The United States conducts the first test of the atomic bomb at at the Trinity bomb site in central New Mexico. The terrifying new weapon would quickly become a focal point in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
On this day, Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaces General Joseph Johnston with John Bell Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee. Davis, impatient with Johnston’s defensive strategy in the Atlanta campaign, felt that Hood stood a better chance of saving Atlanta from the forces of Union General William T. Sherman.
Three days after a German offensive near the Marne River in the Champagne region of France meets with failure, Allied forces launch a major counterattack on July 18, 1918, ending the Second Battle of the Marne and decisively turning the tide of the war toward an Allied victory.
On this day in 1943, the United States bombs railway yards in Rome in an attempt to break the will of the Italian people to resist—as Hitler lectures their leader, Benito Mussolini, on how to prosecute the war further.
At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.
In the first major land battle of the Civil War, a large Union force under General Irvin McDowell is routed by a Confederate army under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard.
John Herbert Dillinger joins the Navy in order to avoid charges of auto theft in Indiana, marking the beginning of America’s most notorious criminal’s downfall. Years later, Dillinger’s reputation was forged in a single 12-month period, during which he robbed more banks than Jesse James did in 15 years and became the most wanted fugitive in the nation.