This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
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July 3 is the 184th day of the year (185th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 181 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1863, Battle of Gettysburg ends
On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s last attempt at breaking the Union line ends in disastrous failure, bringing the most decisive battle of the American Civil War to an end.
Third day of battle
General Lee wished to renew the attack on Friday, July 3, using the same basic plan as the previous day: Longstreet would attack the Federal left, while Ewell attacked Culp’s Hill. However, before Longstreet was ready, Union XII Corps troops started a dawn artillery bombardment against the Confederates on Culp’s Hill in an effort to regain a portion of their lost works. The Confederates attacked, and the second fight for Culp’s Hill ended around 11 a.m., after some seven hours of bitter combat.
Lee was forced to change his plans. Longstreet would command Pickett’s Virginia division of his own First Corps, plus six brigades from Hill’s Corps, in an attack on the Federal II Corps position at the right center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Prior to the attack, all the artillery the Confederacy could bring to bear on the Federal positions would bombard and weaken the enemy’s line.
Around 1 p.m., from 150 to 170 Confederate guns began an artillery bombardment that was probably the largest of the war. In order to save valuable ammunition for the infantry attack that they knew would follow, the Army of the Potomac’s artillery, under the command of Brig. Gen. Henry Jackson Hunt, at first did not return the enemy’s fire. After waiting about 15 minutes, about 80 Federal cannons added to the din. The Army of Northern Virginia was critically low on artillery ammunition, and the cannonade did not significantly affect the Union position. Around 3 p.m., the cannon fire subsided, and 12,500 Southern soldiers stepped from the ridgeline and advanced the three-quarters of a mile (1,200 m) to Cemetery Ridge in what is known to history as “Pickett’s Charge”. As the Confederates approached, there was fierce flanking artillery fire from Union positions on Cemetery Hill and north of Little Round Top, and musket and canister fire from Hancock’s II Corps. In the Union center, the commander of artillery had held fire during the Confederate bombardment, leading Southern commanders to believe the Northern cannon batteries had been knocked out. However, they opened fire on the Confederate infantry during their approach with devastating results. Nearly one half of the attackers did not return to their own lines. Although the Federal line wavered and broke temporarily at a jog called the “Angle” in a low stone fence, just north of a patch of vegetation called the Copse of Trees, reinforcements rushed into the breach, and the Confederate attack was repulsed. The farthest advance of Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead’s brigade of Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s division at the Angle is referred to as the “High-water mark of the Confederacy”, arguably representing the closest the South ever came to its goal of achieving independence from the Union via military victory.
There were two significant cavalry engagements on July 3. Stuart was sent to guard the Confederate left flank and was to be prepared to exploit any success the infantry might achieve on Cemetery Hill by flanking the Federal right and hitting their trains and lines of communications. Three miles (5 km) east of Gettysburg, in what is now called “East Cavalry Field” (not shown on the accompanying map, but between the York and Hanover Roads), Stuart’s forces collided with Federal cavalry: Brig. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg’s division and Brig. Gen. Custer’s brigade. A lengthy mounted battle, including hand-to-hand sabre combat, ensued. Custer’s charge, leading the 1st Michigan Cavalry, blunted the attack by Wade Hampton’s brigade, blocking Stuart from achieving his objectives in the Federal rear. Meanwhile, after hearing news of the day’s victory, Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick launched a cavalry attack against the infantry positions of Longstreet’s Corps southwest of Big Round Top. Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth protested against the futility of such a move but obeyed orders. Farnsworth was killed in the attack, and his brigade suffered significant losses.
324 – Battle of Adrianople Constantine I defeats Licinius, who flees to Byzantium.
987 – Hugh Capet is crowned King of France, the first of the Capetian dynasty that would rule France till the French Revolution in 1792.
1608 – Québec City is founded by Samuel de Champlain.
1754 – French and Indian War: George Washington surrenders Fort Necessity to French forces.
1767 – Pitcairn Island is discovered by Midshipman Robert Pitcairn on an expeditionary voyage commanded by Philip Carteret.
1767 – Norway’s oldest newspaper still in print, Adresseavisen, is founded and the first edition is published.
1775 – American Revolutionary War: George Washington takes command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1778 – American Revolutionary War: British forces kill 360 people in the Wyoming Valley massacre.
1819 – The Bank of Savings in New York City, the first savings bank in the United States, opens.
1839 – The first state normal school in the United States, the forerunner to today’s Framingham State College, opens in Lexington, Massachusetts with 3 students.
1844 – The last pair of Great Auks is killed.
1848 – Slaves are freed in the Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands) by Peter von Scholten in the culmination of a year-long plot by enslaved Africans.
1849 – The French enter Rome in order to restore Pope Pius IX to power. This would prove a major obstacle to Italian unification.
1852 – Congress establishes the United States’ 2nd mint in San Francisco, California.
1863 – American Civil War: The final day of the Battle of Gettysburg culminates with Pickett’s Charge.
1866 – Austro-Prussian War is decided at the Battle of Koniggratz, resulting in Prussia taking over as the prominent German nation from Austria.
1884 – Dow Jones and Company publishes its first stock average.
1886 – Karl Benz officially unveils the Benz Patent Motorwagen – the first purpose-built automobile.
1886 – The New York Tribune becomes the first newspaper to use a linotype machine, eliminating typesetting by hand.
1890 – Idaho is admitted as the 43rd U.S. state.
1898 – Spanish-American War: The Spanish fleet, led by Pascual Cervera y Topete, is destroyed by the U.S. Navy in Santiago, Cuba.
1913 – Confederate veterans at the Great Reunion of 1913 reenact Pickett’s Charge; upon reaching the high-water mark of the Confederacy they are met by the outstretched hands of friendship from Union survivors.
1938 – World speed record for a steam railway locomotive is set in England, by the Mallard, which reaches a speed of 126 miles per hour (203 km/h).
1938 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicates the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and lights the eternal flame at Gettysburg Battlefield.
1940 – World War II: the French fleet of the Atlantic based at Mers el Kébir, is bombarded by the British fleet, coming from Gibraltar, causing the loss of three battleships: Dunkerque, Provence and Bretagne. One thousand two hundred sailors perish.
1944 – World War II: Minsk is liberated from Nazi control by Soviet troops during Operation Bagration.
1952 – The Constitution of Puerto Rico is approved by the Congress of the United States.
1952 – The SS United States sets sail on her maiden voyage to Southampton. During the voyage, the ship takes the Blue Riband away from the RMS Queen Mary.
1962 – The Algerian War of Independence against the French ends.
1969 – The biggest explosion in the history of rocketry occurs when the Soviet N-1 rocket explodes and subsequently destroys its launchpad.
1970 – The Troubles: the “Falls Curfew” begins in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
1970 – A British Dan-Air De Havilland Comet chartered jetliner crashes into mountains north of Barcelona, Spain killing 113 people.
1979 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter signs the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.
1988 – United States Navy warship USS Vincennes shoots down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 people aboard.
1988 – The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey is completed, providing the second connection between the continents of Europe and Asia over the Bosporus.
1994 – The deadliest day in Texas traffic history, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Forty-six people are killed in crashes.
1996 – Stone of Scone is returned to Scotland.
2001 – A Vladivostok Avia Tupolev Tu-154 jetliner crashes on approach to landing at Irkutsk, Russia killing 145 people.
2005 – Same-sex marriage in Spain becomes legal.
2006 – Valencia metro accident leaves 43 dead in Valencia, Spain.
2011 – Novak Djokovic wins Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal
* Christian Feast Day:
* Heliodorus of Altino
* Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople
* Pope Leo II
* Translation of Saint Thomas, one of four days in the year on which Quarter Sessions sat.
* July 3 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Emancipation Day (United States Virgin
* Independence Day, celebrates the liberation of Minsk from Nazi occupation by Soviet troops in 1944. (Belarus)
* The start of the Dog Days according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac but not according to established meaning in most European cultures.
* Women’s Day (Myanmar)
* Lady Gaga Day (Taiwan)