This Day in U.S. Military History…… January 3

3 January
1749 – Benning Wentworth issues the first of the New Hampshire Grants, leading to the establishment of Vermont.
1777 – General George Washington defeats the British led by British General Lord Charles Cornwallis, at Princeton, New Jersey. On the night of January 2, George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, repulsed a British attack at the Battle of the Assunpink Creek in Trenton. That night, he evacuated his position, circled around General Lord Cornwallis’ army, and went to attack the British garrison at Princeton. Brigadier General Hugh Mercer of the Continental Army, clashed with two regiments under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood of the British Army. Mercer and his troops were overrun and Washington sent some militia under Brigadier General John Cadwalader to help him. The militia, on seeing the flight of Mercer’s men, also began to flee. Washington rode up with reinforcements and rallied the fleeing militia. He then led the attack on Mawhood’s troops, driving them back. Mawhood gave the order to retreat and most of the troops tried to flee to Cornwallis in Trenton. In Princeton itself, Brigadier General John Sullivan encouraged some British troops who had taken refuge in Nassau Hall to surrender, ending the battle. After the battle, Washington moved his army to Morristown, and with their third defeat in 10 days, the British evacuated southern New Jersey. With the victory at Princeton, morale rose in the ranks and more men began to enlist in the army. The battle (while considered minor by British standards) was the last major action of Washington’s winter New Jersey campaign.
1781 – Mutinous Pennsylvania troops make camp near Princeton, New Jersey, and elect representatives to bargain with the Pennsylvania state officials. Negotiations resolve the crisis, although over half of the mutineers will leave the army.
1794 – In answer to British orders in council of November 3, 1793, calling for the seizure of neutral ships carrying French West Indian exports. President James Madison presents seven commercial resolutions in the House of Representatives. These resolutions seek remedies against any nations threatening American shipping and trade. After much discussion, none of the resolutions are passed.
1823 – Stephen F. Austin received a grant from the Mexican government and began colonization in the region of the Brazos River in Texas.
1834 – Escalating the tensions that would lead to rebellion and war, the Mexican government imprisons the Texas colonizer Stephen Austin in Mexico City. Stephen Fuller Austin was a reluctant revolutionary. His father, Moses Austin, won permission from the Mexican government in 1821 to settle 300 Anglo-American families in Texas. When Moses died before realizing his plans, Stephen took over and established the fledgling Texas community on the lower reaches of the Colorado and Brazos Rivers. Periodic upheavals in the government of the young Mexican Republic forced Austin to constantly return to Mexico City where he argued for the rights of the American colonists in Texas, representing their interests as a colonial founder. Yet, Austin remained confident that an Anglo-American state could succeed within the boundaries of the Mexican nation. Mexican authorities were less certain. Alarmed by the growing numbers of former Americans migrating to Texas (8,000 in Austin’s colonies alone by 1832) and rumors the U.S. intended to annex the region, the Mexican government began to limit immigration in 1830. Though Austin found loopholes allowing him to circumvent the policy, the Mexican policy angered many Anglo-American colonists who already had a long list of grievances against their distant government. In 1833, a group of colonial leaders met to draft a constitution that would create a new Anglo-dominated Mexican state of Texas by splitting away from the Mexican-dominated Coahuila region it had previously been tied to. The colonists hoped that by decreasing the influence of native Mexicans, whose culture and loyalties were more closely wedded to Mexico City, they could argue more effectively for American-style reforms. Once they had hammered out a new constitution, the colonial leaders directed Austin to travel to Mexico City to present it to the government along with a list of other demands. Austin conceded to the will of the people, but President Santa Ana refused to grant Texas separate status from Coahuila and threw Austin in prison on suspicion of inciting insurrection. When he was finally released eight months later in August 1835, Austin found that the Anglo-American colonists were on the brink of rebellion. They were now demanding a Republic of Texas that would break entirely from the Mexican nation. Reluctantly, Austin abandoned his hope that the Anglo Texans could somehow remain a part of Mexico, and he began to prepare for war. The following year Austin helped lead the Texan rebels to victory over the Mexicans and assisted in the creation of the independent Republic of Texas. Defeated by Sam Houston in a bid for the presidency of the new nation, Austin instead took the position of secretary of state. He died in office later that year.
1847 – General Winfield Scott, who has taken command of the Gulf expedition in Mexico, orders 9000 men from General Taylor’s force to assault Vera Cruz.
1861 – The state of Georgia takes over Federal Fort Pulaski. It will return to Federal hands in April of 1862.
1861 – Just two weeks after South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union, the state of Delaware rejects a similar proposal. There had been little doubt that Delaware would remain with the North. Delaware was technically a slave state, but the institution was rare by 1861. There were 20,000 blacks living there, but only 1,800 of them were slaves–Delaware was industrializing, and most of the commercial ties were with Pennsylvania. In 1790, 15 percent of Delaware’s population was enslaved, but by 1850 that figure had dropped to less than three percent. In the state’s largest city, Wilmington, there were only four bondsmen. Most of the slaves were concentrated in Sussex, the southernmost of the state’s three counties. After South Carolina ratified the ordinance of secession on December 20, 1860, other states considered similar proposals. Although there were some Southern sympathizers, Delaware had a Unionist governor and the legislature was dominated by Unionists. On January 3, the legislature voted overwhelmingly to remain with the United States. For the Union, Delaware’s decision was only a temporary respite from the parade of seceding states. Over the next several weeks, six states joined South Carolina in seceding; four more left after the South captured Fort Sumter in April 1861.
1904 – Marines from USS Dixie arrive in Panama.
1916 – Three armored Japanese cruisers are ordered to guard the Suez Canal.1920 – The last of the U.S. troops depart France.
1925 – In Italy, Mussolini announced that he would take dictatorial powers.
1933 – The Japanese take Shuangyashan, China, killing 500 Chinese.
1940 – British warships detain the American SS Mormacsun.
1940 – President Roosevelt requests $1.8 billion for national defense in his annual budget request to Congress.
1942 – Chiang Kai-shek is named Commander in Chief of all Allied forces in China.
1943 – A US B-17 bomber was downed over France following a bombing run over a German submarine base in southern France. John Roten, navigator, was the only survivor. Roten spent 28 months as a POW.
1944 – CDR Frank Erickson flies plasma in a Coast Guard HNS-1 helicopter from Brooklyn to a hospital in Sandy Hook, NJ in the first recorded mission of mercy conducted by a rotary wing aircraft.
1944 – Top Marine ace MAJ Boyington captured after shooting down 28 aircraft.
1944 – Fighting in the Borgen Bay area of New Britain continues but US forces are still unable to bring up armor.
1945 – In preparation for planned assaults against Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and mainland Japan, Gen. Douglas MacArthur is placed in command of all U.S. ground forces and Adm. Chester Nimitz is placed in command of all U.S. naval forces. This effectively ended the concept of unified commands, in which one man oversaw more than one service from more than one country in a distinct region. Douglas MacArthur’s career was one of striking achievement. His performance during World War I combat in France won him decorations for valor and earned him the distinction of becoming the youngest general in the Army at the time. He retired from the Army in 1934, but was then appointed head of the Philippine Army by its president (the Philippines had U.S. Commonwealth status at the time). When World War II erupted, MacArthur was called back to active service as commanding general of the U.S. Army in the Far East. He was convinced he could defeat Japan if Japan invaded the Philippines. In the long term he was correct, but in the short term the United States suffered disastrous defeats at Bataan and Corregidor. By the time U.S. forces were compelled to surrender, he had already shipped out on orders from President Roosevelt. As he left, he uttered his immortal line: “I shall return.” Refusing to admit defeat, MacArthur took supreme command of a unified force in the Southwest Pacific, capturing New Guinea from the Japanese with an innovative “leap frog” strategy. True to his word, MacArthur returned to the Philippines in October 1944. With the help of the U.S. Navy, which destroyed the Japanese fleet and left the Japanese garrisons on the islands without reinforcements, the Army defeated the Japanese resistance. In January 1945, he was given control of all American land forces in the Pacific; by March, MacArthur was able to hand control of the Philippine capital back to its president. Admiral Nimitz, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, fought in World War I as chief of staff to the commander of the Atlantic submarine force, an experience that forever convinced him of the efficacy of submarine warfare. Upon America’s entry into World War II, Nimitz was made commander in chief of the unified Pacific Fleet (Ocean Area), putting him in control of both air and sea forces. He oversaw American victories at Midway and the Battle of the Coral Sea, and directed further victories at the Solomon Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Philippines, and finally, as commander of all naval forces in the Pacific, in Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Both MacArthur and Nimitz had the honor of accepting the formal Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri.
1945 – Third Fleet carriers begin a 2 day attack against Formosa destroying 100 aircraft with loss of only 22 aircraft. VMF-124 and VMF-213 from the USS Essex struck Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands in the first Marine land strike off a carrier.
1945 – In the Ardennes the fighting continues. There are desperate German attacks on the narrow corridor leading to Bastogne which manage to upset the timetable of the US attacks a little but achieve nothing else. Forces from the US Third and now also the First Armies are attacking toward Houffaliza from the south and north. In Alsace the German attacks and the American retreat continue. The US VI Corps is being pressed particularly hard around Bitche. Farther south there is also fighting near Strasbourg.
1947 – Proceedings of the U.S. Congress are televised for the first time.
1951 – As massive numbers of Chinese troops crossed the frozen Han River east and west of Seoul, Eighth Army began evacuating the South Korean capital. The ROK government began moving to Pusan. In one of the largest FEAF Bomber Command air raids, more than sixty B-29s dropped 650 tons of incendiary bombs on Pyongyang. UN forces burned nearly 500,000 gallons of fuel and 23,000 gallons of napalm at Kimpo in preparation for abandoning the base to the advancing enemy. Far East Air Forces flew 958 combat sorties, a one-day record.1958 – The Air Force forms two squadrons of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) armed with medium-range ballistic missiles.
1957 – The International Control Commission reports that neither North Vietnam nor South Vietnam have been fulfilling their obligations under the 1954 Geneva Agreements.
1959 – Fidel Castro takes command of the Cuban army.
1959 – President Eisenhower signs a special proclamation admitting the territory of Alaska into the Union as the 49th and largest state. The European discovery of Alaska came in 1741, when a Russian expedition led by Danish navigator Vitus Bering sighted the Alaskan mainland. Russian hunters were soon making incursions into Alaska, and the native Aleut population suffered greatly after being exposed to foreign diseases. In 1784, Grigory Shelikhov established the first permanent Russian colony in Alaska on Kodiak Island. In the early 19th century, Russian settlements spread down the west coast of North America, with the southernmost fort located near Bodega Bay in California. Russian activity in the New World declined in the 1820s, and the British and Americans were granted trading rights in Alaska after a few minor diplomatic conflicts. In the 1860s, a nearly bankrupt Russia decided to offer Alaska for sale to the United States, which earlier had expressed interest in such a purchase. On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward signed a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7.2 million. Despite the bargain price of roughly two cents an acre, the Alaskan purchase was ridiculed in Congress and in the press as “Seward’s folly,” “Seward’s icebox,” and President Andrew Johnson’s “polar bear garden.” Nevertheless, the Senate ratified purchase of the tremendous landmass, one-fifth the size of the rest of the United States. Despite a slow start in settlement by Americans from the continental United States, the discovery of gold in 1898 brought a rapid influx of people to the territory. Alaska, rich in natural resources, has been contributing to American prosperity ever since.
1961 – The United States severs diplomatic relations with Cuba over the latter’s nationalization of American assets.
1961 – A core explosion and meltdown at the SL-1, a government-run reactor near Idaho Falls, Idaho, kills three workers.
1966 – Cambodia warns the United Nations of retaliation unless the United States and South Vietnam end intrusions.
1967 – Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, dies of cancer in a Dallas hospital. The Texas Court of Appeals had recently overturned his death sentence for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and was scheduled to grant him a new trial. On November 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy’s assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail. A crowd of police and press with live television cameras rolling gathered to witness his departure. As Oswald came into the room, Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed .38 revolver. Ruby, who was immediately detained, claimed he was distraught over the president’s assassination. Some called him a hero, but he was nonetheless charged with first-degree murder. Jack Ruby, originally known as Jacob Rubenstein, operated strip joints and dance halls in Dallas and had minor connections to organized crime. He also had a relationship with a number of Dallas policemen, which amounted to various favors in exchange for leniency in their monitoring of his establishments. He features prominently in Kennedy assassination theories, and many believe he killed Oswald to keep him from revealing a larger conspiracy. In his trial, Ruby denied the charge, maintaining that he was acting out of patriotism. In March 1964, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. The official Warren Commission report of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate President Kennedy. Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee’s findings, as with the findings of the Warren Commission, continue to be widely disputed.
1978 – North Vietnamese troops reportedly occupy 400 square miles in Cambodia. North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops were using Laos and Cambodia as staging areas for attacks against allied forces.
1986 – President Ronald Reagan orders economic sanctions against Libya in retaliation for its involvement in terrorist attacks in Rome and Vienna.
1990 – Ousted Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega surrendered to U.S. forces, 10 days after taking refuge in the Vatican’s diplomatic mission. He is flown to Florida and arraigned on drug-trafficking charges.
1991 – The 102nd Congress convened, plunging immediately into acrimonious debate over the Persian Gulf crisis. President Bush proposed direct talks between Secretary of State James A. Baker the Third and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz.
1993 – In Moscow, Russia, George Bush and Boris Yeltsin sign the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
1999 – The Mars Polar Lander is launched. Also known as the Mars Surveyor ’98 Lander, was a 290-kilogram robotic spacecraft lander to study the soil and climate of Planum Australe, a region near the south pole on Mars. It formed part of the Mars Surveyor ’98 mission. On December 3, 1999, however, after the descent phase was expected to be complete, the lander failed to reestablish communication with Earth. It was determined that the most likely cause of the mishap was premature termination of the engine firing prior to the lander touching the surface, causing it to strike the planet at a high velocity
2003 – US warplanes hit an al Qaeda compound in the Khost region south of Tora Bora and Islamic fighters near Baghran were reported to be in negotiations.
2003 – US announced increased military operations in Somalia and prepared to send Marines there. It was suspected that Al Qaeda fighters might attempt fleeing to Somalia.
2003 – The USCGC Boutwell departed Alameda in preparation for supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. She began operations in the Arabian Gulf on 14 February 2003. Prior to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, her crew conducted maritime interception boardings to enforce U.N. sanctions against Iraq. At the outbreak of hostilities and throughout the conflict, she operated in the strategically critical and politically sensitive Khawr Abd Allah and Shaat Al Arab Waterways, providing force protection to the massive coalition fleet, securing Iraqi oil terminals, and preventing the movement of weapons, personnel or equipment by Saddam Hussein’s regime or other guerilla or terrorist forces.
2004 – The NASA spacecraft Spirit landed on Mars at the Gusev Crater. It was the 4th successful US landing on Mars.
2005 – Three U.S. Presidents – George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush – make a joint appeal urging Americans to aid the tsunamis’ victims. Bush makes a presidential proclamation to fly the U.S. flag at half staff from 3-7 Jan in honor of the tsunami victims.
2009 – The first block of the blockchain of the decentralized payment system Bitcoin, called the Genesis block, was established by the creator of the system, Satoshi Nakamoto.
2010 – The United States and United Kingdom close their embassies in Yemen, citing threats from Al-Qaeda.
2014 – The United States evacuates additional diplomatic personnel at its embassy in Juba, South Sudan, due to the deteriorating security situation.
2014 – ISIS proclaimed an Islamic state in Fallujah. After prolonged tensions, the newly formed Army of Mujahedeen, the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front launched an offensive against ISIS-held territory in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Idlib. A spokesman for the rebels said that rebels had attacked ISIS in up to 80% of all ISIS-held villages in Idlib and 65% of those in Aleppo.

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