On This Day … 17 January


  • 38 BC – Octavian divorces his wife Scribonia and marries Livia Drusilla, ending the fragile peace between the Second Triumvirate and Sextus Pompey.
  • 1287 – The Treaty of San Agayz is signed. King Alfonso III of Aragon conquers the island of Menorca from the Moors.
  • 1595 – During the French Wars of Religion, Henry IV of France declares war on Spain.
  • 1608 – Emperor Susenyos I of Ethiopia surprises an Oromo army at Ebenat; his army reportedly kills 12,000 Oromo at the cost of 400 of his men.
  • 1648 – England’s Long Parliament passes the “Vote of No Addresses”, breaking off negotiations with King Charles I and thereby setting the scene for the second phase of the English Civil War.
  • 1781 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Cowpens: Continental troops under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeat British forces under Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the battle in South Carolina.
  • 1811 – Mexican War of Independence: In the Battle of Calderón Bridge, a heavily outnumbered Spanish force of 6,000 troops defeats nearly 100,000 Mexican revolutionaries.
  • 1852 – The United Kingdom signs the Sand River Convention with the South African Republic.
  • 1873 – A group of Modoc warriors defeats the United States Army in the First Battle of the Stronghold, part of the Modoc War.
  • 1885 – A British force defeats a large Dervish army at the Battle of Abu Klea in the Sudan.
  • 1893 – Lorrin A. Thurston, along with the Citizens’ Committee of Public Safety, led the Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the government of Queen Liliʻuokalani.
  • 1899 – The United States takes possession of Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean.
  • 1915 – Russia defeats Ottoman Turkey in the Battle of Sarikamish during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I.
  • 1917 – The United States pays Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
  • 1918 – Finnish Civil War: The first serious battles take place between the Red Guards and the White Guard.
  • 1941 – Franco-Thai War: Vichy French forces inflict a decisive defeat over the Royal Thai Navy.
  • 1943 – World War II: Greek submarine Papanikolis captures the 200-ton sailing vessel Agios Stefanos and mans her with part of her crew.
  • 1944 – World War II: Allied forces launch the first of four assaults on Monte Cassino with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome, an effort that would ultimately take four months and cost 105,000 Allied casualties.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Vistula–Oder Offensive forces German troops out of Warsaw.
  • 1945 – The SS-Totenkopfverbände begin the evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp as Soviet forces close in.
  • 1946 – The UN Security Council holds its first session.
  • 1948 – The Renville Agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia is ratified.
  • 1966 – Palomares incident: A B-52 bomber collides with a KC-135 Stratotanker over Spain, killing seven airmen, and dropping three 70-kiloton nuclear bombs near the town of Palomares and another one into the sea.
  • 1981 – President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos lifts martial law eight years and five months after declaring it.
  • 1991 – Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm begins early in the morning as aircraft strike positions across Iraq, it is also the first major combat sortie for the F-117. LCDR Scott Speicher’s F/A-18C Hornet from VFA-81 is shot down by a Mig-25 and is the first American casualty of the War. Iraq fires eight Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation.
  • 1992 – During a visit to South Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa apologises for forcing Korean women into sexual slavery during World War II.
  • 1997 – Cape Canaveral Air Force Station: A Delta II carrying the GPS IIR-1 satellite explodes 13 seconds after launch, dropping 250 tons of burning rocket remains around the launch pad.

People (Births)

  • 1472 – Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Italian captain (d. 1508).
  • 1612 – Thomas Fairfax, English general and politician (d. 1671).
  • 1828 – Lewis A. Grant, American lawyer and general, Medal of Honour recipient (d. 1918).
  • 1865 – Sir Charles Fergusson, 7th Baronet, English general and politician, 3rd Governor-General of New Zealand (d. 1951).
  • 1867 – Sir Alfred Rawlinson, 3rd Baronet, English colonel, pilot, and polo player (d. 1934).
  • 1871 – David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, English admiral (d. 1936).
  • 1911 – John S. McCain Jr., American admiral (d. 1981).
  • 1916 – Peter Frelinghuysen Jr., American lieutenant and politician (d. 2011).
  • 1918 – George M. Leader, American soldier and politician, 36th Governor of Pennsylvania (d. 2013).
  • 1921 – Asghar Khan, Pakistani general and politician (d. 2018).
  • 1922 – Nicholas Katzenbach, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 65th United States Attorney General (d. 2012).
  • 1931 – Douglas Wilder, American sergeant and politician, 66th Governor of Virginia.

People (Deaths)

  • 395 – Theodosius I, Roman emperor (b. 347).
  • 1156 – André de Montbard, fifth Grand Master of the Knights Templar.
  • 1468 – Skanderbeg, Albanian soldier and politician (b. 1405).
  • 1588 – Qi Jiguang, Chinese general (b. 1528).
  • 1718 – Benjamin Church, American colonel (b. 1639).
  • 1893 – Rutherford B. Hayes, American general, lawyer, and politician, 19th President of the United States (b. 1822).
  • 1932 – Albert Jacka, Australian captain, Victoria Cross recipient (b. 1893.
  • 1942 – Walther von Reichenau, German field marshal (b. 1884).
  • 2012 – Julius Meimberg, German soldier and pilot (b. 1917).
  • 2014 – John J. McGinty III, American captain, Medal of Honour recipient (b. 1940).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.