A number of very significant things happened in early January. During the War of 1812 we won our greatest victory, the Battle of New Orleans. The first shots of the Civil War were fired.
During WWII we established the first airship units. And Japanese pilots became kamikaze pilots. And the GI Bill of Rights was passed by Congress.
On 1 Jan 1946, an American soldier accepted the surrender of about 20 Japanese soldiers who only discovered that WWII was over by reading it in the newspaper.
On the island of Corregidor, located at the mouth of Manila Bay, a lone soldier on detail for the American Graves Registration was busy recording the makeshift graves of American soldiers who had lost their lives fighting the Japanese. He was interrupted when approximately 20 Japanese soldiers approached him—literally waving a white flag. They had been living in an underground tunnel built during the war and learned that their country had already surrendered when one of them ventured out in search of water and found a newspaper announcing Japan’s defeat.
On 2 Jan 1942, during WWII, the Navy Airship Patrol Group 1 and Air Ship Squadron 12 were established at Lakehurst, N.J. The Navy was the only military service in the world to use airships–also known as blimps–during the war.
The 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 Army was using them. By the close of WWI, 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 non-rigid airships to patrol the coasts of the US, 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 non-rigid blimps to the Navy.
On 5 Jan 1945, Japanese pilots received the first order to become kamikaze, meaning “divine wind” in Japanese. The suicidal blitz of the kamikazes revealed Japan’s desperation in the final months of WWII. Most of Japan’s top pilots were dead, but youngsters needed little training to take planes full of explosives and crash them into ships. At Okinawa, they sank 30 ships and killed almost 5,000 Americans.
On 6 Jan 1944 – In Burma, Brigadier General Merrill was designated to command a volunteer unit that becomes known as “Merrill’s Marauders”.
On 6 Jan 1991 – Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in a television address, told his country to prepare for a long war against what he called “tyranny represented by the United States.”
On 8 Jan 1815, two weeks after the War of 1812 officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, US General Andrew Jackson achieved the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans.
In September 1814, an impressive American naval victory on Lake Champlain forced invading British forces back into Canada and led to the conclusion of peace negotiations in Ghent,
Belgium. Although the peace agreement was signed on 24 Dec, word did not reach the British forces assailing the Gulf coast in time to halt a major attack.
On 8 Jan 1815, the British marched against New Orleans, hoping that by capturing the city they could separate Louisiana from the rest of the US. Pirate Jean Lafitte, however, had warned the Americans of the attack, and the arriving British found militiamen under General Andrew Jackson strongly entrenched at the Rodriquez Canal. In two separate assaults, the 7,500 British soldiers under Sir Edward Pakenham were unable to penetrate the US defenses, and Jackson’s 4,500 troops, many of them expert marksmen from Kentucky and Tennessee, decimated the British lines. In half an hour, the British had retreated, General Pakenham was dead, and nearly 2,000 of his men were killed, wounded, or missing. US forces suffered only eight killed and 13 wounded.
Although the battle had no bearing on the outcome of the war, Jackson’s overwhelming victory elevated national pride, which had suffered a number of setbacks during the War. The Battle of New Orleans was also the last armed engagement between the US and Britain.
On 9 Jan 1861 – A Union merchant ship, the “Star of the West,” was fired upon as it tried to bring supplies to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. This incident was the first time shots were exchanged between North and South but it not trigger the Civil War. When it seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, South Carolina demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. President James Buchanan refused to do so but was also careful not to make any provocative move. Inside the fort, Major Robert Anderson and his 80 soldiers needed supplies. The Buchanan administration decided to dispatch a civilian ship, the “Star of the West,” instead of a military transport, in order to keep tensions from flaring. The ship left New York on January 5. After it was en route, Secretary of War Joseph Holt received a dispatch from Anderson saying that the garrison was safe and supplies were not needed immediately. Anderson added that the secessionists were building gun emplacements overlooking the main shipping channel into Charleston Harbor. Holt realized that the ship was in great danger and that a war might erupt. He tried in vain to recall the “Star of the West,” and Anderson was not aware that the ship continued on its way. In the morning on January 9, ship captain John McGowan steered the ship into the channel near the fort. Two cannon shots roared from a South Carolina battery on Morris Island. They came from gunner George Haynsworth, a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston. They were poor shots, but they represented the opening salvo of the war. More shots were fired, and the ship suffered a minor hit. Anderson watched from Sumter but did not respond in support of the ship. If he had, the war may have started on that day. The incident resulted in strong talk on both sides, but they stopped short of war. The standoff at Fort Sumter continued until the Confederates attacked in April, triggering the Civil War.
10 Jan 1776 – Thomas Paine published his pamphlet “Common Sense,” setting forth the arguments for American independence. Although little used today, pamphlets were an important medium for the spread of ideas in the 16th through 19th centuries. Paine was born in England in 1737 and worked as a corset-maker in his teens. He also worked as a sailor and schoolteacher before becoming a prominent pamphleteer. In 1774, Paine arrived in Philadelphia and came to support American independence. His 47-page pamphlet sold some 500,000 copies and had a powerful influence on American opinion. Paine served in the US Army and worked for the Committee of Foreign Affairs before returning to Europe in 1787. Back in England, he continued writing pamphlets in support of revolution. He released The Rights of Man, supporting the French revolution in 1791-2, in answer to Edmund Burke’s famous Reflections on the Revolution
in France (1790). His sentiments were highly unpopular with the British government, so he fled to France but was later arrested for his political opinions. He returned to the United States in 1802 and died in New York in 1809.
On 10 Jan 1944 – The GI Bill of Rights, first proposed by the American Legion, was passed by Congress. The Bill, more formally known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, was intended to smooth demobilization for America’s almost 16 million servicemen and women. Postwar college and vocational school attendance soared as more than 50 percent of honorably discharged veterans took advantage of education benefits of up to $500 a year for tuition, plus a living allowance. When they returned home to marry and start families in record numbers, veterans faced a severe housing shortage. The home loan provisions of the GI Bill provided more than 2 million home loans and created a new American landscape in the suburbs. In 1990, President George Bush summed up the impact of the GI Bill: “The GI Bill changed the lives of millions by replacing old roadblocks with paths of opportunity.”
On 14 Jan 1960 – Elvis Presley was promoted to Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
~ Humor/Puns ~
Some Dad jokes:
IT SNOWED LAST NIGHT . . . . We received about 3 inches of snow yesterday and at
8:00 am: I made a snowman.
8:10 – A feminist passed by and asked me why I didn’t make a snow woman.
8:15 – So, I made a snow woman.
8:17 – My feminist neighbor complained about the snow woman’s voluptuous chest saying it objectified women everywhere.
8:20 – The gay couple living nearby threw a hissy fit and moaned it could have been two snowmen instead.
8:22 – The transgender man.. women…person asked why I didn’t just make one snow person with detachable parts.
8:25 – The vegans at the end of the lane complained about the carrot nose, as veggies are food and are not used to decorate snow figures.
8:28 – I was being called a racist because the snow couple is white.
8:30 – I used food coloring to make one of the snow couple a different color and be more racially inclusive.
8:37 – Then they accused me of using a black face on the snowperson
8:39 – The middle eastern gent across the road demanded the snow woman be completely covered.
8:40 – The police arrived saying someone had been offended.
8:42 – The feminist neighbor complained again that the broomstick of the snow woman needed to be removed because it depicted women in a domestic role.
8:43 – The ‘council on equality’ officer arrived and threatened me with eviction.
9:00 – I was on the news as a suspected terrorist, racist, homophobe, and sensibility offender, bent on stirring up trouble during difficult weather.
9:10 – I was asked if I have any accomplices. My children were taken by social services.
9:29 – Far left protesters offended by everything marched down the street demanding that I be arrested.
9:45 – The boss called and fired me because of the negative association with work that had been all over social media.
10:00 – I cry into my drink because all I wanted to do was build a snowman…
I suspect that most Americans, wherever they stand on these topic are happy to let their neighbors be themselves and don’t get in people’s faces over stuff like this. Name-callers are really jerks.
The Frontlines of Freedom Newsletter is published twice monthly; the dates of publication each month depend on the events and history of that month.