1780 – A snowstorm hits Washington’s army at Morristown New Jersey.
1846 – General Mariano Paredes becomes the President of Mexico, announcing he will defend all territory he considers Mexico’s.
1847 – Samuel Colt rescues the future of his faltering gun company by winning a contract to provide the U.S. government with 1,000 of his .44 caliber revolvers. Before Colt began mass-producing his popular revolvers in 1847, handguns had not played a significant role in the history of either the American West or the nation as a whole. Expensive and inaccurate, short-barreled handguns were impractical for the majority of Americans, though a handful of elite still insisted on using dueling pistols to solve disputes in highly formalized combat. When choosing a practical weapon for self-defense and close-quarter fighting, most Americans preferred knives, and western pioneers especially favored the deadly and versatile Bowie knife. That began to change when Samuel Colt patented his percussion-repeating revolver in 1836. The heart of Colt’s invention was a mechanism that combined a single rifled barrel with a revolving chamber that held five or six shots. When the weapon was cocked for firing, the chamber revolved automatically to bring the next shot into line with the barrel. Though still far less accurate than a well-made hunting rifle, the Colt revolver could be aimed with reasonable precision at a short distance (30 to 40 yards in the hands of an expert), because the interior bore was “rifled”–cut with a series of grooves spiraling down its length. The spiral grooves caused the slug to spin rapidly as it left the bbarrel, giving it gyroscopic stability. The five or six-shoot capacity also made accuracy less important, since a missed shot could quickly be followed with others. Yet most cowboys, gamblers, and gunslingers could never have afforded such a revolver if not for the de facto subsidy the federal government provided to Colt by purchasing his revolvers in such great quantities. After the first batch of revolvers proved popular with soldiers, the federal government became one of Colt’s biggest customers, providing him with the much-needed capital to improve his production facilities. With the help of Eli Whitney and other inventors, Colt developed a system of mass production and interchangeable parts for his pistols that greatly lowered their cost. Though never cheap, by the early 1850s, Colt revolvers were inexpensive enough to be a favorite with Americans headed westward during the California Gold Rush. Between 1850 and 1860, Colt sold 170,000 of his “pocket” revolvers and 98,000 “belt” revolvers, mostly to civilians looking for a powerful and effective means of self-defense in the Wild West.
1861 – 40 Marines left Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. to garrison Ft. Washington.
1863 – Union General Henry Halleck, by direction of President Abraham Lincoln, orders General Ulysses Grant to revoke his infamous General Order No. 11 that expelled Jews from his operational area.
1863 – Blockading ship USS Quaker City captures the sloop Mercury carrying dispatches emphasizing desperate plight of the South.
1863 – Confederate General Roger Weightman Hanson dies at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His death was a result of wounds sustained two days earlier at the Battle of Stones River. Hanson was born in 1827 in Clark City, Tennessee. He served during the Mexican War and was a lawyer and a colonel in the Kentucky State Guard before the Civil War. He joined the Confederate army in September 1861 and received a commission as colonel in the 2nd Kentucky. He was assigned to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River and when Union General Ulysses S. Grant captured the post on February 16, 1862, Hanson was sent to a Federal prison. He was exchanged after eight months and placed in command of the “Orphan Brigade.” The Orphan Brigade was a unit composed of 5,000 Kentucky residents who were cut off from their homes by the Union occupation of their state. In December 1862, Hanson and his men marched with General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry to Hartsville, Tennessee, on a raid that netted 2,000 Union prisoners. The brigade then joined the Army of Tennessee for the Stones River campaign later that month. During the battle, which lasted from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, the Orphan Brigade participated in a failed attack on Union artillery positions. The cannonade against the Kentucky fighters was so strong that one Union officer commented that the Confederates must have thought that they had, “opened the door of Hell, and the devil himself was there to greet them.” Hanson was struck in the leg during the attack, and he died the following morning.
1896 – Six years after Wilford Woodruff, president of the Mormon church, issued his Manifesto reforming political, religious, and economic life in Utah, the territory is admitted into the Union as the 45th state. In 1823, Vermont-born Joseph Smith claimed that an angel named Moroni visited him and told him about an ancient Hebrew text that had lost been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native-American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Jewish peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. Over the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830, The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ, later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Fayette, New York. The religion rapidly gained converts and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices and on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother were murdered in a jail cell by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois. Two years later, Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, along the western wagon trails in search of religious and political freedom. In July 1847, the 148 initial Mormon pioneers reached Utah’s Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Upon viewing the valley, Young declared: “This is the place,” and the pioneers began preparations for the tens of thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow. In 1850, President Millard Fillmore named Young the first governor of the territory of Utah, and the territory enjoyed relative autonomy for several years. Relations became strained, however, when reports reached Washington that Mormon leaders were disregarding federal law and had publicly sanctioned the practice of polygamy. In 1857, President James Buchanan removed Young, a polygamist with over 20 wives, from his position as governor, and sent U.S. army troops to Utah to establish federal authority. Tensions between the territory of Utah and the federal government continued until Wilford Woodruff, the president of the Mormon church, issued his Manifesto in 1890, renouncing the traditional practice of polygamy, and reducing the domination of the church over Utah communities. Six years later, the territory of Utah was granted statehood.
1865 – A landing party under Acting Master James C. Tole from U.S.S. Don captured several torpedoes and powder on the right bank of the Rappahannock River about six miles from its mouth. The success of Confederate torpedo warfare beginning with the destruction of U.S.S. Cairo (see 12 December 1862) had led to increased efforts in this new area of war at sea, first under the genius of Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, then under Commander Hunter Davidson. Throughout the remaining months of the war–and for some time thereafter Southern torpedoes (or mines) would take a heavy toll of Union shipping.
1889 – The Oklahoma Land Run opens 2 million acres of unused Oklahoma Territory to first serve first come settlers on April 22.
1896 – Utah is admitted as the 45th U.S. state.
1902 – The French offered to sell their Nicaraguan Canal rights to the U.S.
1910 – Commissioning of USS Michigan (BB-27), the first U.S. dreadnought battleship.
1921 – Congress overrode President Wilson’s veto, reactivating the War Finance Corps to aid struggling farmers.
1928 – Marines participated in the Battle of Quilali during the occupation of Nicaragua.
1941 – On the Greek-Albanian front, the Greeks launch an attack towards Valona from Berat to Klisura against the Italians.
1942 – Japanese forces begin the evacuation of Guadalcanal. The Japanese base at Munda is bombarded by the US TF 67. A second group of cruisers and destroyers is in support.
1943 – US Task Force 67, commanded by Admiral Ainsworth, bombards the Japanese base at Munda, on New Georgia. A second group of cruisers and destroyers is in support of the effort. Proximity fuses for antiaircraft ammunition is used for the first time by one of the vessels involved in the bombardment.
1944 – Operation Carpetbagger: U.S. aircraft begin dropping supplies to guerrilla forces throughout Western Europe. The action demonstrated that the U.S. believed guerrillas were a vital support to the formal armies of the Allies in their battle against the Axis powers. Virtually every country that experienced Axis invasion raised a guerrilla force; they were especially effective and numerous in Italy, France, China, Greece, the Philippines, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union. Also referred to as a “partisan force,” a guerrilla army is defined roughly as a member of a small-scale “irregular” fighting force that relies on the limited and quick engagements of a conventional fighting force. Their main weapon is sabotage-in addition to killing enemy soldiers, the goal is to incapacitate or destroy communication lines, transportation centers, and supply lines. In Italy, the partisan resistance to fascism began with assaults against Mussolini and his “black shirts.” Upon Italy’s surrender, the guerrillas turned their attention to the German occupiers, especially in the north. By the summer of 1944, resistance fighters immobilized eight of the 26 German divisions in northern Italy. By the end of the war, Italian guerillas controlled Venice, Milan, and Genoa, but at a considerable cost—all told, the Italian resistance lost roughly 50,000 fighters. Perhaps the most renowned wartime guerrilla force was the French Resistance – also known as the “Free French” force – which began as two separate groups. One faction was organized and led by Gen. Charles de Gaulle, who left France upon the Vichy/Petain armistice with Germany but rallied his forces via the British airwaves. The other arm of the movement began in Africa under the direction of the commander in chief of the French forces in North Africa, Gen. Henri Giraud. De Gaulle eventually joined Giraud in Africa after tension began to build between de Gaulle and the British. Initially, de Gaulle agreed to share power with Giraud in the organization and control of the exiled French forces, but Giraud resigned in 1943, apparently unwilling to stand in de Gaulle’s shadow or struggle against his deft political maneuvering. The Allies realized that guerrilla activity was essential to ending the war and supported the patriots with airdrops. The American support was critical, because guerrillas fought admirably in difficult conditions. Those partisans who were captured by the enemy were invariably treated barbarically (torture was not uncommon), as were any civilians who had aided them in their mission. Tens of thousands of guerillas died in the course of the war, but were never awarded the formal recognition given the “official” fighting forces, despite the enormous risks and sacrifices.
1944 – Admiral Sherman’s carrier group attacks Kavieng. The Japanese destroyer Fujimitsu is damaged.
1944 – Fifth Army launches new attacks on a ten-mile from along the south end of the Gustav line in Italy.
1945 – The fighting in the Ardennes continues; a German counterattack near Bastogne is repulsed by troops of US 3rd Army. There are attacks by US 8th and 3rd Corps and by the British 30th Corps. Some of the units of the 6th SS Panzer Army (Dietrich) are withdrawn and sent to the Eastern Front. In Alsace, the German attacks in the Bitche area continue.
1945 – Americans B-24 Liberator bombers attack Clark Field in Manila, on Luzon and claim to destroy 20 Japanese aircraft. Shipping near Luzon is also attacked. It is claimed that 35 Japanese vessels have been sunk or severely damaged.
1945 – US jeep-aircraft carrier Ommaney Bay sinks after kamikaze attack.
1951 – For the third time in six months, Seoul changed hands as CCF troops moved in. The last USAF aircraft left Kimpo Airfield. Eighth Army regrouped behind the Pyongtaek-Wonju-Samchok line as Seoul fell to the communists for the second time in the war. Britain’s 27th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade covered the U.N. withdrawal, then blew the bridges over the Han River. Naval guns of Task Force 90 held the communists at bay while 69,000 U.N. troops withdrew by sea from the port of Inchon on Amphibious Group 3 vessels.
1952 – The French Army in Indochina launches Operation Nenuphar in hopes of ejecting a Viet Minh division from the Ba Tai forest.
1953 – Fifth Air Force mounted a 124-plane strike against the Huichon supply center.
1955 – The United States agrees to pay Japan two million dollars in damages resulting from atomic testing in the Marshall Islands.
1965 – Johnson reaffirms commitment to South Vietnam: In his State of the Union message, President Lyndon B. Johnson reaffirms U.S. commitment to support South Vietnam in fighting communist aggression. In justifying the continued support to Saigon, Johnson pointed outthat U.S. presidents had been giving the South Vietnamese help for 10 years, and, he said, “Our own security is tied to the peace of Asia.”
1974 – Thieu announces war has resumed: South Vietnamese troops report that 55 soldiers have been killed in two clashes with communist forces. Claiming that the war had “restarted,” South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu asserted, “We cannot allow the communists a situation in which…they can launch harassing attacks against us,” and ordered his forces to launch a counter-offensive to retake lost territory. The announcement essentially marked the end of attempts to adhere to the agreements of the Paris Peace Accords. A cease-fire had been initiated in Vietnam on January 28, 1973, under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords. These most recent battles were only the latest rounds in ongoing fighting that had followed the brief lull provided by the cease-fire. A large part of the problem was that the Peace Accords had left an estimated 200,000 North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. Renewed fighting broke out after the cease-fire as both sides jockeyed for control of territory in South Vietnam. 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 generally low-intensity harassing attacks by the North Vietnamese designed to wear down the South Vietnamese forces, but the communists 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, the South Vietnamese lost an estimated 25,473 soldiers in battle in 1973.
1974 – President Richard Nixon refuses to hand over tape recordings and documents that had been subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee. Marking the beginning of the end of his Presidency, Nixon would resign from office in disgrace eight months later.
1975 – The Khmer Rouge launches its newest assault in its five-year war in Phnom Penh. The war in Cambodia would go on until the spring of 1975.
1979 – Ohio officials approve an out-of-court settlement awarding $675,000 to the victims and families in the 1970 shootings at Kent State University, in which four students were killed and nine wounded by National Guard troops.
1980 – President Carter announces US boycott of Moscow Olympics.
1989 – Aircraft (VF-32) from USS John F. Kennedy shoot down 2 hostile Libyan Migs over the Mediterranean.
1991 – With a week and a-half left before a U-N deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, Iraq agreed to hold its first high-level talks with the United States since the start of the Persian Gulf crisis.
1991 – Marines evacuated 260 U.S. and foreign citizens from the American Embassy, Mogadishu, Somalia, during Operation Eastern Exit.
1992 – President Bush, visiting Singapore as part of a Pacific trade tour, announced plans to shift to Singapore the Navy logistics command that was being evicted from the Philippines.
1996 – Bowing to pressure from NATO and the United States, Bosnian Serbs freed 16 civilians who had entered Serb-held territory after NATO forces had declared roads in Bosnia open to all.
1999 – Iraq and Jordan renew an agreement that will provide Jordan with Iraqi crude oil and refined petroleum products. Jordan’s 1998 imports of Iraqi crude oil and refined petroleum products, including fuel oil and diesel, were estimated to have averaged about 100,000 barrels per day. This figure is expected to increase by 5%-7% in 1999.
2002 – US Army Special Forces Sgt. Ross Chapman (31) was killed by enemy fire near Khost, Afghanistan. He became the 1st US soldier to die there by enemy fire.
2004 – Rival Afghan factions agreed to a new national constitution. 502 delegates accepted a system with a strong president and a weaker parliament.
2004 – Spirit, a NASA Mars rover, lands successfully on Mars at 04:35 UTC.
2007 – Bush replaces key military Leadership in Iraq: Navy Admiral William J. Fallon replaces General John Abizaid as CENTCOM commander and General David Petraeus replaces General George Casey as Commander of Multinational Force Iraq.
2007 – NASA announces that Cassini-Huygens found methane lakes on Titan, a moon of Saturn.
2010 – NASA’s Kepler telescope detects its first five exoplanets.
2012 – CGC Healy, under the command of CAPT Beverly Havlik, embarked on the first-ever Arctic domestic icebreaking mission while escorting the Russian tanker vessel Renda through 800 miles of Bering Sea pack ice to deliver 1.3 million gallons of fuel to ice-bound Nome, Alaska. After 10 days of intense, close aboard ice escorting, the two vessels safely arrive on 14 January 2012 and began a 60-hour, over-the-ice fuel transfer while hove to in the ice 468 yards offshore of Nome.
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