1757 – Ahmed Shah, the first King of Afghanistan, occupies Delhi and annexes the Punjab. Ahmad Shah (1722-73), Abdali Durani. First Emir of Afghanistan and founder of the Sadozay dynasty of the Abdali tribe. In october 1747 elected King (Shah) of Afghanistan by an assembly of Pashtun chiefs the new leader of the Afghans changed his title from khan (chief) to shah (king in Persian) and assumed the name Durrani (Pearl of Pearls). Immediately he began to consolidate and enlarge his kingdom. He seized Kabul. He wrested from the Moghuls their territories west of the Indus. The Pashtun tribesmen rallied to his banner, and Ahmad Shah led them on nine campaigns into India. He added Kashmir, Sind, and the Western Punjab to his domains and founded an empire which extended from eastern Persia to northern India and from the Amu Darya to the Indian Ocean. In 1756 he occupied Delhi and carried off as much wealth as possible, thereby enriching his treasury. By 1761, his kindom was larger than the present state of Afghanistan. He led a contingent of his tribesmen in the service of Nadir Shah, king of Persia, who won control of most of Afghanistan and part of India. When Nadir died, Ahmad founded an independent Afghan kingdom. He invaded the Indian Punjab six times between 1748 and 1757, and he seized and sacked Delhi. In 1761 he defeated an Indian army at Panipat, India. Although he was a powerful military leader, Ahmad never succeeded in permanently ruling India; he subsequently withdrew into Afghanistan. Ahmad Shah was an outstanding general and a just ruler. He governed with the help of a council of chiefs, each responsible for his own people. Thus all matters of national issues were centralized, but each chief ruled his own tribe. This kind of arrangement won the support of the people, and was prevailing political pattern in Afghanistan until the monarchy ended in 1973. Ahmad Shah’s vast realm soon broke apart. Afghans were better fighters than administrators. Ahmad Shah left twenty-three sons, but failed to nominate an heir. Ahmad Shah died of a natural death in April 1772. During the next 25 years the royal princes plotted and intrigued for possession of the Afghan throne while their empire fell apart around them. Three different brothers briefly secured the throne, one of them twice, each soon falling victim to one another, but extended to their royal supporters and advisors. In 1818, the youngest of the Mohammadzai sons, Dost Mohammad, challenged and defeated Shah Mahmud of the Sadozai family near Kabul.
1791 – Alexhander Hamilton provides plans for dollar currency and US Mint. Following the Revolutionary War, the U.S. seemed as though as it would adopt copper as its coin of choice. However, various efforts to produce and standardize copper proved futile. Congress pushed on and, in 1786, signed off on Thomas Jefferson’s proposal for a dollar-driven currency. Of course, the nation also needed to develop a means for producing this currency and on this day in 1791, Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton stepped before the House to deliver a report on the establishment of a national mint. Hamilton’s work helped pave the way for the authorization of the United States Mint on April 2, 1792.
1825 – George Edward Pickett (d.1875), Major General in the Confederate Army, was born. When blame was being sought for why his ill -fated charge was the final action of the Battle of Gettysburg, and why the Confederacy did not win the three -day battle, George Pickett suggested that “The Union Army might have had something to do with it.” Pickett had been sponsored for West Point by the Illinois congressman, Abraham Lincoln.
1828 – Confederate General Thomas Carmichael Hindman is born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hindman was raised in Alabama and educated in New York and New Jersey. His family moved to a Mississippi plantation, and he returned from the North to study law. His studies were interrupted by service in the Mexican War, but he was admitted to the Mississippi Bar Association in 1851. He earned a reputation as an avid secessionist long before many southerners held that view. He moved to Arkansas and was elected to Congress in 1858. Hindman’s law partner was Patrick Cleburne, who also became a Confederate General. When the war began, Hindman raised his own regiment and led it as a colonel. He was soon promoted to general and he raised an army of 18,000 from Arkansas. His tenure as commander in Arkansas was stormy. Hindman declared martial law, imposed price controls, and enforced conscription. After his force was stopped at Prairie Grove in December 1862, Hindman was reassigned to the Army of Tennessee. He fought at Chickamauga and Atlanta, and was wounded twice. After the surrender, Hindman fled to Mexico and joined a number of Confederates there. Hindman returned to Arkansas in 1868 and dove back into politics. He led a faction that challenged the Republican Party, and, in a pragmatic political maneuver, he began working on a biracial coalition. Hindman was shot as he sat in his living room, most likely by one of his political opponents. He died on September 28, 1868.
1855 – The Panama Railway, which carried thousands of unruly miners to California via the dense jungles of Central America, dispatches its first train across the Isthmus of Panama. Even before the United States took California from Mexico in 1848 as a spoil of war, Americans heading for the West Coast by ship often cut months off their voyage by crossing the isthmus to the Pacific through Nicaragua. When gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill early in 1848, the trickle of western emigrants across the narrow ribbon of land turned into a flood. Before 1855, sea travelers not wishing to endure the long and treacherous passage around the tip of South America would disembark on the East Coast of Nicaragua. They would then proceed by light boat up the San Juan River to Lake Nicaragua, cross the lake in larger steamers, and complete the final overland leg of the journey via carriages. They traveled on a modern road that deposited them on the West Coast, where they boarded a steamer for San Francisco. Most of the early travelers preferred to cross the isthmus via this safe and well-planned route through Nicaragua rather than through Panama, because the latter was a dense jungle swarming with malarial mosquitoes. A glance at the map, though, showed that Panama was the narrowest barrier between the two oceans and might offer a faster crossing if properly developed. In 1847, a group of New York financiers organized the Panama Railroad Company to do just that, and in 1850, workers began laying track through Panamanian jungle roughly along the route followed by the present canal. Completed in early 1855, the first train departed from the Atlantic side for the Pacific on January 28. A ship voyage punctuated by a brief train ride across the isthmus now became the fastest and most comfortable means of traveling to California, and tens of thousands of gold-hungry emigrants were soon racing through Panama every year. The railroad and the California-bound emigrants proved a boon to Panama’s economy, giving rise to the prosperous new city of Colon at the Atlantic terminus, where passengers often complained about the greatly inflated prices for room and board. The Panamanians had their own complaints about the hordes of young men headed for the California gold fields, who often brought an unwelcome taste of the “Wild West” to Central America. Boredom, guns, and alcohol proved a volatile mix among the impatient travelers, and Panamanians resented the arrogant superiority and racism many of them displayed. The traffic of freight and human beings moving both ways across the isthmus kept the Panama Railway busy until 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United States. However, the railway continued to carry a great deal of commercial freight destined for Europe or Asia until the Panama Canal was completed in 1914.
1858 – John Brown organized a plan to raid the Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.
1878 – The 1st telephone exchange was established at New Haven, Conn.
1885 – Lighthouse Keeper Marcus Hanna of the Cape Elizabeth Light Station saved two men from the wrecked schooner Australia. For this rescue Hanna was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal. He was also awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Port Hudson in 1863. He is the only person to have ever received both awards.
1909 – United States troops leave Cuba, ending direct control of that country, with the exception of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base after being there since the Spanish–American War.
1914 – US Marines with British, French and German units landed in Haiti.
1915 – President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the “Act to Create the Coast Guard,” an act passed by Congress on 20 January 1915 to form the Coast Guard (38 Stat. L., 800). The Coast Guard, however, still considers the date of the founding of the Revenue Cutter Service, 4 August 1790, as its “official” birthday, even though the Lighthouse Service, absorbed in 1939, is even older than that, dating to 7 August 1789. The Coast Guard is the amalgamation of five Federal agencies. These agencies, the Revenue Cutter Service, the Lighthouse Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, the Bureau of Navigation, and the Lifesaving Service, were originally independent, but had overlapping authorities and were shuffled around the government. They sometimes received new names, and they were all finally united under the umbrella of the Coast Guard. The multiple missions and responsibilities of the modern Service are directly tied to this diverse heritage and the magnificent achievements of all of these agencies.
1915 – The merchant frigate Willaim P. Frye was stopped by a German cruiser in the South Atlantic off the Brazilian coast and ordered to jettison its cargo. The following day, the German captain noted that the disposal of the wheat had not been completed, so he ordered the ship’s destruction. The sinking of the Frye was the first such loss inflicted on American shipping in World War I.
1917 – American forces are recalled from Mexico after nearly 11 months of fruitless searching for Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who had lead a bloody raid against Columbus, New Mexico. In 1914, following the resignation of Mexican leader Victoriano Huerta, Pancho Villa and his former revolutionary ally Venustiano Carranza battled each other in a struggle for succession. By the end of 1915, Villa had been driven north into the mountains, and the U.S. government recognized General Carranza as the president of Mexico. In January 1916, to protest President Woodrow Wilson’s support for Carranza, Villa executed 16 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel in northern Mexico. Then, on March 9, 1916, Villa led a band of several hundred guerrillas across the border and raided the town of Columbus, killing 17 Americans. U.S. troops pursued the Mexicans, killing 50 on U.S. soil and 70 more in Mexico. On March 15, under orders from President Wilson, U.S. Brigadier General John J. Pershing launched a punitive expedition into Mexico to capture Villa dead or alive. For the next 11 months, Pershing, like Carranza, failed to capture the elusive revolutionary and Mexican resentment over the U.S. intrusion into their territory led to a diplomatic crisis. On June 21, the crisis escalated into violence when Mexican government troops attacked Pershing’s forces at Carrizal, Mexico, leaving 17 Americans killed or wounded, and 38 Mexicans dead. In late January 1917, having failed in their mission to capture Villa and under pressure from the Mexican government, the Americans were ordered home. Villa continued his guerrilla activities in northern Mexico until Adolfo de la Huerta took power over the government and drafted a reformist constitution. Villa entered into an amicable agreement with Huerta and agreed to retire from politics. In 1920, the government pardoned Villa, but three years later he was assassinated at Parral.
1923 – The 1st “National Socialist German Workers Party” (NSDAP, aka NAZI) formed in Munich.
1932 – The Japanese attacked Shanghai, China, and declare martial law.
1942 – The Eighth Bomber Command (Later redesignated 8th AF in February 1944) activated as part of the U.S. Army Air Forces at Hunter Field in Savannah, Ga. Brig. Gen. Ira C Eaker took the headquarters to England the next month to prepare for its mission to conduct aerial bombardment mission against Nazi-occupied Europe.During World War 2,under the leadership of such generals as Eaker and Jimmy Doolittle, 8th AF became the greatest air armada in history. By mid-1944, 8th AF had reached a total strength of more than 200,000 people (it is estimated that more than 350,000 Americans served in 8th AF during the war in Europe). At its peak, 8th AF could dispatch more than 2,000 four-engine bombers and 1,000 fighters on a single mission. For these reasons, 8th AF became known as the “Mighty Eighth”.
1942 – The 4th Marine Regiment was assigned to support Philippine Scouts on Bataan.
1945 – Part of the 717-mile “Burma Road” from Lashio, Burma to Kunming in southwest China is reopened by the Allies, permitting supplies to flow back into China. At the outbreak of war between Japan and China in 1937, when Japan began its occupation of China’s seacoast, China began building a supply route that would enable vital resources to evade the Japanese blockade and flow into China’s interior from outside. It was completed in 1939, and allowed goods to reach China via a supply route that led from the sea to Rangoon, and then by train to Lashio. When, in April 1942, the Japanese occupied most of Burma, the road from Lashio to China was closed, and the supply line was cut off. The Allies were not able to respond until 1944, when Allied forces in eastern India made their way into northern Burma and were able to begin construction of another supply road that linked Ledo, India, with the part of the original Burma Road still controlled by the Chinese. The Stillwell Road (named for Gen. Joseph Stillwell, American adviser to Chiang Kai-shek, China’s leader) was finally opened on this day in 1945, once again allowing the free transport of supplies into China.
1945 – The US 8th Air Force conducts raids on the Ruhr industrial area and the Rhine with 1000 bombers. Oil plants and bridges are the nominal targets.
1945 – The US 1st Army launches attacks east of St. Vith in the Ardennes.
1952 – The U.N. Command gave the communists four lists with the names of 132,080 POWs held by the United Nations forces.
1955 – The U.S. Congress passed a bill allowing mobilization of troops if China should attack Taiwan.
1964 – The U.S. State Department angrily accuses the Soviet Union of shooting down an American jet that strayed into East German airspace. Three U.S. officers aboard the plane were killed in the incident. The Soviets responded with charges that the flight was a “gross provocation,” and the incident was an ugly reminder of the heightened East-West tensions of the Cold War era. According to the U.S. military, the jet was on a training flight over West Germany and pilots became disoriented by a violent storm that led the plane to veer nearly 100 miles off course. The Soviet attack on the plane provoked angry protests from the Department of State and various congressional leaders, including Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, who charged that the Soviets had intentionally downed the plane “to gain the offensive” in the aggressive Cold War maneuvering. For their part, the Soviets refused to accept U.S. protests and responded that they had “all grounds to believe that this was not an error or mistake…It was a clear intrusion.” Soviet officials also claimed that the plane was ordered to land but refused the instructions. Shortly after the incident, U.S. officials were allowed to travel to East Germany to recover the bodies and the wreckage. Like numerous other similar Cold War incidents–including the arrest of suspected “spies” and the seizure of ships–this event resulted in heated verbal exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union, but little else. Both nations had bigger issues to contend with: the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War, and the Soviet Union was dealing with a widening split with communist China. The deaths were, however, another reminder that the heated suspicion, heightened tension, and loaded rhetoric of the Cold War did have the potential to erupt into meaningless death and destruction.
1964 – An unarmed USAF T-39 Sabreliner on a training mission is shot down over Erfurt, East Germany, by a Soviet MiG-19.
1966 – Operation “Double Eagle.” Largest amphibious landing since Korea. D-Day, 28 January, was a dismal day with low overcast and light rain. Despite the heavy seas, the first wave of Lieutenant Colonel James R. Young’s BLT 3/1 landed at 0700 as planned. Offshore, a destroyer, the USS Barry (DD 933), and a cruiser, the USS Oklahoma City (CLG 5) provided naval gunfire coverage, while eight Douglas A4 Skyhawks from MAG-12 and eight McDonnell F-4B Phantoms from MAG- 11 were on station overhead. The only opposition encountered by the assault troops occur-red late that day. Companies I and M were exposed to occasional small arms fire; one Company I Marine was wounded. Shortly after Lieutenant Colonel Young’s men secured their objectives, five 105mm howitzer-equipped amphibian tractors (IVTH-6 moved ashore to provide artillery support for the infantry battalion. Company B from the 3d Engineer Battalion was also on the beach to establish various points.
1973 – A cease-fire goes into effect at 8 a.m., Saigon time (midnight on January 27, Greenwich Mean Time). When the cease-fire went into effect, Saigon controlled about 75 percent of South Vietnam’s territory and 85 percent of the population. The South Vietnamese Army was well equipped via last-minute deliveries of U.S. weapons and continued to receive U.S. aid after the cease-fire. The CIA estimated North Vietnamese presence in the South at 145,000 men, about the same as the previous year. The cease-fire began on time, but both sides violated it. South Vietnamese forces continued to take back villages occupied by communists in the two days before the cease-fire deadline and the communists tried to capture additional territory. Each side held that military operations were justified by the other side’s violations of the cease-fire. What resulted was an almost endless chain of retaliations. During the period between the initiation of the cease-fire and the end of 1973, there were an average of 2,980 combat incidents per month in South Vietnam. Most of these were low-intensity harassing attacks designed to wear down the South Vietnamese forces, but the North Vietnamese intensified their efforts in the Central Highlands in September when they attacked government positions with tanks west of Pleiku. As a result of these post-cease-fire actions, about 25,000 South Vietnamese were killed in battle in 1973, while communist losses in South Vietnam were estimated at 45,000.
1975 – President Gerald Ford asks Congress for an additional $522 million in military aid for South Vietnam and Cambodia. He revealed that North Vietnam now had 289,000 troops in South Vietnam, and tanks, heavy artillery, and antiaircraft weapons “by the hundreds.” Ford succeeded Richard Nixon when he resigned the presidency in August 1974. Despite his wishes to honor Nixon’s promise to come to the aid of South Vietnam, he was faced with a hostile Congress who refused to appropriate military aid for South Vietnam and Cambodia; both countries fell to the communists later in the year.
1980 – The CGC Blackthorn sank in Tampa Bay after colliding with the tanker Capricorn. 23 Coast Guard personnel were killed in the tragedy.
1982 – Italian anti -terrorism forces rescued U.S. Brigadier General James L. Dozier, 42 days after he had been kidnapped by the Red Brigades.
1986 – At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Christa McAuliffe is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel into space. McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew of the Challenger. She underwent months of shuttle training but then, beginning January 23, was forced to wait six long days as the Challenger’s launch countdown was repeatedly delayed because of weather and technical problems. Finally, on January 28, the shuttle lifted off. Seventy-three seconds later, hundreds on the ground, including Christa’s family, stared in disbelief as the shuttle exploded in a forking plume of smoke and fire. Millions more watched the wrenching tragedy unfold on live television. There were no survivors. In 1976, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) unveiled the world’s first reusable manned spacecraft, the Enterprise. Five years later, space flights of the shuttle began when Columbia traveled into space on a 54-hour mission. Launched by two solid-rocket boosters and an external tank, only the aircraft-like shuttle entered into orbit around Earth. When the mission was completed, the shuttle fired engines to reduce speed and, after descending through the atmosphere, landed like a glider. Early shuttles took satellite equipment into space and carried out various scientific experiments. The Challenger disaster was the first major shuttle accident. In the aftermath of the explosion, President Ronald Reagan appointed a special commission to determine what went wrong with Challenger and to develop future corrective measures. The presidential commission was headed by former secretary of state William Rogers, and included former astronaut Neil Armstrong and former test pilot Chuck Yeager. The investigation determined that the explosion was caused by the failure of an “O-ring” seal in one of the two solid-fuel rockets. The elastic O-ring did not respond as expected because of the cold temperature at launch time, which began a chain of events that resulted in the massive explosion. As a result of the explosion, NASA did not send astronauts into space for more than two years as it redesigned a number of features of the space shuttle. In September 1988, space shuttle flights resumed with the successful launching of the Discovery. Since then, the space shuttle has carried out numerous important missions, such as the repair and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope and the construction of the International Space Station. To date, there have been more than 100 space shuttle flights.
1991 – The US military reported that more than 60 Iraqi fighter -bombers had taken refuge in Iran, where they were impounded by the Iranian government.
1991 – Iraqi troops attack Khafji, in Saudi Arabia, and are defeated by Coalition forces.
1999 – NATO allies warned Pres. Milosevic that they were ready to use immediate force, and Britain and France said they were prepared to send in ground troops to enforce a peace settlement in Kosovo.
1997 – The official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reports that Iraq has exported a total of 11.5 million barrels of crude oil from its Persian Gulf terminal of Mina al Bakr since it began selling oil under the United Nations’ oil-for-food deal in December 1996.
1997 – The Clinton Administration refutes news reports that Iraq is threatening its neighbors, but restates the U.S. willingness to act if Iraq does become aggressive. The statement is in reaction to speculation following reports that Saddam Hussein’s wife has been placed under house arrest and his son risks losing a leg to gangrene in the wake of a previous assassination attempt.
1999 – From Iraq a UN official reported that hoof -and -mouth disease had crippled 1 million sheep and cattle in the country and that 50,000 kids and calves had died from the viral disease. The vaccine supply was exhausted due to the 1993 destruction of a vaccine laboratory by the UN commission.
2002 – Hamid Karzai became the first Afghan leader to visit Washington in 39 years; President George W. Bush promised a “lasting partnership” with Afghanistan.
2002 – US forces and Afghan militiamen attacked and killed 6 al Qaeda gunmen, who had been holed up at the Mir Wais Hospital in Kandahar.
2002 – At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council’s committee on Iraq trade sanctions, Britain requests a formal “clarification” from Security Council member Syria on allegations that Iraqi crude oil is flowing through a pipeline to Syria and being exported, or at least substituted in Syrian refineries allowing for more Syrian crude oil exports, in violation of United Nations sanctions. Analysts have placed the amount of crude oil being sent from Iraq to Syria at between 150,000 and 200,000 barrels per day.
2003 – US and Afghan forces battled rebels aligned with renegade leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the largest -scale fighting in 10 months. 18 enemy fighters were killed in 2 days of fighting. Norwegian F -16s participated in bombing enemy targets.
2003 – DoD submitted a request for Coast Guard forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Commandant, ADM Thomas Collins, approved that request and ordered the deployment of eight 110-foot patrol boats, crews, and support units. The cutters were CGCs: Wrangell, Adak, Aquidneck, Baranof, Grand Isle, Bainbridge Island, Pea Island, and Knight Island.
2003 – Hans Blix reports to the UN Security Council on the progress of weapons inspections in Iraq, 60 days after they began. The 15-page report states that although Iraq had been quite co-operative, there was an absence of full transparency including the deliberate concealment of documents. The report also states that inspectors have evidence that Iraq produced thousands of litres of anthrax in the 1990s and that the deadly bacteria “might still exist”. It also says that Iraq may have lied about the amount if VX nerve gas it has produced, and that it has failed to account for 6500 chemical bombs.
2005 – According to an insider’s written account, female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay by using techniques such as sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear.
2005 – Iraq battened down for the 1st free balloting in half a century, imposing a 7 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and closing Baghdad Int’l Airport. Iraqis overseas began three days of voting in 14 nations.
2005 – Authorities in Iraq said they have arrested three close associates of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
2010 – An International Conference on Afghanistan was held at Lancaster House in London, where members of the international community discussed the further progress on the Petersberg agreement from 2001 on the democratization of Afghanistan after the ousting of the Taliban regime. The one-day conference, hosted by the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the Afghan government, meant to chart a new course for the future of Afghanistan and brought together foreign ministers and senior representatives from more than 70 countries and international organizations.
2013 – American fighter aircraft F-16 flying out of Aviano Air Base loses radio contact and crashes in the Adriatic Sea.
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