On This Day … 23 February


  • 1554 – Mapuche forces, under the leadership of Lautaro, score a victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Marihueñu in Chile.
  • 1778 – American Revolutionary War: Baron von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to help to train the Continental Army.
  • 1836 – Texas Revolution: The Siege of the Alamo (prelude to the Battle of the Alamo) begins in San Antonio, Texas.
  • 1847 – Mexican-American War: Battle of Buena Vista: In Mexico, American troops under future president General Zachary Taylor defeat Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna.
  • 1854 – The official independence of the Orange Free State is declared.
  • 1870 – Reconstruction Era: Post-US Civil War military control of Mississippi ends and it is readmitted to the Union.
  • 1885 – Sino-French War: French Army gains an important victory in the Battle of Đồng Đăng in the Tonkin region of Vietnam.
  • 1886 – Charles Martin Hall produced the first samples of aluminium from the electrolysis of aluminium oxide, after several years of intensive work.
    • He was assisted in this project by his older sister, Julia Brainerd Hall.
  • 1898 – Émile Zola is imprisoned in France after writing J’Accuse…!, a letter accusing the French government of antisemitism and wrongfully imprisoning Captain Alfred Dreyfus.
  • 1900 – Second Boer War: During the Battle of the Tugela Heights, the first British attempt to take Hart’s Hill fails.
  • 1903 – Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.
  • 1917 – First demonstrations in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The beginning of the February Revolution (08 March in the Gregorian calendar).
  • 1941 – Plutonium is first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.
  • 1942 – World War II: Japanese submarines fire artillery shells at the coastline near Santa Barbara, California.
  • 1943 – Greek Resistance: The United Panhellenic Organisation of Youth is founded in Greece.
  • 1944 – The Soviet Union begins the forced deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people from the North Caucasus to Central Asia.
  • 1945 – World War II: During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines reach the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag.
  • 1945 – World War II: The 11th Airborne Division, with Filipino guerrillas, free all 2,147 captives of the Los Baños internment camp, in what General Colin Powell later would refer to as “the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies.”
  • 1945 – World War II: The capital of the Philippines, Manila, is liberated by combined Filipino and American forces.
  • 1945 – World War II: Capitulation of German garrison in Poznań.
    • The city is liberated by Soviet and Polish forces.
  • 1945 – World War II: The German town of Pforzheim is annihilated in a raid by 379 British bombers.
  • 1966 – In Syria, Ba’ath Party member Salah Jadid leads an intra-party military coup that replaces the previous government of General Amin al-Hafiz, also a Baathist.
  • 1971 – Operation Lam Son 719: South Vietnamese General Do Cao Tri was killed in a helicopter crash en route to taking control of the faltering campaign.
  • 1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army demands $4 million more to release kidnap victim Patty Hearst.
  • 1980 – Iran hostage crisis: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini states that Iran’s parliament will decide the fate of the American embassy hostages.
  • 1981 – In Spain, Antonio Tejero attempts a coup d’état by capturing the Spanish Congress of Deputies.
  • 1988 – Saddam Hussein begins the Anfal genocide against Kurds and Assyrians in northern Iraq.
  • 1991 – In Thailand, General Sunthorn Kongsompong leads a bloodless coup d’état, deposing Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan.
  • 1999 – Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan is charged with treason in Ankara, Turkey.
  • 2008 – A United States Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber crashes on Guam, marking the first operational loss of a B-2.
  • 2017 – The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army captures Al-Bab from ISIL.
  • Red Army Day or Day of Soviet Army and Navy in the former Soviet Union, also held in various former Soviet republics:
    • Defender of the Fatherland Day (Russia).
    • Defender of the Fatherland and Armed Forces day (Belarus).
    • Armed Forces Day (Tajikistan) (Tajikistan).

People (Births)

  • 1443 – Matthias Corvinus, Hungarian king (d. 1490).
  • 1646 – Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, Japanese shōgun (d. 1709).
  • 1792 – José Joaquín de Herrera, Mexican politician and general.
    • President three times (1844-1854) (d. 1854).
  • 1915 – Paul Tibbets, American general and pilot (d. 2007).
  • 1923 – Clarence D. Lester, African-American fighter pilot (d.1986).
  • 1928 – Vasily Lazarev, Russian colonel, physician, and astronaut (d. 1990).
  • 1954 – Viktor Yushchenko, Ukrainian captain and politician, 3rd President of Ukraine.
  • 1959 – Ian Liddell-Grainger, Scottish soldier and politician.

People (Deaths)

  • 908 – Li Keyong, Shatuo military governor during the Tang Dynasty in China (b. 856).
  • 1879 – Albrecht von Roon, Prussian soldier and politician, 10th Minister President of Prussia (b. 1803).
  • 1930 – Horst Wessel, German SA officer (b. 1907).
  • 1946 – Tomoyuki Yamashita, Japanese general (b. 1885).
  • 2013 – Eugene Bookhammer, American soldier and politician, 18th Lieutenant Governor of Delaware (b. 1918).
  • 2014 – Roger Hilsman, American soldier, academic, and politician (b. 1919).
  • 2015 – W. E. “Bill” Dykes, American soldier and politician (b. 1925).

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