History Related Amateur Radio Special Event Stations for January 2020

After a slim December 2019, January 2020 has more History related special event stations commemorating several important events in US History as well as a person significant in World History. The first event of the month, the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolution, continues from the last event in December, the Battle of Trenton. Another military history event, the beginning of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 is also commemorated this month. Two discoveries that altered US History, the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in California and the Lucas Gusher in Texas are also commemorated this month. Florence Nightingale, who revolutionized nursing worldwide is also recognized with a special event this month.

Before we look at what the special event stations are about, here are important events in Radio History that occurred during January:

This Month in Radio and Amateur Radio History

  • 2 January 1909 – The first Amateur Radio Club, The Junior Wireless Club, is formed in New York City
  • 25 January 1878 – Ernst Alexanderson’s Birthday – Alexanderson invented the Alexanderson Alternator, a means of transmitting speech via radio

Battle of Princeton

From 31 December 2019 to 6 January 2020, the Delaware Valley Radio Association will be commemorating the American Revolution Battle of Princeton with special event station N2J in Trenton, New Jersey. They’ll be operating on or around 14.225 and 7.175. QSL for certificate or QSL via Delaware Valley Radio Association, PO BOX 7024, West Trenton, NJ 08628-0024. More information at: https://www.w2zq.com

Washington Rallying the Americans at the Battle of Princeton by William Ranney (image from Wikipedia Commons)

After the Battle of Trenton at the end of December 1776, General George Washington, commander of the Continental Army, decided to make one more attack on the British before going into winter quarters; that decision resulted in the Battle of Princeton, NJ where Washington’s troops attacked 1400 British Troops under the command of Lt. Col. Charles Mawhood. After the Battle of Trenton ended on 26 December 1776, Washington moved his forces back across the Delaware River; having made his decision in making one more attack before moving into winter quarters, he moved his army back across the Delaware River into Trenton on 29 December 1776. Two days later, Washington learned that a force of 5,500 British troops under General Charles Cornwallis was advancing toward Trenton to attack the Continental Army as a result of the Battle of Trenton. It was decided that the Americans would face the British at Trenton and that led to the Battle of the Assunpink Creek on 2 January 1777, where the Americans held off three assaults by the British. While Cornwallis’ men waited overnight to attack again in the morning, Washington moved his force around Cornwallis toward the smaller group of 1400 troops that Cornwallis left under Mawhood at Princeton. On 3 January 1777, Washington’s attack on Princeton began. An American force under Brigadier Hugh Mercer was overrun by the British, causing the militia within it to break and flee. Washington and Continentals from Virginia arrived on scene and were able to rally the militia then counterattack, causing the British to retreat, some of them to Nassau Hall in Princeton where 194 of them were captured. Washington wanted to continue to New Brunswick and capture a £70,000 pay chest, but he was talked out of it by Generals Nathaniel Greene and Henry Knox; instead, Washington ordered a move that eventually brought the Americans to Morristown where they moved into winter quarters. As a result of the New Jersey Winter Campaign, of which Trenton, Assunpink Creek, and Princeton were a part, Cornwallis abandoned many of his army’s posts in New Jersey to move into New Brunswick. While the British considered the American victory at Princeton to be, not unlike Trenton, a minor victory, the Americans viewed Princeton, as they viewed Trenton as an important victory. It caused the British to abandon much of New Jersey and like Trenton, it improved the morale of the troops Washington still had on hand and resulted in increased recruitment which helped replace troop losses following the setbacks of late 1776.

There are several books that I would recommend reading about this period of the American Revolution:

  • The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff
  • The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson

Florence Nightingale

From 7 January to 3 February, John Wakefield, M0XIG will be operating special event station GB200FN to commemorate the birth of Florence Nightingale in Romsey, United Kingdom. He’ll be operating on 20 and 40 Meters. QSL via John Wakefield, Oakhurst, Lower Common Road, West Wellow, ROMSEY SO51 6BT, UNITED KINGDOM. Direct QSL to include postage. Full details on QRZ.com. More information at www.qrz.com/db/gb200fn

Photograph of Florence Nightingale by Henry Hering (image from Wikipedia Commons)

Florence Nightingale was born into a wealthy family in 1820 and followed what she considered a calling from God to help the poor and sick. During that time, nursing was not considered a respectable profession, but Nightingale went against her family’s wishes and began training as a nurse in Germany and France. In 1853, already with a reputation in nursing, she returned to England to manage a hospital for “gentlewomen” in London. Where Nightingale made her name, however, was in the Crimea during the Crimean War between the Ottoman Empire, France, and Great Britain on one side and Russia on the other. The British public was upset over reports that the British Army was unable to deal with the number of casualties they were suffering in the war, particularly regarding losses due to unsanitary conditions. The British Secretary of War, Sidney Herbert, who had met and become friends with Nightingale in the 1840s asked Nightingale to go to the Crimea. Initially, Army doctors resisted working with Nightingale and the nurses that came with her, but the number of casualties eventually gave them no other choice. Nightingale and her nurses provided individual care to injured soldiers and worked to improve cleanliness and sanitation in the army hospitals. Because of their work, the death rate dropped from 40% to 2% in six months. After the war, Nightingale presented what she learned to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, prompting them to form a Royal Commission to improve health in the British Army. She also helped set up the British Army’s Medical College to teach what had been learned. In 1860, she set up a training school for nurses at a London hospital; that school is now part of King’s College in London. The main text used at the school, Notes on Nursing, was written by Nightingale. She was also a pioneer in using tools such as pie charts to visually present numerical data. She used statistics to study health and sanitation in India and worked and became a key figure in pushing drainage improvements and enforcement of health regulations that improved conditions. Nightingale is considered a key figure in making nursing the profession it is today by emphasizing sanitation, compassion, commitment, and proper administration.

For more on what Nightingale encountered and did during the Crimean War, I would suggest reading The Crimean War: A History by Orlando Figes.

The Lucas Gusher

On 11/12 January, the Beaumont Amateur Radio Club will be operating special event station K5S in commemoration of the Lucas Gusher in Beaumont, Texas. They’ll be operating on or near 7.245, 14.250, 7.074, and 14.074. QSL for certificate and QSL via Certificate & QSL. Beaumont Amateur Radio Club, 4839 Hwy 326 N., Kountze, TX 77625. Visit our QRZ page for QSL and certificate information as well as updated times and frequencies. More information at www.qrz.com/db/w5rin

The Lucas Gusher at Spindletop Hill, South of Beaumont, Texas (image from Wikipedia Commons)

By January 1901, the Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company had been trying to find oil on a salt dome formation near Beaumont, TX for approximately seven years with no luck. In 1899, Anthony Lucas, an expert on salt dome formations, took out a lease with Gladys City Oil and took charge of drilling operations. Throughout 1899 and 1900, Lucas attempted to drill on the Gladys City Oil land with no success, running into money problems and geological problems. Convinced that there was oil in the area, Lucas brought in more experienced drillers and heavier, more efficient equipment and began drilling on property adjacent to the Gladys City Oil property in October 1900. On 10 January 1901, when the drill reached a depth of 1,139 feet, mud began to bubble from the hole and drill pipe shot back up out of the well. A few minutes later, gas and oil began to gush from the well. For nine days, a 100,000 gallon a day stream of oil shot 100 feet into the air until it was finally controlled and capped on 19 January. The gusher became known as the Lucas Gusher, the area became known as the Spindletop Oildome, and things would never be the same.

The discovery of oil at Spindletop would change Beaumont, Texas, and the United States. By September 1901, there would be six wells on the Gladys City Oil Land. Land speculation resulting from the discovery of oil drove up land prices. One tract of land worth $150 before the Lucas Gusher sold for $20,000 and then $50,000 after the Lucas Gusher. Beaumont’s population boomed from 10,000 to 50,000. The discovery of oil had a massive effect on Texas’ economy, billions of dollars were spent in the state by those trying to find more oil. The effect of the discovery went beyond Texas and changed the whole country. The oil discovered at Spindletop was related to the founding of a multitude of oil companies including the Gulf Oil Corporation, the future Texaco, and the future Exxon. The oil discovery would help lead to changes in how both transportation and industry were powered, helping to expand both.

Beginning of Operation Desert Storm

On 11 January, from 1700 UTC to 2359 UTC, the USS Midway (CV-41) Museum Ship in San Diego, California will be operating special event station NI6IW to commemorate the Beginning of Operation Desert Storm. They’ll be operating on or near 14.320 and 7.250, operating PSK31 on 14.070, and will be on DSTAR REF001C. QSL via USS Midway Museum Ship COMEDTRA, 910 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.

US Navy Battle Force Zulu 1991 – Six ships of Battle Force Zulu (Task Force 154) steam in formation after the cease-fire that ended Operation Desert Storm. At left, from top, are the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), the aircraft carriers USS Midway (CV-41) and USS Ranger (CV-61) and the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60). At right are the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), top, and the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66). The USS Midway (CV-41) is now a museum ship In San Diego, CA and the special event station commemorating Operation Desert Storm is being operated aboard her (image from Wikipedia Commons)

Special Event station NI6IW at the USS Midway (CV-41) museum ship in San Diego, CA will operate to commemorate the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, the combat phase of the 1990-1991 Gulf War. From August 1990 to January 1991, a US-led coalition built up forces in Saudi Arabia to defend the country after Iraq invaded Kuwait. On 29 November 1990, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 678 giving Iraq a deadline of 15 January 1991 to withdraw from Kuwait. Iraq refused to withdraw. On 17 January, coalition air forces began a massive air campaign against Iraq, flying over 10,000 sorties and expending over 88,000 tons of ordnance. Although there were some ground battles before, the ground campaign of Desert Storm began on 24 February 1991.  Coalition forces invaded Iraq moving northward at first and then toward Kuwait. Although some Iraqi units fought back, many units put up little resistance, either surrendering to coalition forces or fleeing back into Iraq. Desert Storm ended on 28 February 1991, 100 hours after the ground campaign began. In order to form and maintain the coalition of countries involved, Desert Storm was a limited campaign; its scope was the ejection of Iraq from Kuwait, so once that was accomplished it came to an end. During Desert Storm and Desert Shield, the buildup that led to Desert Storm, Coalition forces killed, wounded, or captured over 180,000 Iraqi troops and destroyed over 3,000 Iraqi tanks, over 2,000 Iraqi armored personnel carriers, and over 2,000 Iraqi artillery pieces. Additionally, 110 Iraqi aircraft were destroyed while 137 fled to Iran and 19 Iraqi ships/naval vessels were destroyed while 6 were damaged.

Desert Storm and the Gulf War left a mixed legacy. It marked a watershed in the way the United States viewed its military; the US military rehabilitated its Vietnam reputation because of the way it conducted Desert Storm. Desert Storm also proved and brought to prominence weapons such as the M1 Abrams, M2 Bradley, AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Blackhawk, F-117 Nighthawk, Patriot Missile System, and various “Smart Weapons.”  It was also notable because of the way it was covered 24/7 by television news, particularly CNN. The way the Desert Storm and the Gulf War were covered changed the way wars were covered by the news media. Debate has surrounded the end of the Gulf War, but there is little doubt that its outcome failed to stabilize the region and helped set the stage for our latest war in Iraq.

Although she was decommissioned in 1992 and is now a museum ship, the USS Midway, CV-41 served in the Gulf War and Desert Storm, operating in the Persian Gulf along with the USS Ranger, CV-61 at the beginning of Desert Storm.

For more reading on Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I would suggest reading Desert Victory: The War for Kuwait by Norman Friedman.

Discovery of Gold in California

On 25/26 January, the El Dorado ARC will be operating special event station AG6AU (see what they did there!) in Coloma, California in commemoration of the discovery of gold in California. They’ll be operating on or near 21.348, 14.248, and 7.248. QSL via El Dorado County ARC, PO Box 451, Placerville, CA 95667. More information at www.edcarc.net

Reproduction of the 1850(?) daguerreotype by R. H. Vance shows James Marshall standing in front of Sutter’s sawmill, Coloma, California, where he discovered gold. (Person depicted is most likely not actually Marshall.) (image from Wikipedia Commons)

On 24 January 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, in what would become the State of California. James W. Marshall, a foreman working at a mill owned by John Sutter in Coloma, found a shiny material in the channel that carried water away from the mill’s waterwheel. Sutter and Marshall tested the material and confirmed it was gold; they tried to keep the discovery secret but by March, the word was out. California and the United States would never be the same. In December 1848, President Polk announced the discovery of gold in California to Congress and the word spread across the nation; between 1849 and 1855, 300,000 “forty-niners”, or prospectors, would come to the territory trying to find their fortune in gold. The Gold Rush, as it would come to be known, had positive and negative effects on California.

On the positive side, California – recently obtained from Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War, quickly populated and became a state as a result of the influx of those seeking gold. In 1849, a state constitution was written and adopted by referendum and the State of California was admitted to the Union in 1850. The discovery of gold resulted in the need for improved transportation of the extension of railroad lines and increased steamship traffic to California. In 1863, ground was broken on the first leg of the Transcontinental Railroad in Sacramento; it would be completed in 1869 with much of the financing coming from California gold. The gold itself also helped improve the United States’ economy. Steamships transported gold, goods, and people back and forth between the east coast and west coast, cutting the voyage’s length and duration by cutting across Panama by railroad. The increased population led to the spread of agriculture in California as well as the expansion of infrastructure, towns, schools, and churches.

The gold rush had negative effects on the Native American population of North America and the environment. Mining techniques such as hydraulic mining and the use of chemicals such as mercury in some mining processes. In addition to the general environmental harm that caused, it damaged the habitat for fish and other animals that Native Americans hunted for food. The influx of prospectors also took land away from the Native Americans, much as settlers took land from Native Americans in other parts of the west. The prospectors saw Native Americans as obstructions to mining and would attack them to move them from desired land. It wasn’t unusual for the Native Americans to retaliate and the cycle would continue with the Native Americans always losing in the end.

The discovery of gold in California was something that brought both good and bad, but it was a History changing event, not just for California and the west, but for the expanding United States. It took place at a transitional period in United States History; to read more about it, what happened before, and what would happen after, I would suggest reading two volumes of the Oxford History of the United States:

  • What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe
  • The Republic for Which it Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 by Richard White


Categories: Amateur Radio, History, Special Event Station

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