This Day in U.S. Military History…… January 8

8 January
1790 – George Washington delivers the first State of the Union address in New York, New York.
1802 – As mandated by Jay’s Treaty, a specially appointed commission finds that in settlement of the war claims of British citizens, both Loyalists and English merchants, the US owes, $2,664,000.
1811 – An unsuccessful slave revolt is led by Charles Deslondes in St. Charles and St. James, Louisiana. The 1811 German Coast Uprising occurred on the east bank of the Mississippi River in what are now St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes, Louisiana. While the slave insurgency was the largest in US history, the rebels killed only two white men. Confrontations with militia and executions after trial killed ninety-five black people. Between 64 and 125 enslaved men marched from sugar plantations near present-day LaPlace on the German Coast toward the city of New Orleans. They collected more men along the way. Some accounts claimed a total of 200–500 slaves participated. During their two-day, twenty-mile march, the men burned five plantation houses (three completely), several sugarhouses, and crops. They were armed mostly with hand tools. White men led by officials of the territory formed militia companies to hunt down and kill the insurgents. Over the next two weeks, white planters and officials interrogated, tried and executed an additional 44 insurgents who had been captured. Executions were by hanging or decapitation. Whites displayed the bodies as a warning to intimidate slaves. The heads of some were put on pikes and displayed at plantations.
1815 – U.S. forces led by Gen. Andrew Jackson and French pirate Jean Lafitte led 4,000 backwoodsmen to victory, defending against 8,000 British veterans on the fields of Chalmette in the Battle of New Orleans – the closing engagement of the War of 1812. Two weeks after the War of 1812 officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, U.S. General Andrew Jackson achieves the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans. In September 1814, an impressive American naval victory on Lake Champlain forced invading British forces back into Canada and led to the conclusion of peace negotiations in Ghent, Belgium. Although the peace agreement was signed on December 24, word did not reach the British forces assailing the Gulf coast in time to halt a major attack. On January 8, 1815, the British marched against New Orleans, hoping that by capturing the city they could separate Louisiana from the rest of the United States. Pirate Jean Lafitte, however, had warned the Americans of the attack, and the arriving British found militiamen under General Andrew Jackson strongly entrenched at the Rodriquez Canal. In two separate assaults, the 7,500 British soldiers under Sir Edward Pakenham were unable to penetrate the U.S. defenses, and Jackson’s 4,500 troops, many of them expert marksmen from Kentucky and Tennessee, decimated the British lines. In half an hour, the British had retreated, General Pakenham was dead, and nearly 2,000 of his men were killed, wounded, or missing. U.S. forces suffered only eight killed and 13 wounded. Although the battle had no bearing on the outcome of the war, Jackson’s overwhelming victory elevated national pride, which had suffered a number of setbacks during the War of 1812. The Battle of New Orleans was also the last armed engagement between the United States and Britain.
1821 – Confederate General James Longstreet is born near Edgefield, South Carolina. Longstreet became one of the most successful generals in the Confederate Army, but after the war was a target of some of his comrades, who were searching for a scapegoat. Longstreet grew up in Georgia and attended West Point, graduating 54th in a class of 62 in 1842. He was a close friend of Ulysses S. Grant, and served as best man in Grant’s 1848 wedding to Julia Dent, Longstreet’s fourth cousin. Longstreet fought in the Mexican War and was wounded at the Battle of Chapultepec. He served in the army until he resigned at the beginning of the Civil War, when he was named brigadier general in the Confederate Army. Longstreet fought at the First Battle of Bull Run and within a year was commander of corps in the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee. Upon the death of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, Longstreet was considered the most effective corps commander in Lee’s army. He served with Lee for the rest of the war – except for the fall of 1863, when he took his force to aid the Confederate effort in Tennessee. Longstreet was severely wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, and he did not return to service for six months. He resumed service and fought with Lee until the surrender at Appomattox in April 1865. After the war, Longstreet engaged in a number of businesses and held several governmental posts, most notably U.S. Minister to Turkey. Although successful, he made two moves that greatly tarnished his reputation among his fellow southerners. He joined the despised Republican Party and publicly questioned Lee’s strategy at the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg. His fellow officers considered these sins to be unforgivable, and former comrades such as Generals Jubal Early and John Gordon attacked Longstreet as a traitor. They asserted that, in fact, Longstreet was responsible for the errors that lost Gettysburg. Longstreet outlived most of his comrades and detractors but died on January 2, 1904. His second wife, Helen Dortch, lived until 1962.
1835 – The United States national debt is zero for the only time. Except for about a year during 1835–1836, the United States has continuously held a public debt since the US Constitution legally went into effect on March 4, 1789. The payments of the debt were accomplished by the sale of federally owned land in the West by the Jackson administration.
1847 – About 500 Mexican militia led by commanders Jose Maria Flores and Andres Pico offered the last serious Mexican resistance against U.S. invasion forces at the Battle of the San Gabriel River (in modern-day Montebello). There Mexican defenders attempted to block the march of U.S. Army and Naval troops commanded by General Stephen Watts Kearny and U.S. Navy Captain Robert F. Stockton advancing from the direction of San Diego. A month earlier, Pico had led a successful attack on Kearny’s force at San Pasqual, inflicting heavy casualties on the Americans (18 killed) and forcing them to retreat to San Diego. At the Battle of San Gabriel, however, the Mexicans were not successful in facing Kearny and Stockton’s new offensive. The Americans possessed superior firepower and a more professional military force. The Mexicans were mostly hastily assembled local people and ranchers. After two hours of artillery duels, infantry and cavalry charges, the Mexicans saw no chance of victory and conceded the Battle of the San Gabriel River by withdrawing. Pico also feared that, if captured, Kearny would have him executed out of revenge for the San Pasqual defeat. Another military skirmish occurred the following day in what is now Vernon (the Battle of La Mesa). The Mexicans again attempted to fight off an American assault yet found themselves unable to match their firepower. After hearing of the final military outcome, leaders from Los Angeles came out to surrender the city peacefully to the American military force. Pico headed north to meet up with and surrender to U.S. Army General John C. Fremont’s force in the Cahuenga Pass that had been marching from the north to meet Stockton and Kearny in Los Angeles. Pico signed the Treaty of Cahuenga, effectively surrendering California to the United States. A plaque presently marks the site of the Battle of the San Gabriel River. It is located at the northeast corner of Washington Blvd. and Bluff Rd. in Montebello.
1863 – The Second Battle of Springfield was a battle in the American Civil War fought in Springfield, Missouri. It is sometimes known as The Battle of Springfield. (The First Battle of Springfield was fought on October 25, 1861, and there was also the better-known Battle of Wilson’s Creek, fought nearby on August 10, 1861.) Fighting was urban and house-to-house, which was rare in the war.
1867 – African American men are granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.
1877 – Outnumbered, low on ammunition, and forced to use outdated weapons to defend themselves, Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their final losing battle against the U.S. Cavalry in Montana. Six months earlier, Crazy Horse (Tashunca-uitco) and his ally, Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake), led their combined forces of Sioux and Cheyenne to a stunning victory over Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and his men near the Little Bighorn River of Montana. Outraged by the killing of the flamboyant Custer and more than 200 soldiers, the American people demanded speedy revenge. The U.S. Army responded by commanding General Nelson Miles to mount a winter campaign in 1876-77 against the remaining hostile Indians on the Northern Plains. Combining military force with diplomatic overtures, Nelson succeeded in convincing many Indians to surrender and return to their reservations. Much to Nelson’s frustration, though, Sitting Bull refused to give in and fled across the border to Canada, where he and his people remained for four years before finally returning to the U.S. to surrender in 1881. Meanwhile, Crazy Horse and his band also refused to surrender, though they were suffering badly from sickness and starvation. His followers later reported that Crazy Horse, who had always been slightly odd, began to grow even stranger during this difficult time, disappearing for days into the wilderness by himself and walking about the camp with his eyes to the ground. On January 8, 1877, General Miles found Crazy Horse’s camp along Montana’s Tongue River. The soldiers opened fire with their big wagon-mounted guns, driving the Indians from their warm tents out into a raging blizzard. Crazy Horse and his warriors managed to regroup on a ridge and return fire, but most of their ammunition was gone, and they were reduced to fighting with bows and arrows. They managed to hold off the soldiers long enough for the women and children to escape under cover of the blinding blizzard before they turned to follow them. Though he had escaped decisive defeat, Crazy Horse realized that Miles and his well-equipped cavalry troops would eventually hunt down and destroy his cold and hungry people. On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse led 1,100 Indians to the Red Cloud reservation near Fort Robinson. The mighty warrior surrendered in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Five months later, a guard fatally stabbed him after he allegedly resisted imprisonment by Indian policemen.
1889 – Herman Hollerith is issued US patent #395,791 for the ‘Art of Applying Statistics’ — his punched card calculator.
1918 – President Woodrow Wilson addressed a hastily convened joint session of Congress, publicly stating the Fourteen Points—his idealistic plan for a world forever free from conflict. Most of Wilson’s Fourteen Points addressed specific European territorial concerns, but he also called for fair and generous treatment of Germany, absolute freedom of the seas, national boundaries determined on the basis of language, and the establishment of a general assembly of nations. When World War I ended in November 1918, Wilson personally attended the peace negotiations, believing that with his guidance, “peace without victory” was possible and a new world order was at hand. What he had not counted on was the bitterness and cynicism of his allies, who had lost much. As the negotiations progressed, more and more of the Fourteen Points were sacrificed to vengeance and a grab for land. The German magazine Simplicissimus remarked on Wilson’s betrayal of his principles in June 1919 with God asking, “Woodrow Wilson, where are your 14 Points?” and Wilson responding, “Don’t get excited, Lord, we didn’t keep your Ten Commandments either!”
1920 – The steel strike of 1919 ends in a complete failure for the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers labor union. The Steel Strike of 1919 was an attempt by the union to organize the United States steel industry in the wake of World War I. The strike began on September 21, 1919. The union had formed in 1876. It was a union of skilled iron and steel workers which was deeply committed to craft unionism. However, technological advances had slashed the number of skilled workers in both industries. The September strike shut down half the steel industry, including almost all mills in Pueblo, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois, Wheeling, West Virginia; Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Cleveland, Ohio; Lackawanna, New York; and Youngstown, Ohio. The steel companies had seriously misjudged the strength of worker discontent. The post-war Red Scare, however, had swept the country in the wake of the Russian revolution of October 1917. The steel companies took eager advantage of the change in the political climate. As the strike began, they published information exposing National Committee co-chairman William Z. Foster’s past as a Wobblie and syndicalist, and claimed this was evidence that the steelworker strike was being masterminded by communists and revolutionaries. President Wilson’s stroke on September 26, 1919, prevented government intervention, since Wilson’s advisors were loath to take action with the president incapacitated. The federal government’s inaction permitted state and local authorities and the steel companies room to maneuver. Mass meetings were prohibited in most strike-stricken areas. Veterans and tradesmen were pressed into service as deputies. The Pennsylvania state police clubbed picketers, dragged strikers from their homes and jailed thousands on flimsy charges. In Delaware, company guards were deputized and threw 100 strikers in jail on fake weapons charges. In Monessen, Pennsylvania, hundreds of men were jailed then were promised release if they agreed to disavow the union and return to work. After strikebreakers and police clashed with unionists in Gary, Indiana, the U.S. Army took over the city on October 6, 1919, and martial law was declared. National guardsmen, leaving Gary after federal troops had taken over, turned their anger on strikers in nearby Indiana Harbor, Indiana. Between 30,000 and 40,000 unskilled African-American and Mexican American workers were brought to work in the mills. Company officials played on the racism of many white steelworkers by pointing out how well-fed and happy the black workers seemed now that they had ‘white’ jobs. Company spies also spread rumors that the strike had collapsed elsewhere, and they pointed to the operating steel mills as proof that the strike had been defeated. Almost no union organizing in the steel industry occurred in the next 15 years. Advances in technology, such as the development of the widestrip continuous sheet mill, made most of the skilled jobs in steelmaking obsolete.
1926 – Twelve-year old Emperor Bao Dai ascends the throne as Emperor of Vietnam. Born Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thụy, was the 13th and final emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, which was the last dynasty of Vietnam. From 1926 to 1945, he was king of Annam. The Japanese ousted the Vichy-French administration in March 1945 and then ruled through Bao Dại. At this time, he restored the name of his country, “Vietnam”. He abdicated in August 1945 when Japan surrendered. He was the chief of state of the State of Vietnam (South Vietnam) from 1949 until 1955.
1940 – A message from Benito Mussolini is forwarded to Adolf Hitler. In the missive, the Duce cautions the Fuhrer against waging war against Britain. Mussolini asked if it was truly necessary “to risk all-including the regime-and to sacrifice the flower of German generations.” Mussolini’s message was more than a little disingenuous. At the time, Mussolini had his own reasons for not wanting Germany to spread the war across the European continent: Italy was not prepared to join the effort, and Germany would get all the glory and likely eclipse the dictator of Italy. Germany had already taken the Sudetenland and Poland; if Hitler took France and then cowed Britain into neutrality – or worse, defeated it in battle—Germany would rule Europe. Mussolini had assumed the reigns of power in Italy long before Hitler took over Germany, and in so doing Mussolini boasted of refashioning a new Roman Empire out of an Italy that was still economically backward and militarily weak. He did not want to be outshined by the upstart Hitler. And so the Duce hoped to stall Germany’s war engine until he could figure out his next move. The Italian ambassador in Berlin delivered Mussolini’s message to Hitler in person. Mussolini believed that the “big democracies…must of necessity fall and be harvested by us, who represent the new forces of Europe.” They carried “within themselves the seeds of their decadence.” In short, they would destroy themselves, so back off. Hitler ignored him and moved forward with plans to conquer Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. Mussolini, rather than tie Italy’s fortune to Germany’s – which would necessarily mean sharing the spotlight and the spoils of any victory – began to turn an eye toward the east. Mussolini invaded Yugoslavia and, in a famously disastrous strategic move, Greece.
1945 – Allied forces eliminate German positions on the west bank of the Maas River. In the Ardennes, American forces now control 9 miles of the Laroche-St. Vith road. US 3rd Army captures Flamierge, 9 km northwest of Bastogne, on the southern flank of the German held salient. Meanwhile, in Alsace, the battles north and south of Strasbourg continue. The US 7th Army is under considerable pressure near Rimling and Gambsheim.
1946 – President Truman vowed to stand by the Yalta accord on self-determination for the Balkans.
1951 – When blizzards forced USN Task Force 77 carriers to suspend close air support missions for X Corps, Fifth Air Force took up the slack. Superfortresses cratered Kimpo Airfield to prevent its use by enemy aircraft. U.S. forces in central Korea withdrew to new positions three miles south of Wonju. Fifth Air Force Shooting Stars, Thunderjets, and Mustangs provide X Corps 50 close- air support sorties. Afterward, the weather moved in again and Fifth Air Force was forced to completely stand down operations. U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, with attached French and Netherlands battalions, stopped the Chinese communist drive south of Wonju.
1967 – About 16,000 U.S. soldiers from the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions, 173rd Airborne Brigade and 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment join 14,000 South Vietnamese troops to mount Operation Cedar Falls. This offensive, the largest of the war to date, was designed to disrupt insurgent operations near Saigon, and had as its primary targets the Thanh Dien Forest Preserve and the Iron Triangle, a 60-square-mile area of jungle believed to contain communist base camps and supply dumps. During the course of the operations, U.S. infantrymen discovered and destroyed a massive tunnel complex in the Iron Triangle, apparently a headquarters for guerrilla raids and terrorist attacks on Saigon. The operation ended with 711 of the enemy reported killed and 488 captured. Allied losses were 83 killed and 345 wounded. The operation lasted for 18 days.
1973 – National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Hanoi’s Le Duc Tho resume peace negotiations in Paris. After the South Vietnamese had blunted the massive North Vietnamese invasion launched in the spring of 1972, Kissinger and the North Vietnamese had finally made some progress on reaching a negotiated end to the war. However, a recalcitrant South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu had inserted several demands into to the negotiations that caused the North Vietnamese negotiators to walk out of the talks on December 13. President Richard Nixon issued an ultimatum to Hanoi to send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours “or else.” The North Vietnamese rejected Nixon’s demand and the president ordered Operation Linebacker II, a full-scale air campaign against the Hanoi area. On December 28, after 11 days of round-the-clock bombing (with the exception of a 36-hour break for Christmas), North Vietnamese officials agreed to return to the peace negotiations in Paris. When the negotiators returned on January 8, the peace talks moved along quickly. On January 23, 1973, the United States, North Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Viet Cong signed a cease-fire agreement that took effect five days later.
1975 – President Ford appoints an eight-man commission to investigate charges that the CIA had been involved in a wide range of illegal activities. On 21 December, the New York Times had charged that the agency had orchestrated a vast domestic intelligence operation. The next day, President Ford announced that he would not tolerate such activities in his administration. The commission, headed by Nelson Rockefeller, will report its findings in June.
1979 – U.S. advised the Shah to get out of Iran.
1991 – Secretary of State James A. Baker the Third and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz arrived in Geneva for the first high-level talks between their countries since the Persian Gulf crisis began.
1998 – Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, was sentenced in New York to life imprisonment.
2002 – US soldiers captured 14 suspected fighters at the Zhawar Kili cave and bunker complex near Khost. An al Qaeda fighter blew himself up with a grenade during an escape attempt at a Kandahar hospital. 2 senior al Qaeda leaders were reported caught with documents and laptops, while fleeing bombing in eastern Afghanistan. An intensified search was reported to be in progress for Abu Zubeida (Zain al-Abidin Muhammad Husain), the director of external affairs for al Qaeda.
2003 – A federal appeals court ruled that Pres. Bush could order U.S. citizens captured overseas indefinitely detained as enemy combatants without the rights normally afforded citizens charged in criminal cases.
2004 – In Iraq a US Black Hawk medivac helicopter crashed near Fallujah killing all nine soldiers aboard.
2004 – Teams of Swiss police in 5 cantons arrested 8 suspected accomplices in the May 12 al Qaeda car bomb attack in Saudi Arabia.
2004 – Turkey and the US agreed to reopen the Incirlik air base for Iraq operations.
2005 – The nuclear sub USS San Francisco collides at full speed with an undersea mountain south of Guam. One man is killed, but the sub surfaces and is repaired.
2005 – U.S. Army sergeant Tracy Perkins is acquitted of manslaughter but found guilty of aggravated assault for forcing two Iraqi civilians to leap from a bridge into the River Tigris on 3 January 2004.
2006 – An AC-130 gunship belonging to the United States military attacked suspected al-Qaeda operatives in southern Somalia. The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower had been moved into striking distance. The aircraft flew out of its base in Djibouti.
2007 – Mounir El Motassadeq is sentenced by a court in Hamburg, Germany to 15 years in jail for his role in the planning of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
2008 – Operation Phantom Phoenix, a major nation-wide offensive launched by the Multinational Force Iraq (MNF-I) in an attempt to build on the success of the two previous corps-level operations, Operation Phantom Thunder and Operation Phantom Strike and further reduce violence and secure Iraq’s population, particularly in the capital Baghdad, begins. The offensive consisted of a number of joint Coalition and Iraqi Army operations throughout northern Iraq as well as in the southern Baghdad Belts. The northern operation was designated Operation Iron Harvest. Its objective was to hunt down the remaining 200 Al-Qaeda extremists remaining in the province of Diyala following the end of the previous offensive. The operation also included targeting insurgent elements in Salah ad-Din province and Nineveh province. The southern operation was designated Operation Marne Thunderbolt and targeted insurgent safe havens in the belts to the south-east of Baghdad, particularly the Arab Jabour region. Additionally, Phantom Phoenix’s aims were the remaining car, truck and suicide bomb networks in Baghdad as well as al-Qaeda’s financial network.
2011 – The United States has subpoenaed Twitter for personal information regarding people connected to Wikileaks, including founder Julian Assange, suspected source of leaks Bradley Manning, and supporter Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of Iceland’s Althing.
2014 – A book released by former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticizes President Barack Obama for his handling of the War in Afghanistan. The book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” was released by the Knopf DoubleDay Publishing Group.

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