Saturday, February 13, 2016

Today in History for Feb. 13, 2016

Bernard J.D. Irwin
Feb. 13, 1741 - "The American Magazine," the first magazine in the U.S., was published in Philadelphia, Pa.

Feb. 13, 1776 - Patrick Henry was named the colonel of the First Virginia battalion in defense of the state’s supply of gunpowder. Less than a month later, on April 20, Virginia’s Royal Governor Lord Dunmore attempted to take the gunpowder from the Williamsburg magazine as part of his attempt to hold on to power in the colony. In response, Henry led the Patriot militia in a standoff with Dunmore’s troops until fellow Virginian Patriot Carter Braxton negotiated a settlement. The incident is known as the Gunpowder Affair.

Feb. 13, 1801 - The Federalist Congress passed the Judiciary Act.

Feb. 13, 1818 – Conecuh County, Ala. was established, formed out of what was Monroe County by an act of the legislature. Conecuh County originally included all of south Alabama east of its present Western boundary line and south of the line of Lowndes and as far east as the Chattahoochee River.

Feb. 13, 1818 – In the Alabama territorial capital of St. Stephens, a commission was formed to select a site for the future state capital.

Feb. 13, 1831 - Union General John Rawlins was born in Galena, Illinois. Rawlins was a close personal aide to General Ulysses S. Grant and was reported to have kept Grant from drinking heavily during the war. Rawlins was Grant’s principal staff officer throughout the war, and Grant said that Rawlins was nearly indispensable.

Feb. 13, 1842 – Confederate soldier Hugh Ellis Courtney was born in Mississippi. He enlisted at Pineville in Monroe County, Ala. on March 15, 1861 and re-enlisted on May 13, 1861. He was listed as sick at Hugunot Springs on July 15, 1861 and was wounded at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. He was admitted to the 2nd Div. Ala. General Hospital at Richmond on June 6, 1863 and was listed as a prisoner of war at the Wilderness on May 5, 1864 before being forwarded to Point Lookout, Md. on May 18, 1864 and to Elmira Prison, N.Y. on Aug. 15, 1864. He took the Oath of Allegiance on April 30, 1865 and stated that he desired to “return to Bells Landing, where his relatives resides.” He was paroled on June 14, 1865. He was almost 5-8 with a fair complexion, auburn hair and blue eyes. Courtney died in Montgomery on Feb. 22, 1939 and was buried in Pine Crest Cemetery in Mobile.

Feb. 13, 1854 – The Belleville Male and Female Academy in Conecuh County, Ala. was incorporated by the Alabama legislature. The original trustees were John L. Shaw, President; J.P. Robbins, J.R. Hawthorne, T.W. Simpson and William Simpson.

Feb. 13, 1861 - Robert E. Lee was ordered to return to Washington from Fort Mason to assume command of the Union Army. Instead, Lee resigned his commission and in June of 1862 assumed command of the Confederate Army.

Feb. 13, 1861 - The earliest military action to be revered with a Medal of Honor award was performed by Colonel Bernard J.D. Irwin, an assistant army surgeon serving in the first major U.S.-Apache conflict. Near Apache Pass, in southeastern Arizona, Irwin, an Irish-born doctor, volunteered to go to the rescue of Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom, who was trapped with 60 men of the U.S. Seventh Infantry by the Chiricahua Apaches. Irwin and 14 men, initially without horses, began the 100-mile trek to Bascom’s forces riding on mules. After fighting and capturing Apaches along the way and recovering stolen horses and cattle, they reached Bascom’s forces on February 14 and proved instrumental in breaking the siege. Although Irwin’s bravery in this conflict was the earliest Medal of Honor action, the award itself was not created until 1862, and it was not until Jan. 21, 1894 that Irwin received the nation’s highest military honor.

Feb. 13, 1862 - Union Brigadier General John McClernand, one of General Ulysses S. Grant's officers, initiated the battle of Fort Donelson when he tried to capture a Rebel Battery along the outerworks of Fort Donelson. The attack was uncuccessful. Grant captured the fort on Feb. 16.

Feb. 13, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred at Station Four near Pensacola, Fla.

Feb. 13, 1866 - On Fat Tuesday, Confederate veteran Joe Cain paraded through the streets of federal-occupied Mobile dressed as a Chickasaw Indian chief he dubbed "Slackabamorinico." The antics of "Chief Slac" marked the first public celebration of Mardi Gras in Mobile since the start of the Civil War, and led to larger, more formalized festivities the next year. Joe Cain Day is observed annually in Mobile on the Sunday before Mardi Gras.

Feb. 13, 1870 – True-crime writer William Roughead was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Feb. 13, 1885 – Brewton, Ala. was officially incorporated as a municipality.

Feb. 13, 1891 – Landscape painter Grant Wood, who is best known for the iconic 1930 portrait “American Gothic,” was born near Anamosa, Iowa.

Feb. 13, 1895 – Former University of Alabama President Landon Garland passed away at the age of 84 on Feb. 13, 1895 in Nashville, Tenn. and was buried in the Vanderbilt University Divinity Cemetery. A native of Nelson County, Ala., he served as the University’s president from 1855 to 1865.

Feb. 13, 1905 - President Theodore Roosevelt delivered a stirring speech to the New York City Republican Club. Roosevelt had just won his second reelection, and in this speech, he discussed the country’s current state of race relations and his plan for improving them.

Feb. 13, 1915 – At Canoe, Ala., Escambia County Sheriffs captured Andrew Simmons, a Conecuh County convict who’d escaped off a county road crew. Also arrested for helping Simmons escape were Bestor Lewis, Tom White and Laura Smith. Lewis and White helped steal a horse and buggy from R.M. Rabon in Castleberry, and Smith gave Simmons clothes to replace his “striped convict garb.”

Feb. 13, 1920 - The National Negro Baseball League was organized.

Feb. 13, 1928 - A movie version of Alabama author Octavus Roy Cohen's book “The Prince and the Papa” was released.

Feb. 13, 1937 - The NFL's Boston Redskins moved to Washington.

Feb. 13, 1947 – A fire of unknown origin broke out in the rear of the A&P Store on East Front Street in Evergreen, Ala. about 3 a.m. and did considerable damage to the building and virtually destroyed the large stock of groceries.

Feb. 13, 1949 - An Ecuadoran mob burned down a radio station following their broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”

Feb. 13, 1953 - The Oakland Athletics changed the name of Shibe Park to Connie Mack Stadium. The change was in honor of their longtime owner and manager.

Feb. 13, 1961 – The missing Air Force T-28 training plane flown by Ecuardorian pilot Carlos R. Jalil was found by a helicopter from Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga. Jalil, a foreign pilot receiving Air Force flight training, was killed in the crash, and Civil Air Patrol units from Alabama (including Evergreen), Georgia and Florida took part in the search for Jalil’s plane. This search was the Evergreen CAP unit’s first opportunity to use its newly assigned plane, which was piloted by 2nd Lt. G.D. McKenzie. McKenzie was accompanied by observers Capt. Lee F. Smith, 1st Lt. David E. McKenzie and 2nd Lt. R.V. McClendon.

Feb. 13, 1961 – An allegedly 500,000-year-old rock was discovered near Olancha, California that appeared to anachronistically encase a spark plug.

Feb. 13, 1965 - President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers had been contemplating for a year. Earlier in the month, the president had ordered Operation Flaming Dart in response to communist attacks on U.S. installations in South Vietnam. These retaliatory raids did not have the desired effect of causing the North Vietnamese to cease support of Viet Cong forces in South Vietnam, and out of frustration, Johnson turned to a more extensive use of airpower.

Feb. 13, 1968 - As an emergency measure in response to the 1968 communist Tet Offensive, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara approved the deployment of 10,500 troops to cope with threats of a second offensive. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had argued against dispatching any reinforcements at the time because it would seriously deplete the strategic reserve, immediately sent McNamara a memorandum asking that 46,300 reservists and former servicemen be activated. Not wanting to test public opinion on what would no doubt be a controversial move, Johnson consigned the issue of the reservists to “study.”

Feb. 13, 1969 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Marine Corps Pfc. Joseph S. Ward was in Okinawa enroute to Vietnam. He entered the Marine Corps on July 2, 1968 and left for California in January 1969. Ward was the son of Richard Ward of Evergreen, Ala. and Mrs. James V. Hawsey of McKenzie. He attended Lyeffion High School.

Feb. 13, 1970 – Lyeffion High School held its annual football banquet at the school, and Coach Baccum of Mississippi State was the guest speaker.

Feb. 13, 1976 – In their regular season finale, Sparta Academy’s varsity boys basketball team “pulled the upset of the year” by beating previously unbeaten Wilcox Academy, 46-45, in overtime in Camden. Ronnie Pugh led Sparta with 18 points, and Sparta finished the regular season with an 18-6 overall record.

Feb. 13, 1977 – NFL wide receiver Randy Moss was born in Charleston, West Virginia. He would go on to play for Marshall, the Minnesota Vikings, the Oakland Raiders, the New England Patriots, the Tennessee Titans and the San Francisco 49ers.

Feb. 13, 1989 - Alabama author Everette Maddox died in New Orleans, La.

Feb. 13, 1991 – During the Gulf War, two laser-guided "smart bombs" destroyed the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad. Allied forces said the bunker was being used as a military communications outpost, but over 400 Iraqi civilians inside were killed.

Feb. 13, 2001 – The Sarasota County, Fla. Sheriff’s office released two remarkable photos of a mysterious creature that had been taken by an elderly woman who sighted an apelike entity in her back yard. For two nights, the large hairy monster had made strange noises, emitted a strong odor and snitched apples from her back porch. On the third night, she managed to take two photographs of the creature that her husband thought looked something like an orangutan.

Feb. 13, 2002 - In Alexandria, Va., John Walker Lindh pled innocent to a 10-count federal indictment. He was charged with conspiring to kill Americans and aiding Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

Feb. 13, 2004 - Astronomers announced the discovery of a huge diamond-like object in the galaxy, a pulsating white dwarf star, nicknamed Lucy, after the Beatles' song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

Feb. 13, 2008 - Roger Clemens denied having taken performance-enhancing drugs in testimony before Congress.

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