Feast Day of St. Barbara, Patron Saint of Field Artillery: Barbara lived in the 4th century and brought up as a heathen. A tyrannical father, Dioscorus, had kept her jealously secluded in a lonely tower which he had built for that purpose. Here, in her forced solitude, she gave herself to prayer and study, and contrived to receive instruction and Baptism in secret by a Christian priest. Barbara resisted her father’s wish that she marry. Then on one occasion, during her father’s absence, Barbara had three windows inserted into a bathhouse her father was constructing. Her purpose was thereby to honor the Trinity. Dioscorus was enraged by her action and by her conversion. So he himself denounced her before the civil tribunal. She was horribly tortured, and at last was beheaded. Her own father, merciless to the last, acted as her executioner. God, however, speedily punished her persecutors. While her soul was being borne by angels to Paradise, a flash of lightning struck Dioscorus, and he was hurried before the judgment seat of God.
1619 – America’s 1st Thanksgiving Day was held in Virginia when thirty-eight colonists arrive at Berkeley Hundred, Virginia. The group’s charter proclaims that the day “be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
1674 – Father Marquette built the 1st dwelling at what is now Chicago. Father Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary, established Michigan’s earliest European settlements at Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace in 1668 and 1671. He lived among the Great Lakes Indians from 1666 to his death in 1675. During these nine years, Father Marquette mastered several native languages and helped Louis Jolliet map the Mississippi River.
1783 – Gen. George Washington said farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in NYC. Nine days after the last British soldiers left American soil and truly ended the Revolution, George Washington invited the officers of the Continental Army to join him in the Long Room of Fraunces Tavern so he could say farewell. The best known account of this emotional leave-taking comes from the Memoirs of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, written in 1830 and now in the collection of Fraunces Tavern Museum. As Tallmadge recalled, “The time now drew near when General Washington intended to leave this part of the country for his beloved retreat at Mt. Vernon. On Tuesday the 4th of December it was made known to the officers then in New York that General Washington intended to commence his journey on that day. At 12 o’clock the officers repaired to Fraunces Tavern in Pearl Street where General Washington had appointed to meet them and to take his final leave of them. We had been assembled but a few moments when his excellency entered the room. His emotions were too strong to be concealed which seemed to be reciprocated by every officer present. After partaking of a slight refreshment in almost breathless silence the General filled his glass with wine and turning to the officers said, ‘With a heart full of love and gratitude I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.’ After the officers had taken a glass of wine General Washington said ‘I cannot come to each of you but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.’ General Knox being nearest to him turned to the Commander-in-chief who, suffused in tears, was incapable of utterance but grasped his hand when they embraced each other in silence. In the same affectionate manner every officer in the room marched up and parted with his general in chief. Such a scene of sorrow and weeping I had never before witnessed and fondly hope I may never be called to witness again.” The officers escorted Washington from the tavern to the Whitehall wharf, where he boarded a barge that took him to Paulus Hook, (now Jersey City) New Jersey. Washington continued to Annapolis, where the Continental Congress was meeting, and resigned his commission. Washington’s popularity was great at the end of the Revolution and he had been urged to seize control of the government and establish a military regime. Instead, he publicly bid farewell to his troops at Fraunces Tavern and resigned as commander-in-chief at Annapolis, thus ensuring that the new United States government would not be a military dictatorship. Washington returned to Mount Vernon, believing that December 1783 marked the end of his public life. Little did he realize that he would return to New York six years later to be sworn in as the nation’s first president.
1786 – Mission Santa Barbara is dedicated (on the feast day of Saint Barbara).
1816 – James Monroe of Virginia was elected the fifth president of the United States. He defeated Federalist Rufus King.
1833 – American Anti-Slavery Society was formed by Arthur Tappan in Phila.
1844 – James K. Polk was elected 11th president of US. His wife, Sarah, recognized that James was insufficiently impressive to draw attention on appearance and therefore began the tradition of having “Hail to the Chief” played when he made a public showing.
1861 – The Federal Senate, voting 36 to 0, expelled Senator John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky because he joined the Confederate Army.
1863 – Seven solid days of bombardment ended at Charleston, S.C. The Union fired some 1,307 rounds.
1864 – Eight days of cavalry clashes in Georgia come to an end when Union General Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate General Joseph Wheeler skirmish for a final time at Waynesboro. Although the Rebels inflicted more than three times as many casualties as the Yankees, the campaign was considered a success by the Union because it screened Wheeler from the main Union force as it marched to Savannah, Georgia, on Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea.” Union General William T. Sherman marched his army across Georgia in November and December of 1864, destroying nearly everything in his path. Sherman sent Kilpatrick to Waynesboro in the hope that the Union cavalry could threaten nearby Augusta, Georgia, and divert Confederate attention from Sherman’s true goal, Savannah. Beginning on November 27, Wheeler pursued Kilpatrick between Waynesboro and Millen, the site of a Confederate prison that Kilpatrick hoped to liberate. During the campaign, Wheeler pecked at Kilpatrick’s force and nearly captured the Union commander in an early morning raid. The last of the fighting came in Waynesboro. With Sherman’s army safely past, Kilpatrick evacuated the area. Wheeler killed or wounded 830 Yankee troopers and lost only 240 of his own. Kilpatrick found the prison near Millen evacuated, but the campaign had achieved the true Union objective: Sherman marched unmolested to the sea.
1864 – U.S.S. Moose, Lieutenant Commander Fitch, U.S.S. Carondelet, Acting Master Charles W. Miller, U.S.S. Fairplay, Acting Master George J. Groves, U.S.S. Reindeer, Acting Lieutenant Henry A. Glassford, and U.S.S. Silver Lake, Acting Master Joseph C. Coyle, engaged field batteries on the Cumberland River near Bell’s Mills, Tennessee, silenced them, and recaptured three transports taken by the Confederates the preceding day. Fitch and his gunboats, employed protecting Major General Thomas’ right flank before Nashville, had started downriver on the night of 2 December after hearing that Confederate troops under Major General Forrest had erected a battery on the river at Bell’s Mills. Fitch succeeded in surprising the batteries and a sharp engagement ensued. With visibility severely limited by darkness, smoke, and steam, small paddle-wheelers Moose and Reindeer and stern-wheeler Silver Lake nevertheless drove the Southern gunners from the bank. Carondelet and Fairplay passed below the batteries and after a short battle re-captured the three transports Prairie State, Prima Donna, and Magnet and many of the prisoners taken earlier from the transports. In addition, Fitch was able to return to Nashville with val-uable intelligence on the composition and strength of Southern forces opposing Thomas’ right flank, information which was to prove vital in the coming battle for Nashville.
1867 – The Order of Patrons of Husbandry, more commonly known as the National Grange, was founded by Oliver Kelley, a traveling clerk with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The original purpose of the Grange was to provide enrichment opportunities for isolated farm families, but its purpose quickly became economic and political. Farmers, particularly in the Midwest and South, were frequently victimized by railroad monopolies that charged exorbitant rates and storage fees. By 1872, 14 states had Grange chapters and membership had risen to about 800,000. Grangers took the lead in organizing farmers’ cooperatives to successfully distribute their own produce and in just a few years, Grangers had won enough political support to influence national legislation regulating railroads. The Grange was succeeded by the Farmers’ Alliances and in 1891, farmers and labor organizers formed the influential People’s Party, or the Populist Party.
1895 – Marines in Tientsin, China, were awarded the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal for the period 4 December 1894 – May 1895.
1915 – Ku Klux Klan received a charter from Fulton County, Ga.
1915 – Automobile tycoon Henry Ford set sail for Europe on this day in 1915 from Hoboken, New Jersey, aboard the Ford Peace Ship. His mission: to end World War I. His slogan, “Out of the trenches and back to their homes by Christmas,” won an enthusiastic response in the States, but didn’t get very far overseas. Ford’s diplomatic mission was not taken seriously in Europe, and he soon returned.
1918 – President Wilson set sail in USS George Washington for France to attend the Versailles Peace Conference. He was the 1st chief executive to travel outside US while in office.
1941 – The Chicago Tribune and the Washington Herald published FDR’s top secret plan to invade Europe in 1943.
1942 – The US 9th Air Force bombs the harbor at Naples causing damage and sinking two cruisers. First American raid on the mainland of Italy.
1942 – US President Roosevelt receives a petition from 244 Congressman in support of the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine.
1942 – Carlson’s patrol during the Guadalcanal Campaign ends. Carlson’s patrol, also known as The Long Patrol or Carlson’s long patrol, was an operation by the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion under the command of Evans Carlson during the Guadalcanal Campaign against the Imperial Japanese Army beginning 6 November 1942. In the operation, the 2nd Raiders attacked forces under the command of Toshinari Shōji, which were escaping from an attempted encirclement in the Koli Point area on Guadalcanal and attempting to rejoin other Japanese army units on the opposite side of the U.S. Lunga perimeter. In a series of small unit engagements over 29 days, the 2nd Raiders killed almost 500 Japanese soldiers while suffering only 16 killed, although many were afflicted by disease. The raiders also captured a Japanese field gun that was delivering harassing fire on Henderson Field, the Allied airfield at Lunga Point on Guadalcanal.
1943 – The Japanese escort carrier Chuyo is sunk by the US submarine Sailfish in Japanese home waters.
1943 – The US divisions on Bougainville receive further reinforcements and extend their perimeter.
1943 – Task Force 50 (Admiral Pownall) and a task force commanded by Admiral Montgomery attack Kwajalein with a combined fleet of 6 carriers and nine cruisers. The Japanese lose 6 transports and 2 cruisers are damaged. A claimed 55 Japanese aircraft are shot down for the loss of 5 attacking American planes. The USS Yorktown conducts an air raid on Wotje.
1943 – America had shrugged off the Depression and the economy was back in bloom. With the unemployment rolls fast emptying, President Franklin Roosevelt decided it was time to close the books on the Work Projects Administration (WPA). The announcement, made on December 4, concluded the four-year run of one of the government’s most ambitious public works programs. Inaugurated as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation in 1935 as the Works Progress Administration (the name changed to Works Projects Administration in 1939), the WPA was charged with the task of creating jobs for workers idled by the Depression. Fueled by $11 billion of the government’s money, the program set Americans to work on an array of projects, including the construction 650,000 miles of road and 125,000 public buildings. The WPA also focused its attention on employing the country’s creative workers, serving as an umbrella for federal programs that set writers, actors, and artists to work on various public arts projects.
1944 – USS Flasher (SS-249) sinks Japanese destroyer Kishinami and damages a merchant ship in South China Sea. Flasher is only U.S. submarine to sink over 100,000 tons of enemy shipping in World War II.
1944 – US 9th Army ceases the offensive toward the Roer River. The US 3rd Army forces of US 20th Corps concentrates forces for the capture of Saarlautern, where reconnaissance indicates there is an intact bridge over the Saar River.
1945 – By a vote of 65 to 7, the United States Senate approves United States participation in the United Nations.
1950 – Marines rescued over 300 soldiers of the U.S. 7th Infantry Division, survivors of a communist ambush on the shores of the Chosin/Changjin Reservoir.
1952 – The Grumman XS2F-1 made its first flight.
1965 – Launch of Gemini 7 piloted by CDR James A. Lovell, USN. This flight consisted of 206 orbits at an altitude of 327 km and lasted 13 days and 18 hours. Recovery by HS-11 helicopters from USS Wasp (CVS-18).
1969 – In Chicago police stormed an apartment on the West Side and killed 2 Black Panthers, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Panther defense minister Bobby Rush had left the site just hours earlier.
1981 – President Reagan broadened the power of the CIA by allowing spying in the U.S. This was Executive Order on Intelligence No 12333.
1967 – Elements of the U.S. mobile riverine force and 400 South Vietnamese in armored personnel carriers engage communist forces in the Mekong Delta. During the battle, 235 of the 300-member Viet Cong battalion were killed. The mobile riverine force was an Army-Navy task force made up of the U.S. 9th Infantry Division (primarily the 2nd Brigade and associated support troops) and the U.S. Navy’s Task Force 117. This force was often combined with units from the South Vietnamese 7th and 21st Infantry Divisions and the South Vietnamese Marine Corps. The mobile riverine concept called for Army troops to operate with Navy gunboats and troop carrier boats in the Mekong Delta. This gave the force the capability to travel 150 miles in 24 hours and launch combat operations with its 5,000-man force within 30 minutes after anchoring. The mobile riverine force was activated in June 1967. It conducted operations throughout the Delta until the responsibility for this mission was transferred to the South Vietnamese forces in April 1971, as part of the “Vietnamization” program.
1966 – A Viet Cong unit penetrates the 13-mile defense perimeter around Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut airport and shells the field for over four hours. South Vietnamese and U.S. security guards finally drove off the attackers, killing 18 of them in the process. One U.S. RF-101 reconnaissance jet was badly damaged in the attack. The guerrillas returned that same night and resumed the attack, but security guards again repelled them, killing 11 more Viet Cong during the second battle.
1983 – Aircraft from USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) and USS Independence (CV-62) launch strike against anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon that fired on U.S. aircraft. Two U.S. Navy planes shot down. This is a retaliatory measure for the bombing of the Beirut Marine Barracks in October.
1987 – Cuban inmates at a federal prison in Atlanta freed their 89 hostages, peacefully ending an 11-day uprising. The agreement provided for a nationwide moratorium on deportations of Mariel detainees.
1989 – President Bush briefed NATO leaders in Brussels, Belgium, on the just-concluded Malta summit with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
1989 – The cutter Mesquite ran aground near Keweenaw Point in Lake Superior. She was deemed damaged beyond repair and was sunk as an artificial reef. There was no loss of life.
1990 – President Bush, on a five-nation South American tour, said in Uruguay he was not convinced that “sanctions alone” would bring Iraqi President Saddam Hussein “to his senses” about invading Kuwait.
1991 – Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson, the longest held of Western hostages in Lebanon, was released after nearly seven years in captivity. The last American hostages in Lebanon were released.
1992 – President Bush ordered American troops to lead a mercy mission to Somalia, threatening military action against warlords and gangs who were blocking food for starving millions.
1993 – Astronauts aboard space shuttle Endeavour captured the near-sighted Hubble Space Telescope for repairs.
1994 – Bosnian Serbs released 53 of some 400 U.N. peacekeepers held as insurance against further NATO airstrikes.
1995 – In a near-freezing drizzle, the first NATO troops landed in the Balkans to begin setting up a peace mission that brought American soldiers into the middle of the Bosnian conflict.
1996 – The Mars Pathfinder [delayed from Dec 2] was launched from Cape Canaveral on a 310 million-mile odyssey to explore the planet’s surface. It had a remote-controlled 22-pound, 6-wheel, roving vehicle to sample Martian soil and rock and send data back beginning on Jul 4, 1997.
1998 – It was reported that an informant known as CS-1 confessed that he participated in a bin Laden-inspired plot to attack American military facilities around the world.
1998 – The shuttle Endeavour was launched with a crew of 6 from Cape Canaveral. It contained the 2nd component of the new int’l. space station, the Unity Module. The Unity connecting module was the first U.S.-built component of the International Space Station. It is cylindrical in shape, with six berthing locations (forward, aft, port, starboard, zenith, and nadir) facilitating connections to other modules. Unity measures 4.57 meters (15.0 ft) in diameter, is 5.47 meters (17.9 ft) long, and was built for NASA by Boeing in a manufacturing facility at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Sometimes referred to as Node 1, Unity was the first of the three connecting modules; the other two are Harmony and Tranquility.
1999 – NASA scientists continued to wait in vain for a signal from the Mars Polar Lander, raising questions about the whereabouts of NASA’s $165 million probe. It’s believed the spacecraft was destroyed after it plunged toward the Red Planet.
2000 – In Florida Judge Sauls denied Al Gore’s request for a recount. The US Supreme Court set aside the decision by the Florida Supreme Court to extend the vote counting deadline and sent the case back to the Florida court. A Florida state judge refused to overturn George W. Bush’s certified victory in Florida.
2001 – Pres. Bush announced the seizure of assets and records of the Holy Land foundation for Relief and Development based in Richardson, Texas, due to suspected ties with Hamas.
2001 – In Afghanistan US bombing continued at Kandahar and Tora Bora. Baglan and Balkh were noted as a pockets of resistance with up to 3,500 Taliban militiamen. An interim government was scheduled to take power Dec 22.
2001 – Operation Active Endeavour ships, Aliseo, Formion and Elrod, were called to assist in the rescue of 84 civilians from a stricken oil rig. In high winds and heavy seas, the Italian helicopter of the Aliseo removed all 84 workers from the oil rig in 14 flights.
2002 – Iraqi forces shot at allied aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone and U.S. planes retaliated by bombing part of the country’s air defense system.
2002 – Kurdish militiamen of the PUK battled Islamic militants (Ansar al-Islam) believed to be linked to al-Qaida in northern Iraq, and as many as 30 militiamen were killed or wounded.
2003 – The Australian government said it will join a U.S. program to build a missile defense system, calling the threat of ballistic missiles too grave to ignore.
2003 – Interpol put ousted Liberian leader Charles Taylor on its most-wanted list, issuing a “red notice” calling for his arrest on war crimes charges in Sierra Leone’s civil war.
2004 – President Bush received the president of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in the Oval Office; afterward, Bush pronounced himself “very pleased” with Pakistan’s efforts to flush out terrorists.
2004 – Colombian drug kingpin Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela was flown to the US, becoming the most powerful Colombian trafficker ever extradited to face US justice.
2004 – Suicide attackers carried out a string of car bombings against Iraqi policemen in Baghdad and Kurdish militiamen in the north, killing 14 people and wounding at least 59.
2004 – Two US soldiers were killed and four wounded when their patrol came under attack in the northwestern city of Mosul.
2008 – The U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement was approved by the Iraqi government. It establishes that U.S. combat forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by 30 June 2009, and that all U.S. forces will be completely out of Iraq by 31 December 2011. The pact is subject to possible negotiations which could delay withdrawal and a referendum scheduled for mid-2009 in Iraq which may require all U.S. forces to completely leave by the middle of 2010. The pact requires criminal charges for holding prisoners over 24 hours, and requires a warrant for searches of homes and buildings that are not related to combat.
2009 – US Marines and Afghan troops launch Operation Cobra’s Anger in northern Helmand province. The main goal of the operation was to disrupt Taliban supply and communications lines in the strategic Now Zad valley. some 300 Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines and the Marine recon unit Task Force Raider dropped into the Now Zad valley via CH-53E helicopters and V-22 Osprey aircraft. This was the first time the Osprey were used in combat operations in Afghanistan. In preparation for the Marine offensive the Taliban planted thousands of homemade bombs and dug in positions throughout the valley at the foot of the craggy Tangee Mountains. No major resistance was encountered.
2009 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation announces that 25 member countries will contribute a further 7,000 troops to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in addition to 30,000 additional American and 500 British troops previously announced.
2013 – The United States stops shipping supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan due to protests over drone attacks.
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