#TodayInHistory – December 183 min read
December 18 – Some important events on this day.
218 BC 👉🏼 Second Punic War: Battle of the Trebia – Hannibal’s Carthaginian army heavily defeat Roman forces on Italian soil
1271 👉🏼 Kublai Khan renames his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of China
1603 👉🏼 First fleet of the Dutch East India Company under Admiral Steven van der Haghen departs for the East-Indies
1642 👉🏼 Abel Tasman’s expedition sails around Farewell Spit and into Golden Bay, first sighting local Māori in New Zealand
1719 👉🏼 Thomas Fleet publishes “Mother Goose’s Melodies For Children”
1793 👉🏼 Surrender of the frigate La Lutine by French royalists to Lord Hood; renamed HMS Lutine, she later becomes a famous treasure wreck
1849 👉🏼 William Bond obtains 1st photograph of Moon through a telescope
1892 👉🏼 Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Nutcracker Suite” premieres
1916 👉🏼 Battle of Verdun ends
The Battle of Verdun, the longest conflict of World War I, ends on this day after ten months and close to a million total casualties suffered by German and French troops.
The battle had begun on February 21, after the Germans, led by Chief of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn, developed a plan to attack the fortress city of Verdun, on the Meuse River in France. Falkenhayn believed that the French army was more vulnerable than the British, and that a major defeat on the Western Front would push the Allies to open peace negotiations. From the beginning, casualties mounted quickly on both sides of the conflict, and after some early gains of territory by the Germans, the battle settled into a bloody stalemate.
As fighting at Verdun stretched on and on, German resources were stretched thinner by having to confront both a British-led offensive on the Somme River and Russia’s Brusilov Offensive on the Eastern Front. In July, the Kaiser, frustrated by the state of things at Verdun, removed Falkenhayn and sent him to command the 9th Army in Transylvania, and Paul von Hindenburg took his place. By early December, under Robert Nivelle, who had been appointed to replace Philippe Pétain in April, the French had managed to recapture much of their lost territory, and in the last three days of battle took 11,000 German prisoners before Hindenburg finally called a stop to the German attacks.
The massive loss of life at Verdun, 143,000 German dead out of 337,000 casualties, to France’s 162,440 out of 377,231, would come to symbolize, more than that of any other battle, the bloody nature of trench warfare on the Western Front.
1917 👉🏼 The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, authorizing prohibition of alcohol, is approved by the US congress and sent to the states for ratification
1957 👉🏼 World’s 1st full scale nuclear power plant for only peacetime use begins to generate electricity, at the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania
1958 👉🏼 Project SCORE, world’s 1st communications satellite launched from Cape Canaveral
1961 👉🏼 The Tokens earn a #1 hit with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
1964 👉🏼 “The Pink Panther” cartoon series premieres (Pink Phink)
2018 👉🏼 Meteor explodes in huge fireball over the Bering Sea with 10 times the energy of Hiroshima atomic bomb, 2nd largest in last 30 yrs
2019 👉🏼 US House of Representatives votes to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power (230-197) and obstruction of Congress (229-198)
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