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The First Foot Guards

We are a Revolutionary War reenactment group based in Boston MA,
accurately portraying the royal household regiment that is now known as
The Grenadier Guards

 

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This Date in History: February

Graeme Marsden's collection 
of significant dates in American and European history,
organized by Month and by Day.

Most references are from the 18th century, and there is a preference for military occurrences, especially those of The First Foot guards.

Check out 'What happened on this day?'

March

January


February

1 February 1327
Edward III was crowned King of England.

1 February 1587
Elizabeth I signed the Warrant of Execution for Mary Queen of Scots.

1 February 1633
The tobacco laws of Virginia were codified, limiting tobacco production to reduce dependence on a single-crop economy.

1 February 1793
France declared war on Britain and the Netherlands.

1 February 1884
The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was published.

1 February 1893
Thomas Edison opened the first film studio to produce films for peepshow machines in New Jersey.

 

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2 February 
Candlemas Day in Britain.

2 February 1571
All eight members of a Jesuit mission in Virginia were murdered by Indians who pretended to be their friends.

2 February 1626
Charles I was crowned King of England.

2 February 1801
The first parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland assembled.

2 February 1848
The Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-US War.

2 February 1852
Britain's first men's public flushing toilets opened on Fleet Street, London. Summer 2001: Boston's first public flushing toilets opened.

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3 February 1488
The Portuguese navigator Bartholomew Diaz landed at Mossal Bay in the Cape, the first European known to have landed on the southern extremity of Africa.

3 February 1690
The first paper money in America was issued in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

3 February 1913
The 16th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, authorizing the power to impose and collect income tax.

3 February 1919
The League of Nations held its first meeting in Paris, with US President Wilson chairing.

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4 February 786
Harun al-Rashid succeeded his older brother the Caliph al-Hadi as Caliph of Baghdad. The "Thousand and one Arabian Nights" was written about Harun al-Rashid, and his wife Scheherazade.

4 February 1194
Richard I, King of England (Richard the Lionheart, of Robin Hood fame), was freed from captivity in Germany.

4 February 1508
The Proclamation of Trent was made.

4 February 1787
Shays' Rebellion, an uprising of debt-ridden Massachusetts farmers against the new US government, failed.

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5 February 1631
Roger Williams, defender of religious liberty and founder of Rhode Island, arrived in Boston on this date.

Williams was educated at Cambridge University and ordained minister of the Church of England. His first appointment brought him in contact with eminent Puritans such as John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, and Oliver Cromwell, who influenced him in his conversion to Calvinism. In 1629, he received a call to the ministry from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Williams and his wife were happy to go to Boston because of the lack of religious freedom in England under King Charles I.

Williams at first advocated reform within the Church of England (the Puritan belief), but later became a Separatist (seeking a complete break from the Church of England). He was disappointed to find that the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not favorable to complete separation of ties with the Church of England. He was accepted as minister at Salem (Massachusetts Bay Colony), but his ideas went beyond Separatism, insisting that civil authorities could not enforce religious injunctions. This brought him into disfavor with the Massachusetts Colony, so Williams sought refuge in the Plymouth Colony, which was Separatist. However he upset the authorities there by insisting that only purchase from the Indians gave colonists fair title to the land. Williams returned to Salem, where he was again accepted as minister, in spite of his views.

Williams was tried by the Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635, and found guilty of holding opinions which differed from the official stance, and he was banished. Before he could be sent back to England, he fled south and established the settlement of Providence on Narragansett Bay in June 1636. For a time Williams was an Anabaptist, founding the Baptist Church of Christ in Providence in 1638. This was the first Baptist church in America, and the first of any denomination in Rhode Island.

Williams visited England in 1643, and was able to obtain a royal charter for the colony. Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was founded on complete religious toleration, separation of church and state, and political democracy, and became a refuge for those persecuted for their religious beliefs. Anabaptists and Quakers fled the persecutions of the Puritans and Pilgrims to settle in Rhode Island, as well as a Jewish community which settled in Newport in 1658.

5 February 1782
The Spanish captured Minorca from the British.

5 February 1762
Martinique, a major French base in the West Indies, surrendered to the British.

5 February 1811
Prince of Wales (future George IV) was made Regent after his father George III was deemed insane.

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6 February 1508
Maximilian I assumed the title of Holy Roman Emperor.

6 February 1626
Huguenot rebels and the French government signed the Peace of La Rochelle.

6 February 1685
Death of King Charles II at Whitehall, aged 54. He was succeeded by his brother, James II. James was to marry a Catholic (Mary of Modena) and then a Protestant (Anne Hyde), which caused many problems to the country.

6 February 1778
France began secretly aiding the American colonists in their rebellion against Britain as early as 1775. The motivation was chiefly resentment over the loss of North American territory to Britain during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The American revolutionaries sought to secure a formal alliance with France, and with the American victory over the British in the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777 the French were convinced that the Americans were worthy partners. American diplomats led by Benjamin Franklin met with the French, and on 6 February 1778 in Paris the newly established United States of America signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance. The former officially recognized the US as an independent nation and promoted trade between the US and France. The Treaty of Alliance created a military alliance against the common enemy: Great Britain.

French participation was probably decisive in the Americans' ultimate victory. As many as 12,000 French soldiers and 32,000 French sailors joined the fight against Britain. However, the cost of contributing to the war effort resulted in a depletion of the French treasury that precipitated the French Revolution and the downfall of the French monarchy.

6 February 1819
When Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company first saw the island of Singapore, he immediately recognized it as the ideal port for his company's purposes. It had a good harbor, ample drinking water, and a perfect strategic location: in the middle of Malay Archipelago trade, and a convenient stop-over point for ships trading with China and India. Able to speak Malay, Raffles assessed the local political situation, and concluded a treaty with local chiefs. The treaty, signed on 6 February 1819, gave the East India Company the right to establish a settlement in the southern part of Singapore in return for an annual payment of eight thousand Spanish dollars. In 1824 the British government took over control of Singapore from the East India Company. For nearly a century and a half Singapore was a thriving commercial port under varying forms of British colonial status, becoming fully independent in 1965.

6 February 1840
Treaty of Waitangi was signed in New Zealand. Maori chiefs recognized British sovereignty in return for tribes being guaranteed possession of their lands.

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7 February 1301
Edward Caernarvon (later King Edward II) was created the first Prince of Wales, a title borne by all subsequent heirs-apparent to the throne. The Prince of Wales' badge is three ostrich feathers with the motto "Ich dien". (Similarly the French heir apparent is known as The Dauphin. This refers to the dolphin borne in his coat of arms during the time he is heir apparent, and is removed upon his succession.)

7 February 1783
The Siege of Gibraltar by the Spanish and the French since 24 July 1779, was finally lifted. The British remained in Gibraltar, tunneling even deeper into the rock, to create a warren of caverns.

7 February 1792
Austria and Prussia formed an alliance against France.

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8 February 1587
Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringay Castle, England for her alleged part in the plot to usurp the throne. Mary was a controversial figure during her entire life. Elizabeth (the daughter of King Henry VIII) regretted the necessity of the execution, carried out because Mary was the center of so many plots.

8 February 1725
Catherine I succeeded her husband, Peter the Great, to become Empress of Russia.

8 February 1740
The 'Great Frost' of London ended (began 25 Dec 1739) in which the Thames was solidly frozen over: stalls were erected and fairs were held on the ice. The phenomenon is depicted in many contemporary paintings.

8 February 1924
The gas chamber was used in the USA for the first time, in the Nevada State Prison.

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9 February 1540
The first recorded horse racing event in Britain took place at Chester

9 February 1567
Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, died in an explosion in a house in Edinburgh. It was not an accident.

9 February 1799
The USS Constellation captured the French frigate Insurgente off the West Indies.

9 February 1801
The Holy Roman Empire came to an end with the signing of the Peace of Luneville between Austria and France. It had often been said the Empire was neither holy, nor Roman.

9 February 1825
The House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams sixth President. John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree (now Quincy) MA, and his house can be visited. It is a National Park Service site.

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10 February 1258
The Mongols took and destroyed Baghdad.

10 February 1354
A street battle between Oxford University students and townspeople resulted in several deaths and many injuries. The town and gown rivalry continues, although it is much more irenic.

10 February 1763
The Treaty of Paris ended the French-Indian War. France gave up all her territories in the New World except New Orleans and a few scattered islands.

10 February 1774
Andrew Becker demonstrated his practical diving suit in the River Thames.

10 February 1840
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, both aged 20, were married in St James' Palace, London

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11 February 1531
Henry VIII of England was recognized as the supreme head of the Church of England.

11 February 1793
England declared war on post-Revolutionary France (1793-1802)

11 February 1805
Sixteen-year-old Sacajawea, the Shoshoni guide for Lewis & Clark, gave birth to a son, with Meriwether Lewis serving as midwife.

11 February 1809
Robert Fulton patented the steamboat.

11 February 1815
News of the Treaty of Ghent, that ended the War of 1812, finally reached the United States.

 

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12 February 1294
Kublai Khan, the conqueror of Asia, died at the age of 80.

12 February 1554
Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for nine days, and victim of political wrangling, was executed on Tower Green for high treason. She was a highly cultured person, and an accomplished calligrapher, and was barely 17 years old.

12 February 1683
A Christian Army, led by Charles, the Duke of Lorraine and King John Sobieski, routed a huge Ottoman army surrounding Vienna, and lifted the siege.

12 February 1709
Alexander Selkirk, the Scottish seaman whose adventures inspired the creation of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, was taken off Juan Fernandez Island after more than four years of living there alone.

12 February 1793
The first US fugitive slave law, requiring the return of escaped slaves, was passed.

12 February 1797
Over 1,000 French troops, led by Irish-American general William Tate, made an unsuccessful attempt to invade Britain, on the Welsh coast.

12 February 1831
Rubber galoshes first went on sale, in Boston.

12 February 1836
Mexican General Santa Ana crossed the Rio Grande en route to the Alamo.

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13 February 1542
Katherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII of England, was executed for adultery. At the time of their marriage, Katherine was 19 years old while Henry VIII was 49. Although charges against his previous wives may have been unfounded, it is likely that Katherine was indeed unfaithful. Henry was deeply offended.

13 February 1689
William of Orange and Mary ascended the throne of Great Britain as joint sovereigns, following The Glorious Revolution of 1688. Mary was daughter of James II, and granddaughter of Charles I, William was grandson of Charles I. On this date The British Parliament adopted a Bill of Rights, and started to accumulate a National Debt.

13 February 1692
The massacre of the Macdonalds at Glencoe in Scotland was carried out by their traditional enemies, the Campbells. Thirty-eight members of the MacDonald clan were murdered by the Campbell clan for not pledging allegiance to William of Orange. Ironically the pledge had been made, but not communicated to the clans. The rivalry still continues, although there are now no pitched battles and assassinations.

13 February 1741
The first magazine in the New World was published. Because newspapers and books were considered necessities, they
appeared very early in colonial America. Magazines, on the other hand, were luxury items: not enough people had extra money to buy them or extra leisure time to read them. Thus the magazine was the last of the print media to appear in America. Benjamin Franklin and another Philadelphia printer, Andrew Bradford, had the same idea at the same time. On 13 February1741, three days before Franklin could produce the first issue of his "General Magazine," Bradford and former Franklin editor John Webbe published the first issue of their "American Magazine". Franklin is said to have felt betrayed, and never mentioned the project in his autobiography. Neither magazine was successful: Bradford's magazine ceased publication after three issues; Franklin's folded after six. Still, magazine publication was launched in America, and by the end of the 18th century several magazines reflected the political and cultural energy of the new nation.

13 February 1793
Britain, Prussia, Austria, Holland, Spain, and Sardinia formed an alliance against France.

 

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14 February 1400
The deposed King Richard II was murdered in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire

14 February 1779
On his first two major voyages of discovery, British navigator and explorer James Cook achieved great things. On his first voyage, started in 1768, Cook visited New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia, claiming them for Great Britain and accurately charting the coastlines. On his second expedition, begun in 1772, he made the first crossing of the Antarctic Circle and discovered several Pacific islands. But his third voyage ended tragically. Leaving England in 1776 to determine if a Northwest Passage existed between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, he discovered some of the Hawaiian islands, where he and his men were very cordially treated by the natives. After charting the western coastline of North America as far north as the Bering Straits, he returned to Hawaii. The natives' response to his second visit was much less cordial. Among other incidents, one of the boats was stolen from his ship. Cook and some men tried to capture the native chief, Kaleiopuu, as a hostage to exchange for the boat. Although Kaleiopuu at first went willingly, he hesitated on the beach. A confused tension followed, and then a brief skirmish in which Captain Cook was hit from behind by a native's club and killed.

14 February 1779
American Loyalists were defeated by Patriots at Kettle Creek GA.

14 February 1778
In 1778, the American ship Ranger' carried the recently adopted Star and Stripes to a foreign port for the first time as it arrived in France.

14 February 1797
The naval Battle of St Vincent took place off SW Portugal, in which Captain Nelson and Admiral Jervis (later created Lord St Vincent) defeated the Spanish fleet in an overwhelming victory. Nelson's unorthodox methods of battle proved to be decisive.

14 February 1929
The St Valentine's Day Massacre took place in Chicago, when seven members of Bugsy Moran's gang were gunned down in a warehouse.

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15 February 1851
On the morning of February 15, Shadrach Minkins was going about his job as a waiter in Boston when federal officers showed up at his workplace and arrested him. Minkins had escaped from slavery in Virginia the previous year. An act passed by Congress in 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law, had just been enacted, allowing slaveholders to enlist the aid of the federal government in recapturing runaway slaves. The Minkins case was to be an early test of the new law. Within a few hours of his arrest, Minkins was brought before a federal commissioner. But as he was being led from the courtroom, a group of Boston African Americans overpowered the guards and freed him. He immediately disappeared and was never seen in Boston again. With the help of the informal Underground Railroad, Minkins traveled north through New Hampshire and Vermont, crossing into Canada six days after his rescue. Out of reach of the US government, Minkins settled in Montreal, married an Irish woman and raised two children before his death in 1875. Minkins's rescue came to symbolize the spirit of resistance to the legal institutions of the slave system.

15 February 1882
The first shipment of frozen meat left New Zealand for England. This was a significant event: NZ was to become a major exporter of meat, the foundation of its new economy. It made lamb plentiful in Britain, and marked the country as a net importer of meat.

15 February 1898
The USS Maine, sent to Cuba on a goodwill tour, was struck by a mine and sank in Havana harbor, with the loss of 260 lives. Although most likely an accidental explosion, the sensational "yellow press" reported it as an enemy attack in order to stir enthusiasm for war. Two months later, rallied by the cry "Remember the Maine!' Congress declared war on Spain.

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16 February 1659
The first British check was written.

16 February 1804
Lt. Stephen Decatur attacked the Tripoli pirates who had burned the USS Philadelphia.

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17 February 1598
Boris Godunov, the boyar of Tatar origin, was elected czar in succession to his brother-in-law Fydor.

17 February 1461
In The War of the Roses Lancastrian forces defeated the Yorkists at the Battle of St Albans. The war was so called because of the badges of the two families: the white rose of the Yorkists, the red rose of the Lancastrians. Today these badges have been adopted by the counties of York and Lancashire, although they were originally attached to two prominent families. Passions still run high: it would not be a good plan to try to market Red Rose tea in Yorkshire! Today you're likely to see the white rose on a bottle of imported Samuel Smith beer. After the last Yorkist monarch was killed (Richard III), Henry Tudor combined the two roses in the 'Tudor Rose'. It is this rose than can be found on the First Foot colors.

17 February 1720
Spain signed the Treaty of the Hague with the Quadruple Alliance ending a war that was begun in 1718.

17 Feb 1776
The first volume of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" was published.
When the first of the six volumes of English historian Edward Gibbon's magnum opus was published, it was an instant success, with the entire first printing selling out almost immediately. Gibbon's skeptical attitude to religion,
and his claim that Christianity was a major cause of the Roman empire's decline troubled many readers, but the range and depth of his scholarship and the wit and elegance of his literary style were universally acknowledged. By 1788, when the work was complete, "Decline and Fall" ran to about a million and a half words, with close to 8000 footnotes. Although the book was written more than two hundred years ago, and modern historical research has called many of its conclusions into question, "Decline and Fall" is perhaps the only Western historical work of more than a century old that continues to be read frequently by the non-specialized educated public.

17 February 1843
The conquest of Sindh by Sir Charles James Napier (1782-1853). Sindh is the province of Pakistan on the coast of the Arabian Sea that abuts India and includes the Indus delta and the former capital, Karachi. Capture of Sindh was a natural part of the British imperialist policy for the Indian subcontinent, being necessary in order to subdue the rebellious Punjab (just upriver from Sindh). However, the rationale behind the capture of the state was even more tenuous than previous annexations, and involved some unscrupulous proceedings against the Mirs of Sindh by Lords Auckland and Ellenborough.

What is highly memorable is the telegraph that Napier sent to Lord Ellenborough, Governor-General of India. In the days when telegraph messages were charged by word, Napier sent a classic one-word message: "Peccavi". For those who understand Latin (as all British army and consular officers did) the punning translation was simple: "I have sinned (Sindh)." Linked as it was with duplicitous diplomacy, the message was unintentionally true. This message was immortalized by its publication in the London humorous weekly Punch. [The contemporary British orthography was 'Scinde')

17 February 1864
The first successful submarine torpedo attack took place when the USS Housatonic was sunk by the Confederate submarine Hunley in Charleston harbor; however, the force of the explosion was so great that the submarine itself was also blown up, killing all on board.

17 February 1865
The South Carolina capital city, Columbia, was destroyed by fire as Major General William Tecumseh Sherman marched through.

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18 February 1478
George, the Duke of Clarence, who had opposed his brother Edward IV, was murdered in the Tower of London.

18 February 1678
Publication of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

18 February 1688
The first Protest Against Slavery in Colonial America.
Among the early settlers in the colony of Pennsylvania were members of the Mennonite religious community from Germany. One group of Mennonites, also known as the Society of Friends, or Quakers, established a settlement called Germantown, now part of Philadelphia. When some members of the Quaker community began to buy slaves, Francis Daniel Pastorius, the founder of Germantown, was outraged. On 18 February 1688, Pastorius met with three other
. Germantown Quaker men to draft a denunciation of slavery. Known as the Germantown Protest, it is regarded as the first polemic against slavery by whites in the American colonies. The reasoning of the denunciation was based on the Golden Rule: since white people did not want to be slaves themselves, they had no right to enslave black African men and women. Despite the Germantown Protest, some Quaker families continued to keep slaves. Nonetheless, by the 19th century Quakers were prominent in the movement to abolish slavery in the United States.

18 February 1725
In the first documented case of scalping, New Hampshire militiamen, led by Capt. Lovewell killed and scalped 10 Native Americans in Wakefield NH. While historians are unclear if Europeans taught Indian allies how to scalp (or if Indians already knew), it is clear that Europeans encouraged the practice by offering a bounty for each scalp, much as had always been done for the capture of beasts such as foxes and wolves.

18 February 1861
Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed king of a united Italy at the first meeting of the Italian parliament.

18 February 1861
Jefferson F Davis was inaugurated as the Confederacy's provisional president at a ceremony held in Montgomery AL.

 

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19 February 1408
The revolt of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, against King Henry IV, ended with his defeat and death at Bramham Moor.

19 February 1800
Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed himself First Consul of France.

19 February 1807

Vice President Aaron Burr was arrested in Alabama for treason. He was later found innocent.

19 February 1878

US inventor Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

19 February 1915

British and French warships began their attacks on the Turkish forts at the mouth of the Dardanelles, in an abortive expedition to force the straits of Gallipoli.

 

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20 February 1811

Austria declared itself bankrupt

20 February 1792

The US Postal Service was created.

20 February 1942

Lt. Edward O'Hare downed five out of nine Japanese bombers that were attacking the carrier Lexington. His portrait proudly hangs in the airport that took his name: O'Hare, in Chicago.

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21 February 1595

The Jesuit poet Robert Southwell was hanged in England for the treason of being a Catholic.

21 February 1744

The British blockade of Toulon was broken by 27 French and Spanish warships attacking 29 blockade ships.

21 February 1775

As troubles with Great Britain increased, colonists in Massachusetts voted to buy military equipment for 15,000 men.

21 February 1797

Trinidad, West Indies surrendered to the British.

21 February 1804

British engineer Richard Trevithick demonstrated the first steam engine to run on rails.

21 February 1849

In the Second Sikh War, Sir Hugh Gough's well placed guns won a victory over a Sikh force twice the size of his at Gujerat on the Chenab River, assuring British control of the Punjab for years to come.

21 February 1878

The world's first telephone book was issued by the New Haven Telephone Company in Connecticut, containing the names of its 50 subscribers.

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22 February 1797

Over 1,000 invading French troops landed at Fishguard, in South Wales, but were quickly taken prisoner.

22 February 1819

Florida was ceded to the United States by Spain with the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty. Signed by John Quincy

Adams and Spanish Minister to the US Don Luis de Onis, the agreement included a payment of five million dollars by the

United States.

 

22 February 1879

US storekeeper FW Woolworth opened his first 'five-and-ten-cent' store in Utica NY. It was the first chain store.

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23 February 303
Emperor Diocletian ordered the general persecution of Christians in Rome.

23 February 1429
Joan of Arc arrived at Chinon to meet Charles VII.

23 February 1701
Captain Kidd was hanged for piracy.

23 February 1778
The winter of 1777-8 was the lowest point for the Continental Army in its struggle with Britain. General
George Washington had gathered the ragged, bloodied remnant of his army at Valley Forge PA. Inadequately fed and sheltered, freezing in the bitter cold, and demoralized by earlier defeats, many soldiers were deserting.

That was the bleak scene where, on 23 February 1778, former Prussian officer Frederick William Baron von Steuben reported for duty to General Washington. Benjamin Franklin had recruited Steuben in Europe because of his knowledge and experience of military training and command techniques. Although he spoke almost no English, when the Prussian commander began drilling the bedraggled soldiers, his charisma and colorful personality inspired confidence.

Trained, disciplined, and reorganized by Steuben, it was a very different Continental Army that left Valley Forge in June to pursue the British across New Jersey. For the remainder of the war Baron Von Steuben was among Washington's most valued officers. The record of his drill instructions from Valley Forge became the official training manual for the US military until 1812.

23 February 1779 
The Battle of Vincennes, Indian Territory. Led by the frontiersman George Rogers Clark, a relatively small band of soldiers took a well-guarded fort in present-day Indiana. Thanks to Clark, much of the American northwest (present day midwest) remained in rebel hands.

23 February 1815
Death of steamship and warship pioneer Robert Fulton. As a result of falling through the ice, Fulton suffered complications, and died in New York City at age 50. He was buried at Trinity Church.

23 February 1820
Discovery of the Cato Street conspiracy. Under the leadership of Arthur Thistlewood, a revolutionary extremist, the conspirators planned to murder Prime Minister Lord Castlereagh and other ministers while they were at dinner, as a prelude to a general uprising. However, government spies discovered the plot, and the conspirators were arrested at a house in Cato Street, off Edgware Road, in London. Convicted of high treason, Thistlewood and four others were executed, the rest being sentenced to transportation for life.

23 February 1821
Poet John Keats died of tuberculosis at the age of 25.

23 February 1836
Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana began a military siege of the Alamo, a Spanish mission in San Antonio TX. Inside were more than 100 Texas revolutionary defenders. Today the Alamo is a historic shrine, and symbol of resistance.

23 February 1863
Lake Victoria, in Africa, was proclaimed to be the source of the River Nile by British explorers John Speke and JA Grant.

23 February 1898
In one of the most shameful episodes in French history, writer Emile Zola was imprisoned for writing his open letter 'J'accuse!', accusing the French government of anti-Semitism and of wrongly imprisoning the army officer Captain Alfred Dreyfus on Devil's Island. Dreyfus was later proved to be completely innocent of all charges, but the real perpetrator was allowed to retain his army post.

 

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24 February 786
Pepin the Short of Gaul died. His dominions were divided between his sons Charles (Charlemagne) and Carloman.

24 February 1582
Pope Gregory XIII issued a Papal Bull to drop ten days from the calendar. In Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, and other major Roman Catholic countries, the day following October 4, 1582 was to be October 15, 1582. To better approximate the length of the astronomical year in order to make more accurate calculation of saints' days and other religious events, the Julian calendar, which had been in effect for 1600 years, it was to be replaced by the Gregorian calendar, the fruit of careful research and calculation by a group of mathematicians and scholars assembled by the Vatican. The removal of ten days was meant to correct the error accumulated since AD 1, and to bring the date back in line with the seasons.
Most Roman Catholic countries quickly adopted the new calendar, but Protestant countries at first refused to make the change decreed by a pope. It wasn't until 1701 that the Protestant cantons of Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the greater part of Protestant Germany made the switch, and England didn't move to the Gregorian calendar until 1752, with Sweden coming on board the following year. By that time, 11 days had to be added instead of the original 10. Even more resistant than the Protestant nations were the Eastern Orthodox countries. It took the Bolshevik revolution of 1918 to make the change in Russia, and the Greeks didn't go Gregorian until 1923.

In London of 1752, crowds rioted, yelling "Give us back our 11 days!"

24 February 1711
George Handel's opera "Rinaldo," the first Italian opera specifically composed for the London stage, premiered at the
Queen's (later King's) Theatre in the Haymarket. Set at the time of the First Crusade, the opera features Rinaldo, a Christian knight who captured Jerusalem from the Saracens.

24 February 1905
The Simplon Tunnel through the Alps was completed.

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25 February 1308
Coronation of King Edward II of England.

25 February 1570
Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, in his bull Regnans in Excelsis .

25 February 1601
Robert Devereux, the second Earl of Essex and former favorite of Elizabeth I, was beheaded in the Tower of London for high treason.

25 February 1781
American General Nathaniel Greene crossed the Dan River on his way to attack Lord Cornwallis.

25 February 1836
From early childhood, Samuel Colt was fascinated by the mechanics of firearms. At the age of 16, aboard a ship bound for India, he carved a wooden model of a handgun with a revolving chamber. The idea was suggested to him by the wheel of the ship.

After five years of development and refinement of his "revolver", he patented a working model in England and France, and the following year, on 25 February 1836, he received a US patent. Sales of the early revolvers were slow, and the company that was marketing them went bankrupt. Colt's fortunes brightened in 1847 when the US Army ordered 1,000 of the handguns for use in the Mexican War. From then on demand soared, and Colt set up the world's largest armory in his hometown of Hartford CT. Colt Firearms Company helped the South to build up its firearms supply prior to the Civil War, but once the war broke out, the company was fully devoted to supplying the Union Army. Samuel Colt died in 1862; his invention and company have since become American legends. The Colt Museum in Hartford is worth a visit.

25 February 1862
The ironclad Monitor was commissioned at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

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26 February 1531
An earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal, killed 20,000 people.

26 February 1790
As a result of the Revolution reforms, France was divided into 83 departments (corresponding to counties), which are still used to this day.

26 February 1797
The first note was issued by the Bank of England.

26 February 1815
With 1200 of his loyal troops, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from exile on the island of Elba, off the coast of Italy. This was the start of the "100 days" of his re-conquest of France, which ended with his defeat at Waterloo.

26 February 1848
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels published The Communist Manifesto in London.

26 February 1901
Boxer Rebellion leaders Chi-Hsin and Hsu-Cheng-Yu were publicly executed in Peking.

 

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27 February 1557
The first Russian Embassy opened in London; exactly one year later, the first trade mission arrived.

27 February 1776
The Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge NC
A skirmish between American militia and Loyalist Scotsmen-highlanders in North Carolina. The decisive American victory here discouraged similar Loyalist uprisings in the South.

27 February 1807
Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland MA. (Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time.)

27 February 1827
The first Mardi-Gras celebration was held in New Orleans.

27 February 1864
The first Union prisoners arrived at the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

27 February 1865
Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwhackers attacked Hickman KY, shooting men, women and children alike.

27 February 1881
British troops were defeated by the Boers at Majuba Hill, Transvaal.

 

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28 February 1066
Westminster Abbey in London opened.

28 February 1574
On the orders of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Spain, two Englishmen and an Irishman were burned for heresy.

28 February 1704
Indians attacked Deerfield in Western Massachusetts, killing 40 and kidnapping 100.

28 February 1772
The Boston assembly threatened secession from Britain unless rights of colonies were maintained.

28 February 1784
John Wesley, founder of the Wesleyan faith, signed its deed of declaration.

28 February 1827
The beginning of a new age.
The Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company was incorporated, the first railroad in America chartered to carry passengers and freight. Investors hoped a railroad would allow Baltimore, the second largest US city at that time, to successfully compete with New York for western trade. New Yorkers were profiting from easy access to the Midwest via the Erie Canal. Construction of track began the following July, and the first 13- mile (21 km) section was opened in 1830.

The first railroad had been built a few years earlier in Quincy, MA to carry quarried granite for the building of the Bunker Hill monument and for the Granary Burying Ground. The original railroad is covered by the Southeast Expressway as it winds north from 'the split' to the Neponset River. This railroad, unlike the B&O, was never conceived as a passenger route: although it later became such, with stations at Montclair, East Milton and West Quincy.

28 February 1900
Relief forces under General Buller reached British troops besieged for four months at Ladysmith, Natal; Boer troops retreated. The Boer war, fought against guerrillas, was the last conflict in which the Army wore red uniforms. Shortly thereafter they adopted the color khaki (or 'dust-color').

28 February 1912
The first parachute jump was made, over Missouri.

 

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29 February 1704
French and Indians attacked and destroyed Deerfield in western Massachusetts in what became known as the Deerfield Massacre. Many families were mercilessly slaughtered, and 111 people were taken by the Indians into captivity.

 


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