This Day in History
December 13: The First US Military Units, U.S. and Mexico Settle Border Dispute, and Other Events of the Date
Next Post

Press {{ keys }} + D to make this page bookmarked.


December 13: The First US Military Units, U.S. and Mexico Settle Border Dispute, and Other Events of the Date


The first US military units

On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony organized three militia regiments to defend the colony against the Pequot Indians. This organization is recognized today as the founding of the United States National Guard.

The Army National Guard predates the founding of the nation and a standing military by almost a century and a half, and is, therefore, the oldest component of the United States armed forces.

Since that time, the Guard has participated in every U.S. conflict from the Pequot War of 1637 to our current deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq).

December 13: The First US Military Units, U.S. and Mexico Settle Border Dispute, and Other Events of the Date

The story begins when the first English settlers brought with them a new cultural influence and their military ideas. The British had relied entirely on the militia of civilian soldiers to assist in national defense.

The first colonists in Virginia and Massachusetts knew they had to rely on themselves for protection. Although the colonists feared the traditional enemies of England, the Spaniards, and the Dutch, their main threat came from the thousands of Native Americans who surrounded them.

Initially, relations with the Indians were relatively peaceful, but as the colonists seized more and more Indian lands, war became inevitable. In 1622, the Indians killed nearly a quarter of the English invaders in Virginia. In 1637, the British in New England began a war against the Pequot Indians of Connecticut.

By the time of the French and Indian War in 1754, the colonists had been fighting Indians for generations. To augment their forces in North America, the British recruited regiments of "Provincials" from the militia. These colonial regiments brought to the British Army badly-needed skills in frontier warfare. Major Robert Rogers of New Hampshire formed a regiment of "rangers" who performed reconnaissance and conducted long-range raids against the French and their Indian allies.

Then the colonists found allies in the face of individual associations of the militia and now the forces are almost doubled and they began to seize more areas. Most of them were ready for the revolution.

Most of the regiments of the Continental Army, commanded by former militia colonel George Washington, were recruited from the militia. As the war progressed, American commanders learned how to make use of citizen-soldiers to help defeat the British Army.

Americans recognized the important role played by the militia in winning the Revolutionary War. When the nation's founders debated what form the government of the new nation would take, great attention was paid to the institution of the militia.

In the militia, power was divided between the individual states and the federal government. The Constitution gave the states the right to appoint officers and supervise training, and the federal government was granted the authority to impose standards.

The subsequent War of 1812 showed that the United States still needed to maintain armed forces, and the militia became the main unifying component of these forces. There were so many volunteers that many states used only their force without additional federal government funding.

Militias accounted for 70% of the U.S. Army which fought the Mexican War in 1846 and 1847. During this first American war, which was fought exclusively in a foreign country, there was considerable friction between regular army officers and militia volunteers, which re-emerged during subsequent wars.

In terms of the percentage of the male population involved, the Civil War was by far the biggest war in U.S. history. It was also the bloodiest: More Americans died than in both World Wars combined.

When the war began in April 1861 at Fort Sumter, both Northern and Southern militia units rushed to join the Army. Both sides thought the war would be short: In the North, the first volunteers were only enlisted for 90 days. After the war's first battle, at Bull Run, it became obvious that the war would be a long one. President Lincoln called for 400,000 volunteers to serve for three years. Many militia regiments returned home, recruited and reorganized, and returned as three-year volunteer regiments.

After most of the militia, both North and South were on active duty; each side turned to conscription. The Civil War draft law was based on the legal obligation to serve in the militia, with quotas for each state.

Forces remained in fact in such a rise until the 60s, until the government announced the partial mobilization of national Hungary as part of the US reaction to the construction of the Berlin wall by the USSR. Although no one left the United States, nearly 45,000 Army Guardsmen spent a year in Active Federal Service.

For the country as a whole, the 1960s were a period of social change. These changes were reflected in the National Guard, especially in its racial and ethnic composition.

Beginning in New Jersey in 1947, the Northern States began the process of racial integration of its National Guard. An important civil rights act of 1965 forced the southern states to follow suit, and 25 years later African Americans made up almost a quarter of the army's National Guard.

The end of the project in 1973 marked the beginning of a period of great change in the U.S. Army. Active services, cut off from the source of cheap labor and under pressure to cut costs, realized they needed to use their backup components more efficiently. Air guard had been included in the work of the air force since the mid-1950s. By the mid-1970s, the total force's policy had resulted in more missions, equipment and training opportunities for the National Guard army than ever before.

The National Guard was involved in a huge defense build-up initiated by President Ronald Reagan. In 1977, the first small detachment of the National Guard of the army went abroad to spend two weeks of active combat training with regular army units. Nine years later, the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade was deployed in Germany with all its equipment for the NATO exercise REFORGER.

By the end of the 1980s and as to today, the forces are still deployed in the main hard-to-reach and dangerous zones in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, with the Desert Storm operation in 1990 in Kuwait, military clashes in Arabian Peninsula, hurricanes in Florida and Hawaii, and riots in Los Angeles. All of this drew attention to the role of the National Guard in its communities.

Since the end of Desert Storm, the National Guard has seen a shift in its federal mission, with more frequent calls in response to crises in Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and the skies over Iraq. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 50,000 guards have been called upon by both their states and the federal government to provide security at home and to combat terrorism abroad. In the largest and fastest response to a domestic disaster in history, the guard deployed more than 50,000 troops in support of the Gulf States after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

December 13: The First US Military Units, U.S. and Mexico Settle Border Dispute, and Other Events of the Date

Today, tens of thousands of guardsmen are serving in a dangerous environment in Iraq and Afghanistan as the National Guard continues its historic dual mission, providing States with units trained and equipped to protect life and property, while at the same time providing national units trained, equipped and ready to protect the United States and its interests around the world.

The first incident of the American Revolution - 400 attack Fort William and Mary, New Hampshire

This is undoubtedly the most stirring moment in New Hampshire history. This event is also considered the first incident of the American Revolution. On December 13, 1774, Seacoast patriots stormed the King's fort at New Castle and robbed the armory of its gunpowder and weapons. The rebels might have been hanged as traitors, but survived to rule the new American state of NH.

We present here some extracts of letters of Gov. John Wentworth, communicated to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register of July, 1869, by Hon. John Wentworth of Chicago.

In a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth, dated "Portsmouth, 20th Dec. 1774," Gov. Wentworth says:

"On Tuesday, the 13th instant in the afternoon, one Paul Revere arrived express with letters from some of the leaders in Boston to Mr. Samuel Cutts, merchant of this town. Reports were soon circulated that the Fort at Rhode Island had been dismantled, and the Gunpowder and other military stores removed up to Providence, and an Extract of the circular letter directing the seizure of gunpowder was printed in a Boston Newspaper of the 12th in consequence, as I have been informed, of the said letters having been communicated to the House of Assembly at Rhode Island. And it was also falsely given out that Troops were embarking at Boston to come and take possession of William and Mary Castle in this Harbour. These rumors soon raised an alarm in the town; and, although I did not expect that the people would be so audacious as to make any attack on the castle, yet I sent orders to the captain at the Fort to be upon his guard.

On Wednesday, the 14th, about 12 o'clock, news was brought to me that a Drum was beating about the town to collect the Populace together in order to go and take away the Gunpowder and dismantled the Fort. I immediately sent the Chief Justice of the Province to warn them from engaging in such an attempt.

On Thursday, the 15th, in the morning, a Party of men came from the country accompanied by Mr. [Gen. John] Sullivan, one of the New Hampshire Delegates to the Congress, to take away the Cannon from the Fort also. Mr. Sullivan declared that he had taken pains to prevail upon them to return home again; and said, as there was no certain intelligence of troops being coming to take possession of the Castle, he would still use his utmost endeavors to disperse them.

While the town was thus full of men, a committee from them came to me to solicit for pardon or a suspension of prosecution against the persons who took away the Gunpowder. I told them I could not promise them any such thing; but, if they dispersed and restored the Gunpowder, which I earnestly exhorted them to do, I said I hoped His Majesty may be thereby induced to consider it an alleviation of the offence. They parted from me, in all appearance, perfectly disposed to follow the advice I had given them; and having proceeded directly to the arrest of their associates, they all publickly voted, about five o'clock in the afternoon, near the Town House, to return home; which it was thought they would have done, and it also was further expected that the gunpowder would have been restored by the morning.

But the people, instead of dispersing, went to the Castle in the night, headed by Mr. Sullivan, and took away sixteen pieces of cannon, about sixty muskets and other military stores, and brought them to the out Borders of the town.

On Friday morning, the 16th, Mr. [Nathaniel] Folsom, the other delegate, came to town that morning, with a great number of armed men, who remained in Town as a guard till the flow of the tide in the evening when the cannon were sent in Gondolas of the River into the country, and they all dispersed without having done any personal injury to anybody in the town.

They threatened to return again in order to dismantle the fort entirely, and to carry off or destroy the remaining heavy cannon, (about seventy pieces,) and also to seize upon the Province Treasury, all of which there was reasonable ground to fear they would do, after what they had already done.

December 13: The First US Military Units, U.S. and Mexico Settle Border Dispute, and Other Events of the Date

Further on, Gov. Wentworth says again:

"I tried to dissuade them by the civil authority, sheriff, magistrate, etc., and did all I could to get the militia raised, but to no purpose.

He had assembled the Council at the beginning of the tumult, but it was of no avail. In his letter to Lord Dartmouth, dated 28th December 1774, he says:

"It is with the greatest concern I perceive the unlimited influence that the popular leaders in Boston obtain in this Province, especially since the outrage of the 14th instant. Insomuch, that I think the people here are disposed to attempt any measure required by those few men; and, in consequence thereof, are arming and exercising men as if for an immediate war."

In a letter to General Gage, dated "Fort William and Mary, 15 June 1775," he says:

"The ferment in this province has become very general, and the government hath been very much agitated and disturbed since the affair of the 19th of April last. Two thousand men are already enlisted, two-thirds of whom I am informed are destined to join the insurgents in your province, and the remainder is to be stationed along the coast in different parts between Portsmouth and do Newbury.

Outrage spirit runs so high that on Tuesday last my house was beset by great bodies of armed man who proceeded to such a length of violence as to bring a cannon directly before my house, and point it at my door, threatening fire and destruction unless Mr. Fenton, (a member of the assembly then sitting) who happened to call upon me, and against whom they had taken up such resentment as occasioned him some days before to retire on board the man-of-war in the Harbour out of their way, should instantly deliver himself up to them, and notwithstanding every effort to procure effectual assistance to disperse the multitude, Mr. Fenton was obliged to surrender himself and they have carried him to Exeter about fifteen miles from Portsmouth where he is, as I am informed, kept in confinement.

Seeing every idea of the respect due to his Majesty's Commission so far lost in the frantic rage and fury of the people as to find them to proceed to such daring violence against the Person of his Representative, I found myself under the necessity of immediately withdrawing to Fort William and Mary, both to prevent as much as may be a Repetition of the like insults and to provide for my own security.

I think it's exceedingly for the king's service to remain as long as possible at the Fort, where I now am with my Family in a small incommodious House without any other prospect of safety, if the prevailing madness of the people should follow me hither, than the hope of retreating on board his Majesty's ship Scarborough, if it should be in my power. This fort, although containing upwards of sixty pieces Cannon, is without men or ammunition.

In a letter to Lord Dartmouth, dated at Fort William and Mary, 17 July, 1775, he says: "From five to eight men have been usually kept in this Fort in time of Peace."

The latest letters dating from Fort William and Mary are those addressed, 17 August, 1775, to Hon. Theo. Atkinson, of Portsmouth N.H.; and 18 August, 1775, to the Earl Dartmouth, London.

In Sept. 1775, from the Isle of Shoals, he dates his last official paper in New Hampshire, proroguing the General Assembly, which was to meet that month, to the next April.

U.S. and Mexico Settle Border Dispute

The centuries-old dispute over the division of borders and the security of the US-Mexico borders brings us to 1964 when finally one of the first such disputes was resolved due to lengthy negotiations.

The so-called Chamizal Dispute, a border disagreement over 600 acres of land between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, was a source of tension in the U.S.-Mexico relations for over fifty years.

At the end of the 19th century, due to climate change, the course of the Rio Grande River had shifted on many occasions. According to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) and the Treaty of 1884, the border between the United States and Mexico was to remain down the middle of the river, regardless of alterations in course, as long as the movements were the result of gradual natural changes. A stretch of 600 acres, known as El Chamizal, was now claimed by both nations; settlers had incorporated the land into El Paso proper, while Mexican citizen Pedro I. García held title.

In 1910, the International Boundary Commission (later the International Boundary and Water Commission), consisting of delegates from Mexico, the U.S., and Canada, set out to settle the matter. Ultimately the tribunal's 1911 proposal split the territory between the two nations, but the U.S. rejected it on grounds that it did not conform to the terms of the arbitration.

In the ensuing years, several U.S. presidents sought a resolution to the dispute, which remained a contentious issue for both countries. U.S. Senator Tom Connally was known to frequently declare, "Not one inch of Texas for Mexico!"

It was only in 1963 that President John F. Kennedy managed to reach an agreement on the dispute. According to the parties' proposal, the separation took place at the tribunal in 1911. Mexico had also accepted those conditions and payments and land appropriation had begun. The 1964 Chamizal American-Mexican Convention Act legally settled the dispute, and celebrations were held on the border with President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Adolfo Lopez Mateos of Mexico. In 1967, after an artificial canal was built to prevent the course of the Rio Grande from questioning the border again, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and President Gustavo Diaz Ordas met at the border to officially announce and celebrate the end of the dispute after more than five decades.

Author: USA Really