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December 11th ~

1816 – Indiana was admitted to the Union as the 19th state. Indiana is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Since its founding as a territory, settlement patterns in Indiana have reflected regional cultural segmentation present in the Eastern United States; the state’s northernmost tier was settled primarily by people from New England and New York, Central Indiana by migrants from the Mid-Atlantic states and from adjacent Ohio, and Southern Indiana by settlers from the Southern states, particularly Kentucky and Tennessee.

1862 – The Union Army of the Potomac occupies Fredericksburg, Virginia, as General Ambrose Burnside continues to execute his plan to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Unfortunately for the Union, the occupation did not happen until three weeks after Burnside’s army had arrived at Falmouth, just across the river from Fredericksburg. Due to a logistical error, pontoon bridges had not been available so the army could not cross; the delay allowed Confederate General Robert E. Lee ample time to post his Army of Northern Virginia along Marye’s Heights above Fredericksburg. Burnside replaced General George McClellan as head of the Army of the Potomac in early November. He devised a plan to move his army quickly down the Rappahannock River, cross the river, and race Lee’s army south to Richmond. Everything went according to plan as the Yankees sped south from Warrenton, Virginia. Burnside surprised Lee with his swiftness–the leading Union corps covered 40 miles in two days. The entire army was at Falmouth by November 19. Although ready to cross the Rappahannock, the army did not begin receiving the pontoon bridges until the end of the month due to mistakes made by the engineering corps.

The delay allowed Lee to move his troops into position on the opposite side of the river. President Lincoln visited his army at the end of November, and, realizing that the element of surprise was lost, characterized Burnside’s plan as “somewhat risky.” On December 11, Burnside’s engineers finally began to assemble the bridges. Confederate snipers in Fredericksburg picked away at the builders, so Yankee artillery began a barrage that reduced to rubble many of the buildings along the river. Three regiments ran the sharpshooters out of the town, and the bridge was completed soon after. By evening on the 11th, the Union army was crossing the Rappahannock. By the next day, the entire army was on the other side and Burnside planned the actual attack. The Battle of Fredericksburg, which took place on December 13, was an enormous defeat for the Army of the Potomac. Ten percent of Burnside’s soldiers were casualties. Lee lost less than 5,000 men while Burnside lost 12,600.

1863 – Union gunboats Restless, Bloomer and Caroline entered St. Andrew’s Bay, Fla., and began bombardment of both Confederate Quarters and Saltworks.

1864 – Commander Preble, commanding the Naval Brigade fighting ashore with the forces of Major General Foster up the Broad River, South Carolina, reported to Rear Admiral Dahlgren concerning a unique “explosive ball” used by Confederate forces against his skirmishers: ”It is a conical ball in shape, like an ordinary rifle bullet. The pointed end is charged with a fulminate. The base of the ball separately from the conical end, and has a leaden standard or plunger. The explosion of the charge drives the base up, so as to flatten a thin disk of metal between it and the ball, the leaden plunger is driven against the fulminate, and it explodes the ball. . . . It seems to me that use of such a missile is an unnecessary addition to the barbarities of war.”

1872 – Already appearing as a well-known figure of the Wild West in popular dime novels, Buffalo Bill Cody makes his first stage appearance on this day, in a Chicago-based production of The Scouts of the Prairie. Unlike many of his imitators in Wild West shows and movies, William Frederick Cody actually played an important role in the western settlement that he later romanticized and celebrated. Born in Iowa in 1846, Cody joined the western messenger service of Majors and Russell as a rider while still in his teens. He later rode for the famous Pony Express, during which time he completed the third longest emergency ride in the brief history of that company. During the Civil War, Cody joined forces with a variety of irregular militia groups supporting the North. In 1864, he enlisted in the Union army as a private and served as a cavalry teamster until 1865. Cody began to earn his famous nickname in 1867, when he signed on to provide buffalo meat for the workers of the Eastern Division of the Union Pacific Railroad construction project. His reputation for skilled marksmanship and experience as a rapid-delivery messenger attracted the attention of U.S. Army Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan, who gave Cody an unusual four-year position as a scout-a testament to Cody’s extraordinary frontier skills. Cody’s work as a scout in the western Indian wars laid the foundation for his later fame. From 1868 to 1872, he fought in 16 battles with Indians, participating in a celebrated victory over the Cheyenne in 1869. One impressed general praised Cody’s “extraordinarily good services as trailer and fighter . . . his marksmanship being very conspicuous.”

Later, Cody again gained national attention by serving as a hunting guide for famous Europeans and Americans eager to experience a bit of the “Wild West” before it disappeared. As luck would have it, one of Cody’s customers was Edward Judson, a successful writer who penned popular dime novels under the name Ned Buntline. Impressed by his young guide’s calm competence and stories of dramatic fights with Indians, Buntline made Cody the hero of a highly imaginative Wild West novel published in 1869. When a stage version of the novel debuted in Chicago as The Scouts of the Prairie, Buntline convinced Cody to abandon his real-life western adventures to play a highly exaggerated version of himself in the play. Once he had a taste of the performing life, Cody never looked back. Though he continued to spend time scouting or guiding hunt trips in the West, Cody remained on the Chicago stage for the next 11 years. Buffalo Bill Cody was the hero of more than 1,700 variant issues of dime novels, and his star shone even more brightly when his world-famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show debuted in 1883. The show was still touring when Buffalo Bill Cody died in 1917.
 

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Discussion Starter #242
December 11th ~ { continued... }

1901 – Marconi sent his 1st transatlantic radio signal from Cornwall to Newfoundland.

1928 – Police in Buenos Aires thwarted an attempt on the life of President-elect Herbert Hoover.

1930 – This day brought another ominous sign that the nation was sliding towards a prolonged and difficult economic slump, as New York’s branch of Bank of the United States announced that it had gone belly-up. Up until its downfall, the Bank held the savings of some 400,000 depositors, including a number of immigrants; its subsequent demise imperiled the finances of roughly one-third of New York and stood as the nation’s single worst bank failure.

1937 – Italy withdrew from the League of Nations.

1939 – Actress Marlene Dietrich records her hit song “Falling in Love Again.” Dietrich also became a U.S. citizen in 1939. Born in Berlin, Dietrich came to the United States in 1930 to make movies after considerable success on the German screen. She allegedly refused several offers to return to Germany to star in Nazi films. She became a U.S. citizen in 1939 and worked tirelessly during and after World War II to sell war bonds and entertain troops. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom and named Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.

1941 – Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. Shortly afterward, the US Congress issues a declaration of war against Germany and Italy.

1941 – A Japanese invasion fleet attacked Wake Island, which was defended by 439 US marines, 75 sailors and 6 soldiers. The defenders sank 4 Japanese ships, damaged 8 and destroyed a submarine.

1941 – Guam was occupied by Japanese troops.

1941 – Buick lowered its prices to reflect the absence of spare tires or inner tubes from its new cars. Widespread shortages caused by World War II had led to many quotas and laws designed to conserve America’s resources. One of these laws prohibited spare tires on new cars. Rubber, produced overseas, had become almost impossible to get. People didn’t mind the spare-tire law too much, though. They were too busy dealing with quotas for gasoline, meat, butter, shoes, and other essentials.

1941 – Adolf Hitler declares war on the United States, bringing America, which had been neutral, into the European conflict. The bombing of Pearl Harbor surprised even Germany. Although Hitler had made an oral agreement with his Axis partner Japan that Germany would join a war against the United States, he was uncertain as to how the war would be engaged. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor answered that question.

On December 8, Japanese Ambassador Oshima went to German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop to nail the Germans down on a formal declaration of war against America. Von Ribbentrop stalled for time; he knew that Germany was under no obligation to do this under the terms of the Tripartite Pact, which promised help if Japan was attacked, but not if Japan was the aggressor. Von Ribbentrop feared that the addition of another antagonist, the United States, would overwhelm the German war effort. But Hitler thought otherwise. He was convinced that the United States would soon beat him to the punch and declare war on Germany. The U.S. Navy was already attacking German U-boats, and Hitler despised Roosevelt for his repeated verbal attacks against his Nazi ideology. He also believed that Japan was much stronger than it was, that once it had defeated the United States, it would turn and help Germany defeat Russia.

So at 3:30 p.m. (Berlin time) on December 11, the German charge d’affaires in Washington handed American Secretary of State Cordell Hull a copy of the declaration of war. That very same day, Hitler addressed the Reichstag to defend the declaration. The failure of the New Deal, argued Hitler, was the real cause of the war, as President Roosevelt, supported by plutocrats and Jews, attempted to cover up for the collapse of his economic agenda. “First he incites war, then falsifies the causes, then odiously wraps himself in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy and slowly but surely leads mankind to war,” declared Hitler-and the Reichstag leaped to their feet in thunderous applause.

1942 – Japanese Admiral Tanaka’s “Tokyo Express” again attempts the delivery of supplies to the Japanese forces on Guadalcanal. The cargo is dropped over board and only 1/4 of it reaches the troops on shore. Machine gun fire from US PT boats sinks much of it. One of the Japanese destroyers is sunk by the defenders as well.

1943 – The US 5th Army continues its Italian offensive without decisive gains and its momentum is wearing down.

1943 – U.S. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, demanded that Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria withdraw from the war.

1944 – Forces of the US 7th Army enter Haguenau in Alsace and advances southeast of Rohrbach. There are German counterattacks against the US 3rd Army bridgeheads over the Saar River which are repulsed.

1944 – Over 2000 USAAF bombers of the 8th and 15th Air Forces attack various rail targets in Germany as well as an oil plant and ordnance depots near Vienna (annexed Austria).

1945 – B-29 Superfortress shattered all records by crossing the U.S. in five hours and 27 minutes.
 

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December 11th ~ { continued... }

1950 – The 1st Marine Division completed its breakout from the Chosin/Changjin Reservoir entrapment and began its march to join the rest of X Corps at Hungnam.

1950 – U.S. Navy Air Task Group 1, operating from the USS Valley Forge, flew its first combat mission of the Korean War, striking coastal rail lines and bridges in northeast Korea. This was the first of the Air Task Groups formed when Carrier Air Groups proved ineffective combat organizations when flown from Essex -class carriers.

1954 – First supercarrier of 59,630 tons, USS Forrestal (CVA-59), launched at Newport News, VA.

1961 – The ferry-carrier USS Core arrives in Saigon with the first US helicopter units, 33 Vertol H-21C Shawnees and 400 air and ground crewmen to operate and maintain them. Their assignment will be airlifting South Vietnamese Army troops into combat.

1969 – Paratroopers from the U.S. Third Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, depart from Vietnam. The unit was sent to Vietnam in February 1968 as an emergency measure in response to the Communist 1968 Tet Offensive. Landing at Chu Lai, the unit was attached to the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) and given the mission of protecting the ancient capital of Hue in the region just south of the Demilitarized Zone. In September 1968, the Third Brigade was moved south to counter enemy forces around Saigon.

It was assigned to the Capital Military Assistance Command and ordered to secure the western approaches to the city to prevent ground and rocket attacks against the Saigon-Tan Son Nhut airport complex. When the situation in South Vietnam stabilized, the Third Brigade was withdrawn as part of the second increment of U.S. troop withdrawals called for under President Nixon’s Vietnamization program. The brigade returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where it rejoined the 82nd Airborne Division as part of the United States Army strategic reserve.

1972 – Challenger, the Lunar Lander for Apollo 17, touched down on the Moon’s surface. It was the last time that men visited the Moon. The last two men to walk on the surface of the moon were Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan. Cernan and Schmitt conducted the longest lunar exploration of the Apollo program (75 hours), driving the lunar rover about 36 kilometers (22 miles) in all, ranging as far as 7.37 kilometers (4.5 miles) from the lunar module Challenger and collecting some 243 pounds of soil and rock samples.

1978 – Massive demonstrations took place in Tehran against the Shah. In Isfahan, Iran, 40 people were killed and 60 wounded during riots against the Shah.
 

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1985 – Hugh Scrutton is killed in his computer store in Sacramento, California, by a mail package that explodes in his hands. By the time he was finally apprehended, the “Unabomber”-so named because his earliest attacks were directed at universities-had been responsible for the deaths of 3 people and the injuries of 23 others.

The Unabomber detonated his first bomb on May 26, 1978, at Northwestern University. Over the next 15 years, his sporadic attacks kept his identity a mystery to FBI investigators, but in the mid-1990s, he appeared to want more publicity. He increased the frequency of his attacks and sent a letter to The New York Times claiming responsibility on behalf of “FC,” which was later revealed to be the “Freedom Club.” In late 1994, the Unabomber became very active; Thomas Mosser was killed in his home in New Jersey in December 1994 by a mail bomb, and four months later, another bomb killed Gilbert Murray, a lobbyist for the timber industry. During this time, the Unabomber also began to send notes to the press declaring the “principles” behind his terrorist attacks. When the Unabomber threatened to blow up an airplane flying out of Los Angeles International Airport in 1995, the FBI made his capture a top priority.

A sketch of the suspect, who appeared menacing in a hood and sunglasses, was circulated in newspapers and on television. The Unabomber claimed that he would stop the bomb spree if the national press published his manifesto. Eventually, The New York Times and The Washington Post agreed to publish an excerpt, which contained mostly rants against technology and environmental destruction. When he read it, David Kaczynski realized that it bore a distinct similarity to writings by his brother, Ted, a former university professor who had dropped out of society and was living in a remote shack in Montana. David Kaczynski contacted the FBI with his suspicions on the condition-later broken-that the FBI would not seek the death penalty against his brother.

After two months of surveillance, the FBI finally arrested Ted Kaczynski in 1996. Inside his cabin were bombs and writings that tied him to the crimes. In January 1998, while awaiting trial, Kaczynski tried to commit suicide in his cell. Still, he resisted his lawyer’s attempts to plead insanity and instead pleaded guilty. Although prosecutors originally sought the death penalty, Kaczynski eventually accepted a life sentence with no right to appeal.

1987 – NATO allies urged the U.S. Senate to ratify the intermediate-range missile treaty quickly and underscored their support by pledging to let the Soviet Union inspect missile bases in five European countries.

1990 – Hundreds of foreigners flew out of Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, ending four months of captivity following Iraq’s invasion of its oil-rich neighbor.

1994 – A Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Tokyo was bombed. A Japanese passenger was killed and 10 people were injured. Later US prosecutors accused Ramzi Ahmed Yousef of placing the bomb and of masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Yousef denied placing the airline bomb because he was imprisoned at the time.

1997 – Russia announced that it would terminate a recently negotiated 10-year contract with the US on uranium sales, and planned to sell its uranium on the open market. The decision could bring Russia an extra $500 million.

1998 – The Mars Climate Orbiter blasted off on a 9 ½ month journey to the Red Planet. The probe disappeared in September 1999, apparently destroyed because scientists had failed to convert English measures to metric values.

2000 – The space shuttle Endeavour landed in Florida following its mission to install solar panels on the int’l. space station.

2000 – A US Marine Osprey aircraft crashed in North Carolina and all 4 people aboard were killed. The fleet was grounded the next day.

2000 – In Iraq Saddam Hussein sent troops into the northern Kurdish zone. Kurds and other non-Arab Iraqis were being displaced further north.

2001 – In the first criminal indictment stemming from Sept. 11, a US grand jury in Virginia charged Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, with conspiring to murder thousands in the suicide hijackings.

2001 – US bombers continued to hit sites at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, as a deadline for al Qaeda surrender passed.

2001 – Pakistani officials said 2 nuclear scientists, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Abdul Majid, talked with Osama bin Laden last August in Kabul about nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

2002 – The United States let an intercepted shipment of North Korean missiles proceed to the Persian Gulf country of Yemen a day after the vessel was detained.

2002 – A congressional report found that intelligence agencies that were supposed to protect Americans from the Sept. 11 hijackers failed to do so because they were poorly organized, poorly equipped and slow to pursue clues that might have prevented the attacks.

2002 – A US Black Hawk helicopter on routine training crashed and killed five American soldiers in the hills of central Honduras.

2002 – Yemen said Scud missiles found hidden aboard a North Korean ship seized by Spain and the United States were destined for its army and demanded them back. Pres. Bush ordered them released. Bush later created a coalition of members to block arms shipments “of proliferation concern.”

2003 – Pentagon officials said efforts to create a new Iraqi army to help take over the country’s security have suffered a setback with the resignations of a third of the soldiers trained.

2003 – Uzbekistan said it will let the US station troops to help fight terrorism, but would not permit permanent deployment.

2006 – The Space Shuttle Discovery successfully docks with the International Space Station with the crew to spend a week rewiring the space station.

2011 – Former leader of Panama Manuel Noriega is extradited home from France and the United States where he has been serving jail sentences for the past 22 years to serve more time for his role in the murder of political opponents.

2012 – Barack Obama, the President of the United States, recognises Syria’s rebel opposition as the “legitimate representatives” of the Syrian people.

2014 – The Obama Administration orders the closing of the last US-run detention facility in Afghanistan at Bagram Airfield.
 

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December 12th ~

1745 – John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was born. He became a diplomat and governor of NY, served as the first Supreme Court Head Justice, and negotiated treaties for the United States.

1753 – George Washington, the adjutant of Virginia, delivered an ultimatum to the French forces at Fort Le Boeuf, south of Lake Erie, reiterating Britain’s claim to the entire Ohio river valley. Washington (22) was sent by Gov. Robert Dinwiddie to warn the French soldiers that they were trespassing on English territory.

1770 – The British soldiers responsible for the “Boston Massacre” were acquitted on murder charges.

1776 – The Armor branch traces its origin to the Cavalry. A regiment of cavalry was authorized to be raised by the Continental Congress Resolve. Although mounted units were raised at various times after the Revolution, the first in continuous service was the United States Regiment of Dragoons, organized in 1833. The Tank Service was formed on March 5, 1918. The Armored Force was formed on July 10, 1940. Armor became a permanent branch of the Army in 1950.

1781 – At the Second Battle of Ushant, a British fleet, led by HMS Victory, defeats a French fleet. A French convoy sailed from Brest on 10 December with reinforcements and stores for the East and West Indies, protected by a fleet of 19 ships of the line commanded by Comte de Guichen. The British squadron of 13 ships of the line, commanded by Rear Admiral Richard Kempenfelt in HMS Victory, which had been ordered to sea to intercept the expected convoy, sighted the French on 12 December, discovering only then that the protective escort had been strengthened. De Guichen’s fleet was downwind of the convoy, which let the British ships sweep down to capture 15 ships carrying troops and supplies, before the French ships could intervene. Kempenfelt’s force was not strong enough to attack the 19 French escorts, but fortunately for Britain, the convoy, which had deliberately risked setting sail in the North Atlantic storm season to avoid British forces, was dispersed in a gale shortly afterwards, and most of the ships forced to return to port.

Only two of the ships of the line intended for the West Indies arrived with a few transport vessels in time for the Battle of the Saintes in April. When news of the battle reached Britain, the Opposition in Parliament questioned the sending of such a small force against the convoy, and forced an official inquiry into the administration of the Royal Navy. This was the first of a succession of Opposition challenges which would ultimately bring about the fall of the government of Lord North on 20 March 1782 and pave the way for the Peace of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War.

1787 – Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, and the Great Lakes region. The state borders Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and Ontario, Canada to the northwest, New York to the north and New Jersey to the east. The Appalachian Mountains run through the middle of the state.

1799 – Two days before his death, George Washington composed his last letter, to Alexander Hamilton, his aide-de-camp during the Revolution and later his Secretary of the Treasury. In the letter he urged Hamilton to work for the establishment of a national military academy. Washington wrote that letter at the end of a long, cold day of snow, sleet and rain that he had spent out-of-doors. He remained outside for more than five hours, according to his secretary Tobias Lear, did not change out of his wet clothes or dry his hair when he returned home.

1800 – Washington DC was established as the capital of the United States.

1806 – Confederate General Stand Watie is born near Rome, Georgia. Watie, a Cherokee Indian, survived the tribe’s Trail of Tears in the 1830s and became the only Native American to achieve the rank of general during the Civil War.
 

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1862 – U.S.S. Cairo, Lieutenant Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, on an expedition up the Yazoo River to destroy torpedoes (mines), was sunk by one of the infernal machines” and Selfridge reported: “The Cairo sunk in about twelve minutes after the explosion, going totally out of sight, except the top of her chimneys, in 6 fathoms of water.” Cairo was the first of some 40 Union vessels to be torpedoed during the war. The torpedo which destroyed Cairo was a large demijohn fired with a friction primer by a trigger line from torpedo pits on the river bank. Rear Admiral D. D. Porter later observed: “It was an accident liable to occur to any gallant officer whose zeal carries him to the post of danger and who is loath to let others do what he thinks he ought to do himself.” Despite the loss of Cairo, Porter wrote: “I gave Captain Walke orders to hold Yazoo River at all hazards . . . We may lose three or four vessels, but will succeed in carrying out the plan for the capture of Vicksburg.”

1862 – Naval force under Commander Murray including U.S.S. Delaware, Shawsheen, Lockwood, and Seymour with armed transports in the Neuse River supported an Army expedition to destroy railroad bridges and track near Goldsboro, North Carolina. Low water prevented the gunboats from advancing more than about 15 miles up the river.

1863 – Orders were given in Richmond that no more supplies from the Union should be received by Federal prisoners.

1876 – First examination for Revenue Cutter cadets held in Washington, D.C.

1901 – Italian physicist and radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi succeeds in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving detractors who told him that the curvature of the earth would limit transmission to 200 miles or less. The message–simply the Morse-code signal for the letter “s”–traveled more than 2,000 miles from Poldhu in Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada. Born in Bologna, Italy, in 1874 to an Italian father and an Irish mother, Marconi studied physics and became interested in the transmission of radio waves after learning of the experiments of the German physicist Heinrich Hertz. He began his own experiments in Bologna beginning in 1894 and soon succeeded in sending a radio signal over a distance of 1.5 miles. Receiving little encouragement for his experiments in Italy, he went to England in 1896. He formed a wireless telegraph company and soon was sending transmissions from distances farther than 10 miles. In 1899, he succeeded in sending a transmission across the English Channel. That year, he also equipped two U.S. ships to report to New York newspapers on the progress of the America’s Cup yacht race. That successful endeavor aroused widespread interest in Marconi and his wireless company.

Marconi’s greatest achievement came on December 12, 1901, when he received a message sent from England at St. John’s, Newfoundland. The transatlantic transmission won him worldwide fame. Ironically, detractors of the project were correct when they declared that radio waves would not follow the curvature of the earth, as Marconi believed. In fact, Marconi’s transatlantic radio signal had been headed into space when it was reflected off the ionosphere and bounced back down toward Canada. Much remained to be learned about the laws of the radio wave and the role of the atmosphere in radio transmissions, and Marconi would continue to play a leading role in radio discoveries and innovations during the next three decades.

In 1909, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics with the German radio innovator Ferdinand Braun. After successfully sending radio transmissions from points as far away as England and Australia, Marconi turned his energy to experimenting with shorter, more powerful radio waves. He died in 1937, and on the day of his funeral all British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) stations were silent for two minutes in tribute to his contributions to the development of radio.

1930 – Last Allied troops left the Saar of Germany.

1931 – Under pressure from the Communists in Canton, Chiang Kai-shek resigned as President of the Nanking Government but remained the head of the Nationalist government that held nominal rule over most of China.

1936 – Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek declared war on Japan.
 

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1937 – During the battle for Nanking in the Sino-Japanese War, the U.S. gunboat Panay is attacked and sunk by Japanese warplanes in Chinese waters. The American vessel, neutral in the Chinese-Japanese conflict, was escorting U.S. evacuees and three Standard Oil barges away from Nanking, the war-torn Chinese capital on the Yangtze River. After the Panay was sunk, the Japanese fighters machine-gunned lifeboats and survivors huddling on the shore of the Yangtze. Two U.S. sailors and a civilian passenger were killed and 11 personnel seriously wounded, setting off a major crisis in U.S.-Japanese relations.

Although the Panay’s position had been reported to the Japanese as required, the neutral vessel was clearly marked, and the day was sunny and clear, the Japanese maintained that the attack was unintentional, and they agreed to pay $2 million in reparations. Two neutral British vessels were also attacked by the Japanese in the final days of the battle for Nanking.

1941 – Naval Air Transport Service is established.

1941 – Kimura Detachment and 2500 men of the Japanese 16th Infantry Division, land in south Luzon at Legaspi. Air attacks continue against any remaining American aircraft.

1941 – U.S. Navy takes control of the largest and most luxurious ocean liner on the seas at that time, France’s Normandie, while it is docked at New York City. Shortly thereafter, the conversion for U.S. wartime use began. The Normandie was unique in many ways. It was the first ship built, in 1931, in accordance with the guidelines laid down in the 1929 Convention for Safety of Life at Sea. It was also huge, measuring 1,029 feet long and 119 feet wide. It displaced 85,000 tons of water. It offered passengers seven accommodation classes (including the new “tourist” class, as opposed to the old “third” class, commonly known as “steerage”) and 1,975 berths. It took a crew of more than 1,300 to work her. But despite its size, it was also fast: capable of 32.1 knots. The liner was launched in 1932 and made its first transatlantic crossing in 1935. In 1937, it was reconfigured with four-bladed propellers, which meant it could now cross the Atlantic in less than four days.

When France surrendered to the Germans in June 1940, and the puppet Vichy regime was installed, the Normandie was in dock at New York City. Immediately placed in “protective custody” by the Navy, it was clear that the U.S. government was not about to let a ship of such size and speed fall into the hands of the Germans, which it certainly would upon returning to France.

In November 1941, Time magazine ran an article stating that in the event of the United States’ involvement in the war, the Navy would seize the liner altogether and turn it into an aircraft carrier. It also elaborated on how the design of the ship made such a conversion relatively simple. When the Navy did take control of the ship, shortly after Pearl Harbor, it began the conversion of the liner-but to a troop ship, renamed the USS Lafayette (after the French general who aided the American Colonies in their original quest for independence). The Lafayette never served its new purpose.

On February 9, 1942, the ship caught fire and capsized. Sabotage was originally suspected, but the likely cause was sparks from a welder’s torch. Although the ship was finally righted, the massive salvage operation cost $3,750,000–and the fire damage made any hope of employing the vessel impossible. It was scrapped–literally chopped up for scrap metal–in 1946.

1941 – USMC F4F “Wildcats” sink the first 4 major Japanese ships off Wake Island.

1943 – The US 5th Army attacks continue. The US 36th Division of the 2nd Corps attacks Monte Lungo, near its former positions on Monte Maggiore.

1944 – Forces of the US 1st Army battle towards Duren, through the Hurtgen Forest. The US 3rd Army establishes another crossing of the German frontier east of the Saar. To the south, in Alsace, the US 7th Army is fighting in Seltz.

1944 – Bomber Command Lancaster bombers, escorted by Mustang fighters, attack Witten, the only city in the Ruhr industrial area that has not been bombed yet.

1946 – A United Nations committee voted to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to be the site of U.N. headquarters.

1950 – The 1st Marine Division closed into Hungnam having cut its way through six Chinese divisions, killing approximately 20,000 of the enemy, on the way to the sea from Chosin/Changjin Reservoir. Legend has it that the division commander, Major General O. P. Smith, supposedly characterized the operation with, “Retreat? Hell, we’re just attacking in a different direction!”

1950 – U.N. General Assembly Resolution 483(V) established the United Nations Service Medal.
 

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1951 – First flight of helicopter with gas-turbine engine at Windsor Locks, CT, demonstrates adaptability of this engine to helicopters.

1953 – Chuck Yeager reached Mach 2.43 in Bell X-1A rocket plane.

1955 – The US consulate in Hanoi is closed.

1967 – The U.S. ended the airlift of 6,500 men in Vietnam.

1968 – The Paris Peace talks, which opened on May 10, continue to be plagued by procedural questions that impeded any meaningful progress. South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky refused to consent to any permanent seating plan that would place the National Liberation Front (NLF) on an equal footing with Saigon. North Vietnam and the NLF likewise balked at any arrangement that would effectively recognize the Saigon as the legitimate government of South Vietnam. Prolonged discussions over the shape of the negotiating table was finally resolved by the placement of two square tables separated by a round table. Chief U.S. negotiator Averell Harriman proposed this arrangement so that NLF representatives could join the North Vietnamese team without having to be acknowledged by Saigon’s delegates; similarly, South Vietnamese negotiators could sit with their American allies without having to be acknowledged by the North Vietnamese and the NLF representatives. Such seemingly insignificant matters became fodder for many arguments between the delegations at the negotiations.

1969 – The Philippine Civic Action Group, a 1,350-man contingent from the Army of the Philippines, departs South Vietnam. The contingent was part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam. The effort was also known as the “many flags” program. The Philippine Civic Action Group entered Vietnam in September 1966, setting up operations in a base camp in Tay Ninh Province northwest of Saigon. The force included an engineer construction battalion, medical and rural community development teams, a security battalion, a field artillery battery, and a logistics and headquarters element. In agreeing to commit troops, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos was partially motivated by the desire for financial aid.

In return for the military assistance, the United States not only agreed to pay for the deployment and maintenance of the Philippine force, but also granted Marcos several types of military aid, much of it for use in the Philippines rather than in South Vietnam. Ultimately, Johnson’s Free World Military Forces program failed. The Philippines was one of only five nations that responded to Johnson’s repeated plea for military support and troops in South Vietnam.

1975 – Sara Jane Moore pleaded guilty to a charge of trying to kill President Ford in San Francisco the previous September.

1979 – In response to the Iran hostage crisis, the Carter administration ordered the removal of most Iranian diplomats in the United States.

1983 – A truck bomb exploded at the US Embassy in Kuwait.

1985 – 248 American soldiers and eight crew members were killed when an Arrow Air charter crashed after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland.

1987 – During an official visit to Denmark, U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz issues a statement calling on America’s NATO allies in western Europe to sharply increase their defense spending. Shultz bluntly informed his Danish hosts that it was “important for all of us to increase our contributions to NATO to insure that we do everything we can to preserve our values.” The call for funds was in direct response to the INF Treaty that had recently been signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
 

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December 12th~ { continued... }

1992 – First US combat action, 2 Marine Cobra gunships destroy an armed Somali vehicle. 2 Somalis KIA.

1993 – Two US MP’s are WIA by Somali gunman in Mogadishu. Navy SEAL’s kill a Somali gunman.

1995 – By only three votes, the US Senate killed a constitutional amendment giving Congress authority to outlaw flag burning and other forms of desecration against Old Glory.

1996 – In Iraq Uday Hussein, eldest son of Sadam, was wounded in a car ambush by assailants with machine guns and grenades. The Mohammed Madhlum Dulaimi Group claimed responsibility.

1997 – Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the international terrorist known as “Carlos the Jackal,” went on trial in Paris on charges of killing two French investigators and a Lebanese national. He was convicted and began serving a life prison sentence.

2000 – The US Supreme Court decided 5-4 to block all ballot recounts and effectively secured the presidency for Gov. George W. Bush. A later review of the ballots suggested that George W. bush would have won anyway. The high court agreed, 7-to-2, to reverse the Florida court’s order of a state recount and voted 5-to-4 that there was no acceptable procedure by which a timely new recount could take place.

2000 – The Marine Corps grounded all eight of its high-tech V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft following a fiery crash in North Carolina that killed four Marines.

2001 – In Los Angeles police arrested Irving David Rubin (56) and Earl Leslie Krugel (59), leaders of the Jewish Defense League, for plotting to blow up a local mosque.

2001 – Gerardo Hernandez, the leader of a Cuban spy ring, received a life sentence in federal court in Miami for his role in the infiltration of U.S. military bases and the deaths of four Cuban-Americans.

2001 – David Criswell, director of the Univ. of Houston Space Systems Operations, proposed a “Lunar Solar Power System” to collect solar energy on the moon, convert it to microwaves, and beam it to Earth for electrical power.

2001 – A $200 million US Air Force B-1 bomber crashed into the India Ocean near Diego Garcia Island. The 4 crewmen were rescued.

2001 – In Afghanistan al Qaeda fighters at Tora Bora were given a new ultimatum to surrender and turn over their leaders.

2001 – Lt. Gen. Abdullah Hendropriyono, the Indonesia intelligence chief, said that a network of al Qaeda training camps were located on Sulawesi Island.

2002 – North Korea said it was immediately activating the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon that was shut down in 1994, due to suspension of fuel deliveries.

2003 – President Bush signed legislation calling for economic penalties against Syria for not doing enough to fight terrorism.

2003 – An investigation by the Defense Contract Audit Agency of the U.S. Defense Department finds evidence indicating that the Halliburton Company subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root overcharged the government as much as $61 million for fuel delivered to Iraq.
 

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December 13th ~

1577 – English seaman Francis Drake sets out from Plymouth, England, with five ships and 164 men on a mission to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the New World and explore the Pacific Ocean. Three years later, Drake’s return to Plymouth marked the first circumnavigation of the earth by a British explorer. After crossing the Atlantic, Drake abandoned two of his ships in South America and then sailed into the Straits of Magellan with the remaining three. A series of devastating storms besieged his expedition in the treacherous straits, wrecking one ship and forcing another to return to England. Only The Golden Hind reached the Pacific Ocean, but Drake continued undaunted up the western coast of South America, raiding Spanish settlements and capturing a rich Spanish treasure ship.

Drake then continued up the western coast of North America, searching for a possible northeast passage back to the Atlantic. Reaching as far north as present-day Washington before turning back, Drake paused near San Francisco Bay in June 1579 to repair his ship and prepare for a journey across the Pacific. Calling the land “Nova Albion,” Drake claimed the territory for Queen Elizabeth I. In July, the expedition set off across the Pacific, visiting several islands before rounding Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and returning to the Atlantic Ocean.

On September 26, 1580, The Golden Hind returned to Plymouth, England, bearing treasure, spice, and valuable information about the world’s great oceans. Drake was the first captain to sail his own ship all the way around the world–the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan had sailed three-fourths of the way around the globe earlier in the century but had been killed in the Philippines, leaving the Basque navigator Juan Sebastiýn de Elcano to complete the journey. In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I knighted Drake, the son of a tenant farmer, during a visit to his ship. The most renowned of the Elizabethan seamen, Sir Francis Drake later played a crucial role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

1621 – Under the care of Robert Cushman, the first American furs to be exported from the continent leave for England aboard the Fortune. One month before, Cushman and the Fortune had arrived at Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts with 35 settlers, the first new colonists since the settlement was founded in 1620. During Cushman’s return to England, the Fortune was captured by the French, and its valuable cargo of furs was taken. Cushman was detained on the Ile d’Dieu before being returned to England. Within a few years of their first fur export, the Plymouth colonists, unable to make their living through cod fishing as they had originally planned, begin concentrating almost entirely on the fur trade. The colonists developed an economic system in which their chief crop, Indian corn, was traded with Native Americans to the north for highly valued beaver skins, which were in turn profitably sold in England to pay the Plymouth Colony’s debts and buy necessary supplies.

1636 – The National Guard was officially created in 1916; however, the heritage of the National Guard traces back to English common law and the citizen militias of the British North American colonies. The National Guard is older than the nation itself, with over three and a half centuries of service. The modern-day 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Engineer Battalion and 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts Army National Guard are directly descended from Massachusetts Bay Colony regiments formed over 370 years ago. In 1636, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had ordered that the Colony’s scattered militia companies be organized into North, South and East Regiments–with a goal of increasing the militias’ accountability to the colonial government, efficacy, and responsiveness in conflicts with indigenous Pequot Indians. Under this act, white males between the ages of 16 and 60 were obliged to possess arms and to play a part in the defense of their communities by serving in nightly guard details and participating in weekly drills. After the United States came into existence, state militias would develop out of this tradition.

1774 – Some 400 colonials attacked Ft. William & Mary, NH.

1775 – Continental Congress authorizes the building of 13 frigates, mounting 24 and 36 guns.

1814 – General Andrew Jackson announced martial law in New Orleans, Louisiana, as British troops disembark at Lake Borne, 40 miles east of the city.

1816 – Patent for a dry dock was issued to John Adamson in Boston.

1862 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia repulses a series of attacks by General Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg, Virginia. The defeat was one of the most decisive loses for the Union army, and it dealt a serious blow to Northern morale in the winter of 1862-63. Burnside assumed command of the Army of the Potomac in November after George McClellan failed to pursue Lee into Virginia following the Battle of Antietam on September 17. Burnside immediately crafted a plan to move against the Confederate capital at Richmond. This called for a rapid march by the Federals from their positions in northern Virginia to Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River. Burnside planned to cross the river at that point and then continue south. The campaign began promisingly for the Union. The army moved quickly down the Rappahannock, but then stalled across the river from Fredericksburg.

Due to poor execution of orders, a pontoon bridge was not in place for several days. The delay allowed Lee to move his troops into place along Marye’s Heights above Fredericksburg. The Confederates were secure in a sunken road protected by a stone wall, looking down on the open slopes that stretched from the edge of Fredericksburg. So strong was the Confederate position that one Rebel officer claimed that “a chicken could not live on that field when we open on it.”

Unfortunately for the Union, Burnside decided to attack anyway. On December 13, Burnside hurled 14 attacks against the Confederate lines. Although the Union artillery was effective against the Rebels, the six-hundred yard field was a killing ground for the attacking Yankees. No Union soldiers reached the wall at the top of Marye’s Heights, and few even came within fifty yards of it. “It is well that war is so horrible, or else we should grow too fond of it,” Lee observed to General James Longstreet as they watched the carnage. A bitterly cold night froze many of the Union dead and wounded. Burnside considered continuing the attack on December 14, but his subordinates urged him to cease the madness.

On December 15, a truce was called for the Union to collect their dead and wounded soldiers. Burnside retreated northward under the cover of darkness and rain. The one-sided nature of the battle was reflected in the casualty figures. The Yankees suffered 12,653 killed and wounded while Lee lost only 4,200. General Joseph Hooker replaced Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac in January 1863.
 

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December 13th ~ { continued... }

1887 – Corporal Alvin C. York of Wolf River Valley, Tennessee, was born. York was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism during World War I’s Argonne Offensive. York was a reluctant soldier, but his frontier upbringing had made him an outstanding marksman.

1918 – In a landmark event, Woodrow Wilson arrives in France, becoming the first US President to travel outside the United States. He will also visit Britain and Italy, before returning to negotiate on behalf of the US, the peace treaties that end World War I.

1918 – US army of occupation crossed the Rhine and entered Germany.

1920 – League of nations established the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

1942 – Over Tunisia, US air forces stage heavy raids on Bizerta and Tunis.

1941 – The Kingdom of Hungary and Kingdom of Romania declare war on the United States.

1943 – The P-51D Mustang fighter is first used on a bomber escort mission in support of the USAAF 8th Air Force raid on Kiel.

1944 – The US 1st Army achieved minor progress in a new offensive 22 miles south of Duren. US 5th Division captures Fort Jeanne d’Arc — the last German stronghold at Metz. The advance of US 7th Army encounters German armored forces and is engaged around Seltz, in Alsace, near the German border.

1944 – The American heavy cruiser Nashville (flagship of the Mindoro invasion fleet) and a destroyer are heavily damaged in Kamikaze attacks. Both ships are part of the US invasion force heading for Mindoro in the Philippines.

1951 – After meeting with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, President Harry S. Truman vowed to purge all disloyal government workers.

1951 – Foreign Service Officer John S. Service is dismissed from the Department of State following a determination by the Civil Service Commission’s Loyalty Board that there was “reasonable doubt” concerning his loyalty to the United States. Service was one of a number of so-called “China hands”-State Department officials who were experts on China and the Far East-who saw their careers ruined during the 1950s by Senator Joseph McCarthy and his cohorts.

1951 – U.S. Air Force George A. Davis, flying a F-86 Sabre jet out of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, was credited with four aerial victories against MiG-15s, the largest number of kills by a single pilot in one day during the war. These victories made Davis the first “double ace” of the Korean War. A double ace has 10 enemy kills.
 

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December 13th ~ { continued... }

1952 – Transporting the Declaration of Indpendence and the Constitution, an armored Marine Corps personnel carrier made its way down Constitution Avenue, accompanied by two light tanks, four servicemen carrying submachine guns, and a motorcycle escort. A color guard, ceremonial troops, the Army Band, and the Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps were also part of the procession. Members of all the military branches lined the street. Inside the personnel carrier were six parchment documents. The records were in helium-filled glass cases packed inside wooden crates resting on mattresses. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were going to the National Archives.

In 1926, $1 million was appropriated for a national archives building, and in 1930 President Hoover appointed an Advisory Committee for the National Archives to draw up specifications for the building. John Russell Pope was selected as architect, and a year later, ground was broken. By 1933, the cornerstone of the building had been put in place by President Herbert Hoover. Staff were working in the unfinished building by 1935. But despite this flurry of activity, the vault-like building did not house the founding documents that we call the “Charters of Freedom.” The documents had been shuttled around to various buildings for various reasons. They started out in the Department of State, and as the capital moved from New York to Philadelphia to Washington, DC, these documents moved too.

Eventually they were turned over to the Library of Congress. With exception of a short stay at Fort Knox during World War II, the Declaration and the Constitution remained at the Library of Congress from 1921 to 1952. The Bill of Rights had been given into the safekeeping of the National Archives in 1938. In 1952, the Library of Congress agreed to transfer the Declaration and the Constitution to the National Archives. The Bill of Rights would finally be in the company of the two other founding documents.

With great pomp and ceremony, the six boxes were carried up the steps. The tall bronze doors—now used only on July 4—were opened, and the six sheets of parchment were carried into the Rotunda, where they remain today.

1962 – NASA launches Relay 1, the first active repeater communications satellite in orbit. Relay 1 was launched atop a Delta B rocket from LC-17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Its payload included radiation experiments designed to map the earth’s radiation belts. Shortly after launch, two basic problems evolved. One was the satellite’s response to spurious commands, and the other was the leakage of a high-power regulator. This leakage caused the first two weeks of satellite operation to be useless. After this period, satellite operation returned to normal. Sporadic transmission occurred until February 10, 1965, after which no usable scientific data was obtained. Relay 1 was the first satellite to broadcast television from the United States to Japan.

The first broadcast during orbit 2677 (1963-11-22, 2027:42-2048 (GMT), or 1:27 pm Dallas time) was to be a prerecorded address from the president of the United States to the Japanese people, but was instead the announcement of the John F. Kennedy assassination. In August 1964, this satellite was used as the United States-Europe link for the broadcast of the 1964 Summer Olympics from Tokyo, after the signal was relayed to the United States via Syncom 3. This marked the first time that two satellites were used in tandem for a television broadcast.

1966 – The 1st US bombing of Hanoi took place.

1969 – Arlo Guthrie released “Alice’s Restaurant.”

1969 – Raymond A. Spruance (83), US Admiral (Battle of Midway), died.

1972 – Peace negotiations are hopelessly deadlocked after a six-hour meeting between North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger.

1972 – Apollo program: Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt begin the third and final extra-vehicular activity (EVA) or “Moonwalk” of Apollo 17. To date they are the last humans to set foot on the Moon.

1987 – Secretary of State George P. Shultz said the Reagan administration would begin making funding requests for the proposed “Star Wars” defense system.

1990 – A final evacuation flight from Iraq arrived in Germany, carrying the US ambassador to Kuwait and his staff, who had endured a 110-day Iraqi siege of their embassy.

1993 – The space shuttle Endeavour returned from its mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
 

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December 13th ~ { continued... }

1995 – Four hostages: Donald Hutchings, Keith Mangan, Paul Wells and Dirk Hasert, who were seized in July by Kashmir guerillas, who called themselves Al Faran, were killed. In May ‘96 a Muslim insurgent, who claimed to have been involved, said the men were killed and buried in the mountains in Dec. The captured rebel Nasir Mehmood said in a police report that the hostages were killed Dec 13, 1995 by guerrillas of Harkat-ul-Ansar. The Al Faran name was coined to confuse Indian authorities.

1998 – Puerto Rico voters rejected statehood by a vote of 50.2% to 46.5%. The winning option was none of the above, but interpreted as a decision to remain as commonwealth, a US territory with local autonomy.

2000 – Republican George W. Bush claimed the presidency five weeks after Election Day and a day after the U.S. Supreme Court shut down further recounts of disputed ballots in Florida. Democrat Al Gore conceded, delivering a call for national unity.

2000 – Iraq resumes exports of crude oil after a disruption of nearly two weeks due to a dispute over payments with the United Nations. Iraq had cut off exports when clients had refused to pay a surcharge directly to Iraq, which would violate terms of the “oil for food” program permitting Iraq to export oil while sanctions remain in effect, rather than to the account controlled by the United Nations Sanctions Committee. Earlier, on December 8th, the committee approved Iraq’s revised pricing offer for December 2000, which oil traders said is still below market value relative to comparable grades of crude oil.

2001 – President Bush gave Russia a formal 6-month advance notice of his decision to withdraw from the 1972 ABM treaty in order to advance his missile-shield plans. China and Russia offered muted criticism.

2001 – The US Defense Dept. released a videotape of Osama bin Laden talking about the Sep 11th attacks. The tape clearly indicated his advance knowledge of the suicide attacks. The tape was found weeks before in Jalalabad.

2001– The US military sent in special operations forces into the Tora Bora area to look for al Qaeda leaders.

2002 – President Bush announced he would take the smallpox vaccine along with U.S. military forces, but was not recommending the potentially risky inoculation for most Americans.

2002 – Henry Kissinger resigned as head of the new commission to investigate the September 11th terror attacks.

2002 – The U.N. Security Council condemned “acts of terror” against Israel in Kenya and deplored the claims of responsibility by the al-Qaida terror network.

2003 – In the wave of intelligence information fueling the raids on remaining Baath Party members connected to insurgency, Saddam Hussein himself was captured on a farm near Tikrit in Operation Red Dawn. The operation was conducted by the United States Army’s 4th Infantry Division and members of Task Force 121. Saddam was captured in a hole below a two-room mud shack. When he was captured only a Styrofoam square and a rug were between Saddam and U.S. forces. Major General Raymond Odierno commented, “he was caught like a rat.” Intelligence on Saddam’s whereabouts came from information obtained from his family members and former bodyguards.

2004 – Afghan intelligence agents arrested two senior Taliban military commanders, including a former security chief of the hardline regime’s leader Mullah Omar.

2004 – In Baghdad a suicide car bomber killed 13 people and injured at least 15 near the Harthiyah entrance on the western edge of the Green zone. Clashes resumed in Fallujah.

2011 – Iran has turned down the United States request to return a RQ-170 that was captured recently by Iranian forces after it crash landed in the country. Iranian officials report that they are extracting data from the aircraft. Iranian officials stated the drone was brought down by a cyber attack.

2013 – Warships of the United States and China confront each other in international waters within the South China Sea. The American warship, guided missile cruiser, USS Cowpens, — which U.S. officials say was in international waters — was approached by a Chinese Navy ship. The smaller vessel peeled off from a group of Chinese Navy ships that included the carrier Liaoning. The Chinese ship failed to stop, despite radio warning from the Cowpens that it was getting too close. The Cowpens commanding officer then issued orders for an “all stop” when the other ship was less than 500 yards off its bow. The Chinese ship proceeded past the Cowpens.
 

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December 14th ~

1782 – Charleston, SC, was evacuated by British.

1799 – George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old. George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His first direct military experience came as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. Two years later, Washington took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses. During the next two decades, Washington openly opposed the escalating British taxation and repression of the American colonies.

In 1774, he represented Virginia at the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution erupted in 1775, Washington was nominated to be commander in chief of the newly established Continental Army. Some in the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but he was ultimately chosen because as a Virginian his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England. With his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers, General Washington led an effective war of harassment against British forces in America while encouraging the intervention of the French into the conflict on behalf of the colonists.

On October 19, 1781, with the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ massive British army at Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington had defeated one of the most powerful nations on earth. After the war, the victorious general retired to his estate at Mount Vernon, but in 1787 he heeded his nation’s call and returned to politics to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and in February 1789 Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States. As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” He successfully implemented executive authority, making good use of brilliant politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his cabinet, and quieted fears of presidential tyranny. In 1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term.

In 1797, he finally began a long-awaited retirement at his estate in Virginia. He died two years later. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy for the father of the United States: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

1814 – The steamboat Enterprise, designed by keelboat captain Henry Miller Shreve, arrived in New Orleans with guns and ammunition for Gen. Jackson. It was immediately commandeered for military service.

1814 – A British squadron captures U.S. gunboats in Battle of Lake Borgne, LA. The Battle of Lake Borgne was a naval battle between the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the American South theatre of the War of 1812. It occurred on Lake Borgne and was part of the British advance on New Orleans.

1819 – Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state, making 11 slave states and 11 free states. Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. At 1,300 miles (2,100 km), Alabama has one of the longest navigable inland waterways in the nation.

1836 – The Toledo War (1835–36), also known as the Michigan–Ohio War, was the almost bloodless boundary dispute between the U.S. state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan. Originating from conflicting state and federal legislation passed between 1787 and 1805, the dispute resulted from poor understanding of geographical features of the Great Lakes at the time. Varying interpretations of the law caused the governments of Ohio and Michigan to both claim sovereignty over a 468-square-mile (1,210 km2) region along the border, now known as the Toledo Strip. When Michigan petitioned for statehood in 1835, it sought to include the disputed territory within its boundaries; Ohio’s congressional delegation was in turn able to stall Michigan’s admission to the Union.

Beginning in 1835, both sides passed legislation attempting to force the other side’s capitulation. Ohio’s governor Robert Lucas and Michigan’s 24-year-old “Boy Governor” Stevens T. Mason were both unwilling to cede jurisdiction of the Strip, so they raised militias and helped institute criminal penalties for citizens submitting to the others authority. The militias were mobilized and sent to positions on opposite sides of the Maumee River near Toledo, but besides mutual taunting there was little interaction between the two forces. The single military confrontation of the “war” ended with a report of shots being fired into the air, incurring no casualties.

During the summer of 1836, Congress proposed a compromise whereby Michigan gave up its claim to the strip in exchange for its statehood and approximately three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula. The compromise was considered a poor outcome for Michigan; nearly all of the Upper Peninsula was still Indian territory at the time. Voters in a state convention in September soundly rejected the proposal. In December 1836, the Michigan government, facing a dire financial crisis and pressure from Congress and President Andrew Jackson, called another convention (called the “Frost-bitten Convention”) which accepted the compromise that resolved the Toledo War. The later discovery of copper and iron deposits and the plentiful timber in the Upper Peninsula more than offset Michigan’s economic loss in surrendering Toledo.
 

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December 14th ~ { continued... }

1854 – Congress authorized appointment of first lifeboat station keepers at $200 per year each and superintendents for Long Island and New Jersey serving under Secretary of Treasury who “may also establish such stations at such lighthouses, as, in his judgment, he shall deem best.”

1863 – General Beauregard ordered Lieutenant Dixon, CSA, to proceed with submarine H. L. Hunley to the mouth of Charleston harbor and “sink and destroy any vessel of the enemy with which he can come in conflict.”

1863 – President Lincoln announces a grant of amnesty for Mrs. Emilie Todd Helm, Mary Lincoln’s half sister and the widow of a Confederate general. The pardon was one of the first under Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which he had announced less than a week before. The plan was the president’s blueprint for the reintegration of the South into the Union. Part of the plan allowed for former Confederates to be granted amnesty if they took an oath to the United States. The option was open to all but the highest officials of the Confederacy.

Emilie Todd Helm was the wife of Benjamin Helm, who, like the Lincolns, was a Kentucky native. Lincoln was said to be a great admirer of Helm, a West Point and Harvard graduate. Lincoln had offered Helm a position in the U.S. Army, but Helm opted to join the Confederates instead. Helm led a group of Kentuckians known as the “Orphan Brigade,” since they could not return to their Union-held native state during the war. Helm was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. After her husband’s death, Helm made her way through Union lines to Washington. She stayed in the White House and the Lincolns tried to keep her visit a secret. General Daniel Sickles, who had been wounded at Gettysburg five months prior, told Lincoln that he should not have a rebel in his house. Lincoln replied, “General Sickles, my wife and I are in the habit of choosing our own guests. We do not need from our friends either advice or assistance in the matter.” After Lincoln granted her pardon, Emilie Helm returned to Kentucky.

1863 – Gen. James Longstreet attacked Union troops at Bean’s Station, Tenn.

1864 – Union gunboats supporting General Sherman aided in the capture of Forts Beaulieu and Rosedew in Ossabaw Sound, Georgia, the outer defenses of Savannah. Wooden steamer U.S.S. Winona, Lieutenant Commander Dana, U.S.S. Sonoma, Lieutenant Commander Scott, and mortar gunboats shelled the forts until they were abandoned by the defenders on 21 December. Winona’s log recorded on that date: “At 10:05 saw the American Ensign flying on Fort Beaulieu. Ships cheered; captain left in the gig and proceeded up to the fort.”

1896 – James H. Doolittle, American Air Force general, was born. He commanded the first bombing mission over Japan. His Tokyo raid was a great boost for American war morale.

1902 – The Commercial Pacific Cable Company lays the first Pacific telegraph cable, from San Francisco to Honolulu.

1903 – The Wright brothers make their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. With the help of men from the nearby government life-saving station (today’s Coast Guard), the Wrights moved the Flyer and its launching rail to the incline of a nearby sand dune, Big Kill Devil Hill, intending to make a gravity-assisted takeoff. The brothers tossed a coin to decide who would get the first chance at piloting, and Wilbur won. The airplane left the rail, but Wilbur pulled up too sharply, stalled, and came down in about three seconds with minor damage. Repairs after the abortive first flight took three days.

1916 – People of Denmark voted to sell Danish West Indies to United States for $25 million.
 

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December 14th ~ { continued... }

1939 – League of Nations, the international peacekeeping organization formed at the end of World War I, expels the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in response to the Soviets’ invasion of Finland on October 30. Although the League of Nations was more or less the brainchild of President Woodrow Wilson, the United States, which was to have sat on the Executive Council, never joined. Isolationists in the Senate–put off by America’s intervention in World War I, which they felt was more of a European civil war than a true world war–prevented American participation.

While the League was born with the exalted mission of preventing another “Great War,” it proved ineffectual, being unable to protect China from a Japanese invasion or Ethiopia from an Italian one. The League was also useless in reacting to German remilitarization, which was a violation of the Treaty of Versailles, the document that formally set the peace terms for the end of World War I. Germany and Japan voluntarily withdrew from the League in 1933, and Italy left in 1937. The true imperial designs of the Soviet Union soon became apparent with its occupation of eastern Poland in September of 1939, ostensibly with the intention of protecting Russian “blood brothers,” Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who were supposedly menaced by the Poles. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were then terrorized into signing “mutual assistance” pacts, primarily one-sided agreements that gave the USSR air and naval bases in those countries. But the invasion of Finland, where no provocation or pact could credibly be adduced to justify the aggression, resulted in worldwide reaction. President Roosevelt, although an “ally” of the USSR, condemned the invasion, causing the Soviets to withdraw from the New York World’s Fair. And finally, the League of Nations, drawing almost its last breath, expelled it.

1939 – The German liner Columbus (33,000 t) leaves Vera Cruz in an attempt to run home. The American cruiser Tuscaloosa shadows the ship, while on neutrality patrol, and broadcast its location on open radio.

1941 – U.S. Marines made a stand in battle for Wake Island. Wake Island defenders were left with one aircraft surviving Japanese attacks.

1942 – Japanese reinforcement land about 30 miles west of Gona and begin marching toward the Australian flank. In Buna, the American’s take the village, but the Japanese still hold the well fortified Government Station.

1944 – Rank of Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy (five star admiral) is established. It is interesting to note that each of these officers followed a differently patterned naval career. Only eight years of seniority separated them. They served as younger officers when the Navy was making its expansion in aviation and submarine development. One of these officers was essentially a destroyer officer and aviator with only one short tour ashore in Washington. One was a submariner with European training in diesel propulsion, a big ship sailor with shore cruises in Washington including Chief of Naval Personnel. One had almost all his sea duty in big ships and with the exception of one tour, all shore duty in Washington, including being chief of two bureaus. Only one had a seagoing career in the surface, submarine and aviation branches of the service with shore tours including the head of the Postgraduate School and the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. Three served as Chiefs of Naval Operations. The Navy’s Fleet Admirals were: William Daniel Leahy, Ernest Joseph King, Chester William Nimitz, and William Frederick Halsey, Jr.

1944 – The former NYK liner Oryoku Maru left Manila with 1619 American POWs packed in the holds. U.S. Navy planes from the “Hornet” attacked, causing the Hell Ship to sink the following day. Only 200 of the men survived.

1944 – US 3rd Army continues advancing east of Sarreguemines while US 9st Army reaches the Roer River bank.

1944 – US Task Force 38 (Admiral McCain) launches air strikes on airfields throughout Luzon. TF38 includes 13 carriers, 8 battleships and numerous cruisers and destroyers. The attacks are in support of the American landing on Mindoro.

1945 – Captain Sue S. Dauser receives the first Distinguished Service Medal awarded to a nurse.

1946 – The United Nations General Assembly voted to establish the U.N. headquarters in New York City. The UN adopted a disarmament resolution prohibiting the A-Bomb.
 

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1950 – The Navy announced the successful withdrawal of U.N. forces from Chinnampo. Approximately 7,000 soldiers and civilian refugees were evacuated from the Pyongyang area.

1952 – President-elect Eisenhower announced a new policy of firmness in dealing with the communists on his return from Korea.

1958 – The United States, Britain and France rejected Soviet demands that they withdraw their troops from West Berlin and agreed to liquidate the Allied occupation in West Berlin.

1960 – A U.S. B-52 bomber set a 10,000 mile non-stop record without refueling.

1961 – In a public exchange of letters with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, President John F. Kennedy formally announces that the United States will increase aid to South Vietnam, which would include the expansion of the U.S. troop commitment.

1962 – The U.S. space probe Mariner 2 approached Venus, transmitting information about the planet.

1963 – A US military spokesman in Saigon reports that guerrilla attacks on hamlets, outposts, and patrols in November have resulted in 2,800 government casualties and 2,900 Vietcong losses. The Vietcong have captured enough weapons to arm five 300-man battalions.

1964 – Operation Barrel Roll, the name given to the first phase of the bombing plan approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 1, begins with U.S. planes attacking “targets of opportunity” in northern Laos. This operation was initiated in response to a Pathet Lao offensive in the Plaine des Jarres in north central Laos.

The Pathet Lao were communist guerrillas who were fighting to overthrow the Royal Lao government. Operation Barrel Roll was designed to provide air support for the Royal Laotian Army and CIA-trained Hmong (mountain people) irregular forces led by Gen. Vang Pao. In addition to these operations, there was also another part of the war in Laos which was conducted in the eastern part of the country along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which ran out of North Vietnam through Laos and south along the South Vietnamese-Cambodian border. The North Vietnamese used this trail network as the main avenue by which they supplied and reinforced their troops in South Vietnam. Operations Steel Tiger and Tiger Hound were initiated in April and December 1965 respectively to bomb the trail in an intensive and protracted attempt to interdict the massive amounts of men and supplies moving along the corridor.

By 1973, when Operations Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger, and Tiger Hound were terminated, Laos had become the most heavily bombed country in the world. During these operations, allied aircraft dropped more than 3 million tons of bombs, three times the amount dropped on North Vietnam. U.S. spending for these bombing campaigns was 10 times that of the Laotian national budget.

1965 – Navy announces completion of 1,272 ft. radio tower at North West Cape, Australia, highest manmade structure in the Southern Hemisphere at that time, as a link in fleet communications.

1967 – Israel submitted to the United Nations a five-year plan to solve the Arab refugee problem conditioned on a general peace settlement between Israel and the Arab states.

1972 – Astronauts Schmitt and Cernan blasted off from the moon to join the command module America in lunar orbit, thus ending America’s manned lunar exploration for the 20th century. Apollo 17 astronauts blasted off from the moon after three days of exploration on lunar surface.

1980 – After four days of meetings, members of NATO warned the Soviets to stay out of the internal affairs of Poland, saying that intervention would effectively destroy the détente between East and West.
 

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1980 – CIA report claims that the Soviet Union delivered nearly $7 billion worth of military assistance to Third World nations in 1979, and made over $8 billion in arms sales during that same year. The study also noted that there were nearly 51,000 communist military advisors in Third World countries. The report indicated that the arms sales increased instability and chances for military conflict. The CIA study portrayed an alarming growth in Soviet military assistance to the Third World, particularly to nations in the Middle East and Africa. According to the report, Syria, Iraq, and South Yemen were the primary recipients of aid to the Middle East while Angola and Ethiopia received most of the arms sold to Africa. Much of this assistance was in the form of sophisticated weapons such as MiG fighter-bombers and surface-to-air missiles. Almost two-thirds of the military advisors were Cubans whom Fidel Castro assigned to Angola. Despite this massive effort, the study concluded that, “Moscow has recruited few adherents to its ideology.”

1986 – The experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world. The trip took nine days.

1988 – In a dramatic policy shift, President Reagan authorized the United States to enter into a “substantive dialogue” with the Palestine Liberation Organization, after chairman Yasser Arafat said he was renouncing “all forms of terrorism.”

1990 – President Bush prodded Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to agree to talks on the Persian Gulf crisis by January 3rd.

1992 – Easing a 17-year trade embargo, the United States allowed its companies to sign contracts in Vietnam.

1994 – Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic asked former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to mediate a lasting peace in Bosnia.

1995 – An agreement for peace in Bosnia, reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was formally signed.

1997 – Iran’s new president, Mohammad Khatami, called for a dialogue with the people of the United States — a nation reviled by his predecessors as “The Great Satan.”

1999 – In Seattle Ahmed Ressam (32) was arrested after crossing the border at Port Angeles from Canada with a car trunk with over 150 pounds of bomb-making materials that included 200 pounds of urea, timing devices and a bottle of RDX, cyclotrimethylene trinitramine. Canadian authorities later issued an arrest warrant for Abdelmajed Dahoumane for possessing or making explosives. Dahoumane was arrested in Algeria In Oct, 2000. In 2001 Ressam admitted that he planned to detonate a bomb at the LA Int’l. Airport. Mokhtar Haouari provided fake ID and $3,000 to Ressam. Haouari was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2002.

1999 – In Panama former US Pres. Jimmy Carter symbolically turned over the Panama Canal. The official ownership transfer date was Dec 31st.

2000 – U.S. businessman Edward Pope was pardoned and released by Russia after being convicted of espionage.

2001 – American and British commandos behind a screen of local Afghan fighters contained the last remnants of al Qaeda forces in the White Mountains of Tora Bora. American Marines occupied Kandahar airport.

2002 – Jordanian police announced the arrest of two alleged al-Qaida members in the October killing of American diplomat Laurence Foley.

2004 – Pres. Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor to Gen. Tommy Franks, Paul Bremer, and George Tenet, for their efforts in the war in Iraq.

2004 – Shootouts erupted between residents of a slum outside Haiti’s capital and UN troops after hundreds of international peacekeepers stormed the stronghold of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in an attempt to control flashpoints of violence. 4 people were killed.

2004 – In Iraq a suicide car bomber killed seven people at a Green Zone checkpoint, the second attack in two days near the same gate.

2006 – The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer warned that al-Qaeda cell operatives were controlling the Islamic Courts Union, the Islamist faction of Somalia rapidly taking control of the southern area of the country. Frazer later announced that the United States has no intention of committing troops to Somalia to root out al-Qaeda.

2008 – Muntadhar al-Zaidi throws his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq.
 

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December 15th ~

1778 – British and French fleets clash in the Battle of St. Lucia. The Battle of St. Lucia or the Battle of the Cul de Sac was a naval battle fought off the island of St. Lucia in the West Indies during the American War of Independence on 15 December 1778, between the British Royal Navy and the French Navy.

1791 – Following ratification by the state of Virginia, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, become the law of the land. In September 1789, the first Congress of the United States approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. The amendments were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government would be reserved for the states and the people.

Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification struggle that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to support the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would be passed immediately. On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal.

Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerned the population system of representation, while the second prohibited laws varying the payment of congressional members from taking effect until an election intervened. The first of these two amendments was never ratified, while the second was finally ratified more than 200 years later, in 1992.

1862 – Nathan B. Forrest crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton with 2,500 men to raid the communications around Vicksburg.

1862 – In New Orleans, Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler turned his command over to Nathaniel Banks. The citizens of New Orleans held farewell parties for Butler, “The Beast,” but only after he had already left. Maj. Gen Benjamin Butler was given the unusual nickname “Spoons” due to his apparent penchant for stealing the silver while occupying New Orleans. He was also called “Beast” for alleged insults to the women in the town. Both the names were coined by Confederates.

1864 – The once powerful Confederate Army of Tennessee is nearly destroyed when a Union army commanded by General George Thomas swarms over the Rebel trenches around Nashville. This was the sad finale in a disastrous year for the General John Bell Hood’s Confederates. The Rebels lost a long summer campaign for Atlanta in September when Hood abandoned the city to the army of William T. Sherman. Hood then took his diminished force north into Tennessee. He hoped to draw Sherman out of the deep South, but Sherman had enough troops to split his force and send part of it to chase Hood into Tennessee. In November, Sherman took the remainder of his army on his march across Georgia.

On November 30, Hood attacked the troops of General John Schofield at Franklin, Tennessee. The Confederates suffered heavy casualties and much of the army’s leadership structure was destroyed: twelve generals were killed or wounded along with 60 regimental leaders. When Schofield moved north to Nashville to join Thomas, Hood followed him and dug his army in outside of Nashville’s formidable defenses. Thomas saw his chance to deal a decisive blow to Hood. More than 50,000 Yankees faced a Rebel force that now totaled less than 20,000. Historians have long questioned why Hood even approached the strongly fortified city with the odds so stacked against him.

Early in the morning of December 15, Thomas sent a force under General James Steedman against the Confederates’ right flank. The Union troops overran the Confederate trenches and drove the Rebels back more than a mile. The short December day halted the fighting, but Thomas struck again on December 16. This time, the entire Confederate line gave way and sent Hood’s men from the field in a total rout. Only General Stephen Lee’s valiant rear-guard action prevented total destruction of the Confederate army.More than 6,000 Rebels were killed or wounded and 3,000 Yankees lost their lives. Hood and his damaged army retreated to Mississippi, the Army of Tennessee no longer a viable offensive fighting force.
 

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1864 – An expedition under Acting Master William G. Morris, including U.S.S. Coeur De Lion and U.S.S. Mercury, seized and burned more than thirty large boats. The Confederates had been massing them on the Coan River, Virginia. Defending soldiers were also driven off in a brief engagement.

1890 – After many years of successfully resisting white efforts to destroy him and the Sioux people, the great Sioux chief and holy man Sitting Bull is killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota. One of the most famous Native Americans of the 19th century, Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake) was a fierce enemy of Anglo-Americans from a young age. Deeply devoted to the traditional ways, Sitting Bull believed that contact with non-Indians undermined the strength and identity of the Sioux and would lead to their ultimate decline. However, Sitting Bull’s tactics were generally more defensive than aggressive, especially as he grew older and became a Sioux leader. Fundamentally, Sitting Bull and those associated with his tribe wished only to be left alone to pursue their traditional ways, but the Anglo settlers’ growing interest in the land and the resulting confinement of Indians to government-controlled reservations inevitably led to conflicts.

Sitting Bull’s refusal to follow an 1875 order to bring his people to the Sioux reservation directly led to the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn, during which the Sioux and Cheyenne wiped out five troops of Custer’s 7th Cavalry. After the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull and his followers fled to Canada for four years. Faced with mass starvation among his people, Sitting Bull finally returned to the United States and surrendered in 1883.

Sitting Bull was assigned to the Standing Rock reservation in present-day South Dakota, where he maintained considerable power despite the best efforts of the Indian bureau agents to undermine his influence. When the apocalyptic spiritual revival movement known as the Ghost Dance began to grow in popularity among the Sioux in 1890, Indian agents feared it might lead to an Indian uprising. Wrongly believing that Sitting Bull was the driving force behind the Ghost Dance, agent James McLaughlin sent Indian police to arrest the chief at his small cabin on the Grand River. The Indian police rousted the naked chief from his bed at 6:00 in the morning, hoping to spirit him away before his guards and neighbors knew what had happened.

When the fifty-nine-year-old chief refused to go quietly, a crowd gathered and a few hotheaded young men threatened the Indian police. Someone fired a shot that hit one of the Indian police; they retaliated by shooting Sitting Bull in the chest and head. The great chief was killed instantly. Before the ensuing gunfight ended, twelve other Indians were dead and three were wounded. The man who had nobly resisted the encroachment of whites and their culture for nearly three decades was buried in a far corner of the post cemetery at Fort Yates. Two weeks later, the army brutally suppressed the Ghost Dance movement with the massacre of a band of Sioux at Wounded Knee, the final act in the long and tragic history of the American war against the Plains Indians.

1914 – The outbreak of fighting in Europe triggered the closing of the New York Stock Exchange, as market officials looked to prevent a rapid-fire liquidation of the European account, then worth roughly $2.4 billion. But, after being closed for over four months, the NYSE got back into the swing of things on this day, albeit with a tight set of trading restrictions designed to prevent fiscal disaster.

1924 – Soviets warned the U.S. against repeated entry of ships into the territorial waters of the USSR.

1933 – The Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution officially becomes effective, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment that prohibited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol.

1938 – Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Jefferson Memorial took place in Washington, D.C.
 
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