Your Week in History: Bloodiest US battle and a predicted death - WNEM TV 5

Your Week in History: Bloodiest US battle and a predicted death

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Amelia Earhart sits in the cockpit of her Lockheed Model 10 Electra. Earhart went missing July 2, 1937. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Amelia Earhart sits in the cockpit of her Lockheed Model 10 Electra. Earhart went missing July 2, 1937. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Famed racehorse Ruffian, shown here with jockey Jacinto Vazquez, broke down in a match race July 7, 1975. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Famed racehorse Ruffian, shown here with jockey Jacinto Vazquez, broke down in a match race July 7, 1975. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
A view from the Union Army position at Gettysburg looking over the field made famous by Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Joshua Sherurcjj) A view from the Union Army position at Gettysburg looking over the field made famous by Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Joshua Sherurcjj)
The High-water Mark of the Confederacy shows the furthest point the Confederate Army advanced during the Battle of Gettysburg. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) The High-water Mark of the Confederacy shows the furthest point the Confederate Army advanced during the Battle of Gettysburg. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) - As I am sure you are aware, Thursday is July 4. That's a special day in the country's history and, as such, deserves special treatment.

This week's article will be the same as usual, but the historic events of July 4 will get their own separate treatment on that day. Even without including July 4, which has its own haul of historic events, there are loads of things to discuss that happened the other days of this week, so let's get to it.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between July 1-7.

Life and Death

Your double dose of John Wayne this week starts off with the death of Robert Mitchum. Mitchum died July 1, 1997, and played opposite Wayne in El Dorado. Mitchum played drunken sheriff J.P. Harrah, which was the role Wayne had wanted. El Dorado was a remake of Rio Bravo and was remade by Rio Lobo, which were all directed by Howard Hawks and all starred Wayne. El Dorado is perhaps the only Wayne film where his performance is overshadowed by that of another actor. Mitchum is excellent as the drunken sheriff and steals many of the scenes he is in, including a revenge trip into the saloon after he was laughed at for ordering a whole bottle of whiskey.

Jimmy Stewart died the day after Mitchum and starred alongside Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Shootist. He also delivered a hilarious prayer in Shenandoah. Ken Curtis, who is best known for his role as Festus in Gunsmoke, was born July 2, 1916. Curtis appeared in seven movies with Wayne, including The Quiet Man, The Searchers, The Alamo and How the West Was Won with Wayne and Stewart.

Milburn Stone, who played Doc on Gunsmoke, was born July 5, 1904, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was born July 2, 1908, and Tom Cruise was born July 3, 1962. Father of the Navy John Paul Jones (1747), Nancy Reagan (1921), the Dalai Lama (1935), George W. Bush and Sylvester Stallone (both in 1946) were born July 6.

Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan was born July 6, 1736, and died July 6, 1802. Morgan is renowned for his exploits at Saratoga and the Cowpens.

Nostradamus died July 2, 1566, and he saw it coming. No, seriously, he did. On the night of July 1, Nostradamus is reported to have told his secretary that he would not find him alive in the morning, and the next morning he was dead. Regardless how much faith you put in Nostradamus' predictions, we're safe from the end of the world, which Nostradamus predicted for 3797.

Andy Griffith died July 3 last year. Everybody knows him from The Andy Griffith Show and many know his role on Matlock, but far fewer are familiar with his roots in standup comedy and in movies, including No Time for Sergeants.

Walter Matthau (2000) and Marlon Brandon (2004) died July 1, Buddy Ebsen (2003) died July 6, and Vivien Leigh (1967) died July 7. Roy Rogers died July 6, 1998, and his horse, Trigger, died July 3, 1965.

Notable writers Harriet Beecher Stowe (July 1, 1896), William Faulkner (July 6, 1962) and Ernest Hemingway (July 2, 1961) all died this week. Stowe's cause of death is unknown, though it appears to be natural causes, Faulkner died from a heart attack and Hemingway shot himself in the head with a shotgun, though the death was reported as accidental. It wasn't until five years later that his wife, Mary, revealed the truth. Hemingway's father had committed suicide, and his sister and brother both committed suicide as well.

Ted Williams died July 5, 2002, and four conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln - Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold and George Atzerodt - were hanged July 7, 1865.

Overlooked Anniversaries

If this has not been a good year for you, fear not, the year is halfway over. Or at least it will be at 1 p.m. July 2. That's the midway point of the year in places that have daylight saving time. In those fortunate places that don't practice that abomination (looking at you, Arizona and Hawaii), the midpoint is noon - the way God intended it. July 2 also falls on the same day of the week as New Year's Day, unless it's a leap year. I recommend using that fact to win bar bets.

James Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881. Guiteau was upset because he was denied appointment to federal office and claimed God told him he could save the Republican Party by assassinating Garfield, who was himself a Republican. He also thought it would lead to his own election as president. Garfield died four months later as a result of the shooting. Guiteau was hanged June 30, 1882.

Amelia Earhart disappeared July 2, 1937. This isn't in the death section because no one knows when she died. She was scheduled to land at Howland Island to refuel before completing her trek around the world, but couldn't spot the island. Radio transmissions suggest she was close to the island but her plane was never found. Rumors circle that she survived on Gardner Island and some unconfirmed evidence seems to support that theory. It is also believed by some that she was a spy and was executed.

I'm having fun with the Morse Code translator I found, and looking for any excuse I can find to use it. With that in mind, ... --- ... / .-- .- ... / .- -.. --- .--. - . -.. / .- ... / - .... . / ..- -. .. ...- . .-. ... .- .-.. / -.. .. ... - .-. . ... ... / ... .. --. -. .- .-.. / .--- ..- .-.. -.-- / .---- --..-- / .---- ----. ----- ---.. .-.-.-

It's time for a Great Moment in Fashion History. I am the last person to take fashion advice from, but I do know something good when I see it, and this qualifies. The bikini first went on sale July 5, 1946. It was named after Bikini Atoll because the creator thought the fallout from the new garment would be similar to that of the nuclear bombs that were tested there.

The world's leading authority on the bikini - Sports Illustrated - ranked the top 50 swimsuit models last week. You're welcome.

ZIP codes were introduced July 1, 1963, slaves commandeered the slave ship Amistad on July 2, 1839, the first Walmart store opened July 2, 1962, the Salvation Army was founded July 5, 1865, Spam was introduced July 5, 1937, sliced bread was sold for the time July 7, 1928, and construction began on the Hoover Dam on July 7, 1930.

It is a big week for legislation. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed July 2, 1890, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed July 2, the National Labor Relations Act was signed July 5, 1935, the 26th Amendment giving 18-year-olds the right to vote was certified by President Richard Nixon on July 5, 1971, and Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed as the first female Supreme Court justice July 7, 1981.

Isaac Newton published Mathematical Principles of Natural Science on July 5, 1687, that outlined his laws of motion and law of universal gravitation.

The first Republican Party convention was held in Jackson, MI, on July 6, 1854. This is ironic because the city is named for Andrew Jackson, who is the father of the Democratic Party. The GOP won Michigan in all presidential elections between 1860 and 1928, with the exception of 1912, won it again in 1940 and from 1948 until 1956 and again from 1972 to 1988. It has gone for the Democrat in every election since.

Idaho became a state July 3, 1890. I don't like the blue turf on Boise State's football field, but I love potatoes, so Idaho can stay.

Something About Sports

If you're familiar with sports at all, you know early July is synonymous with Wimbledon. Boris Becker became the youngest player to win at Wimbledon on July 7, 1985. Althea Gibson became the first black player to win the world's most prestigious tennis championship July 6, 1957, and Arthur Ashe became the first black male to win July 5, 1975. Roger Federer won his record 15th Grand Slam championship at Wimbledon on July 5, 2009.

The first Tour de France started July 1, 1903. It was held over 19 days, but only had six stages. It was won by Maurice Garin, who also won the second Tour de France, which started July 2, 1904.

Lance Armstrong recently said it can't be won without cheating. He might be onto something, because Garin was stripped of his title in the second race for cheating. But before you give Armstrong credit for his statement, he was referring to drug use. It isn't known what Garin was disqualified for, but doping is not among the accusations, which include using cars, placing tacks on the course and poisoning other riders.

Larry Doby became the second black player in Major League baseball and the first in the American League on July 5, 1947, when he was signed by the Cleveland Indians, and the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played July 6, 1933, at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The American League won 4-2.

Ruffian squared off in a match race against the now-ironically named Foolish Pleasure on July 7, 1975. Ruffian won the Triple Tiara (Triple Crown for fillies comprised of the Acorn Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes), was 10-0 in her career and is considered one of the greatest race horses of all time. Foolish Pleasure had won the Kentucky Derby and took second place in both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

The two squared off at Belmont Park, and Ruffian took the lead shortly after the start and held a slim margin down the backstretch before one her legs broke and she was pulled up. Video shows the horses spooking some birds sitting on the track and one flies in front of them, but it isn't known if that played a role in the accident.

Surgery was performed to fix her broken leg, but when she came out of the anesthesia, Ruffian thrashed wildly as if still running and re-injured the leg. She was euthanized and buried in the infield at the track the next day. Today, horses are placed upright in a pool of water to keep them from injuring themselves after surgery, and match races haven't been held in the United States since Ruffian's breakdown.

The Week in Warfare

The Olive Branch Petition was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 5, 1775. It was intended to help avoid a war between the colonies and Great Britain. It was, however, rejected by George III.

The AK-47 went into production July 6, 1947, and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was signed July 1, 1968.

Over a period of three days from July 1 to July 3, the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil took place near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Union took more than 93,000 soldiers into battle against about 72,000 Confederate soldiers. Each side lost more than 23,000 men.

On the first day of the battle, only about a quarter of the soldiers present engaged in battle, but it was still considered a large-scale fight as far as troop numbers are concerned. On the second day, Robert E. Lee ordered attacks on the Union Army's right and left flank, but he was operating with faulty intelligence and instead of attacking the left flank, met them head-on. The Union nearly lost a strategic hill known as Little Round Top due to a command blunder, which left it unguarded. The mistake was discovered just before Confederate soldiers took the position, and the attack was repelled in an engagement that likely saved the Union from defeat.

The battle's third and final day is what it has become famous for. The Union started an artillery bombardment early in the day, and a Confederate attack on Culp's Hill was unsuccessful. The Confederacy then opened the largest artillery bombardment of the Civil War, but it was largely ineffective. Then more than 13,000 Confederate soldiers began what is known as Pickett's Charge, a march over three-quarters of a mile of open flat land toward Cemetery Ridge.

Confederate generals had thought the Union's artillery positions were disabled, but they weren't and the marching troops were decimated while marching over open ground toward the elevated Union position. The Union line broke during the charge, but was quickly reinforced and the attack was pushed back. The Confederate Army retreated from Union soil the next day.

Four days after the battle, the United States instituted its first ever military draft.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Every day should be Chocolate Day, but officially it's July 7. It also happens to be Strawberry Sundae Day. Who says you can't celebrate both?

Preview of next week

It's on like …

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