Union Wins Battle of Five Forks
Birth of Lon Chaney
Creation of U.S. Air Force Academy

U.S. #4980 pictures an 1885 painting by French artist Paul Dominique Philippoteaux.

Sheridan Wins Battle of Five Forks

On April 1, 1865, Philip Sheridan earned a key Union victory at the Battle of Five Forks.

By the spring of 1865, Robert E. Lee’s army had been under siege for nearly a year. Ulysses S. Grant’s trenches stretched for 25 miles from Petersburg to Richmond, Virginia. The Union ranks were steadily reinforced and its troops well fed, while the dwindling Confederate Army was desperate for food, clothing, and ammunition.

On March 25, Lee attacked a portion of the Union trenches, hoping to break the siege. When he failed, Grant mobilized his men and sent General Philip Sheridan after Lee’s army.

U.S. #787 pictures Union generals William T. Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, and Philip Sheridan.

The Confederates stopped Sheridan’s advance, but their supply line ran through a small intersection named Five Forks. Aware of the implications if the line was severed, Lee ordered General George Pickett to “hold Five Forks at all hazards.”

On April 1, 1865 Sheridan’s troops attacked. Pickett was having lunch with his staff, miles away. The 22,000 Union troops crushed Pickett’s force of 10,000. Nearly half the Confederate troops were killed, wounded, or captured, further reducing the size of Lee’s army.

With Five Forks in Union hands and his supply line cut, Lee evacuated Petersburg and Richmond. The Confederate general’s only hope was to move his troops west before Grant could capture them.

Also on This Day in History… April 1, 1883

Birth of Lon Chaney

U.S. #2822 pictures a caricature of Chaney as Quasimodo.

Lon Chaney was born Leonidas Frank Chaney in Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 1, 1883.

Called the “Man of a Thousand Faces,” Lon Chaney’s macabre characterizations have become classics of the silent screen. Born of deaf-mute parents, Chaney learned pantomime at an early age, and later became a prop man, director, and actor in his brother’s traveling show.

U.S. #3168 was part of the 1997 Classic Movie Monsters set.

Beginning his film career as an extra, he became an overnight success after starring in The Miracle Man (1919). During the next ten years, Chaney earned a reputation as the finest character actor in films, playing such memorable roles as Quasimodo the hunchback in the Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and the dual role of police inspector/vampire in London After Midnight (1927). But his greatest achievement was his characterization of Eric, the demented, acid-scarred musician who haunted the subterranean passages of the Paris Opera in The Phantom of the Opera (1925).

A versatile actor, he also won acclaim for his realistic performances in Tell It to the Marines (1927), While the City Sleeps (1928), and Thunder (1929).

Plus on This Day in History… April 1, 1954

U.S. Air Force Academy Established

U.S. #3838 commemorates the Academy’s 50th anniversary.

On April 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower created the Air Force Academy to train officers.

As far back as 1918, there were calls for an aeronautical academy, similar, but separate from those of the Army and Navy. As Lieutenant Colonel A.J. Hanlon said, “As the Military and Naval Academies are the backbone of the Army and Navy, so must the Aeronautical Academy be the backbone of the Air Service. No service can flourish without some such institution to inculcate into its embryonic officers love of country, proper conception of duty, and highest regard for honor.”

Congressman Charles F. Curry submitted legislation calling for an academy in 1919, but concerns over costs forced it to be dropped. And in 1925, air power pioneer Billy Mitchell addressed Capitol Hill saying that it was necessary “to have an air academy to form a basis for the permanent backbone of your air service.”

Then, after World War II, the Air Force became its own branch of the military as part of the National Security Act of 1947. For the next several years, Army and Navy school graduates were allowed to receive their commissions in the Air Force, but disagreements between the services quickly arose. Then in 1950, the Service Academy Board, headed by Columbia University President Dwight Eisenhower, decided that the current system wasn’t working and that the Air Force needed its own school.

U.S. #C49 commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Air Force.

By the time the board’s recommendation was approved by Congress, Eisenhower was President of the United States and signed the legislation creating the Air Force Academy on April 1, 1954. Charles Lindbergh and Carl Spaatz were among those on the panel that selected the school’s location – Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In July 1955, the first class of 306 cadets began training at a temporary facility at Lowry Air Force Base, near Denver, Colorado. The academy moved to its permanent 18,000-acre location in 1958.

The Air Force Academy’s mission is to prepare young men and women to serve as officers in the Air Force. Cadets study for four years to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. They also receive military training to earn regular commissions in the Air Force. Upon entering the academy, students agree to serve four years as cadets and at least five years as Air Force officers.

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  1. The previous format of one topic per day is my personal preference particularly when I am rating the article.(rate one a 5 and the other a 3) It was like a newspaper headline with an editorial section comprised of readers comments. Please don’t expand to include crosswords and funnies.

      1. While some subjects are esoteric in nature, what difference as long as they are historical and carry some interest of significance? Picky, picky!

  2. Maybe two histories occasionally for truly exceptional stories, but otherwise, I agree that one a day suffices -thy are all generally excellently done, but come time to rate them, it does confuse the waters when there are two.

  3. I, too, prefer the one-a-day format. If you use up all the interesting items now, what will you do in future years?

    1. What, Ron Hunt, do you think we won’t continue making history? Please, I don’t need anything extra to worry about.

  4. I am quite IMPRESSED at the time and detail it took to populate all of this information in such a concise format. Thank you so much for expanding our knowledge in so many different directions. Always very interesting and enjoyable to read!

  5. Love these but I’m with the others who prefer one topic per day. It not only makes it easier to rate but also lets you truly ponder the subject at hand. Even if the subject was one that maybe someone didn’t care for, now the person can go to the other ones and just ignore others. With just one topic you give it the proper reflection that history deserves and you don’t have to be thinking which particular event is more important than the other. Go back to one a day.

  6. Multiple data is fine. Enjoyed the articles on history more though. Must agree, Hollywood history? Who cares but fund raisers.

  7. My mother’s family all live in Colorado Springs and I have visited the academy which is awesome. Any and all historical facts about our country’s history should be of interest to all who live here. Thanks!

  8. Any and all historical facts about our country’s history should be of interest to all who live here. Thanks!

  9. I was stationed at Lowry AFB during these years, 12 to be exact. President Eisenhower used the base as his Summer White House and was there each Summer during the years he was president.
    Cadets still were and are allowed to pick the branch of service they want to be commissioned in and serve their 5 years, not just the Air Force’

  10. Love the history of our nation that you share with us. While some like the one subject per day I enjoyed the multi hisoty lesson that you shared. I understand each reader’s preference of one subject, I myself enjoyed the more than one subject. As history happens it don’t choose the day it happens on, and the different stories opens the depth of knowledge you choose to share with us, GREAT JOB please don’t stop either way you choose to deliver it to us. THANK You

  11. Love the multiple history format. It would be hard and even unfair to feature just one historical item at a time. Different events appeal to different people. As a historian I love the fact that you relate these events to stamps which is another passion of mine. Great app!!

  12. One subject per day is enough. Two at most. Keep up the good work Mystic Stamp Co. It is a joy to be reminded of our history and the wonderful people that created that history. Best Regards Dr. Doug

  13. I believe 1 history per day is best – I rather enjoy using your wonderful history lesson to lead me to do further research into a topic. Sometime spend an hour or do “following-up” on what a postage stamp commemorates and honours.

    Some I send to friends under my title – “Info only a stamp collector knows”. they enjoy the articles as well.

  14. I liver in Canada and love these daily educational and well done write-ups.
    Would be nice if maybe once a month we could buy a nicely printed up set of pages that would
    go in an also very nice well done binder, would be nice if the page was a bit heavier
    than normal printing paper and was well done up just like what we see here.

  15. I enjoy these daily tidbits but would also prefer single articles because I print them out in categories; such as Presidents, Black History, Hollywood actors & Civil War battles. It makes it harder when they’re all jammed together as one.

  16. Just like the hobby of stamp collecting, there is something for everybody. While someone may like history, someone else may enjoy Hollywood. Upon reading these daily snipits, I’ve enjoyed the variety and insight; yes, some days more than others, but enjoyed nonetheless. Even the comments are interesting, especially comparing comments from those days that repeat the content from the year prior to days like today that have multiple subjects. I guess you can’t please everybody all the time ~~ which is the beauty of Stamp Collecting, there’s room for everyone.

  17. If there’s more than one topic do you just ignore some of them??? I f you don’t like them, don’t read them. Freedom of choice in the USA.

  18. Every single day, I am amazed at and by the detail you update us with, Mystic. It is so interesting to learn more about … especially with more detail and a broader explanation than we receive in school because of time limits … about our Nation’s history, development and growth. To keep it this way, I would prefer one-a day articles … UNLESS … each article is NOT shortened ! As much clarity, explanation, and facts as you can include … the better and more informing are the articles you share. Thank you — Thank you — Thank you !!!

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