1762 – During the course of the Seven Years War, England declares war on Spain, who is preparing to ally herself with the French and Austrians.
1777 – Loyalist Lieutenant Colonel John Morris, a half-pay lieutenant of the 47th Regiment of Foot who had previous military service, convinced Brigadier General Skinner and the British that he could raise a battalion. With the British entry into New Jersey in late November of 1776, his plans commenced. As quickly as he raised men they were thrown into action. Four of his men were killed in battle and as many as thirty others captured near Monmouth Court House in Freehold.
1777 – The Battle of the Assunpink Creek, also known as the Second Battle of Trenton, was a battle between American and British troops that took place in and around Trenton, New Jersey during the American War of Independence, and resulted in an American victory. Following a surprise victory at the Battle of Trenton early in the morning of December 26, 1776, General George Washington of the Continental Army and his council of war expected a strong British counter-attack. Washington and his council decided to meet this attack in Trenton, and established a defensive position south of the Assunpink Creek. Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis led the British forces southward in the aftermath of the December 26 battle. Leaving 1,400 men under Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood in Princeton, Cornwallis advanced on Trenton with about 5,000 men on January 2. His advance was significantly slowed by defensive skirmishing by American riflemen under the command of Edward Hand, and the advance guard did not reach Trenton until twilight. After assaulting the American positions three times, and being repulsed each time, Cornwallis decided to wait and finish the battle the next day. Washington moved his army around Cornwallis’s camp that night and attacked Mawhood at Princeton the next day. That defeat prompted the British to withdraw from most of New Jersey for the winter.
1788 – Georgia votes to ratify the U.S. Constitution, becoming the fourth state in the modern United States. Named after King George II, Georgia was first settled by Europeans in 1733, when a group of British debtors led by English philanthropist James E. Oglethorpe traveled up the Savannah River and established Georgia’s first permanent settlement–the town of Savannah. In 1742, as part of a larger conflict between Spain and Great Britain, Oglethorpe defeated the Spanish on St. Simons Island in Georgia, effectively ending Spanish claims to the territory of Georgia. Georgia, rich in export potential, was one of the most prosperous British colonies in America and was thus slower than the other colonies to resent the oppressive acts of the Parliament and King George III. However, by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Georgian Patriots had organized, and delegates were sent to the Second Continental Congress. During the war, Georgia was heavily divided between Loyalists and Patriots, and the British soon held most of the state. Savannah served as a key British base for their southern war operations, and the grim four-year British occupation won many Georgians over to the Patriot cause. In 1788, Georgia became the first southern state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
1791 – Big Bottom massacre in the Ohio Country, marking the beginning of the Northwest Indian War. The Big Bottom massacre occurred near present-day Stockport now in Morgan County, Ohio. Delaware and Wyandot Indians surprised a new settlement at the edge of the flood plain, or “bottom” land of the Muskingum River; they stormed the blockhouse and killed eleven men, one woman, and two children. Three settlers were captured while four others escaped into the woods. The Ohio Company of Associates acted immediately after this to provide greater protection for settlers.
1811 – Senator Timothy Pickering, a Federalist from Massachusetts, becomes the first senator to be censured when the Senate approves a censure motion against him by a vote of 20 to seven. Pickering was accused of violating congressional law by publicly revealing secret documents communicated by the president to the Senate. During the Revolutionary War, Pickering served as General George Washington’s adjutant general and in 1791 was appointed postmaster general by President Washington. In 1795, he briefly served as Washington’s secretary of war before being appointed secretary of state in 1795. He retained his post under the administration of President John Adams but was dismissed in 1800, when Adams, a moderate Federalist, learned that he had been plotting with Alexander Hamilton to steer the United States into war with revolutionary France. Returning to Massachusetts, he was elected a U.S. senator, but resigned after he was censured for revealing to the public secret foreign policy documents sent by the president to Congress. An outspoken opponent of the War of 1812, Pickering was elected as a representative from Massachusetts in 1813 and served two terms before retiring from politics.
1861 – The USS Brooklyn is readied at Norfolk to aid Fort Sumter.
1861 – Colonel Charles Stone is put in charge of organizing the Washington D.C. militia.
1863 – The battle of Stones River concludes when the Union troops of William Rosecrans defeat Confederates under Braxton Bragg at Murfeesboro, just south of Nashville. This battle was a crucial engagement in the contest for central Tennessee, and provided a Union victory during a very bleak period for the North. The end of 1862 found Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland in Nashville, thirty miles north of Bragg’s troops. Rosecrans assumed command of the army only in October, with the understanding that he would attack Bragg and drive the Confederates from central Tennessee. This move was delayed throughout the fall by John Morgan’s cavalry, who harassed the federals and threatened their supply line. Finally, the day after Christmas, Rosecrans moved his force south to meet Bragg. The armies collided along Stones River on New Year’s Eve. Facing a larger Union force (42,000 Union soldiers to 35,000 Confederates), Bragg launched an attack in bitterly cold morning fog against the Yankees’ right flank. The attack was initially successful in driving the Union back, but the Yankees did not break. A day of heavy fighting brought frightful casualties, and the suffering was compounded by the frigid weather. The Confederates came close to winning, but were not quite able to turn the Union flank against Stones River. The new year dawned the next day with each army still in the field and ready for another fight. The strike came on January 2, and the Confederates lost the battle. Bragg attacked against the advice of his generals and lost the confidence of his army. The Union troops repelled the assault, and Bragg was forced back to Chattanooga. The North was in control of central Tennessee, and the Union victory provided a much-needed moral boost in the aftermath of the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg. Stones River was a hard-fought and very bloody engagement, with some of the highest casualty rates of the war. The Confederates lost 33 percent of their force, while 31 percent of the Union force was either killed, wounded, or missing. Combined casualties totaled nearly 25,000 men. Lincoln later wrote to Rosecrans, “…you gave us a hard victory which, had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”
1900 – American Statesman and diplomat John Hay announces the Open Door Policy to promote trade with China.
1904 – U.S. Marines are sent to Santo Domingo to aid the government against rebel forces backed by European interests opposed to the government of Carols F. Morales. Morales had stopped payment on all foreign debts to attempt to negotiate more favorable terms. In 1905 the US will arrange a customs receivership that will pay off the debts.
1918 – Russian Bolsheviks threaten to re-enter the war unless Germany returns occupied territory.
1920 – The second Palmer Raid takes place with another 6,000 suspected communists and anarchists arrested and held without trial. The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Though more than 500 foreign citizens were deported, including a number of prominent leftist leaders, Palmer’s efforts were largely frustrated by officials at the U.S. Department of Labor who had responsibility for deportations and who objected to Palmer’s methods. The Palmer Raids occurred in the larger context of the Red Scare, the term given to fear of and reaction against political radicals in the U.S. in the years immediately following World War I.
1932 – Japanese forces in Manchuria set up a puppet government known as Manchukuo.
1933 – US troops leave Nicaragua. They have been there since 1926 trying to keep peace between the Liberal government and the Conservative forces of Augusto Sandino (Sandinistas) elements, but in 1932, isolationist feeling in the Congress leads to continued funding of the mission to be withdrawn.
1941 – The Andrews Sisters recorded “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
1941 – Roosevelt announces a plan to mass-produce 7500-ton freighters. 200 will be produced to a standard design and will be known as Liberty Ships.
1942 – In the Philippines, the city of Manila and the U.S. Naval base at Cavite fall to Japanese forces. The American and Philippino Allies establish their defenses on the approaches to the Bataan Peninsula.
1942 – 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. Of those arrested on the charge of espionage, 19 pleaded guilty. The remaining 14 men who entered pleas of not guilty were brought to jury trial in Federal District Court, Brooklyn, New York, on September 3, 1941; and all found guilty on December 13, 1941. On January 2, 1942, the group was sentenced to serve a total of over 300 years in prison. The German spies who formed the Duquesne spy ring were placed in key jobs in the United States to get information that could be used in the event of war and to carry out acts of sabotage: one person opened a restaurant and used his position to get information from his customers; another person worked on an airline so that he could report Allied ships that were crossing the Atlantic Ocean; others in the ring worked as delivery people so that they could deliver secret messages alongside normal messages. William G. Sebold, who had been recruited as a spy for Germany, was a major factor in the FBI’s successful resolution of this case through his work as a double agent for the United States government. For nearly two years the FBI ran a radio station in New York for the ring, learning what Germany was sending to its spies in the United States while controlling the information that was being transmitted to Germany. Sebold’s success as a counterespionage agent was demonstrated by the successful prosecution of the German agents. One German spymaster later commented that the ring’s roundup delivered “the death blow” to their espionage efforts in the United States. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called his concerted FBI swoop on Duquesne’s ring the greatest spy roundup in U.S. history.
1942 – 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. The U.S. Navy was actually behind the times in the use of blimps; it didn’t get around to ordering its first until 1915, at which time even the U.S. Army was using them. By the close of World War I, the Navy had recognized their value and was using several blimps for patrolling coastlines for enemy submarines. They proved extremely effective; in fact, no convoy supported by blimp surveillance ever lost a ship. Between the wars, it was agreed that the Army would use nonrigid airships to patrol the coasts of the United States, while the Navy would use rigid airships (which were aluminum-hulled and kept their shape whether or not they were filled with gas) for long-range scouting and fleet support. The Navy ended its construction and employment of the rigid airships in the 1930s after two, the Akron and the Macon, crashed at sea. In 1937, the Army transferred all its remaining nonrigid blimps to the Navy. Meanwhile, in the civilian world, the Hindenburg, a commercial dirigible, burst into flames over Lakehurst on May 6, 1937. Thirty-six of the 97 passengers aboard were killed. The explosion was caused by an electric discharge that ignited a hydrogen gas leak; the tragedy effectively ended the use of airships for commercial travel, but they were still used to great advantage in the U.S. military. At the outbreak of World War II, the Navy had 10 blimps in service; that number expanded to 167 by the end of the war. The only U.S. blimp lost was the K-74, which, on July 18, 1943, spotted a German U-boat. The blimp opened fire on the submarine and damaged it, but only one of its two depth charges released. The submarine fired back and sent the blimp into the sea, but the crew was rescued. The only German blimp involved in the war was a passenger craft, Graf Zeppelin, which was used for electronic surveillance just before the outbreak of the war.
1943 – Japanese positions at Buna, New Guinea are stormed by troops from Eichelberger’s US 1st Corps. Fighting continues around Sanananda.
1943 – US troops on Guadalcanal launch another assault up Mount Austen. Some progress is made but the Gifu strongpoint remains in Japanese control.
1944 – On New Britain, the American 7th Marine Regiment launches attacks to expand its beachhead near Cape Gloucester but fails to meet its objectives.
1944 – US Task Force 38 (Admiral Barbey) lands 2400 troops of the 126th Regiment (General Martin) of the 32nd Division at Saidor. Both the airfield and the harbor are secured. An Allied cruiser and destroyer force, led by Admiral Crutchley, provides cover for the landing. To the east, Australian forces advance to Sialum.
1945 – In the Ardennes, Third Army troops take Bonnerue, Hubertmont and Remagne. In Alsace Seventh Army withdraws under German pressure.
1945 – About 1000 USAAF bombers nominally attack troop concentrations and communications in western Germany while about 1000 RAF bombers strike Nuremburg and Ludwigshafen.
1945 – An American Sikorsky helicopter is used in convoy escort duties for the first time.
1945 – In the Carolines, Fais Island is occupied by an American amphibious force.
1951 – For the first time, a C-47 dropped flares to illuminate B-26 and F-82 night attacks on enemy forces. The flares also deterred enemy night attacks on U.S. troops. Fifth Air Force withdrew forward-based F-86s assigned to the 4th FIW from enemy-threatened Kimpo Airfield near Seoul to the wing’s home station at Johnson AB, Japan.
1951 – The U.N. Cease-Fire Group reported the Chinese rejection of their efforts. Meanwhile, the U.N. Command proposed nonforcible repatriation for prisoners of war of both sides.
1963 – In Vietnam, the Viet Cong down five U.S. helicopters in the Mekong Delta. 30 Americans are reported dead.
1963 – 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.”
1966 – American G.I.s move into the Mekong Delta for the first time.
1967 – Operation Bolo: 30 US Air Force F-4 Phantom jets, operating from Ubon in Thailand, shoot down a third of North Vietnam’s MiG-21s, loosing only one Phantom. Over the previous two years of Air Force and Navy air strikes, only 10 planes had been lost to enemy MiGs. American pilots were forbidden from attacking Hanoi’s airfields fearing that killing Soviet or Chinese advisers that could be there would draw those nations more directly into the war. Knowing this, the Vietnamese People’s Air Force would simply fly their MiGs through the American bombing formations and loiter just long enough to get the crews to drop their bombs and extra fuel early, preventing the strategic strikes without firing a shot. US 7th Air Force selected Colonel Robin Olds to lead an ambush to stop the harassment. To lure out the North Vietnamese, American F-4s would fly the same routes into the country as the heavyset F-105 bombers—and at the same altitudes and speeds while using the same radio call signs. Meanwhile, signal-snooping aircraft would keep track of the MiGs. Special C-130B-IIs would listen in on enemy radio chatter and feed information straight to American pilots throughout the mission. These specialized aircraft and personnel not only made sure the Vietnamese were responding as expected, but also kept watch in case Chinese jets decided to join the battle. Olds wanted to know if Russian or North Korean advisers were actually in the cockpits when the fighting started. Hanoi’s pilots were caught completely off guard. When Olds’ strike team started its attack, the C-130s picked up enemy pilots shocked to find that “the sky is full of F-4s,” according to the declassified report. “Where are the F-105s? You briefed us to expect F-105s!” Seven MiGs were shot down. After a series of additional aerial ambushes, the Vietnamese People’s Air Force grounded its MiGs and completely revised its procedures. At the end of the year, Washington approved strikes on Hanoi’s air bases. 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.
1969 – Operation Barrier Reef, The fourth and last interdiction barrier in the Mekong Delta 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 began.
1973 – The United States admits the accidental bombing of a Hanoi hospital.
1980 – In reaction to the December 1979 Soviet military intervention into Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter requests that the Senate postpone action on the SALT-II nuclear weapons treaty and recalls the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. These actions indicated that the U.S.-Soviet relationship had been severely damaged by the Russian action in Afghanistan and that the age of détente had ended. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the establishment by the Soviets of a puppet government in that nation, brought U.S. relations with the Soviet Union to the breaking point. Carter’s press secretary, Jodie Powell, called the Russian action “a serious threat to peace.” On January 2, he announced that the Carter administration had asked the Senate to postpone deliberations on SALT-II, the complicated treaty dealing with nuclear arms. Carter also recalled U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. home, ostensibly for “consultation.” As Carter administration officials made clear, however, this action was intended to send a very strong message to the Soviets that military intervention in Afghanistan was unacceptable. In addition, the Carter administration was thinking about new trade restrictions against the Soviets and a boycott of the 1980 summer Olympics, which were to be held in Moscow. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marked a critical turning point in U.S.-Soviet relations. With the action, the age of détente and the closer diplomatic and economic relations that were established during the presidency of Richard Nixon came to an end. Carter lost the election of 1980 to Ronald Reagan, who promised-and delivered-an even more vigorous anticommunist foreign policy.
1993 – President Bush arrived in Moscow to sign a strategic arms treaty with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who hailed the agreement as “our joint gift to the people of the Earth.”
1997 – Letter bombs began arriving into the US from Egypt. Four were addressed to the Washington bureau of Al-Hayat, an Arab language daily. Others went to Leavenworth, Kansas. They contained the plastic explosive semtex.
2002 – Troops of the 101st Airborne Division begin to replace Marines that have been in Kandahar, Afghanistan since November of 2001.
2004 – The NASA Stardust spacecraft took pictures of the Wild-2 comet tail and collected particles on “aerogel,” a silica foam 99.8% air, the lightest material ever made.
2006 – U.S. Marines operating out of Lamu, Kenya, were said to be assisting Kenyan forces patrolling the border with Somalia with the interception of Islamists.
2007 – Former US President Gerald Ford’s state funeral takes place at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. His casket is later moved to his hometown Grand Rapids, Michigan for burial on Wednesday January 3, 2007.
2011 – US President Barack Obama signs the 9/11 health bill into law to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers and others sickened by toxic fumes and dust after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.
2014 – Armed tribesmen and ISIS militants control the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, after days of violence that erupted as a protest camp was removed.
2015 – Abu Anas al-Libi, a one-time associate of Osama bin Laden, dies in New York, United States while awaiting trial for allegedly plotting the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
Rank and organization: Private, Company K, 5th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Clear Creek, Ariz., 2 January 1873. Entered service at: – – – . Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 12 April 1875. Citation: Gallantry in action.
*EDWARDS, JUNIOR D.
Rank and organization: Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army, Company E, 23d Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Changbong-ni, Korea, 2 January 1951. Entered service at: Indianola, Iowa. Born: 7 October 1926, Indianola, lowa. G.O. No.: 13, 1 February 1952. Citation: Sfc. Edwards, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. When his platoon, while assisting in the defense of a strategic hill, was forced out of its position and came under vicious raking fire from an enemy machine gun set up on adjacent high ground, Sfc. Edwards individually charged the hostile emplacement, throwing grenades as he advanced. The enemy withdrew but returned to deliver devastating fire when he had expended his ammunition. Securing a fresh supply of grenades, he again charged the emplacement, neutralized the weapon and killed the crew, but was forced back by hostile small-arms fire. When the enemy emplaced another machine gun and resumed fire, Sfc. Edwards again renewed his supply of grenades, rushed a third time through a vicious hail of fire, silenced this second gun and annihilated its crew. In this third daring assault he was mortally wounded but his indomitable courage and successful action enabled his platoon to regain and hold the vital strongpoint. Sfc. Edwards’ consummate valor and gallant self-sacrifice reflect the utmost glory upon himself and are in keeping with the esteemed traditions of the infantry and military service.