1776 – Henry Knox’s “noble train of artillery” arrives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Knox Expedition, was an expedition led by Continental Army Colonel Henry Knox to transport heavy weaponry that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga to the Continental Army camps outside Boston, Massachusetts during the winter of 1775–1776. Knox went to Ticonderoga in November 1775, and, over the course of 3 winter months, moved 60 tons of cannons and other armaments by boat, horse and ox-drawn sledges, and manpower, along poor-quality roads, across two semi-frozen rivers, and through the forests and swamps of the lightly inhabited Berkshires to the Boston area. Historian Victor Brooks has called Knox’s exploit “one of the most stupendous feats of logistics” of the entire American War of Independence. The route by which Knox moved the weaponry is now known as the Henry Knox Trail, and the states of New York and Massachusetts have erected markers along the route.
1778 – Marines landed at New Providence, Bahamas; the American flag flew over foreign soil for the first time. The first American soldiers sent forth from the fledgling nation’s shores were a detachment of Marines. That amphibious raid–the first in what remains today a Marine specialty–aimed to seize guns and gunpowder from a British fort.
1787 – General Benjamin Lincoln arrives in Springfield Massachusetts and moves on to drive Shays’ rebels northward.
1814 – Congress authorizes a United States Army of 62,773 men. To this time the effective strength of the army had been about 11,000 regulars. Secretary of War John Armstrong divides the US into nine military districts and he will go on to remove such ineffectual leaders form command as General James Wilkenson and General Wade Hampton for their part in their failure to take Montreal.
1823 – Pres. Monroe appointed 1st US ambassadors to South America.
1825 – Congress approved Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), clearing the way for forced relocation of the Eastern Indians on the “Trail of Tears.”
1837 – Marines fought in the Battle of Hatchee-Lustee (Muskogee for “Black Creek”), which is today Reedy Creek, Florida. A combined force under General Jesup of Army and Marines attacked a large Seminole village and captured or drove off the inhabitants.
1862 – President Lincoln issues General War Order No. 1, ordering all land and sea forces to advance on February 22, 1862. This bold move sent a message to his commanders that the president was tired of excuses and delays in seizing the offensive against Confederate forces. The unusual order was the product of a number of factors. Lincoln had a new Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, who replaced the hopelessly corrupt Simon Cameron. Lincoln was much more comfortable with Stanton. The president had also been brushing up on his readings in military strategy. Lincoln felt that if enough force were brought to bear on the Confederates simultaneously, the Confederates would break. This was a simple plan that ignored a host of other factors, but Lincoln felt that if the Confederates “…weakened one to strengthen another,” the Union could step in and “seize and hold the one weakened.” The primary reason for the order, however, was General George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac in the east. McClellan had a deep contempt for Lincoln that had become increasingly apparent since Lincoln appointed McClellan in July 1861. McClellan had shown great reluctance to reveal his plans to the president, and he exhibited no signs of moving his army in the near future. Lincoln wanted to convey a sense of urgency to all the military leaders, and it worked in the West. Union armies in Tennessee began to move, and General Ulysses S. Grant captured Forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, respectively. McClellan, however, did not respond. Lincoln’s order called for strict accountability for each commander who did not follow the order, but the president had to handle McClellan carefully. Because McClellan had the backing of many Democrats and he had whipped the Army of the Potomac into fine fighting shape over the winter, Lincoln had to give McClellan a chance to command in the field.
1863 – Ironclad U.S.S. Montauk, Commander John L. Worden, and U.S.S. Seneca, Wissahickon, Dawn, and mortar schooner C. P. Williams engaged Confederate batteries at Fort McAllister, Georgia, on the Ogeechee River. Worden was acting under orders from Rear Admiral Du Pont to test the new ironclads; though McAllister was an important objective itself, Du Pont was primarily readying his forces for the spring assault on Charleston-for the success of which the Department relied greatly on the monitor class vessels. Worden, unable to proceed within close range of the fort because of formidable sunken obstructions which “from appearances” were “protected by torpedoes,” engaged for four hours before withdrawing.
1865 – After dark, a launch commanded by Acting Ensign Thomas Morgan from U.S.S. Eutaw proceeded up the James River past the obstructions at Trent’s Reach and captured C.S.S. Scorpion. The torpedo boat had run aground during the Confederate attempt to steam downriver on the 23rd and 24th and had been abandoned after Union mortar fire destroyed C.S.S. Drewry which was similarly stranded nearby. Morgan reported: “Finding her hard aground, I immediately proceeded to get her afloat and succeeded in doing so, and repassed the obstruction on my return to the fleet about 10:30 p.m.” Scorpion was found to be little damaged by the explosion of Drewry, contrary to Confederate estimates, and Chief Engineer Alexander Henderson, who examined her, reported approvingly: ‘she has fair speed for a boat of her kind, and is well adapted for the purpose for which she was built.” Scorpion was reported to be 46 feet in length, 6 feet 3 inches beam, and 3 feet 9 inches in depth.
1880 – Thomas Edison received a patent for his electric incandescent lamp.
1900 – Hyman Rickover, American admiral the “Father of the Nuclear Navy” was born in Makow, Russia (now Poland). He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1906. He served on active duty with the United States Navy for more than 63 years, receiving exemptions from the mandatory retirement age due to his critical service in the building of the United States Navy’s nuclear surface and submarine force. He died at home in Arlington, Virginia, on July 8, 1986 and was buried in Section 5 at Arlington National Cemetery. His first wife, Ruth Masters Rickover (1903-1972) is buried with him and the name of his second wife, Eleanore A. Bednowicz Rickover, whom he met while she was serving as a Commander in the Navy Nurse Corps, is inscribed on his gravestone.
1900 – Foreign diplomats in Peking fear revolt and demanded that the Imperial Government discipline the Boxer Rebels.
1926 – The Senate adopts a resolution permitting the US to join the World Court of International justice, which is to be given jurisdiction over all international problems brought before it by member nations. The resolution contains five reservations. Four are accepted without question, but the fifth, pertaining to advisory opinions from the Court relating to a dispute in which the US is involved, the US will not compromise. Over the next ten years attempts to come to an agreement will fail. The US, being neither a member of the League of Nations, nor the World Court, will, nevertheless, participate in a number of international conferences and deliberations.
1935 – The League of Nations majority favored depriving Japan of mandates.
1939 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the sale of U.S. war planes to France.
1939 – First flight of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a World War II American fighter aircraft built by Lockheed. Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Named “fork-tailed devil” by the Luftwaffe and “two planes, one pilot” by the Japanese, the P-38 was used in a number of roles, including dive bombing, level bombing, ground-attack, night fighting, photo reconnaissance missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings. The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the mount of America’s top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories) and Thomas McGuire (38 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war. The P-38 was unusually quiet for a fighter, the exhaust muffled by the turbo-superchargers. The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in production throughout American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to Victory over Japan Day.
1940 – The American transport City of Flint, which had been impounded by Germany, arrives back at her home port following her adventures in the Baltic.
1941 – The United States and Great Britain begin high-level military talks in Washington. They agree to a strategy for war known as the ABC-1 plan. It calls for first concentrating on defeating Germany, then taking on Japan.
1942 – USS Gudgeon is first US sub to sink enemy submarine in action, Japanese I-173.
1943 – 8th Air Force bombers, dispatched from their bases in England, fly the first American bombing raid against the Germans, targeting the Wilhelmshaven port. Of 64 planes participating in the raid, 53 reached their target and managed to shoot down 22 German planes-and lost only three planes in return. The 8th Air Force was activated in February 1942 as a heavy bomber force based in England. Its B-17 Flying Fortresses, capable of sustaining heavy damage while continuing to fly, and its B-24 Liberators, long-range bombers, became famous for precision bombing raids, the premier example being the raid on Wilhelmshaven. Commanded at the time by Brig. Gen. Newton Longfellow, the 8th Air Force was amazingly effective and accurate, by the standards of the time, in bombing warehouses and factories in this first air attack against the Axis power.
1944 – US 5th Army continues attacks on the Gustav Line. The British 10th Corps attacks Santa Maria Infante. The US 34th Division (part of 2nd Corps) captures Monte Maiola and Caira to the north of Cassino. The Free French Corps near Monte Abate is pushed by by German counterattacks.
1944 – The Cape Gloucester beachhead, on New Britain, is expanded to the northwest by US marine regimental forces.
1944 – The governments of Australia, Britain and the United States protest the Japanese treatment of prisoners of war. They indicate a determination to investigate and punish those responsible.
1945 – Commissioning of USS Higbee (DD-806), first U.S. Navy ship named after a female member of U.S. Navy.
1945 – The Ledo Road to China is finally cleared when Chinese troops from Burma and Yunnan province link up near Mongyu. General Sultan, who leads the British, American and Chinese in the area, has in fact announced the road as open on January 22nd. Sultan’s forces are now moving south toward Mandalay and Lashio by several routes.
1945 – The US 32nd Infantry Division lands at Lingayen Gulf to reinforce the American troops there.
1945 – Troops from US 3rd Army cross the Our River and take Oberhausen. The gains made by the German Ardennes offensive are now almost completely eliminated.
1951 – Forcefully marking the continued importance of the West in the development of nuclear weaponry, the government detonates the first of a series of nuclear bombs at its new Nevada test site. Although much of the West had long lagged behind the rest of the nation in technological and industrial development, the massive World War II project to build the first atomic bomb single-handedly pushed the region into the 20th century. Code named the Manhattan Project, this ambitious research and development program pumped millions of dollars of federal funds into new western research centers like the bomb building lab at Los Alamos, New Mexico and the fissionable material production center at Hanford, Washington. Ironically, the very conditions that had once impeded western technological development became benefits: lots of wide-open unpopulated federal land where dangerous experiments could be conducted in secret. After the war ended, the West continued to be the ideal region for Cold War-era nuclear experimentation for the same reasons. In December 1950, the Atomic Energy Commission designated a large swath of unpopulated desert land 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas as the Nevada Proving Ground for atmospheric atomic testing. On January 27, 1951, the government detonated its first atomic device on the site, resulting in a tremendous explosion, the flash from which was seen as far away as San Francisco. The government continued to conduct atmospheric tests for six more years at the Nevada site. They studied the effects on humans by stationing ground troops as close as 2,500 yards from ground zero and moving them even closer shortly after the detonation. By 1957, though, the effects of radioactivity on the soldiers and the surrounding population led the government to begin testing bombs underground, and by 1962, all atmospheric testing had ceased. In recent years, the harm caused to soldiers and westerners exposed to radioactivity from the Nevada test site has become a controversial topic. Some critics argue the government waged a “nuclear war on the West,” and maintain that the government knew of the dangers posed to people living near the test site well before the 1957 shift to underground tests. Others, though, point out that the test site has brought billions of dollars into the state and resulted in great economic benefit to Nevada.
1951 – From this period onward, the major strategic concern of the Chinese was to provide its armies with replacements and supplies. They indoctrinated communist soldiers at all echelons in the importance of logistical support. The Chinese 68th Army commander told his subordinates “The achievement of final victory lies in timely food and ammunition supply and successful transportation.”
1953 – The Combat Cargo Command of the U.S. Air Force transported its 2,000,000th passenger to Korea after two years of operations as the Far East’s military airline.
1959 – NASA selected 110 candidates for the first U.S. space flight.
1962 – Secretary of Defense McNamara forwards a memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to President Kennedy which urges the deployment of US forces to Vietnam. Recapitulating the domino theory, the Joint Chiefs assert that failure to deploy now will only delay the time when it must be done,and will make the task more difficult.
1965 – Military leaders ousted the civilian government of Tran Van Huong in Saigon.
1967 – A launch pad fire during Apollo program tests at Cape Canaveral, Florida, kills astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chafee. An investigation indicated that a faulty electrical wire inside the Apollo 1 command module was the probable cause of the fire. The astronauts, the first Americans to die in a spacecraft, had been participating in a simulation of the Apollo 1 launch scheduled for the next month. The Apollo program was initiated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) following President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 declaration of the goal of landing men on the moon and bringing them safely back to Earth by the end of the decade. The so-called “moon shot” was the largest scientific and technological undertaking in history. In December 1968, Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to travel to the moon, and on July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. walked on the lunar surface. In all, there were 17 Apollo missions and six lunar landings.
1967 – The United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union sign the Outer Space Treaty in Washington, D.C., banning deployment of nuclear weapons in space, and limiting use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes.
1973 – The Paris Peace Accords are signed by officials from the United States and North Vietnam, bringing an official end to America’s participation in its most unpopular foreign war. The accords did little, however, to solve the turmoil in Vietnam or to heal the terrible domestic divisions in the United States brought on by its involvement in this Cold War battleground. Peace negotiations between the United States and North Vietnam had been ongoing since 1968. Richard Nixon was elected president that year, largely on the basis of his promise to find a way to “peace with honor” in Vietnam. Four years later, after the deaths of thousands more American servicemen, South Vietnamese soldiers, North Vietnamese soldiers, and Viet Cong fighters, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, and America’s participation in the struggle in Vietnam came to a close. On the military side, the accords seemed straightforward enough. A cease-fire was declared, and the United States promised to remove all military forces from South Vietnam within 60 days. For their part, the North Vietnamese promised to return all American prisoners of war within that same 60-day framework. The nearly 150,000 North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam were allowed to remain after the cease-fire. The political side of the agreement was somewhat less clear. In essence, the accords called for the reunification of North and South Vietnam through “peaceful means on the basis of discussions and agreements between North and South Viet-Nam.” Precisely what this entailed was left unsaid. The United States also promised to “contribute to healing the wounds of war and to postwar reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam [North Vietnam] and throughout Indochina.” Most Americans were relieved simply to be out of the Vietnam quagmire. The war against communism in Southeast Asia cost over 50,000 U.S. lives and billions of dollars, in addition to countless soldiers wounded in the line of duty. At home, the war seriously fractured the consensus about the Cold War that had been established in the period after World War II–simple appeals to fighting the red threat of communism would no longer be sufficient to move the American nation to commit its prestige, manpower, and money to foreign conflicts. For Vietnam, the accords meant little. The cease-fire almost immediately collapsed, with recriminations and accusations flying from both sides. In 1975, the North Vietnamese launched a massive military offensive, crushed the South Vietnamese forces, and reunified Vietnam under communist rule.
1975 – A bipartisan Senate investigation of activities by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is launched by a special congressional committee headed by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. On November 20, the committee released its report, charging both U.S. government agencies with illegal activities. The committee reported that the FBI and the CIA had conducted illegal surveillance of several hundred thousand U.S. citizens. The CIA was also charged with illegally plotting to assassinate foreign leaders, such as Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile. In 1973, Allende was killed in a coup that the CIA secretly helped organize. The Senate committee also reported that the CIA had maintained a secret stockpile of poisons despite a specific presidential order to destroy the substances.
1977 – Pres. Carter pardoned most Vietnam War draft evaders.
1978 – The State Supreme Court ruled that Nazis can display the Swastika in a march in Skokie, Illinois.
1980 – Through cooperation between the U.S. and Canadian governments, six American diplomats secretly escape hostilities in Iran in the culmination of the Canadian Caper, the popular name given to the joint covert rescue. The “caper” involved CIA agents (Tony Mendez and a man known as “Julio”) joining the six diplomats to form a fake film crew made up of six Canadians, one Irishman and one Latin American who were finishing scouting for an appropriate location to shoot a scene for the nominal science-fiction film Argo. The ruse was carried off on the morning of Sunday, January 27, 1980, at the Mehrabad Airport in Tehran. The eight Americans successfully boarded a Swissair flight to Zurich and escaped Iran.
1981 – President Reagan greeted the 52 former American hostages released by Iran, telling them during a visit to the White House: “Welcome home.”
1985 – The Cold War couldn’t stop one of the stalwarts of capitalism, Coca-Cola, from setting up shop behind the iron curtain. On January 27, 1985, Coke announced plans to sell its all-American soft drinks in the Soviet Union. With the move, Coke belatedly matched Pepsico, who, twelve years earlier, had begun distributing its colas in the U.S.S.R.
1988 – About 400 Marines and sailors from the 2d Marine Division, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, and 2d Force Service Support Group deployed for the Persian Gulf. The Contingency Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) CM 2-88 would relieve Contingency MAGTF 1-88 in the volatile Persian Gulf and provide the effective landing force capability to Joint Task Force Middle East.
1991 – Muhammad Siyad Barre, the dictator of the Somali Democratic Republic since 1969, flees Mogadishu as rebels overrun his palace and capture the Somali capital. In 1969, Somalian President Abd-i-rashid Ali Shermarke was assassinated, and a few days later Major General Barre seized power in a military coup. Barre’s government developed strong ties with the USSR and other Soviet-bloc nations during the 1970s but in 1978 lost Soviet support when it invaded Ethiopia to regain pre-colonial Somali territory. The attack was repelled within a year, but protracted guerrilla warfare continued into the 1980s, bolstered by U.S. support for the Somalis. Several hundred thousand refugees fled to Somalia to escape the conflict, and by the late 1980s economic depression contributed to the outbreak of civil war in Somalia. In early 1991, rebels ousted Barre after intense and bloody fighting, and Ali Mahdi Muhammad of the United Somali Congress took control of Mogadishu and the rest of southern Somalia. The Somali National Movement gained control of the north, the old British Somaliland, and proclaimed it the independent Somaliland Republic. In 1992, civil war between the two Somalias, internal clan-based fighting, and the worst African drought of the century created devastating famine, which threatened one-fourth of the Somali population with starvation. In response, troops from the United States and other U.N. nations occupied Somalia in late 1992 to ensure distribution of food aid and to suppress Somalia’s warring factions. Although many of the U.N.’s temporary humanitarian aims were achieved, the military operation was largely unsuccessful. In 1993, a national cease-fire was signed, but no central government was formed, and fighting erupted again in the same year.
1991 – Upon receiving a request from the Saudi government, the Bush Administration determines that the Coast Guard will head an interagency team that will assist the Saudi government in an oil spill assessment and plan for a clean-up operation.
1992 – Special UNSCOM Mission to secure unconditional acceptance of UNSC resolutions begins.
1994 – The US Senate passed a non-binding resolution, 62-38, calling on the Clinton administration to lift the U.S. trade embargo against Vietnam.
1998 – President Clinton intensifies U.S. pressure on Iraq to open its suspect weapons sites, warning Saddam Hussein not to “defy the will of the world.”
1999 – The Clinton administration announced a plan to end fighting in Kosovo. It called for NATO air strikes if autonomy to the region is not accepted by Pres. Milosevic.
2000 – The US and China agreed to resume normal military ties.
2000 – In Iraq the execution of 26 political prisoners at the Abu Gharib prison took place. Another 13 political detainees were later reported to have died there in the last 2 months from torture neglect and malnutrition.
2002 – Cheney and Rumsfeld said al Qaeda prisoner status at Guantanamo Bay would not change to POW.
2002 – Hamid Karzai, interim Afghan leader, began a visit to the US and asked Afghan Americans to return and help with reconstruction.
2002 – Iraq admitted an int’l. nuclear-inspection team (IAEA) on a 4-day mission to a site near Baghdad.
2003 – The Bush administration moved toward a military showdown with Iraq and suggested a decision could come as early as next week after UN inspectors credited Iraq with only limited cooperation in the search for weapons. Meanwhile, chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix charged that Iraq had never genuinely accepted U.N. resolutions demanding its disarmament and warned that “cooperation on substance” was necessary for a peaceful solution.
2003 – During Operation Mongoose, when a band of fighters were assaulted by U.S. forces at the Adi Ghar cave complex 15 miles (24 km) north of Spin Boldak, 18 rebels were reported killed with no U.S. casualties. The site was suspected to be a base for supplies and fighters coming from Pakistan. The first isolated attacks by relatively large Taliban bands on Afghan targets also appeared around that time.
2004 – Wartime Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic (1991-1992) pleaded guilty to persecution in a plan to ethnically cleanse parts of Croatia of non-Serbs at the outset of the Balkan wars, and expressed “a deep sense of shame” for his crimes. Babic was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
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