This Day in U.S. Military History…… February 2

2 February
1571 – All eight members of a Jesuit mission in Virginia were murdered by Indians who pretended to be their friends.
1653 – New Amsterdam, later New York City, was incorporated.
1800 – USS Constellation (CAPT Thomas Truxtun) defeats la Vengeance. The USS Constellation vs La Vengeance was a single-ship action fought between frigates of the French Navy and the United States Navy during the Quasi-War. The battle resulted in the American frigate USS Constellation severely damaging the French frigate La Vengeance and forcing her to flee. In 1798, an undeclared war had begun between the United States and France due to French seizures of American merchantmen. As part of an American effort to deter French attacks, Commodore Thomas Truxton led an American naval squadron that was dispatched to the Lesser Antilles. Learning that regular French naval forces were in the region, Truxton set out in his flagship Constellation and sailed to Guadeloupe to engage them. On 1 February, while nearing the French colony, Constellation met François Marie Pitot’s frigate La Vengeance of the French Navy. Despite Pitot’s attempts to flee, his frigate was drawn into a heavy engagement with Constellation. Although the French frigate struck her colors (surrendered) twice, Constellation was unable to take La Vengeance as a prize. Eventually Pitot was able to escape with his frigate to Curaçao, though only after sustaining severe casualties and damage to his vessel. Truxton’s ship sustained light damage and sailed to Jamaica for repairs before returning home to a hero’s welcome.
1803 – Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston is born in Washington, Kentucky. Johnston was considered one of the best Confederate commanders until he was killed at Shiloh, the first major engagement in the west. Johnston grew up in Kentucky and received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in 1822. While there, he became acquainted with Robert E. Lee and future Confederate President Jefferson Davis, two men who shaped Johnston’s career. After graduation, Johnston served in the Black Hawk War of 1832 and resigned from the service in 1834 to care for his invalid wife. After her death, he moved to the new Republic of Texas and enlisted in the army as a private. Within three years he rose to general of the army, then Secretary of War for his adopted country. After Texas was annexed by the United States, Johnston served in the Mexican War and was commended for bravery at the Battle of Monterrey. Johnston retired to his Texas plantation after the war, but he struggled financially. He returned to the service as paymaster for the forts in Texas, and in 1857 was appointed to lead an expedition against members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (otherwise known as the Mormons) in Utah Territory. The Mormons disagreed with the government on issues of the territory’s governance, and some officials thought a rebellion was in the making. Johnston arrived and found no opposition, and he spent the next three years occupying the territory. When the Civil War erupted, Davis appointed Johnston commander of the Confederate department that stretched from the Appalachians to Texas. On April 6, 1862, Johnston attacked General Ulysses S. Grant’s army at Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee (Shiloh). The Confederates enjoyed great success initially. Grant’s army was surprised and nearly destroyed until the afternoon, when Johnston rode forward to supervise the battle. He was mortally wounded, and the tide turned against the Confederates. The armies struggled into the next day but the Union held the field. Johnston and Union General James McPherson were the only two army commanders killed in action during the Civil War. Johnston’s death left a void in the leadership of the western armies that was never effectively filled.
1812- Staking a tenuous claim to the riches of the Far West, Russians establish Fort Ross on the coast north of San Francisco. As a growing empire with a long Pacific coastline, Russia was in many ways well positioned to play a leading role in the settlement and development of the West. The Russians had begun their expansion into the North American continent in 1741 with a massive scientific expedition to Alaska. Returning with news of abundant sea otters, the explorers inspired Russian investment in the Alaskan fur trade and some permanent settlement. By the early 19th century, the semi-governmental Russian-American Company was actively competing with British and American fur-trading interests as far south as the shores of Spanish-controlled California. Russia’s Alaskan colonists found it difficult to produce their own food because of the short growing season of the far north. Officials of the Russian-American Company reasoned that a permanent settlement along the more temperate shores of California could serve both as a source of food and a base for exploiting the abundant sea otters in the region. To that end, a large party of Russians and Aleuts sailed for California where they established Fort Ross (short for Russia) on the coast north of San Francisco. Fort Ross, though, proved unable to fulfill either of its expected functions for very long. By the 1820s, the once plentiful sea otters in the region had been hunted almost to extinction. Likewise, the colonists’ attempts at farming proved disappointing, because the cool foggy summers along the coast made it difficult to grow the desired fruits and grains. Potatoes thrived, but they could be grown just as easily in Alaska. At the same time, the Russians were increasingly coming into conflict with the Mexicans and the growing numbers of Americans settling in the region. Disappointed with the commercial potential of the Fort Ross settlement and realizing they had no realistic chance of making a political claim for the region, the Russians decided to sell out. After making unsuccessful attempts to interest both the British and Mexicans in the fort, the Russians finally found a buyer in John Sutter. An American emigrant to California, Sutter bought Fort Ross in 1841 with an unsecured note for $30,000 that he never paid. He cannibalized the fort to provide supplies for his colony in the Sacramento Valley where, seven years later, a chance discovery ignited the California Gold Rush.
1827 – In the case Martin v. Mott, the Supreme Court finds that constitutionally, the President alone has the final power to determine whether the state militia should be mobilized in the national interest.
1848 – US and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in the Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo (now a neighborhood of Mexico City) between the U.S. and Mexico that ended the Mexican–American War (1846–48). With the defeat of its army and the fall of the capital, Mexico entered into negotiations to end the war. The treaty called for the United States to pay $15 million to Mexico and pay off the claims of American citizens against Mexico up to $3.25 million. It gave the United States the Rio Grande boundary for Texas, and gave the U.S. ownership of California, and a large area comprising New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. Mexicans in those annexed areas had the choice of relocating to within Mexico’s new boundaries or of receiving American citizenship with full civil rights. Over 90% chose the latter. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty by a vote of 38–14. The opponents of this treaty were led by the Whigs, who had opposed the war and rejected Manifest Destiny in general, and rejected this expansion in particular.
1861 – U.S. Revenue Schooner Henry Dodge, First Lieutenant William F. Rogers, USRM, was seized at Galveston, as Texas joined the Confederacy.
1862 – USS Hartford, Capt David G. Farragut, departs Hampton Roads for Mississippi River campaign
1864 – Early in the morning, a Confederate boat expedition planned and boldly led by Commander John Taylor Wood, CSN, captured and destroyed 4-gun sidewheel steamer U.S.S. Underwriter, Acting Master Jacob Westervelt, anchored in the Neuse River near New Bern, North Carolina. The boats had been shipped by rail from Petersburg, Virginia, to Kinston, North Carolina, and from there started down the Neuse. Wood, grandson of President Taylor and nephew of Jefferson Davis, silently approached Underwriter about 2:30 a.m. and was within 100 yards of the gunboat before the boats were sighted. Underwriter’s guns could not be brought to bear in time, and the Confederates quickly boarded and took her in hand-to-hand combat, during which Westervelt was killed, Unable to move Underwriter because she did not have steam up, Wood destroyed her while under the fire of nearby Union batteries. He later wrote Colonel Lloyd J. Beall, Commandant of the Confederate Marine Corps, commending the Marines who had taken part in the expedition: “Though their duties were more arduous than those of the others, they were always prompt and ready for the performance of all they were called upon to do. As a body they would be a credit to any organization, and I will be glad to be associated with them on duty at any time.” Lieutenant George W. Gift, CSN, who took part in what Secretary Mallory termed “this brilliant exploit,” remarked: “I am all admiration for Wood. He is modesty personified, conceives boldly and executes with skill and courage.
1864 – Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwackers robbed citizens, burned a railroad depot and stole horses from Midway, Kentucky.
1887 – People began gathering at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., to witness the groundhog’s search for its shadow.
1901 – The US Army Dental Corps is established.
1916 – U.S. Senate voted independence for Philippines, effective in 1921.
1921 – Airmail service opened between New York and San Francisco.
1932 – A few weeks after receiving a green light from the House, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) opened its doors for business. Initially equipped with $500 million, as well as license to borrow up to $2 billion in tax exempt bonds, the RFC was charged with doling out loans to banks, insurance companies, and other institutions that stood to spark the nation’s ravaged economy. Under the charge of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the RFC became a bulwark of the New Deal. And, when America made its entrance into World War II, the agency helped fund the country’s blossoming military industry. However, a government probe in 1951 revealed that the agency was awash in corruption. The revelation signaled the downfall of the RFC: the government quickly set to redistributing the agency’s powers and, by 1957 the RFC was forced into shut its doors.
1932 – A World Disarmament Conference is held in Geneva, Switzerland, sponsored by the League of Nations. While not formally belonging to the League, the US sends delegates. In the end, nothing comes of it.
1933 – Adolf Hitler dissolved Parliament 2 days after becoming chancellor.
1942 – A Los Angeles Times column urged security measures against Japanese-Americans, arguing that a Japanese-American “almost inevitably … grows up to be a Japanese, not an American.”
1943 – On Guadalcanal the American coastal advance crosses the Bonegi River.
1944 – Allied attacks around Anzio end. They have suffered high losses without significant success. Defending German forces, however, have had to postpone counterattacks planned to begin today because of their own losses.
1944 – The 4th Marine Division, as part of the first assault on islands controlled by the Japanese before the start of World War II, captured Namur and eight other islands in the Kwajalein Atoll. Almost all of the 3700 Japanese defenders on these islands have been killed. American casualties number 740 killed and wounded. Japanese forces on Kwajalein continue to resist.
1945 – President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill departed Malta for the Yalta summit with Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
1945 – US 1st Army units are attacking near Remscheid. British forces mount attacks over the Maas, north of Breda and near Nijmegen to put pressure on the Germans.
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).
1949 – In response to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s proposal that President Harry S. Truman travel to Russia for a conference, Secretary of State Dean Acheson brusquely rejects the idea as a “political maneuver.” This rather curious exchange was further evidence of the diplomatic sparring between the United States and the Soviet Union that was so characteristic of the early years of the Cold War. Stalin broached the idea of Truman traveling to the Soviet Union, or perhaps to Poland or Czechoslovakia, during a statement in which he indicated that his health prohibited him from coming to the United States to meet his American counterpart. Stalin’s agenda for such a meeting was sketchy, beyond a general call for a declaration by each nation that it would not resort to war in dealing with the other. Secretary Acheson stated that he found this idea “puzzling,” arguing that treaty commitments and adherence to the United Nations Charter already excluded war between the two powers. Furthermore, without a more concrete agenda, Acheson was reluctant to commit the United States to any one-on-one negotiations with the Soviet Union. In any case, the secretary concluded, President Truman was not willing to go “halfway around the world” to meet with the Soviet leader. Acheson also indicated his disappointment that any nation would “play international politics” with an issue as important as world peace. Stalin’s vague proposal and Acheson’s blistering response were typical of the constant war of words that took place between the Soviet Union and the United States during the late-1940s and all during the 1950s. The verbal sparring illustrated the lack of trust on both sides and the failure to locate any foundation for diplomatic negotiations. Although relations between the two nations warmed slightly during the 1960s and 1970s, the war of rhetoric continued unabated.
1951 – The French Battalion, attached to the 2nd Infantry Division’s 23rd Infantry Regimental Combat Team, met the communist counterattack and stabilized the U.N. position north of Yoju.
1951 – The minesweeper USS Partridge hit a mine off Sokcho, just north of the 38th parallel, and sank within 10 minutes with a loss of 10 killed or missing and six severely wounded.
1954 – President Eisenhower reported the 1952 detonation of 1st Hydrogen bomb.
1962 – The first U.S. Air Force plane is lost in South Vietnam. The C-123 aircraft crashed while spraying defoliant on a Viet Cong ambush site. The aircraft was part of Operation Ranch Hand, a technological area-denial technique designed to expose the roads and trails used by the Viet Cong. U.S. personnel dumped an estimated 19 million gallons of defoliating herbicides over 10-20 percent of Vietnam and parts of Laos from 1962 to 1971. Agent Orange–so named from the color of its metal containers–was the most frequently used. The operation succeeded in killing vegetation but not in stopping the Viet Cong. The use of these agents was controversial, both during and after the war, because of questions about long-term ecological impacts and the effect on humans who handled or were sprayed by the chemicals. Beginning in the late 1970s, Vietnam veterans began to cite the herbicides, especially Agent Orange, as the cause of health problems ranging from skin rashes to cancer and birth defects in their children. Similar problems, including an abnormally high incidence of miscarriages and congenital malformations, have been reported among the Vietnamese people who lived in the areas where the defoliate agents were used.
1964 – G.I. Joe debuted as a popular American toy.
1971 – The Apollo XIV astronauts confirmed that they would attempt a lunar landing.
1974 – The F-16 Fighting Falcon flies for the first time. The General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,500 aircraft have been built since production was approved. Although no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are still being built for export customers. The Fighting Falcon has key features including a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of G-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system helps to make it a nimble aircraft. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16’s official name is “Fighting Falcon”, but “Viper” is commonly used by its pilots, due to a perceived resemblance to a viper snake as well as the Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper starfighter. In addition to active duty U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units, the aircraft is also used by the USAF aerial demonstration team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations.
1977 – Radio Shack officially began creating the TRS-80 computer.
1980 – Details of ABSCAM, an FBI operation to uncover political corruption in the government, are released to the public. Thirty-one public officials were targeted for investigation, including Representative John Murphy of New York, five other representatives, and Harrison Williams, a Republican senator of New Jersey. In the operation, FBI agents posed as representatives of Abdul Enterprises, Ltd., a fictional business owned by an Arab sheik. Under FBI video surveillance, the agents met with the officials and offered them money or other considerations in exchange for special favors, such as the approval of government contracts for companies in which the sheik had invested. Senator Williams, and Representatives Murphy, Michael J. Myers, Richard Kelly, and John W. Jenrette Jr., were ultimately convicted of bribery and corruption. All but Richard Kelly, who had his conviction overturned in 1982 on the basis that the FBI had unlawfully entrapped him, left Congress. John Murphy, whose term ended in 1981, was saved the fate of expulsion suffered by Williams and Myers. John Jenrette resigned in 1980.
1988 – In a speech that three major television networks declined to broadcast live, President Reagan pressed his case for aid to the Nicaraguan Contras.
1989 – The last Soviet armoured column leaves Kabul.
1992 – The U.S. Coast Guard shipped home 250 more Haitian refugees from the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, a day after repatriating a shipload of about 150 Haitians.
1994 – High Level Technical Talks in Baghdad. Fourth round of talks between IAEA, UNSCOM & Iraq.
1998 – UN Sec-Gen Kofi Annan recommended that the Security Council more than double the amount of oil Iraq is allowed to sell.
1998 – Russia announced that an envoy in Baghdad received concessions from Saddam Hussein on UN weapons inspections. US Sec. Albright failed to get permission from Saudi Arabia for US use of air bases to launch air strikes against Iraq. France, Turkey, Jordan, the Arab League and Yasser Arafat said they would send envoys to Baghdad to avert a possible US military strike.
1999 – In Iraq US pilots operated under broader rules of attack and targeted a newly assembled missile site.
2002 – The Bush administration approved a $700 million grant to help rebuild lower Manhattan devastated by the Sep 11 terrorist attacks.
2002 – In Pakistan police arrested 2 people in Karachi linked to the Jan 23 kidnapping of WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl.
2004 – A white powder containing Ricin, a deadly poison, was discovered in a mail room near the office of US Senate majority leader Bill Frist.
2004 – Pakistan said Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of its nuclear program, has acknowledged in a written statement that he sent sensitive technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea to aid their atomic programs.
2005 – A former secret U.S. military investigative report on Guantanamo Bay is revealed to conclude there is no evidence of systemic detainee abuse but cited several cases of questionable physical force documented on videotape.
2006 – Venezuela expelled U.S. Navy Cmdr. John Correa, a military attaché at the U.S. embassy in Caracas, on suspicion of espionage.
2011 – NASA’s Kepler Mission announces the discovery of a planetary system of six planets circulating the star Kepler-11.
2013 – Former United States Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and another man are killed at a shooting range near Glen Rose, Somervell County, Texas.

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