1608 – Disaster strikes Jamestown. The fort burns and leaves the colonists vulnerable to attack by Indians and the Spanish.
1699 – Hostilities end in King William’s War, with the signing of a treaty at Casco, Maine.
1718 – Israel Putnam, American Revolutionary War hero, was born. He planned the fortifications at the Battle of Bunker Hill and told his men, “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”
1782 – The first American commercial bank, the Bank of North America, opens. The Bank was a private business chartered on May 26, 1781 by the Confederation Congress and opened on January 4, 178, at the prodding of Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris. This was thus the nation’s first de facto central bank. When shares in the bank were sold to the public, Bank of North America became the country’s first initial public offering. It was succeeded in its role as central bank by the First Bank of the United States in 1791. It was not a bank in the ordinary sense but an organization formed for the purpose of financing supplies for the army.
1785 – Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries travel from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in a gas balloon.
1807 – In the Napoleonic Wars, a British order in council bars all commercial shipping in the coastal waters of France and her allies. This order is in response to Napoleon’s Berlin Decree of November 21, 1806, which ordered a naval blockade around the British Isles.
1863 – Confederate Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke’s expedition into Missouri reached Ozark, where it destroyed the Union post, and then approached Springfield on the morning of January 8. Springfield was an important Federal communications center and supply depot so the Rebels wished to destroy it. The Union army had constructed fortifications to defend the town. Their ranks, however, were depleted because Francis J. Herron’s two divisions had not yet returned from their victory at Prairie Grove on December 7. After receiving a report on January 7 of the Rebels’ approach, Brig. Gen. Egbert B. Brown set about preparing for the attack and rounding up additional troops. Around 10:00 am, the Confederates advanced in battle line to the attack. The day included desperate fighting with attacks and counterattacks until after dark, but the Federal troops held and the Rebels withdrew during the night. Brown had been wounded during the day. The Confederates appeared in force the next morning but retired without attacking. The Federal depot was successfully defended, and Union strength in the area continued.
1865 – Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux warriors attack Julesburg, CO, in retaliation for the Sand Creek Massacre. After the massacre, the survivors had fled north to the Republican River where the main body of Cheyenne were camped. The Cheyennes sent a messenger to the Sioux and Arapaho inviting them to join them in a war on the whites. In early January 1865, as many as 2000 Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho warriors shifted their camps closer to the South Platte Trail where it cut through the northeast corner of Colorado. On January 6, a small party hit a wagon train and killed twelve men. Just before sunrise the following day, the majority of the Dog Soldiers and their allies concealed themselves in some sand hills a short distance from Fort Rankin and Julesburg, one mile up the Platte River, while the Cheyenne chief Big Crow slipped up to the fort. At first light he rushed the sentries stationed outside the walls. A sixty man cavalry troop quickly emerged from the gates to give chase and as soon as they were clear of the fort they were cut off from their base as more than a thousand warriors dashed from the sand hills and began to empty the cavalry saddles. All but a few were killed. As the remaining garrison prepared to defend the fort, the Indians raced up the Platte to the undefended Julesburg where they plundered at will while the soldiers at Fort Rankin could only watch and harmlessly fire their howitzers.
1904 – The distress signal “CQD” is established only to be replaced two years later by “SOS”.
1914 – The first ship, the Alexander la Valley, crossed the Panama Canal.
1916 – In response to pressure from the Wilson administration, Germany notifies the US of its intention to abide by international rules of naval warfare.
1918 – The Germans move 75,000 troops from the Eastern Front to the Western Front.
1918 – In Arver v. United States, the Supreme Court finds that conscription during war is authorized by the Constitution which gives Congress the power “to declare war…to raise and support armies.” There are several challenges to the government’s power to draft armies which collectively become knows as the Selective Service Law Cases.
1927 – The first transatlantic telephone service is established – from New York, New York to London, United Kingdom.
1932 – Prompted by the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, Secretary of State Stimson sends notes to Japan and China saying that the US will not recognize any territory taken in violation of the Kellog-Briand Treatty of 1928.
1942 – The World War II siege of Bataan began in the Philippines.
1943 – On Guadalcanal, fresh American troops mount an assault on Mount Austen.
1943 – A Japanese convoy lands supplies and reinforcements at Lea, New Guinea despite air attacks.
1944 – The U.S. Air Force announces the production of the first jet-fighter, Bell P-59 Airacomet. Development of the P-59, America’s first jet-propelled airplane, was ordered personally by General H. H. Arnold on September 4, 1941. The project was conducted under the utmost secrecy, with Bell building the airplane and General Electric the engine. The first P-59 was completed in mid-1942 and on October 1, 1942, it made its initial flight at Muroc Dry Lake (now Edwards Air Force Base), California. One year later, the airplane was ordered into production, to be powered by I-14 and I-16 engines, improved versions of the original I-A. Bell will produce 66 P-59s. Although the airplane’s performance was not spectacular and it never got into combat, the P-59 provided training for AAF personnel and invaluable data for subsequent development of higher performance jet airplanes.
1944 – British and American elements of the US 5th Army capture Monte Chiaia and Monte Porchia. San Vittore is also taken.
1945 – U.S. air ace Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. is killed in the Pacific.
1945 – British Gen. Bernard Montgomery gives a press conference in which he all but claims complete credit for saving the Allied cause in the Battle of the Bulge. He was almost removed from his command because of the resulting American outcry. On December 16, 1944, the Germans attempted to push the Allied front line west from northern France to northwestern Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge (so-called because the Germans, in pushing through the American defensive line, created a “bulge” around the area of the Ardennes forest) was the largest battle fought on the Western front. The German assault came in early morning at the weakest part of the Allied line, an 80-mile stretch of poorly protected, hilly forest that the Allies believed was too difficult to traverse, and therefore an unlikely location for a German offensive. Between the vulnerability of the thin, isolated American units and the thick fog that prevented Allied air cover from discovering German movement, the Germans were able to push the Americans into retreat. Fresh from commanding the 21st Army group during the Normandy invasion, and having suffered an awful defeat in September as his troops attempted to cross the Rhine, Montgomery took temporary command of the northern shoulder of American and British troops in the Ardennes. He immediately fell into a familiar pattern, failing to act spontaneously for fear of not being sufficiently prepared. Montgomery was afraid to move before the German army had fully exhausted itself, finally making what American commanders saw as only a belated counterattack against the enemy. As the weather improved, American air cover raided German targets on the ground, which proved the turning point in the Allied victory. Monty eventually cut across northern Germany all the way to the Baltic and accepted the German surrender in May. Montgomery had already earned the ire of many American officers because of his cautiousness in the field, arrogance off the field, and willingness to disparage his American counterparts. The last straw was Montgomery’s whitewashing of the Battle of the Bulge facts to assembled reporters in his battlefield headquarters-he made his performance in the Ardennes sound not only more heroic but decisive, which necessarily underplayed the Americans’ performance. Since the loss of American life in the battle was tremendous and the surrender of 7,500 members of the 106th Infantry humiliating, Gen. Omar Bradley complained loudly to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who passed the complaints on to Churchill. On January 18, Churchill addressed Parliament and announced in no uncertain terms that the “Bulge” was an American battle-and an American victory.
1945 – The attacks of the US 8th Corps of US 1st Army, along the line of the Ourthe west of Houffalize, record progress around Laroche. German attacks in Alsace also continue with some success south of Strasbourg in the area around Erstein.
1948 – Kentucky Air National Guard pilot Thomas Mantell crashes while in pursuit of a supposed UFO. Previously, the news media often treated UFO reports with a whimsical or glib attitude reserved for silly season news. Following Mantell’s death, however, Jacobs notes “the fact that a person had died in an encounter with an alleged flying saucer dramatically increased public concern about the phenomenon. Now a dramatic new prospect entered thought about UFOs: they might be not only extraterrestrial but potentially hostile as well.” However, later investigation by the US Air Force’s Project Blue Book indicated that Mantell died chasing a Skyhook balloon, which in 1948 was a top-secret project that Mantell would not have known about.
1953 – In his final State of the Union address before Congress, President Harry S. Truman tells the world that that the United States has developed a hydrogen bomb. It was just three years earlier on January 31, 1950, that Truman publicly announced that had directed the Atomic Energy Commission to proceed with the development of the hydrogen bomb. Truman’s directive came in responds to evidence of an atomic explosion occurring within USSR in 1949.
1959 – Just six days after the fall of the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in Cuba, U.S. officials recognize the new provisional government of the island nation. Despite fears that Fidel Castro, whose rebel army helped to overthrow Batista, might have communist leanings, the U.S. government believed that it could work with the new regime and protect American interests in Cuba. The fall of the pro-American government of Batista was cause for grave concern among U.S. officials. The new government, temporarily headed by provisional president Manuel Urrutia, initially seemed chilly toward U.S. diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith. Smith, in particular, was wary of the politics of the new regime. He and other Americans in Cuba were suspicious of the motives and goals of the charismatic rebel leader Fidel Castro. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles overrode Smith’s concerns. The secretary counseled President Dwight D. Eisenhower to recognize the Urrutia government, since it seemed to be “free from Communist taint” and interested in “friendly relations with the United States.” Dulles and other U.S. officials may have viewed recognition of the new Cuban government as a way to forestall the ascension to power of more radical elements in the Cuban revolution. In addition, several other nations, including a number of Latin American countries, had already extended recognition. Despite this promising beginning, relations between Cuba and the United States almost immediately deteriorated. U.S. officials realized that Castro, who was sworn in as the premier of Cuba in February 1959, wielded the real power in Cuba. His policies concerning the nationalization of American-owned properties and closer economic and political relations with communist countries convinced U.S. officials that Castro’s regime needed to be removed. Less than two years later, the United States severed diplomatic relations, and in April 1961, unleashed a disastrous–and ineffectual–attack by Cuban exile forces against the Castro government (the Bay of Pigs invasion).
1960 – Launch of the first fully-guided flight of a Polaris missile at Cape Canaveral (flew 900 miles).
1960 – A small submarine, the Trieste, sets a new record for depth when it descends 24,000 feet into the Pacific off Guam.
1965 – Gen. Nguyen Khanh and the newly formed Armed Forces Council – the generals who had participated in a coup on December 19, 1964 – restore civilian control of the South Vietnamese government. Tran Van Huong was made the new premier. A bloodless coup had occurred when Gen. Khanh and a group of generals led by Air Commodore Nguyen Cao Ky and Army Maj. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu arrested three dozen high officers and civilian officials and took control of the government. The coup was part of the continuing political instability that erupted after the November 1963 coup that resulted in the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem. Tran Van Huong proved unable to put together a viable government, though, and the Armed Forces Council ousted him on January 27, installing General Khanh to power. Khanh was ousted by yet another coup on February 18, led by Ky and Thieu. Khanh moved to the United States and settled in Palm Beach, Florida. A short-lived civilian government under Dr. Phan Huy Quat was installed, but it lasted only until June 12, 1965. At that time, Thieu and Ky formed a new government with Thieu as the chief of state and Ky as the prime minister. Thieu and Ky were made president and vice-president in general elections held in 1967. They served together until 1971, when Thieu was re-elected president.
1967 – The first elements of the Mobile Riverine Force reached Vietnam on when the USS Whitfield County (LST 1169) docked at Vung Tau. Training began immediately with the 2nd Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division. This unit, in preparation for the assignment to the Mobile Riverine Force, had gotten rid of their tanks, trucks, APCs and jeeps since there would obviously be little need for them in the Mekong Delta. In addition, some of their heavier artillery was also left behind since most of the necessary fi re support would be supplied by the assault boats.
1971 – Accompanied by Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird arrives in South Vietnam to assess the military situation. The purpose of Laird’s visit was to check on the progress of the “Vietnamization” effort. In the summer of 1969, President Richard Nixon ordered that measures be taken to “Vietnamize” the war – he hoped to increase the capabilities of South Vietnamese forces so U.S. troops could eventually be withdrawn and the South Vietnamese could assume more responsibility for the war. This effort included a rapid modernization of South Vietnamese forces with new equipment and weapons, and a renewed emphasis on the American advisory effort. American troop withdrawals began in the fall of 1969 and continued on a regular basis. At the completion of his visit, Laird announced that the preponderance of U.S. “combat responsibility” would end by mid-summer. Upon his return to the United States, however, he warned President Nixon and his cabinet of “some tough days ahead.” Admiral Moorer, who also had made a side trip to Phnom Penh, reported that the Cambodian situation was “deteriorating” as Premier Lon Nol’s forces were being threatened by the communist Khmer Rouge forces and their North Vietnamese allies.
1968 – Surveyor 7, the last spacecraft in the Surveyor series, lifts off from launch complex 36A, Cape Canaveral. Surveyor 7 was the fifth and final spacecraft of the Surveyor series to achieve a lunar soft landing. The objectives for this mission were to perform a lunar soft landing (in an area well removed from the maria to provide a type of terrain photography and lunar sample significantly different from those of other Surveyor missions); obtain postlanding TV pictures; determine the relative abundances of chemical elements; manipulate the lunar material; obtain touchdown dynamics data; and obtain thermal and radar reflectivity data. This spacecraft was similar in design to the previous Surveyors, but it carried more scientific equipment including a television camera with polarizing filters, a surface sampler, bar magnets on two footpads, two horseshoe magnets on the surface scoop, and auxiliary mirrors. Of the auxiliary mirrors, three were used to observe areas below the spacecraft, one to provide stereoscopic views of the surface sampler area, and seven to show lunar material deposited on the spacecraft. The spacecraft landed on the lunar surface on January 10, 1968, on the outer rim of the crater Tycho.
1975 – Vietnamese troops take Phuoc Binh in new full-scale offensive.
1993 – The US claimed that Saddam Hussein moved surface-to-air missiles into southern Iraq. Baghdad refused to remove them and allied warplanes attacked the missile sites and warships fired cruise missiles at a nuclear facility near Baghdad.
1993 – Largest military confrontation of Restore Hope. 500 Marines engage in a shoot-out with Warlord Aidid’s forces in Mogadishu. 15 Somalis are taken POW, no US casualties.
1997 – The United Nations approves three more contracts for the sale of Iraqi oil, bringing to 24 the total number of contracts approved so far under the “Oil-for-Food” agreement.
1998 – Pres. Mohhamad Khatami of Iran endorsed cultural relations with the US but no political ties in a preliminary effort to “crack the wall” of hostility between the two countries.
1999 – A US jet fired on an air defense station in Iraq after it was targeted on radar.
1999 – The Senate trial in the impeachment of U.S. President Bill Clinton begins.
2002 – Tony Blair arrived in Kabul. He said the West would not abandon Afghanistan. 9 US senators also visited the area.
2003 – Police in London announced they had found traces of the deadly poison ricin in a north London apartment and arrested six men in connection with the virulent toxin that has been linked to al-Qaida terrorists and Iraq.
2003 – Creation of the Select Committee on Homeland Security to help Congress coordinate oversight of the new Department of Homeland Security and to ensure implementation of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
2004 – L. Paul Bremer, the top American civilian official in Iraq, said U.S. authorities will release 506 low-level Iraqi prisoners while increasing the bounties for fugitives suspected of major roles in attacks against coalition forces.
2005 – A military jury at Fort Hood, Texas, acquitted Army SGT Tracy Perkins of involuntary manslaughter in the alleged drowning of an Iraqi civilian, but convicted him of assault in the January 2004 incident.
2005 – The nuclear submarine USS San Francisco ran aground 350 miles off the Pacific Ocean territory of Guam, injuring about 20 crew members. One died the next day.
2007 – President George W. Bush announces that he will send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq as part of a shift in American military strategy. Under this new strategy, labeled “the surge,” American troops will pacify and protect individual neighborhoods rather than combat sectarian violence through mobile patrols.
2007 – The US intervenes in the Battle of Ras Kamboni, a battle in the 2006-2007 Somali War fought by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and affiliated militias against Ethiopian and the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces for control of Ras Kamboni, a town near the Kenyan border which once served as a training camp for the militant Islamist group Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya. The battle began on January 5, 2007, when TFG and Ethiopian forces launched their assault. The United States entered the conflict by launching airstrikes using an AC-130 gunship against suspected Al Qaeda members operating within the ranks of the ICU. The town finally fell to the TFG and Ethiopian forces on January 12, 2007.
2008 – Two United States Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets, a F/A-18E and two-seat F/A-18F, flying off the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, crash in the Persian Gulf. The aviators were safely recovered. There was no indication of hostile fire.
2013 – U.S. President Barack Obama nominates PIAB Chairman Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense and HSC Advisor John O. Brennan to be the next Director of the CIA.
2014 – Five members of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, who in 1971 stole documents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and gave them to journalists, come forth. The leak exposed COINTELPRO, a program of surveillance and blackmail against American leftists including Martin Luther King, Jr. Keith Forsyth, John C. Raines and Bonnie Raines, and Robert Williamson. William C. Davidon (the recruiter and informal leader) died in 2013 but had planned to reveal his involvement.
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