1775 – Parliament endorses the conciliation plan of Lord North, which calls for the abolition of all regulatory taxes on the American colonies and provides for the colonies to raise their own revenues for the common defense and the administrative costs of government and the judiciary.
1776 – A colonial force of North Carolina patriots resoundingly defeats a detachment of Scottish Loyalists at Moore’s Creek Bridge near Wilmington. The battle ended Royal Governor Josiah Martin’s hopes of regaining control of the colony for the British crown. In addition, this first decisive Patriot victory of the Revolutionary War raised morale for Patriots throughout the colonies. The Loyalist defeat ended British plans for an invasionary force to land in Brunswick, North Carolina. The colony of North Carolina voted to declare independence from the British on April 12, 1776, shortly after the victory at Moores Creek. The news of the fighting at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775 had been received in North Carolina a month later, and it further weakened royal authority. Unable to stem the tide of revolution in the colony, Governor Martin abandoned New Bern, the capital, and fled to Fort Johnston on the lower Cape Fear, arriving there on June 2, 1775. Within 6 weeks, North Carolina militia forced him to flee again, this time offshore to the British warship Cruizer, as the fort burned behind him. In exile Martin laid plans of the reconquest of North Carolina. First, he would raise in that colony an army of 10,000 men, two-thirds of them Highlanders and Regulators with strong loyalist feelings. Next, this army would march to the coast and rendezvous with a powerful expeditionary force under Lord Cornwallis, Sir Henry Clinton, and Sir Peter Parker. These combined army and naval forces were to concentrate at Brunswick, a seaport town below Wilmington, by February 15, 1776. Together they would re-establish royal authority in the Carolinas, striking wherever rebellion showed itself. Martin persuaded his superiors in London and commander in chief Thomas Gage in Boston that this host could easily restore order. The British ministry approved the plan and dispatched orders to the several commanders. Governor Martin now set about recruiting his army. On January 10, 1776, he called upon all loyal subjects to unite to put down “a most daring, horrid, and unnatural Rebellion.” Six months earlier General Gage had sent Donald MacDonald and Donald McLeod to North Carolina to recruit a Highland battalion. Martin now appointed MacDonald a brigadier general and McLeod a lieutenant colonel in the loyalist militia and directed them and others to enlist men. To all Highlanders who pledged service to the Crown the British government promised 200 acres of land, cancellation of land fees, and tax exemption for 20 years. These terms, and Martin’s efforts among other groups, brought in recruits, though not nearly as many as had been expected., The call went out for loyalists to assemble under MacDonald near Cross Creek (Fayetteville) and then march to the coast. When the force was organized on February 15, there were about 1,600 men present: Highlanders, other loyalists, and some 130 ex-Regulators. Meanwhile, the patriots had not been idle. While Martin tossed at sea, they began to mobilize their forces. Since Martin was technically out of the colony, the patriots in August and September 1775 set up a Provincial Council to govern in his place. Upon the recommendation of the Continental Congress, two regiments of the Continental Line and several battalions of minutemen and militia were raised. At the news that the loyalists were assembling at Cross Creek , the patriots began gathering their forces. In Wilmington they threw up breastworks and prepared for fighting. In New Bern authorities mustered the district’s militia under Col. Richard Caswell and ordered it to join with other militia in countering the loyalists. Col. James Moore, the senior officer of the 1st N.C. Continentals and the first to take the field, was given command. The loyalists’ plan was to advance along the southwest side of the Cape Fear to the coast, provision the British troops arriving by sea, and then join them in conquering the colony. On February 20, 1776 MacDonald began his movement toward the coast. Blocked by Moore at Rockfish Creek, he marched eastward in the general direction of Caswell’s force, crossed the Cape Fear, and proceeded toward the Negro Head Point Road, a route into Wilmington along which he expected little opposition. Outmaneuvered by MacDonald’s march tactics, Caswell withdrew from defending Corbett’s Ferry on the Black River in order to “take possession of the Bridge upon Widow Moore’s Creek.” some 20 miles above Wilmington and a place the loyalists had to cross on their way to the coast. After sending Col. Alexander Lillington to join Caswell, Moore fell back toward Wilmington, hoping to fall on the rear of MacDonald’s column as Caswell obstructed him in front. When Lillington arrived at the bridge on the 25th, he quickly saw the position’s defensive advantages. The creek, a dark, sluggish, stream about 35 feet wide, wound through swampy terrain and could be crossed in the vicinity only over this bridge. To dominate the crossing, Lillington built a low earthwork on a slight rise overlooking the bridge and its approach from the east. Joining Lillington the next day, Caswell sent his men across the bridge to throw up earthworks there. Thus by the evening on February 26, the patriots straddled the bridge. Lillington with 150 men waited on the east side of the creek, and Caswell with 850 men were camped on the west. MacDonald’s loyalists, 1,600 strong but with arms for less than half that many, camped 6 miles away. MacDonald had lost the race to the bridge and now had to decide whether to avoid fighting once more or to cut through their opponents. At a council of war the younger leader carried the debate, and eventually all agreed that the enemy should be attacked. An element in the decision was the report by a scout that Caswell’s position lay on their side of the river and was thus vulnerable. At 1 a.m. on the 27th the loyalists set out on their march to the attack, with a party of 75 picked broadswordsmen under Capt. John Campbell in the lead. By now MacDonald had fallen ill, and Donald McLeod was in command. The going was slow, for the route lay through thickets and swampy ground. During the night Caswell abandoned the camp and withdrew across the creek. Once on the other side, Caswell’s men removed the planks and greased the girders. Posting artillery to cover the bridge, they waited in darkness for the advancing Scots. An hour before dawn the loyalists came upon Caswell’s deserted camp and found the fires burning low. Moving on to nearly woods, McLeod regrouped his men and passed the rallying cry – “King George and Broad Swords” – along the line. There they waited for daybreak. Suddenly gunfire sounded near the bridge. Though it was not yet light, McLeod couldn’t wait any longer. Three cheers rang out – the signal for the attack – and the loyalists rushed the partly demolished bridge with broadswords out and bagpipes skirling. Picking their way over the bridge and onto the opposite bank, they got within 30 paces of the patriot earthworks before they were met by a withering fire of musketry and artillery. Nearly all the advance party were cut down, and the whole force soon retreated. It was all over in a few minutes. Pursuit turned the repulse into a rout. The loyalists lost some 30 killed and 40 wounded. Only one patriot died. Within weeks the patriots had captured “all suspected person” and disarmed “all Highlanders and ex-Regulators that were … in the late battle.” The spoils included 1,500 rifles, 350 “guns and shot-bags,” 150 swords and dirks, and £15,000 sterling. Some 850 “common Soldiers” and most of the loyalists were captured. The leaders were imprisoned or banished from the colony. The soldiers were paroled to their homes. Though the battle was a small one, the implications were large. The victory demonstrated the surprising patriot strength in the countryside, discouraged the growth of loyalist sentiment in the Carolinas, and spurred revolutionary feeling throughout the colonies
1782 – In England, the House of Commons votes against waging any further war in America. On 5 March, Parliament enacts legislation empowering the English Crown to negotiate peace with the United States.
1801 – The District of Columbia was placed under the jurisdiction of Congress.
1823 – William Buel Franklin (d.1903), Major General (Union volunteers), was born.
1827 – Richard W. Johnson (d.1897), Bvt Major General (Union Army), was born.
1862 – Delayed one day by a lack of ammunition for her guns, U.S.S. Monitor, Lieutenant Worden, departed the New York Navy Yard for sea, but was compelled to turn back to the Yard because of steering failure. The same day at Norfolk, Flag Officer Forrest, CSN, commanding the Navy Yard, reported that want of gun powder, too, was delaying the readiness of Virginia to begin operations against the Union blockading ships.1864 – The 6th and last day of battle at Dalton, Georgia, (about 600 casualties).
1864 – The first Union prisoners begin arriving at Andersonville prison, which was still under construction in southern Georgia. Andersonville became synonymous with death as nearly a quarter of its inmates died in captivity. Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville, was executed after the war for the brutality and mistreatment committed under his command. The prison, officially called Camp Sumter, became necessary after the prisoner exchange system between North and South collapsed in 1863 over disagreements about the handling of black soldiers. The stockade at Andersonville was hastily constructed using slave labor, and it was located in the Georgia woods near a railroad but safely away from the front lines. Enclosing 16 acres of land, the tall palisade was supposed to include wooden barracks but the inflated price of lumber delayed construction, and the Yankee soldiers imprisoned there lived under open skies, protected only by makeshift shanties called “shebangs,” constructed from scraps of wood and blankets. A stream initially provided fresh water, but within a few months human waste had contaminated the creek. The prison was built to hold 10,000 men, but within six months more than three times that number were incarcerated there. The creek banks eroded to create a swamp, which occupied more than one-fifth of the compound. Rations were inadequate, and at times half of the population was reported ill. Some guards brutalized the inmates and there was violence between factions of prisoners. Andersonville was the worst among many terrible Civil War prisons, both Union and Confederate. Wirz paid the price for the inhumanity of Andersonville–he was the only person executed in the aftermath of the Civil War.
1863 – Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwackers attacked Hickman, Kentucky, shooting women and children.
1865 – A Civil War skirmish took place near Sturgeon, Missouri.
1897 – Great Britain agrees to U.S. arbitration in a border dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana, defusing a dangerous U.S.-British diplomatic crisis.In 1841, gold was discovered in eastern British Guiana, intensifying a long-standing boundary dispute between Britain and Venezuela. In 1887, Venezuela accused Britain of pushing settlements farther into the contested area and cut diplomatic ties with Great Britain. In 1895, Britain refused to submit the quarrel to U.S. arbitration, which provoked a belligerent reaction from U.S. President Grover Cleveland’s administration. In July 1895, Secretary of State Richard Olney, invoking a new and broader interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine, demanded U.S. arbitration on the basis that any quarrel in the Western Hemisphere directly affected American interests and thus the United States had a right to intercede. The Marquis of Salisbury, the British prime minister, rebuffed Olney, prompting President Cleveland to appeal to the U.S. Congress in December 1895 to denounce British authority over the disputed zone. Congress, in support of the president, created a committee to settle the boundary, and there was talk of war in both the Capitol and the British Parliament. Britain, however, was suffering from European troubles and increasing difficulties in South Africa, and on February 27, 1897, Prime Minister Salisbury sent a conciliatory note to the United States recognizing Cleveland’s broad interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine and agreeing to U.S. arbitration. A U.S. commission was appointed, and in 1899 a border was decided on that largely upheld Britain’s original claims.
1925 – Hitler resurrected the NSDAP (Nazi) political party in Munich.
1931 – Congress overrides President Herbert Hoover’s veto of the Bonus Loan Bill which allows veterans to obtain cash loans of up to 50% of the value of the veterans’ bonus certificates they had been issued in 1924.
1933 – Germany’s parliament building, the Reichstag, caught fire. The Nazis blamed the Communists and used the fire as a pretext for suspending civil liberties and increasing their power. Georgi Dimitrov, a Bulgarian Communist, was one of the accused plotters, but was acquitted. After WW II Dimitrov became the 1st premier of communist Bulgaria.
1942 – The U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the Langley, is sunk by Japanese warplanes (with a little help from U.S. destroyers), and all of its 32 aircraft are lost. The Langley was launched in 1912 as the naval collier (coal transport ship) Jupiter. After World War I, the Jupiter was converted into the Navy’s first aircraft carrier and rechristened the Langley, after aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpoint Langley. It was also the Navy’s first electrically propelled ship, capable of speeds of 15 knots. On October 17, 1922, Lt. Virgil C. Griffin piloted the first plane, a VE-7-SF, launched from the Langley’s decks. Although planes had taken off from ships before, it was nevertheless a historic moment. After 1937, the Langley lost the forward 40 percent of her flight deck as part of a conversion to seaplane tender, a mobile base for squadrons of patrol bombers. On December 8, 1941, the Langley was part of the Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked. She immediately set sail for Australia, arriving on New Year’s Day, 1942. On February 22, commanded by Robert P. McConnell, the Langley, carrying 32 Warhawk fighters, left as part of a convoy to aid the Allies in their battle against the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies. On February 27, the Langley parted company from the convoy and headed straight for the port at Tjilatjap, Java. About 74 miles south of Java, the carrier met up with two U.S. escort destroyers when nine Japanese twin-engine bombers attacked. Although the Langley had requested a fighter escort from Java for cover, none could be spared. The first two Japanese bomber runs missed their target, as they were flying too high, but the Langley’s luck ran out the third time around and it was hit three times, setting the planes on her flight deck aflame. The carrier began to list. Commander McConnell lost his ability to navigate the ship. McConnell ordered the Langley abandoned, and the escort destroyers were able to take his crew to safety. Of the 300 crewmen, only 16 were lost. The destroyers then to sank the Langley before the Japanese were able to capture it.
1942 – By the last week of February Java was the only significant Dutch island remaining in Allied hands. To the battered and demoralized defenders, there was no doubt the Japanese were coming and coming soon. In fact two invasion convoys were already at sea – one from the East and one from the West. On the 25th a Dutch Catalina spotted the Eastern Invasion Fleet. Consequently, the defender’s Eastern Strike Force was reinforced on February 26 by a Royal Navy contingent from the Western Force. On this day the first and only conference was held between the captains and staff of the Eastern Strike Force, sortied that night to spend it and the following morning fruitlessly sweeping the north coast of eastern Java and Madura and adjacent waters north to Bawean Island, one hundred miles due north of Surabaya. Unfortunately, they were searching just a little too far south and they did not receive word of a high-level strike carried out by B-17s on the Eastern Invasion Force that day What remained of the Western Strike Force also probed its area of responsibility on the 26th, also fruitlessly. Upon returning to Batavia on the 27th, they were ordered to retreat to Ceylon. With the exception of Evertsen (a late addition to the force) they successfully accomplished this retreat via the Sunda Strait a day ahead of the Western Invasion Force’s arrival. The Eastern Invasion Force, a convoy of 41 transports accompanied by the Second Escort Force with two light cruisers and fourteen destroyers was only about 60 miles north of Surabaya on the 27th. Rear-Admiral Takagi, overall commander aboard Nachi, accompanied by Haguro and two more destroyers lagged more than 150 miles behind. Apparently he did not anticipate much resistance. This confidence was disturbed when Japanese planes sighted the Allied strike force shortly thereafter. This sighting was confirmed about two hours later by one of Nachi’s scout planes whereupon Admiral Takagi ordered the convoy to turn north so he could close the gap. At 1340 he received an additional report that the Allies were returning to base and so had the convoy swing back to its southern course. It did not stay on this heading for long. A Dutch scout plane finally fixed the exact position of the Eastern Invasion Force only fifty miles north of Surabaya. (And, more importantly, got the word of its sighting into the right hands.) Admiral Doorman had just had the channel cleared in the minefield outside Surabaya when he received word of this sighting along with orders from Admiral Helfrich to engage. He reversed course almost immediately, and turned back to sea, making the signal: “Am proceeding to intercept enemy, follow me.” With a little ordinary luck Doorman’s haste could have resulted in a great victory. A Japanese snoop reported the Allied turnabout. Takagi seemed to finally wake up to his danger. The two heavy cruisers and the two destroyers screening them finally increased speed while the convoy itself turned north once again. Doorman deployed his force in three parallel columns and restricted the speed of the entire force to 26 knots the best speed of one of his Destroyers which was already having mechanical problems. That evening all the Japanese columns were steaming west, parallel to the Allies. After a two and a half hour gunnery duel and Japanese air sorties the Allied force of 14 ships had been reduced by 5 sunk and 2 damaged.
1944 – There are American air strikes on Momote and Lorengau in preparation for a reconnaissance in force. The troops to be employed in the operation are embarking in Oro Bay.
1945 – On Iwo Jima, the carriers of TF53 again add their support to the ships aiding the attacks of US 5th Amphibious Corps. The American objective is the elimination of three Japanese positions overlooking the second airfield on the island, however, the marines fail to dislodge the Japanese defenders.
1945 – Units of US 7th Corps (part of US 1st Army) cross the Erth River at Modrath, about 10 km from Cologne. Farther south, two corps of US 3rd Army are converging on Trier.
1948 – The Federal Trade Commission issued a restraining order, preventing the Willys-Overland Company from representing that it had developed the Jeep. Willys-Overland did, in fact, end up producing the Army vehicle that would come to be known as the Jeep; but it was the Bantam Motor Company that first presented the innovative design to the Army.
1951 – The Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution, limiting Presidents to two terms, is ratified.
1952 – The destroyer USS Shelton sustained three hits from shore batteries. Eleven sailors are wounded, three seriously.
1953 – F-84 Thunderjets raided North Korean base on Yalu River. A year after leaving West Point, Lt. Joe Kingston was en route to Korea, where he, like a lot of others, found himself retreating and advancing in a single day.
1953 – The USCGC Coos Bay, on Ocean Station Echo, about half-way between Bermuda and the Azores, rescued the entire crew of 10 from the US Navy patrol plane that was forced to ditch in the Atlantic Ocean.
1962 – South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem survives another coup attempt when Republic of Vietnam Air Force pilots Lieutenants Pham Phu Quoc and Nguyen Van Cu try to kill him and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu by bombing and strafing the presidential palace. Lieutenant Quoc was arrested after his fighter-bomber crash-landed near Saigon. Lieutenant Cu fled to Cambodia, where he remained until November 1963. The attack confirmed Diem’s conviction that his main adversaries were domestic. As a result, he retreated deeper into himself, delegating more authority to his brother Nhu, who set about eradicating dissidents–dozens of Diem political opponents disappeared, and thousands more were sent to prison camps. Diem and his brother were killed during a coup in November 1963.
1963 – The USSR said that 10,000 troops would remain in Cuba.
1965 – The U.S. State Department releases a 14,000-word report entitled “Aggression from the North–The Record of North Vietnam’s Campaign to Conquer South Vietnam.” Citing “massive evidence,” including testimony of North Vietnamese soldiers who had defected or been captured in South Vietnam, the document claimed that nearly 20,000 Viet Cong military and technical personnel had entered South Vietnam through the “infiltration pipeline” from the North. The report maintained that the infiltrators remained under military command from Hanoi. The Johnson administration was making the case that the war in Vietnam was not an internal insurgency, but rather an invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnamese forces. This approach was a calculated ploy by President Lyndon Johnson, who realized that he would have a hard time convincing the American public that the United States should get involved in a civil war–acting to stop the spread of communism by invading North Vietnamese would provide a much better justification for increased U.S. involvement in the conflict.
1968 – CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite‘s commentary on the progress of the Vietnam War solidified President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s decision not to seek reelection in 1968. Cronkite, who had been at Hue in the midst of the Tet Offensive earlier in February, said: “Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I‘m not sure.” He concluded: “It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out…will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.” Johnson called the commentary a “turning point,” saying that if he had “lost Cronkite,” he‘d “lost Mr. Average Citizen.” On March 31, Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.
1969 – Communist forces shell 30 military installations and nine towns in South Vietnam, in what becomes known as the “Post-Tet Offensive.” U.S. sources in Saigon put American losses in this latest offensive at between 250 and 300, compared with enemy casualties totaling 5,300. South Vietnamese officials report 200 civilians killed and 12,700 made homeless.
1972 – As the concluding act of President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to communist China, the president and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai issue a joint statement summarizing their agreements (and disagreements) of the past week. The “Shanghai Communique” set into motion the slow process of the normalization of relations between the two former Cold War enemies. President Nixon arrived in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on February 21, the first time an American president had ever set foot in China. The visit was immensely significant for other reasons, as well. Following communist leader Mao Zedong’s successful 1949 revolution, the United States had refused to establish diplomatic ties with the PRC. Relations between the two nations were extremely chilly, and the U.S. and PRC troops had clashed during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. During the 1950s and 1960s, China was one of the main suppliers of aid to Ho Chi Minh’s communist regime in North Vietnam. Nixon had been one of the harshest critics of the PRC during this time. When the United States came to the assistance of South Vietnam, and eventually committed combat troops to quell the communist insurgency in that nation in 1965, relations between the U.S. and China became even more strained. The situation had changed dramatically by the early-1970s. Relations between the PRC and the Soviet Union had grown tense and angry. The United States was embroiled in an unpopular and fruitless battle in Vietnam. Nixon and his foreign policy advisors saw a unique opportunity in these circumstances. Establishing closer relations with the PRC might further divide the two great communist powers and make the Soviets more malleable concerning several issues-including their support of North Vietnam. And the PRC might conceivably put pressure on its North Vietnamese ally to agree to a peace settlement in Vietnam in order to curry more favor with the United States. The Shanghai Communique summarized the areas of agreement and disagreement between the United States and the PRC at the end of Nixon’s visit. In one section of the document, their differences concerning events in Asia were apparent. The PRC restated its support for North Vietnam, while the United States steadfastly supported South Vietnam. On Korea, the Chinese stressed the need for “unification,” while the United States pressed for a “relaxation” of diplomatic tensions between North and South Korea. However, the two nations also stressed their sense of unity on a number of general themes, including the need for peaceful coexistence between the East and West. Much of the statement concerned the Nationalist Chinese government on Taiwan. This was a point of tremendous importance, for the PRC declared that it would not begin diplomatic relations with the United States until the latter cut its diplomatic ties to Taiwan. In the statement, Nixon promised to slowly reduce the American military presence on Taiwan. Finally, the statement noted that both China and the U.S. would encourage greater contact through increased trade and travel by each nation’s citizens. The Shanghai Communique set the stage for a dramatic reversal in the U.S. policy toward China. Since 1949, the United States had recognized the Nationalist regime on Taiwan as the government of China. It had consistently refused efforts to have the PRC government represented in the United Nations. After 1972, relations between the United States and the PRC began to warm. By the end of the administration of Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), the United States had-in one of the most surprising twists of the Cold War–severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and formally extended diplomatic recognition of the PRC.
1973 – On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, some 200 Sioux Native Americans, led by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), occupy Wounded Knee, the site of the infamous 1890 massacre of 300 Sioux by the U.S. Seventh Cavalry. The AIM members, some of them armed, took 11 residents of the historic Oglala Sioux settlement hostage as local authorities and federal agents descended on the reservation. AIM was founded in 1968 by Russell Means, Dennis Banks, and other Native leaders as a militant political and civil rights organization. From November 1969 to June 1971, AIM members occupied Alcatraz Island off San Francisco, saying they had right to it under a treaty provision granting them unused federal land. In November 1972, AIM members briefly occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., to protest programs controlling reservation development. Then, in early 1973, AIM prepared for its dramatic occupation of Wounded Knee. In addition to its historical significance, Wounded Knee was one of the poorest communities in the United States and shared with the other Pine Ridge settlements some of the country’s lowest rates of life expectancy. The day after the Wounded Knee occupation began, AIM members traded gunfire with the federal marshals surrounding the settlement and fired on automobiles and low-flying planes that dared come within rifle range. Russell Means began negotiations for the release of the hostages, demanding that the U.S. Senate launch an investigation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and all Sioux reservations in South Dakota, and that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hold hearings on the scores of Indian treaties broken by the U.S. government. The Wounded Knee occupation lasted for a total of 71 days, during which time two Sioux men were shot to death by federal agents and several more were wounded. On May 8, the AIM leaders and their supporters surrendered after officials promised to investigate their complaints. Russell Means and Dennis Banks were arrested, but on September 16, 1973, the charges against them were dismissed by a federal judge because of the U.S. government’s unlawful handling of witnesses and evidence. Violence continued on the Pine Ridge Reservation throughout the rest of the 1970s, with several more AIM members and supporters losing their lives in confrontations with the U.S. government. In 1975, two FBI agents and a Native man were killed in a shoot-out between federal agents and AIM members and local residents. In the trial that followed, AIM member Leonard Peltier was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. With many of its leaders in prison, AIM disbanded in 1978. Local AIM groups continued to function, however, and in 1981 one group occupied part of the Black Hills in South Dakota. Congress took no steps to honor broken Indian treaties, but in the courts some tribes won major settlements from federal and state governments in cases involving tribal land claims. Russell Means continued to advocate Native rights at Pine Ridge and elsewhere and in 1988 was a presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.
1973 – First airborne mine sweep in a live minefield took place in the Haiphong, Vietnam ship channel by helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Twelve on board USS New Orleans.
1976 – The final meeting between Mao Tse Tung and Richard Nixon took place.
1986 – The United States Senate allows its debates to be televised on a trial basis.
1991 – XVIII Airborne Corps prepared to continue its advance east toward A1 Basrah. But before the assault could be resumed, the 24th Division had to secure its positions in the Euphrates River valley by taking the two airfields toward which it had been moving. Tallil airfield lay about 20 miles south of the town of An Nasinyah; Jabbah airfield lay 40 miles east southeast, near the lake at Hawr al Malih. The task of taking the airfields went to the units that had ended the previous day in positions closest to them. While the 1st Brigade would conduct a fixing attack toward the Jahbah airfield, the 2d Brigade planned to move east about 25 miles and turn north against the same objective. Moving north, the 197th Brigade would take Tallil. Following a four-hour rest, the 2d Brigade attacked at midnight, seized a position just south of Jallbah by 0200 on the twenty-seventh, and stayed there while preparatory fires continued to fall on the airfield. At 0600 the 1st Brigade moved east toward the airfield, stopped short, and continued firing on Iraqi positions. At the same time, the 2d Brigade resumed the attack with three infantry-armor task forces and crashed through a fence around the runways. Although the airfield had been hit by air strikes for six weeks and a heavy artillery preparation by five battalions of XVIII Corps’ 212th Field Artillery Brigade, Iraqi defenders were still willing to fight. Most Iraqi fire was ineffectual small arms, but armor piercing rounds hit two Bradleys, killing two men of the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor, and wounding several others in the 3d Battalion, 15th Infantry. As nearly 200 American armored vehicles moved across the airfield knocking out tanks, artillery pieces, and even aircraft, Iraqis began to surrender in large numbers. By 1000 the Jahbah airfield was secure. At midday heavy artillery and rocket launcher preparations, followed by twenty-eight close air sorties, were directed on the Tallil airfield. As the fires lifted, the 197th Brigade advanced across the cratered runways and through weaker resistance than that at Jahbah. But like the 2d Brigade at Jahbah, the 197th killed both armored vehicles and aircraft on the ground and found large numbers of willing prisoners. As the 197th Brigade assaulted Tallil, General McCaffrey realigned his other units to continue the attack east centering on Highway 8. The 1st Brigade took the division left (north) sector, tying in with the 101st Airborne Division. The 2d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, the 24th’s reconnaissance unit, moved east from the Hawr al Malih lake area to set up a tactical assembly area behind the 1st Brigade. The 2d Brigade left its newly won airfield position and assumed the center sector of the division front. The 3d Armored Cavalry took the right sector, tying in with VII Corps to the south. With the 24th Division now oriented east after its northern advance of the first two days, a new series of phase lines was drawn between the Tallil airfield and the Ar Rumaylah oil fields, just southwest of Al Basrah. From the line of departure east of the Jahbah airfield, McCaffrey’s units would advance. The run down the highway showed more clearly than any other episode the weaknesses of Iraqi field forces and the one-sidedness of the conflict. Through the afternoon and night of 27 February the tankers, Bradley gunners, and helicopter crews and artillerymen of the 1st and 4th Battalions, 64th Armor, fired at hundreds of vehicles trying to redeploy to meet the new American attack from the west, or simply to escape north across the Euphrates River valley and west on Highway 8. With no intelligence capability left to judge the size or location of the oncoming American armored wedges and attack helicopter swarms, as well as insufficient communications to coordinate a new defense, Iraqi units stumbled into disaster. Unsuspecting drivers of every type of vehicle, from tanks to artillery prime movers and even commandeered civilian autos, raced randomly across the desert or west on Highway 8 only to run into General McCaffrey’s firestorm. Some drivers, seeing vehicles explode and burn, veered off the road in vain attempts to escape. Others stopped, dismounted, and walked toward the Americans with raised hands. When the division staff detected elements of the Hammurabi Division of the Republican Guard moving across the 24th’s front, McCaffrey concentrated the fire of nine artillery battalions and an Apache battalion on the once elite enemy force. At dawn the next day, the twenty-eighth, hundreds of vehicles lay crumpled and smoking on Highway 8 and at scattered points across the desert. The 24th’s lead elements, only 30 miles west of A1 Basrah, set up a hasty defense. The 24th Division’s valley battles of 25-27 February rendered ineffective all Iraqi units encountered in the division sector and trapped most of the Republican Guard divisions to the south while VII Corps bore into them from the west, either blasting units in place or taking their surrender. In its own battles the 24th achieved some of the most impressive results of the ground war. McCaffrey’s troops had advanced 190 miles into Iraq to the Euphrates River, then turned east and advanced another 70 miles, all in four days. Along the way they knocked out over 360 tanks and armored personnel carriers, over 300 artillery pieces, over 1,200 trucks, 500 pieces of engineer equipment, 19 missiles, and 25 aircraft, and rounded up over 5,000 enemy soldiers. Just as surprising as these large enemy losses were the small numbers of American casualties: 8 killed in action, 36 wounded in action, and 5 nonbattle injuries. And in the entire XVIII Airborne Corps, combat equipment losses were negligible: only 4 MlA1 tanks, 3 of which were repairable. In VII Corps’ sector the advance rolled east. The battles begun the previous afternoon continued through the morning of 27 February as General Franks’ divisions bore into Republican Guard units trying to reposition or escape. As the assault gained momentum, Franks for the first time deployed his full combat power. The 1st Cavalry Division made good progress through the 1st Infantry Division breach and up the left side of VII Corps’ sector. By midafternoon, after a high-speed 190-mile move north, General Tilelli’s brigades were behind 1st Armored Division, tying in with the 24th Division across the corps boundary. Now Franks could send against the Republican Guard five full divisions and a separate regiment. From left (north) to right, VII Corps deployed the 1st Armored Division, 1st Cavalry Division, the 3d Armored Division, the 1st Infantry Division, the 2d Armored Cavalry, and the British 1st Armored Division. The dust storms had cleared early in the day, revealing in VII Corps’ sector the most awesome array of armored and mechanized power fielded since World War II. In a panorama extending beyond visual limits 1,500 tanks, another 1,500 Bradleys and armored personnel carriers, 650 artillery pieces, and supply columns of hundreds of vehicles stretching into the dusty brown distance rolled east through Iraqi positions, as inexorable as a lava flow. To Iraqi units, depleted and demoralized by forty-one days of continuous air assault, Vll Corps’ advance appeared irresistible. Turning on the enemy the full range of its weapons, Vll Corps systematically destroyed Iraqi military power in its sector. About 50 miles east of Al Busayyah, the 1st and 3d Armored Divisions tore into remnants of the Tawalzalaa, Madina, and Adnan Divisions of the Republican Guard. In one of several large engagements along the advance the 2d Brigade, 1st Armored Division, received artillery fire and then proceeded to destroy not only those artillery batteries but also 61 tanks and 34 armored personnel carriers of the Madina Division in less than one hour. The 1st Infantry Division overran the 12th Armored Division and scattered the 10th Armored Division into retreat. On the south flank the British 1st Armored Division destroyed the 52d Armored Division, then overran three infantry divisions. To finish destruction of the Republican Guard Forces Command, General Franks conducted a giant envelopment involving the 1st Cavalry Division on the left and the 1st Infantry Division on the right. The trap closed on disorganized bands of Iraqis streaming north in full retreat. The only setback for VII Corps during this climactic assault occurred in the British sector. American Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft supporting the British advance mistakenly fired on 2 infantry fighting vehicles, killing 9 British soldiers. At 1700 Franks informed his divisions of an imminent theater-wide cease-fire but pressed VII Corps’ attack farther east. An hour later the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division, set a blocking position on the north-south highway connecting Al Basrah to Kuwait City. The next morning corps artillery units fired an enormous preparation involving all long-range weapons: 155-mm. and 8-inch (203-mm.) self-propelled pieces, rocket launchers, and tactical missiles. Attack helicopters followed to strike suspected enemy positions. The advance east continued a short time until the cease-fire went into effect at 0800, 28 February, with American armored divisions just inside Kuwait. In ninety hours of continuous movement and combat, VII Corps had achieved impressive results against the best units of the Iraqi military. Franks’ troops destroyed more than a dozen Iraqi divisions, an estimated 1,300 tanks, 1,200 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, 285 artillery pieces, and 100 air defense systems, and captured nearly 22,000 men. At the same time, the best Iraqi divisions destroyed only 7 MlA1 Abrams tanks, 15 Bradleys, 2 armored personnel carriers, and 1 Apache helicopter. And while killing unknown thousands of enemy troops, VII Corps lost 22 soldiers killed in action. In the Marine Central Command’s sector on 27 February the Tiger Brigade, 2d Armored Division, and the 2d Marine Division began the fourth day of the ground war by holding positions and maintaining close liaison with Joint Forces Command North units on the left flank. The next phase of operations in Kuwait would see Saudi-commanded units pass through General Boomer’s sector from west to east and go on to liberate Kuwait City. At 0550 Tiger troops made contact with Egyptian units, and four hours later Joint Forces Command North columns passed through 2d Marine Division. During the rest of the day Tiger troops cleared bunker complexes, the Ali Al Salem Airfield, and the Kuwaiti Royal Summer Palace, while processing a continuous stream of prisoners of war. The Army brigade and the 2d Marine Division remained on Mutla Ridge until the ceasefire went into effect at 0800 on 28 February. Prisoner interrogation during and after combat operations revealed that the Tiger Brigade advance had split the seam between the Iraqi III and IV Corps, overrunning elements of the 14th, 7th, and 36th Infantry Divisions, as well as brigades of the 3d Armored, 1st Mechanized, and 2d Infantry Divisions. During four days of combat Tiger Brigade task forces destroyed or captured 181 tanks, 148 armored personnel carriers, 40 artillery pieces, and 27 antiaircraft systems while killing an estimated 263 enemy and capturing 4,051 prisoners of war, all at a cost of 2 killed and 5 wounded.
1997 – A jury in Fayetteville, N.C., convicted former Army paratrooper James N. Burmeister of murdering a black couple so he could get a skinhead tattoo. He was later sentenced to life in prison.
1998 – The World Court ruled that it has the authority to decide on the location of a trial for the 2 Libyans accused of blowing up a jet over Lockerbee, Scotland in 1988.
2000 – Jose Imperatori, the Cuban diplomat expelled from the US for spying, took refuge in the Cuban embassy in Ottawa.
2000 – In Germany 3 teenagers of American soldiers hurled large stones off a pedestrian bridge in Darmstadt and killed Sandra Ottman (20) and Karin Rothermel (41). The 3 teens were convicted of murder and sentenced up to 8 ½ years in prison.
2002 – Operation Enduring Freedom – Pankisi Gorge (OEF-G) in the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia, begins. The Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) was an American-sponsored 18-month, $64-million plan designed to increase the capabilities of the Georgian armed forces as part of the Global War on Terrorism. The U.S. would sent approximately two hundred United States Army Special Forces soldiers to Georgia to train Georgian troops. This program implemented President Bush’s decision to respond to the Government of Georgia’s request for assistance to enhance its counter-terrorism capabilities and addressed the situation in the Pankisi Gorge. (It had allegedly often been used as a base for transit, training and shipments of arms and financing by Chechen rebels and Islamic militants, many of whom followed Ruslan Gelayev.) The US funded the GTEP to train Georgian Armed Forces (12th “Commando” Light Infantry Battalion, 16th Mountain-Infantry Batalion, 13th “Shavnabada” Light Infantry Battalion, 11th Light Infantry Battalion, Mechanized company, and small numbers of Interior Ministry troops and border guards.) Although GTEP formally came to a close in April 2004, the US military assistance program with Georgia continues, and is now known as the Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program. Part of this program has involved preparing Georgian units for operations with the US led Multinational Force Iraq. The program ended in September 2007.
2003 – The Bush administration lowered the terror alert threat to code yellow.
2003 – Iraq agreed in principle to destroy its Al Samoud Two missiles, two days before a U.N. deadline.
2003 – The USCGC Dallas was ordered to deploy overseas to support Operation Enduring Freedom and to prepare for future contingencies. She was underway on patrol when she received the order from the Atlantic Area commander to sail overseas to the Mediterranean. Dallas deployed with an HH-65B Dolphin helicopter and 7-member aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey.
2004 – The Coast Guard repatriated 531 Haitian migrants to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after they were rescued in the Windward Pass. The migrants were from 13 boats stopped since 21 February 2004. The repatriations were completed by three cutters. The crew of the USCGC Valiant transported 290 migrants, the crew of the USCGC Vigilant delivered another 241, and the USCGC Nantucket escorted the cutters for safety and security. The migrants were turned over to the Haitian coast guard.
2005 – Iraqi security forces reported the capture of Saddam Hussein’s half-brother and former adviser. Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, the 6 of diamonds, was No. 36 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis. Syria captured al-Hassan and 29 other fugitives and handed them over to Iraqi security.
2007 – A suicide attack at Bagram Air Base while Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney is visiting kills 23, but the Vice President is not injured. The Taliban claims responsibility, and declares that Cheney was their intended target.
2007 – A hail storm damages the Space Shuttle Atlantis, delaying the STS-117 launch originally scheduled for March 15.
2009 – United States President Barack Obama gave a speech at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in the US state of North Carolina announcing that the US combat mission in Iraq would end by 31 August 2010. A “transitional force” of up to 50,000 troops tasked with training the Iraqi Security Forces, conducting counterterrorism operations, and providing general support may remain until the end of 2011, the president added.
2009 – A nationwide “Chicago Tea Party” occurred across the United States, where protesters say government spending is out of control.
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