Military History Anniversaries 1 thru 15 January

Events in History over the next 15 day period that had U.S. military involvement or impacted in some way on U.S military operations or American interests

  • JAN 00 1942 – WW2: Burma Campaign (Jan 1942 thru Jul 1945) » The campaign was a series of battles fought in the British colony of Burma, South-East Asian theatre of World War II, primarily involving the forces of the British Empire and China, with support from the United States, against the invading forces of Imperial Japan, Thailand, and collaborator units such as the Burma Independence Army, which spearheaded the initial attacks against British forces, and the Indian National Army. British Empire forces peaked at around 1,000,000 land and air forces, and were drawn primarily from British India, with British Army forces (equivalent to 8 regular infantry divisions and 6 tank regiments), 100,000 East and West African colonial troops, and smaller numbers of land and air forces from several other Dominions and Colonies.

The campaign had a number of notable features. The geographical characteristics of the region meant that weather, disease and terrain had a major effect on operations. The lack of transport infrastructure placed an emphasis on military engineering and air transport to move and supply troops, and evacuate wounded. The campaign was also politically complex, with the British, the United States and the Chinese all having different strategic priorities. It was also the only land campaign by the Western Allies in the Pacific Theatre which proceeded continuously from the start of hostilities to the end of the war. This was due to its geographical location. By extending from Southeast Asia to India, its area included some lands which the British lost at the outset of the war, but also included areas of India wherein the Japanese advance was eventually stopped.

The climate of the region is dominated by the seasonal monsoon rains, which allowed effective campaigning for only just over half of each year. This, together with other factors such as famine and disorder in British India and the priority given by the Allies to the defeat of Nazi Germany, prolonged the campaign and divided it into four phases: the Japanese invasion, which led to the expulsion of British, Indian and Chinese forces in 1942; failed attempts by the Allies to mount offensives into Burma, from late 1942 to early 1944; the 1944 Japanese invasion of India, which ultimately failed following the battles of Imphal and Kohima; and finally the successful Allied offensive which reoccupied Burma from late-1944 to mid-1945. Casualties and losses totaled: Allied 207,244 of which 3,253 were U.S. and Axis 210,000.

  • JAN 00 1942 – WW2: Japanese Occupation of the Dutch East Indies (Now Indonesia) » On 8 December 1941, the Dutch government-in-exile declared war on Japan. In January the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) was formed to co-ordinate Allied forces in South East Asia, under the command of General Archibald Wavell. In the weeks leading up to the invasion, senior Dutch government officials went into exile, taking political prisoners, family, and personal staff to Australia. Before the arrival of Japanese troops, there were conflicts between rival Indonesian groups where people were killed, vanished or went into hiding. Chinese- and Dutch-owned properties were ransacked and destroyed.

The invasion in early 1942 was swift and complete. By January 1942, parts of Sulawesi and Kalimantan were under Japanese control. By February, the Japanese had landed on Sumatra where they had encouraged the Acehnese to rebel against the Dutch. On 19 FEB, having already taken Ambon, the Japanese Eastern Task Force landed in Timor, dropping a special parachute unit into West Timor near Kupang, and landing in the Dili area of Portuguese Timor to drive out the Allied forces which had invaded in December. On 27 FEB, the Allied navy’s last effort to contain Japan was swept aside by their defeat in the Battle of the Java Sea. From 28 FEB to 1 MAR 1942, Japanese troops landed on four places along the northern coast of Java almost undisturbed. The fiercest fighting had been in invasion points in Ambon, Timor, Kalimantan, and on the Java Sea. In places where there were no Dutch troops, such as Bali, there was no fighting. On 9 MAR, the Dutch commander surrendered along with Governor General Jonkheer A.W.L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer.

The Japanese occupation was initially greeted with optimistic enthusiasm by Indonesians who came to meet the Japanese army waving flags and shouting support such as “Japan is our older brother” and “banzai Dai Nippon”. As the Japanese advanced, rebellious Indonesians in virtually every part of the archipelago killed groups of Europeans (particularly the Dutch) and informed the Japanese reliably on the whereabouts of larger groups. As famed Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer noted: “With the arrival of the Japanese just about everyone was full of hope, except for those who had worked in the service of the Dutch.”

  • Jan 00 1944 – WW2: USS Scorpion (SS–278). Date of sinking unknown. Most likely a Japanese mine in Yellow or East China Sea. 77 killed.
  • Jan 00 1945 – WW2: USS Swordfish (SS–193) missing. Possibly sunk by Japanese Coast Defense Vessel No. 4 on 5 January or sunk by a mine off Okinawa on 9 January. 89 killed.
  • Jan 01 1781 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line » 1,500 soldiers from the Pennsylvania Line, all 11 regiments under General Anthony Wayne’s command, insist that their three-year enlistments are expired, kill three officers in a drunken rage and abandon the Continental Army’s winter camp at Morristown, New Jersey. British General Henry Clinton sent emissaries from New York to meet the mutineers and offer them full pardon and the pay owed them by the Continental Army in exchange for joining the Redcoats. Instead, the men turned south towards Princeton, which they captured on 3 JAN, intending to march on Philadelphia and Congress. From Princeton, the mutineers dispatched envoys to meet with General Wayne, who was following behind them. They aired their grievances and handed over Clinton’s men for eventual execution.

With this show of devotion to the Patriot cause, the mutineers strengthened their position in negotiations with Congress. General Wayne and Congressional President Joseph Reed met with the mutineers to hear their grievances on 7 JAN; they came to an agreement three days later. Half the men accepted discharges, while the other half took furloughs coupled with bonuses for reenlistment. Those who reenlisted formed the Pennsylvania Battalion, which went on to participate in the southern campaign.

These excellent terms prompted 200 New Jersey men stationed at Pompton to follow suit with their own mutiny. This time, the response was quite different. General George Washington used New England soldiers to disarm their New Jersey compatriots and executed two of the leading mutineers. These actions kept the Patriot army from disintegrating, but it still faced severe challenges–early 1781 saw more Americans fighting for the British than fighting for Washington.

  • Jan 01 1862 – Civil War: The Romney Expedition (1-24 JAN) » This was a military expedition of the Confederate States Army during the early part of the War. It is named for Romney, West Virginia, which at the time was still in the state of Virginia. The expedition was conducted in this locale as part of the preliminary actions of Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign. Confederate forces under Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson cleared Union forces under Major General Nathaniel Banks and Brigadier General William S. Rosecrans from the lower Shenandoah Valley and surrounding Allegheny ranges, and then successfully severed the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

Although his lofty goal of recapturing western Virginia was not achieved, Jackson did succeed in both thwarting a Union attack on Winchester and in clearing his new Valley District of all Federal forces. Jackson also effectively used Winchester as a “depot, headquarters and springboard” for various raids against the B&O Railroad.

  • Jan 01 1863 – Civil War: Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect » During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, calling on the Union army to liberate all slaves in states still in rebellion as “an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity.” These three million slaves were declared to be “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” The proclamation exempted the border slave states that remained in the Union at the start of the Civil War and all or parts of three Confederate states controlled by the Union army.

As a Republican politician, Lincoln had fought to isolate slavery from the new territories, not outlaw it outright, and this policy carried over into his presidency. Even after the Civil War began, Lincoln, though he privately detested slavery, moved cautiously on the emancipation issue. However, in 1862, the federal government began to realize the strategic advantages of emancipation: The liberation of slaves would weaken the Confederacy by depriving it of a major portion of its labor force, which would in turn strengthen the Union by producing an influx of manpower.

That year, Congress annulled the fugitive slave laws, prohibited slavery in the U.S. territories, and authorized Lincoln to employ freed slaves in the army. Following the major Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in September, Lincoln issued a warning of his intent to issue an Emancipation Proclamation for all states still in rebellion on New Year’s Day.

The Emancipation Proclamation transformed the Civil War from a war against secession into a war for “a new birth of freedom,” as Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address in 1863. This ideological change discouraged the intervention of France or England on the Confederacy’s behalf and enabled the Union to enlist the 200,000 African-American soldiers and sailors who volunteered to fight between January 1, 1863, and the conclusion of the war. In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution formally abolished slavery.

  • Jan 01 1915 – WWI: The 15,000-ton British HMS class battleship Formidable is torpedoed by the German submarine U-24 and sinks in the English Channel, killing 547 men. The Formidable was part of the 5th Battle Squadron unit serving with the Channel Fleet.

HMS Implacable Spithead 1909 Flickr 4793355702 4792e59389 o.jpg

  • Jan 01 1942 – WW2: The War Production Board (WPB) ordered the temporary end of all civilian automobile sales well as the delivery of cars to customers who had previously contracted for them leaving dealers with one half million unsold cars. As a temporary measure, local rationing boards could issue permits allowing persons who had contracted for cars before January 1st to secure delivery. The U.S. manufacture of automobiles halted completely during World War II. No cars, commercial trucks, or auto parts were made from February 1942 to October 1945.
  • Jan 01 1942 – WW2: United Nations Created » President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issue a declaration, signed by representatives of 26 countries, called the “United Nations.” The signatories of the declaration vowed to create an international postwar peacekeeping organization.

On December 22, 1941, Churchill arrived in Washington, D.C., for the Arcadia Conference, a discussion with President Roosevelt about a unified Anglo-American war strategy and a future peace. The attack on Pearl Harbor meant that the U.S. was involved in the war, and it was important for Great Britain and America to create and project a unified front against Axis powers. Toward that end, Churchill and Roosevelt created a combined general staff to coordinate military strategy against both Germany and Japan and to draft a plan for a future joint invasion of the Continent.

Code-named Arcadia, the meeting between Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt established a basis for military cooperation.

Among the most far-reaching achievements of the Arcadia Conference was the United Nations agreement. Led by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, the signatories agreed to use all available resources to defeat the Axis powers. It was agreed that no single country would sue for a separate peace with Germany, Italy, or Japan-they would act in concert. Perhaps most important, the signatories promised to pursue the creation of a future international peacekeeping organization dedicated to ensuring “life, liberty, independence, and religious freedom, and to preserve the rights of man and justice.”

Jan 01 1945 – WW2: Operation Bodenplatte » German planes attack American forward air bases in Europe. This is the last major offensive of the Luftwaffe and was planned under great secrecy. Against all odds and starved of fuel and fighting spirit the massive, surprise, low-level strike attack was launched at 17 Allied tactical airfields throughout France, Belgium and Holland.

The raid gambled on using the bulk of Luftwaffe fighter assets on the Western Front, with the aim of decimating significant elements of both the British 2nd RAF and the USAAF on the ground in Mainland Europe. As the winter skies lightened more than 900 German aircraft, most of them Fw 190s and Bf 109s, swept across vulnerable and unsuspecting Allied airfields, creating havoc among the Allied planes ready for the day’s mission. A total of 495 Allied aircraft were damaged or destroyed in the attacks. Most of the targeted airfields remained out of action for up to two weeks. Fortunately, very few Allied pilots were lost.

Due to Allied fighter counter-attacks, and surprisingly numerous Allied anti-aircraft guns – intended to prevent V-1 attacks the Luftwaffe lost 280 aircraft, 271 of which were fighters or fighter-bombers, with a further 69 aircraft damaged. But more important: 213 German pilots were lost of which forty-five were regarded as experienced pilots and 21 were valuable formation leaders with skills that had taken years to acquire. For Luftwaffe, the lost pilots were irreplaceable.

  • Jan 01 1946 – WW2: Hidden Japanese surrender after Pacific War has ended » On the island of Corregidor, located at the mouth of Manila Bay, a lone soldier on detail for the American Graves Registration was busy recording the makeshift graves of American soldiers who had lost their lives fighting the Japanese. He was interrupted when approximately 20 Japanese soldiers approached him—literally waving a white flag. They had been living in an underground tunnel built during the war and learned that their country had already surrendered when one of them ventured out in search of water and found a newspaper announcing Japan’s defeat.
  • Jan 01 1959 – Cuba: Batista forced out by Castro-led revolution » Facing a popular revolution spearheaded by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista flees the island nation. Amid celebration and chaos in the Cuban capitol of Havana, the U.S. debated how best to deal with the radical Castro and the ominous rumblings of anti-Americanism in Cuba.

Fulgencio Batista Fidel Castro

The U.S. government had supported Batista, a former soldier and Cuban dictator from 1933 to 1944, who seized power for a second time in a 1952 coup. After Castro and a group of followers, including the South American revolutionary Che Guevara (1928-1967), landed in Cuba to unseat the dictator in December 1956, the U.S. continued to back Batista. Suspicious of what they believed to be Castro’s leftist ideology and worried that his ultimate goals might include attacks on the U.S.’s significant investments and property in Cuba, American officials were nearly unanimous in opposing his revolutionary movement.

Cuban support for Castro’s revolution, however, grew in the late 1950s, partially due to his charisma and nationalistic rhetoric, but also because of increasingly rampant corruption, greed, brutality and inefficiency within the Batista government. This reality forced the U.S. to slowly withdraw its support from Batista and begin a search in Cuba for an alternative to both the dictator and Castro; these efforts failed.

On January 1, 1959, Batista and a number of his supporters fled Cuba for the Dominican Republic. Tens of thousands of Cubans (and thousands of Cuban Americans in the U.S.) celebrated the end of the dictator’s regime. Castro’s supporters moved quickly to establish their power. Judge Manuel Urrutia was named as provisional president. Castro and his band of guerrilla fighters triumphantly entered Havana on 7 JAN.

The U.S. attitude toward the new revolutionary government soon changed from cautiously suspicious to downright hostile. After Castro nationalized American-owned property, allied himself with the Communist Party and grew friendlier with the Soviet Union, America’s Cold War enemy, the U.S severed diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba and enacted a trade and travel embargo that remained in effect until 2015. In April 1961, the U.S. launched the Bay of Pigs invasion, an unsuccessful attempt to remove Castro from power. Subsequent covert operations to overthrow Castro, born August 13, 1926, failed and he went on to become one of the world’s longest-ruling heads of state. Fulgencio Batista died in Spain at age 72 on August 6, 1973. In late July 2006, an unwell Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power to his younger brother Raul. Fidel Castro officially stepped down in February 2008

  • Jan 01 1966 – Vietnam War: 1st Marine Division Advance Elements Arrive » The entire division followed by the end of March. The division established its headquarters at Chu Lai and was given responsibility for the two southernmost provinces of I Corps (the military region just south of the DMZ). At the peak of its strength, the 1st Marine Division consisted of four regiments of infantry: the 1st, 5th, 7th, and 27th Marines. It also included the 11th Artillery regiment, which consisted of six battalions of 105-mm, 155-mm, and 8-inch howitzers. Other divisional combat units included the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Antitank Battalion, 1st Amphibious Tractor Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, and the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company. The division numbered nearly 20,000 marines by the time all elements had arrived in South Vietnam.

1st Marine Division insignia.svg

During the Tet Offensive of 1968, the 1st Marine Division assisted the South Vietnamese army forces in recapturing the imperial city of Hue. The 1st Marine Division was withdrawn from Vietnam in the spring of 1971 and moved to its current base at Camp Pendleton, California. During the course of the Vietnam War, 20 members of the 1st Marine Division won the Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery on the battlefield. The 1st Marine Division was twice awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for gallantry in action in Vietnam and received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Vietnamese Civil Action Award.

  • Jan 01 1967 – Vietnam War: Operation Sam Houston Begins » The Operation was a continuation of border surveillance operations in Pleiku and Kontum Provinces in the Central Highlands by units from the U.S. 4th and 25th Infantry Divisions. The purpose of the operation was to interdict the movement of North Vietnamese troops and equipment into South Vietnam from communist sanctuaries in Cambodia and Laos. The operation ended on 5 APR. A total of 169 U.S. soldiers were killed in action; 733 enemy casualties were reported.


  • Jan 02 1777 – U.S. Revolutionary War: American forces under the command of George Washington repulsed a British attack at the Battle of the Assunpink Creek near Trenton, New Jersey. Casualties and losses: US 7 to 100 – GB 55 to 365.
  • Jan 02 1791 – Native Americans: Big Bottom Massacre » Marked the beginning of the Northwest Indian Wars in which aboriginal Americans in the Ohio Country confronted American settlers, regular soldiers and militia, seeking to expel them from their territory. A group of American squatters had moved up to this area and settled along flood plain, or “bottom” land, of the Muskingum River, some 30 miles north of an Ohio Company of Associates settlement at Marietta, Ohio. The settlement was raided by Lenape and Wyandot warriors seeking to expel the interlopers. They stormed the incomplete blockhouse and killed eleven men, one woman, and two children. (Accounts vary as to the number of casualties.) The aborigines captured three settlers, with at least one dying later, while four others escaped into the woods.

The attack led to United States retaliation. Conflicts continued in the Northwest Indian Wars, in which a coalition of aboriginal American tribes tried to expel American settlers from this territory. They were finally defeated in 1794 in the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

  • Jan 02 1861 – Civil War: The USS Brooklyn is readied at Norfolk to aid Fort Sumter.
  • Jan 02 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Stones River – Union troops of William Rosecrans in the second day defeat Confederates under Braxton Bragg at Murfeesboro, Tennessee, just south of Nashville. The battle was a crucial engagement in the contest for central Tennessee, and provided a Union victory during a bleak period for the North.
  • Jan 02 1904 – Latin America: Interventions – U.S. Marines are sent to Santo Domingo to aid the government against rebel forces.
  • Jan 02 1905 – Russo*Japanese War: Russian Fleet Surrenders at Port Arthur » During the Russo-Japanese War, Port Arthur, the Russian naval base in China, falls to Japanese naval forces under Admiral Heihachiro Togo after a six-month siege. It was the first in a series of defeats that by June turned the tide of the imperial conflict irrevocably against Russia.

In February 1904, following a Russian rejection of a Japanese plan to divide Manchuria and Korea into spheres of influence, Japan launched a surprise naval attack on Port Arthur, decimating the Russian fleet. In the subsequent fighting, Japan won a series of decisive victories over the Russians, who underestimated the military potential of its non-Western opponent.

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Japanese print displaying the destruction of a Russian ship

In January 1905, the strategic naval base of Port Arthur fell to the Japanese; in March, Russian troops were defeated at Shenyang, China, by Japanese Field Marshal Iwao Oyama; and in May, the Russian Baltic fleet under Admiral Zinovi Rozhdestvenski was destroyed by Admiral Togo’s fleet near the Tsushima Islands. These three crucial defeats convinced Russia that further resistance against Japan’s imperial designs on East Asia was hopeless, and in August 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt mediated a peace treaty at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Japan emerged from the conflict as the first modern non-Western world power and set its sights on greater imperial expansion. For Russia, however, the disastrous performance in the war was one of the immediate causes of the Russian Revolution of 1905.

  • Jan 02 1918 – WW1: Russian Bolsheviks threaten to re-enter World War I unless Germany returns occupied territory.
  • Jan 02 1932 – Japan*Manchuria: Japanese forces in Manchuria set up a puppet government known as Manchukuo.
  • Jan 02 1933 – U.S.*Nicaragua: U.S. Troops Leave Nicaragua » The United States occupation of Nicaragua from 1912 to 1933 was part of the Banana Wars, when the US military intervened in various Latin American countries from 1898 to 1934. The formal occupation began in 1912, even though there were various other assaults by the U.S. in Nicaragua throughout this period. American military interventions in Nicaragua were designed to stop any other nation except the United States of America from building a Nicaraguan Canal. Nicaragua assumed a quasi-protectorate status under the 1916 Bryan–Chamorro Treaty. President Herbert Hoover (1929–1933) opposed the relationship. Finally in 1933 President Franklin D Roosevelt, invoking his new Good Neighbor policy ended American intervention.
  • Jan 02 1936 – Holocaust: In Berlin, Nazi officials claim that their treatment of Jews is not the business of the League of Nations.
  • Jan 02 1941 – WW2 Era: German bombing severely damages the Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff, Wales when a landmine was dropped near it during the Cardiff Blitz, blowing the roof off the nave, south aisle and chapter house. The top of the spire also had to be reconstructed and there was damage to the organ. Of British cathedrals, only Coventry Cathedral was damaged more. Cardiff, Wales’ Cardiff Docks was one of the biggest ports in the United Kingdom, and one of the largest and busiest coal exporting ports in the World. Consequently it was heavily bombed by the Nazi German Luftwaffe due to its industrial importance and was one of the cities affected by the mass civilian evacuation.
  • Jan 02 1942 – WW2: The 28 nations at war with Axis powers pledge to make no separate peace deals.
  • Jan 02 1942 – WW2: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) convicts 33 members of a German spy ring headed by Fritz Joubert Duquesne in the largest espionage case in United States history-the Duquesne Spy Ring.

  • Jan 02 1942 – WW2: In the Philippines, the city of Manila and the U.S. Naval base at Cavite fall to Japanese forces.
  • Jan 02 1942 – U.S. Navy: The Navy Airship Patrol Group 1 and Air Ship Squadron 12 are established at Lakehurst, N.J. The U.S. Navy was the only military service in the world to use airships–also known as blimps–during the war.
  • Jan 02 1943 – WW2: The Allies capture Buna in New Guinea.
  • Jan 02 1945 – WW2: Nuremberg, Germany is 90% destroyed by Allied bombers. 1,800 residents killed and roughly 100,000 displaced.
  • Jan 02 1947 – Post WW2: Subsequent Nuremberg Trials: Former Field Marshal Erhard Milch of the Luftwaffe was accused of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was found guilty on 2 of 3 counts and sentenced to life imprisonment.


  • Jan 02 1963 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong Are Successful at Ap Bac » At Ap Bac, a village in the Mekong Delta 50 miles southwest of Saigon, the Viet Cong inflict heavy casualties on a much larger South Vietnamese force. About 2,500 troops of South Vietnam’s 7th Infantry Division – equipped with automatic weapons, armored amphibious personnel carriers, and supported by bombers and helicopters – failed to defeat a group of 300 guerrillas who escaped after inflicting heavy losses on the South Vietnamese.

By the time the battle was over, the South Vietnamese suffered 80 killed and over 100 wounded in action. The battle was seen as symbolic of the poor fighting ability of the South Vietnamese army, revealing that government troops could neither cope with the strategy nor match the fighting spirit of the Viet Cong. Even with superior numbers and the assistance of American technology and planning, the South Vietnamese could not defeat the Viet Cong. South Vietnamese officials in Saigon were irate with U.S. advisers’ candid assessments of the action, which were highly critical of the South Vietnamese soldiers and their leaders. The Lao Dong party (the ruling Vietnamese Workers’ Party) in Hanoi called the battle at Ap Bac a victory, saying that it “signified the coming of the new revolutionary armed forces in the South.”

  • Jan 02 1963 – Vietnam War: The Viet Cong down five U.S. helicopters in the Mekong Delta. 30 Americans are reported dead.
  • Jan 02 1966 – Vietnam War: American G.I.s move into the Mekong Delta for the first time.
  • Jan 02 1967 – Vietnam War: U.S. Planes Down Seven Enemy Planes » In what is described as the biggest air battle of the war to date, U.S. Air Force F-4 Phantom jets down seven communist MiG-21s over North Vietnam. The Phantoms were flying cover for F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers, which were attacking surface-to-air missile sites in the Red River Delta. During this operation, Col. Robin Olds shot down one of the MiGs, becoming the first and only U.S. Air Force ace with victories in both World War II and Vietnam (“ace” was a designation traditionally awarded for five enemy aircraft shot down).

1960's -- Robin Olds, in Southeast Asia - 1967- commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, preflights his F-4C Phantom. Col. Olds shot down four enemy MiG aircraft in aerial combat over North Vienam. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

  • Jan 02 1969 – Vietnam War: Operation Barrier Reef, the fourth and last interdiction barrier in the Mekong Delta, begins in the Mekong Delta. It is established with naval patrols operating on the LaGrange-Ong Long Canal fro, Tuyen Nhon on the Vam Co Tay Rover to An Long on the Mekong.
  • Jan 02 1973 – Vietnam War: The United States admits the accidental bombing of a Hanoi hospital.
  • Jan 02 1980 – Cold War: U.S.-Russia Detente Ends » In a strong reaction to the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter asks the Senate to postpone action on the SALT II nuclear weapons treaty and recalls the U.S. ambassador to Moscow. These actions sent a message that the age of detente and the friendlier diplomatic and economic relations that were established between the United States and Soviet Union during President Richard Nixon’s administration (1969-74) had ended.

Carter feared that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in which an estimated 30,000 combat troops entered that nation and established a puppet government, would threaten the stability of strategic neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan and could lead to the USSR gaining control over much of the world’s oil supplies. The Soviet actions were labeled “a serious threat to peace” by the White House. Carter asked the Senate to shelve ratification talks on SALT II, the nuclear arms treaty that he and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev had already signed, and the president called U.S. ambassador to Moscow Thomas J. Watson back to Washington for “consultation,” in an effort to let the Kremlin know that military intervention in Afghanistan was unacceptable.

When the Soviets refused to withdraw from Afghanistan, America halted certain key exports to the USSR, including grain and high technology, and boycotted the 1980 summer Olympics, which were held in Moscow. The United States also began to covertly subsidize anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s, the CIA secretly sent billions of dollars to Afghanistan to arm and train the mujahedeen rebel forces that were battling the Soviets. This tactic was successful in helping to drive out the Soviets, but it also gave rise to the oppressive Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist organization.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan, who favored a more aggressive anti-Communist foreign policy. Reagan dubbed the USSR the “evil empire” and believed it was America’s responsibility to save the world from Soviet repression. He dramatically increased U.S. defense spending and ramped up the nuclear arms race with the Soviets, whose faltering economy ultimately prevented them from keeping pace. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

  • Jan 02 1996 – Cold War: U.S.*Bosnia » The US deploys troops in Northern Bosnia with the intention of maintaining order and peace between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims.
  • Jan 02 2016 – Terrorism: Saudi Arabia Executes 47 Terrorists » The prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr plus 46 others are executed for terrorism. Most were involved in a series of attacks carried out by al-Qaida from 2003-06. However, it also included several of its Shi’ite minority of which hundreds of their members were detained after protests in 2011-13, during which several policemen were killed in shooting and petrol bomb attacks.


  • Jan 03 1777 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Battle of Princeton » American general George Washington defeats British general Charles Cornwallis.

General Lord Cornwallis had left 1,400 British troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood in Princeton. Following a surprise attack at Trenton early in the morning of December 26, 1776, General George Washington of the Continental Army decided to attack the British in New Jersey before entering winter quarters. On 30 DEC, he crossed the Delaware River back into New Jersey. His troops followed on January 3, 1777. Washington advanced to Princeton by a back road, where he pushed back a smaller British force but had to retreat before Cornwallis arrived with reinforcements. The battles of Trenton and Princeton were a boost to the morale of the Continental troops, leading many recruits to join the Continental Army in the spring. Casualties and losses: US 55 to 84 – GB 240 to 450.

  • Jan 03 1834 – Mexican War: Escalating the tensions that would lead to rebellion and war, the Mexican government imprisons the Texas colonizer Stephen Austin in Mexico City.
  • Jan 03 1861 – Civil War: Delaware Rejects Secession » 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 not widespread by 1861. There were some 20,000 blacks living in the state, but only about 1,800 of them were slaves. 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 3 JAN, 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 South Carolina’s Fort Sumter in April 1861.

  • Jan 03 1861 – Civil War: Forts Jackson and Pulaski Seized by Georgia » Sixteen days before the secession of Georgia from the Union, volunteer militia seized Fort Pulaski from the Federal government and began repairing and upgrading the armament. Upon the start of the war the adjacent Ft. Jackson which was occupied by local Georgia militia came under confederate control.

Fort Pulaski was considered invincible with its 7-1/2-foot solid brick walls and reinforcing masonry piers. General Robert E. Lee had earlier surveyed the fort’s defenses with Colonel Olmstead and determined, “they will make it pretty warm for you here with shells, but they cannot breach your walls at that distance.” Wide swampy marshes surrounded the fort on all sides and were infested with native alligators. No attacking ship could safely come within effective range, and land batteries could not be placed closer than Tybee Island, one to two miles away. Beyond 700 yards, smoothbore guns and mortars had little chance to break through heavy masonry walls. Beyond 1,000 yards, they had no chance at all. The U.S. Chief of Engineers, General Joseph Gilbert Totten, is quoted as saying, “you might as well bombard the Rocky Mountains. If there were ever to be a successful siege, it would have to starve the garrison into submission.

  • Jan 03 1916 – WWI Era: Three armored Japanese cruisers are ordered to guard the Suez Canal to protect shipping from any German commerce raiders and to allow the US Navy to redeploy its forces to the Atlantic
  • Jan 03 1920 – WWI: The last of the U.S. troops depart France.
  • Jan 03 1925 – Italy: Benito Mussolini dissolves the Italian parliament and proclaims himself dictator of Italy, taking the title “Il Duce” (the Leader)
  • Jan 03 1930 – Post WWI: The second conference on Germany’s war reparations begins at The Hague, in the Netherlands.
  • Jan 03 1933 – Japan*China: The Japanese take Shuangyashan, China, killing 500 Chinese.
  • Jan 03 1941 – WW2 Era: Battle of Bardia (3-5 JAN) » Part of Operation Compass, the first British military operation of the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. It was the first battle of the war in which an Australian Army formation took part, the first to be commanded by an Australian general and the first to be planned by an Australian staff. The 6th Australian Division (Major General Iven Mackay) assaulted the strongly held Italian fortress of Bardia, Libya, assisted by air support and naval gunfire and under the cover of an artillery barrage. The 16th Australian Infantry Brigade attacked at dawn from the west, where the defenses were known to be weak. Sappers blew gaps in the barbed wire with Bangalore torpedoes and filled in and broke down the sides of the anti-tank ditch with picks and shovels. This allowed the infantry and 23 Matilda II tanks of the 7th Royal Tank Regiment to enter the fortress and capture all their objectives, along with 8,000 prisoners.

In the second phase of the operation, the 17th Australian Infantry Brigade exploited the breach made in the perimeter and pressed south as far as a secondary line of defenses known as the Switch Line. On the second day, the 16th Australian Infantry Brigade captured the township of Bardia, cutting the fortress in two. Thousands more prisoners were taken and the Italian garrison now held out only in the northern and southernmost parts of the fortress. On the third day, the 19th Australian Infantry Brigade advanced south from Bardia, supported by artillery and the six operational Matilda tanks. Its advance allowed the 17th Australian Infantry Brigade to make progress as well and the two brigades reduced the southern sector of the fortress. The Italian garrisons in the north surrendered to the 16th Australia Infantry Brigade and the Support Group of the 7th Armoured Division outside the fortress. In all, some 36,000 Italian prisoners were taken.

The victory at Bardia enabled the Allied forces to continue the advance into Libya and capture almost all of Cyrenaica, which led to Operation Sonnenblume, German intervention in the fighting in North Africa, changing the nature of the war in the theatre.

  • Jan 03 1941 – WW2 Era: Italy launches a counter-offensive in Albania against the Greeks, the first of 46 Italian attacks – all repulsed by the Greeks.
  • Jan 03 1941 –WW2 Era: Liberty Ship Program » With the defense of both the U.S. and its overseas possessions, along with a very strong national interest in assisting Britain in its struggle to keep its supply lines open to both North America and its overseas colonies, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced what was to become known as the Emergency Shipbuilding Program on 3 JAN, for the construction of 200 ships very much similar to those being built for the British. He designated that the program be implemented and administered by the Maritime Commission, which since 1937 had been the federal government department tasked with merchant marine development, and which had worked very closely with the British Mission in placing its 60-ship order. Immediately, the Commission authorized that the two yards building for the British build ships for the U.S. upon completion of their current contracts.

The Maritime Commission also funded the yards to add building ways and realizing that more than two yards would be needed for the program they were expecting to enter into contracts to build new shipyards on the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific Coasts of the U.S. In this first wave of expansion, seven additional yards were added to those in Maine and California, and like those yards were to be for the sole purpose of building only the emergency type of ships. While all the yards were to be built by private contractors and operated by commercial shipbuilding companies, the new yards were financed by the Maritime Commission with funds authorized by Congress, thus were owned by the federal government.

The ships for which all the yards were contracted to build were first designated by the Maritime Commission as EC2-S-C1, but because they were designed for capacity and rapid construction as opposed to speed and gracefulness, lacked the streamlined appearance of the more modern ship designs of the Maritime Commission, such as the standard freighters type C2 ships or type C3 ships, the President had declared them to be “dreadful-looking objects” and from that the term “ugly duckling” became the unofficial name for the emergency vessels. The vessels collectively were being officially referred to as the “Liberty Fleet” ships as of April 1941, and not long after, the term “Liberty Ship” became the standard name applied to all vessels of the class.

  • Jan 03 1944 – WW2: Top Ace Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington is shot down in his Corsair by Japanese Captain Masajiro Kawato flying a Zero.

Gregory Pappy Boyington by gregchapin on DeviantArt

  • Jan 03 1944 – WW2: First Helo “Lifesaving” Flight » Amid snow squalls and strong, gusting winds that had grounded all other aircraft in the area, United States Coast Guard Commander Frank A. Erickson pilots a Sikorsky HNS-1 helicopter from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, to Battery Park in Manhattan, where he picks up two cases containing over 40 units of blood plasma that are lashed to the helicopter’s floats. He then flies on to deliver the plasma to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, where it is used to treat survivors from the United States Navy destroyer USS Turner (DD-648), which had capsized and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean off New York Harbor that morning after a series of violent internal explosions. It is both the first time in history that a helicopter has flown in such adverse weather conditions and history’s first “lifesaving” flight by a helicopter.
  • Jan 03 1945 – WW2: 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.
  • Jan 03 1945 – WW2: Allies land on west coast of Burma, conquer Akyab
  • Jan 03 1945 – WW2: Admiral Chester Nimitz begins planning assaults on Okinawa and Iwo Jima in Japan.
  • Jan 03 1959 – Cuba: Fidel Castro takes command of the Cuban army.
  • Jan 03 1961 – Cuba: United States Severs Diplomatic Relations with Cuba » In the climax of deteriorating relations between the United States and Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba, President Dwight D. Eisenhower closes the American embassy in Havana and severs diplomatic relations. The action signaled that the United States was prepared to take extreme measures to oppose Castro’s regime, which U.S. officials worried was a beachhead of communism in the western hemisphere. The immediate reason cited for the break was Castro’s demand that the U.S. embassy staff be reduced, which followed heated accusations from the Cuban government that America was using the embassy as a base for spies.

Relations between the United States and Cuba had been steadily declining since Castro seized power in early 1959. U.S. officials were soon convinced that Castro’s government was too anti-American to be trusted, and they feared that he might lead Cuba into the communist bloc. Early in 1960, following Castro’s decision to sign a trade treaty with the Soviet Union, the Eisenhower administration began financing and training a group of Cuban exiles to overthrow the Cuban leader. Castro responded by increasing his program of nationalizing foreign property and companies. In return, the United States began to implement cutbacks in trade with Cuba. The diplomatic break on January 3, 1961 was the culmination of an increasingly acrimonious situation.

Severing relations marked the end of America’s policy of trying to resolve its differences with Castro’s government through diplomacy. Just over two months later, President John F. Kennedy unleashed the Cuban exile force established during the Eisenhower years. This led to the Bay of Pigs debacle, in which Castro’s military killed or captured the exile troops. After the Bay of Pigs, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was one of the chilliest of the Cold War.

It wasn’t until July 2015, more than 50 years later, that the two nations formally and fully normalized relations, with the easing of travel restrictions and the opening of embassies and diplomatic missions in both countries.

  • Jan 03 1965 – Vietnam War: Antigovernment Demonstrators Clash with Police » The political crisis that had been undermining the South Vietnamese government and military for months is aggravated when thousands of antigovernment demonstrators in Saigon clash with government marines and police. There was also rioting in Hue, where students organized strikes against the local government. The main resistance to the Saigon regime came from Buddhists, who were strongly opposed to Tran Van Huong. Huong was a civilian who became premier on November 4, 1964, after a series of military governments had failed in the aftermath of November 1963 coup that resulted in the death of President Ngo Dinh Diem. The Buddhists were alarmed that Huong’s government might pave the way for a return to power of Catholics and those faithful to Diem and his policies. In addition, many Buddhists had become increasingly concerned about American influence in South Vietnam and saw Huong as a puppet of the United States.
  • Jan 03 1966 – Vietnam War: McCarthy Announces His Presidential Candidacy » Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-MN) announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. McCarthy had been a contender to be President Lyndon B. Johnson’s running mate in the 1964 election, but since then he had become increasingly disenchanted with Johnson’s policies in Vietnam and the escalation of the war. In 1967, he published The Limits of Power, an assessment of U.S. foreign policy that was very critical of the Johnson administration.

McCarthy, Eugene J.

When announcing his candidacy, McCarthy said he hoped to harness the growing antiwar sentiment in the country, particularly among the young. In March, much to the astonishment of most political pundits, McCarthy came within a few hundred votes of beating Johnson in the New Hampshire primary. Johnson, frustrated with his inability to reach a solution in Vietnam, announced on March 31, 1968, that he would neither seek nor accept the nomination of his party for re-election.

The rest of McCarthy’s campaign was almost an anticlimax. Robert Kennedy entered the race and won most of the Democratic primaries until he was assassinated in June 1968. When the Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago, a conflict immediately erupted over the party’s Vietnam platform. While demonstrations against the war took place in the streets outside the convention hall, Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the party nomination.

Humphrey was defeated in the general election by Republican Richard Nixon. McCarthy retired from the Senate in 1971, but his brief run at the presidency demonstrated that there was a strong antiwar sentiment in the country that demanded to be heard.

  • Jan 03 1966 – Vietnam War: Cambodia warns the United Nations of retaliation unless the United States and South Vietnam end intrusions.
  • Jan 03 1978 – Vietnam War: 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.
  • Jan 03 1984 – Middle East: Syria Frees Captured U.S. Pilot » The Syrian Government released Lieut. Robert O. Goodman Jr., the United States Navy flier its forces captured in central Lebanon a month before after shooting down his plane. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said the release was in response to ”the human appeal of the Rev. Jesse Jackson” and ”also to the demands” of the United States. The Foreign Ministry termed the release a contribution toward ”creating circumstances that would facilitate the withdrawal of American troops from Lebanon,” and it expressed the hope that the United States would now take steps ”to end its military involvement” there.
  • Jan 03 1990 – U.S*Panama: Noriega Surrenders to U.S. » Panama’s General Manuel Antonio Noriega, after holing up for 10 days at the Vatican embassy in Panama City, surrenders to U.S. military troops to face charges of drug trafficking. Noriega was flown to Miami the following day and crowds of citizens on the streets of Panama City rejoiced. On July 10, 1992, the former dictator was convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Noriega, who was born in Panama in 1938, was a loyal soldier to General Omar Torrijos, who seized power in a 1968 coup. Under Torrijos, Noriega headed up the notorious G-2 intelligence service, which harassed and terrorized people who criticized the Torrijos regime. Noriega also became a C.I.A. operative, while at the same time getting rich smuggling drugs.

In 1981, Omar Torrijos died in a plane crash and after a two-year power struggle, Noriega emerged as general of Panama’s military forces. He became the country’s de facto leader, fixing presidential elections so he could install his own puppet officials. Noriega’s rule was marked by corruption and violence. He also became a double agent, selling American intelligence secrets to Cuba and Eastern European governments. In 1987, when Panamanians organized protests against Noriega and demanded his ouster, he declared a national emergency, shut down radio stations and newspapers and forced his political enemies into exile.

That year the United States cut off aid to Panama and tried to get Noriega to resign; in 1988, the U.S. began considering the use of military action to put an end to his drug trafficking. Noriega voided the May 1989 presidential election, which included a U.S.-backed candidate, and in December of that year he declared his country to be in a state of war with the United States. Shortly afterward, an American marine was killed by Panamanian soldiers. President George H.W. Bush authorized “Operation Just Cause,” and on December 20, 1989, 13,000 U.S. troops were sent to occupy Panama City, along with the 12,000 already there, and seize Noriega. During the invasion, 23 U.S. troops were killed in action and over 300 were wounded. Approximately 450 Panamanian troops were killed; estimates for the number of civilians who died range from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more injured.

Noriega, derogatorily nicknamed “Pineapple Face” in reference to his pockmarked skin, died in Panama City, Panama, on May 29, 2017.

  • Jan 03 1993 – Cold War: George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin sign the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II).
  • Jan 03 1990 – Middle East: Israeli Ground Forces Invade Gaza » Thousands of Israeli troops backed by columns of tanks and helicopter gunships launched a ground offensive in Gaza. The ground operation began after eight days of intensive attacks by Israeli air and naval forces on Hamas security installations, weapons stores and symbols of government in the Palestinian enclave. Israeli leaders said the operation, meant to quell militant rocket and mortar fire on southern Israel, would not end quickly, but that the objective was not to reoccupy Gaza or topple Hamas. The depth and intensity will depend in part on parallel diplomatic efforts that so far haven’t yielded a truce proposal acceptable to Israel, the officials said. Israel occupied Gaza for 38 years before pulling out thousands of soldiers in settlers in late 2005. Israel still controls Gaza border crossings.
  • Jan 03 2013 – Middle East: 27 Shiite pilgrims are killed and 60 are injured by a suicide bombing in Musayyib, Iraq,
  • Jan 03 2020 – Middle East: U.S. drone strike kills top Iranian security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani outside Baghdad airport in Iraq.


  • Jan 04 1796 – U.S.*France: The House of Representatives accepts the Colors, or flag, of the French Revolutionary Republic, proclaiming it the most honorable testimonial of the existing sympathies and affections of the two Republics.
  • JAN 04 1927 – Civil War: Confederate General Roger Hanson Dies » General Hanson dies at age 35 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His death was a result of wounds sustained two days earlier at the Battle of Stones River, Tennessee.

Hanson was born in 1827 in Clark City, Tennessee. He served during the Mexican War (1846-48) 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. His penchant for discipline earned him the nickname “Old Flintlock”. 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 so-called Orphan Brigade.

 Roger Weightman “Old Flintlock” Hanson

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 died on 4 JAN.

  • JAN 04 1927 – U.S.*Nicaragua: Second Nicaraguan Occupation 1926-1933 » Civil war erupted between the conservative and liberal factions on May 2, 1926, with liberals capturing Bluefields, and José María Moncada Tapia capturing Puerto Cabezas in August. Juan Bautista Sacasa declared himself Constitutional President of Nicaragua from Puerto Cabezas on December 1, 1926. Following Emiliano Chamorro Vargas’ resignation, the Nicaraguan Congress selected Adolfo Diaz as designado, who then requested intervention from President Calvin Coolidge. On January 24, 1927, the first elements of US forces arrived, with 400 marines.

Government forces were defeated on 6 FEB at Chinandega, followed by another defeat at Muy Muy, prompting US Marine landings at Corinto and the occupation of La Loma Fort in Managua. Ross E. Rowell’s Observation Squadron arrived on 26 FEB, which included DeHavilland DH-4 biplanes. By March, the US had 2,000 troops in Nicaragua under the command of General Logan Feland. In May, Henry Stimson brokered a peace deal which included disarmament and promised elections in 1928. However, the Liberal commander Augusto César Sandino, and 200 of his men refused to give up the revolution.

On 30 JUN, Sandino seized the San Albino gold mine, denounced the Conservative government, and attracted recruits to continue operations. The next month saw the Battle of Ocotal. Despite additional conflict with Sandino’s rebels, US supervised elections were held on November 4, 1928, with Moncada the winner. Manuel Giron was captured and executed in FEB 1929, and Sandino took a year’s leave in Mexico. By 1930, Sandino’s guerilla forces numbered more than 5,000 men.

U.S. Marines holding Sandino's Flag - Nicaragua 1932.jpg

United States Marines with the captured flag of Augusto César Sandino in 1932

The Hoover administration started a US pullout such that by FEB 1932, only 745 men remained. Juan Sacasa was elected president in the November 6, 1932 election. The Battle of El Sauce was the last major engagement of the US intervention. Casualties: 136 U.S. Marines dead (32 killed-in-action, 15 died of battle wounds, and 5 murdered by mutinous Nicaraguan National Guardsmen) plus 75 Nicaraguan National Guardsmen killed. Sandinistas bandits (presumably) 1,115 killed (this number may have been inflated).

  • Jan 04 1944 – WW2: Operation Carpetbag » 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.
  • Jan 04 1950 – Cold War: The God That Failed Published » A collection of essays by six writers and intellectuals who either joined or sympathized with the communist cause before renouncing the ideology, is published by Harpers.

The book provided interesting insight into why communism originally appealed to, and then disappointed, so many adherents in the United States and Europe, particularly during the 1920s and 1930s. The essays also showed that many individuals of good conscience and intentions desperately hoped that communism would bring order, justice, and peace to a world they worried was on the brink of disaster.

The six men who contributed to the book were all writers or journalists. Two were American (Louis Fischer and the African-American novelist Richard Wright); the rest were from Europe (Andre Gide from France, Arthur Koestler and Stephen Spender from England, and Ignazio Silone from Italy). Of these, Spender, Wright, Koestler, and Silone had been members of the Communist Party for varying lengths of time. Gide and Fischer, though they sympathized with the communist ideology, never formally joined the party. Each man, in his turn, eventually turned against communist ideology.

According to the volume’s editor, British politician and essayist Richard Crossman, the very fact that these intelligent and compassionate individuals were drawn to communism was “an indictment of the American way of life,” and evidence of “a dreadful deficiency in European democracy.” All of the writers–particularly during the 1920s and 1930s, when fascism and totalitarianism were on the march and the Western democracies seemed unable or unwilling to intercede–turned to communism as the hope for a better, more democratic, and more peaceful world. Each man eventually broke with the communist ideology, however. Some were disturbed by the Soviet-Nazi pact of 1939; others had traveled to the Soviet Union and were appalled by the poverty and political oppression.

  • Jan 04 1951 – Korea: Chinese communist forces recapture Seoul from United Nations troops, the second time the South Korean capital fell under Communist rule in roughly half a year

Korean War 1417

U.N. troops watch flames consume a pontoon bridge across the ice-choked Han River in South Korea.  The crossing was dynamited following abandonment of the South Korean capital. The Communist North Koreans came across the stream in close pursuit of the retreating Allied force

  • Jan 04 1965 – Vietnam War: 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 out that 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.”
  • Jan 04 1974 – Vietnam War: 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.

  • Jan 04 1989 – Middle East: Second Gulf of Sidra incidentA pair of Libyan MiG-23 “Floggers” are shot down by a pair of US Navy F-14 Tomcats during an air-to-air confrontation.

MIG-23 F-14

  • Jan 04 2020 – Middle East: U.S. Protest Marches » Antiwar protest marches begin in 20 US cities. Groups of protesters took to the streets in Washington and other U.S. cities to condemn the air strike in Iraq ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Trump’s decision to send about 3,000 more troops to the Middle East. “No justice, no peace. U.S. out of the Middle East,” hundreds of demonstrators chanted outside the White House before marching to the Trump International Hotel a few blocks away. Similar protests were held in New York, Chicago and other cities.

On 7 JAN, the Supreme National Security Council of Iran announced that it had drafted a 13 revenge scenarios document. The next day, the Iranian military responded to Soleimani’s death by launching ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq, resulting in no reported casualties but 100 traumatic brain injuries. Iranian officials and some Western media analysts suggested the strike was deliberately designed to avoid causing any casualties to avoid an American response. The Iranian president cautioned the U.S. that Iran will take more retaliatory actions if the U.S. continues to interfere in the region.


  • Jan 05 1781 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by Benedict Arnold. After the war, Benedict Arnold attempted and failed to establish businesses in Canada and London. He died a pauper on June 14, 1801, and lays buried in his Continental Army uniform at St. Mary’s Church, Middlesex, London. To this day, his name remains synonymous with the word “traitor” in the United States.
  • Jan 05 1895 – France*Germany: Dreyfus Affair in France » French officer Alfred Dreyfus, condemned for passing military secrets to the Germans, is stripped of his rank in a humiliating public ceremony in the courtyard of Paris’ Ecole Militaire. The Jewish artillery captain, convicted on flimsy evidence in a highly irregular trial, began his life sentence on the notorious Devil’s Island Prison in French Guyana four months later.

The Dreyfus case demonstrated the anti-Semitism permeating France’s military and, because many praised the ruling, in France in general. Interest in the case lapsed until 1896, when evidence was disclosed that implicated French Major Ferdinand Esterhazy as the guilty party. The army attempted to suppress this information, but a national uproar ensued, and the military had no choice but to put Esterhazy on trial. A court-martial was held in January 1898, and Esterhazy was acquitted within an hour.

In response, the French novelist Emile Zola published an open letter on the front page of the Aurore entitled “J’Accuse,” which accused the judges of being under the thumb of the military. By the evening, 200,000 copies had been sold. One month later, Zola was sentenced to jail for libel but managed to escape to England. Meanwhile, out of the scandal a perilous national division was born, in which nationalists and members of the Catholic Church supported the military, while republicans, socialists, and advocates of religious freedom lined up to defend Dreyfus.

In 1898, Major Hubert Henry, discoverer of the original letter attributed to Dreyfus, admitted that he had forged much of the evidence against Dreyfus and committed suicide. Soon after, Esterhazy fled the country. The military was forced to order a new court-martial for Dreyfus. In 1899, he was found guilty in another show trial and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, a new French administration pardoned him, and in 1906 the supreme court of appeals overturned his conviction. The debacle of the Dreyfus affair brought about greater liberalization in France, a reduction in the power of the military, and a formal separation of church and state.

  • Jan 05 1904 – Korea: American Marines arrive in Seoul, Korea, to guard the U.S. legation there.
  • Jan 05 1916 – WWI: First Conscription Bill is Introduced in British Parliament » With the Great War edging into its third calendar year, British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith introduces the first military conscription bill in his country’s history to the House of Commons on this day in 1916.

Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, Britain’s secretary of state for war, had warned from the beginning that the war would be decided by Britain’s last 1 million men. All the regular divisions of the British army went into action in the summer of 1914 and the campaign for volunteers based around the slogan “Your King and Country Need You! began in earnest in August of that year. New volunteers were rapidly enlisted and trained, many of them joining what were known as Pals battalions, or regiments of men from the same town or from similar professional backgrounds.

Though the volunteer response was undoubtedly impressive—almost 500,000 men enlisted in the first six weeks of the war alone—some doubted the quality of these so-called Kitchener armies. British General Henry Wilson, a career military man, wrote in his diary of his country’s “ridiculous and preposterous army” and compared it unfavorably to that of Germany, which, with the help of conscription, had been steadily building and improving its armed forces for the past 40 years.

By the end of 1915, as the war proved to be far longer and bloodier than expected and the army shrank—Britain had lost 60,000 officers by late summer—it had become clear to Kitchener that military conscription would be necessary to win the war. Asquith, though he feared conscription would be a politically unattractive proposition, finally submitted. On January 5, 1916, he introduced the first conscription bill to Parliament. It was passed into law as the Military Service Act later that month and went into effect on 10 FEB.

Britain had entered the war believing that its primary role would be to provide industrial and economic support to its allies, but by war’s end the country had enlisted 49 percent of its men between the ages of 15 and 49 for military service, a clear testament to the immense human sacrifice the conflict demanded.

  • Jan 05 1919 – Germany: Spartacists Call for a German Revolution » A group of German radical socialists formed in 1916 who wanted Germany to be run by the working classes and believed that power and wealth should be shared equally among the population. They wanted to replicate the Russian Revolution of 1917 by overthrowing the central government and establishing soviets (workers’ and soldiers’ councils) in place of central government in German towns and cities using violent methods

By 1919 they had become the German Communist Party which inspired the German Revolution (a.k.a. November Revolution). This was a civil conflict in the German Empire that resulted in the replacement of the German federal constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliamentary republic that later became known as the Weimar Republic.

On 5 JAN, 100,000 workers went on strike and demonstrated in the center of Berlin. This demonstration was taken over by the Spartacist leadership. Newspaper and communication buildings were seized and the demonstrators armed themselves. However, many protesters returned home frustrated at the lack of planning by the Spartacists. The Government, which had moved to Weimar to avoid the violence, employed the Freikorps to put down the rising. The Freikorps were ex-army soldiers who hated the communists. Over 100 workers were killed, even those who surrendered, during what became known as ‘Bloody Week’.

The causes of the revolution were the extreme burdens suffered by the population during the four years of war, the strong impact of the defeat on the German Empire and the social tensions between the general population and the elite of aristocrats and bourgeoisie who held power and had just lost the war. The revolutionary period lasted from November 1918 until the adoption in August 1919 of the Weimar Constitution.

  • Jan 05 1942 – Holocaust: The Jewish ghetto at Kharkov, Ukraine is liquidated.
  • Jan 05 1942 – WW2: U.S. and Filipino troops complete their withdrawal to a new defensive line along the base of the Bataan peninsula.
  • Jan 05 1945 – WW2: Kamikaze Pilots Get First Order » Japanese pilots received the first order to become kamikaze, meaning “divine wind” in Japanese. The suicidal blitz of the kamikazes revealed Japan’s desperation in the final months of World War II. Most of Japan’s top pilots were dead, but youngsters needed little training to take planes full of explosives and crash them into ships. At Okinawa, they sank 30 ships and killed almost 5,000 Americans.
  • Jan 05 1945 – WW2: Soviets Recognize Pro-Soviet Polish Provisional Government » On the eve of a major offensive into Poland, the Soviet Union decides to recognize the pro-Soviet Lublin Committee as the Provisional Government of Poland instead of the government-in-exile that was temporarily being headquartered in London.

On September 1, 1939, a massive German army invaded Poland. Sixteen days later, the USSR invaded Poland from the east. During this tumultuous period, Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski became leader of a Polish government-in-exile in London. He developed a good working relationship with the Allies until April 1943, when Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin broke off Polish-Soviet diplomatic relations after Sikorski requested that the Red Cross investigate the alleged Soviet slaughter of Polish officers in the Katyn forest of eastern Poland in 1942.

As the war progressed and the Soviets battled the Germans in western Poland, the Polish government-in-exile began to fear that Soviet domination might follow if the Soviets defeated Germany for control of the Polish territory. Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, Sikorski’s successor as the provisional government head, pleaded with the Allies to secure Poland’s postwar borders and sovereignty, but no such assurances were granted. In August 1944, the Polish Home Army, fearful that the Soviets would march on Warsaw to battle the Germans and never leave the capital, led an uprising against the German occupiers. They hoped that if they could defeat the Germans, the Allies would help install the anti-Communist government-in-exile after the war.

Unfortunately, the Soviets, rather than aiding the uprising that they encouraged in the name of beating back their common enemy, stood idly by and watched as the Germans slaughtered the Poles and sent survivors to concentration camps.

With native Polish resistance eradicated, and in anticipation of one last offensive against the Germans, the Soviet Union created its own pro-communist Polish provisional government to counter the anti-communist government-in-exile. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Allies agreed that an interim government would be formed from both the pro- and anti-communist sides, with free elections to follow. The Soviets had other plans, though, and promptly turned the exhausted and battered Poland into a nondemocratic satellite country, which it remained until 1989.

  • Jan 05 1951 – Korea: Inchon, South Korea, the sight of General Douglas MacArthur’s amphibious flanking maneuver, is abandoned by U.N. force to the advancing Chinese Army.
  • Jan 05 1951 – Cold War: In response to the increasingly tense situation in the Middle East, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a proposal to Congress that calls for a new and more proactive U.S. policy in the region. The “Eisenhower Doctrine,” as the proposal soon came to be known, established the Middle East as a Cold War battlefield.

  • Jan 05 1967 – Vietnam War: Lodge Succeeds Harriman as Chief Negotiator » President-elect Richard Nixon names Henry Cabot Lodge to succeed W. Averell Harriman as chief U.S. negotiator at the Paris peace talks. Lawrence Edward Walsh, a New York lawyer and former deputy attorney general, was named deputy chief negotiator to replace Cyrus R. Vance. Marshall Green, an Asian affairs expert and ambassador to Indonesia, was assigned to assist the negotiating team. The peace talks started on May 10, 1968, but had been plagued from the beginning by procedural questions that inhibited any meaningful negotiations or progress. Unfortunately, the change in personnel had no effect in fostering more meaningful negotiations.
  • Jan 05 1967 – Vietnam War: Amphibious Operations Conducted in the Mekong Delta » 1st Battalion, 9th U.S. Marines and South Vietnamese Marine Brigade Force Bravo conduct amphibious operations in the Kien Hoa Province in the Mekong Delta, located 62 miles south of Saigon. This action, part of Operation Deckhouse V, marked the first time that U.S. combat troops were used in the Mekong Delta. The target area, called the Thanh Phu Secret Zone by the Viet Cong guerrillas, was believed to contain communist ammunition dumps, ordinance and engineering workshops, hospitals, and indoctrination centers. During the course of the operation, which lasted until 15 JAN, seven U.S. Marines and 21 Viet Cong were killed.

Deckhouse V photograph - 1.jpg

  • Jan 05 1967 – Space Travel: Nixon Launches the Space Shuttle Program » Richard Nixon signs a bill authorizing $5.5 million in funding to develop a space shuttle. The space shuttle represented a giant leap forward in the technology of space travel. Designed to function more like a cost-efficient “reusable” airplane than a one-use-only rocket-launched capsules, the shuttle afforded NASA pilots and scientists more time in space with which to conduct space-related research. NASA launched Columbia, the first space shuttle, in 1981.
  • Jan 05 2005 – U.S. Navy: Nuclear Sub Runs into Mountain » On this day the USS San Francisco suddenly stopped dead in its tracks. The ship’s crew were thrown about, some over distances of 20 feet, and the majority of the 137-member crew suffered one injury or another—including one that would later prove fatal. Further inspection would explain what happened, and reveal that the submarine’s bow looked like a crushed soda can. USS San Francisco had run into an undersea mountain approximately 360 miles southeast of Guam, traveling at flank speed (more than 30 knots).


The navigational charts used by the ship’s crew failed to show a seamount, or undersea mountain, protruding from the ocean floor. The sub smashed into it head-on at a depth of 525 feet. The San Francisco didn’t sink, nor did it experience a reactor malfunction. Even more incredibly the ballast systems still worked, allowing it to surface, and the nuclear reactor still worked after the crash, allowing the ship to move under its own powe allowing it to return back to port on the island of Guam. It returned to sea just three years later with a new nose.


  • Jan 06 1777 – U.S. Revolutionary War: After two significant victories over the British in Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey, General George Washington marches north to Morristown, New Jersey, where he set up winter headquarters for himself and the men of the Continental Army.
  • Jan 06 1781 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Battle of Jersey » Only 25 km off the coast of France, and placed on the principal supply route to the French naval base at Brest, the island of Jersey was a location of strategic importance during any war between Britain and France. The Battle of 6 JAN was an attempt by French forces to invade and remove the threat the island posed to French and American shipping in the American War of Independence. 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.

Aware of the military importance of Jersey, the British government had ordered that the island be heavily fortified. Gun batteries, forts and redoubts had been constructed around the coast, and round towers were in the process of being erected as well. The Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey, comprised some 3000 men in five regiments, including artillery and dragoons. Regular army units—the entire 95th Regiment of Foot, five companies each of the 83rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Glasgow Volunteers) and 78th Highlanders, and around 700 “Invalids” (semi-retired reservists)—were also present. The total force amounted to about 9,250 troops of all types. A naval force, the “Jersey Squadron”, was also based in the island, but was on a cruise against the Dutch at the time of the invasion.

  • Jan 06 1861 – Civil War: Florida troops seize Federal arsenal at Apalachicola which contained 500,000 rounds of musket cartridges and 50,000 pounds of gunpowder needed to supplement the almost nonexistent state arms. Florida seceded from the Union by a vote of 62 to 7 at a state convention at Tallahassee on 10 JAN. The arsenal was subsequently used as a training facility and encampment until the end of the Civil War. The Sixth Florida Infantry was organized there in 1862.
  • Jan 06 1919 – WW1: Theodore Roosevelt Dies » Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, dies at Sagamore Hill, his estate overlooking New York’s Long Island Sound. 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.
  • Jan 06 1925 – Italy: Mussolini forms a cabinet composed entirely of Fascists. The Mussolini Cabinet was the longest-serving government in the history of united Italy. The Fascist dictator ruled the country from 31 October 1922 to 25 July 1943 for a total of 7572 days, or 20 years, 8 months and 25 days.
  • Jan 06 1940 – Holocaust: Mass execution of Poles, committed by Germans in the city of Poznań, Warthegau.
  • Jan 06 1941 – WW2 Era: President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to support the Lend–lease Bill to help supply the Allies.

"How lend-lease strikes at the Axis," ca. 1940–45.

“How lend-lease strikes at the Axis,” ca. 1940–45.

  • Jan 06 1942 – WW2: Japanese capture 11 Navy nurses in Manila, Philippines. They served most of their internment at Los Baños Internment Camp before being liberated in February 1945. Aside from eleven navy nurses under the command of Chief Nurse Laura M. Cobb (some of U.S. military nurses known as the “Angels of Bataan and Corregidor”) and a few servicemen, most of the internees were civilian businessmen, teachers, bankers, and missionaries caught by the Japanese during the course of the war and incarcerated in various POW camps in the country.
  • Jan 06 1942 – WW2: U.S. Arms Buildup » 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.”

  • Jan 06 1943 – WW2: PBY-5A (VP 83) sinks German submarine U-164 off Brazil. Before being sunk, U-164 sank three Allied merchant vessels, none from the United States.
  • Jan 06 1945 – WW2: USS Walke (DD 723) is attacked by four kamikazes while laying mines. After the third plane struck the ship, burning gasoline envelopes the bridge and Cmdr. George F. Davis, the commanding officer, is horribly burned. Remaining on his feet, he conns the ship, directs damage control efforts and sees to the destruction of the fourth plane. Assured of the ship’s survival, Davis is taken down below, where he dies a short time later. For his heroic conduct, Davis is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • Jan 06 1958 – Cold War: Soviet Union Announces Troop Reduction » 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 Sputnik satellite in 1957 convinced many U.S. statesmen that a tough, competitive stance toward the Russians was the best policy.

  • Jan 06 1967 – Vietnam War: United States Marine Corps and ARVN troops launch ‘Operation Deckhouse Five’ (6-15 JAN) in the Mekong River delta. The operation was a disappointment resulting in only 21 Vietcong killed, 2 small arms workshops destroyed and 44 weapons captured for the loss of 7 US and 1 Vietnamese Marines. It was believed that the Vietcong had been forewarned of the attack because intelligence learned that larger Vietcong units had recently left the area.
  • Jan 06 1971– Vietnam War: Army Drops Charges of My Lai Cover-Up » 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 29 APR, and Medina was acquitted on 22 SEP.

On 19 MAY, 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 17 DEC, 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.

  • Jan 06 1975 – Vietnam War: Phuoc Binh Falls to the North Vietnamese » 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.

  • Jan 06 2009 – Middle East: Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza opening a ground war against the militant group Hamas after a week of intense airstrikes. Israel’s stated goal was to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza’s government, and the military warned that the campaign could take “many long days.”
  • Jan 06 2016 – North Korea: DPRK media announced that the country had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in ″self-defense against US″. However, third-party experts as well as officials and agencies in South Korea questioned North Korea’s claims and contend that the device was more likely to have been a fission bomb such as a boosted fission weapon. Such weapons use hydrogen fusion to produce smaller, lighter warheads suitable for arming a delivery device such as a missile, rather than to attain the destructive power of a true hydrogen bomb. The test was condemned by several governments who called on the United Nations to strengthen its sanctions against North Korea. United Nations Security Council Resolution 2270 was subsequently passed to that effect.


  • Jan 07 1861 – Civil War: Fort Marion, FL » Florida state militia troops takeover Fort Marion at St Augustine from a small U. S. Army garrison (one soldier). The site is situated at the northern end of St. Augustine, where its lonely watch-tower has a clear view of the shipping channel which leads from the city across the long bar Anastasia Island to the ocean. Three days later the state of Florida seceded from the United States. Union troops reoccupied the city on March 11, 1862, putting St. Augustine under Union control. The fort was never retaken by Confederate forces and the site had no further active part in that war
  • Jan 07 1865 – Native Americans: Battle of Julesburg » In retaliation for the Sand Creek Massacre between 1,000 Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota Indians take on about 60 soldiers of the U.S. army and 40 to 50 civilians near Julesburg, Colorado. The Indians defeated the soldiers and over the next few weeks plundered ranches and stagecoach stations up and down the valley of the South Platte River. Fourteen soldiers and four civilians were killed in the battle. Allegedly no Indians were killed or wounded, although the soldiers claimed they killed about 60.
  • Jan 07 1915 – WW1: Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm approves strategic bombing of Britain, but forbids bombing London, fearing his relatives in the royal family might be killed
  • Jan 07 1916 – WW1: In response to pressure from President Woodrow Wilson, Germany notifies the US State Department that it will abide by strict international rules of maritime warfare.
  • Jan 07 1918 – WW1: The Germans move 75,000 troops from the Eastern Front to the Western Front.
  • Jan 07 1942 – Holocaust: Throughout the day at the Chelmno death camp, Jewish deportees from nearby villages are systematically gassed in vans; German and Ukrainian workers pull gold teeth and fillings from the corpses’ mouths. Germans undertake van gassings of 5000 Gypsies from Lódz, Poland.
  • Jan 07 1942 – WW2: The siege of the Philippine Bataan Peninsula begins.
  • Jan 07 1944 – USAF: The Air Force announces the production of the first U.S. jet fighter, Bell P-59 Airacomet.

  • Jan 07 1945 – WW2: USS Spot (SS-413) » Spot completed fitting out at Mare Island on 18 SEP 1944 and moved to San Diego for shakedown. After a yard period, the submarine sailed for Hawaii and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 14 NOV. Accompanied by Balao (SS-285), she got underway for the Marianas on 4 DEC for her first patrol. They were joined by Icefish (SS-367) en route, and the trio arrived at Saipan on 15 DEC. Two days later, the hunter-killer group headed for the Yellow Sea.

On 7 JAN she sank two small trawlers with her deck gun. Four days later, she destroyed a small freighter by gunfire. On 13 JAN off Shanghai, the submarine sank two trawlers by shellfire, and she repeated the feat the next day. In a night sweep through the Elliott Islands on 18 and 19 JAN, Spot torpedoed a cargo ship and a tanker. As Spot came down the west coast of Korea, she sighted a small ship and fired her last three torpedoes. All ran shallow and missed.

With only 1,300 rounds of 20 mm ammunition remaining, the submarine closed to 800 yards (730 m) and opened fire. The enemy made an unsuccessful attempt to ram. No one manned the Japanese ship’s machine gun atop her pilot house; her top deck was in shambles; and the ship was dead in the water but not sinking. Spot waited for an hour and then sent over a boarding party of seven men to plant demolition charges and search for intelligence material. After about ten minutes on board, the party had to abandon as the ship listed to port and sank by the stern. The boarding party was recovered and one Japanese prisoner taken. The submarine returned to Midway on 30 JAN for a refit and training period.

  • Jan 07 1945 – WW2: Monty Holds A Press Conference » 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 18 JAN, Churchill addressed Parliament and announced in no uncertain terms that the “Bulge” was an American battle—and an American victory.

  • Jan 07 1945 – WW2: U.S. air ace Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. is killed in the Pacific. He was one of the most decorated American fighter pilots and the second highest scoring American ace of the war. McGuire was memorialized by the renaming of Fort Dix Army Air Force Base in Burlington County, New Jersey, to McGuire Air Force Base in 1948.

  • Jan 07 1948 – UFO: Kentucky Air National Guard pilot Thomas Mantell crashes while in pursuit of a supposed UFO.
  • Jan 07 1953 – Cold War: Truman Announces U.S. Has Developed Hydrogen Bomb » 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 he 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.
  • Jan 07 1959 – Cold War: United States Recognizes New Cuban Government » 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.

Batista, Urrutia, and Castro

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).

  • Jan 07 1960 – Cold War: The Polaris missile is test launched.
  • Jan 07 1965 – Vietnam War: Civilian Government Is Restored in Saigon » 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.

Kanh, Huong, Quat, Thieu, and Ky

Tran Van Huong proved unable to put together a viable government, though, and the Armed Forces Council ousted him on 27 JAN, installing General Khanh to power. Khanh was ousted by yet another coup on 18 FEB, 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.

  • Jan 07 1971– Vietnam War: Laird Visits Saigon » 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.

Melvin Laird official photo.JPEG

Laird & Moorer

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.

  • Jan 07 1975– Vietnam War: Vietnamese troops take Phuoc Binh in a new full-scale offensive.
  • Jan 07 1979 – Vietnam War: Pol Pot Overthrown » Vietnamese troops seize the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, toppling the brutal regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge, organized by Pol Pot in the Cambodian jungle in the 1960s, advocated a radical Communist revolution that would wipe out Western influences in Cambodia and set up a solely agrarian society. In 1970, aided by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, Khmer Rouge guerrillas began a large-scale insurgency against Cambodian government forces, soon gaining control of nearly a third of the country.

By 1973, secret U.S. bombings of Cambodian territory controlled by the Vietnamese Communists forced the Vietnamese out of the country, creating a power vacuum that was soon filled by Pol Pot’s rapidly growing Khmer Rouge movement. In April 1975, the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, overthrew the pro-U.S. regime, and established a new government, the Kampuchean People’s Republic.

As the new ruler of Cambodia, Pol Pot set about transforming the country into his vision of an agrarian utopia. The cities were evacuated, factories and schools were closed, and currency and private property was abolished. Anyone believed to be an intellectual, such as someone who spoke a foreign language, was immediately killed. Skilled workers were also killed, in addition to anyone caught in possession of eyeglasses, a wristwatch, or any other modern technology. In forced marches punctuated with atrocities from the Khmer Rouge, the millions who failed to escape Cambodia were herded onto rural collective farms.

Between 1975 and 1978, an estimated two million Cambodians died by execution, forced labor, and famine. In 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh in early 1979. A moderate Communist government was established, and Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge retreated back into the jungle.

In 1985, Pol Pot officially retired but remained the effective head of the Khmer Rouge, which continued its guerrilla actions against the government in Phnom Penh. In 1997, however, he was put on trial by the organization after an internal power struggle ousted him from his leadership position. Sentenced to life imprisonment by a “people’s tribunal,” which critics derided as a show trial, Pol Pot later declared in an interview, “My conscience is clear.” Much of the international community hoped that his captors would extradite him to stand trial for his crimes against humanity, but he died of apparently natural causes while under house arrest in 1998.

  • Jan 07 1985 – Vietnam: Vietnam seizes the Khmer National Liberation Front headquarters near the Thai border.
  • Jan 07 1985 – Space Travel: Japan launches its first interplanetary spacecraft, Sakigake, the first deep space probe launched by any nation other than the United States or the USSR.
  • Jan 07 1989 – Post WWII: Showa Tenno Hirohito, the 124th Japanese monarch in an imperial line dating back to 660 B.C., dies after serving six decades as the emperor of Japan. He was the longest serving monarch in Japanese history.

Made regent in 1921, Hirohito was enthroned as emperor in 1928, two years after the death of his father, Emperor Taisho. During his first two decades as emperor, Hirohito presided over one of the most turbulent eras in his nation’s history. From rapid military expansion beginning in 1931 to the crushing defeat of Japan in 1945, Hirohito stood above the Japanese people as an absolute monarch whose powers were sharply limited in practice. After U.S. atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was he who argued for his country’s surrender, explaining to the Japanese people in his first-ever radio address that the “unendurable must be endured.” Under U.S. occupation and postwar reconstruction, Hirohito was formally stripped of his powers and forced to renounce his alleged divinity, but he remained his country’s official figurehead until his death in 1989. He was succeeded as emperor by his only son, Akihito.

  • Jan 07 1991 – Middle East: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein prepares his troops for what he says will be a long violent war against the United States.


  • Jan 08 1815 – War of 1812: 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.

The British had chosen New Orleans as their last possible objective. 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. They ruled out a water assault on New Orleans and instead chose to mount a ground assault. They anchored their ships at Pea River in the mouth of the Mississippi. Guarding the entry to the River were five American gunboats. Their 29 guns and 145 were no match for the 45 British barges manned by 1200 men with 43 guns. The American ships gave General Andrew Jackson, the commander of American forces in New Orleans, additional time to prepare the defenses of the city.

The British forces went ashore at the mouth of the Bayou Bienvenu unopposed. An advance guard of 1500 men moved forward and captured the Viillere plantation. One of the American officers managed to escape and get to New Orleans to warn Jackson. Jackson ordered an attack on the British positions. He sent a 14-gun schooner downriver to bombard the British positions, while at the same time ordered General John Caffee to attack the British and try to halt their soldiers on the river. The Americans had some initial success, but ultimately the British lines held. Jackson called off the attack and his men withdrew to defensive positions along the Rodriguez Canal. This ended the first part of the battle.

Generals Andrew Jackson & Edward Pakenham

The two sides then spent two weeks preparing their positions for future battle. The British received a new commander Lieutenant General Sir Edward Pakenham. Pakenham was not happy with lack of British progress. He developed a complicated plan that involved an attack on both banks of the river; however, crossing the river was more difficult than initially envisioned. It was not until 8 JAN, that a force could dispatch. In the meantime General Pakenham prepared for a direct assault on the center of Americans lines. General Jackson and his men were ready with well-prepared defensive positions of 4,000 men and well position cannons.

At the last minute Jackson positioned his reserve troops at the exact spot the British were planning to aim their assault. As dawn broke, the British began their assault. The British soldiers gallantly attacked, but the Americans were too prepared and their artillery wreaked havoc on the advancing British. General Pakenham tried to rally his men and continue the assault despite the fact that two horses were shot out from under him and he was wounded. Eventually he was mortally wounded and died on the battlefield. Within an hour the battle was over. Three British generals and eight colonels were among the 251 British killed. 1,259 were wounded and 484 were missing in the battle. The Americans lost a total of 11 men and 23 wounded. It was the greatest American victory of the war and it was against the finest of the British army. The tragedy of the battle is that it took place after a peace treaty had ended the war.

  • Jan 08 1863 – Civil War: Second Battle of Springfield MO » Late in the afternoon of 7 JAN Federals from the Ozark garrison reached Springfield and informed the local commander, Brigadier General Egbert Brown, that a Confederate cavalry force, with an estimated strength somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 men under the command of Confederate Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke, was headed for Springfield. Having only 1343 veteran soldiers, Brown mulled over two options. He could destroy all of the Union Army of the Frontier’s winter supplies at Springfield and retreat, or he could defend the town. General Grant on December 23, 1862 had published a major censure of the Union commander and forces stationed at Holly Springs, Mississippi, which had participated in the disgraceful surrender of Grant’s Holly Springs supply depot. No doubt, Brown recalling this censure, had a strong reason to favor the defense of Springfield.

As the morning of January 8, 1863 dawned, the Federals issued arms and ammunition to soldiers and civilians alike. Although Springfield was lightly garrisoned, it had one distinct advantage. It was surrounded by a network of four nearly completed earthen forts and a stockaded college building. Each of the five points commanded the high ground. Two of the Confederate columns under Marmaduke approached Springfield from the south. The Confederates dismounted two regiments about three miles from Springfield and advanced to feel out the Union lines and develop their strength. After the Confederates had pushed two Union Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiments two miles north, the smoking ruins of burning homes on the outskirts of Springfield came into view. To provide an unobstructed view for his artillery inside Fort No. 4.

Colonel Joseph Orville Shelby took command of the tactical operations, launching piecemeal assaults upon the Union center and west flank. The Confederates advanced over open ground against Fort Number 4, seeking such shelter as they could get from tree stumps, piles of rock, and the charred remains of the homes burned by the Union forces. Despite repeated efforts, the assault on the fort failed. Shelby then resolved to take Springfield by an oblique attack from the west. The Confederates were drawn by the cover offered by a ravine that led uphill toward town. At the head of this draw stood a two-story brick academy surrounded by a stockade. Used by the Federals as a prison. The Union forces failed to garrison the college stockade, so the Confederates were able to seize the building easily and use it as their own fortress to return the fire from Fort No. 4. However, heavy fighting soon erupted around the stockade as the Union forces attempted to retake the college and stockade.

The Confederates found a local advantage in numbers and pressed their own attack. This phase of the assault saw the most severe casualties, hand-to-hand fighting, and the capture of a cannon by the Confederates. Union troops on the west flank also were pushed back from their original position. But Union reinforcements halted the Confederate drive and even pushed back the Confederates. With the sun sinking, Marmaduke launched a final assault against Fort No. 4. The Union forces again repelled the attack. As night fell, the Confederates withdrew. The Battle of Springfield had ended, and the Union supply depot was safe. Of the approximately 2,099 Union troops engaged, 19 were killed or missing and 146 were wounded for a total loss of 165 men. Of the approximately 1,870 Confederate troops present, at least 45 were killed or missing and 105 were wounded for a total loss of at least 150 men.

  • Jan 08 1877 – Native Americans: Crazy Horse Fights Last Battle » Crazy Horse and his warriors–outnumbered, low on ammunition and forced to use outdated weapons to defend themselves–fight their final losing battle against the U.S. Cavalry in Montana.

Six months earlier, in the Battle of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse and his ally, Chief Sitting Bull, led their combined forces of Sioux and Cheyenne to a stunning victory over Lieutenant Colonel George Custer (1839-76) and his men. The Indians were resisting the U.S. government’s efforts to force them back to their reservations. After Custer and over 200 of his soldiers were killed in the conflict, later dubbed “Custer’s Last Stand,” the American public wanted revenge. As a result, the U.S. Army launched a winter campaign in 1876-77, led by General Nelson Miles (1839-1925), against the remaining hostile Indians on the Northern Plains.

Chiefs Sitting Bull & Crazy Horse

Combining military force with diplomatic overtures, Nelson convinced 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. Sitting Bull died in 1890. Meanwhile, Crazy Horse and his band also refused to surrender, even though they were suffering from illness and starvation.

On January 8, 1877, General Miles found Crazy Horse’s camp along Montana’s Tongue River. U.S. 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, hungry followers. On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse led approximately 1,100 Indians to the Red Cloud reservation near Nebraska’s Fort Robinson and surrendered. Five months later, a guard fatally stabbed him after he allegedly resisted imprisonment by Indian policemen.

In 1948, American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began work on the Crazy Horse Memorial, a massive monument carved into a mountain in South Dakota. Still a work in progress, the monument will stand 641 feet high and 563 feet long when completed.

  • Jan 08 1916 – WW1: Allies Retreat from Gallipoli » Allied forces stage a full retreat from the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, ending a disastrous invasion of the Ottoman Empire. The Gallipoli Campaign resulted in 250,000 Allied casualties and greatly discredited Allied military command. Roughly an equal number of Turks were killed or wounded.

In early 1915, the British government resolved to ease Turkish pressure on the Russians in the Caucasus front by seizing control of the Dardanelles channel, the Gallipoli Peninsula, and then Istanbul. From there, pressure could be brought on Austria-Hungary, forcing the Central Powers to divert troops from the western front. The first lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, strongly supported the plan, and in February 1915 French and British ships began bombarding the Turkish forts guarding the Dardanelles.

Bad weather interrupted the operation, and on 18 MAR, six English and four French warships moved into the Dardanelles. The Turks, however, had used the intervening time wisely, setting mines that sank three Allied ships and badly damaged three more. The naval attack was called off, and a larger land invasion was planned.

Beginning 25 APR, British, Australian, and New Zealand troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, while the French feinted a landing on the opposite coast to divert Ottoman forces. The Australians and New Zealanders were devastated by the Turkish defenders, who were led by Mustafa Kemal, the future President Ataturk of Turkey. Meanwhile, the British likewise were met with fierce resistance at their Cape Helles landing sites and suffered two-thirds casualties at some locations. During the next three months, the Allies made only slight gains off their landing sites and took terrible casualties.

To break the stalemate, a new British landing at Sulva Bay occurred on 6 AUG, but the British failed to capitalize on their largely unopposed landing and waited too long to move against the heights. Ottoman reinforcements arrived and quickly halted their progress. Trenches were dug, and the British were able to advance only a few miles.

In September, Sir Ian Hamilton, the British commander, was replaced by Sir Charles Monro, who in December recommended an evacuation from Gallipoli. In early January 1916, the last of the Allied troops escaped. As a result of the disastrous campaign, Churchill resigned as first lord of the Admiralty and accepted a commission to command an infantry battalion in France.

  • Jan 08 1918 – WWI: President Wilson Announces His 14 Points » In an address before a joint meeting of Congress, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson discusses the aims of the United States in World War I and outlines his “14 Points” for achieving a lasting peace in Europe. The peace proposal called for unselfish peace terms from the victorious Allies, the restoration of territories conquered during the war, the right to national self-determination, and the establishment of a postwar world body to resolve future conflict. The speech was translated and distributed to the soldiers and citizens of Germany and Austria-Hungary and contributed significantly to their agreeing to an armistice in November 1918.

After the war ended, Wilson traveled to France, where he headed the American delegation to the conference at Versailles. Functioning as the moral leader of the Allies, Wilson struggled to orchestrate a just peace, though the other victorious Allies opposed most of his 14 Points. The final treaty called for stiff reparations payments from the former Central Powers and other demanding peace terms that would contribute to the outbreak of World War II two decades later. However, Wilson’s ideas on national self-determination and a postwar world body were embodied in the treaty. In 1920, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

  • Jan 08 1940 – WW2 Era: Mussolini Questions Hitler’s Plans » 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.

  • Jan 08 1940 – WW2: Great Britain begins rationing sugar, bacon and butter.
  • Jan 08 1945 – WW2: Task Group 17.21, led by Cmdr. Charles E. Loughlin coordinates a submarine attack against a Japanese convoy off northwest coast of Formosa, sinking two freighters and a tanker and damaging three other ships.
  • Jan 08 1945 – WW2: During the continuing Japanese aerial kamikaze attacks on the Lingayen Gulf invasion force, escort carriers Kitkun Bay (CVE 71) and Kadashan Bay (CVE 76) are damaged, as well as USS Callaway (APA-35).
  • Jan 08 1945 – WW2: Philippine Commonwealth troops under the Philippine Commonwealth Army units enter the province of Ilocos Sur in Northern Luzon and attack Japanese Imperial forces.
  • Jan 08 1946 – Post WW2: President Harry S. Truman vows to stand by the Yalta accord on self-determination for the Balkans. The accord was the result of the conference held in Yalta in February 1945 where Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill planned the final stages of World War II and agreed to the territorial division of Europe.

  • Jan 08 1954 – Cold War: President Dwight Eisenhower proposes stripping convicted Communists of their U.S. citizenship.
  • Jan 08 1958 – Cuban revolutionary forces capture Havana
  • Jan 08 1967 – Vietnam War: Operation Cedar Falls is Launched » 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.

  • Jan 08 1973 – Vietnam War: Peace Talks Resume in Paris » 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 13 DEC.

Henry Kissinger and Hanoi’s Le Duc Tho

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 28 DEC, 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 8 JAN, the peace talks moved along quickly. On 23 JAN, 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.

  • Jan 08 1979 – Middle East: The United States advises the Shah to leave Iran.
  • Jan 08 1979 – Cambodian*Vietnamese War: Vietnamese Troops Defeat Khmer Rouge & Occupy Phnom Penh » By the end of 1978, Vietnamese leaders decided to remove the Khmer Rouge-dominated regime of Democratic Kampuchea in Cambodia, perceiving it as being pro-Chinese and hostile towards them. On 25 December 1978, 150,000 Vietnamese troops invaded Democratic Kampuchea and overran the Kampuchean Revolutionary Army in just two weeks, thereby ending the excesses of Pol Pot’s regime, which had been responsible for the deaths of almost a quarter of all Cambodians between 1975 and December 1978. Vietnamese military intervention and the occupying forces’ subsequent allowing in of international food aid to mitigate the massive famine is viewed as ending the Cambodian genocide.

The pro-Vietnamese People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) was established in Phnom Penh, marking the beginning of a ten-year Vietnamese occupation. During that period, the Khmer Rouge’s Democratic Kampuchea continued to be recognized by the United Nations as the legitimate government of Kampuchea, as several armed resistance groups were formed to fight the Vietnamese occupation. Behind the scenes, Prime Minister Hun Sen of the PRK regime approached factions of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK) to begin peace talks. Under diplomatic and economic pressure from the international community, the Vietnamese government implemented a series of economic and foreign policy reforms, which led to their withdrawal from Kampuchea in September 1989.

  • Jan 08 1989 – Cold War: Soviet Union promises to eliminate stockpiles of chemical weapons if U.S. will do the same.
  • Jan 08 1994 – Space Travel: Valeri Polyakov, a Russian cosmonaut leaves earth, bound for the Mir space station; he will spend a record 437 days in space.
  • Jan 08 2005 – U.S. Navy: 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.


  • Jan 09 1776 – American Revolution: Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense, a scathing attack on King George III’s reign over the colonies and a call for complete independence.
  • Jan 9 1847 – Mexican*American War: Battle of La Mesa » General Stephen Kearny and Commodore Robert Stockton retake Los Angeles. The battle was the last armed resistance to the American conquest of California, and General José María Flores returned to Mexico afterward. Three days after the battle, on 12 JAN, the last significant group of Californios surrendered to U.S. forces. The conquest and annexation of Alta California was settled with the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga by U.S. Army Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Frémont and Californio General Andrés Pico on January 13, 1847.

Kearny, Stockton, and Florees

  • Jan 09 1861 – Civil War: “Star of the West” is Fired Upon » A Union merchant ship, the Star of the West, is fired upon as it tries to deliver supplies to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. This incident was the first time shots were exchanged between North and South, although it not trigger the Civil War.

When South Carolinians seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, they demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter. President James Buchanan refused to comply with this demand but was also careful not to make any provocative move. Inside the fort, Major Robert Anderson and his 80 soldiers needed supplies. The Buchanan administration decided to dispatch a civilian ship, the Star of the West, instead of a military transport, in order to keep tensions from flaring.

The Star of the West left New York on January 5, 1861. After the ship was en route, Secretary of War Joseph Holt received a dispatch from Anderson saying that the garrison was safe and supplies were not needed immediately. Anderson added that the secessionists were building gun emplacements overlooking the main shipping channel into Charleston Harbor. Holt realized that the ship was in great danger and a war might erupt. He tried in vain to recall the Star of the West, and Anderson was not aware that the ship continued on its way.

On the morning of 9 JAN, Star of the West captain John McGowan steered the ship into the channel near the fort. Two cannon shots roared from a South Carolina battery on Morris Island. They came from gunner George E. Haynsworth, a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston. The shots, while poor, represented the opening salvo of the war. More shots were fired, and the ship suffered a minor hit. Anderson watched from Fort Sumter but did not respond in support of the ship. If he had, the war might have started on that day.

The incident resulted in strong talk on both sides, but stopped short of war. The standoff at Fort Sumter continued until the Confederates attacked in April, triggering the Civil War.

  • Jan 09 1861 – Civil War: Mississippi Secedes from the Union » The American Civil War (1861-1865) left Mississippi in chaos with its social structures overturned, its economy in ruins, and its people shattered. Historians continue to debate why Mississippi and her sister southern states chose to leave the Union. Issues such as state’s rights and high tariffs are frequently cited as causes of the war, but Mississippi’s defense of the institution of slavery was the ultimate reason the state seceded from the Union. Indeed, a Declaration from its January 1861 state convention on whether to secede from the Union stated, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.”
  • Jan 09 1879 – Native Americans: Fort Robinson Massacre » After having been forced to relocate south to the Darlington Agency in the Southern Cheyenne Reservation, a band of Northern Cheyenne fled back north in September 1878 because of the terrible conditions. The US Army intercepted part of the Northern Cheyenne Exodus and took a band of nearly 150 Cheyenne to Fort Robinson in Nebraska.

In January, after the Cheyenne had refused an earlier order to return to the south, the soldiers began to treat them more harshly to try to force them south: they were confined to a barracks without rations or wood for heat. Most of the band escaped on 9 JAN, but the US Army hunted them down. They quickly returned 65 to the fort as prisoners, among whom were 23 wounded. Thirty-eight Cheyenne had escaped, and the Army continued to pursue them to the north. Over the next few days, soldiers found six Cheyenne who had hidden near the fort and took them back as captives.

On 22 JAN, two weeks after the Cheyenne escape, the soldiers cornered the 32 remaining band members above the Hat Creek bluffs, about 35 miles northwest of Fort Robinson. Led by Little Finger Nail, 18 men and boys, and 14 women and children prepared a defensive position in a dry creek bed, which came to be known as “The Pit”. Wessells led four companies of soldiers, about 150 men, to attack the position from three directions.

Despite withering Cheyenne fire from the pit, the soldiers repeatedly charged to its rim and fired in at the escapees. The soldiers’ calls for surrender were met with gunfire. The soldiers killed or fatally wounded all the warriors, along with four women and two children. They found eight survivors, most beneath bodies of the dead. The Cheyenne killed several troopers and Wessells was wounded in the assault.

  • Jan 09 1912 – Banana Wars: US Marines send troops to Honduras.
  • Jan 09 1915 – U.S.-Mexico: Pancho Villa signs a treaty with the United States, halting border conflicts.
  • JAN 09 1915 – WWI: Kaiser Wilhelm Approves Strategic Bombing of Britain » The first extended campaigns of strategic bombing were carried out against England by the German Empire’s fleet of airships, which were then the only aircraft capable of such sustained activities so far from their bases. This campaign was approved on 7 JAN by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who forbade attacks on London, fearing that his relatives in the British royal family might be injured. These restrictions were lifted in May, after British attacks on German cities. The first attacks on England were on 19 JAN and struck the Yarmouth area and King’s Lynn. In Britain, fear of the Zeppelin as a weapon of war preceded its actual use: even before the war the British public was gripped by “zeppelinitis”.
  • Jan 09 1916 – WW1: The Ottoman Empire prevails in the Battle of Çanakkale, as the last British troops evacuated.
  • Jan 09 1917 – WW1: The Battle of Rafa » The battle, also known as the Action of Rafah, was the third and final battle to complete the recapture of the Sinai Peninsula by British forces during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. The Desert Column of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) attacked an entrenched Ottoman Army garrison at El Magruntein to the south of Rafah, close to the frontier between the Sultanate of Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, to the north and east of Sheikh Zowaiid. The attack marked the beginning of fighting in the Ottoman territory of Palestine and ended in a British victory.

After the British Empire victories at the Battle of Romani in August 1916 and the Battle of Magdhaba in December, the Ottoman Army had been forced back to the southern edge of Palestine as the EEF pushed eastwards supported by extended lines of communication. This advance depended on the construction of a railway and water pipeline. With the railway reaching El Arish on 4 January 1917, an attack on Rafa by the newly formed Desert Column became possible. During the day-long assault, the Ottoman garrison defended El Magruntein’s series of fortified redoubts and trenches on rising ground surrounded by flat grassland. They were eventually encircled by Australian Light Horsemen, New Zealand mounted riflemen, mounted Yeomanry, cameleers and armored cars. In the late afternoon, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade captured the central redoubt and the remaining defenses were occupied shortly afterwards.

  • Jan 09 1918 – Native Americans: Battle of Bear Valley – The last battle of the American Indian Wars. Casualties and losses: US 0 – Yaqui 10
  • Jan 09 1942 – WW2: USS Pollack (SS-180) sinks the Japanese freighter Teian Maru (ex-Yugoslav Tomislav) 40 miles south-southwest of Inubo Saki, Japan.
  • Jan 09 1942 – WW2: Holocaust » 6,000 Jews exterminated in an organized massacure in Bucharest, Romania
  • Jan 09 1942 – WW2: Holocaust » One thousand Jews are deported from the Theresienstadt camp/ghetto to Riga, Latvia.
  • Jan 09 1943 – WW2: Soviet planes drop leaflets on the surrounded Germans in Stalingrad requesting their surrender with humane terms. The Germans refuse.
  • Jan 09 1945 – WW2: U.S.Invades Luzon in Philippines » Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the American 6th Army land on the Lingayen Gulf of Luzon, another step in the capture of the Philippine Islands from the Japanese. The Japanese controlled the Philippines from May 1942, when the defeat of American forces led to General MacArthur’s departure and Gen. Jonathan Wainwright’s capture. But in October 1944, more than 100,000 American soldiers landed on Leyte Island to launch one of one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war-and herald the beginning of the end for Japan.

Newsreels captured the event as MacArthur waded ashore at Leyte on 20 OCT, returning to the Philippines as he had famously promised he would after the original defeat of American forces there. What the newsreels didn’t capture were the 67 days it took to subdue the island, with the loss of more than 55,000 Japanese soldiers during the two months of battle and approximately 25,000 more soldiers killed in smaller-scale engagements necessary to fully clear the area of enemy troops. The U.S. forces lost about 3,500.

The sea battle of Leyte Gulf was the same story. The loss of ships and sailors was horrendous for both sides. That battle also saw the introduction of the Japanese kamikaze suicide bombers. More than 5,000 kamikaze pilots died in this gulf battle, taking down 34 ships. But the Japanese were not able to prevent the loss of their biggest and best warships, which meant the virtual end of the Japanese Imperial Fleet.

These American victories on land and sea at Leyte opened the door for the landing of more than 60,000 American troops on Luzon on 9 JAN. Once again, cameras recorded MacArthur walking ashore, this time to greet cheering Filipinos. Although the American troops met little opposition when they landed, they lost the light cruiser Columbia and the battleship Mississippi, to kamikazes, resulting in the deaths of 49 American crewmen.

The initial ease of the American fighters’ first week on land was explained when they discovered the intricate defensive network of caves and tunnels that the Japanese created on Luzon. The intention of the caves and tunnels was to draw the Americans inland, while allowing the Japanese to avoid the initial devastating bombardment of an invasion force. Once Americans reached them, the Japanese fought vigorously, convinced they were directing American strength away from the Japanese homeland. Despite their best efforts, the Japanese lost the battle for Luzon and eventually, the battle for control over all of the Philippines.

  • Jan 09 1952 – Cold War: Truman Warns Of Cold War Dangers » In his 1952 State of the Union address, President Harry S. Truman warns Americans that they are “moving through a perilous time,” and calls for vigorous action to meet the communist threat. Though Truman’s popularity had nose-dived during the previous 18 months because of complaints about the way that he handled the Korean War, his speech received a standing ovation from congressmen and special guest Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Truman spent much of his speech addressing foreign policy concerns. The primary focus was on meeting the communist challenge. The president declared that the United States was confronted with “a terrible threat of aggression.” He also pointed with pride to U.S. action in meeting that threat. In Korea, combined U.S. and United Nations forces “turned back the Chinese Communist invasion;” elsewhere in Asia, U.S. assistance to its allies was helping to “hold back the Communist advance;” and in Europe and the Middle East, the fight against Soviet expansion was also ongoing.

Truman was particularly proud of the Point Four program, which provided U.S. scientific and technical assistance (such as in the field of agriculture) to the underdeveloped world, claiming that it helped “feed the whole world so we would not have to stomach communism.” There could be no slacking of effort, however, since the Soviet Union was “increasing its armed might,” and with the Soviet acquisition of atomic bomb technology, the world was still walking “in the shadow of another world war.”

Truman’s speech was a stirring rebuttal to domestic critics like Senator Joseph McCarthy, who attacked Truman’s “softness” on communism. Perhaps such criticism contributed to Truman’s decision not to run for re-election. Adlai Stevenson ran as the Democratic candidate, but he lost the election to Dwight Eisenhower.

  • Jan 09 1965 – Vietnam War: Support Is Pledged To Civilian Government » Under pressure from United States officials, Gen. Nguyen Khanh and the newly formed Armed Forces Council–generals who participated in the bloodless coup on 19 DEC, 1964–agree to support the civilian government of Premier Trran Van Huong.

The coup occurred when 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 followed the November 1963 coup that resulted in the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem. The period following the overthrow of Diem was marked by a series of coups and “revolving door” governments.

In addition to pledging to support Huong, Khanh and the generals agreed to release five High National Council members and 50 others arrested during the coup. They also promised to confine their activities to the military sphere. A national convention was to be convened to “assume legislative powers” and to draw up a permanent constitution. However, this did not happen. Tran Van Huong was unable to put together a viable government and the Armed Forces Council ousted him on 27 JAN and installed General Khanh to power. Khanh was ousted by yet another coup on February 18, led by Ky and Thieu. Khanh then 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 elected as president and vice-president in general elections held in 1967. They served together until 1971, when Thieu was re-elected president.

  • Jan 09 1967 – Vietnam War: U.S. Officials Try To Counter Claims Of Saigon Corruption » The Agency for International Development (AID) attempts to respond to reports in the American media of widespread corruption and thievery of commodities sent to South Vietnam by the United States. In a report to the president, AID officials asserted, “No more than 5-6 percent of all economic assistance commodities delivered to Vietnam were stolen or otherwise diverted.”
  • Jan 09 1987 – Vietnam*China: Battle for Vi Xuyen » Vietnam alleges China has lost 1,500 soldiers trying to secure ground along an invasion corridor on the Vietnamese border despite a massive mortar and artillery barrage on the embattled area. The Vietnamese reports said China unleashed a massive 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. barrage 8 JAN, firing more than 60,000 artillery and mortar shells. Radio Hanoi said civilians and armed forces in Vi Xuyen district killed nearly 100 Chinese troops 7 JAN and almost 1,000 more 8 JAN as the intruders tried to seize strategic hilltops. Vietnam earlier said it killed nearly 500 Chinese 6 JAN when the battle for Vi Xuyen erupted.
  • Jan 09 1991 – Middle East: Representatives from the United States and Iraq meet at the Geneva Peace Conference to try to find a peaceful resolution to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.


  • Jan 10 1776 – American Revolution: While in exile aboard a warship in Cape Fear, North Carolina’s Royal Governor Josiah Martin issues a proclamation calling on the king’s loyal subjects to raise an armed force to combat the rebels, raise the royal standard and restore the province to its former glorious freedom.

Portrait of Josiah Martin. Image from State Archives of North Carolina.

  • Jan 10 1811 – Slave Revolt: An Uprising of Nearly 500 Slaves Is Put Down in New Orleans » Three slaves gathered in a small rundown cabin on a plantation about 30 miles upriver from New Orleans. Charles Deslondes was the son of an enslaved woman and a French planter; Harry Kenner an unassuming 25-year-old carpenter; and Quamana a warrior captured in the militant Asante kingdom and imported to Louisiana. These three brave men, along with eight other slave leaders, launched the largest slave revolt in American history, rallying an army of slaves to fight and die for freedom. No slave revolt—not Nat Turner, not John Brown—has rivaled the New Orleans revolt in terms of the number of participants or the number of slaves slaughtered in the aftermath.

In a dramatic battle in the cane fields, the slave army faced off against the twin forces of the American military and a hastily assembled planter militia. “The blacks were not intimidated by this army and formed themselves in line and fired for as long as they had ammunition,” wrote one observer. But the slaves’ ammunition did not last long, and the battle was brief. Soon the planter militia broke the slave line and the slaughter began.

The planters, supported by the U.S. military, captured Charles Deslondes, chopped off his hands, broke his thighs, and then roasted him on a pile of straw. Over the next few days, they executed and beheaded more than 100 slaves, putting their heads on poles and dangling their dismembered corpses from the gates of New Orleans. “Their Heads, which decorate our Levee, all the way up the coast… look like crows sitting on long poles,” wrote one traveler. The rotting corpses were grim reminders of who owned who—and just where true power resided.

The American officials and French planters then sought to cover up the true story of the revolt, to dismiss the bold actions of the slave army as irrelevant and trivial, and write this massive uprising out of the record books. They succeeded. And, in doing so, they laid the groundwork for one of the most remarkable moments of historical amnesia in our national memory.

  • Jan 10 1861 – Civil War: William Seward Named Secretary of State » William Seward accepts President-elect Abraham Lincoln’s invitation to become secretary of state. Seward became one of the most important members of Lincoln’s cabinet and engineered the purchase of Alaska after the Civil War.

A native of New York, Seward taught school in the South before returning to New York and entering politics. He became governor in 1838 and began to articulate strong anti-slavery views. Seward entered the U.S. Senate in 1849 and burst onto the national scene during the debates surrounding the Compromise of 1850. He boldly proclaimed that slavery was doomed by a “higher law than the Constitution, the law of God.” This became a catch phrase for abolitionists and Seward became known as a radical, belying his pragmatic tendencies.

Seward joined the Republican Party in the 1850s and appeared to be the leading candidate for president in 1860. However, the party went with Lincoln, feeling that he would draw more votes in the Midwest and border regions. Seward was initially reluctant to accept the position of secretary of state, as he still saw himself as the natural leader of the party and was reluctant to take a back seat to Lincoln. In fact, Seward underestimated Lincoln’s political acumen. His relationship with the president was not particularly close, but they worked well together during the war.

Seward became one of the moderate voices in the Lincoln cabinet. His careful politicking helped to counter the public perception that the administration was dominated by radicals. Although he supported the end of slavery, Seward downplayed the effects of emancipation to gain support from Democrats and conservative Republicans during the presidential campaign of 1864.

The April 1865 assassination that killed Lincoln nearly resulted in Seward’s death as well. Lewis Powell, an accomplice to John Wilkes Booth, stabbed Seward as he lay in bed recovering from a carriage accident. Seward survived, and after a summer convalescing, returned to the State Department. His final achievement came with the purchase of Alaska from the Russians in 1867. Although he considered it one of his greatest accomplishments, critics dubbed the territory “Mr. Seward’s Ice Box.” History would show that Seward’s belief in the value of Alaska was astute.

  • Jan 10 1861 – Civil War: Fort Pikens, Florida » By the time of the American Civil War, Fort Pickens had not been occupied since shortly after the Mexican–American War. Despite its dilapidated condition, Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, in charge of Union forces at Fort Barrancas, decided Fort Pickens was the most defensible post in the area. He decided to abandon Fort Barrancas when, around midnight of January 8, 1861, his guards repelled a group of local civilians who intended to occupy the fort. Some historians claim that these were the first shots fired in the Civil War.

On January 10, 1861, the day Florida declared its secession from the Union, Slemmer destroyed over 20,000 pounds of gunpowder at Fort McRee. He then spiked the guns at Fort Barrancas, and moved his small force of 51 soldiers and 30 sailors to Fort Pickens. On January 15, 1861 and January 18, 1861, Slemmer refused surrender demands from Colonel William Henry Chase of the Florida militia. Chase had designed and constructed the fort as a captain in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Slemmer defended the fort against threat of attack until he was reinforced and relieved in April 11, 1861 by Colonel Harvey Brown and the USS Brooklyn.

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The Confederates attacked the Fort on October 9, 1861 in the Battle of Santa Rosa Island, with a force of a thousand men. The attack came from the east, after forces landed four miles away. The attack was repelled by artillery and gunfire, and the Confederates retreated with 90 casualties. Fort Pickens was one of only four Southern forts to remain in Union hands throughout the war,

  • Jan 10 1861 – Civil War: Florida secedes from the Union.
  • Jan 10 1862 – Civil War: Battle of Big Sandy River, KY (Middle Creek) » Union forces, under Colonel James Garfield, sought to drive out the Confederates, under General Humphrey Marshall, who were recruiting in the vicinity of Paintsville, Kentucky.

As Col. Garfield approached from the north, Gen. Marshall fell back to Prestonburg along the Middle Creek to take up defensive positions, even though his rebels were not well provisioned. The Confederate cavalry that was to provide a rear screen were surprised by the Federal cavalry as they were breaking camp. The initial rout by the Union forces turned into a bloody pursuit as the recovering Confederates ambushed the pursuing Union cavalry. Col. Garfield pushed on, however, and caught up with the mass of Gen. Marshall’s force to the west of Prestonburg. Marshall had taken a strong position and had set a trap along Middle Creek to catch Garfield’s forces as they advanced into a hammer and anvil position. Garfield, who was unsure of Marshall’s positions, sent a small cavalry force into the open area to see where Marshall’s forces were. Marshall fell for the ruse and released the trap too early.

Garfield now knew where Marshall had deployed and set to advancing slowly and methodically on the ill-equipped and hungry Confederates. The Battle of Big Sandy was truly one of those Civil War battles where brother fought brother and neighbor fought neighbor. Kentucky units on both sides of the war met in the boggy ground around the creek, sometimes in hand to hand fighting. As the pressure on the Confederates grew into the early evening, Marshall felt he had no choice, but to retire as he feared widespread desertion from his hungry troops.

The overall effect of the Battle of Big Sandy was not decisively in favor of the Union, but the future President James Garfield had made his name in showing that the area could be held by the Union. The fact that eastern Kentucky was now off-limits to the Confederates meant that the Union forces could begin their push into Tennessee with a secure eastern flank.

  • Jan 10 1899 – U.S.*Philippines: Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo renounces the Treaty of Paris, which annexed the Philippines to the United States.

  • Jan 10 1917 – WWI: The Allied Governments respond to US President Woodrow Wilson’s December 1916 note, giving their terms for ending the war. Germany is rebuked as the Entente officially rejects a proposal for peace talks and demands the return of occupied territories from Germany.
  • Jan 10 1920 – WWI: The Treaty of Versailles Goes into Effect » WWI, in which more than 9 million people were killed between 1914 and 1918, officially ends. Combat ended Nov. 11, 1918, with the signing of an armistice. But peace negotiations continued during the next six months and concluded with the Treaty of Versailles after the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Wilson became America’s first president to travel to Europe while still in office, and he participated in the treaty’s negotiations. The treaty — whose harsh provisions would devastate Germany politically, economically and socially — was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Hall of Mirrors of France’s Château de Versailles.

Germany was forced to pay staggering war reparations, throwing Europe into more discontent. French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who was World War I’s supreme Allied commander, said the treaty “is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.” Germany’s discontent would facilitate the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, a political development that would have devastating consequences for the rest of the world in less than a generation.

French President Georges Clemenceau ratifying the Treaty of Versailles for the French Government, January 1920.

French President Georges Clemenceau ratifying the Treaty of Versailles for the French Government

The last acts in concluding peace with Germany were performed as arranged, by the Allies of Europe and Japan on 10 JAN 1920. The allies of Europe concluded peace with Germany, but there was anxiety at the absence of the US. All measures for the execution of the treaty are at once set on foot. The most important, from the point of view of the resumption of friendly relations, is the repatriation of the large number of German prisoners still held in France and of the crews of the scuttled ships held by Great Britain.

The American Ambassador was merely a spectator of these ceremonies. By way of giving precision to the separate situation of the United States, the State Department in Washington has formally notified Germany that the conditions of the Armistice are still in force.

  • Jan 10 1920 – Post WWI: League of Nations Instituted » The League formally comes into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, takes effect.

The official opening of the League of Nations, 15 November 1920

In 1914, a political assassination in Sarajevo set off a chain of events that led to the outbreak of the most costly war ever fought to that date. As more and more young men were sent down into the trenches, influential voices in the United States and Britain began calling for the establishment of a permanent international body to maintain peace in the postwar world. President Woodrow Wilson became a vocal advocate of this concept, and in 1918 he included a sketch of the international body in his 14-point proposal to end the war.

In November 1918, the Central Powers agreed to an armistice to halt the killing in World War I. Two months later, the Allies met with conquered Germany and Austria-Hungary at Versailles to hammer out formal peace terms. President Wilson urged a just and lasting peace, but England and France disagreed, forcing harsh war reparations on their former enemies. The League of Nations was approved, however, and in the summer of 1919 Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

Wilson suffered a severe stroke in the fall of that year, which prevented him from reaching a compromise with those in Congress who thought the treaties reduced U.S. authority. In November, the Senate declined to ratify both. The League of Nations proceeded without the United States, holding its first meeting in Geneva on November 15, 1920.

During the 1920s, the League, with its headquarters in Geneva, incorporated new members and successfully mediated minor international disputes but was often disregarded by the major powers. The League’s authority, however, was not seriously challenged until the early 1930s, when a series of events exposed it as ineffectual. Japan simply quit the organization after its invasion of China was condemned, and the League was likewise powerless to prevent the rearmament of Germany and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The declaration of World War II was not even referred to by the then-virtually defunct League.

In 1946, the League of Nations was officially dissolved with the establishment of the United Nations. The United Nations was modeled after the former but with increased international support and extensive machinery to help the new body avoid repeating the League’s failures.

  • Jan 10 1923 – Post WWI: U.S. Troops Depart Germany » Four years after the end of World War I, President Warren G. Harding orders U.S. occupation troops stationed in Germany to return home.

In 1917, after several years of bloody stalemate along the Western Front, the entrance of America’s fresh, well-supplied forces into the Great War—a decision announced by President Woodrow Wilson in April and provoked largely by Germany’s blatant attacks on American ships at sea—proved to be a major turning point in the conflict. American naval forces arrived in Britain on April 9, only three days after the formal declaration of war. On 13 JUN, the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), commanded by the celebrated General John J. Pershing, reached the shores of France.

By the time the war ended in November 1918, more than 2 million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe and more than 50,000 of them had lost their lives. The last combat divisions left France in September 1919, though a small number of men stayed behind to supervise the identification and burial of their compatriots in military cemeteries. An American occupation force of 16,000 men was sent to Germany, to be based in the town of Coblenz, as part of the post-war Allied presence on the Rhine that had been determined by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

In 1923, after four years in Germany, the occupation troops were ordered home after President Harding succeeded Wilson in 1921 and announced a desire to return to normalcy after the disruptions of wartime. Meanwhile, the bitterness of the German population, demoralized by defeat and what they saw as the unfairly harsh terms of peace—of which the American occupation was a part—grew ever stronger.

  • Jan 10 1940 – WW2 Era: German planes attack 12 ships off the British coast, sinking 3 ships and killing 35 people.
  • Jan 10 1941 – WW2 Era: The Soviets and Germany agree on the East European borders and the exchange of industrial equipment.
  • Jan 10 1941 – WW2 Era: FDR Introduces the Lend-Lease Program » Franklin Roosevelt introduces the program to Congress. The plan was intended to help Britain beat back Hitler’s advance while keeping America only indirectly involved in World War II. As Roosevelt addressed Congress, the Battle of Britain was in its full destructive swing and Hitler seemed on the verge of invading Great Britain. The cash-strapped Brits desperately needed airplanes, tanks and ships to fight Hitler’s imminent invasion. For months, Britain’s prime minister, Winston Churchill, had begged Roosevelt for help, but the president was committed to abiding by Americans’ wishes to stay out of another bloody world war.

The lend-lease program provided for military aid to any country whose defense was vital to the security of the United States. The plan thus gave Roosevelt the power to lend arms to Britain with the understanding that, after the war, America would be paid back in kind. Congress overwhelmingly accepted the plan, which only staunch isolationists opposed. Roosevelt’s program enabled the U.S. military to prepare for the growing threat of Japan on its Pacific flank while helping Britain to contain Hitler across the Atlantic, as it permitted aid to Europe without committing American troops that might be needed in a Pacific war. Even though Roosevelt’s plan did not require immediate repayment, the United States commandeered what was left of Britain’s gold reserves and overseas investments to help pay for the increased defense production.

With the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Japan forced the entry of the United States into the war. Roosevelt then recognized the strategic advantage of also supplying the Soviet Union with arms under lend-lease in order to draw Hitler’s resources away from Western Europe. This gave the United States a better chance at fighting a war on two fronts while planning for an invasion to liberate Europe. Roosevelt, mindful of the inherent conflict between American democracy and Soviet communism, counted on using U.S. military aid to the Soviet Union as a bargaining chip in post-war diplomatic relations.

By the end of the war the United States had given more than $50 billion in armaments and financial support to Britain, the U.S.S.R. and 37 other countries. The lend-lease program laid a foundation for the post-war Marshall Plan, which provided aid to European nations to help rebuild their economies after two devastating world wars.

  • Jan 10 1941 – WW2: Holocaust » The Reich Commissioner for the occupied Netherlands Seyss-Inquart begins registration of Jews. He ordered that all “persons of wholly or partly Jewish blood” did have to register themselves. A measure that, finally, would have far-reaching consequences. Except from some schools and universities, which protested against the dismissal of Jewish teachers and professors, the anti-Jewish measures caused only little fuss. This situation changed when Seyss-Inquart and Rauter took harsh measures because of the escalating violence in Amsterdam, between Dutch Nazi sympathizers and Jewish Amsterdam citizens, supported by non-Jewish fellow citizens.
  • Jan 10 1941 – WW2 Era: Capture of Klisura Pass (6-11 Jan) » A military operation that took place in southern Albania which was one of the most important battles of the Greco-Italian War. The Italian Army, initially deployed on the Greek-Albanian border, launched a major offensive against Greece on 28 October 1940. After a two-week conflict, Greece managed to repel the invading Italians in the battles of Pindus and Elaia–Kalamas. Beginning on 9 NOV, the Greek forces launched a major counteroffensive and penetrated deep into Italian-held Albanian territory. The Greek operations culminated with the capture of the strategically important Klisura Pass on January 1941.

The capture of the strategic pass by the Greek army was considered a major success by the Allied forces, with the Commander of the British forces in the Middle East, Archibald Wavell, sending a congratulatory message to Alexander Papagos. In the following weeks, the front lines stabilized, with the Greek forces facing a bad logistical situation and the Italians managing to gain numerical superiority in order to stop their retreat. Both sides kept their positions until the German intervention in April 1941. On January 22 2018, following an agreement between the Greek and Albanian foreign ministers, a systematic effort to recover the bodies of fallen Greek soldiers from the battle was undertaken between the two countries. The remains of the Greek soldiers were ultimately buried in the Greek military cemetery located within the pass.

  • Jan 10 1943 – WW2: USS Argonaut (APS–1) sunk by aircraft (582d Kokutai) and Japanese destroyers Isokaze and Maikaze southeast of New Britain in Solomon Sea. 104 killed.

  • Jan 10 1944 – WW2: USS Seawolf (SS-197) and USS Steelhead (SS-280) attack a Japanese convoy about 70 miles north of Naha, Okinawa, sinking three ships, including one while in the middle of a typhoon.
  • Jan 10 1945 – Post WW2: South China Sea Raid (10-20 Jan) » Undertaken to support the liberation of Luzon in the Philippines, the United States Third Fleet targeted Japanese warships, supply convoys and aircraft in the region. After attacking airfields and shipping at Formosa and Luzon, the Third Fleet entered the South China Sea and aircraft from its carriers attacked Japanese shipping off French Indochina on 12 JAN, sinking 44 vessels. The fleet then sailed north and attacked Formosa again on 15 JAN. Further raids were conducted against Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan the next day. The South China Sea raid was highly successful as the American force destroyed a large number of Japanese ships and aircraft, while losing relatively few aircraft. According to historians, the destruction of cargo vessels and oil tankers was the most important result of the raid, as these contributed to closing a supply route which was vital to the Japanese war effort.
  • Jan 10 1946 – Post WW2: First Meeting of the United Nations » The first General Assembly of the United Nations, comprising 51 nations, convenes at Westminster Central Hall in London, England. One week later, the U.N. Security Council met for the first time and established its rules of procedure. Then, on January 24, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, a measure calling for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.

In 1944, at the Dumbarton Oaks conference in Washington, D.C., the groundwork was laid by Allied delegates for an international postwar organization to maintain peace and security in the postwar world. The organization was to possess considerably more authority over its members than the defunct League of Nations, which had failed in its attempts to prevent the outbreak of World War II. In April 1945, with celebrations of victory in Europe about to commence, delegates from 51 nations convened in San Francisco to draft the United Nations Charter. On 26 JUN, the document was signed by the delegates, and on 24 OCT it was formally ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of other signatories.

  • Jan 10 1964 – U.S.*Panama: Panama Riots of 1964 » When President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty with Panama in 1903, the United States gained sovereignty over the portion of the newly formed country of Panama which would become the Panama Canal, a modern-day marvel that revolutionized international shipping and solidified America as a global power. While the benefits to the U.S. were enormous, the politics surrounding the Canal and the treatment of Panamanians themselves engendered profound social repercussions that persisted for more than half a century.

On this day grievances between native Panamanians and “Zonians”, or Americans residing within the U.S.-controlled Canal Zone, boiled over into a series of anti-American riots which resulted in an evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Panama City, widespread looting, and dozens of deaths. Most importantly, this uprising, honored annually in Panama as Martyr’s Day, eventually led to a renegotiation of the original 1903 treaty and is commonly remembered as the beginning of the end of American hegemony over the Panama Canal Zone

After the 1964 riots, Panamá endured 13 years of frustrating negotiations with consecutive U.S. governments. Finally, the Torrijos-Carter Treaties were signed and submitted for legislative approval of both countries. In a very hostile environment, President Carter personally campaigned for U.S. Senate approval. Opposition to Carter stubbornly repeated “the Canal is ours, we built it, and we will not permit that it be given away” mantra. The Senate vote-counting came down to single digits, which was not going to be made any easier with Panamanian political exiles walking the halls of the Senate, describing the horrors committed by the Torrijos regime. To whitewash the uncomfortable facts about the dictatorship, Carter got Torrijos to agree to the return of all political exiles. The brief period in which the Torrijos dictatorship put on a gentler face—for Washington’s benefit—is known as the “democratic Spring” (veranillo democrático) amongst Panamanians.

In Washington the strategy worked, and the Torrijos-Carter Treaties were confirmed by a one vote margin in the Senate. In Panamá, however, they went to referendum in the absence of political parties or a free press, and were “approved” by 67 percent of the population in a 96 percent turnout. The treaties called for the transfer of the Canal to Panamá in 22 years (at 12 noon Dec. 31, 1999), which then seemed like an eternal wait…but the date finally arrived.

  • Jan 10 1967 – Vietnam War: Johnson Asks For Surcharge To Pay For The War » In his annual State of the Union message to Congress, asks for enactment of a 6 percent surcharge on personal and corporate income taxes to help support the Vietnam War for two years, or “for as long as the unusual expenditures associated with our efforts continue.” Congress delayed for almost a year, but eventually passed the surcharge. The U.S. expenditure in Vietnam for fiscal year 1967 would be $21 billion.
  • Jan 10 1984 – U.S.*Vatican: Diplomatic Relations » The United States and the Vatican establish full diplomatic relations for the first time in 117 years. On hearing a rumor that the Pope was going to forbid American Protestants to hold services within Rome’s city walls – services which were already being clandestinely held in private homes – the US Congress passed a resolution in 1867 saying that no federal funds could be used to maintain a diplomatic mission in Rome. Three years later the Pope had lost temporal control over Rome and it became part of the kingdom of Italy.

There are nearly 120 countries with full diplomatic relations with the Vatican, from Algeria to Zimbabwe, many of them with very few native Roman Catholics. Many of these ambassadors wear two hats. They are accredited as their country’s ambassador to other capitals as well as to the Vatican. Often they will spend less than a fortnight a year in Rome. President Franklin Roosevelt was the first to name a personal envoy to the Vatican in 1939. He was a wealthy man, with homes in Rome and Florence, and no federal funds were used. However, Since the Nixon Administration, the office of the personal envoy had gradually become “illegal” in that the 1867 resolution regarding federal funds was being violated.

For example President Reagan’s “personal envoy” to the Vatican was William Wilson whose Rome residence belonged to the US Embassy. The State Department paid the salaries of Wilson’s political counsellor, a career diplomat, as well as secretarial and security staff and the envoy’s office was rented from the Vatican. Thus, all such payments, including the ambassador’s salary, were being paid from federal funds.

  • Jan 10 1989 – Cold War: Cuban Troops Begin Withdrawal From Angola » As part of an arrangement to decrease Cold War tensions and end a brutal war in Angola, Cuban troops begin their withdrawal from the African nation. The process was part of a multilateral diplomatic effort to end years of bloodshed in Angola—a conflict that, at one time or another, involved the Soviet Union, the United States, Portugal, and South Africa.

Angola officially became an independent nation in 1975, but even before the date of independence, various groups within the former Portuguese colony battled for control. One group, the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), received support from the United States; another, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), got much of its support from the Soviet Union and Cuba; and a third group, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), pragmatically took aid from whatever source was available, including South Africa and China. The United States, the Soviet Union, and China each believed Angola was a critical battlefield for political dominance in mineral-rich and strategically important southern Africa.

By September 1975, South African troops were assisting UNITA forces in Angola. In November, Cuba—which became involved in Angola as part of Fidel Castro’s aggressive foreign policy to assert Cuba’s role in anticolonial struggles—responded by flying in thousands of troops to aid the MPLA. Their powerful assistance caused South African forces to withdraw.

In 1981, the South Africans, who saw an MPLA regime in Angola as threatening to its political control of neighboring Namibia, again invaded Angola and increased their aid to UNITA. UNITA’s leader, Jonas Savimbi courted U.S. assistance and visited with President Ronald Reagan in 1986. The United States responded with military aid for UNITA’s forces and demanded that the Cuban troops depart Angola. As fighting escalated, Castro dispatched 15,000 additional troops to Africa.

Throughout 1987 and 1988, UNITA and MPLA forces and their respective allies fought increasingly bloody battles. Sensing that the situation was spiraling out of control, the United States helped broker an agreement in December 1988 between Angola, Cuba, and South Africa, whereby the three nations vowed to remove all foreign forces from Angola. All three nations had expended vast amounts of manpower and money in the seemingly endless conflict and Cuba, in particular, was eager to negotiate a graceful exit. The Cuban troops began their withdrawal a few weeks later, and by 1991 they were gone.

The situation in Angola was another indication that, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, Africa was coming to play a more significant role in the Cold War geopolitics. Additionally, the Cuban intervention in the conflict was yet another event that served to chill relations between the United States and Cuba.

  • Jan 10 1990 – China: Marshall Law Lifted in Beijing » Premier Li Peng lifted martial law more than seven months after imposing it to quell pro-democracy protests. When students refused to quit their occupation of central Tiananmen Square, the army shot its way to the square on June 3-4 and dispersed them, killing hundreds of unarmed civilians. Peng’s action was largely cosmetic because strict laws banning dissent remain in force. The announcement appeared at least partly intended to ease foreign criticism and allow the resumption of loans and high-level exchanges halted after the government’s bloody suppression of the reform movement in June 1989. Li said he represented the ruling Communist Party and government in thanking the People’s Liberation Army for restoring order, saying, “The people will never forget.
  • Jan 10 2013 – Terrorism: Pakistan » A series of bombings killed 115 people across Pakistan on including 81 who died in twin blasts on a bustling billiards hall in a Shiite area of the southwestern city of Quetta. Pakistan’s minority Shiite Muslims have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics, and a militant Sunni group claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack – sending a suicide bomber into the packed pool hall and then detonating a car bomb five minutes later. Violence has been especially intense in southwest Baluchistan province, where Quetta is the capital and the country’s largest concentration of Shiites live. Many are ethnic Hazara who migrated from neighboring Afghanistan. 2012 was the bloodiest year for Pakistan’s Shia community in living memory and if this latest attack is any indication, 2013 has started on an even more dismal note,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch.


  • Jan 11 1775 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Francis Salvador Joins SC Provincial Congress » Salvador, the first Jewish person to hold an elected office in the Americas, takes his seat on the South Carolina Provincial Congress in which he spoke forcefully for the cause of independence. He earned the nickname “Southern Paul Revere” when he rode 30 miles to warn of a Cherokee attack on backcountry settlements. Exactly one month later, while leading a militia group under the general command of Major General James Wilkinson, Salvador and his men were ambushed by a group of Cherokees and Loyalists near present-day Seneca, South Carolina. Salvador was shot and scalped by the Cherokees.

Although he survived long enough to know that the militia had won the engagement, he never learned that the South Carolina delegation to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia had taken his advice and voted for independence from Britain. Salvador was the first recorded Jewish soldier killed in the American War for Independence. He died at the age of 29, never having managed to bring his wife and children from London to the new country for which he fought so bravely.

  • Jan 11 1861 – Civil War: Alabama secedes from the Union.
  • Jan 11 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Arkansas Post (9-11 Jan) » Union General John McClernand and Admiral David Porter capture Arkansas Post, a Confederate stronghold on the Arkansas River. The victory secured central Arkansas for the Union and lifted Northern morale just three weeks after the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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Bombardment and capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, Ark

Arkansas Post was a massive fort 25 miles from the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. It was designed to insure Confederate control of the White and Arkansas rivers, and to keep pressure off Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last major Rebel city on the Mississippi River. The sides of the square fort were each nearly 200 feet long and the structure was protected by a moat. It sat on a bluff 25 feet above the river. The post was a major impediment to Yankee commerce on the Arkansas.

McClernand gathered his Army of the Mississippi at Milliken’s Bend, just north of Vicksburg. He had some 32,000 men in two corps commanded by generals George Morgan and William T. Sherman. McClernand’s main objective was Vicksburg, but he decided to capture Arkansas Post first to secure Yankee commerce on the rivers north of Vicksburg. McClernand was accompanied by Porter’s flotilla. The plan was to steam up the Arkansas River and land the troops below the post, then have Sherman’s men swing around behind the fort while Morgan approached from downriver.

  • Porter began bombing the fort on the night of 10 JAN. The bombardment continued the following day. Through the afternoon, Union infantry moved toward the fort while the ships passed in front and began firing from the other side of the fort. The Confederate garrison was surrounded, and offered a white flag before the day was out. The Yankees lost around 130 men and suffered about 900 wounded, but they captured 5,000 Confederates. Although Union losses were high and the victory did not contribute to the capture of Vicksburg, it did eliminate one more impediment to Union shipping on the on the Arkansas and White rivers. General Grant was furious at McClernand’s diversion from his overall campaign strategy, ordered him back to the Mississippi, disbanded the Army of the Mississippi, and assumed personal command of the Vicksburg Campaign.
  • Jan 11 1863 – Civil War: CSS Alabama encountered and sank the USS Hatteras (1861) off Galveston Lighthouse in Texas. Casualties and losses: US 125 CSA 2.
  • Jan 11 1916 – WWI: French Forces Occupy Corfu » To provide a safe and stable haven for the growing number of refugees pouring out of the devastated Balkan state of Serbia, French forces take formal military control of the Greek island of Corfu.

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The northernmost of a string of islands in the Ionian Sea, Corfu was a British protectorate in the 18th century before passing into the possession of Greece in 1864. Over the course of 1915, as German and Austro-Hungarian forces battered Serbia—whose ambitions of self-determination had ostensibly sparked the entire Great War with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914—thousands of the country’s soldiers and civilians alike fled into the mountains of Albania. Near the end of 1915, in a massive rescue operation involving more than 1,000 trips made by Italian, French and British steamers, 260,000 Serb soldiers were transported to Corfu, where they waited for the chance to reclaim their country.

Corfu became the seat of the Serbian government-in-exile as well as an important base for supplying relief to the front in Salonika, on mainland Greece. In mid-April 1916, the first of 125,000 Serbian troops, escorted by French and British warships, traveled from Corfu to Salonika, where they would relieve a much smaller army and fight alongside their French and British allies.

In the summer of 1917, negotiations took place on Corfu between the representatives of various Slav countries over the creation of a new Balkan state, based on the assumption that Austria-Hungary would be dissolved in defeat and Serbia would be independent once more. The Pact of Corfu, signed on July 20, 1917, was a vision of a new nation made up of the three main ethnic groups—Serbs, Croats and Slovenes—and ruled by the Serbian royal family. This vision appealed to many—particularly the United States and its idealistic leader, Woodrow Wilson—but would require a decisive victory in the war to become reality. At the time of the Pact of Corfu, that victory remained far in the future.

  • Jan 11 1916 – WWI: Russian General Yudenich launches a winter offensive and advances west.
  • Jan 11 1923 – Post WWI: The French enter the town of Essen in the Ruhr valley, to extract Germany’s resources as war payment.
  • Jan 11 1940 – U.S. Army: Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., becomes the U.S. Army’s first black general, his son would later become a general as well.


  • Jan 11 1940 – WW2 Era: Adolf Hitler orders forces to be prepared to enter North Africa to assist the Italian effort, marking the establishment of the Afrika Korps.
  • Jan 11 1942 – WW2: Japan invades the Dutch East Indies at Borneo.
  • Jan 11 1943 – WW2: The Soviet Red Army encircles Stalingrad.
  • Jan 11 1944 – WW2: Four City Air Raid » In one of the largest U.S. Army Air Forces raids to date, 663 Eighth Air Force bombers escorted by 592 fighters strike aviation industry targets at Braunschweig, Halberstadt, Oschersleben, and Osnabrück, Germany, encountering heavy opposition in the form of an estimated 500 German fighters and losing 60 bombers and five fighters. The bombers and fighters combined claim 258 German aircraft shot down, 72 probably shot down, and 114 damaged. Flying a P-51 Mustang, Major James H. Howard finds himself alone in defending a B-17 group from 30 German fighters and claims two German aircraft shot down, one probably shot down, and two damaged without loss to the B-17s; he receives the Medal of Honor for his actions.
  • Jan 11 1956 – Vietnam War: Diem Issues Ordinance No. 6 » South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem issues Ordinance No. 6, allowing the internment of former Viet Minh members and others “considered as dangerous to national defense and common security.”

The Viet Minh was a largely communist organization that overthrew French colonial rule in Vietnam and assumed control of the government in North Vietnam in October 1954. Diem’s internment of former Viet Minh members was an attempt to consolidate his control of South Vietnam. He had already subdued opposition from various religious sects and had launched a drive against Viet Minh who remained in the South.

Although by the end of 1956, Diem had smashed 90 percent of the former Viet Minh insurgent agents in the Mekong Delta, his ruthless drive against all dissidents did little to enhance his popularity, and he lost many potential allies. He managed to stay in power until November 1963, when he was assassinated during a coup by South Vietnamese army generals.

  • Jan 11 1965 – Vietnam War: Demonstrations Erupt in Saigon and Hue » Major cities–especially Saigon and Hue–and much of central Vietnam are disrupted by demonstrations and strikes led by Buddhists.

Refusing to accept any government headed by Tran Van Huong, who they saw as a puppet of the United States, the Buddhists turned against U.S. institutions and their demonstrations took on an increasingly anti-American tone. Thich Tri Quang, the Buddhist leader, and other monks went on a hunger strike. A Buddhist girl in Nha Trang burned herself to death (the first such self-immolation since 1963). Although Huong tried to appease the Buddhists by rearranging his government, they were not satisfied.

In the end, Huong was unable to put together a viable government and, on 27 JAN, the Armed Forces Council overthrew him in a bloodless coup and installed Gen. Nguyen Khanh in power. Khanh was ousted by yet another coup on February 18, led by Air Commodore Nguyen Cao Ky and Maj. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu. 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 would be elected as president and vice-president in general elections held in 1967.

  • Jan 11 1967 – Vietnam War: Operation Deckhouse Five, a combined USMC and ARVN troop effort in the Mekong River delta ends in failure.
  • Jan 11 1967 – Cold War: Reagan Gives His Farewell Address » After eight years as president of the United States, Ronald Reagan gives his farewell address to the American people. In his speech, President Reagan spoke with particular enthusiasm about the foreign policy achievements of his administration.

In his speech, Reagan declared that America “rediscovered” its commitment to world freedom in the 1980s. The United States was “respected again in the world and looked to for leadership.” The key, according to the president, was a return to “common sense” that “told us that to preserve the peace, we’d have to become strong again after years of weakness.”

Reagan proudly enumerated the successes of his vigorous foreign policy: achieving peace in the Persian Gulf, forcing the Soviets to begin departing from Afghanistan, and negotiating for the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia and Cuban forces from Angola. These efforts were all waged against communism, the ideology that Reagan believed was the main threat to freedom. “Nothing,” he stated, “is less free than pure communism.”

Reagan’s Cold War record was a bit more complicated than he described. One of the costs of America’s renewed “strength” was vastly increased defense expenditure, which helped create a national debt of over one trillion dollars. Peace in the Persian Gulf was temporary, as the Gulf War–which erupted during the presidency of Reagan successor George Bush–later demonstrated. Finally, the Iran-Contra scandal revealed that the Reagan administration employed some questionable means to reach its anticommunist ends-specifically, a complicated scheme involving covertly selling weapons to Iran and illegally supplying the Contra forces in Nicaragua. Nonetheless, the achievements of his administration gained him much favor with the American public, and Ronald Reagan left office as one of the most popular modern U.S. presidents.

  • Jan 11 2010– Post WWII: Holocaust » Miep Gies, the last survivor of a small group of people who helped hide a Jewish girl, Anne Frank, and her family from the Nazis during World War II, dies at age 100 in the Netherlands. After the Franks were discovered in 1944 and sent to concentration camps, Gies rescued the notebooks that Anne Frank left behind describing her two years in hiding. These writings were later published as “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl,” which became one of the most widely read accounts of the Holocaust.

Miep Gies, Anne Frank, and Otto Frank

Miep Gies was born into a working-class, Catholic family in Vienna, Austria, on February 15, 1909. At age 11, with food shortages in her native land following World War I, she was sent to the Netherlands to live with a foster family who nicknamed her Miep (her birth name was Hermine Santrouschitz). In 1933, she went to work as a secretary for Otto Frank, who ran a small Amsterdam company that produced a substance used to make jam. By the following year, Frank’s wife and two daughters, Margot and Anne, had left their native Germany to join him in the Dutch capital.

In May 1940, the Germans, who had entered World War II in September of the previous year, invaded the Netherlands and quickly made life increasingly restrictive and dangerous for the country’s Jewish population. In early July 1942, the Frank family went into hiding in an attic apartment behind Otto Frank’s business. They were eventually joined by Otto Frank’s business associate and his wife and son, as well as Miep Gies’ dentist, all of whom were Jewish. Gies, along with her husband Jan, a Dutch social worker, and several of Otto Frank’s other employees risked their own lives to smuggle food, supplies and news of the outside world into the secret apartment (which came to be known as the Secret Annex). Gies and her husband even spent a night in hiding with the group to learn firsthand what it was like.

On August 4, 1944, after 25 months in hiding, the eight people in the Secret Annex were discovered by the Gestapo, the German secret state police, who had learned about the hiding place from an anonymous tipster who has never been definitively identified. Gies was working in the building at the time of the raid and avoided arrest because the officer was from her native Vienna and felt sympathy for her. She later went to police headquarters and tried, unsuccessfully, to pay a bribe to free the group.

The occupants of the Secret Annex were sent to concentration camps; only Otto Frank survived. After he was liberated from Auschwitz by Soviet troops in January 1945, he returned to Amsterdam, where Miep Gies gave him a collection of notebooks and several hundred loose papers containing observations the teenage Anne Frank had penned during her time in hiding. Gies recovered the materials from the Secret Annex shortly after the Franks’ arrest and hid them in her office desk. She avoided reading the papers during the war out of respect for Anne’s privacy.

Otto Frank, who lived with the Gies family after the war, compiled his daughter’s writings into a manuscript that was first published in the Netherlands in 1947 under the title “Het Acheterhuis” (“Rear Annex”). Later published in English as “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl,” the book went on to sell tens of millions of copies worldwide. In 1987, Gies published a memoir, “Anne Frank Remembered,” in which she wrote: “I am not a hero. I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did and more–much more–during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the heart of those of us who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then.”


  • Jan 12 1846 – Mexican War: President James Polk dispatches General Zachary Taylor and 4,000 troops to the Texas Border as war with Mexico looms.
  • Jan 12 1879– British-Zulu War: Zululand Invaded » British troops under Lieutenant General Frederic Augustus invade from the southern African republic of Natal. In 1843, Britain succeeded the Boers as the rulers of Natal, which controlled Zululand, the neighboring kingdom of the Zulu people. Boers, also known as Afrikaners, were the descendants of the original Dutch settlers who came to South Africa in the 17th century. Zulus, a migrant people from the north, also came to southern Africa during the 17th century, settling around the Tugela River region.

In 1838, the Boers, migrating north to elude the new British dominions in the south, first came into armed conflict with the Zulus, who were under the rule of King Dingane at the time. The European migrants succeeded in overthrowing Dingane in 1840, replacing him with his son Mpande, who became a vassal of the new Boer republic of Natal. In 1843, the British took over Natal and Zululand. In 1872, King Mpande died and was succeeded by his son Cetshwayo, who was determined to resist European domination in his territory.

In December 1878, Cetshwayo rejected the British demand that he disband his troops, and in January British forces invaded Zululand to suppress Cetshwayo. The British suffered grave defeats at Isandlwana, where 1,300 British soldiers were killed or wounded, and at Hlobane Mountain, but on 29 MAR the tide turned in favor of the British at the Battle of Khambula. At Ulundi in July, Cetshwayo’s forces were utterly routed, and the Zulus were forced to surrender to the British. In 1887, faced with continuing Zulu rebellions, the British formally annexed Zululand, and in 1897 it became a part of Natal, which joined the Union of South Africa in 1910.

  • Jan 12 1919 – WWI: Leaders of the Big Four Nations Meet For The First Time in Paris » The day after British Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s arrival in Paris, he meets with representatives from the other Big Four nations—Prime Ministers Georges Clemenceau of France and Vittorio Orlando of Italy and President Woodrow Wilson of the United States—at the French Foreign Ministry on the Quai d’Orsay, for the first of what will be more than 100 meetings.

The Council of Four from left to right: David Lloyd George, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, Georges Clemenceau

and Woodrow Wilson in Versailles.

Victors of the Great War, the leaders of these four nations were determined to control the agenda of the conference that would decide its peace terms. There was no precedent for such a momentous peace conference; even the Congress of Vienna of 1815, which had preserved order in Europe for almost a century before collapsing in 1914, had been far smaller and less complicated than the gathering at Versailles.

As soon as Wilson arrived in Europe in mid-December (in the first-ever official visit to the continent by a U.S. president), Clemenceau and Lloyd George convinced him of the need for the Allies to establish their own position on the peace terms before beginning the general conference and sitting down with the enemy. In a break with traditional diplomacy, Germany was not invited to this preliminary round of talks. This made Wilson nervous, as he feared—understandably, as it turned out—that the Allies would end up setting the majority of the terms of the peace before the general conference even began, an eventuality that would surely frustrate and anger the Germans and would damage the ideal of a peace without victory that Wilson considered vital to a secure future.

The meetings that began 12 JAN also failed to include representatives from the smaller allies or any neutral countries, though at the wishes of Britain, Japan later joined the group, which became known as the Supreme Council. The Council met daily, sometimes two or three times a day, knowing that the eyes of the world were on them. Even after the general conference began on 18 JAN—a day chosen to rankle the Germans, as it was the anniversary of the coronation of Kaiser Wilhelm I as ruler of a new, united Germany in 1871—the smaller group continued to meet separately to hash out the crucial questions of the peace settlement.

  • Jan 12 1942 – WW2: Roosevelt Recreates the National War Labor Board » President Franklin D. Roosevelt reinstates Woodrow Wilson’s National War Labor Board (NWLB) in an attempt to forestall labor-management conflict during World War II.

Engaged in a two-front war, the United States was supplying not only its own military but those of the other Allies as well. Roosevelt wanted to prevent potential labor union strikes, which would slow industrial production and impede the war effort. The nation’s urgent and massive conversion to a war economy had catapulted the United States out of the Great Depression, but the dramatic increase in employment also threatened to put labor unions and industrial leaders at odds over working conditions and wages.

The evolution of the NWLB illustrated the complexity of developing labor policy in the rapidly changing early-war years. It was formed in 1940 as the National Defense Advisory Board; later it became the Labor Division of the Office of the Production of Management (OPM), which morphed into the National Defense Mediation Board (NDMB) until 1942 when Roosevelt renamed the unit the National War Labor Board. The NWLB was made up of political, business and labor leaders and was tasked with providing labor-policy recommendations. Although the NWLB was established to mediate between parties involved in industrial disputes, Roosevelt also gave the board power to intercede and impose settlements in order to preempt any pause in production. The following October, Roosevelt issued the Order Providing for the Stabilization of the National Economy, which expanded the NWLB’s control over wages and prices by stipulating that any adjustment of wages had to be cleared through it.

The Truman administration discontinued the National War Labor Board in 1946, giving labor-arbitration duties back to the National Labor Relations Board.

  • Jan 12 1943 – WW2: Soviet Forces Penetrate the Siege of Leningrad » Soviet troops create a breach in the German siege of Leningrad, which had lasted for a year and a half. The Soviet forces punched a hole in the siege, which ruptured the German encirclement and allowed for more supplies to come in along Lake Ladoga.

Upon invading the Soviet Union in June 1941, German troops made a beeline for Leningrad, the second-largest city in the USSR. In August, German forces, approaching from the west and south, surrounded the city and rendered the Leningrad-Moscow railway useless. A German offensive attempted to occupy the city but failed; in light of this, Hitler decided to impose a siege, allowing nothing to enter or leave the former capital of Old Russia. Hitler intended to wait the Soviets out, then raze the city to the ground and hand the territory over to Germany’s Finnish allies, who were advancing on the city from the north. (Finland would stop short of Leningrad, though, happy with regaining territory lost to the USSR in 1939.)

The siege began officially on September 8, 1941. The people of Leningrad began building antitank fortifications and succeeded in creating a stable defense of the city, but they were also cut off from all access to vital resources in the Soviet interior. In 1942, 650,000 Leningrad citizens died from starvation, disease, exposure, and injuries suffered from the siege and the continual German bombardment with artillery. Barges offered occasional relief in the summer and ice-borne sleds were able to do the same in the winter. A million sick, elderly, or especially young residents of Leningrad were slowly and stealthily evacuated, leaving about 2 million people to ration available food and use all open ground to plant vegetables.

A Soviet counteroffensive pushed the Germans westward on January 27, 1944, bringing the siege to an end. It had lasted for 872 days.

  • Jan 12 1954 – Cold War: Massive Retaliation Policy Announced » In a speech at a Council on Foreign Relations dinner in his honor, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announces that the United States will protect its allies through the “deterrent of massive retaliatory power.” The policy announcement was further evidence of the Eisenhower administration’s decision to rely heavily on the nation’s nuclear arsenal as the primary means of defense against communist aggression.

Dulles began his speech by examining communist strategy that, he concluded, had as its goal the “bankruptcy” of the United States through overextension of its military power. Both strategically and economically, the secretary explained, it was unwise to “permanently commit U.S. land forces to Asia,” to “support permanently other countries,” or to “become permanently committed to military expenditures so vast that they lead to ‘practical bankruptcy.’” Instead, he believed a new policy of “getting maximum protection at a bearable cost” should be developed. Although Dulles did not directly refer to nuclear weapons, it was clear that the new policy he was describing would depend upon the “massive retaliatory power” of such weapons to respond to future communist acts of war.

John Foster Dulles

The speech was a reflection of two of the main tenets of foreign policy under Eisenhower and Dulles. First was the belief, particularly on the part of Dulles, that America’s foreign policy toward the communist threat had been timidly reactive during the preceding Democratic administration of President Harry S. Truman. Dulles consistently reiterated the need for a more proactive and vigorous approach to rolling back the communist sphere of influence. Second was President Eisenhower’s belief that military and foreign assistance spending had to be controlled. Eisenhower was a fiscal conservative and believed that the U.S. economy and society could not long take the strain of overwhelming defense budgets.

A stronger reliance on nuclear weapons as the backbone of America’s defense answered both concerns–atomic weapons were far more effective in terms of threatening potential adversaries, and they were also, in the long run, much less expensive than the costs associated with a large standing army. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announces that the United States will protect its allies through the “deterrent of massive retaliatory power.” The policy announcement was further evidence of the Eisenhower administration’s decision to rely heavily on the nation’s nuclear arsenal as the primary means of defense against communist aggression.

  • Jan 12 1962 – Vietnam War: Operation Chopper » The first American combat mission in the war, takes place. Helicopters transported over 1,000 Army of the Republic of Vietnam paratroopers for an assault on a suspected Viet Cong (VC) stronghold 10 miles west of Saigon. The VC were surprised and soundly defeated, but they gained valuable combat experience they later used with great effect against American troops. The paratroopers also captured an underground radio transmitter. Casualties and losses: U.S. none – NLF 6. This operation heralded a new era of air mobility for the U.S. Army, which had been slowly growing as a concept since the Army formed twelve helicopter battalions in 1952 as a result of the Korean War. These new battalions eventually formed a sort of modern-day cavalry for the Army
  • Jan 12 1962 – Vietnam War: Operation Ranch Hand Initiated » The United States Air Force launches Operation Ranch Hand, a “modern technological area-denial technique” designed to expose the roads and trails used by the Viet Cong.

Flying C-123 Providers, U.S. personnel dumped an estimated 19 million gallons of defoliating herbicides over 10-20 percent of Vietnam and parts of Laos between 1962 and1971. Agent Orange–named for the color of its metal containers–was the most frequently used defoliating herbicide. The operation succeeded inn killing vegetation, but not in stopping the Viet Cong. The use of these agents was controversial, both during and after the war, because of the questions about long-term ecological impacts and the effect on humans who either handled or were sprayed by the chemicals.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Vietnam veterans began to cite the herbicides, especially Agent Orange, as the cause of health problems ranging from skin rashes to cancer to birth defects in their children. Similar problems, including an abnormally high incidence of miscarriages and congenital malformations, have been reported among the Vietnamese people who lived in the areas where the defoliating agents were used.

  • Jan 12 1966 – Vietnam War: Johnson Says U.S. Should Stay in Vietnam » Lyndon Johnson, in his State of the Union address, commits the United States to staying in Vietnam as long as aggression commands us to battle. Johnson justified his position on the basis of national security and the principles of democracy and national sovereignty. Citing communist China’s intention to dominate all of Asia, Johnson pledged renewed commitment to helping the South Vietnamese defeat North Vietnam in a war that had become increasingly controversial among Americans.

By 1965, the number of U.S. military advisors in Vietnam had increased to approximately 200,000 troops. In December, the draft quota doubled. Growing numbers of Americans protested the escalation of the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. In his speech, Johnson attempted to restore confidence in America’s word and in America’s protection [while] the American Nation is asked to sacrifice the blood of its children and the fruits of its labor for the love of freedom.

Seeking to appease domestic opponents of the war, Johnson vowed to limit the conflict. He assured the international community that the United States sought neither territory nor bases, economic domination nor military alliance in Vietnam. At the same time, he pledged to give our fighting men what they must have: every gun, and every dollar, and every decision–whatever the cost or whatever the challenge. Johnson’s speech was a wasted attempt to sway increasingly polarized public opinion in favor of the Vietnam War. By year’s end, Johnson increased American troop numbers in Vietnam to 400,000.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Day - Wikipedia

  • Jan 12 1971 – Vietnam War: “Harrisburg Six” Charged With Conspiracy » The Reverend Philip F. Berrigan, serving a six-year prison term on charges of destroying draft records, and five others are indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiring to kidnap presidential adviser Henry Kissinger and of plotting to blow up the heating tunnels of federal buildings in Washington. The “Harrisburg Six,” as they came to be known, denied the charges and denounced them as a government effort to destroy the peace movement.
  • Jan 12 1991 – Gulf War: An act of the U.S. Congress authorizes the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.


  • Jan 13 1776 – American Revolution: British Raid Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay » In the early morning hours British forces conduct a raid in an effort to steal a large quantity of sheep. But, upon landing on the island’s southern beaches, the British were ambushed by fifteen Minutemen from Rhode Island’s Second Company led by Captain Joseph Knight, who had been tipped off to the Brits’ plans and rowed across Narragansett Bay from Warwick Neck the previous morning.

A brief but deadly battle ensued before the British were forced to retreat. Three British marines were killed and seven injured during the ambush. Two Minutemen were wounded; one died and the other was taken prisoner. Afraid of further violence, residents abandoned the island between 1776 and 1777, and the island’s homes and windmill were burned.

Rhode Island’s Second Company continued to guard the area between Providence, Warwick Neck and Chopmist on Rhode Island for the next three years. Captain Knight rose to the rank of major in 1777, taking command of the Third Providence County Regiment. The Rhode Island General Assembly chose to end the Minutemen system in 1777 and the Second Company was reorganized as the Fifth Company of Scituate Militia. Major Knight and his regiment served the Patriot cause throughout the Rhode Island campaign of 1778. Knight received a further promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1778 and remained in the militia until his retirement in 1800, by which time he had served 34 years in the service of Rhode Island. During his tenure, Rhode Island had progressed from colony to independent state to member state of the federal union.

  • Jan 13 1815 – War of 1812: British troops capture Fort Peter in St. Marys, Georgia, the only battle of the war to take place in the state.
  • Jan 13 1842 – Afghanistan: Sole British Soldier Escapes Kabul » A British army doctor reaches the British sentry post at Jalalabad, Afghanistan, the lone survivor of a 16,000-strong Anglo-Indian expeditionary force that was massacred in its retreat from Kabul. He told of a terrible massacre in the Khyber Pass, in which the Afghans gave the defeated Anglo-Indian force and their camp followers no quarter.

In the 19th century, Britain, with a goal of protecting its Indian colonial holdings from Russia, tried to establish authority in neighboring Afghanistan by attempting to replace Emir Dost Mohammad with a former emir known to be sympathetic to the British. This blatant British interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs triggered the outbreak of the first Anglo-Afghan War in 1839.

Dost Mohammad surrendered to British forces in 1840 after the Anglo-Indian army had captured Kabul. However, after an Afghan revolt in Kabul the British had no choice but to withdraw. The withdrawal began on January 6, 1842, but bad weather delayed the army’s progress. The column was attacked by swarms of Afghans led by Mohammad’s son, and those who were not killed outright in the attack were later massacred by the Afghan soldiers. A total of 4,500 soldiers and 12,000 camp followers were killed. Only one man, Dr. William Bryden, escaped to recount the details of the military disaster. Brydon became widely, if inaccurately, known as being the only survivor of the entire army. In fact, he was not the only European to survive the retreat; about 115 British officers, soldiers, wives and children were captured or taken as hostages and survived to be subsequently released

In retaliation, another British force invaded Kabul in 1843, burning a portion of the city. In the same year, the war came to an end, and in 1857 Emir Dost Mohammad, who had been restored to power in 1843, signed an alliance with the British. In 1878, the Second Anglo-Afghan War began, which ended two years later with Britain winning control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs.

  • Jan 13 1847 – Mexican*American War: Treaty of Cahuenga Signed » The treaty ended the Mexican–American War in California. It was not a formal treaty between nations but an informal agreement between rival military forces in which the Californios gave up fighting. The treaty was drafted in English and Spanish by José Antonio Carrillo, approved by American Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Frémont and Mexican Governor Andrés Pico on January 13, 1847 at Campo de Cahuenga in what is now Universal City, California.

The treaty called for the Californios to give up their artillery, and provided that all prisoners from both sides be immediately freed. Those Californios who promised not to again take up arms during the war, and to obey the laws and regulations of the United States, were allowed to peaceably return to their homes and ranchos. They were to be allowed the same rights and privileges as were allowed to citizens of the United States, and were not to be compelled to take an oath of allegiance until a treaty of peace was signed between the United States and Mexico, and were given the privilege of leaving the country if they wished to do so

  • Jan 13 1893 – Kingdom of Hawaii: Bayonet Constitution Upheld » U.S. Marines land in Honolulu from the U.S.S. Boston to prevent the queen from abrogating the Bayonet Constitution. On July 6, 1887, King David Kalakaua had been forced to sign the law at gunpoint, and the document was nicknamed the “Bayonet Constitution.” The new constitution was written by a group of white businessmen and lawyers who wanted the kingdom to be part of the United States. This group, called the Hawaiian League, was supported by an armed militia called the Honolulu Rifles. Many members of the Hawaiian League were affiliated with Hawaii’s giant, lucrative sugar and pineapple plantations.

The new constitution reduced the power of the Hawaiian monarchy, placing most legal authority in the hands of the legislature. The constitution also changed voting rights in the kingdom. Only men of Hawaiian, American, and European ancestry who met certain financial requirements could vote. (This disenfranchised thousands of Asian voters, and opened voting to thousands of non-citizens.) King Kalakaua was the last reigning Hawaiian monarch—the last to wield independent political power. The monarchy was completely overthrown in 1893, the U.S. annexed the kingdom in 1898, and Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959.

  • Jan 13 1929 – Westward Expansion: Wyatt Earp Dies in Los Angeles » Nearly 50 years after the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt Earp dies quietly in Los Angeles at the age of 80.

The Earp brothers had long been competing with the Clanton-McClaury ranching families for political and economic control of Tombstone, Arizona, and the surrounding region. On October 26, 1881, the simmering tensions finally boiled over into violence, and Wyatt, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and his close friend, Doc Holliday, killed three men from the Clanton and McLaury clans in a 30-second shoot-out on a Tombstone street near the O.K. Corral. A subsequent hearing found that the Earps and Holliday had been acting in their capacity as law officers and deputies, and they were acquitted of any wrongdoing. However, not everyone was satisfied with the verdict, and the Earps found their popularity among the townspeople was on the wane. Worse, far from bringing an end the long-standing feud between the Earps and Clanton-McLaurys, the shoot-out sparked a series of vengeful attacks and counterattacks.

In late December 1881, the Clantons and McLaurys launched their vendetta with a shotgun ambush of Virgil Earp; he survived, but lost the use of his left arm. Three months later, Wyatt and Morgan were playing billiards when two shots were fired from an unknown source. Morgan was fatally wounded. As a U.S. deputy marshal, Wyatt had a legal right and obligation to bring Morgan’s killers to justice, but he quickly proved to be more interested in avenging his brother’s death than in enforcing the law. Three days after Morgan’s murder, Frank Stillwell, one of the suspects in the murder, was found dead in a Tucson, Arizona, rail yard. Wyatt and his close friend Doc Holliday were accused—accurately, as later accounts revealed—of murdering Stillwell. Wyatt refused to submit to arrest, and instead fled Arizona with Holliday and several other allies, pausing long enough to stop and kill a Mexican named Florentino Cruz, who he believed also had been involved in Morgan’s death.

In the years to come, Wyatt wandered throughout the West, speculating in gold mines in Idaho, running a saloon in San Francisco, and raising thoroughbred horses in San Diego. At the turn of the century, the footloose gunslinger joined the Alaskan gold rush, and he ran a saloon in Nome until 1901. After participating in the last of the great gold rushes in Nevada, Wyatt finally settled in Los Angeles, where he tried unsuccessfully to find someone to publicize his many western adventures. Wyatt’s famous role in the shootout at the O.K. Corral did attract the admiring attention of the city’s thriving new film industry. For several years, Wyatt became an unpaid technical consultant on Hollywood Westerns, drawing on his colorful past to tell flamboyant matinee idols like William Hart and Tom Mix how it had really been. When Wyatt died in 1929, Mix reportedly wept openly at his funeral.

Ironically, the wider fame that eluded Wyatt in life came soon after he died. A young journalist named Stuart Lake published Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall, a wildly fanciful biography that portrayed the gunman as a brave and virtuous instrument of frontier justice. Dozens of similarly laudatory books and movies followed, ensuring Wyatt Earp an enduring place in the popular American mythology of the Wild West.

  • Jan 13 1942 – WW2: Allies Promise Prosecution of War Criminals » Representatives of nine German-occupied countries meet in London to declare that all those found guilty of war crimes would be punished after the war ended. Among the signatories to the declaration were Polish Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski and French Gen. Charles de Gaulle. The core of the declaration was the promise of “the punishment, through the channels of organized justice, of those guilty of, or responsible for, these crimes, whether they have ordered them, perpetrated them, or participated in them.”

Knowledge of German atrocities occurring in Poland and Russia were reaching both the Allied governments and the exiles from the countries in which the butchering of innocents was taking place. News of Jews, political dissidents, and clergy being systematically murdered, tortured, or transported to labor camps as the Nazi ideology advanced along with Hitler’s armed forces increased the resolve and solidarity among the Allies to defeat the Axis.

  • Jan 13 1942 – WW2: Holocaust » The first of 10,000 Jews selected by the Jewish Council of the Lódz Ghetto report for labor. The governments-in-exile of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, and Yugoslavia condemn German atrocities against their citizens without specifically mentioning Jews. The British Foreign Office approves the declaration but doesn’t mention Jews.
  • Jan 13 1943 – Holocaust: Herzogenbusch Concentration Camp » The Main Camp started to function on January with the arrival of about 250 male prisoners (including Jews) from the Amersfoort camp. Because of its proximity to the municipality of Vught, the Dutch called it Vught. A second transport—some 2,000 prisoners from Amersfoort—arrived three days later. The same day, about 450 Jews arrived from Amsterdam (mainly “armament Jews”. Their former guards, all members of the Wachbatallion Nordwest, accompanied the Amersfoort prisoners. Most of the prisoners were in terrible shape.

The prisoners’ first task was to build the barracks, which was, given the shape they were in, a very strenuous job. Moreover, hardly any facilities were provided in the beginning. The food provided was poor, and drinkable water was rare. It is not surprising at all that by April 1943 over 200 prisoners had perished. In the end, the camp took up 300,000 square meters and consisted of 36 barracks for living, sleeping, and working. The complete construction of the site was financed from confiscated Jewish capital. The camp had a crematorium but not a gas chamber.

Vaught became known as one of the few concentration camps located outside the Reich territory. Apart from the control issue, this status had some other implications. The camp was made up of several largely independent sections for different kinds of prisoners: the “protective custody” camp, including the women’s concentration camp; the students’ camp; the hostage camp; and a Security Service camp. Most of these sections did not exist through the full period when Vaught was active. Actually, some of them operated only for a couple of months. In these six sections, an estimated 30,000 people were imprisoned.

  • Jan 13 1943 – WW2: Operation Little Saturn » The second stage of operations opened with an attack by four Russian armies of General Golikov’s Voronezh Front that encircled and destroyed the Hungarian Second Army near Svoboda on the Don. As a consequence the Hungarian Second Army, as most other Axis armies in the Army Group B, ceased to represent a meaningful fighting force (indeed the German Sixth Army, encircled in Stalingrad, was destroyed on February 2, 1943). An attack on the German 2nd Army further north threatened to bring about an encirclement; although the German 2nd Army managed to escape, it was forced to retreat and by 5 FEB troops of the Voronezh Front were approaching Kursk and Kharkov.

The Italian 8th Army’s Alpini Corps were at this point largely unaffected by the Soviet offensive on their right flank until the Soviets subsequently attacked and pushed back the remaining units of the German 24th Army Corps on the Alpini left flank and contemporarily attacked the Alpini themselves. The Alpini held the front, but within three days the Soviets advanced 200 kilometers (120 mi) to the left and right of the Alpini, who were thus encircled and forced to try to escape a siege (like the one of German sixth Army in Stalingrad). Although the Alpini corps was ordered to hold the front at all costs, preparations for a general retreat began on 15 JAN. On the evening of 17 JAN, the commanding officer of the corps General Gabriele Nasci finally ordered the full retreat. At this point the Julia and Cuneense divisions were already heavily decimated and only the Tridentina division was still capable of conducting effective combat operations (Battle of Nikolayevka, January 25-27).

By 1 FEB the Alpini reached the Kharkov area, where the Axis forces successfully organized a line of defense. But they did pay a high price in Russia. The 4 Alpine Division Cuneense was annihilated. Only about one tenth of the 3 Alpine Division Julia survived (approximately 1200 survivors of 15000 troops deployed) and only about one third of the 2 Alpine Division Tridentina survived (approximately 4250 survivors of 15000 troops deployed).

  • Jan 13 1950 – Cold War: Soviets Boycott United Nations Security Council » For the second time in a week, Jacob Malik, the Soviet representative to the United Nations, storms out of a meeting of the Security Council, this time in reaction to the defeat of his proposal to expel the Nationalist Chinese representative. At the same time, he announced the Soviet Union’s intention to boycott further Security Council meetings.

Several days before the 13 JAN meeting, Malik walked out to show his displeasure over the United Nations’ refusal to unseat the Nationalist Chinese delegation. The Soviet Union had recognized the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the true Chinese government, and wanted the PRC to replace the Nationalist Chinese delegation at the United Nations.

Malik returned on 13 JAN, however, to vote on the Soviet resolution to expel Nationalist China. Six countries–the United States, Nationalist China, Cuba, Ecuador, Cuba, and Egypt–voted against the resolution, and three–the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and India–voted in favor of it. Malik immediately left the meeting, declaring that the United States was “encouraging lawlessness” by refusing to recognize the “illegal presence” of the Nationalist Chinese representatives. He concluded that “even the most convinced reactionaries” had to recognize the justness of the Soviet resolution, and he vowed that the Soviet Union would not be bound by any decisions made by the Security Council if the Nationalist Chinese representative remained. Hoping to forestall any future Security Council action, Malik announced that the Soviet Union would no longer attend its meetings. The remaining members of the Security Council decided to carry on despite the Soviet boycott.

In late June 1950, it became apparent that the Soviet action had backfired when the issue of North Korea’s invasion of South Korea was brought before the Security Council. By 27 JUN, the Security Council voted to invoke military action by the United Nations for the first time in the organization’s history. The Soviets could have blocked the action in the Security Council, since the United States, Soviet Union, China, Britain, and France each had absolute veto power, but no Russian delegate was present. In just a short time, a multinational U.N. force arrived in South Korea and the grueling three-year Korean War was underway.

  • Jan 13 1962 – Vietnam War: First Operation Farm Gate Missions Flown » In the first Farm Gate combat missions, T-28 fighter-bombers are flown in support of a South Vietnamese outpost under Viet Cong attack.

By the end of the month, U.S. Air Force pilots had flown 229 Farm Gate sorties. Operation Farm Gate was initially designed to provide advisory support to assist the South Vietnamese Air Force in increasing its capability. The 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron arrived at Bien Hoa Airfield in November 1961 and began training South Vietnamese Air Force personnel with older, propeller-driven aircraft. In December, President John F. Kennedy expanded Farm Gate to include limited combat missions by the U.S. Air Force pilots in support of South Vietnamese ground forces.

By late 1962, communist activity and combat intensity had increased so much that President Kennedy ordered a further expansion of Farm Gate. In early 1963, additional aircraft arrived and new detachments were established at Pleiku and Soc Trang. In early 1964, Farm Gate was upgraded again with the arrival of more modern aircraft. In October 1965, another squadron of A-1E aircraft was established at Bien Hoa. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara approved the replacement of South Vietnamese markings on Farm Gate aircraft with regular U.S. Air Force markings. By this point in the war, the Farm Gate squadrons were flying 80 percent of all missions in support of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).

With the buildup of U.S. combat forces in South Vietnam and the increase in U.S. Air Force presence there, the role of the Farm Gate program gradually decreased in significance. The Farm Gate squadrons were moved to Thailand in 1967, and from there they launched missions against the North Vietnamese in Laos.

  • Jan 13 1968 – Vietnam War: U.S. reports shifting most air targets from North Vietnam to Laos. Specifically to the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the panhandle of southern Laos where the majority of supplies were moving from north to south


  • Jan 13 1972 – Vietnam War: Additional Troop Withdrawals » Nixon announces that 70,000 U.S. troops will leave South Vietnam over the next three months, reducing U.S. troop strength there by May 1 to 69,000 troops.

Since taking office, Nixon had withdrawn more than 400,000 American troops from Vietnam. With the reduction in total troop strength, U.S. combat deaths were down to less than 10 per week. However, Nixon still came under heavy criticism from those who charged that he was pulling out troops but, by turning to the use of air power instead of ground troops, was continuing the U.S. involvement in Vietnam rather than disengaging from the war. The last American troops would be withdrawn in March 1973 under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords.

  • Jan 13 1972 – Hawaii: An alert sent to cellphones in Hawaii falsely warned of a ballistic missile threat. Gov. David Ige said the mistake was caused by someone pushing “the wrong button.”
  • Jan 13 1972 – Middle East: U.S. and allied fighter planes bombed targets in southern Iraq to punish Saddam Hussein for his repeated violations of U.N. resolutions that ended the Persian Gulf War


  • Jan 14 1784 – Pre U.S. Revolutionary War: American Traitor Born » Benedict Arnold, the American general during the Revolutionary War who betrayed his country and became synonymous with the word “traitor,” was born this date. Arnold, who was raised in a respected family in Norwich, Connecticut, apprenticed with an apothecary and was a member of the militia during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He later became a successful trader and joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies in 1775.

During the war, Arnold proved himself to be a brave, skilled leader, helping Ethan Allen’s troops capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and then taking part in the unsuccessful attack on British Quebec later that year, which earned him a promotion to brigadier general. Arnold distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga, and gained the support of George Washington. However, Arnold had enemies within the military and in 1777, a group of lower-ranking men were promoted ahead of him. Over the next several years, Arnold married a second time and he and his wife led a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia, racking up substantial debt. Money problems and the resentment Arnold felt over not being promoted faster were factors in his decision to become a turncoat.

In 1780, Arnold was given command of West Point, the American fort on the Hudson River in New York (and future home of the United States Military Academy, established in 1802). Arnold contacted Sir Henry Clinton, head of the British forces, and proposed handing over West Point and its men. On September 21 of that year, Arnold met with British Major John Andre and made his traitorous pact, in which the American was to receive a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. However, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and killed. Arnold fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut. He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he’d been promised by the British. The former American hero and patriot died in London, in relative obscurity, on June 14, 1801.

  • Jan 14 1784 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Treaty of Paris Ends War » The Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris, ending the War for Independence. In the document, which was known as the Second Treaty of Paris because the Treaty of Paris was also the name of the agreement that had ended the Seven Years’ War in 1763, Britain officially agreed to recognize the independence of its 13 former colonies as the new United States of America.

In addition, the treaty settled the boundaries between the United States and what remained of British North America. U.S. fishermen won the right to fish in the Grand Banks, off the Newfoundland coast, and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Both sides agreed to ensure payment to creditors in the other nation of debts incurred during the war and to release all prisoners of war. The United States promised to return land confiscated during the war to its British owners, to stop any further confiscation of British property and to honor the property left by the British army on U.S. shores, including Negroes or slaves. Both countries assumed perpetual rights to access the Mississippi River.

Despite the agreement, many of these issues remained points of contention between the two nations in the post-war years. The British did not abandon their western forts as promised and attempts by British merchants to collect outstanding debts from Americans were unsuccessful as American merchants were unable to collect from their customers, many of whom were struggling farmers. In Massachusetts, where by 1786 the courts were clogged with foreclosure proceedings, farmers rose in a violent protest known as Shay’s Rebellion, which tested the ability of the new United States to maintain law and order within its borders and instigated serious reconsideration of the Articles of Confederation.

  • Jan 14 1860 – Civil War: House Committee of Thirty Three Submits Proposed Amendment » Unable to agree on anything else, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee of Thirty-Three submits a proposed constitutional amendment protecting slavery in all areas where it already existed. The proposed measure was not enough to stem the tide of seceding states.

After the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln as president in November 1860, the states of the South began to talk of secession. The Republican Party was committed to restricting slavery in the Western territories, and Southerners feared an eventual campaign to eradicate the institution entirely across the U.S. As the new administration prepared to take over, attempts were made by many politicians in Washington, D.C., to alleviate Southern fears. The House of Representatives appointed the Committee of Thirty-Three, consisting of one member from each state, to investigate avenues of compromise that would keep the South from seceding.

Most of the compromises involved the Republicans forfeiting their plan to keep slavery out of the Western territories. This was, however, the main reason for the existence of the party. As a result, many Northern congressmen would not agree to any such move. Finally, on January 14, committee chair Thomas Corwin of Ohio submitted a plan calling for an amendment to protect slavery, enforce the fugitive slave laws, and repeal state personal liberty laws. In the 1850s, the South was increasingly concerned with slaves escaping to the North; the personal liberty laws made it difficult to get slaves back, and this was a motivating factor behind secession.

South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama had already seceded by the time Corwin made his proposal. The plan died, and the nation continued on the road to war.

  • Jan 14 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Bayou Teche » Battle between Union gunboats and the Confederate gun-boat Cotton aided by on shore rebel batteries at Bayou Teche, Louisiana. The Cotton was one of those enormous Mississippi steamers, protected by cotton wherever possible, and clad in iron. Union General Weitzel had gone up the bayou to destroy the Cotton which he was eventually able to do with the assistance the Eighth Vermont and the First Maine artillery and riflemen in the ensuing 18 hour battle.
  • Jan 14 1864 – Civil War: Battle of Cosby Creek, Tennessee.
  • Jan 14 1864 – Civil War: Confederate President Jefferson Davis writes to General Joseph E. Johnson, observing that troops may need to be sent to Alabama or Mississippi.
  • Jan 14 1864 – Civil War: General Sherman begins his march to the South.
  • Jan 14 1911 – U.S. Navy: The USS Arkansas, the largest U.S. battleship, is launched from the yards of the New York Shipbuilding Company.

  • Jan 14 1915 – WWI: South African Troops Occupy Swakopmund in German Southwest Africa » As part of an attempt to display its loyalty to the British empire and, perhaps more importantly, enlarge its own sphere of influence on the African continent, South Africa sends troops to occupy Swakopmund, a seaside town in German-occupied Southwest Africa (modern-day Namibia).

When war broke out in 1914, South African Prime Minister Louis Botha immediately pledged full support for Britain, antagonizing a portion of South Africa’s ruling Afrikaner (or Boer) population, who were still resentful of their defeat, at the hands of the British, in the Boer War of 1899-1902.

That conflict had pitted the Boers, descendants of South Africa’s Dutch settlers who controlled two republics—the gold-rich Transvaal and the Orange Free State—against the colonial armies of Great Britain. A stiff Boer resistance, including an extensive campaign of guerrilla warfare, had ultimately been repressed by brutal methods—including concentration camps—introduced by the British commander in chief, Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener (who later became Britain’s minister of war). Under the terms of the Treaty of Vereeniging, which ended the Boer War in 1902, the Boer republics were granted eventual self-government as colonies of the British Empire. They received their own constitutions in 1907 and in 1910 the British Parliament’s South Africa Act established the Union of South Africa as a united self-governing dominion of the British Empire. Botha, the leader of the South African Party, became its first head of government.

In 1914, Botha and Minister of Defense Jan Smuts, both generals and former Boer commanders, were looking to extend the Union’s borders further on the continent. Invading German Southwest Africa would not only aid the British—it would also help to accomplish that goal. The plan angered some Afrikaners, who were resentful of their government’s support of Britain against Germany, which had been pro-Boer in their war against the British. Several major military leaders resigned over their opposition to the invasion of the German territory and open rebellion broke out in October 1914. It was quashed in December and the conquest of Southwest Africa, carried out by a South African Defense Force of nearly 50,000 men, was completed in only six months.

On July 9, 1915, Germans in Southwest Africa surrendered to South African forces there; 16 days later, South Africa annexed the territory. At the Versailles peace conference in 1919, Smuts and Botha argued successfully for a formal Union mandate over Southwest Africa, one of the many commissions granted at the conference to member states of the new League of Nations allowing them to establish their own governments in former German territories. In the years to come, South Africa did not easily relinquish its hold on the territory, not even in the wake of the Second World War, when the United Nations took over the mandates in Africa and gave all other territories their independence. Only in 1990 did South Africa finally welcome a new, independent Namibia as its neighbor.

  • Jan 14 1915 – WWI: The French abandon five miles of trenches to the Germans near Soissons.
  • Jan 14 1916 – WWI: British authorities seize German attaché Franz von Papen’s financial records confirming espionage activities in the U.S.
  • Jan 14 1920 – Germany: Berlin is placed under martial law as 40,000 radicals rush the Reichstag; 42 are dead and 105 are wounded.
  • Jan 14 1942 – WW2: The United States and Great Britain agree to have the British Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. Joint Chiefs work together, either through meetings or representatives, to advise the leaders of both nations on military policy during the war
  • Jan 14 1942 – WW2: Roosevelt Ushers In Japanese-American Internment » President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring aliens from World War II-enemy countries–Italy, Germany and Japan–to register with the United States Department of Justice. Registered persons were then issued a Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationality. A follow-up to the Alien Registration Act of 1940, Proclamation No. 2537 facilitated the beginning of full-scale internment of Japanese Americans the following month.

While most Americans expected the U.S. to enter the war, presumably in Europe or the Philippines, the nation was shocked to hear of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In the wake of the bombing, the West Coast appeared particularly vulnerable to another Japanese military offensive. A large population of Japanese Americans inhabited the western states and American military analysts feared some would conduct acts of sabotage on west-coast defense and agricultural industries.

Official relations between the governments of Japan and the United States had soured in the 1930s when Japan began its military conquest of Chinese territory. China, weakened by a civil war between nationalists and communists, represented an important strategic relationship for both the U.S. and Japan. Japan desperately needed China’s raw materials in order to continue its program of modernization. The U.S. needed a democratic Chinese government to counter both Japanese military expansion in the Pacific and the spread of communism in Asia. Liberal Japanese resented American anti-Japanese policies, particularly in California, where exclusionary laws were passed to prevent Japanese Americans from competing with U.S. citizens in the agricultural industry. In spite of these tensions, a 1941 federal report requested by Roosevelt indicated that more than 90 percent of Japanese Americans were considered loyal citizens. Nevertheless, under increasing pressure from agricultural associations, military advisors and influential California politicians, Roosevelt agreed to begin the necessary steps for possible internment of the Japanese-American population.

Japanese internment camp

Ostensibly issued in the interest of national security, Proclamation No. 2537 permitted the arrest, detention and internment of enemy aliens who violated restricted areas, such as ports, water treatment plants or even areas prone to brush fires, for the duration of the war. A month later, a reluctant but resigned Roosevelt signed the War Department’s blanket Executive Order 9066, which authorized the physical removal of all Japanese Americans into internment camps.

  • Jan 14 1943 – WW2: Operation Ke, the successful Japanese operation to evacuate their forces from Guadalcanal during the Guadalcanal campaign, begins.
  • Jan 14 1943 – WW2: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill begin the Casablanca Conference to discuss strategy and study the next phase of the war.

  • Jan 14 1943 – WW2: Italian occupation authorities refuse to deport Jews living in their territories in France.
  • Jan 14 1944 – WW2: Soviet army begins offensive at Oranienbaum/Wolchow begins. The 2nd Shock Army successfully attacked out of the bridgehead linking up with Soviet forces attacking from Leningrad which helped break the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Jan 14 1944 – WW2: Five U.S. Navy submarines sink 5 different Japanese vessels in and around the Pacific Ocean. USS Albacore (SS-218) sinks Japanese destroyer Sazanami 300 miles off Yap; USS Scamp (SS-277) sinks the tanker Nippon Maru off Sorol Island; USS Guardfish (SS-217) sinks tanker Kenyo Maru southeast of Palau; USS Seawolf (SS-197) sinks tanker Yamazuru Maru off Okinawa, and USS Swordfish (SS-193) sinks transport Yamakuni Maru off Hachijo Jima.
  • Jan 14 1944 – WW2: Braunschweig, Germany Air Raid (14-15 Jan) » 458 British bombers carry out the first major raid on Braunschweig. German night fighters intercept them when they cross the German border on the inbound flight and continue to attack them until they cross the coast of the Netherlands on their way home. 38 Lancaster bombers (7.6 percent of the force) are lost. Most of the bombs land in small towns and open countryside, and Braunschweig itself suffers only 10 houses destroyed and 14 people killed.
  • Jan 14 1945 – WW2: In Greece, Communists and the British agree to a cease-fire in the struggle to control Athens (and with it Greece).
  • Jan 14 1950 – Cold War: The first prototype of the MiG-17 makes its maiden flight.
  • Jan 14 1950 – Cold War: The United States recalls all consular officials from China after the seizure of the American consul general in Peking.
  • Jan 14 1964 – Vietnam War: Westmoreland Appointed as Harkins’ Deputy » Lt. Gen. William Westmoreland is appointed deputy to Gen. Paul Harkins, chief of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). It was generally accepted that Westmoreland would soon replace Harkins, whose insistently optimistic views on the progress of the war had increasingly come under criticism.

On June 20, 1964, Harkins departed and Westmoreland did assume command of MACV. His initial task was to provide military advice and assistance to the government of South Vietnam. However, with the commitment of U.S. ground troops, General Westmoreland assumed the added responsibility of commanding America’s armed forces in combat in Vietnam.

One of the Vietnam War’s most controversial figures, Westmoreland received many honors (including being named Time Man of the Year in 1965) when the fighting was going well, but many Americans blamed him for the problems in Vietnam when the war turned sour. Having provided continually optimistic reports about the war, Westmoreland came under particularly heavy criticism in 1968, when the communists launched the massive surprise Tet Offensive on 30 JAN. In July 1968, Westmoreland was appointed Chief of Staff of the Army, and General Creighton W. Abrams Jr. replaced him as commander of MACV.

  • Jan 14 1967 – U.S. Army: New York Times reports Army is conducting secret germ warfare experiments.
  • Jan 14 1968 – Vietnam War: Operation Niagara Launched » U.S. joint-service Operation Niagara is launched to support the U.S. Marine base at Khe Sanh.

The Khe Sanh base was the westernmost anchor of a series of combat bases and strongholds that stretched from the Cua Viet River on the coast of the South China Sea westward along Route 9 to the Laotian border. Intelligence sources revealed that the North Vietnamese Army was beginning to build up its forces in the area surrounding Khe Sanh. Operation Niagara was a joint U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps air campaign launched in support of the marines manning the base. Using sensors installed along the nearby DMZ and reconnaissance flights to pinpoint targets, 24,000 tactical fighter-bomber sorties and 2,700 B-52 strategic bomber sorties were flown between the start of the operation and March 31, 1968, when it was terminated. This airpower played a major role in the successful defense of Khe Sanh when it came under attack on January 21 and was subsequently besieged for 66 days until finally broken on 7 APR.

  • Jan 14 1969 – U.S. Navy: Explosion Rocks USS Enterprise » An explosion aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise killed 27 people in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A rocket accidentally detonated, destroying 15 planes and injuring more than 300 people.

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) burning, stern view

The Enterprise was the first-ever nuclear-powered aircraft carrier when it was launched in 1960. It has eight nuclear reactors, six more than all subsequent nuclear carriers. The massive ship is over 1,100 feet long and carries 4,600 crew members.

At 8:19 a.m. on January 14, a MK-32 Zuni rocket that was loaded on an F-4 Phantom jet overheated due to the exhaust from another vehicle. The rocket blew up, setting off a chain reaction of explosions. Fires broke out across the deck of the ship, and when jet fuel flowed into the carrier’s interior, other fires were sparked. Many of the Enterprise’s fire-protection features failed to work properly, but the crew worked heroically and tirelessly to extinguish the fire. In all, 27 sailors lost their lives and another 314 were seriously injured. Although 15 aircraft (out of the 32 stationed on the Enterprise at the time) were destroyed by the explosions and fire, the Enterprise itself was never threatened.

The USS Enterprise was repaired over several months at Pearl Harbor and returned to action later in the year.

  • Jan 14 1980 – Cold War: United Nations Vote “Deplores” Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan » In a crushing diplomatic rebuke to the Soviet Union, the U.N. General Assembly votes 104 to 18 to “deplore” the Russian intervention in Afghanistan. The resolution also requested the “immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan.” The immense margin of victory for the resolution indicated the worldwide disapproval for the December 1979 Soviet invasion and installation of a pro-communist puppet regime in Afghanistan.

The General Assembly’s resolution had no direct impact on the Soviet Union’s actions. Russia had earlier vetoed a similar resolution introduced in the Security Council. However, the size of the General Assembly vote and the nations that voted for the resolution indicated that Cold War world politics might be changing. Non-aligned nations (nations in the United Nations that claimed “non-alignment” with either the West or the communist bloc) and other Third World nations voted 78 to 9 in favor of the resolution (28 others abstained or were absent).

Even the fiery rhetoric of the Cuban delegate (Cuba presided over the non-aligned nations) failed to sway many voters to defeat the proposal. “We know,” he declared, “the historic role of the Soviet Union and of United States imperialism.” Several representatives from Asian, African, and Latin American nations—nations that had traditionally maintained a more or less neutral attitude toward the East-West conflict—did condemn the Soviet action in Afghanistan.

The resolution was a victory for U.S. diplomats, who had been pushing for a statement from the international organization denouncing the Soviet invasion. The successful and overwhelming passage of the resolution indicated that Cold War alignments were perhaps undergoing an important and far-reaching alteration. Many of the so-called non-aligned nations and Third World countries were appalled by the Soviet action and drew closer to the United States. With the Cold War itself destined to last another decade, U.S. relations with such nations would take on more significance than ever before.

  • Jan 14 2012 – Terrorism: Suicide Bomber Kills 53 and Injures 130 in Basra » The bomb exploded among crowds of Shia pilgrims at a security checkpoint in the city. The pilgrims were passing through the checkpoint on their way to a major Shia mosque in the Az Zubayr district, about 12 miles south-west of Basra. There were conflicting reports about the cause of the explosion, with some saying that a suicide bomber dressed as a police officer managed to reach the checkpoint after showing a fake ID card. Other reports blamed a powerful roadside bomb that had been planted close to the road. The attack occurred on the last of the 40 days of Arbain, where hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims visit the city of Kerbala and other holy sites. Security forces sealed off the main hospital after the attack, fearing further violence.

Following the attack, the Iraqi military “intensified” its security around the country. 30,000 Iraqi soldiers were deployed in Karbala to protect pilgrims. Officials believe at least 16 million pilgrims had passed through the city of Karbala in theprevious two weeks. Other attacks took place throughout Iraq that day. Roadside bombings in Mosul, Baqubah and Al-Karmah left one policeman dead and at least nine people injured. A car bombing targeting a police patrol in Tikrit killed a bystander and injured two officers.


  • Jan 15 1777 – U.S. Revolutionary War: New Connecticut (Vermont) Declares Independence » Having recognized the need for their territory to assert its independence from both Britain and New York and remove themselves from the war they were waging against each other, a convention of future Vermonters assembles in Westminster and declares independence from the crown of Great Britain and the colony of New York. The convention’s delegates included Vermont’s future governor, Thomas Chittenden, and Ira Allen, who would become known as the “father” of the University of Vermont.

Thomas Chittenden, and Ira Allen

Delegates first named the independent state New Connecticut and, in June 1777, finally settled on the name Vermont, an imperfect translation of the French for green mountain. One month later, on July 2, 1777, a convention of 72 delegates met in Windsor, Vermont, to adopt the state’s new—and revolutionary—constitution; it was formally adopted on July 8, 1777. Vermont’s constitution was not only the first written national constitution drafted in North America, but also the first to prohibit slavery and to give all adult males, not just property owners, the right to vote. Thomas Chittenden became Vermont’s first governor in 1778.

Throughout the 1780s, Congress refused to acknowledge that Vermont was a separate state independent of New York. In response, frustrated Vermonters went so far as to inquire if the British would readmit their territory to the empire as part of Canada. Vermont remained an independent nation even two years after George Washington became president of the United States of America under the new U.S. Constitution. However, as the politics of slavery threatened to divide the U.S., Vermont was finally admitted as the new nation’s 14th state in 1791, serving as a free counterbalance to slaveholding Kentucky, which joined the Union in 1792.

  • Jan 15 1780 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture » The former Court established this date by resolution of the Congress of the Confederation was the first federal court in the United States of America. The idea for the Court originated from requests sent by General George Washington during the American Revolution to President of Congress John Hancock, but initially resulted in only the establishment of committees within Congress to exercise such jurisdiction. Upon learning of this deviation from his earlier requests, Washington sent another request to Hancock again asking that Congress establish the Court, but Congress did not fulfill his request until almost four years later. The Court operated from shortly after its founding in 1780 through its final cases in 1787. It officially ceased to exist following ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789 that transferred federal judicial power to the newly created U.S. Supreme Court and such other inferior (i.e., lower) federal courts as Congress may establish
  • Jan 15 1815 – War of 1812: The American frigate USS President commanded by Commodore Stephen Decatur tried to break out of New York Harbor but was intercepted by a British squadron of four warships and forced to surrender. The battle took place several weeks after the Treaty of Ghent, but there is no evidence that the combatants were aware that the war had officially ended.

USS President (right foreground) engages HMS Endymion (left foreground) with her stern chaser

  • Jan 15 1865 – Civil War: Fort Fisher North Carolina falls to the Union, thus cutting off the last major seaport of the Confederacy. Casualties and losses: US 1,341 – CSA ~1,500.
  • Jan 15 1915 – WWI: As part of an attempt to display its loyalty to the British empire and, perhaps more importantly, enlarge its own sphere of influence on the African continent, South Africa sends troops to occupy Swakopmund, a seaside town in German-occupied Southwest Africa (modern-day Namibia).
  • Jan 15 1919 – WWI: Rebel Leaders Are Murdered in Failed Coup in Berlin » A coup launched in Berlin by a group of radical socialist revolutionaries is brutally suppressed by right-wing paramilitary units from January 10 to January 15, 1919; the group’s leaders, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, are murdered.

Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

Germany’s long, ultimately losing struggle on the battlefield—culminating in the signing of the armistice in November 1918—and dismal conditions on the home front, including severe food shortages, caused many German socialists to turn away from the Social Democratic Party, which had supported the war effort in 1914 in the hopes that reform would follow a German victory. Although still the largest party in the Reichstag government, the Social Democrats saw their membership fall from over a million in 1914 to a quarter of that number in 1917.

By that time, a minority had broken off from the party and formed their own, the Independent Socialist Party. Luxemburg and Liebknecht led the Spartacists, the Marxist, revolutionary core group of the new party, which held firmly to the belief that German participation in a war was only justified in the case of a purely defensive conflict. In 1916, Luxemburg—under the nom de guerre Junius—had published a treatise in which she denied that the Great War was defensive for Germany, claiming instead that it was driven by imperialist, capitalist interests. Social democracy had failed the German working class, Luxemburg claimed, and the only solution was international class revolution, such as that envisioned by Vladimir Lenin and begun by the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917.

On January 6, 1919, just weeks before the peace conference that would determine Germany’s future opened in Paris, the Spartacists gathered in Berlin to begin a revolution. Luxemburg urged her followers not to attempt a coup before they mustered sufficient popular support, but she was unable to restrain them. The rebels launched their attacks on 10 JAN. In the conflict that ensued, both Luxemburg and Liebknecht were captured and killed. Her body, thrown into a canal, was not retrieved until five months later.

  • Jan 15 1929 – Post WWI: The U.S. Senate Ratifies The Kellogg-Briand Anti-War Pact » This Pact, also called Pact of Paris, (Aug. 27, 1928), was a multilateral agreement attempting to eliminate war as an instrument of national policy. It was the most grandiose of a series of peacekeeping efforts after World War I. Hoping to tie the United States into a system of protective alliances directed against a possible resurgence of German aggression, the French foreign minister, Aristide Briand, first suggested a bilateral nonaggression pact in the spring of 1927. The U.S. secretary of state, Frank B. Kellogg, prodded by the American “outlawry of war” movement and supported by those who were disappointed at the failure of the United States to join the League of Nations, proposed that the pact be converted into a general multilateral treaty, which the French accepted.

Kellogg-Briand Pact

As a result of Kellogg’s proposal, nearly all the nations of the world eventually subscribed to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, agreeing to renounce war as an instrument of national policy and to settle all international disputes by peaceful means. The signatories allowed themselves a great variety of qualifications and interpretations, however, so that the pact would not prohibit, for example, wars of self-defense or certain military obligations arising from the League Covenant, the Monroe Doctrine, or postwar treaties of alliance. These conditions, in addition to the treaty’s failure to establish a means of enforcement, rendered the agreement completely ineffective.

  • Jan 15 1936 –WWII Era: Second London Naval Treaty » Japan quits all naval disarmament talks after being denied equality during the Second London Naval Disarmament Conference. The conference was intended to limit the growth in naval armaments until its expiration in 1942. The absence of Japan (a very significant naval power) prevented agreement on a ceiling on the numbers of warships. The treaty did limit the maximum size of the signatories’ ships, and the maximum caliber of the guns which they could carry. First of all, capital ships were restricted to a 35,000 long tons (35,562 t) standard displacement and 14-inch (356 mm) guns. However, a so-called “escalator clause” was included at the urging of American negotiators in case any of the countries that had signed the Washington Naval Treaty refused to adhere to this new limit. This provision allowed the signatory countries of the Second London Treaty—France, the United Kingdom and the United States—to raise the limit from 14-inch guns to 16-inch if Japan or Italy still refused to sign after 1 April 1937. Also submarines could not be larger than 2,000 tons or have any gun armament of greater than 5.1-inches, light cruisers were restricted to 8,000 tons and 6.1-inch (155 mm) or smaller guns and aircraft carriers were restricted to 23,000 tons. Article 25 however gave the right to depart limitations if any other country authorized, constructed or acquired a capital ship, an aircraft carrier, or a submarine exceeding treaty limits, if such a departure would be necessary for the national security. For this reason, in 1938 the treaty parties agreed on a new displacement limit of 45,000 tons for battleships. The conference started on 9 December 1935 and a treaty was signed by the participating nations on 25 March 1936. In London. This London Naval Treaty effectively ended on 1 September 1939 with the beginning of World War II.
  • Jan 15 1940 – WW2 Era: U-Boot Torpedoes Neutral Dutch Ship » At 07.05 hours the merchant ship Arendskerk was spotted by U-44 about 100 miles southwest of Quessant which then tried to escape when she sighted the U-boat. The Germans fired seven shots across her bow to stop the vessel. When the papers were checked it became clear that she carried contraband. She was carrying 4000 tons of general cargo, including barb wire, galvanised sheets, nails, iron, brass tubes and mail. The crew was ordered to abandon ship and at 10.10 hours, the U-boat fired one torpedo that struck in the engine room and broke the ship in two. The after part sank, but the forepart remained afloat and had to be sunk 30 minutes later by 18 rounds from the deck gun. The survivors were picked up by the Italian steam merchant Fedora, transferred to the Dutch motor merchant Poelau Bras and landed at Lisbon.
  • Jan 15 1943 – DOD: The world’s largest office building, The Pentagon, is dedicated in Arlington, Virginia.
  • Jan 15 1944 – WW2: The U.S. Fifth Army successfully breaks the German Winter Line in Italy with the capture of Mount Trocchio.

  • Jan 15 1945 – WW2: Red Army frees Crakow-Plaszow concentration camp
  • Jan 15 1945 – WW2: The Manhattan Project’s G-5 Group, headed by Physicist’s Donald Kerst and Seth Neddermeyer, take their first betatron pictures of a nuclear implosion at the Los Alamos Laboratory
  • Jan 15 1949 – Chinese Civil War: Mao’s Red army conquers Tianjin in northern China after a 27-hour battle with Nationalist forces.
  • Jan 15 1951 – Holocaust: Witch of Buchenwald Sentenced » Ilse Koch, wife of the commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp, is sentenced to life imprisonment in a court in West Germany. Ilse Koch was nicknamed the “Witch of Buchenwald” for her extraordinary sadism. Born in Dresden, Germany, Ilse, a librarian, married SS. Col. Karl Koch in 1936. Colonel Koch, a man with his own reputation for sadism, was the commandant of the Sashsenhausen concentration camp, two miles north of Berlin. He was transferred after three years to Buchenwald concentration camp, 4.5 miles northwest of Weimar; the Buchenwald concentration camp held a total of 20,000 slave laborers during the war.

Ilse Koch.png

Ilse, a large woman with red hair, was given free reign in the camp, whipping prisoners with her riding crop as she rode by on her horse, forcing prisoners to have sex with her, and, most horrifying, collecting lampshades, book covers, and gloves made from the skin of tattooed camp prisoners. A German inmate gave the following testimony during the Nuremberg war trials: “All prisoners with tattooing on them were to report to the dispensary… After the prisoners had been examined, the ones with the best and most artistic specimens were killed by injections. The corpses were then turned over to the pathological department, where the desired pieces of tattooed skin were detached from the bodies and treated further.”

Karl Koch was arrested, ironically enough, by his SS superiors for “having gone too far.” It seems he had a penchant for stealing even the belongings of wealthy, well-placed Germans. He was tried and hanged in 1944. Ilse Koch was tried for crimes against humanity at Nuremberg and sentenced to life in prison, but the American military governor of the occupied zone subsequently reduced her sentence to four years. His reason, “lack of evidence,” caused a Senate investigation back home. She was released but arrested again, tried by a West German court, and sentenced to life. She committed suicide in 1967 by hanging herself with a bedsheet.

  • Jan 15 1953 – Cold War: Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee prior to taking office as the new secretary of state, John Foster Dulles argues that U.S. foreign policy must strive for the “liberation of captive peoples” living under communist rule. Though Dulles called for a more vigorous anticommunist policy, he remained vague about exactly how the “liberation” would take place.
  • Jan 15 1955 – Post WWII: USSR ends state of war with German Federal Republic.
  • Jan 15 1962 – Vietnam War: Kennedy Says U.S. Troops Are Not Fighting » Asked at a news conference if U.S. troops are fighting in Vietnam, President Kennedy answers “No.” He was technically correct, but U.S. soldiers were serving as combat advisers with the South Vietnamese army, and U.S. pilots were flying missions with the South Vietnamese Air Force. While acting in this advisory capacity, some soldiers invariably got wounded, and press correspondents based in Saigon were beginning to see casualties from the “support” missions and ask questions.
  • Jan 15 1967 – Vietnam War: Some 462 Yale faculty members call for an end to the bombing in North Vietnam.
  • Jan 15 1970 – Middle East: Qaddafi Becomes Premier of Libya » Muammar al-Qaddafi, the young Libyan army captain who deposed King Idris in September 1969, is proclaimed premier of Libya by the so-called General People’s Congress.

Born in a tent in the Libyan Desert, Qaddafi was the son of a Bedouin farmer. He attended university and the Libyan military academy and steadily rose in the ranks of the Libyan army. An ardent Arab nationalist, he plotted with a group of fellow officers to overthrow the Libyan monarchy, which they accomplished on September 1, 1969.

Blending Islamic orthodoxy, revolutionary socialism, and Arab nationalism, Qaddafi established a fervently anti-Western dictatorship. In 1970, he removed U.S. and British military bases and expelled Italian and Jewish Libyans. In 1973, he nationalized foreign-owned oil fields. He reinstated traditional Islamic laws, such as prohibition of alcoholic beverages and gambling, but liberated women and launched social programs that improved the standard of living in Libya. As part of his stated ambition to unite the Arab world, he sought closer relations with his Arab neighbors, especially Egypt. However, when Egypt and then other Arab nations began a peace process with Israel, Libya was increasingly isolated.

Qaddafi’s government financed a wide variety of terrorist groups worldwide, from Palestinian guerrillas and Philippine Muslim rebels to the Irish Republican Army. During the 1980s, the West blamed him for numerous terrorist attacks in Europe, and in April 1986 U.S. war planes bombed Tripoli in retaliation for a bombing of a West German dance hall. Qaddafi was reportedly injured and his infant daughter killed in the U.S. attack.

In the late 1990s, Qaddafi sought to lead Libya out of its long international isolation by turning over to the West two suspects wanted for the 1988 explosion of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. In response, Europe lifted sanctions against Libya. After years of rejection in the Arab world, Qaddafi also sought to forge stronger relations with non-Islamic African nations such as South Africa, remodeling himself as an elder African statesman.

Qaddafi surprised many around the world when he became one of the first Muslim heads of state to denounce al-Qaida after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The next year, he offered a public apology for the Lockerbie bombing, later agreeing to pay nearly $3 billion in compensation to the victims’ families. In 2003, he gained favor with the administration of George W. Bush when he announced the existence of a program to build weapons of mass destruction in Libya and that he would allow an international agency to inspect and dismantle them. Though some in the U.S. government pointed to this as a direct and positive consequence of the ongoing war in Iraq, others pointed out that Qaddafi had essentially been making the same offer since 1999, but had been ignored. In 2004, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Libya, one of the first western heads of state to do so in recent memory; he praised Libya during the visit as a strong ally in the international war on terror.

In February 2011, as unrest spread through much of the Arab world, massive political protests against the Qaddafi regime sparked a civil war between revolutionaries and loyalists. In March, an international coalition began conducting airstrikes against Qaddafi strongholds under the auspices of a U.N. Security Council resolution. On 20 OCT, Libya’s interim government announced that Qaddafi had died after being captured near his hometown of Sirte.

  • Jan 15 1973 – Vietnam War: Nixon Halts Military Action Against North Vietnam » Citing “progress” in the Paris peace negotiations between National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam, President Richard Nixon halts the most concentrated bombing of the war, as well as mining, shelling, and all other offensive action against North Vietnam. The cessation of direct attacks against North Vietnam did not extend to South Vietnam, where the fighting continued as both sides jockeyed for control of territory before the anticipated cease-fire.

On 13 DEC, North Vietnamese negotiators had walked out of secret talks with Kissinger. President 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. This operation was the most concentrated air offensive of the war.

During the 11 days of the attack, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties dropped roughly 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong. On December 28, after 11 days of intensive bombing, the North Vietnamese agreed to return to the talks. When the negotiators met again in early January, they quickly worked out a settlement. The Paris Peace Accords were signed on January 23 and a cease-fire went into effect five days later.

  • Jan 15 1991 – Middle East: Desert Shield Becomes Desert Storm » Diplomacy fails when the United Nations deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from occupied Kuwait expires. Thus ends Desert Shield and begins Desert Storm in which about 697,000 U.S. troops took part with 299 losing their lives.

[Source:,, & | December 2020 ++]