mississippi, three civil rights field workers disappear after investigating the burning of an African American church by the Ku Klux Klan. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in ...read more

U.S. Constitution ratified

New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land.By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation were apparent, such as the lack of central authority ...read more

Rolling Thunder raids continue

U.S. planes strike North Vietnamese petroleum-storage facilities in a series of devastating raids. These missions were part of Operation Rolling Thunder, which had been launched in March 1965 after President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a sustained bombing campaign of North Vietnam. ...read more

Communists storm U.S. base near Tay Ninh

Approximately 600 communist soldiers storm a U.S. base near Tay Ninh, 50 miles northwest of Saigon and 12 miles from the Cambodian border. The North Vietnamese had been shelling the base for two days, followed by six attacks on the city itself and the surrounding villages. About ...read more

Pele leads Brazil over Italy

On June 21, 1970, Brazil, led by soccer legend Pele, wins its third World Cup championship with a 4-1 victory over Italy. The game, at Aztec Stadium in Mexico City, was attended by 112,000 spectators, most of whom could but marvel at the spectacular play Pele and the Brazilians ...read more

Arthur Miller refuses to name communists

Playwright Arthur Miller defies the House Committee on Un-American Activities and refuses to name suspected communists.Miller’s defiance of McCarthyism won him a conviction for contempt of court, which was later reversed by the Supreme Court. His passport had already been denied ...read more

Pickford and Fairbanks mobbed by crowds

Swarms of admirers mob the Hollywood film actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, who arrive in London on their honeymoon on this day in 1920. Two of film’s earliest stars, Pickford and Fairbanks had been business partners since 1919, when they teamed up with Charlie Chaplin ...read more

Earthquake devastates Iran

An earthquake near the Caspian Sea in Iran kills more than 50,000 and injures another 135,000 people on this day in 1990. The 7.7-magnitude tremor wrecked havoc on the simply constructed houses in the area. Thirty minutes past midnight, with most people sleeping in their homes, ...read more

The KKK kills three civil rights activists

Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney are killed by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob near Meridian, Mississippi. The three young civil rights workers were working to register black voters in Mississippi, thus inspiring the ire of the local Klan. The deaths of Schwerner and ...read more

French withdraw navy from NATO

The French government shocks its allies by announcing that it is withdrawing its navy from the North Atlantic fleet of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The French action was viewed in the West as evidence that France would be pursuing an independent policy regarding ...read more