This Week In American Military History: From Patch's Dispatch to a Cold War Swap

This Week in American Military History: 

Feb. 6, 1899:  Nearly 98 years to the day after ratifying the Mortefontaine treaty (Feb. 3, 1801) ending the Quasi War with France, the U.S. Senate ratifies another war-ending treaty: this one ending the war with Spain.


Feb. 9, 1943:  U.S. Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey receives the following message from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Alexander M. “Sandy” Patch:

“Total and complete defeat of Japanese forces on Guadalcanal effected 1625 today . . . Am happy to report this kind of compliance with your orders . . . because Tokyo Express no longer has terminus on Guadalcanal.”

The campaign launched by U.S Marines and sailors in August 1942, and fought by Army, Navy, and Marine forces (and allies) over a six-month period, has resulted in the decisive defeat of Japanese forces on-and-near the island of Guadalcanal. The close of the campaign also ends the first major American offensive of World War II.

Feb. 10, 1763:  The Treaty of Paris is signed ending the Seven Years War, known as the French and Indian War in the North American colonies. For America – militarily speaking – the war strengthens Great Britain’s territorial dominance and strategic supremacy in North America. The war also serves as the conflict prior to the American Revolution in which many future Continental Army commanders cut their teeth.


Feb. 10, 1962:  In a dramatic Cold War prisoner swap between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers is exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolph Ivanovich Abel on the Glienecker Bridge between West Berlin and Potsdam in East Germany.

Powers is a former U.S. Air Force officer who had been flying U-2s for the CIA when he was shot down over the Soviet Union and captured in May 1960.  Abel, a KGB colonel, had been arrested in New York in 1957 and convicted of espionage activities against the United States.

Feb. 12, 1955:  Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower sends U.S. military advisors to South Vietnam.

Feb. 12, 1973:  The first American prisoners of war are released from North Vietnamese captivity.

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