This Day in U.S. Military History…… February 25

25 February
1642 – Dutch settlers slaughtered lower Hudson Valley Indians in New Netherland, North America, who sought refuge from Mohawk attackers.
1779 – Fort Sackville, originally named Fort Vincennes, was captured by Colonel George Rogers Clark. Col. Clark led a force of some 170 men from Kaskaskia to lay siege to Fort Sackville in January, and received Hamilton‘s surrender on February 25. With the surrender of Fort Sackville, American forces gained effective control of the Old Northwest, thereby affecting the outcome of the Revolutionary War. The fort—which Clark described as “a wretched stockade, surrounded by a dozen wretched cabins called houses”—was located near present-day Vincennes, Indiana.
1781 – American General Nathanael Greene crossed the Dan River on his way to his March 15th confrontation with Lord Charles Cornwallis at Guilford Court House, N.C.
1793 – The department heads of the U.S. government met with President Washington at his Mt. Vernon home for the first Cabinet meeting on record.
1799 – President Adams authorized by Congress to place revenue cutters in the naval establishment.
1811 – Congress authorizes first naval hospital.
1836 – Samuel Colt patented the first revolving barrel multi-shot firearm.
1861 – The Confederate Marine Corps was organized in Richmond, Virginia.
1862 – U.S.S. Monitor commissioned in New York, Lieutenant John L. Worden commanding. Captain Dahlgren described Monitor as ”a mere speck, like a hat on the surface.”
1862 – U.S.S. Cairo, Lieutenant Nathaniel Bryant, arrived at Nashville, convoying seven steam transports with troops under Brigadier General William Nelson, one of two ex-naval officers assigned to duty with the Army. Troops were landed and occupied the Tennessee capital, an important base on the Cumberland River, without opposition. Meanwhile, the demand for the gunboats mounted steadily.
1862 – The U.S. Congress passes the Legal Tender Act, authorizing the use of paper notes to pay the government’s bills. This ended the long-standing policy of using only gold or silver in transactions, and it allowed the government to finance the enormously costly war long after its gold and silver reserves were depleted. Soon after the war began, the federal government began to run low on specie. Several proposals involving the use of bonds were suggested. Finally, Congress began printing money, which the Confederate government had been doing since the beginning of the war. The Legal Tender Act allowed the government to print $150 million in paper money that was not backed by a similar amount of gold and silver. Many bankers and financial experts predicted doom for the economy, as they believed that there would be little confidence in the scheme. There were also misgivings in Congress, as many legislators worried about a complete collapse of the nation’s financial infrastructure. These notes, called “greenbacks,” worked much better than expected. It allowed the government to pay its bills and, by increasing the money in circulation, greased the wheels of northern commerce. The greenbacks were legal tender, which meant that creditors had to accept them at face value. The same year, Congress passed an income tax and steep excise taxes, both of which cooled the inflationary pressures created by the greenbacks. Another legal tender act passed in 1863, and by war’s end nearly a half-billion dollars in greenbacks had been issued. The Legal Tender Act laid the foundation for the creation of a permanent currency in the decades after the Civil War.
1863 – Confederates worked feverishly to raise ex-U.S.S. Indianola. C.S.S. Queen of the West was sent up river to Vicksburg to obtain a pump and other materials, but soon was seen returning below Warrenton. She brought news of a large Union “gunboat” passing the Vicksburg batteries and approaching the small Confederate squadron. According to Colonel Wirt Adams, CSA, “All the vessels at once got underway in a panic, and proceeded down the river, abandoning without a word the working party and fieldpieces on the wreck.” He continued: “The Federal vessel did not approach nearer than 2,’2 miles, and appeared very apprehensive of attack.” After making further fruitless efforts to free Indianola of water, the next evening the working patty fired the heavy 11-inch Dahlgren guns into each other and burned her to the water line. The Union ruse had worked. The “gunboat” was a barge, camouflaged to give the appearance of a formidable vessel of war, that Rear Admiral Porter had floated down river. A Con-federate paper reported bitterly: “The Yankee barge sent down the river last week was reported to be an ironclad gunboat. The authorities, thinking that this monster would retake the India-nola, immediately issued an order to blow her up. . . . It would really seem we had no use for gunboats on the Mississippi, as a coal barge is magnified into a monster, and our authorities immediately order a boat that would have been worth a small army to us-to be blown up.
1865 – General Joseph E. Johnston replaced John Bell Hood as Commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Arthur Fremantle made a breathtaking tour of the Confederacy. Within three months he had met most of the top Confederate leaders, including Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, Joseph Johnston and Jefferson Davis.
1865 – C.S.S. Chickamauga was burned and sunk by her own crew in the Cape Fear River just below Indian Wells, North Carolina. The position selected by the Confederates was above Wilmington on the Northwest Fork of the river leading to Fayetteville. The scuttling was intended to obstruct the river and prevent the Union from establishing water communications between the troops occupying Wilmington and General Sherman’s army operating in the interior of the state. The effort proved abortive as the current swept the hulk around parallel to the bank and by 12 March the water link between Wilmington and Fayetteville had been opened (see 12 March). Every river that would float a ship was an artery of strength from the sea for Sherman in his rapid march north.
1885 – US Congress condemned barbed wire around government grounds.
1898 – Continuing his preparation for war, Assistant Secretary of the navy, Theodore Roosevelt sends a highly confidential order to Commodore George Dewey, leader of the Asiatic Squadron, to go to Hong Kong. Dewey is to be prepared to attack the Spanish fleet in the Philippines should war be declared.
1913 – The Sixteenth Amendment, which effectively paved the path for the United States’ adoption of an income tax, was ratified on this day in 1913, although its roots can be traced back to 1895. That year saw the Supreme Court weigh in with a decision in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co, a case that revolved around the constitutionality of income tax legislation. Though the nation had briefly adopted a like-minded tax during the Civil War, the Court ruled in the Pollock case that the income tax was unconstitutional. The Court deemed a property-based tax on incomes a “direct tax,” which violated the Constitution’s holding that taxes could only be levied if they raised revenues that were commensurate with each state’s population. However, the intervening years saw the Court gradually move away from its consideration of an income tax as a “direct tax” and instead came to view it as an excise tax “measured by income.” By the time it handed down its ruling on the Sixteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court experienced a full-blown change of heart and judged income taxes as being “inherently” indirect. Although it “conferred no new power of taxation,” the amendment greatly increased the chances that future income tax legislation would make its way into the nation’s law books. Irate legislators attempted to kill the amendment; when the Supreme Court rendered its judgement in 1916, it upheld the legislation and paved the path for the Federal income tax.
1913 – Approval of experimental wind tunnel for Navy.
1925 – Congress empowers Revenue Marine to enforce state quarantine laws.
1933 – The USS Ranger becomes the US’ first aircraft carrier, built to be a carrier. The sixth Ranger (CV 4), the first ship of the Navy to be designed and built from the keel up as an aircraft carrier was laid down 26 September 1931 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Va.; launched 25 February 1933, sponsored by Mrs. Herbert Hoover; and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard 4 June 1934, Capt. Arthur L. Bristol in command.
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1940 – The American envoy Sumner Welles arrives at the start of his European peace mission.
1942 – Wartime port security delegated to Coast Guard by Executive Order 9074.
1942 – The American, British, Dutch, Australian Command (ABDA) is dissolved. General Wavell again becomes the Commander in Chief, India. The Dutch General Ter Poorten takes command in Java.
1943 – U.S. troops retook the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, where they had been defeated five days before.
1944 – U.S. forces destroyed 135 Japanese planes in Marianas and Guam.
1944 – Sue Sophia Dauser, Superintendent of the Navy’s Nurse Corps is first woman in Navy to receive rank of Captain.
1944 – In the climax of the “Big Week” bombing campaign, aircraft of the US 8th Air Force (830 bombers) and the US 15th Air Force (150 bombers), with fighter escorts, conduct a daylight raid of the Messerschmitt works at Regensburg and Augsburg. Losses are reported at 30 and 35 bombers, of the 8th and 15th Air Forces respectively, as well as 8 escort fighters. The Americans claim to shoot down 142 German fighters as well as destroying 1000 German fighters on the assembly lines and 1000 more lost to the disruption of production. During the night, RAF Bomber Command attacks Augsburg in a two waves.
1945 – Duren is taken by the US 7th Corps (part of US 1st Army). Other bridgeheads over the Roer River have been captured to north and south of Duren and they are rapidly being extended. To the south, on the right flank of US 3rd Army, crossings over the Saar have also been made near Saarburg.
1945 – On Iwo Jima, the advance of US 5th Amphibious Corps continues but there are heavy losses in the area around the second airfield. The US 3rd Marine Division is committed to the battle.
1945 – Aircraft from the carriers of US Task Force 58 again raid Tokyo. Poor weather conditions hinders the effectiveness of the attacks.
1948 – Under pressure from the Czechoslovakian Communist Party, President Eduard Benes allows a communist-dominated government to be organized. Although the Soviet Union did not physically intervene (as it would in 1968), Western observers decried the virtually bloodless communist coup as an example of Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe. The political scene in Czechoslovakia following World War II was complex, to say the least. Eduard Benes was head of the London-based Czech government-in-exile during the war, and returned to his native land in 1945 to take control of a new national government following the Soviet withdrawal in July of that year. National elections in 1946 resulted in significant representation for leftist and communist parties in the new constituent assembly. Benes formed a coalition with these parties in his administration. Although Czechoslovakia was not formally within the Soviet orbit, American officials were concerned with the Soviet communist influence in the nation. They were particularly upset when Benes’ government strongly opposed any plans for the political rehabilitation and possible rearmament of Germany (the U.S. was beginning to view a rearmed Germany as a good line of defense against Soviet incursions into western Europe). In response, the United States terminated a large loan to Czechoslovakia. Moderate and conservative parties in Czechoslovakia were outraged, and declared that the U.S. action was driving their nation into the clutches of the communists. Indeed, the communists made huge electoral gains in the nation, particularly as the national economy spiraled out of control. When moderate elements in the Czech government raised the possibility of the nation’s participation in the U.S. Marshall Plan (a massive economic recovery program designed to help war torn European countries rebuild), the communists organized strikes and protests, and began clamping down on opposition parties. Benes tried desperately to hold his nation together, but by February 1948 the communists had forced the other coalition parties out of the government. On February 25, Benes gave in to communist demands and handed his cabinet over to the party. Rigged elections were held in May to validate the communist victory. Benes then resigned and his former foreign minister Jan Masaryk died under very suspicious circumstances. Czechoslovakia became a single-party state. The response from the West was quick but hardly decisive. Both the United and Great Britain denounced the communist seizure of power in Czechoslovakia, but neither took any direct action. Perhaps having put too much faith in Czechoslovakia’s democratic traditions, or possibly fearful of a Soviet reaction, neither nation offered anything beyond verbal support to the Benes government. The Communist Party, with support and aid from the Soviet Union, dominated Czechoslovakian politics until the so-called “Velvet Revolution” of 1989 brought a non-communist government to power.
1949 – The US launches the WAC-Corporal at White Sands, New Mexico, achieving a record missile altitude of 250 miles.
1951 – Air attacks on enemy supply lines prevented a superior number of communist ground forces from winning their objectives. Lieutenant General George E. Stratemeyer, Far East Forces Commander, said “Our interdiction from the air of the main enemy resupply lines, plus our continued and systematic destruction of such supply caches as he had been able to build up in his immediate rear areas, not only prevented the Communist from exploiting his initial momentum but also enabled our ground forces to resume the offensive.”
1959 – USS Galveston fires first Talos surface-to-air missile.
1964 – U.S. Air Force launches a satellite employing a US Air Force Atlas/Agena combination from Point Arguello (LC-2-3) in California and from Cape Kennedy in Florida.
1971 – In both houses of Congress, legislation is initiated to forbid U.S. military support of any South Vietnamese invasion of North Vietnam without congressional approval. This legislation was a result of the controversy that arose after the invasion of Laos by South Vietnamese forces in Operation Lam Son 719. On February 8, South Vietnamese forces had launched a major cross-border operation into Laos to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail and destroy the North Vietnamese supply dumps in the area. Although the only direct U.S. support permitted was long-range cross-border artillery fire from firebases in South Vietnam, fixed-wind air strikes, and 2,600 helicopters to airlift Saigon troops and supplies, President Richard Nixon’s critics condemned the invasion. Foreign Relations Committee chairman Senator J. William Fulbright (D-Arkansas) declared the Laotian invasion illegal under the terms of the repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed the president only the mandate to end the war.
1972 – U.S. troops clash with North Vietnamese forces in a major battle 42 miles east of Saigon, the biggest single U.S. engagement with an enemy force in nearly a year. The five-hour action around a communist bunker line resulted in four dead and 47 wounded, almost half the U.S. weekly casualties.
1986 – In the face of mass demonstrations against his rule, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and his entourage are airlifted from the presidential palace in Manila by U.S. helicopters. Elected in 1966, Marcos declared martial law in 1972 in response to leftist violence. In the next year, he assumed dictatorial powers. Backed by the United States, his regime was marked by misuse of foreign support, repression, and political murders. In 1986, Marcos defrauded the electorate in a presidential election, declaring himself the victor over Corazon Aquino, the wife of an assassinated rival. Aquino also declared herself the rightful winner, and the public rallied behind her. Deserted by his former supporters, Marcos and his wife, Imelda, fled to Hawaii in exile, where they faced investigation on embezzlement charges. He died in 1989.
1988 – The Coast Guard commissioned LT Samone Vasser as a flight officer. She was the first female flight officer in the Coast Guard. She was qualified to serve in the E2C Hawkeye and was assigned to CGAW-1.
1991 – During the Persian Gulf War, 28 Americans were killed when an Iraqi Scud missile hit a U.S. barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
1991 – In the most decisive actions of the Gulf War, VII Corps, moving directly east with three heavy divisions abreast, attacked the elite Iraqi Republican Guard units. Late in the afternoon on the twenty-sixth, the VII Corps hit elements of the Tawakalna Division in the battle of 73 Easting. In quick succession, the 2d ACR, 1st and 3d Armored Divisions, and the 1st Infantry Division smashed through the Tawakalna Division. Overwhelming the enemy with accurate tank fire and assisted by deadly Apache helicopter gunships, the VII Corps hit the Medina Division in the early afternoon of the twenty-seventh. At Medina Ridge, an attempted Iraqi ambush of the 1st Armored Division ended with the destruction of over 300 enemy tanks.
1991 – The Warsaw Pact is declared disbanded.
1993 – President Clinton ordered the Pentagon to mount an airdrop of relief supplies into Bosnia-Herzegovina.
1996 – A 12-mile tether connecting a half-ton satellite to the space shuttle “Columbia” broke loose as it was almost completely unreeled.
1999 – Cuba cut phone service to AT&T and MCI WorldCom for $19 mil in unpaid bills. The phone companies were withholding payments pending a lawsuit by relatives of 4 Cuban Americans, whose aircraft were shot down in Feb 1996.
2001 – The commander of the U.S. submarine that struck and sank a Japanese trawler off Hawaii expressed his “most sincere regret.” Cmdr. Scott Waddle stopped short of an apology.
2002 – NATO offered Russia a modified membership, with no veto power over political or military policies.
2003 – Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Iraq was showing new signs of real cooperation, but President Bush was dismissive, predicting Saddam Hussein would try to “fool the world one more time.”
2003 – A US Army Black Hawk helicopter on night training crashed in the Kuwaiti desert, killing all four crew members.
2003 – Iraq provided new information about its weapons and reported the discovery of 2 bombs, including one possibly filled with a biological agent.
2003 – The US military says that warplanes have conducted strikes at five missile systems, including four surface-to-surface rocket launchers in the north and south of Iraq.
2003 – 6,000 US Marines have arrived in Kuwait, bringing the Marine force there to nearly full strength.
2003 – The Bush administration has sent supplies of humanitarian aid to the Gulf region to cope with refugees and displaced people.
2011 – The President of the United States Barack Obama announces sanctions against the government of Libya as does the European Union.
2013 – Former United States Surgeon General C. Everett Koop dies at the age of 96.
2014 – The United States administration formally declares that it no longer recognizes Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine’s president as “his actions have undermined his legitimacy”.

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