On this day in 1763, The Seven Years’ War, a global conflict known in America as the French & Indian War, ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris by France, Great Britain, and Spain.
On this day in 1942, the German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, as well as the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, escape from the French port of Brest and make a mad dash up the English Channel to safety in German waters.
On this day in 1941, German General Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli, Libya, with the newly formed Afrika Korps, to reinforce the beleaguered Italians’ position.
On this day in 1861, The earliest military action to be revered with a Medal of Honor award is 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.
On February 14, 1779, Captain James Cook, the great English explorer and navigator, is murdered by natives of Hawaii during his third visit to the Pacific island group.
On this day in 1898, a massive explosion of unknown origin sinks the battleship USS Maine in Cuba’s Havana harbor, killing 260 of the fewer than 400 American crew members aboard.
On this day in 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant finishes a spectacular campaign by capturing Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. This battle came10 days after Grant’s capture of Fort Henry, just10 miles to the west on the Tennessee River, and opened the way for Union occupation of central Tennessee.