1702 – During Queen Anne’s War, James Moore, Governor of the Province of Carolina, abandons the Siege of St. Augustine.
1776 – After American success at Trenton on Christmas, General George Washington returned to Trenton, near Assunpink Creek. The victory had changed much of the General’s fortunes but he still had a problem. Many of his troops were free to leave at the end of the year. Washington decided to make a personal appeal to his men.
He offered a bounty to any man who would stay another 6 months. After this first appeal, none stepped forward. But one soldier remembered what Washington said next: “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you probably never can do under any other circumstance.” Men began to step forward. Not everyone stayed, but many did. Only a few stepped out at first, then others. Finally only those to injured fight had not stepped out and new men also joined.
1813 – British soldiers burn Buffalo, New York during the War of 1812.
1816 – The Treaty of St. Louis between the United States and the united Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi Indian tribes is proclaimed. Despite the name, the treaty was conducted at Portage des Sioux, Missouri, located immediately north of St. Louis, Missouri. By signing the treaty, the tribes, their chiefs, and their warriors relinquished all right, claim, and title to land previously ceded to the United States by the Sac and Fox tribes on November 3, 1804, by signing, the united tribes also ceded a 20 mile strip of land to the United States, which connected Chicago and Lake Michigan with the Illinois River. In 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was built on the ceded land and, in 1900, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. In exchange the tribes were to be paid $1,000 in merchandise over 12 years. The land was surveyed by John C. Sullivan and its land was originally intended as land grant rewards for volunteers in the War of 1812. Many of the streets in the survey run at a diagonal that is counter to the Chicago street grid.
1825 – The Treaty of St. Louis between the United States and the Shawnee Nation is proclaimed. The Treaty of St. Louis was signed on November 7, 1825 between William Clark on behalf of the United States and delegates from the Shawnee Nation. In this treaty, the Shawnee ceded lands to the United States near Cape Geredeau. In return for Cape Geredeau, the United States government gave the Shawnee a sum of 11,000 dollars and leased to them a blacksmith shop for five years providing all tools and 300 pounds of iron annually. Moreover, peace and friendship between the two nations were renewed and perpetuated.
1835 – Cherokees were forced to move across the Mississippi River after gold was discovered in Georgia. A minority faction of Cherokee agreed to the emigration of the whole tribe from their lands by signing the Treaty of New Echota. The Treaty of New Echota resulted in the cession of all Cherokee land to the U.S. and provided for the transportation of the Cherokee Indians to land beyond the Mississippi. The removal of the Cherokee was completed by 1838.
1853 – James Gadsden, the U.S. minister to Mexico, and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico, sign the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. The treaty settled the dispute over the location of the Mexican border west of El Paso, Texas, and established the final boundaries of the southern United States. For the price of $15 million, later reduced to $10 million, the United States acquired approximately 30,000 square miles of land in what is now southern New Mexico and Arizona. Jefferson Davis, the U.S. secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce, had sent Gadsden to negotiate with Santa Anna for the land, which was deemed by a group of political and industrial leaders to be a highly strategic location for the construction of the southern transcontinental railroad. In 1861, the “big four” leaders of western railroad construction–Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker–established the Southern Pacific branch of the Central Pacific Railroad.
1862 – The draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was finished and circulated around Lincoln’s cabinet for comment.
1862 – The U.S.S. Monitor sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Just nine months earlier, the ship had been part of a revolution in naval warfare when the ironclad dueled to a standstill with the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack) off Hampton Roads, Virginia, in one of the most famous naval battles in history–the first time two ironclads faced each other in a naval engagement. After the famous duel, the Monitor provided gun support on the James River for George B. McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign. By December 1862, it was clear the Monitor was no longer needed in Virginia, so she was sent to Beaufort, North Carolina, to join a fleet being assembled for an attack on Charleston. The Monitor served well in the sheltered waters of Chesapeake Bay, but the heavy, low-slung ship was a poor craft for the open sea. The U.S.S. Rhode Island towed the ironclad around the rough waters of Cape Hatteras. Since December is a treacherous time for any ship off North Carolina, the decision to move the Monitor seems highly questionable. As the Monitor pitched and swayed in the rough seas, the caulking around the gun turret loosened and water began to leak into the hull. More leaks developed as the journey continued. High seas tossed the craft, causing the ship’s flat armor bottom to slap the water. Each roll opened more seams, and by nightfall on December 30, the Monitor was in dire straits. At 8:00 p.m., the Monitor’s commander, J.P. Bankhead, signaled the Rhode Island that he wished to abandon ship. The wooden side-wheeler pulled as close as safety allowed to the stricken ironclad, and two lifeboats were lowered to retrieve the crew. Many of the sailors were rescued, but some men were terrified to venture onto the deck in such rough seas. The ironclad’s pumps stopped working and the ship sank before 16 crew members could be rescued. Although the Monitor’s service was brief, it signaled a new era in naval combat. The Virginia’s arrival off Hampton Road terrified the U.S. Navy, but the Monitor leveled the playing field. Both sides had ironclads, and the advantage would go to the side that could build more of them. Northern industry would win that battle for the Union.
1863 – Expedition under command of Acting Ensign Norman McLeod from U.S.S. Pursuit, destroyed two salt works at the head of St. Joseph’s Bay, Florida.
1905 – Targeted for his role in quelling a miners’ strike in 1899, former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg is wounded by a powerful bomb that is triggered when he opens the gate to his home in Caldwell, Idaho. He died shortly afterwards in his own bed. A former newspaper editor, Steunenberg entered Idaho politics in 1890, when he was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1896, he won the Idaho Governor’s seat as the head of a coalition of Democrats, Populists, and Republicans who supported the use of silver to back currency. Generally perceived as a friend to labor and the “little man,” Steunenberg won a second term as governor in 1896. During this term, he was confronted with one of the most divisive and violent western battles between labor and management of the 19th century. Miners in the rich silver districts near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, had been struggling to unionize and gain better pay and working conditions since 1892. Radicalized by their initial defeats, an increasing numbers of miners began supporting the violence-prone Western Federation of Miners (WFM), which advocated aggressive tactics and worker control of industry. Alarmed by the growing influence of the WFM, Coeur d’Alene mine owners attempted to bust the union in 1899, and the WFM responded by blowing up one mining company’s huge and costly concentrators with dynamite. Disturbed by the miners’ violent tactics, the hitherto pro-labor Steunenberg heeded the demands of the powerful mine owners and turned against the WFM, requesting that the federal government send in troops. The soldiers placed the region under martial law and herded hundreds of miners into makeshift prisons, ignoring their constitutional rights to know the charges and evidence against them. Steunenberg’s actions restored order in the Idaho silver mines, but also earned him the lasting enmity of many radical WFM members. Six years later, the radicals took their revenge by sending a professional assassin named Harry Orchard to Caldwell. The professional hitman was responsible for planting the bomb that killed the former governor. Orchard was captured, tried, and sentenced to life in prison, and his guilt has never been seriously disputed. However, many were convinced that the plot to kill Steunenberg was supported not just by a radical minority within the WFM, but also by its top leadership. WFM secretary-treasurer William “Big Bill” Haywood was brought up on charges of criminal conspiracy but was found not guilty largely as a result of famous Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow’s brilliant defense. Haywood went on to found the even more radical Industrial Workers of the World.
1922 – In post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics). Also known as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the world to be based on Marxist socialism. During the Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent three-year Russian Civil War, the Bolshevik Party under Vladimir Lenin dominated the soviet forces, a coalition of workers’ and soldiers’ committees that called for the establishment of a socialist state in the former Russian Empire. In the USSR, all levels of government were controlled by the Communist Party, and the party’s politburo, with its increasingly powerful general secretary, effectively ruled the country. Soviet industry was owned and managed by the state, and agricultural land was divided into state-run collective farms. In the decades after it was established, the Russian-dominated Soviet Union grew into one of the world’s most powerful and influential states and eventually encompassed 15 republics–Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved following the collapse of its communist government.
1941 – Admiral Ernest J. King assumes duty as Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
1941 – Allied forces fall back to their final line of prepared defense above the Bataan Peninsula.
1943 – On New Britain, the US marine division captures the Japanese airfield at Cape Gloucester.
1944 – The US 8th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) launches attacks northward, against the German 5th Panzer Army, from a line between Bastogne and St. Hubert with Houffalize as the objective. Meanwhile, elements of German 5th Panzer Army launch another unsuccessful attempt at cutting the American corridor into Bastogne and capture the town.
1944 – General Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, reports that the first two atomic bombs should be ready by August 1, 1945.
1944 – Coast Guard-manned USS FS-367 takes survivors from USS Maripopsa at San Jose, Mindoro, Philippine Islands.
1950 – Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia became independent states in a French Union.
1950 – The body of Eighth Army commander Lieutenant General Walton Walker, killed in a jeep accident on Dec. 23, was flown to the United States for burial in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
1950 – In a fiery statement, Secretary of State Dean Acheson declares that the United States will increase its efforts to contain communist aggression and calls upon the American people for support and sacrifice. The statement was issued just weeks after hundreds of thousands of communist Chinese troops entered the Korean War, threatening to expand the conflict into a third world war. Acheson noted that 1950 had been a “dark year,” but also argued that the United States had made great advances in thwarting communist machinations around the world. Nevertheless, he continued, the United States faced a situation of “extreme gravity.” “Our freedom, our way of life, is menaced,” Acheson declared. In some of the harshest language in the statement, the secretary argued, “The present difficulties arise from the lawless and cynical conduct of the communists who would destroy peace and freedom.” Despite talk of peace from the Soviet Union, said Acheson, its recent actions revealed its talk to be “nothing but camouflage to cloak the naked imperialism of its aims.” The United States and the American people needed to support all efforts to defeat the communist threat. “No sacrifices are too great when the future of this nation is at stake.” Acheson’s heated rhetoric might have been an attempt to make up for his handling of foreign policy during the previous two years, when the secretary fell under near-constant criticism for not taking a tough stand against communism. Attacks by Senator Joseph McCarthy had been particularly loud and damaging. As 1950 drew to a close Acheson took a hard-line, declaring that the United States was willing and able to meet any challenge posed by the communists and that American commitment to Korea would not falter.
1952 – Sinbad, the canine-mascot of the cutter Campbell during World War II, passed away at his last duty station, the Barnegat Lifeboat Station, at the ripe old age of 15. He served on board the cutter throughout the war and earned his way into Coast Guard legend with his shipboard and liberty antics.
1959 – Commissioning of first fleet ballistic missile submarine, USS George Washington (SSB(N)-598), at Groton, CT.
1963 – Congress authorized the Kennedy half dollar.
1970 – The South Vietnamese Navy receives 125 U.S. vessels in a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. Navy’s four-year role in inland waterway combat. This brings the total number of vessels turned over to the South Vietnamese Navy to 650. About 17,000 Americans remained with the South Vietnamese Navy in shore positions and as advisers aboard South Vietnamese vessels. The transfer of inland waterway combat responsibility was part of President Nixon’s Vietnamization program, in which the war effort was transferred to the South Vietnam so U.S. troops could be withdrawn.
1972 – Officials in Washington, D.C., announce that the peace talks in Paris between National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho will resume on January 2. On December 28, Hanoi agreed to return to the negotiations, and President Nixon ordered a halt to Linebacker II, the intensive bombing campaign of North Vietnam. Nixon initiated the campaign on December 18 when the North Vietnamese, who walked out of the peace negotiations in Paris, refused his ultimatum to return to the talks. During the course of the bombing, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bombers dropped an estimated 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong. When the communist negotiators returned to Paris, the peace talks moved along quickly. On January 23, 1973, the United States, North Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Viet Cong signed a cease-fire agreement that took effect five days later.
1981 – The 14 remaining LORAN-A stations closed down at midnight, ending Loran-A coverage, which began during World War II.
1985 – Vice President George Bush paid an official visit to the officers and crew of the CGC Steadfast while the cutter was in Nassau, Bahamas. Accompanied by RADM Richard P. Cueroni, commander, 7th District and various other U.S. and Bahamian officials, the vice president officiated at an awards and wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System and the joint U.S. Bahamian operations.
1988 – President Reagan and President-elect Bush were subpoenaed to testify as defense witnesses in the pending Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North. The subpoenas were subsequently quashed.
1990 – Iraq’s information minister (Latif Nussayif Jassim) said President Bush “must have been drunk” when he suggested Iraq might withdraw from Kuwait, and added: “We will show the world America is a paper tiger.”
1991 – The remains of two American hostages slain in Lebanon, William Buckley and Marine Col. William R. Higgins, arrived in the United States for burial.
1991 – Leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States agreed to establish unified command over nuclear weapons, while allowing member states to form their own armies.
1992 – President Bush embarked on the final foreign trip of his term in office, heading to a Black Sea summit with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, with a stopover in Somalia to visit U.S. troops helping famine victims.
1995 – A US military policeman, Martin John Begosh, became the first American injured in NATO’s fledgling Bosnia peace mission when his Humvee hit an anti-tank mine.
1996 – The United Nations announces that a total of 21 contracts have been approved for the limited Iraqi oil sales under U.N. Security Council Resolution 986. The approved contracts will allow for 43.68 million barrels of oil to be exported in the first 90 days of the sale. At present, exports of 26.37 million barrels have been approved for the second 90-day period of the sale, which allows Iraq to sell up to $1 billion worth of oil every 90 days for an initial 6-month period. In mid-December 1996, Iraq restarted the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which is expected to carry up to 450,000 b/d of oil under the sales agreements approved so far under U.N. Security Council Resolution 986. Iraq’s remaining oil exports will flow through the Mina al-Bakr terminal.
1998 – Iraq again fired at US warplanes the missile site was destroyed in response.
2000 – 5 bomb blasts hit Manila and at least 22 people were killed. Muslim rebels were blamed. One of bombs was on a train and killed at least 13. Police arrested 17 men on Jan 4. 7 Muslim guerrillas were indicted including Salamat Hashim, chairman of the Moro Liberation Front. The Jemaah Islamiyah, an militant group linked to al Qaeda, was involved in the train bombing.
2002 – British and US warplanes flying multiple missions attacked Iraq air defense facilities after an Iraqi fighter jet penetrated the southern no-fly zone.
2002 – The UN passed a resolution by a 13-0 vote with Russia and Syria abstaining that put new limits on Iraq for purchases of certain communications equipment and antibiotics.
2002 – In Yemen a suspected Muslim extremist, hiding his gun cradled like a baby, slipped into the Jibla Baptist Hospital and opened fire, killing three American missionaries: Dr. Martha Myers (57), William Koehn (60), and Kathleen Gariety (53). A 4th was seriously wounding. Abed Abdul Razak Kamel was sentenced to death in May for killing the missionaries.
2003 – The Pentagon said it will end an arrangement with Halliburton to import fuel into Iraq due to recent government audits.
2006 – Saddam Hussein is hanged.
2006 – Former U.S. President Gerald Ford’s funeral is held at the United States Capitol.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
GRISWOLD, LUKE M.
Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, Massachusetts. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous rescue of the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Griswold, after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island, and spent many hours in the small boat at the mercy of the weather and high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.
HESSELTINE, FRANCIS S.
Rank and organization: Colonel, 13th Maine Infantry. Place and date: At Matagorda Bay, Tex., 29-30 December 1863. Entered service at: Maine. Born: 10 December 1833, Bangor, Maine. Date of issue: 2 March 1895. Citation: In command of a detachment of 100 men, conducted a reconnaissance for 2 days, baffling and beating back an attacking force of more than a thousand Confederate cavalry, and regained his transport without loss.
HORTON, LEWIS A.
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1839, Bristol Mass. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island, which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous task of rescuing the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Horton, after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island and spent many hours in the small boat at the mercy of the weather and high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, Bridgeport, Conn. Accredited to: New Hampshire, G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island, which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous rescue of the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Jones, after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island, and spent many hours m the small boat at the mercy of the weather and high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.
Rank and organization: Captain of the Afterguard, U.S. Navy. Born: 1834, Ireland. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in rescuing men from the stricken Monitor in Mobile Bay, on 30 December 1862. After the Monitor sprang a leak and went down, Logan courageously risked his life in a gallant attempt to rescue members of the crew. Although sacrificing his life during the hazardous operation, he had made every effort possible to save the lives of his fellow men.
McKEEN, NINEVEH S.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company H, 21st Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 30 December 1862. At Liberty Gap, Tenn., 25 June 1863. Entered service at: Marshall, Clark County, Ill. Birth: Marshall, Clark County, Ill. Date of issue: 23 June 1890. Citation: Conspicuous in the charge at Stone River, Tenn., where he was three times wounded. At Liberty Gap, Tenn., captured colors of 8th Arkansas Infantry (C.S.A.).
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous task of rescuing the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Moore after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island, and spent many hours in the small boat at the mercy of the weather and high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.
NOLAN, RICHARD J.
Rank and organization: Farrier, Company I, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White Clay Creek, S. Dak., 30 December 1890. Entered service at:——. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 1 April 1891. Citation: Bravery.
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company K, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White Clay Creek, S. Dak., 30 December 1890. Entered service at:——. Birth: Sweden. Date of issue: 13 April 1891. Citation: Bravery.
VARNUM, CHARLES A.
Rank and organization: Captain, Company B, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White Clay Creek, S. Dak., 30 December 1890. Entered service at: Pensacola, Fla. Birth: Troy, N.Y. Date of issue: 22 September 1897. Citation: While executing an order to withdraw, seeing that a continuance of the movement would expose another troop of his regiment to being cut off and surrounded, he disregarded orders to retire, placed himself in front of his men, led a charge upon the advancmg Indians, regained a commanding position that had just been vacated, and thus insured a safe withdrawal of both detachments without further loss.
Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 3d U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: Texas, 30 December 1891. Entered service at:——. Birth: Patriot, Ind. Date of issue: 25 April 1892. Citation: While carrying dispatches, he attacked a party of 3 armed men and secured papers valuable to the United States.
Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, and White Clay Creek, S. Dak 29-30 December 1890. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Germany Date of issue: 23 June 1891. Citation: Conspicuous bravery.
HOWARD, ROBERT L.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 30 December 1968. Entered service at: Montgomery, Ala. Born: 11 July 1939, Opelika, Ala. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then Sfc .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam. The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer’s equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant’s belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard’s small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard’s gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.