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On This Day: June 15

1832 - General Winfield Scott Ordered to Assume Command in Black Hawk War

On this date General Winfield Scott was ordered by President Andrew Jackson to take command at the frontier of the Black Hawk War. Scott was to succeed General Henry Atkinson, thought to be unable to end the war quickly. General Scott moved rapidly to recruit troops and obtain equipment for his army. However, while in New York, the troops were exposed to an Asiatic cholera. Just outside of Buffalo, the first cases on the ships were reported and death often followed infection. By the time the ships reached Chicago, the number of soldiers had dropped dramatically from 800 to 150, due to disease and desertion. Rather than going on to the front, Scott remained with his troops in Chicago, giving Atkinson a brief reprieve. [Source: Along the Black Hawk Trail, by William F. Stark, p. 90-91]

1864 - (Civil War) Assault on Petersburg, Virginia, begins

The Union assault on Petersburg, Virginia, began on this day.  The 4th Wisconsin Light Artillery and 5th, 6th, 7th, 19th, 36th, 37th and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments took part in this four-day battle. Union troops repeatedly attacked smaller Confederate forces without being able to take the city. On June 15, Union forces failed to take advantage of their unexpected arrival and delayed their initial attack. This gave Confederate troops time to reinforce their positions.

1887 - Lucius Fairchild Condemns the Return of Captured Confederate Battle Flags

On this date, Lucius Fairchild (1831-1896), former governor of the state publicly condemened the decision to return captured Confederate battle flags to the South. Fairchild fought in the Iron Brigade, lost an arm at Gettysburg, and served three terms as governor (1866-1872). In 1887, while serving as national president of the Grand Army of the Republic, he learned that President Grover Cleveland intended to return the flags to the South. His curse against Cleveland: "May God palsy the hand that wrote that order! May God palsy the brain that conceived it! May God palsy the tongue that dictated it!" made Fairchild a national sensation, and a hero to outraged Union veterans. [Source: The Empty Sleeve: A Biography of Lucius Fairchild, by Sam Ross, p. 206-209]

1900 - Composer Otto Luening Born

On this date Otto Clarence Luening was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Luening is known as one of the first American composers to explore the concept of "tape music." He and composer Vladimir Ussachevsky established the Columbia-Princteon Electronic Music Center which focused on electronic music. Luening composed over 300 works, including 22 works with electronic sounds for media. Otto Luening served on the faculty of the Julliard School, and was professor emeritus at Columbia University. Additionally, he was a member of several educational and music boards and institutes. [Source: Columbia University]

1916 - Herbert A. Simon Born

On this date Herbert A. Simon, well known and highly respected cognitive scientist, was born in Milwaukee. Simon earned his bachelor's (1936) and doctor's (1943) degrees in political science at the University of Chicago. He held research and faculty positions at the University of California (Berkeley) and the Illinois Institute of Technology before settling at Carnegie Mellon. In 1975, Simon earned the prestigious A.M. Turing Award for his work in computer science. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic in 1978 for his pioneering research into the decision-making process within economic organizations and, in 1986, the National Medal of Science. In 1993, he won the American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology. In 1994, he was one of only 14 foreign scientists ever to be inducted into the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research ranged from computer science to psychology, administration and economics. The thread of continuity through all of his work was his interest in human decision-making and problem-solving processes and the implications of these processes for social institutions. Simon died at the age of 84 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Source: Nobelprize.org]

1958 - Madeline Island Historical Museum Opens

On this date Madeline Island Historical Museum opened. Leo and Bella Capser of St. Paul began summering on the island in 1903. Enchanted with its history and lore, the Capsers decided to establish a museum on the island. In 1955 the couple began organizing the project. The Madeline Island Historical Museum opened on June 15, 1958, and a decade later the Caspers deeded the property to the Wisconsin Historical Society as a historic site. [Source: Madelinemuseum.org]