1760 – Cherokees unsuccessfully attack Fort Prince George in South Carolina to rescue tribe members held hostage by Governor Lyttleton. Lyttleton took the hostages as assurance of compliance with a peace treaty concluded in December 1759. Frustrated, the Cherokees turn to raids on southwest frontier settlements.
1770 – In an attempt to prevent the posting of broadsides by British soldiers stationed in New York, the Sons of Liberty, led by Alexander McDougall, engage in a skirmish with soldiers on Golden Hill. Along with the Boston Massacre and the Gaspée Affair, the event was one of the early violent incidents in what would become the American Revolution. During the imperial crisis with Britain in the 1760s, the Sons of Liberty (or “Liberty Boys”) in New York City sometimes erected “Liberty poles” to symbolize their displeasure with British authorities. The first such pole was put up in City Hall Park on May 21, 1766, in celebration of the repeal of the 1765 Stamp Act. After the New York Assembly finally voted to comply with the Quartering Act in December 1769, Alexander McDougall issued an anonymous broadside entitled “To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York”. In response, on January 17, 1770, British soldiers sawed down a Liberty pole. The “red coats” also posted their own handbills which attacked the Sons of Liberty as “the real enemies of society” who “thought their freedom depended on a piece of wood”. On January 19, 1770, six weeks before the Boston Massacre, Isaac Sears and others tried to stop some soldiers from posting handbills. Sears captured some of the soldiers and marched his captives towards the mayor’s office, while the rest of the British soldiers ran to the barracks to sound the alarm. A crowd of townsfolk arrived along with a score of soldiers. The soldiers were surrounded and badly outnumbered. Another squad of soldiers arrived and the officer gave the order “Soldiers, draw your bayonets and cut your way through them.” More soldiers arrived and a group of officers arrived to disperse the soldiers before the situation got totally out of hand. Several of the soldiers were badly bruised and one a had a serious wound. Some of the townsfolk were wounded and one had been fatally stabbed.
1807 – The strong, healthy boy born to “Light Horse Harry” and Ann Carter Lee was the last Lee born at Stratford to survive to maturity. Though he spent fewer than four years there, his later boyhood visits left an impression that he carried throughout his life. As sometimes happens in distinguished families, one member seems to fall heir to the best qualities of the previous generations and none of the flaws. So it was with Robert Edward Lee. From both the Carters and the Lees he inherited a handsome countenance. From his father came rare physical strength and endurance. The sense of duty that Harry had learned from George Washington was vividly imparted to his son Robert. Even “Light Horse Harry’s” difficulties with money seemed to have produced positive responses in Robert, who throughout his life was meticulous and prudent in all finacial matters. Ann Carter Lee’s gentleness was inherited by Robert, and his loving care of his ailing mother was the mainstay of her life. With his father and elder brothers away, and his mother and sisters in failing health, Robert had become, by age 12, head of the household. On cold afternoons, when his mother was well enough, young Robert would stuff paper in the cracks of the carriage to block the wind and take her driving. Years later, when he left for West Point, Ann Lee wrote to a cousin, “How I will get on without Robert? He is both a son and daughter to me.” Robert Lee’s choice of a military career was dictated by financial necessity. There was no money left to send him to Harvard, where his older brother Charles Carter studied. Such circumstances led him to an appointment to West Point Military Academy. Robert, who led the Cadet Corps in 1829, graduated second in his class. In four years he received not a single demerit, and he became one of the most popular cadets in his class. When he returned as the Academy’s superintendent years later, he won the same affectionate respect from the cadets for his compassion, sense of fairness and strong moral leadership. On June 30, 1831, while serving as Second Lieutenant of Engineers at Fort Monroe, Virginia, he married Mary Ann Randolph Custis of Arlington. Mary was the only daughter of George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and the adopted grandson of George Washington. Robert E. Lee shared his father’s reverence for the memory of the General and that bond with the Father of our Country served as an inspiration throughout Lee’s life. The couple moved into Arlington, the Custis house across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., which would later become Arlington National Cemetery. At the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846, Robert was ordered to Mexico as a supervisor of road construction. His skills as a cavalryman in reconnaissance, however, soon captured the attention of General Winfield Scott, who came to rely on Robert for his sharp military expertise. It was in Mexico that Lee learned the battlefield tactics that would serve him so well in coming years. In spite of his flawless performance as an engineer and his brilliance as an officer, promotion came slowly for Robert Lee. His assignments were lonely and difficult, and he found the separation from his family hard to bear. His love of Mary and his ever-increasing brood of children were the center of his life. The opportunity that won him enduring fame was one he would have preferred not to have taken. The Army of the United States had been his life’s work for 32 years, and he had given it his very best. On April 18, 1861, he was finally offered the reward for his service. On the eve of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, through Secretary Francis Blair, offered him command of the Union Army. There was little doubt as to Lee’s sentiments. He was utterly opposed to secession and considered slavery evil. His views on the United States were equally clear – “no north, no south, no east, no west,” he wrote, “but the broad Union in all its might and strength past and present.” Blair’s offer forced Lee to choose between his strong conviction to see the country united in perpetuity and his responsibility to family, friends and his native Virginia. A heart-wrenching decision had to be made. After a long night at Arlington, searching for an answer to Blair’s offer, he finally came downstairs to Mary. “Well Mary,” he said calmly, “the question is settled. Here is my letter of resignation.” He could not, he told her, lift his hand against his own people. He had “endeavored to do what he thought was right,” and replied to Blair that “…though opposed to secession and a deprecating war, I could take no part in the invasion of the Southern States.” He resigned his commission and left his much beloved Arlington to “go back in sorrow to my people and share the misery of my native state.” On June 1, 1862 Robert Edward Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia in the Confederate capital of Richmond. Not until February 1865 was he named Commander in Chief of all Confederate forces, but the leadership throughout the war was undeniably his. His brilliance as a commander is legendary, and military colleges the world over study his compaigns as models of the science of war. That he held out against an army three times the size and a hundred times better equipped was no miracle. It was the result of leadership by a man of exceptional intelligence, daring, courage and integrity. His men all but worshiped him. He shared their rations, slept in tents as they did, and, most importantly, never asked more of them than he did of himself. Lee’s legendary command of the Confederate forces came to an end at Appomattox, Virginia in April 1865. “There is nothing left for me to do,” he said, “but to go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.” With the war now over, Lee set an example to all in his refusal to express bitterness. “Abandon your animosities,” he said, “and make your sons Americans.” He then set out to work for a permanent union of the states. Though his application to regain his citizenship was misplaced and not acted upon until 1975 – more than a century late – Lee worked tirelessly for a strong peace. With some hesitation he accepted the presidency of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, and there he strove to equip his students with the character and knowledge he knew would be necessary to restore the war-ravaged South. Lexington became his home, and there he died of heart problems on October 12, 1870. After his death, his name was joined with that of his lifelong hero, and Washington College became Washington and Lee University.
1840 –During an exploring expedition, Captain Charles Wilkes sights the coast of eastern Antarctica and claims it for the United States. Wilkes’ group had set out in 1838, sailing around South America to the South Pacific and then to Antarctica, where they explored a 1,500-mile stretch of the eastern Antarctic coast that later became known as Wilkes Land. In 1842, the expedition returned to New York, having circumnavigated the globe. Antarctica was discovered by European and American explorers in the early part of the 19th century, and in February 1821 the first landing on the Antarctic continent was made by American John Davis at Hughes Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula. During the next century, many nations, including the United States, made territorial claims to portions of the almost-inhabitable continent. However, during the 1930s, conflicting claims led to international rivalry, and the United States, which led the world in the establishment of scientific bases, enacted an official policy of making no territorial claims while recognizing no other nation’s claims. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty made Antarctica an international zone, set guidelines for scientific cooperation, and prohibited military operations, nuclear explosions, and the disposal of radioactive waste on the continent.
1847 – Angered by the abusive behavior of American soldiers occupying the city, Mexicans in Taos strike back by murdering the American-born New Mexican governor Charles Bent. The eldest of four brothers who all became prominent frontiersmen, Charles Bent began his involvement with the Wild West in 1822, when he left Virginia at the age of 23 to become a trader for the Missouri Fur Company. When that company was destroyed by cutthroat competition from John Jacob Astor’s powerful American Fur Company, Bent became a trader on the Santa Fe Trail. Building outlets in the Mexican cities of Santa Fe and New Mexico, and an Indian trading post on the Arkansas River called Bent’s Fort (in modern-day Colorado), Bent and his business partners eventually created the largest mercantile firm in the Southwest. Bent’s financial, political, and personal interests increasingly began to center on Taos, New Mexico. In the 1830s, he moved there and married Maria Ignacia Jaramillo, a wealthy widow from a prominent Mexican family. Bent’s new wife and his considerable wealth helped him win acceptance among the Mexican political elites, and he became a close associate of the New Mexican governor, Manuel Armijo. However, when war between Mexico and the U.S. broke out in 1846, Bent revealed his true colors by welcoming General Stephen Kearney’s largely bloodless conquest of New Mexico with open arms. Kearney awarded Bent by appointing him to the governorship. Kearney and most of his soldiers then moved on to take California, leaving the new governor to fend for himself, and Bent soon discovered that his behavior had earned him many enemies in Taos. Many of the Mexican families naturally resented the American conquest of their home, and the Taos Indians had long disliked Bent because of his trade relations with their northern enemies. The small force of American soldiers left behind to maintain order exacerbated the bad feelings by treating the Mexicans with undisguised contempt. On January 19, 1847, the people of Taos struck back. A violent mob attacked a Taos home that Bent was visiting, murdered his guards, and then killed and scalped Bent. Dragging Bent’s mangled body through the streets of Taos, the mob called for a full-scale rebellion against the American occupation, and by the end of the evening, 15 other Americans had been killed. Those who survived fled to Santa Fe to sound the alarm. Within two weeks, the American Colonel Sterling Price had quelled the rebellion and executed the supposed ringleaders. With the end of the Mexican War in 1848, New Mexico and all the rest of Mexico’s old northern frontier became the American Southwest.
1861 – Georgia became the 5th state to secede from the Union.
1862 – Union General George Thomas defeats Confederates commanded by George Crittenden in southern Kentucky. The battle, also called Mill Springs or Beech Grove, secured Union control of the region and resulted in the death of Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer. Zollicoffer commanded a brigade that moved across the Cumberland River in November 1861 in order to control as much of Kentucky as possible. Crittenden was the key Confederate commander in the region, and he arrived in early January to supervise Rebel operations. Crittenden had initially ordered a withdrawal to the south bank of the Cumberland, but he found Zollicoffer’s force safely entrenched on the north bank of the river, which was running unusually high. Thomas’s Yankees were just ten miles north. Crittenden ordered Zollicoffer to advance, and Thomas’ scouts detected the move. Thomas moved his troops south, and the two forces collided early in the morning of January 19. The Confederates attacked the Union left flank, then the center. As additional Federal troops arrived, the tide of battle turned. At one point, Zollicoffer approached a unit that he thought was part of his army. It was the 4th Kentucky, a Union regiment. Before he and his entourage could flee, a volley killed Zollicoffer. At about this time, the tide of battle turned for the Federals. Union troops pressed all along the line and the Confederates began to break en masse. Fortunately for the Confederates, Thomas’ troops were low on ammunition and could not take advantage of the situation. That night, Crittenden withdrew his forces across the swollen Cumberland but had to abandon most of its artillery and horses. The Confederates lost 400 men in the engagement; the Yankees lost about 250. Crittenden was heavily criticized for the defeat and he resigned that fall. The Union retained control of Kentucky, but the engagement was a prelude to the much larger Battle of Shiloh in April.
1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.
1920 – The United States Senate votes against joining the League of Nations.
1943 – Two US cruisers and four destroyers bombard the Aleutian island of Attu.
1946 – Staged jointly by the USCG and USN, the first public demonstration of LORAN was held at Floyd Bennett Field in New York. Loran was originally developed to provide radionavigation service for U.S. coastal waters and was later expanded to include complete coverage of the continental U.S. as well as most of Alaska. Today twenty-four U.S. Loran-C stations work in partnership with Canadian and Russian stations to provide coverage in Canadian waters and in the Bering Sea. Loran-C provides better than 0.25 nautical mile absolute accuracy for suitably equipped users within the published areas.
1946 – General Douglas MacArthur establishes the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo to try Japanese war criminals. Also known as the Tokyo Trials, the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, or simply the Tribunal, was convened on April 29, 1946, to try the leaders of the Empire of Japan for three types of war crimes. “Class A” crimes were reserved for those who participated in a joint conspiracy to start and wage war, and were brought against those in the highest decision-making bodies; “Class B” crimes were reserved for those who committed “conventional” atrocities or crimes against humanity; “Class C” crimes were reserved for those in “the planning, ordering, authorization, or failure to prevent such transgressions at higher levels in the command structure”. Twenty-eight Japanese military and political leaders were charged with Class A crimes, and more than 5,700 Japanese nationals were charged with Class B and C crimes, mostly entailing prisoner abuse. China held 13 tribunals of its own, resulting in 504 convictions and 149 executions.
1951 – Far East Air Forces launched a thirteen-day intensive air campaign, by fighters, light bombers, and medium bombers, to restrict to a trickle the supplies and reinforcements reaching enemy forces in the field.
1952 – The U.S. Navy hospital ship Repose departed Korean waters after the longest tour of duty for any such vessel during the Korean War — nearly one and one-half years.
1960 – The US signs a mutual defense treaty with Japan. Protests in Tokyo cause President Eisenhower to cancel a planned trip to Japan.
1961 –Outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower cautions incoming President John F. Kennedy that Laos is “the key to the entire area of Southeast Asia,” and might even require the direct intervention of U.S. combat troops. Fearing that the fall of Laos to the communist Pathet Lao forces might have a domino effect in Southeast Asia, President Kennedy sent a carrier task force to the Gulf of Siam in April 1961. However, he decided not to intervene in Laos with U.S. troops and in June 1961, he sent representatives to Geneva to work out a solution to the crisis. In 1962, an agreement was signed that called for the neutrality of Laos and set up a coalition government to run the country. By this time, Kennedy had turned his attention to South Vietnam, where a growing insurgency threatened to topple the pro-western government of Ngo Dinh Diem. Kennedy had already sent combat advisers to the South Vietnamese army and this commitment expanded over time. By the time Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, he had overseen the assignment of over 17,000 U.S. advisers to South Vietnam.
1968 – Cambodia charges that the United States and South Vietnam have crossed the border and killed three Cambodians.
1968 – “Sky Soldiers” from the 173rd Airborne Brigade begin Operation McLain with a reconnaissance-in-force operation in the Central Highlands. The purpose of this operation was to find and destroy the communist base camps in the area in order to promote better security for the province. The operation ended on January 31, 1970, with 1,042 enemy casualties.
1977 – President Gerald Ford pardons Iva Toguri D’Aquino (a.k.a. “Tokyo Rose”).
1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces the United States boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow.
1981 – The United States and Iran signed an agreement in Algiers paving the way for the release of 52 Americans held hostage for more than 14 months.
1986 – The first IBM PC computer virus is released into the wild. A boot sector virus dubbed (c)Brain, it was created by the Farooq Alvi Brothers in Lahore, Pakistan, reportedly to deter piracy of the software they had written.
1991 – During the Gulf War, Israel’s anti-missile force was boosted by additional Patriot missile batteries and U-S crews. A second Iraqi missile attack caused 29 injuries in Tel Aviv. Allied forces began bombarding Iraq’s elite Republican Guard.
1993 – The first American combat troops flew home from their humanitarian mission in Somalia.
1993 – Iraq agrees to allow UNSCOM flights in Iraq. Iraq had refused to allow UNSCOM to use its own aircraft in Iraq. Also, Iraq began incursions into the demilitarized zone with Kuwait, and increases its military activity in the no-fly zones. The U.N. Security Council states that Iraq’s actions were an “unacceptable and material” breach of Resolution 687 and warns Iraq of “serious consequences.” Shortly thereafter, the United States, UK, and France launch air raids on southern Iraq.
1998 – The US and China signed an accord designed to avoid naval and air conflicts at sea.
1999 – In Serbia Gen’l. Wesley Clark and Gen’l. Klaus Naumann met with Pres. Milosevic and threatened him with NATO airstrikes due to the massacre of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
2001 – In Afghanistan UN sanctions began following a 30-day deadline for the handover of Osama bin Laden. The sanctions coincided with the worst drought in 30 years.
2002 – A US CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed in Afghanistan after take off from Bagram air base. Marines Dwight Morgan and Walter Cohee III were killed.
2003 – Colombian AUC gunmen kidnapped three Americans (Robert Y. Pelton, Mark Wedeven and Megan A. Smaker) just north of the Colombian border in Panama. The writer and 2 hikers were released Jan 23.
2003 – Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei, the chief UN arms inspectors, sat down for urgent talks with Iraqi officials.
2003 – The United States offers Saddam Hussein immunity from prosecution if he leaves Iraq. US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld says in a television interview: “If to avoid a war, I would…recommend that some provision be made so that the senior leadership in that country [Iraq] and their families could be provided haven in some other country.”
2006 – The New Horizons probe is launched by NASA on the first mission to Pluto. New Horizons is a NASA space probe launched to study the dwarf planet Pluto, its moons and one or two Kuiper Belt objects, depending on which are in position to be explored. Part of the New Frontiers program, the mission was approved in 2001 following the cancellation of the Pluto Fast Flyby and Pluto Kuiper Express. The mission profile was proposed by a team led by principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute. After several delays on the launch site, New Horizons was launched on 19 January 2006 from Cape Canaveral. Launched directly into an Earth-and-solar-escape trajectory with an Earth-relative velocity of about 16.26 km/s (58,536 km/h; 36,373 mph), it set the record for the highest velocity of a human-made object from Earth. New Horizons should perform a flyby of the Pluto system on 14 July 2015.
2006 – Al Jazeera airs an audiotape from Osama bin Laden saying al-Qaeda is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a “long-term truce” to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.
2010 – Scores of United States Navy troops land near the Haitian presidential palace, bringing food, water, and equipment following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that had devastated Haiti on 12 January.
2013 – NASA’s Curiosity rover finds calcium deposits on Mars similar to those seen on Earth when water circulates in cracks and rock fractures.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
Rank and organization: Private, Company K, 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Place and date: At Burnt Ordinary, Va., 19 January 1863. Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 2 August 1897. Citation: Was one of a small scouting party that charged and routed a mounted force of the enemy six times their number. He led the charge in a most gallant and distinguished manner, going far beyond the call of duty.
Rank and organization: Captain of the Hold, U.S. Navy. Born: 1840, Cuba. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 82, 23 February 1867. Citation: With Acting Ensign James H. Bunting, during the heavy gale which occurred in Pensacola Bay on the night of 19 January 1867, Robinson swam ashore with a line for the purpose of sending off a blowcock, which would facilitate getting up steam and prevent the vessel from stranding, thus voluntarily periling his life to save the vessel and the lives of others.
BEARSS, HIRAM IDDINGS
Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 13 April 1875, Peru, Ind. Appointed from: Indiana. Other Navy award: Distinguished Service Medal. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle at the junction of the Cadacan and Sohoton Rivers, Samar, Philippine Islands, 17 November 1901. Col. Bearss (then Capt.), second in command of the columns upon their uniting ashore in the Sohoton River region, made a surprise attack on the fortified cliffs and completely routed the enemy, killing 30 and capturing and destroying the powder magazine, 40 lantacas (guns), rice, food and cuartels. Due to his courage, intelligence, discrimination and zeal, he successfully led his men up the cliffs by means of bamboo ladders to a height of 200 feet. The cliffs were of soft stone of volcanic origin, in the nature of pumice, and were honeycombed with caves. Tons of rocks were suspended in platforms held in position by vine cables (known as bejuco) in readiness to be precipitated upon people below. After driving the insurgents from their position which was almost impregnable, being covered with numerous trails lined with poison spears, pits, etc., he led his men across the river, scaled the cliffs on the opposite side, and destroyed the camps there. Col. Bearss and the men under his command overcame incredible difficulties and dangers in destroying positions which, according to reports from old prisoners, had taken 3 years to perfect, were held as a final rallying point, and were never before penetrated by white troops. Col. Bearss also rendered distinguished public service in the presence of the enemy at Quinapundan River, Samar, Philippine Islands, on 19 January 1902.