July 21st has been both a day of Science and the Arts and a day of War and Warriors.
In Part 2 below we address the latter which includes the first major battle of the Civil War, a U-boat attack on Cape Cod, the execution of Hitler’s attempted assassins, the Geneva Accords partitioning Vietnam and Bloody Friday in Northern Ireland.
In Part 1 we highlight red letter days in the U.S. Space Program (landing on the moon and the last space shuttle landing). In Part 3 we highlight Science and the Arts with the Scopes Monkey Trial, Legionnaires Disease Outbreak, the Coldest Day on Earth and the birth of Ernest Hemingway.
Battle of Bull Run
The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces), was fought on July 21, 1861 . . . near the city of Manassas, not far from the city of Washington, D.C. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War. The Union’s forces were slow in positioning themselves, allowing Confederate reinforcements time to arrive by rail. Each side had about 18,000 poorly trained and poorly led troops in their first battle. It was a Confederate victory followed by a disorganized retreat of the Union forces.
Cape Cod Under Attack
From Mass Moments:
On this day in 1918, people in the Cape Cod town of Orleans were astonished to see a German U-boat surface offshore and begin firing on an unarmed tugboat and the four barges it was pulling. Torpedoes set the tug ablaze and injured its crew, while constant shelling sank the barges. Thanks to the skill and courage of Coast Guardsmen, everyone was rescued. Some of the shells fired from the sub landed on the beach, making this the first time the U.S. mainland had been attacked since the War of 1812 and the only time the country was attacked during World War I. The state had been producing arms, vehicles, and supplies for the war effort and sending soldiers abroad, but no one expected what occurred that Sunday in Orleans.
The attack is documented in Attack on Orleans: The World War I Submarine Raid on Cape Cod by Jack Klim.
Valkyrie Plotters Executed
The plotters behind Operation Valkyrie, an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler that had failed the day earlier, are executed in Berlin. A memorial stands at the site of the execution and the street is named after plot leader Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (played by Tom Cruise in the movie Valkyrie).
Geneva Accords Divide Vietnam into North and South
The Geneva Accords are signed establishing a “provisional military demarcation line” running approximately along the 17th Parallel separating North and South Vietnam. The agreement called for a French retreat from the North, withdrawal of Viet Minh forces from the South and elections on unification to be chaired by an international commission.
President Eisenhower shakes South Vietnamese President Diem’s hand at the Geneva Conference.
Ulster’s Bloody Friday
Bloody Friday is the name given to the bombings by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Belfast on 21 July 1972. Twenty-six bombs exploded in the space of eighty minutes, killing nine people (including two British soldiers) and injuring 130.
Four years later to the date, the British Ambassador to Ireland was killed when his car detonated a landmine in Dublin.
Liberal warrior Paul Wellstone, who would go on to serve two terms in the United States Senate, was born on this day in 1944. He was killed in a plane crash in 2002.