The Month of March in History

Marching Orders

Reprinted with Permission from Limitless Magazine, Cornelius, NC

These monthly columns can go hundreds of ways, and that is what makes researching and writing them so much fun. With “march” in the title this time, I thought I would look this month at significant military events in March.

BTW: In an ordinary year, February, March, and November all start on the same day of the week. In a leap year, it is January, April, and July.

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3-1-1713         The siege and destruction of Fort Neoheroka began during the Tuscarora War in North Carolina. 

Attacked by a colonial force from South Carolina. Wouldn’t you know it!

3-1-1864        President Lincoln nominates Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of lieutenant general. And thus, he became the commander of all Union forces.

Before his appointment, only George Washington had held this rank. To this point, Lincoln had made many mistakes with his generals, but on March 1, 1864, to use a mixed metaphor, he hit a home run! 

3-7-1942        First group of Tuskegee Airman graduate

Just off I-85, the Town of Tuskegee, Alabama, hosts The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. Be sure to visit historic Tuskegee Institute, too, where Dr. George Washington Carver taught and did his famous research into peanuts.

3-8-1944        USAAF heavy bombers raid Berlin for a second time. About 10 percent of the 580 bombers were lost despite the escort of 800 fighters.

So likely was the loss of bombers over Germany that crews were rotated out after ten missions. A good movie depicting the bravery of these crews is Twelve O’Clock High with Gregory Peck.

3-15-1781       In the Battle of Guildford Courthouse, North Carolina, British General Cornwallis achieves a Pyrrhic victory over the American forces. 

Interestingly, a Pyrrhic victory is so costly to the victors that it is tantamount to a defeat. After Guilford Courthouse, Cornwallis abandoned his campaign to control the Carolinas.

3-18-1970      The U.S. postal strike of 1970 begins.  Army and National Guard called out to stop it.

Does cause one to wonder how the average citizen could tell they were on strike?!

3-22-1967      1st Sgt. David McNerney’s actions on his day earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.

When his unit was attacked by a North Vietnamese battalion near Polei Doc, he ran through the hail of enemy fire to encounter several enemy at close range. He killed the enemy but was severely injured when blown from his feet by a grenade. Despite his injury, he went on to destroy an enemy machinegun position. Upon learning his commander and artillery forward observer had been killed, he assumed command of the company. Ignoring his injury and refusing medical evacuation, McNerney stayed with his unit until the next day when the new commander arrived.

3-29-1971       Army Lt. William L. Calley Jr. was convicted of murdering at least 22 Vietnamese civilians in the 1968 My Lai massacre. 

Word of Honor by Nelson DeMille is an excellent novel that uses the uncovering of a situation similar to My Lai years after the event as the plot of this intriguing story.

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O war, thou son of hell,

Whom angry heavens do make their minister.

Henry IV, pt. 2, 5.2

This quote is the epigram from my novel of the Civil War, Angry Heavens: Struggles of a Confederate Surgeon.  With a new administration in Washington, all citizens must find ways of support so that we never become Ministers of Angry Heavens. Let us individually show other individuals by word and deed that we have affirmative respect for the role that government must play in a civilized society.

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