This Day in U.S. Military History…… February 11

11 February
1752 – Pennsylvania Hospital, the 1st hospital in the US, opened.
1766 – The Stamp Act was declared unconstitutional in Virginia.
1768 – Samuel Adams composes a letter to the other colonial governments outlining the sept taken in Massachusetts to oppose the Townshend Acts. The letter complains of “taxation without representation” and warns that the English may tamper with colonial governance to make it more independent of the colonies. Finally, the letter calls for united action by the colonies against the British government.
1790 – The first petition to Congress for emancipation of the slaves was made by the Society of Friends.
1794 – A session of US Senate was 1st opened to the public.
1805 – Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian interpreter and guide to the Lewis and Clark expedition, gives birth to her first child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first met the young Sacagawea while spending the winter among the Mandan Indians along the Upper Missouri River, not far from present-day Bismarck, North Dakota. Still only a teenager, Sacagawea was the wife of a French-Canadian fur trapper, Toussaint Charbonneau, who had purchased her from Hidatsa kidnappers the year before. The Hidatsa had taken Sacagawea from her homeland along the Continental Divide in modern-day southwestern Montana and southeastern Idaho, where she was the daughter of a prominent Shoshone chief. Viewing such captives as little more than slaves, the Hidatsa were happy to sell Sacagawea and another woman to Charbonneau, who used them as laborers, porters, and sexual companions. That winter, Lewis and Clark hired Charbonneau as an interpreter for their projected expedition to the Pacific and back, provided he agreed to bring along his young wife. Lewis and Clark knew they would have to obtain horses from the Shoshone to cross the Continental Divide, and Sacagawea’s services as an interpreter could prove invaluable. Charbonneau agreed, and she became the only woman to join the Corps of Discovery. Two months before the expedition was to depart, Lewis and Clark found themselves with another co-traveler, who later proved useful in an unexpected way. On this day in 1805, Sacagawea went into labor. Lewis, who would often act as the expedition’s doctor in the months to come, was called on for the first and only time during the journey to assist in a delivery. Lewis was anxious to insure his new Shoshone interpreter was in good shape for the arduous journey to come, and he later worriedly reported “her labour was tedious and the pain violent.” Told that a small amount of the rattle of rattlesnake might speed the delivery, Lewis broke up a rattler tail and mixed it with water. “She had not taken [the mixture] more than ten minutes before she brought forth,” Lewis happily reported. Named Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the cries of the healthy young boy announced the arrival of a new member of the Corps of Discovery. No one, it seemed, contemplated leaving Sacagawea and her infant son behind–when the party set out up the Missouri in April 1805, Sacagawea carried Jean Baptiste on her back in an Indian cradleboard. Nicknamed “Pomp” or “Pompey” by Clark, who developed a strong attachment to the boy, Jean Baptiste accompanied his mother on every step of her epic journey to the Pacific and back. Mother and son both were invaluable to the expedition. As hoped, Sacagawea’s services as a translator played a pivotal role in securing horses from the Shoshone. Jean Baptiste’s presence also proved unexpectedly useful by helping to convince the Indians the party encountered that their intentions were peaceful-no war party, the Indians reasoned, would bring along a mother and infant. When the Corps of Discovery returned east in 1805, Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and Jean Baptiste resumed the fur-trading life. Little is known of Sacagawea’s subsequent fate, though a fur trader claimed she died of a “putrid fever” in 1812 at a Missouri River trading post. True to a promise he had made to Sacagawea during the expedition, Clark paid for Jean Baptiste’s education at a St. Louis Catholic academy and became something of an adoptive father to the boy. A bright and charismatic young man, Jean Baptiste learned French, German, and Spanish, hunted with noblemen in the Black Forest of Germany, traveled in Africa, and returned to further explore the American West. He died in 1866 en route to the newly discovered gold fields of Montana.
1808 – Anthracite coal was 1st burned as fuel, by Jesse Fell, experimentally, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Jesse Fell was an early political leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He was the first to successfully burn anthracite on an open air grate. His method and ‘discovery’ in 1808 led to the widespread use of coal as the fuel source that helped to foster America’s industrial revolution. He lived in the Fell House and Tavern until his death.
1809 – Robert Fulton patented the steamboat.
1811 – Pres. Madison prohibited trade with Britain for 3rd time in 4 years.
1812 – Alexander Hamilton Stephens (d.1883), Vice Pres (Confederacy), was born near Crawfordville, Georgia. Stephens, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1843 to 1859, was a delegate at the Montgomery meeting that formed a new union of the seceded states. He was elected vice president to Jefferson Davis on February 9, 1861. Stephens was later elected governor of Georgia in 1882 but died after serving just a few months.
1815 – News of the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, finally reached the United States.
1854 – Commodore Matthew Perry pulled into Edo Bay, Japan, 12 months early with 9 warships to begin talks for a treaty.
1856 – President Franklin Pierce warns “border ruffians’ and the Free State men in Kansas to stop fighting. In May 1854 the Missouri Compromise, which ad stated that slavery would not extend above the 36’30” line was repealed in favor of Stephen Douglas’ Kansas-Nebraska. Compromise which held that popular sovereignty in each territory would decide the slavery issue. Pro-slavery Missourians flooded into Kansas nd eventually there were two governments in Kansas Territory, each outlawing the other.
1861 – The US House unanimously passed a resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state.
1862 – SecNav directs formation of organization to evaluate new inventions and technical development which eventually led to National Academy of Science.
1865 – U.S.S. Keystone State, Aries, Montgomery, Howquah, Emma, and Vicksburg engaged Half Moon Battery, situated on the coastal flank of the Confederate defense line which crossed the Cape Fear Peninsula six miles above Fort Fisher. This bombardment contained General Hoke’s division while General Schofield’s troops moved up the beach and behind their rear. Deteriorating weather, however, prevented the landing of the pontoons, and Schofield withdrew his troops to the Fort Fisher lines. Porter’s gunboats also engaged the west bank batteries.
1887 – President Grover Cleveland vetoes the Dependent Pension Bill. The bill had passed Congress in January and would have provided a pension to all honorably discharged veterans who had served a minimum of 90 days in the Army if they are manual laborers and unable to earn a living. Later, when the country experiences a deepening of the economic recession, the bill will pass as a rider.
1890 – President Benjamin Harrison orders 11 million acres of Sioux Reservation territory open for settlement. This will eventually lead to a revitalization movement known as the “Ghost Dance” that sprang up among the Sioux Indians of the western plains. These rituals held that an Indian Spirit soon would destroy the whites and return stolen lands. Federal troops will confront a band of Sioux-a non-violent group who had left the reservation fearful of being caught up in the Indian awakening-at Wounded Knee in the Dakota badlands. In this last battle waged on December 29, 1890, the U.S. Army massacred 150 Sioux men, women, and children; only 25 soldiers were killed. With the battle of Wounded Knee and the final distribution of Indian lands, the frontier era of American history had finally passed.
1904 – President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed strict neutrality for the U.S. in the Russo-Japanese War.
1904 – Marines landed at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
1922 – US “intervention army” left Honduras.
1922 – BGen John H. Russell was appointed U.S. High Commissioner and personal representative of the President to the government of Haiti. This nine-year assignment placed this future Commandant in supreme command of both the occupying American force and the Haitian Gendarmerie.
1939 – A Lockheed P-38 Lightning flies from California to New York in 7 hours 2 minutes.
1942 – German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, as well as the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, escape from the French port of Brest and make a mad dash up the English Channel to safety in German waters. The Gneisenau and Scharnhorst had been anchored at Brest since March 1941. The Prinz Eugen had been tied to the French port since the Bismarck sortie in May 1941, when it and the battleship Bismarck made their own mad dash through the Atlantic and the Denmark Strait to elude Royal Navy gunfire. All three were subject to periodic bombing raids–and damage–by the British, as the Brits attempted to ensure that the German warships never left the French coast. But despite the careful watch of British subs and aircraft, German Vice Admiral Otto Ciliax launched Operation Cerberus to lead the ships out of the French port. The Germans, who had controlled and occupied France since June 1940, drew British fire deliberately, and the Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, and Prinz Eugen used the resulting skirmish as a defensive smoke screen. Six German destroyers and 21 torpedo boats accompanied the ships for protection as they moved north late on the night of February 11. In the morning, German planes provided air cover as well; ace pilot Adolf Galland led 250 other fighters in an unusually well coordinated joint effort of the German navy and Luftwaffe. The British Royal Air Force also coordinated its attack with the Royal Navy Swordfish squadron, but a late start–the RAF did not realize until the afternoon of February 12 that the German squadron had pushed out to sea–and bad weather hindered their effort. All three German warships made it to a German port on February 13, although the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst had been damaged by British mines along the way. The British lost 40 aircraft and six Navy Swordfish in the confrontation, while the Germans lost a torpedo boat and 17 aircraft. The “Channel Dash,” as it came to be called, was extremely embarrassing to the British, as it happened right under their noses. They would get revenge of a sort, though: British warships sunk the Scharnhorst in December 1944 as the German ship attempted to attack a Russian convoy. The Gneisenau was destroyed in a bombing raid while still in port undergoing repairs, and the Prinz Eugen survived the war, but was taken over by the U.S. Navy at war’s end.
1943 – General Eisenhower was selected to command the allied armies in Europe.
1944 – At the Anzio beachhead, German forces capture “The Factory” from the British 1st Division. Meanwhile forces of the US 5th Army continue to engage German defenders around Cassino. The US 34th Division makes an unsuccessful attempt to approach the Cassino monastery from the north.
1945 – A week of intensive bargaining by the leaders of the three major Allied powers ends in Yalta, a Soviet resort town on the Black Sea. It was the second conference of the “Big Three” Allied leaders–U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin–and the war had progressed mightily since their last meeting, which had taken place in Tehran in late 1943. What was then called the Crimea conference was held at the old summer palace of Czar Nicholas II on the outskirts of Yalta, now a city in the independent Ukraine. With victory over Germany three months away, Churchill and Stalin were more intent on dividing Europe into zones of political influence than in addressing military considerations. Germany would be divided into four zones of occupation administered by the three major powers and France and was to be thoroughly demilitarized and its war criminals brought to trial. The Soviets were to administer those European countries they liberated but promised to hold free elections. The British and Americans would oversee the transition to democracy in countries such as Italy, Austria, and Greece. Final plans were made for the establishment of the United Nations, and a charter conference was scheduled to begin in San Francisco in April. A frail President Roosevelt, two months from his death, concentrated his efforts on gaining Soviet support for the U.S. war effort against Japan. The secret U.S. atomic bomb project had not yet tested a weapon, and it was estimated that an amphibious attack against Japan could cost hundreds of thousands of American lives. After being assured of an occupation zone in Korea, and possession of Sakhalin Island and other territories historically disputed between Russia and Japan, Stalin agreed to enter the Pacific War within two to three months of Germany’s surrender. Most of the Yalta accords remained secret until after World War II, and the items that were revealed, such as Allied plans for Germany and the United Nations, were generally applauded. Roosevelt returned to the United States exhausted, and when he went to address the U.S. Congress on Yalta he was no longer strong enough to stand with the support of braces. In that speech, he called the conference “a turning point, I hope, in our history, and therefore in the history of the world.” He would not live long enough, however, to see the iron curtain drop along the lines of division laid out at Yalta. In April, he traveled to his cottage in Warm Springs, Georgia, to rest and on April 12 died of a cerebral hemorrhage. On July 16, the United States successfully tested an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. On August 6, it dropped one of these deadly weapons on Hiroshima, Japan. Two days later, true to its pledge at Yalta, the Soviet Union declared war against Japan. The next day, the United States dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, and the Soviets launched a massive offensive against the Japanese in Manchuria. On August 15, the combination of the U.S. atomic attacks and the Soviet offensive forced a Japanese surrender. At the end of the month, U.S. troops landed in Japan unopposed. When the full text of the Yalta agreements were released in the years following World War II, many criticized Roosevelt and Churchill for delivering Eastern Europe and North Korea into communist domination by conceding too much to Stalin at Yalta. The Soviets never allowed free elections in postwar Eastern Europe, and communist North Korea was sharply divided from its southern neighbor. Eastern Europe, liberated and occupied by the Red Army, would have become Soviet satellites regardless of what had happened at Yalta. Because of the atomic bomb, however, Soviet assistance was not needed to defeat the Japanese. Without the Soviet invasion of the Japanese Empire in the last days of World War II, North Korea and various other Japanese-held territories that fell under Soviet control undoubtedly would have come under the sway of the United States. At Yalta, however, Roosevelt had no guarantee that the atomic bomb would work, and so he sought Soviet assistance in what was predicted to be the costly task of subduing Japan. Stalin, more willing than Roosevelt to sacrifice troops in the hope of territorial gains, happily accommodated his American ally, and by the end of the war had considerably increased Soviet influence in East Asia.
1945 – Elements of the US 8th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) capture the important road junction at Prum.
1945 – American USAAF B-24 and B-29 bombers raid Iwo Jima in preparation for the landings later in the month. They drop a daily average of 450 tons of bombs over the course of 15 days (6800 tons).
1951 – U.N. forces pushed north across the 38th parallel once again. Forty-five years after shipping out to fight in Korea, Col. Harry Summers, Jr., got new insight into what the war had been all about.
1951 – General MacArthur informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “It is evident that the enemy has lost his chance for achieving a decisive military decision in Korea.” This statement came on the eve of the Chinese fourth phase offensive.
1951 – The Chinese fourth-phase offensive was launched against X Corps in central Korea along the Hoengsong-Wonju axis. The U.S. 2nd and 7th Infantry Divisions and the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team suffered 2,018 casualties during the Battle of Hoengsong. The largest single loss of U.S. soldiers happened when 530 men of the 15th and 503rd Field Artillery Battalions were completely overrun.
1952 – Captain Margaret G. Blake, the first Army nurse in Korea to earn the Bronze Star Medal, and one of the very few in any service to return voluntarily to Korea, finished her second tour of duty.
1953 – President Eisenhower refused a clemency appeal for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
1962 – Nine U.S. and South Vietnamese crewmen are killed in a SC-47 crash about 70 miles north of Saigon. The aircraft was part of Operation Farm Gate, a mission that had initially been designed to provide advisory support in assisting the South Vietnamese Air Force to increase its capability. In December, President John F. Kennedy expanded the Farm Gate mission to include limited combat missions by the U.S. Air Force pilots in support of South Vietnamese ground forces–the downed aircraft was part of this expanded effort. By late 1962, communist activity and combat intensity had increased so much that President Kennedy ordered a further expansion of Farm Gate. In early 1963, additional aircraft arrived and new detachments were established at Pleiku and Soc Trang. Farm Gate was upgraded in early 1964 and then again in October 1965 when Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara approved the replacement of South Vietnamese markings on Farm Gate aircraft with regular U.S. Air Force markings. By this point in the war, the Farm Gate squadrons were flying 80 percent of all missions in support of the South Vietnamese army. With the build up of U.S. combat forces in South Vietnam and the increase in an U.S. Air Force presence there, the role of the Farm Gate program gradually decreased in significance. The Farm Gate squadrons were moved to Thailand in 1967, and from there they launched missions against the North Vietnamese in Laos.
1964 – Cambodian Prince Sihanouk blamed the U.S. for a South Vietnamese air raid on a village in his country.
1965 – Pres. Lyndon Johnson ordered air strikes against targets in North Vietnam, in retaliation for guerrilla attacks on the American military in South Vietnam. The American “Rolling Thunder” bombing campaign intensified.
1971 – Eighty-seven countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union, sign the Seabed Arms Control Treaty outlawing nuclear weapons on the ocean floor in international waters.
1973 – Due to “Vietnamization” the post of Senior Coast Guard Officer, Vietnam was discontinued.
1973 – First release of American prisoners of war from Vietnam takes place.
1974 – Communist-led rebels showered artillery fire into a crowded area of Phnom Penh, killing 139 and injuring 46 others. As the war in Vietnam wound down with the signing of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, the war in neighboring Cambodia was going from bad to worse.
1979 – Followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in Iran, nine days after the religious leader returned to his home country following 15 years of exile. Premier Bakhtiar resigned.
1991 – President Bush met with Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin L. Powell, who had just returned from the Gulf region. Afterward, Bush said he would hold off on a ground war against Iraq for the time being, saying allied air strikes had been “very, very effective.”
1994 – The space shuttle “Discovery” returned from an eight-day mission.
1995 – The space shuttle Discovery landed at Cape Canaveral, Fla., ending a historic rendezvous mission with Russia’s Mir space station.
1997 – Space shuttle Discovery was launched on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
1999 – US jets struck 7 Iraqi air defense sites.
2000 – The space shuttle Endeavour lifted into orbit with a crew of six under commander Kevin Kregel and a mission to map the Earth.
2000 – An early morning bomb exploded in NYC on the corner of Wall and Water streets in front of an office building owned by Barclay’s Bank. One person was slightly injured.
2001 – Two space commanders opened the door to Destiny, the American-made science laboratory attached the day before to the international space station.
2002 – The FBI issued a warning for a possible terrorist assault and identified Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei, a Yemeni national, as a possible attacker.
2002 – In Afghanistan opium vendors shut down in Kandahar under US military orders.
2002 – In Jordan Raed Hijazi (33) was convicted and sentenced to be hung for plotting to blow up tourist sites during millennium celebrations.
2003 – Addressing a historic rift within NATO, Secretary of State Colin Powell told a congressional hearing the future of the military alliance was at risk if it failed to confront the crisis with Iraq.
2003 – The purported voice of Osama bin Laden, broadcast over the Al Jazeera network, told his followers to help Saddam Hussein fight Americans.
2004 – Philippine troops rescued Alastair Joseph Onglingswan (35), a kidnapped American businessman, who was chained by his neck and feet for 22 days by a lone abductor.
2005 – CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan quit amid a furor over remarks he’d made about journalists being targeted by the U.S. military in Iraq.
2008 – The United States files charges against six alleged al-Qaeda operatives including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in connection with the September 11, 2001 attacks, seeking the death penalty for war crimes and murder.
2009 – Miami-based LEDET (Law Enforcement Detachment) 405, operating as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 and conducting counter-piracy operations aboard USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) and USS Mahan (DDG-72) in the Gulf of Aden, assisted in the apprehension of 16 suspected pirates in a 24-hour period.
2010 – The European Parliament rejects an agreement that would have granted the United States Terrorist Finance Tracking Program unlimited access to the SWIFT bank transactions database.
2010 – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces that Iran is now a nuclear state, following a successful 20% uranium enrichment.
2014 – The Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer USS Donald Cook of the U.S. Navy arrives at a Spanish base in Rota to begin deployment with the U.S. 6th Fleet.

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