1777 – General Washington establishes winter quarters for the exhausted Continental Army in the hills surrounding Morristown, New Jersey.
1779 – Pushing northward from Florida, British forces led by General Augustine Prevost capture Fort Sunbury, Georgia and attack Augusta, Georgia.
1781 – The Battle of Jersey was an attempt by French forces to invade the Isle of Jersey and remove the threat the island posed to French and American shipping in the American War of Independence. The British Isle of Jersey was used as a base for privateering by the British, and France, engaged in the war as an ally of the United States, sent an expedition to gain control of the island. The expedition ultimately failed, and its commander, Baron Phillipe de Rullecourt, died of wounds sustained in the fighting. The battle is often remembered for the death of the British officer Major Peirson, and a painting based on his final moments by John Singleton Copley.
1818 – During the course of Florida’s First Seminole War, General Andrew Jackson sends a letter through Tennessee congressman John Rhea to President Monroe suggesting that he can capture Spanish Florida for the United States in a 60-day military campaign. President Monroe’s failure to respond to the letter will be taken by Jackson as tacit approval for his proposed plan.
1827 – Confederate General John Calvin Brown is born in Giles City, Tennessee. Brown served in the Army of Tennessee during the war, was wounded three times, and captured once. Brown was a prominent attorney in Pulaski, Tennessee, prior to the war. He opposed secession and was an elector for the Constitutional Union Party during the election of 1860; the Constitutional Union Party nominated John Bell for president and tried to steer a middle road between North and South. When Tennessee seceded in April 1861, Brown enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army. His time as an enlisted man was brief, however, as he was made a colonel in the 3rd Tennessee within a month. Brown’s unit was stationed at Fort Donelson on the CumberlandRiver when it was captured by General Ulysses S. Grant in February 1862. Brown was a prisoner for six months. After he was exchanged, he was promoted to brigadier general and was wounded at the Battle of Perryville in October 1862. He recovered in time to fight at Stones River two months later, but he was wounded again at Chickamauga in September 1863. He was back at his post for the siege of Chattanooga in October and November 1863. Brown served the next year with the army through the Atlanta campaign, and he was part of the General John Bell Hood force that invaded Tennessee that fall. Brown was wounded for a third time at the Battle of Franklin on November 30. This battle was a disaster for the Confederates, as five other Rebel generals were wounded and six more killed during the engagement. Brown recovered in time to join General Joseph Johnston’s surviving force as it surrendered to General William T. Sherman in North Carolina at the end of the war. After the war, Brown served two terms as governor of Tennessee and was a railroad president. He died in 1889 at Boiling Springs, Tennessee.
1838 – Alfred Vail demonstrates a telegraph system using dots and dashes (this is the forerunner of Morse code). Vail was central, with Samuel F. B. Morse, in developing and commercializing the telegraph between 1837 and 1844. Vail and Morse were the first two telegraph operators on Morse’s first experimental line between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, and Vail took charge of building and managing several early telegraph lines between 1845 and 1848. He was also responsible for several technical innovations of Morse’s system, particularly the sending key and improved recording registers and relay magnets. Vail left the telegraph industry in 1848 because he believed that the managers of Morse’s lines did not fully value his contributions. His last assignment, superintendent of the Washington and New Orleans Telegraph Company, paid him only $900 a year, leading Vail to write to Morse, “I have made up my mind to leave the Telegraph to take care of itself, since it cannot take care of me. I shall, in a few months, leave Washington for New Jersey, … and bid adieu to the subject of the Telegraph for some more profitable business.”
1853 – President-elect of the United States Franklin Pierce and his family are involved in a train wreck near Andover, Massachusetts. Pierce’s 11-year-old son Benjamin is killed in the crash.
1861 – Florida troops seize the Federal arsenal at Apalachicola.
1895 – Former Hawaiian Queen Liluokalani is arrested after a failed coup attempt against the republican government of Sanford Dole.
1912 – New Mexico is admitted into the United States as the 47th state. Spanish explorers passed through the area that would become New Mexico in the early 16th century, encountering the well-preserved remains of a 13th-century Pueblo civilization. Exaggerated rumors about the hidden riches of these Pueblo cities encouraged the first full-scale Spanish expedition into New Mexico, led by Francisco Výsquez de Coronado in 1540. Instead of encountering the long-departed Pueblo people, the Spanish explorers met other indigenous groups, like the Apaches, who were fiercely resistant to the early Spanish missions and ranches in the area. In 1609, Pedro de Peralta was made governor of the “Kingdom and Provinces of New Mexico,” and a year later he founded its capital at Santa Fe. In the late 17th century, Apache opposition to Spain’s colonial efforts briefly drove the Spanish out of New Mexico, but within a few decades they had returned. During the 18th century, the colonists expanded their ranching efforts and made attempts at farming and mining in the region. When Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, New Mexico became a province of Mexico, and trade was opened with the United States. In the next year, American settlers began arriving in New Mexico via the Santa Fe Trail. In 1846, the Mexican-American War erupted, and U.S. General Stephen W. Kearny captured and occupied Santa Fe without significant Mexican opposition. Two years later, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded New Mexico to the United States, and in 1853 the territory was expanded to its present size through the Gadsden Purchase. The Apache and the Navaho resisted the colonial efforts of the U.S. as they had those of Spain and Mexico, and after three decades of bloodshed, Indian resistance finally ended with the surrender of Geronimo, chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, in 1886. After the suppression of New Mexico’s natives, the population of New Mexico expanded considerably, and many came to participate in the ranching boom brought on by the opening of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1879. In 1912, New Mexico was granted statehood.
1919 – Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, dies at Sagamore Hill, his estate overlooking New York’s Long Island Sound. A dynamic and energetic politician, Theodore Roosevelt is credited with creating the modern presidency. As a young Republican, Roosevelt held a number of political posts in New York in the 1880s and ’90s and was a leader of reform Republicans in the state. In 1898, as assistant secretary to the U.S. Navy, Roosevelt vehemently advocated war with Spain. When the Spanish-American War began, he formed the “Rough Riders,” a volunteer cavalry that became famous for its contribution to the United States victory at the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba. The publicity-minded Roosevelt rode his military fame to the New York governor’s seat in 1898 and to the vice presidency in 1900. In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt, 43 years old, became the youngest president ever to assume the office. He stamped the presidency with a vitality that delighted most Americans and was elected to a second term in 1904. As an American expansionist, Roosevelt asserted his executive powers to defend U.S. interests throughout the Americas as he sought to balance the interests of farmers, workers, and the business class at home. He insisted on a strong navy, encouraged the independence of Panama and the construction of the Panama Canal, promoted the regulation of trusts and monopolies, and set aside land for America’s first national parks and monuments. In 1906, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation in the negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese War. In 1912, three years after finishing his second term, Roosevelt ran for president again as the new Progressive Party candidate. Challenging his former vice president, President William Howard Taft, he campaigned on his “Square Deal” platform of social reform. In November, the divided Republican Party was defeated by Democrat Woodrow Wilson. In the last few years of his life, Roosevelt became a vocal advocate of the U.S. entrance into World War I and even sought to win a commission to lead a U.S. Army division in Europe. President Wilson declined, and after the war Roosevelt was a vocal opponent of his League of Nations. In 1919, Roosevelt died at his home in New York. The tropical diseases he had contracted during his travels likely caught up with him, and he died at the age of 60.
1921 – The U.S. Navy orders the sale of 125 flying boats to encourage commercial aviation.
1930 – The first diesel-engined automobile trip is completed, from Indianapolis, Indiana, to New York, New York. Cummins Engine Company owner Clessie Cummins mounted a diesel engine in a used Packard Touring Car and set out for the National Automobile Show. The 800-mile trip from Indianapolis to New York City used 30 gallons of fuel, which cost $1.38, and showed that diesel was a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine.
1937 – The United States bans the shipment of arms to war-torn Spain. This does not prevent individuals from taking sides; in particular progressives, intellectuals and artists are sympathetic to the Loyalists and some will join in the fight against the forces of General Franco.
1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to support the Lend-lease Bill to help supply the Allies. He articulates the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want, for the first time.
1942 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces to Congress that he is authorizing the largest armaments production in the history of the United States. Committed to war in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. had to reassess its military preparedness, especially in light of the fact that its Pacific fleet was decimated by the Japanese air raid. Among those pressing President Roosevelt to double U.S. armaments and industrial production were Lord William Beaverbrook, the British minister of aircraft production, and members of the British Ministry of Supplies, who were meeting with their American counterparts at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Beaverbrook, a newspaper publisher in civilian life, employed production techniques he learned in publishing to cut through red tape, improve efficiency, and boost British aircraft production to manufacturing 500 fighters a month, and he felt the U.S. could similarly beef up armament production. Spurred on by Lord Beaverbrook and Prime Minister Churchill, Roosevelt agreed to the arms buildup. He announced to Congress that the first year of the supercharged production schedule would result in 45,000 aircraft, 45,000 tanks, 20,000 antiaircraft guns, and 8 million tons in new ships. Congressmen were stunned at the proposal, but Roosevelt was undeterred: “These figures and similar figures for a multitude of other implements of war will give the Japanese and Nazis a little idea of just what they accomplished.”
1944 – The US forces on New Britain manage to extend their bridgehead at Cape Gloucester southward to the Aogiri River.
1944 – In Burma, Brigadier General Merrill is designated to command a volunteer unit that becomes known as “Merrill’s Marauders”.
1944 – A joint RAF-USAAF statement discloses the hitherto secret development of jet aircraft in Britain and the USA. Full details of the Whittle turbojet given to General Arnold (USAAF) in July 1941 are revealed.
1945 – Boeing B-29 bombers in the Pacific strike new blows on Tokyo and Nanking.
1945 – Over 75 Japanese aircraft are destroyed at Kamikaze airfields on Luzon by US land and carrier based forces.
1945 – There are various local actions all along the Ardennes front. US 1st Army, part of British 21st Army Group, makes gains of 1000-3000 yards in an attack south of Stavelot, threatening the main German east-west supply road from Laroche to St. Vith.
1946 – Ho Chi Minh won North Vietnamese elections.
1947 – Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to schedule a flight around the world.
1951 – FEAF Combat Cargo Command concluded a multi-day airlift of supplies to the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, which was fighting to prevent a break in the UN defensive line across South Korea. 21 TCS C-47s landed 115 tons of cargo at Wonju, and C-119s of the 314th TCG dropped 460 tons of supplies to the division.
1958 – The Soviet Union announces plans to cut the size of its standing army by 300,000 troops in the coming year. The reduction was part of a 1956 policy announced by Krushchev in anticipation of “peaceful coexistence” with the West, and an indication that Cold War relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were undergoing a slight thaw in the mid- to late-1950s. The Soviet troop reduction was the latest in a series of reductions started in 1955. The new rollback of 300,000 troops brought the total troop reduction since 1955 to nearly 2 million. A Soviet official called the most recent action a “new, serious contribution to the cause of easing tensions and creating an atmosphere of confidence in the relations between states.” Nearly 60,000 of the 300,000 troops to be cut came from Soviet forces in Hungary and East Germany. Total Soviet forces still numbered close to 3 million, but the reduction was still seen as evidence of Khrushchev’s interest in “peaceful coexistence” with the West. There was also an economic motivation to the troop cuts, though, since the funds used to keep 300,000 men in uniform could be redirected to the Soviet industrial infrastructure. In addition, the Soviet Union was facing a labor shortage, and 300,000 extra workers would help alleviate that problem. The Soviet action had little effect on U.S. policy. Despite Khrushchev’s talk of peaceful coexistence, the preceding two years of the Cold War gave U.S. officials little confidence in his sincerity. The brutal Soviet repression of the Hungarian revolt in 1956, the Suez Crisis of that same year, and the launch of the Sputniksatellite in 1957 convinced many U.S. statesmen that a tough, competitive stance toward the Russians was the best policy.
1960 – National Airlines Flight 2511, a domestic passenger flight from New York City, New York to Miami, Florida, exploded in midair. The National Airlines Douglas DC-6 was carrying five crew and 29 passengers, all of whom perished. The Civil Aeronautics Board investigation concluded that the plane was brought down by a dynamite bomb. No criminal charges were ever filed, nor was the blame for the bombing ever determined. The investigation remains open today. One of the victims was retired US Navy Vice Admiral Edward Orrick McDonnell, a Medal of Honor recipient and veteran of both World Wars.
1961 – Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev declares that the Soviets will back all ‘wars of national liberation’ around the world. This will greatly influence the incoming Kennedy administration to support a strategy of ‘counterinsurgency,’ particularly in Vietnam.
1967 – Over 16,000 U.S. and 14,000 Vietnamese troops start their biggest attack on the Iron Triangle, northwest of Saigon.
1967 – United States Marine Corps and ARVN troops launch “Operation Deckhouse Five” in the Mekong River delta. “The ten-day sweep,” reported the AP from its daily military roundup from Saigon, “proved unproductive.” For the USMC, the operation was notable for the following reasons: it was a sizable, combined U.S. Marine and Vietnamese Marine amphibious operation and it was the last Special Landing Force (SLF) amphibious landing to take place beyond the boundaries of I Corps. An SLF was the designation of the Marine battalion and medium helicopter squadron (HMM) assigned to the Seventh Fleet Amphibious Ready Group. The SLF regularly conducted amphibious operations across Vietnamese beaches into areas of suspected People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF) and People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) activity.
1971 – The Army drops charges of an alleged cover-up in the My Lai massacre against four officers. After the charges were dropped, a total of 11 people had been cleared of responsibility during the My Lai trials. The trials were a result of action that occurred in March 1968. During the incident, 1st Lt. William Calley, a platoon leader in the 23rd (Americal) Division, allegedly led his men to massacre innocent Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, in a cluster of hamlets in Son Tinh District in the coastal south of Chu Lai. By 1971, charges were pending only against Lt. Calley, Capt. Ernest Medina, and Capt. Eugene Kotouc. On March 29, 1971, a Fort Benning court-martial jury found Calley guilty of the premeditated murder of at least 22 South Vietnamese civilians and sentenced him to life in prison. Kotouc was cleared by a court-martial on April 29, and Medina was acquitted on September 22. On May 19, the Army disciplined two generals for failing to conduct an adequate investigation of My Lai, demoting Maj. Gen. Samuel W. Koster from two-star to one-star rank. At the same time, both Koster and Brig. Gen. George W. Young Jr., his assistant divisional commander at the time of the massacre, were stripped of their Distinguished Service Medals, and letters of censure were placed in their personnel files. The trials ended on December 17, when Col. Oren K. Henderson was acquitted of cover-up charges. He was the highest-ranking officer to be tried. Of those originally charged, only Calley was convicted. Many believed that Calley was a scapegoat, and the widespread public outcry against his life sentence moved President Nixon to intervene on April 3, 1971. He had Calley removed from the Fort Benning stockade and ordered him confined to quarters pending review of his case. On August 20, Calley’s life term was reduced to 20 years. In November 1974, a Federal Court judge ruled that Calley was convicted unjustly, citing “prejudicial publicity.” Although the Army disputed this ruling, Calley was paroled for good behavior after serving 40 months, 35 of which were spent in his own home.
1973 – A Mercedes-Benz 770K sedan, supposedly Adolf Hitler’s parade car, was sold at auction for $153,000.00, the most money ever paid for a car at auction at that time.
1974 – In response to the 1973 oil crisis, daylight saving time commences nearly four months early in the United States.
1975 – Phuoc Binh, the capital of Phuoc Long Province, about 60 miles north of Saigon, falls to the North Vietnamese. Phuoc Binh was the first provincial capital taken by the communists since the fall of Quang Tri on May 1, 1972. Two days later, the North Vietnamese took the last of the South Vietnamese positions in the region, gaining control of the entire province. The South Vietnamese Air Force lost 20 planes defending the province. Presidents Nixon and Ford had promised South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu that the United States would come to the aid of South Vietnam if the North Vietnamese launched a major offensive in violation of the Paris Peace Accords. However, the United States did nothing when Phuoc Binh fell to the communists. In fact, the passive response of the United States convinced North Vietnam that the Americans would not soon return to Vietnam, and encouraged the Politburo in Hanoi to launch a new attack in the hopes of creating ripe conditions for a general uprising in South Vietnam by 1976. When the North Vietnamese launched the new offensive in early 1975, the South Vietnamese forces, demoralized by the failure of the United States to come to their aid, were defeated in just 55 days. North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the presidential palace on April 30 and South Vietnam surrendered fully to the communists.
1978 – The US returns the Crown of St. Stephen to Hungary. The US had taken custody of it following World War II.
1989 – The United States presented photographic evidence to the U.N. Security Council to justify its shootdown of two Libyan jet fighters as self-defense, evidence the Libyan ambassador said was faked.
1990 – Defense Secretary Dick Cheney told CNN the U.S. invasion of Panama should not be viewed as a new “Bush doctrine” inclined toward military intervention in countries where democratic elections had been subverted.
1991 – Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in a television address, told his country to prepare for a long war against what he called “tyranny represented by the United States.”
1993 – In Somalia, Marines on a recon patrol in village of Afgoy kill a Somali gunman.
1995 – Haitians housed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba were sent home by the U.S. military against the refugees’ will and over protests of refugee advocates.
1995 – Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad were arrested in Manila, Philippines, when explosives that they were mixing blew up and alerted the police. In their apartment were found bomb-making manuals and timers and evidence that they intended to blow up US jetliners. They were found guilty by a jury in New York on 9/5/96.
1997 – Iraq informs its customers that it will reduce its contractual crude oil sales volumes in order to stay within the $1 billion limit for the first 90 days of the United Nations’ “Oil-for-Food” agreement.
2000 – The US Army replaced the Young & Rubicom ad agency after a 1999 recruit shortfall of 6,290. Rubicom held the contract for 12 years and crafted the slogan: “Be all that you can be.”
2001 – A NATO meeting was scheduled in Italy on the use of ammunition with depleted uranium following the deaths from cancer of 6 Italian soldiers following duty in the Balkans. 5 Balkan veterans from Belgium along with peacekeepers from Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic had died of cancer.
2001 – After a bitterly contested election, Vice President Al Gore presides over a joint session of Congress that certifies George W. Bush as the winner of the 2000 election. In one of the closest Presidential elections in U.S. history, George W. Bush was finally declared the winner more then five weeks after the election due to the disputed Florida ballots. Gore became the third Presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to halt Florida’s manual recount. The ruling in effect gave Florida’s 25 electoral votes to Bush giving him 271 to Gore’s 266 – where 270 is needed to win the election. George W. Bush took the oath of office on January 20, 2001 to become the 43rd President of the United States.
2002 – Anti-Taliban troops in Afghanistan planned to starve out 7 al Qaeda members holed up in a Kandahar hospital.
2002 – It was reported that Malaysia authorities had arrested 13 suspected members of extremist groups since Dec 9 with possible links to the Sep 11 attacks.
2002 – U.S. aircraft struck “approximately” four targets in Afghanistan centered around the Tora Bora and Kandahar regions. One of the strikes was against the Al Qaeda staging point of Zawar Kili. U.S. military forces entered and began searching the Zawar Kili complex.
2003 – U.S. warplanes bombed two Iraqi anti-aircraft radars that threatened pilots patrolling the southern no-fly zone.
2003 – Thousands of Marines, sailors and soldiers headed for the Persian Gulf region, shipping out from California, Georgia and Maryland as the buildup for a possible war with Iraq accelerated sharply.
2003 – Iraqi President Saddam Hussein accused U.N. inspectors of engaging in “intelligence work” instead of searching for suspected nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in his country.
2004 – A previously undisclosed ruling by Lt. General Robert Flowers, head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, exonerates Halliburton Company and its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root of any wrongdoing in its fuel-delivery arrangements with a Kuwaiti supplier. The decision comes after Pentagon auditors asserted that the company had overcharged the U.S. government. A full audit of the company’s fuel contracts in Iraq is pending.
2005 – US Attorney General-nominee Alberto Gonzales, under scorching criticism at his confirmation hearing, condemned torture as an interrogation tactic and promised to prosecute abusers of terror suspects.
2008 – Five armed Iranian boats confront three U.S. Navy warships in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz.
2010 – The U.S. government lowers the threshold for information deemed important enough to put suspicious individuals on a watch list or no-fly list, or have their visa revoked as a result of the failed Christmas Day 2009 attack, officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the material. Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who allegedly launched the failed attack, was not put on a no-fly list. That’s because the information his father provided a U.S. embassy about his son becoming radicalized and possibly going to Yemen did not meet then-applicable standards to put him on such a list or to cancel his visa.
2011 – The U.S. plans to send another 1,400 marines to Afghanistan, where approximately 100,000 U.S. troops are already engaged in the War in Afghanistan.
2012 – Acting on intelligence from other counter-piracy forces, the USS Carney boarded the Indian-flagged dhow, Al Qashmi. By the time the search team boarded, all evidence of potential piracy had been disposed of, though the crew said they were hijacked by the 9 pirates on board from a different vessel. The 9 suspected pirates were disarmed and given sufficient fuel and provisions to return to Somalia.
2012 – Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia that carried out deadly attacks on U.S. troops agrees to lay down its arms and join the political process in Iraq.
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