Today is Thursday, Feb. 16, the 47th day of 2012. There are 319 days left in the year.
On Feb. 16, 1862, the Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee ended as some 12,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered; Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s victory earned him the nickname “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”
On this date:
In 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur led a successful raid into Tripoli Harbor to burn the U.S. Navy frigate Philadelphia, which had fallen into the hands of pirates.
In 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was organized in New York City.
In 1918, Lithuania proclaimed its independence from the Russian Empire. (Lithuania, which was occupied by the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, then the Soviet Union again during World War II, renewed its independence in 1990).
In 1923, the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen’s recently unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt by English archaeologist Howard Carter.
In 1937, Dr. Wallace H. Carothers, a research chemist for Du Pont who’d invented nylon, received a patent for the synthetic fiber.
In 1945, American troops landed on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines during World War II.
In 1959, Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba a month and a-half after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.
In 1961, the United States launched the Explorer 9 satellite.
In 1968, the nation’s first 911 emergency telephone system was inaugurated in Haleyville, Ala.
In 1977, Janani Luwum, the Anglican archbishop of Uganda, and two other men were killed in what Ugandan authorities said was an automobile accident.
In 1987, John Demjanjuk went on trial in Jerusalem, accused of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a guard at the Treblinka Nazi concentration camp. (Demjanjuk was convicted, but the conviction ended up being overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court.)
In 1998, a China Airlines Airbus A300-600R trying to land in fog near Taipei, Taiwan, crashed, killing all 196 people on board.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, en route to a three-nation tour of Asia, stopped off at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, where he told hundreds of cheering U.S. soldiers that “America will not blink” in the fight against terrorism and Osama bin Laden. Authorities in Noble, Ga., arrested Ray Brent Marsh, who’d been operating a crematory where hundreds of decomposing corpses were found stacked in storage sheds and scattered in the woods behind it. (Marsh later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.) Former Cabinet member and Common Cause founder John W. Gardner died in Stanford, Calif., at age 89.
Five years ago: The Democratic-controlled House issued a symbolic rejection of President George W. Bush’s decision to deploy more troops to Iraq, approving the nonbinding resolution by a vote of 246-182. An Italian judge indicted 25 suspected CIA agents and a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel in the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. (Twenty-three Americans were later convicted in absentia along with two Italians.)
One year ago: Bookstore chain Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and said it would close nearly a third of its stores. (Borders closed all of its remaining stores in Sept. 2011.) Huge crowds called for a political overhaul in Bahrain, and leaders appeared to shift tactics after attempts to crush the uprising stoked protesters’ rage.