This Day in U.S. Military History……December 27

27 December
1777 – Floating mines intended for use against British Fleet found in Delaware River.
1814 – Destruction of schooner Carolina, the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson’s make-shift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans. After loss of craft, the naval guns were mounted on shore to continue the fight.
1836 – Stephen Fuller Austin (43), founder of state of Texas, died.
1845 – Journalist John L. O’Sullivan, writing in his newspaper the New York Morning News, argues that the United States had the right to claim the entire Oregon Country “by the right of our manifest destiny”.
1846 – The rag-tag army of volunteers known as Doniphan’s Thousand, led by Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan, wins a major victory in the war with Mexico with the occupation of El Paso. Born in Kentucky in 1808, Doniphan moved to Missouri in 1830 to practice law. But the tall redheaded man was not satisfied with fighting only courtroom battles, and he volunteered as a brigadier general in the Missouri militia. When war between Mexico and the U.S. erupted in 1846, the men of the 1st Missouri Mounted Volunteers elected Doniphan their colonel, and marched south to join General Stephen Kearny’s army in New Mexico. Since they were not professional military men, Doniphan’s troops cared little for the traditional spit-and-polish of the regular troops, and reportedly looked more like tramps than soldiers. Likewise, Doniphan was a casual officer who led more by example than by strict discipline. Nonetheless, Doniphan’s Thousand proved to be a surprisingly effective force in the war with Mexico. In December, Doniphan led 500 of his men and a large wagon train of supplies south to join General John E. Wool in his planned invasion of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Before he had a chance to meet up with Wool’s larger force near the city of Chihuahua, Doniphan encountered an army of 1,200 Mexican soldiers about 30 miles north of El Paso, Texas. Although his opponents had twice the number of soldiers, Doniphan led his men to victory, and with the path to El Paso now largely undefended was able to occupy the city two days later. When nearing the Mexican border, Doniphan learned that General Wool’s forces had broken off their invasion of Chihuahua because the army’s wheeled vehicles had proved unworkable in the desert landscape. But rather than turn back, Doniphan reassembled his army to its full force of about 1,000 men and was allowed to proceed with the invasion unassisted. Once again grossly outnumbered-the Mexican army was four times the size of Doniphan’s-the Missouri troops were still able to quickly break through the defensive lines and occupy Chihuahua City. By mid-summer 1847, Doniphan’s victorious army reached the Gulf Coast, where they were picked up by ships and taken to New Orleans for discharge. By then, the focus of the battle had shifted to General Winfield Scott’s campaign to take Mexico City. In September of that year, Scott’s troops ended the war by successfully occupying Mexico City, and for the first time in U.S. history an American flag flew over a foreign capital. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed early in 1848, gave the U.S. the vast western territory stretching from Texas to the Pacific and north to Oregon.
1860 – U.S. Revenue Cutter Aiken was surrendered to South Carolina authorities.
1862 – Rosecrans’ army moved slowly toward General Bragg at Murfreesboro.
1862 – Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, Miss. (Chickasaw Bayou), began.1862 – Battle of Elizabethtown, KY.
1864 – The broken and defeated Confederate Army of Tennessee finishes crossing the Tennessee River as General John Bell Hood’s force retreats into Mississippi. The last half of 1864 was a disaster for the army. In May, Union General William T. Sherman began his drive on Atlanta from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Confederate army was commanded then by Joseph Johnston, who responded to Sherman’s flanking maneuvers by retreating slightly each time. From May to July, Johnston slowly backed into Atlanta, exchanging territory for time. When the troops reached Atlanta, Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaced Johnston with the offensive minded Hood. Hood immediately attacked Sherman three times in late July, losing each time. His offensive capabilities spent, Hood endured a monthlong siege of Atlanta. In early September, Hood was finally forced to relinquish the city to Sherman. Hood hung around to try cutting into Sherman’s supply lines but then retreated into Alabama. In November, Hood tried to draw Sherman from the deep South by moving towards Nashville, Tennessee. In response, Sherman dispatched part of his army back to Tennessee while taking the rest on his devastating march across Georgia, during which the Yankees destroyed nearly everything in their path. Hood moved north and fought two battles that were disastrous for the Confederates. At Franklin on November 30, Confederate attacks on entrenched Union soldiers resulted in ghastly casualties and the loss of six of the army’s finest generals. On December 15 and 16, the Confederates were crushed by the Yankees in front of Nashville. The dwindling numbers of participating soldiers tell the sad story of the Rebel army. In May, some 65,000 Confederates faced Sherman in northern Georgia. On September 20, after Atlanta fell, Hood’s force numbered 40,403. After crossing the Tennessee River, Hood reported 18,708 officers and enlisted men, a figure that another Confederate general, Pierre Beauregard, thought was significantly inflated. The Confederate Army of Tennessee was no longer a viable fighting force.
1939 – The American government protests the British seizure of US mail en route to Europe.
1941 – The Americans declare Manila an open city. The defenders are now at their third of five lines of defense in their delaying action against the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. This line runs east and west from Paniqui.
1941 – Rubber rationing was instituted by the U.S. government, due to shortages caused by World War II. Tires were the first items to be restricted by law.
1942 – On Guadalcanal, US attacks on Mount Austen renew. Attacking troops from the 132nd Infantry regiment, suffer heavy loses and make no real gains despite a heavy artillery barrage prior to the attack.
1943 – The American divisional beachhead near Cape Gloucester is extended with little resistance from the Japanese. The weather and terrain prove more formidable obstacles. The American regiment on Arawe receives reinforcements.
1943 – The threat of a paralyzing railroad strike loomed over the United States during the 1943 holiday season. President Franklin Roosevelt stepped in to serve as a negotiator, imploring the rail unions to give America a “Christmas present” and settle the smoldering wage dispute. But, as Christmas came and went, only two of the five railroad brotherhoods agreed to let Roosevelt arbitrate the situation. So, on December 27, just three days before the scheduled walk-out, the President shelved his nice-guy rhetoric and seized the railroads. Lest the move look too aggressive, Roosevelt assured that the railroads would only be temporarily placed under the “supervision” of the War Department; he also pledged that the situation would not alter daily rail operations. The gambit worked, as officials for the recalcitrant brotherhoods made an eleventh-hour decision to avert the strike. The action was taken under the wartime Labor Disputes Act. The railroads were returned to private management on January 18, 1944.
1944 – Attacks by the British 30th Corps (part of US 1st Army) force the German 2nd Panzer Division (an element of 5th Panzer Army) out of Celles. The US 3rd Army expands the corridor to Bastogne.
1944 – The US 8th Air Force bombs Coblenz, Bonn and Kaiserslautern (nominally railway targets). The RAF conducts nighttime raids on Munchen-Gladbach and Bonn.
1945 – Foreign ministers from the former Allied nations of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain agreed to divide Korea into two separate occupation zones and to govern the nation for five years.
1945 – The International Monetary Fund and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development was created. 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank. Better known as the World Bank, the IMF was created to promote healthy international trade and began transactions in 1947. The World Bank was designed by Englishman John Maynard Keynes and American Harry Dexter White.
1949 – Queen Juliana of the Netherlands granted sovereignty to the United States Indonesia after more than 300 years of Dutch rule. The Netherlands retained control of Irian Jaya, inhabited by Melanesians, until 1963.
1950 – U.S. and Spain resumed relations for the first time since the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.
1950 – Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway took command of U.N. ground forces in Korea. Ridgway was a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps in Europe during World War II. Upon assuming command, he moved immediately to the front to learn the situation first hand. Concurrently with Ridgway’s assumption of command, X Corps passed from control of General Headquarters, Far East Command, to the Eighth Army.
1950 – Captain Marcus L. Sullivan became the first Army aviator to pilot a helicopter, a Bell H-13, in Korea.
1966 – A United States and South Vietnamese joint-service operation takes place against one of the best-fortified Viet Cong strongholds, located in the U Minh Forest in the Mekong Delta, 125 miles southwest of Saigon. U.S. warplanes dropped bombs and napalm on the forest in preparation for the assault. Then, 6,000 South Vietnamese troops attacked Viet Cong positions in the forest. The U.S. Navy also participated in the operation–on December 29, the U.S. destroyer Herbert J. Thomas shelled suspected Viet Cong positions in the same area for seven hours. The operation ended on December 31, with 104 Viet Cong reported killed and 18 captured. The operation was considered a success in weakening the communist strength in the U Minh Forest.
1968 – The U.S. agreed to sell fifty F-4 Phantom jets to Israel.
1968 – Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, returns safely to Earth after an historic six-day journey. On December 21, Apollo 8 was launched by a three-stage Saturn 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, Jr., and William Anders aboard. On Christmas Eve, the astronauts entered into orbit around the moon, the first manned spacecraft ever to do so. During Apollo 8’s 10 lunar orbits, television images were sent back home and spectacular photos were taken of the Earth and the moon from the spacecraft. In addition to being the first human beings to view firsthand their home world in its entirety, the three astronauts were also the first to see the dark side of the moon. On Christmas morning, Apollo 8 left its lunar orbit and began its journey back to Earth, landing safely in the Pacific Ocean on December 27. On July 20 of the following year, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission, became the first men to walk on the moon.
1968 – In October 1968, the United States Air Force requested additional LORAN-C Coverage in Southeast Asia and by December 27, 1968 the Coast Guard had received authorization to proceed with the project. This led to the construction of a number of LORAN sites in the area, including South Vietnam.
1969 – In the fiercest battle in six weeks, U.S. and North Vietnamese forces clash near Loc Ninh, about 80 miles north of Saigon. Elements of the 1st Infantry Division reported killing 72 of 250 North Vietnamese soldiers in a daylong battle. Loc Ninh, a village of fewer than 10,000 people, was located at the northern limit of national Route 13, only a few miles from the Cambodian border. It was the site of several major battles between U.S. and Communist forces. On April 5, 1972, as part of their Easter Offensive, North Vietnamese forces overtook Loc Ninh during their attempt to capture the An Loc provincial capital to the south.
1978 – King Juan Carlos ratified Spain’s 1st democratic constitution. A parliamentary monarchy was established with power in the hands of the legislative branch.
1979 – In an attempt to stabilize the turbulent political situation in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union sends 75,000 troops to enforce the installation of Babrak Karmal as the new leader of the nation. The new government and the imposing Soviet presence, however, had little success in putting down antigovernment rebels. Thus began nearly 10 years of an agonizing, destructive, and ultimately fruitless Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. Ironically, Karmal overthrew and murdered another Afghan communist, Hafizullah Amin, to take power. Amin’s government became unpopular and unstable after it attempted to install a harsh communist regime, declared one-party rule and abolished the Afghan constitution. Muslims in the nation rejected his rule and formed a rebel force, the Mujahideen. When it became apparent that Amin could not control the rebellion, Soviet troops intervened and put a puppet ruler, Karmal, into power. For the Soviets, political turbulence in this bordering nation, which was viewed by some officials as a potentially useful ally pursuing its interests in the Middle East, was unacceptable. The Soviet intervention cost Russia dearly. The seemingly endless civil war in Afghanistan resulted in thousands of Soviet dead and untold monetary costs. It also brought an abrupt end to the era of dýtente between the United States and the Soviet Union that began during the Nixon years. In response to the Soviet intervention, President Jimmy Carter withdrew the SALT II agreement from consideration by Congress. The treaty, which had been signed in June 1979, was designed to establish parity in nuclear delivery vehicles between the United States and the Soviet Union. Carter also halted grain shipments to the Soviet Union and ordered a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics that were to be held in Moscow.
1983 – President Reagan took all responsibility for the lack of security in Beirut that allowed a terrorist on a suicide mission to kill 241 Marines.
1985 – Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; a total of twenty people were killed, including five of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel. Abu Nidal was considered responsible. President Reagan blamed Libyan leader 1989 – President Bush, on a visit to Beeville, Texas, said he was determined to bring deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega to justice “for poisoning the children of the United States” with illegal drugs.
1991 – The United States and the Philippines announced that the United States would abandon the Subic Bay naval base by the end of 1992.
1992 – The United States shot down an Iraqi fighter jet during what the Pentagon described as a confrontation between a pair of Iraqi warplanes and U.S. F-16 jets in U.N.-restricted airspace over southern Iraq.
1996 – In France the foreign ministry said that it would no longer participate in the Operation Provide Comfort after the end of the year. The operation was a multi-national air reconnaissance effort to safeguard Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq.
1998 – Iraq said it would reject any extension of a UN monitored food program and would require monitors to leave.
1999 – Space shuttle Discovery landed at Cape Canaveral, Fla., following a successful repair of the Hubble Space Telescope.
2001 – The US announced plans to hold Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.
2001 – US warplanes destroyed a compound in eastern Afghanistan believed to used by a Taliban intelligence chief. Qari Ahmadullah (40), former Taliban chief of intelligence, was killed while fleeing US bombardment near Naka village in Paktia province.
2002 – A defiant North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. But the U.N. nuclear watchdog said its inspectors were “staying put” for the time being.
2002 – Poland announced it will buy 48 U.S.-made F-16 jet fighters from Lockheed Martin for $3.5 billion to upgrade its air force to NATO standards.
2003 – In Afghanistan suspected al Qaeda fighters ambushed Afghan security forces near the Pakistani border. A senior Afghan intelligence official was killed along with 6 attackers.
2003 – In Iraq insurgents launched 3 coordinated attacks in the southern city of Karbala, killing 12 people, including six Iraqi police officers, 2 Thai soldiers and 5 Bulgarians.
2003 – Russia removed all Soviet-built anti-aircraft missiles from its vast arms depots in a Moldova province to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. The missiles were flown from Trans-Dniester Province to the Moscow.
2004 – In an audiotape, a man purported to be Osama bin Laden endorsed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of January’s elections in the country.
2004 – A suicide bomber detonated his car at the gate of the home of the leader of Iraq’s biggest political party and most powerful Shiite political group, killing 15 people and injuring dozens. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country’s, was unharmed.
2004 – The Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni political group, pulled out of the Jan. 30 elections citing the deteriorating security situation.
2004 – Jordan’s military court on acquitted 13 Muslim militants, including three Saudi fugitives, of conspiring to commit terror attacks against U.S. targets in Jordan, but sentenced 11 of them to prison terms ranging from six to 15 years for possessing explosives.
2012 – Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., commander of the combined coalition forces during the Gulf War, dies from pneumonia complications at age 78.
2013 – U.S. District Judge William Pauley rules that the country’s National Security Agency (NSA) acted lawfully, within the limits of the U.S. Constitution, when, after the September 11, 2001 attacks, it began an en masse bulk collection of metadata from American telephone records. The opinion, which throws out an ACLU lawsuit for now, is in contrast to Judge Richard Leon’s earlier ruling in another district.

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