7 July: This Day in Military History

By: - July 7, 2020

1798: The “Quasi War” with France begins when Congress rescinds treaties with the revolutionary French government. Leading up to — and during — the two year undeclared war, 2,000 American merchant vessels are captured by French privateers. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, which had been disbanded after the American Revolution, are both brought back into service, as is George Washington, whom President John Adams reinstates as Commander-in-Chief.

1846: Commodore John D. Sloat, commanding the Pacific Squadron during the Mexican-American War, lands at Monterrey and raises the flag over the Custom House, claiming California for the United States.

1941: Although the United States is still neutral at this stage of World War II, Marines from the Fifth Marine Defense Battalion and the Sixth Marine Regiment land at Reykjavik, relieving the British garrison on Iceland. Once America enters the war, the Marines are more than happy to hand their arctic base over to the Army, and sail for the warm waters of the Pacific.

1944: On Saipan (featured image), 3,000 Japanese troops conduct the largest banzai charge of the war, nearly wiping out two battalions of soldiers from the 105th Infantry Regiment in a 12-hour pitched battle. Although resistance will continue for weeks, Saipan is declared secure on July 9. The 30,0000-man Japanese garrison force is wiped out, but the Battle of Saipan is the costliest campaign in the Pacific War to date with over 12,000 American casualties – including (soon-to-be) famous actor Lee Marvin, then a Marine Corps private, who was twice wounded in the assault on Mount Tapochau.

During the battle, Marine Private First Class Harold C. Agerholm commandeers an abandoned ambulance and for three hours makes repeated trips through perilous enemy fire, rescuing 45 wounded Americans before he is mortally wounded by an enemy sniper. For his actions, Agerholm is awarded the Medal of Honor.