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xn'Ti:rspersed with brief notices or the origin, progress., 





Toast of Com. Decatur's Father, 1804 , 


■♦JoBcpller of *' Robbins' Journal," author of the " Prejia^i 
Tour," " Memoirs of Jackson," Lc. &c. 



a 6t 


L. S. BE IT REMEMBERED, Tu^r OM the *)ighth day of 
January, in the forty-lifth year of the Independ- 
ence of the United States of Amrri •,, S. Putnam Waldo, 
of the said district, hath d.'posjied in this office the title 
of a Book, the right whereol he claims as proprietor, in 
the words following, to wit : — " Thf Life ar.d Charac- 
ter of Stephen Decatur ; late Commodore and Post-Cap- 
tain in the Navy of the United States, and Navy-Com- 
missioner : interspersed with brief notices of the origin, 
progress and achievements of the American Navy. ' Our 
Chifdren, they are the Property of our Country.' — Toast 
of Com. Decatur s Father, 1804. By S. Putnam Wal- 
do, Esq. Compiler of " Robbins' Journal," author of the 
''' President's Tour," " Memoirs of Jackson," &c. &c. 
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United 
States, entitled " An Act for the encouragement of learn- 
ing, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and Books, 
to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the 
times therein mentioned." 


Clerk of the District of Connecticut, 
A true copy of Record, examined and sealed by me, 

Clerk of the District of Connecticut, 







Permit an American Citizen, as a smnll tribute of ad- 
miration for your naval science, nautical skill, and gal- 
lant achievements, to offer this volume to you. He 
hopes to tind a shield for its imperfections, in the frank- 
J3ess and candour of your characters. It would be the 
consummation of vanity to suppose that any efforts of his, 
could elevate the character of STEPHEN DECATUR 
in you?' estimation ; and it is a real consolation to reflect 
that it cannot be depresscc^y the manner in which it is 
pourtrayed. The very br^ef and imperfect notices of 
the achievements of the American Navy, as connected 
with the Life and Character of Commodore Decatur, will 
be excused from the extreme brevity with which they 
are alluded to. The splendour of your achievements 
has given to the American Republic, an exalted rank 
through the Eastern World — the hopes of the Western 
Hemisphere are fixed upon the American Navy. 
With undissembled respect, 

I am your admiring fellow-citizen, 





THE rapid sale of the first Edition of this Volume, was the in- 
ducement for publishing the present very larg^e Edition. The wri= 
ter is, of course, precluded from saying any thing of the merits of 
the work, in regard to the mamier in which it is executed : but he 
will certainly escape the imputation of vanity, when he assures the 
candid reader, that, in ^^ point of facP'' it has been pronounced ac- 
curate by those who were best calculated to judge of its accu* 

The Volume contains the first minute biography of any of the 
distinguished heroes, who comnaenced their naval profession in the 
American School in the Mediterranean Sea. The writer began,;, 
prosecuted, and ended the memoir with a solicitude which was sensi- 
bly felt by himself, but which he could not possibly impart to the 
readers of this rapidly written volume. 

The autlior, since the publication of the first Edition, has enjoy- 
>cd the pleasure cf interviews with distinguished officers of tlie navy, 
who have condescended to peruse it ; and whose gentlemanlike ci- 
vility has pronounced it correct. 7yteir opinion gives a value to the 
Volume, which the writer certainly did not attach to it himself. 

The Publisher of the present Edition has spared no pains or ex- 
pense to add to the little value the work originally possessed. The 
^* Miniature Memoirs" of Baijsbridge, Porter, Lawrea'CE, 

1 * 

and Macdonough, were furnished by another hand ; and -what* 
ever merits or defects they contain, cannot be attached to the wri- 
ter of the volume. The succinct sketch cf the American Navy 
was also from another hand, and will be judged of, upon the same 

The list of the Post-Captains, Masters-Commandant, and Lieute- 
nants, with their places of birth, date of Commissions, and Sta- 
tions, must be interesting to every reader — more especially to their 
immediate friends. The list of Midshipmen will excite interest 
also. Although these accomplished young gentlemen are in a minor 
grade, and have a long list of seniors above them, tliey may re- 
flect, with proud satisfaction, that they are in the station, in which 
STEPHEN DECATUR commenced his career, and from which he 
a*cended to the acme of human glory. 

The liberality and the taste of the Publisher has ornamented the 
volume with four elegant copperplate engravings, executed rapid- 
ly by a young artist, who'is already a promising candidate for fame, 
in the admirable " graphic art." These will certainly impart 
a value to the volume, and compensate for the want of interest ia 
its composition. 

Should the same indulgence be extended to this, as has been 

■hewn to the other productions of the writer, it will add to the zeal 

which he feels in a work, which now engrosses his attention — 

' Sketches of .American JVara/ Heroes in, the War of the Revolution.^^ 

Middleiown. August 1821 


" ' ®®^® " ' 


[introductory. j 

NAVAL Heroes identiiied with Naval Glory — Commercial eniei- • 
prise of Americans — British Jealousy against Aixierlcan Colo- 
nies — First dawning of Naval Glory amongst Americans — Cou- 
stellatioa of Ocean- Warriors — Stephen Decatur, P. 13 


Decatur's Lirth — Birth-places — Difference between beginning and 
ending great names — Brief notice of Decatur's ancestors — His 
father, one of the original Post-Captains in the American Navy 
— Dedication of his sons to the Republic — The inestimable va-> 
lue of the Legacy. 2G 


E!itiaction of Naval Power and Naval Spirit at the close of the 
Revolution — A ifevcaty-four presented to Louis XVI. — Conjec- 
ture concerning her — Astonisiiing etfects of IN aval Power— 
Eucroachments upon American Commerce and liumillation of 
American beamen — Act of Congress 1794 for building six Frig- 
ates — Enthusiasm excited by it — Frigate Constitution — Achieve- 
ments of Truxton, Little, (Sic. — Anecdotes of the elder Decatur 
and Tryon — Midshipman Stephen Decatur, 30 


•Stephen Decatur's etirly education — PeculiaF advantages enjoyed 
by him — Enters the frigate United States as Midshipman 1798 — > 
Promoted to Lieutenant — Cruises in the West-Indies against the 
French — Enters the brig Norfolk as 1st Lieutenant 1799 — Sails 
to the Spanish Main — Re-enters frigate United States — Barba- 
rism of French and Spanish to American Seamen — Victories of 
■fruxton, Little, Szc. — Humiliation of the French — Peace with 
:'"ance-"»Ke wards for heroifiri. 4'.V 



Pro^^ress of the American iNavy — Reduction of it by Act of Con- 
gress— A nfictint oi it m U>01 — Lieut. Decatui's ■views and de- 
termini; tioii — |Jej..reJ;.tions of Bainai-y state.* upon American 
Commerce — vieasures of the .'tmericau go* ernraent — JJecatur 
entfiainto the fir«t •'-iediterrauean squadron as 1st Lieut, of the 
fri,;^ute Lss'ex — His unremitting vigiiduce as a dibcipliuarian — Ad- 
dress to his seamen. 53 


LLeut. Decatur sails in the frigate Essex to the Mediterranean, 
1801, in the fir<t American Hquadroa — ilaz'dr>lof this enterprise 
— Captain Stern tt's \ i( tory in tne trhooner Enterprise — Impa- 
tieiice of Lieut. Uecalur in a blockading ship — lie returns to 
America in t!ie Essex — National glory nnd JNatioual taxes— Lieut. 
Decatur joins the second Mediterranean Squadron as ist Lieut. 
of the frigate IN ew- York — sails to the Iviediterrarjean — Inces- 
i-ant attention to duty — Returns in the JNew-York to Ameri- 
ca. 65 


Lieut. Decatur ordered to take command of the brig Argus — 
Fortunate and unfortunate ships — Ideas of seamen concerning 
them— -He sails in the Argus, and joins the third Mediterranean 
Squadron under Com. Preble — torn. Preble and the Emperor 
of Morocco — Decatur leaves the Brig Argus, and takes command 
of the schooner Entcrpri-e — Disastrous loss of the frigate Phila- 
delphia — Lieut. Decatur i aptures a TripotiLan corsair, and calls 
her " Ketch Intreiiid" — Keiidc-z\ous at Syracuse — Brief sketch 
of Jussuff, Ba-liavv of iri;)oli — Sufferings of Capt. Bainbridgc 
and crew — Lieut. Decatur volunteers to attempt the destruction 
of tiie frigate Philadel].»hia. 82 


Improper estimate of battles — Lieutenant Decatur sails for Trip6- 
ii in the Ketch intrepid — Baffled by adverse Acinus — Diminution 
of provisions — Reaches the h;'.rbour of'l'ripoli 16th Feb. 1804 — 
Loses the ap&i?tance of the Syren and the boats — Lnters the har- 
bour with the Ketch intrepid — Boards the Maladelphia, follow- 
ed by Morri.^, Lawrence, Macdouough and the crew — Compels 
the Turks to surrender — Sets the Philadelphia frigate on fire, 
and secures his retreat — Gen. E don and Carsimalli — ('onsterna- 
tion of Bashaw — Joy of Americao prisoners — Small force of 
Com. Preble„ 109 



Lieuienant Decatur promoted to the rank of CAPTAm — Prepara- 
tions for a general attack upon Tripoli — Capt. Decatur takes 
command of a division of Gun-boats — Disparity of force be- 
tween his and the enemy's — He grapples and captures a Tripo- 
litan boat — Is tearing for the squadron with his prize — Hears of 
the treacherous murdei^i" his brother, Lieut. James Decatur-— 
Returns to the engag'emeat, and followed by Midshipman Mac- 
donough and nine seamen, boards the enemy's boat — i?lays the 
Turk who slew his brothef, an<l bears his second prize to the 
squadron — Other achievemr'nis of the Squadron, Bombards, and 
Gun-boats — Etlects of the attack upon the Bashaw, and Tripo- 
litans. 124 


Capt. Decatur receives high commendations frcm Com. Preble— 
Grief at the death of Lieut. J . Decatur — iNotice of him — Pro- 
posals of the Commodore to the Bashaw — Renewal of the attack 
upon Tripoli--Capt. tiomers, Lieuts. Wadsworth and Israel, en- 
ter into the squadron of the enemy's boats with the Ketch Jnirt- 
2nd as a fire ship — She explodes I — Awful eiTects of the expldsion 
— Reflection — Notice of Lieut. Wadsworth — Com. Preble su- 
perseded by Com. Barron — Brief notice of Edward Pre- 
ble. 141 


Capt. Decatur takes command of the frigate Constitution — 
Perfection of discipline in the American Navy — He takes coni- 
mand of the Frigate Congress — Peace with Tripoli — Emanci- 
pation of Capt. BaiJibridge, his officers and seamen — Meeting 
between them and Capt. Decatur, American officers and seamen 
of the Squadron — Captain Decatur returns to America in the 
frigate Congress — Visits his father. Commodore Decatur, at Phi- 
ladelphia — He is appointed Superintendant of Gun-boats — Mar- 
ries Miss Wheeler, of Norfolk, (Vir.) — Supersedes Com. Bar- 
ron, and takes command of the frigate Chesapeake — " Affair of 
the Chesapeake"— Ca/A'am Decatur takes command of the 
Southern Squadron as Commodore. 158 


Co?nm(«f ore Decatur takes command of the Frigate United States- 
Interview with Capt. John Suriiam Car-deny in time of peace— 
British Naval Officers on American station before the commence- 
ment of /^Far—Declaration of War against G, Britain-"]m- 
snense disparity of Naval force between America and Britain— 


Com. Decatur puts to sea from New-York, June 21st 1812— 
Make* an extensive cruise and eaters the port of Boston---Sails 
from thence 8th October— Upon the 25th captures the frigate 
Macedonian-— His official account of the artion— Length of, 
anJ im;it!enlsiii the action— Meeting of Com. DecHtur and Capt. 
Garden— Dreadful tlang;hter in the Macedonian---Ariiv'«l of 
frigUe United States nnd thatfhip at New-London— Keception 
of lias: at Washingrt on— Arrival at New-Ycrk — Keception 
there — Com. Decatur's humanity. 178 


Honour? conferred upon Com. Decatur— He takes command of a 
Squadron— Immense disparity between American andBiltish 
Naval force on the American coast---Li!-t of both— Com. Deca- 
tur sails from New-York in Squadron— -bis ship struck by h^ht- 
nin^— Sails for a British 74— Retreats to JNew-I^ondon— Pre- 
pares for defence— -TiasceA—- British Squadron— Contrast be- 
tween Hardy and Coc/cftwrri— Stratagems of War— Passjort for 
the bodies of Lawrence and LudloM'— Com. ])ecatur attempts 
to escai?e— Blue Lights— Steam fiigatr— Challenge to the ene- 
my— -Impressed seamen-— J )ignified and liumane officers-— Com. 
Decatur and Com. Macdonough. 208 


Com. Decatur dismantles the frigates United Stales and Macedonian 
—Achievements of the Essex, Cai't. Porter— -Kxpedition to the 
East-Indies resolved upon by the Navy Department— -The 
Squadron for that service-— Com Decatur designated as com- 
mander of it— -Sails in the frigate Presiderit, encounters and 
beats the frigate Endymio7i, and surrenders to the wJiole British 
Squadron— His official account of the action— Additional parti- 
culars — Falsehoods of an English editor, and the consequences 
of them — The r«//iamrfeT of Com. Decatur's Squadron, Hornet 
and Peacock. 247 


Com. Decatur returns from his /rt?ir/A cruise— Reception — peace 
ratified— Scenes of domestic felicity— Depredations oi Earlary 
powers— By whom instigated — Squadrc^n to chastise and humble 
them — C^om. Decatur appointed to command the first Mediter- 
ranean Squadron in 181.6— \ ictory ov'er Jllgeriiie Admiral — 
Consternation ci'the Dey— Indemnifies Ameiicans andconc ludes 
a Treaty of Peace— Com. Decatur demands and receives in- 
dem lification from Tunis and Tripoli for British violations- 
Demands rplease of Christian captives— He?tore? them to Na- 
ples, inJ is honoured by the Kinsr— Surrenders squadron to 
Com. Bainbrii.;e, aad returns to America— Cum. Bainbridge — 
.Respect paid to iiim. 268 



Recapitulatiou of Com. Decatur's achievements fee. in the Medi- 
terranean in 1815— ltewar<ls by promotio j— JNecesc-ity of diffe- 
rent grades of office — Arduous duties of J->epHrtraent of the Navy 

Boa'-dofNAVY Commissioners established— Com. Decatur 

appointed Navy Commissioner— Duties of the Navy Commis- 
sioners — Respoasihility of the office— > aval Architecture — 
Rates of Ships — Comparative power— Annual expense of ships 
of different rates— Impro/ftment in Ship-building— /nven/tom — 
Assiduity of Com. Decatur— Honours paid him— Difficulty of 
designating officers— Com. Macdonough... Com. Barron. 287 


Com. Barron solicits a commmd in the Navy. ..Com. Decatur's 
opinion as to his re-admi=3ion into the Navy...'J'he unfortunate 
misunderstanding between them... It eventuates in a challenge to 
single combat, from Barron to Decatur... Duelling. .. Kesult of 
the meeting... Immediate effects of it.. .Honours to the remains 
of Com. iJecatur... Funeral ceremonies at his interment... His 
Character. 314 


Sketch of the Life of Com Wm. Bainbridge. 343 

do. Com David Porter. 351 

do. Capt James Lawrence. 358 

do. Com. 'i'homas Macdonough. 363 

A succinct sketch of the Navy from its commencement. 368 

Navy Register.. Board of Commissioners for the Navy. ..Navy List 

...Captains. .Masters Commandant... Lieutenants... Midshipmen 

Vessels of War of the United States. .Table shev/ing the cost of 

the Navy when in service.. .A table shewing the places of birth, 

and number of tiie different grades of officers ia the Navy... Navy 






Naval Heroes identified with Naval Glory — Commercial enlerprise 
of Americans — British jealousy against American Colonies- 
First davrning of Naval Glory a mong^st Americans — Constellation 
of Ocean- Warriors — 5tepheiv Decatur. 

OTEPHEN Decatur's name and glory are so inse- 
parably identified with that of the American Navv 
that it is almost impossible to contemplate the high 
renown of the last, without associating »vith the ex- 
hilirating reflection, the splendid and unsurpassed 
achievements of the first. Decatur and the navy (if 
'the figure is allowable) went on from infancy, hand 
in hand, supported and supporting — " growing with 
each oihor's growth, and strengthening with each 
%ther's strength," until they 6o^A acquired the digni- 
^ ^ ^r '] noble attitude of manhood. 



Until the auspicious erOiO^ seventeen hundred and 
ninety -eighty Americans themselves scarcely knew 
that the Republic had a naval force, and in that me- 
morable year, Stephen Decatur commenced his 
naval career. In the naval warfare with France, 
and it was nothing else but naval warfare, the glory 
of the infant American navy burst upon the world 
like the sun-beans through a dark and lowering cloud. 
This constituted the first period of the navy and of 
Decatur's naval life. 

The warfare with the Barhary powers, especially 
with Tripoli^ again called into action the decreasing 
energy of the American navy, and the increasing ar- 
dour of our naval officers and seamen. The glory 
-of our navy, and the achievements of our officers, re- 
sounded through the three great continents border- 
ing upon the Mediterranean, the greatest and most 
renowned of seas. This constituted the second pe- 
riod of the navy. It commenced with the nineteenth 
century, and was the brilliant commencement of De- 
catur's renown. 

The second war between the American Republic 
and the British Empire^ formed the third period of 
our navy, and the rapid and splendid progression of 
Decatur's fame. 

The short naval warfare with Algiers^ which ira^ 
mediately followed the conclusion of the war with 
Britain, presented Decatur to the world in the two- 
fold capacity of Conqueror and Negociator» It aug- 
meated the renown of the American navy — it was 
the complete consummation of his glory. As Navy 


Commissioner, he displayed the knowledge he had 
acquired in active service. 

This rapid glance from the commencement to the 
termination of these imperfect Sketches, is made, to 
elucidate the reasons for the manner in which the 
work will be attempted. If a biographical memoir 
may be compared to Ol perspective painting, it will be 
the design of the writer to keep St^hen Decatur 
upon the fore-ground, and in the relief, to present 
slight views of the " origin, progress and achievements 
of the American navy,^^ Whether the delineations 
will be correct, and the lights and shades judicious, 
must of course be left to the plain, ur ostentatious 
observer, and to the acute, fastidious and acrimo- 
nious connoisseur. However grateful approbation 
might be to the writer, he is fully determined not to 
be carried to any high degree of elevation by com- 
mendation, nor sunk to the least degree of dejection 
by censure. As he is confident he cannot give en- 
tire satisfaction to himself, he has little hope of im 
parting it to the reader. 

The thirst for naval glory, unconnected with the 
rapid accumulation of wealth, could hardly be said 
to constitute a prominent feature of the American 
character, until system and order was introduced 
into the American navy, during the administrations 
of the venerable John Adams and Thomas Jeffer- 
son. A spirit of commercial enterprise, without a 
parallel amongst ancient or modern nations, had in- 
deed, for a long period before, rendered America the 
second nation in the world in point of commercial ina- 


7.1FE OF 

portance. But this was the result of individual extr^ 
ii07i, and not of national patronage. The ocean, the 
great natural highway of nations, invited Americans 
to whiten its bosom with their canvas. Even before 
the British crown began to encroach upon the rights 
of its American colonies, the thousands of American 
merchant ships were navigating every sea. The 
productions of every clime, from China to Califor- 
nia, were poured into the lap of the rising colonies. 
The hardy and intrepid seamen of America were 
seen in every ocean. They were seen amidst the 
terrifying waves of the North, encountering the tre- 
mendous whale, whose evolutions and spoutings 
would seem to appal the stoutest heart. Even a dis- 
tinguished British admiral, who, for amusement, had 
joined an American whaling party, was lost in aston- 
ishment at the adventurous spirit of American sea- 
men, and lost his fortitude in the threatening daiJr 
ger that surrounded him. 

American seamen were also seen, enduring the 
blasting rays of an equinoctial sun, and bearing home 
lo their country all the varied productions of the 
ropical regions. Wherever a ship could navigate 
oceans, our energetic and dauntless navigators led 
the van in navigating enterprise. It is readily ac- 
knowledged, that at this early period of the history 
of our country in its rapid progress to national glo- 
ry, our merchants and seamen thought of little else 
than the rapid accumulation of wealth. But let 
it never be forgotten, that our countrymen, by these 
4)ursuitS5 were addingpracdcal knowledge, to the theo' 


ry of na^^o^G/^o?^— fearless intrepidity, to scientific 

The British nation, for a long period before her 
deadly jealousy commenced a systematic oppression 
of her American children, was the almost undisputed 
mistress of the ocean. She claimed that she had 
wrested the trident of Neptune from his hands, and 
that the four continents ought to be tributary to her 
wealth and power. That government, ever watch- 
ful of national glory, and as its handmaid, ever in- 
satiable in amassing national wealth, looked with a 
suspicious eye upon the American colonies, although 
they constituted the most brilliant gem in the British 
diadem. When the iiifatuated policy of Britain 
drove them into a contest with the mother-country, 
every thing considered, the most powerful nation in 
the world, the confcdei-ated states had not a single 
armed vessel iloating upon the ocean. But they 
had the most accomplished navigators, and the most 
intrepid seamen. It was, however, no time to com- 
mence the establishment of a naval force. The coun- 
try and its resources, were literally in possession of 
its implacable enemy, when that tremendous and 
awfully unequal contest commenced, which terminate 
ed in the most glorious revolution of the eighteenth 

But, during the sanguinary progress of the revo- 
lutionary struggle, the latent sparks of that blaze of 
glory which now envelopes the American Navy, 
*)licited themselves with the most cheering brillian- 
'-y. It was not that systematic, regulated courage. 


which for the last quarter of a century has led 6Uf 
naval heroes to certain victory. It was not the ma- 
jestic course which now marks our ships and our 
fleets, as the orbits point out the course of the pla- 
nets — it was rather like the comet, whose eccentric 
course and flaming face defy calculation, excite won- 
der and raise fear. 

Would the limits and the design of this work per- 
mit, I might carry the reader along through the 
whole gloomy period of the revolutionary struge^le, 
and show, that with means apparently wholly ineffi- 
cient, the naval spirit oi Americans, evinced itself 
in a manner calculated to excite the unbounded ad- 
miration of their friends, and the fearful apprehen- 
sions of their enemies. But it must not here be omit- 
ted, that the *' Old Congress" took measures, as ear- 
ly as 1776, to establish a naval force, when the re- 
sources of the country were next to nothing. With 
u few little ships, which grew up. as if by magic, and 
which seemed like rude intruders upon the ocean, a 
Barry, a Manly, a Biddle, a Jones, and a Preble, 
spread consternation amongst the enemy, and for 
themselves acquired fame, lasting as immortality. 
Particulars must here be omitted : but the inquisi- 
tive reader may readily find them in the publications 
of that period. 

We approach now toward that auspicious epoch: 
in the history of the American Republic, when the 
Grand Council of the nation literally began the navy 
of the Republic — for there was not, twenty-five 
years ago, a single vestige remaining of the naval 


force commenced in the war of the Revolution. It 
was in this navy, that the brilliant constellation of 
gallant ocean-heroes arose with a splend ^.ur that il- 
lumines the modern history of the Republic. 

In the midst of this conslellation, STEPHEN DE- 
CATUR shines with resplendent glory, — a star of 
the first magnitude. To delineate his life and cha- 
racter, it is readily admitted, requires the hand of a 
master. The writer approaches the task with a 
trembling solicitude, most sensibly felt, but wholly 
indescribable. Relying, however, upon that indul- 
gence and candour, which has given to his " Me- 
moirs" of one of the first ornaments of the Army 
of the Republic * a favourable reception, he will en- 
deavour to present to his countrymen a faithful and 
accurate portrait of one, who was the first ornament 
of the American Navy. 

■ * Gen. Audrew Jackaoft. 

20 LIFE or 


t>ecatur'*s birth — Birth pla.-es — DifToreace between beginnings 
and ending grp.^i ni^.raes — Brief notice of Decat ir's ancestors—. 
His father, one of the original Po«t-Cantai s in the Amnricaa, 
Navy — Dedication of his sons to the Republic — I'he inestimable 
value of the Legacy. 

Stephen Decatur, who, from the himjble birth 
of a Midshipman, rose to the highest grade of of- 
fice yet established in the Navy of the American 
Republic, was born upon the Eastern Shore of Ma- 
ryland, Worcester county, upon the 5th day of Janu- 
ary, A. D. 1779. 

Although to the general scholar, the precise time, 
and the certain place where a distinguished man was 
born or educated, or where he first exemplified indi- 
cations of his futare greatness, seem to be of but lit- 
tie importance, yet these points have been contest- 
ed with such an unyielding stubbornness by the an- 
cient and modern literati, that they assume a facti- 
iious consequence, which, intrinsically seems not to 
belong to them. 

A place that derives a// its consequence from the 
birth of one great man, who first inhaled air in it, 
may well contend for that frail claim to local honour 
— frail it well may be called ; for surely it cannot 
be perceived how the birth of a great man, who has 
secured a title to lasting fame by his own science, 
genius, or heroism, can impart fame to the place o^ 


his nativity, any more than the glory of a man's an- 
cestors can immortalize his descendants. But every 
traveller must visit the place of a great man's birth, 
however obscure it may be. 

No country upon earth, within the period of the 
two last centuries, whieh limits the age of civilized 
America, can boast a more extended catalogue of 
great men in the State, the Church, the Army, the 
Navy, and in the walks of Literature and Science, 
than ours. But when we come to trace their places 
of birth ; the seminaries where they obtained the ru- 
diments of knowledge, or completed their education, 
and the ancestors to whom they trace their origin, it 
will be found that a very great proportion of the most 
distinguished men of our Republic, came into exist- 
ence in some of the most obscure villages of our 
7iezo country — were educated in the most humble 
schools, and can trace their genealogy to some of 
the most obscure citizens of our Republic. 

It is usual with the writers of Biography to give, 
sometimes a brief, and oftentimes a prolix sketch of 
the ancestors of the subject of his memoirs. This 
may serve to eke out a volume ; and for want of in- 
teresting incidents in the life of the subject of it, he 
may interlard it with matter wholly extraneous. It 
may serve another purpose — it may gratify the 
pride of family aristocracy, who exhibit the archives 
of their ancestors as evidence of their own merit, and 
by the aid of heraldry, display splendid coats of 
arms in the family-hall. It is almost enough to ex- 
cite the admiration oi an English reader to be told 



that some of the blood of the Tudors or Stuarts* is 
coursing sluggishly through the veins of the modern 
hero of a memoir; and although the present Ifgiti- 
mate princes of the British Empire have but little /e- 
gitimate 6/oof? amongst their subjects, it would un- 
doubtedly be highly gratifying to learn that he can ^ 
claim consanguinity, or even some affinity with the 
house of BrwiszckkA 

The American reader, however much he may de- 
sire it, can seldom be gratified, in tracing a length- 
ened genealogy of his distinguished countrymen* 
It may well be doubted whether any of the original 
European inhabitants of Mart/land, the native, and 
Pennsyhayua^ the adopted state of Decatur, or in- 
deed of any other of the ancient colonics, even 
thought of bringing across the Atlantic, any family 
archives, or any evidence of family ancestry. Ar- 
dent in the pursuit of civil and religious liberty, they 
little cared about proving their descent from an ar- 
bitrary royal family, or a degenerated nobility who 
had deprived them of both. Indeed, it may be 
doubted whether our ancestors had any noble blood, 
excepting that noble blood which rouses all true Ame- 
ricans, and Englishmen too, to revolt at civil and 
ecclesiastical tyranny. Our ancestors were not 
amongst the favourites of the courts of the Charleses, 
and Jameses, or the Georges ; — they generally con- 
sisted of the highest and best informed class of the 
sturdy yeomanry, who chose rather to encounter the 

* Ancient reigning; families in England. 

* Tf'.e present reigning family in the British Empire, 


dangers of the ocean, and all the appalling horrors 
of Indian warfare, than to submit to the abused pre- 
rogative of a crown, or the arrogance of an insolent 
high church priesthood. They came here to begin 
a Republic, and io begin their ozon names : and surely 
it is far more gratifying to sco a new-born Republic, 
rising in strong majesty, than to behold ancient em- 
pires and kingdoms tottering to their fall. It is also 
infinitely more gratifying to behold the present ge- 
neration of Americans beginning names for them- 
selves, than to see them ending iho^e that were ren- 
dered illustrious by their ancestors. 

These hasty remarks are not made with a view of 
extirpating from the breast that noble sentiment 
which induces the descendants of great Statesmen, 
Heroes and Scholars, to cherish, venerate and de- 
fend the fame of their ancestors ; but to impress the 
idea thus forcibly expressed by one of the master 
painters of human nature ; — 

^' The deeds of long' descended ancestors, 
Are but by ^race of imputation ours.'''* 

The reader may be led to suppose from the pre- 
ceding remarks, that Decatur was of the humblest 
origin, and that the obscurity of his family is about 
to be mentioned in order to increase the lustre of 
his own achievements. Not so, — the object was to 
impress upon the mind of the youthful reader, a sen- 
timent which ought to be unceasingly reiterated 
through the Republic, that the principle of fa mill/ 
aristocracy, prostrates the very genius of our con- 
istitution. The vising youth of Aoierica should 


scorn to repose in listless inactivity, — riot in the 
wealth, or bask in the fame of their ancestors. No- 
thing but personal merit, and deeds of actual re- 
nown, entitles a man to be enrolled with worthies, 
or hold a niche in the temple of fame. 

How ignoble would Stephen and James Deca- 
tur have appeared, if, instead of devoting them- 
selves to their country, and achieving deeds of glory 
as the foundation of their own fame, they had su- 
pinely reposed upon the high rank and reputation 
of their gallant father. 

The family of Decatur was of French extraction 
in the paternal line — upon the maternal side, it was 
of Irish extraction. Could it be indulged in a bio- 
graphical memoir, what a capacious field is here 
opened to '' expatiate free" upon the prominent 
characteristics of Frenchmen and Irishmen ? We 
might paint the chivalrous gallantry of the one, and 
the ardent and romantic courage of the other — we 
can only say, they both were most happily and glo- 
riously united in Stephen Decatur — under the name 
of an American. 

His grand-father was a native of La Rochrlle, in 
France, celebrated for the refinement and taste 
which prevails in the large cities of that captivating 
and charming country. Although amongst the ear- 
ly emigrants from European nations, Frenchmen in- 
cluded but a small proportion, many of the most 
distinguished men of the middle and southern Stales 
can trace their origin to that people. The same 
cause that drove Englishmen, Scotsmen^ Irishmen, 


Germans, izc, to the New World — civil and eccle- 
siastical oppression, also compelled some of the 
persecuted * Hugonots in France, to seek an asy- 
lum in America, which has most emphatically been 
denominated " The asylum of oppressed humanity,'''' 
What were the motives of Decatur's ancestor to 
emigrate, is lost in the oblivious shade that is spread 
over that interesting period of our history. He 
landed in Rhode-Island, a State which owes its ex- 
istence to an high sense of religious liberty. 

Having soon discovered the excellence of a go- 
vernment where freedom of thought, freedom of 
speech, and freedom of the press, had dissipated the. 
monkish gloom and sullen terror which enveloped 
and chained the human mind in the regions where a 
subtile, aspiring, corrupt and detestable priesthood 
held dominion, he relinquished all idea of returning 
to his native land — married a lady of Rhode-Island, 
and settled at Newport, situated upon the most 
charming island bordering upon the American con- 

It was here that Stephen Decatur, the father of 
our hero, was born. What were the pecuniary cir- 
cumstawces of this family, at this period, is unknown 
to the writer, and is of but little consequence to the 
reader. That adventurous spirit, which characte- 
rises the name of Decatur, induced him, in early 
life, to remove to the city of Philadelphia, the me- 

* Vide, the pathetic accounts of the sanguinary persecution o! 
the H ugonots by the Papal power, 



tropolis of the then American colonies* Having 
previously become acquainted, and enamoured with 
the ocean, he resorted to that element as the theatre 
of his exertions, his fortune and his fame. 

From what has previously been said, the reader 
will not here expect a biographical notice of the dis- 
tinguished father of the subject of these Sketches. 
His life deserves the record of a much abler hand 
than that which is now attempting to pourtray that 
of his gallant and illustrious son. A mere miniature 
will only be attempted. He entered into the matri- 
monial state early in life, before the fine feeling of 
an affectionate heart had been cooled by intercourse 
with a deceitful, friendless and cruel world. His 
bosoHi companion v;as the daughter of an Irish gen- 
tleman by the name of Pine. Having been pre- 
viously instructed in the theory of navigation, 
he commenced his nautical life in the merchants' 
service, at that auspicious period, when comqiercial 
enterprize was the sure passport to sudden v/ealth. 
But its fascinating charms had no attractions for the 
elder Stephen Decatur, when put in competition 
with naval glory. No sooner had our infant navy 
embraced the ocean, than his ardetJt spirit led him, 
amongst the very first of the naval heroes of 1 798, to 
tender his services to his country. L<^t it be re- 
membered, that at that period, the Republic had no 
commanders who had distinguished themselves — 
America was not even ranked with naval powers. 
It therefore required a devotion to country which 
must border upon the romantic, to engage in a ser 


vice apparently so pregnant with difficulty and ha- 

Notwithstanding the blaze of glory which ?io?o en- 
circles our naval officers, it is no more than justice to 
the^r5/ class of naval commanders to say, that they 
share equally in the glory acquired for the Repub- 
lic by our naval achievements. They were the first 
teachers of that admirable system — that inimitable 
discipline — that unequalled police which has ever 
distinguished the American navy. Ask the gallant 
ocean-v/arriors of the second war between the Re- 
public and the British Empire, where they acquired 
that unparalleled nautical skill which is as necessary 
as dauntless courage — and the}' will refer you to 
the school of Truxton, the senior Decatur, and 
his cotemporaries ; and afterwards to Preble, and 
his coadjutors. 

The elder Decatur was first appointed to the 
command of the Delaware sloop of war, and conti- 
nued in the same command, until the patriotic mer- 
chants of Philadelphia, presented to their country 
a noble frigate, named after that noble city. It may 
almost be said that she was built for the Decaturs, 
for she was first commanded by the father in the na- 
val warfare with France, who lived to see her de- 
stroyed by the s®n, when in the hands of a Tripoli- 
tan Bashaw. He continued in the command of the 
Philadelphia, teaching his gallant crew the path to 
certain victory, and protecting American commerce 
from French depredations. At the conclusion of 
jpeace with France he resigned his command, an^ 

120 LIFE OF 

retired to the bosom of his beloved family, near the 
city of Philadelphia. Here this veteran son of 
Neptune beheld from year to year the rising glory of 
the navy — and, what consummated his temporal fe- 
ficity, the fame of his beloved sons, Stephen and 
James. Sitting between them at a public naval din- 
ner, a few years before his death, he was congratu- 
lated by some of the guests upon the happiness he I 
enjoyed in his family. Turning his animated eyes, 
alternately tov/ard his two sons, and uttering forth 
the sentiments of his noble and patriotic heart, he 

exclaimed, "Our Children — they are the 

PROPERTY OF OUR COUNTRY," — —a Sentiment that 
would have done honour to the Decii of Rome, 
and which led them to die for the Republic. The 
eyes of his sons beamed with the ardour of filial af- 
fection — their hearts swelled with patriotism — the 
guests were electrified with joy. The noble vete- 
ran retired from a scene almost too joyous to be en- 
dured. He lived to lament the death of his son James 
— ended his active and patriotic labours in the year 
1 803, and closed a life which rendered him lament- 
( d and honoured in death. 

Thus much, and thus only, can here be said of the 
life of the father of Stephen Decatur. He sleeps 
with the great and good men who have shed a lus- 
tre upon the history of the Republic. His memory 
will be cherished and held in fond remembrance by 
our countrymen, as well for his own exalted worth, 
as for the inestimable legacy he left his country in 
giving it two sons who emulated his virtues — pur- 

sued the path he pointed out to fame — clothed them- 
selves with laurels of unfading splendour, and es- 
sentially advanced the glory of the American Re- 

The reader is now asked for a while to withdraw 
his attention from the beloved and cherished name 
of the Decaturs, and follow the writer while he at- 
tempts, imperfectly, to give a brief view of the ori- 
gin and progress of the American Navy until that 
period when Stephen Decatur, the leading sub- 
ject of these Sketches, entered into the service of his 
country as a Midshipman. From that period, to the 
day of his death, his biography must necessarily be 
blended with brief notices of the progress and 
achievements of our navy. His spirit seemed to be 
infused into every breast that was led upon the migh- 
ty deep in our conquering ships. He seemed to be 
the genius of Victory, hovering over our floating bul» 
warks, and shedding its radiaPice even in the hour of 


^^ ' LIFE or 


Exti'iaction of Naval Power and Naval Spirit at the close of the 
Revolution — A Seventy-four presented to Louis XVI. — Conjec- 
ture concerning hev — Astonishing effects of Naval Power — 
Encroachments upon American Commerce and humiliation of 
American Seamen — Act of Congress 1794, for building six Fri- 
gates — Enthusiasm excited by it— Frigate Constitution— Achieve- 
ments of Truxton, Little, &c. — Anecdotes of the elder Decatur 
and Tryon — Midshipman Stephen Decatur. 

When the war of the Revolution ended in the ac- 
knowledgment of American independence, the civil 
fathers of the Republic had a duty no less arduous to 
perform in the Cabinet, than her gallant army had 
achieved and just concluded in the field. It would 
be but repeating, what the writer attempted to re- 
mark upon this subject in another publication^"— it 
is, therefore, introduced in this place. 

•' Destitute of a government of their own making, 
they had before them the lights of antiquity, and the 
practical knowledge of modern ages. With the scru- 
tinizing research of statesmen, and the calm delibe- 
ration of philosophers, they proceeded to establish 
a constitution of Civil Government, as the supreme 
law of the land. The establishment of this Consti- 
tution is, perhaps, without a parallel in the history 
cjfthe civilized world. It was not the unresisted 

* Vide Memoirs of Jacksoa, p. 13, 5th edition,. 


mandate of a successful usurper, nor was it a govern- 
ment imposed upon the people by a victorious army. 
It was digested by profound statesmen, who aimed 
to secure all the rights of the people who had acquir- 
ed them by their toil, their courage and their pa- 
triotism. They aimed also to give to the govern- 
ment sufficient energy to command respect. 

" To the people of the American Republic, a con- 
stitution was presented for their deliberation, and 
for their adoption. It was adopted not with entire 
unanimity, but by a majority of the people, suffi- 
ciently respectable to give its operation a promising 
commencement. The people, having emancipated 
themselves from the power of a British monarch — > 
having successfully resisted his lords and his com- 
mons, looked with jealousy upon those who were 
called to the exercise of the power which they had 
themselves delegated to their own countrymen. The 
excellency of the constitution was tested by the 
practical ap{)Iication of its principles ; and the pa- 
triotism, and integrity, of all the early officers who 
derived their power from it, were acknowledged by 
their admiring countrymen." 

These great statesmen were called upon, not to 
direct the resources of the country, for resources she 
had none : they were called upon to create them, and 
then apply them to the proper objects. So far as 
national power depends upon national wealth, the 
confederated states were as feeble as a reed shaken 
by the wind. Involved in debt without a treasury 
—the veteran soldiers of the revolution yet bleed- 


ing, and their toils unrewarded — the commerce of 
the country almost swept from the ocean, by the 
ruthless carnage of a Vandal foe — our country de- 
predated and cities burned, all, all presented to the 
eye and to the imagination of our ancestors a dreary 
and outspread scene of desolation. 

At the conclusion of the revolutioliary struggle, 
the few litde ships that had performed such roman- 
tic, and chivalrous deeds of noble daring, were con- 
verted into merchantmen. At this period, a single 
Seventy-four had been built and fitted for sea, de- 
signed for that prodigy of a man, Paul Jones, pre- 
viously mentioned. A line^of- battle ship in the na- 
vy of France, having been wrecked upon the Ame- 
rican coast, our grateful forefathers, as one acknow- 
ledgment to Louis XVf., the only crowned head in 
Europe who ever looked upon America except with 
an eye of jealousy or fear, presented this ship to that 
best and most unfortunate of the Bourbons. 

It is left to vague and undefined conjecture, what 
results would have been produced had this ship of 
the line been retained by our government. That 
unsatisfied cupidity, that insatiable thirst for wealth, 
which, like the daughters of the horse-leech, con- 
tinually cry, *' gi'^^f', give,'''' and which pervaded so 
completely the bosoms of Americans at this period, 
might have suftered her to moulder away in our wa- 
ters, and never have hoisted the '* star-spangled ban- 
ner'^ upon her mast. If the writer may be permit- 
ted to conjecture for himself, he would express an 


opinion diametrically opposite. Some rising and 
ardent Decatur of that period, would have sought 
for the command of her — he would have made her 
the floating seminary for the instruction of American 
seamen, in naval tactics, — frigates and sloops of war 
would have grown up around her, as a rallying point ; 
and the first spoliation upon our rapidly increasing 
commerce would have met with a prompt and vin- 
dictive chastisement. 

But American commerce was left to the fate, 
doomed to be inflicted upon it by the belligerent 
powers of Europe. Yes, the same powers, which, 
toward the close of the last quarter of the eighteenth 
century, preyed upon our merchants with fearless 
impunity, now, at nearly the close of the first quar- 
ter of the nineteenth century, dare not pollute the 
deck of the humblest American craft that ploughs 
the ocean. 

But it was necessary for American statesmen, in 
the dawn of our national greatness, as it is now, 
when it is rising towards its meridian splendour, to 
conform their measures to the actual state of the 
country. It is wholly in vain to attempt to force a 
free and intelligent people into the adoption of mea- 
sures which they cannot approve without surrender- 
ing the physical power they possess, and cannot 
execute without a sacrifice of their real or supposed 
interests. When our ancestors first began to re- 
cover from the convulsive shock of the revolution, 
^hey little thought of providing defence against fa- 

34 • LIFE OF 

ture invasions of our rights upon our acknowledged 
territory, or upon the ocean, the great highway of! 
all nations. Having thoroughly learned the evils of j 
a large standing army, in time of peace, they re- j 
luciantly retained the scanty pittance of a military 
force, scarcely sufficient to supply the few garrisons 
then scattered over our immense country. 

But naval power and naval men is what is em- 
braced in the object of this work. It would be a 
theme upon which we might expatiate with all the ' 
rapture of increasing delight to trace the origin and 
progress of that tremendous and resistless power 
which ancient and modern nations have created for 
themselves upon the ocean. From the ancient Car- 
thage, to England, which has not inaptly been call- 
ed the modern Carthage, we might show how na- 
tions, small in territory and population, — without the 
means of extending dominion, and scarcely able to 
protect themselves by land defences, have rolled on 
from conquest to conquest, and made immense em- 
pires bow and become tributary to the wooden walls 
of naval prowess. How came Holland once, and 
England now, to wield the sceptre of power in the 
East and in the West Indies, and fill their coffers 
with their treasure ? — By their naval power. How 
came Spain, in the reign of Philip, to menace, and 
all but conquer England herself, in the reign of 
Elizabeth? — By her naval power. It was the ele- 
ments that defeated the Spanish armada, on the coast 
of England, as Nelsony in a single day, conquered 


France and Spain at Trafalgar^. How has it come 
to pass that the best portions ot" Asia have lost their 
ancient dominion, and are r.ow colonies of European 
nations? — By naval power* Pages might be swell- 
ed with this " swelling theme." But, rapidly to an- 
ticipate what will hereafter be more minutely notic- 
ed. What preserved the immense territory of the 
West from the desolations of a Vandal army which 
seemed to be irresistible, in the second war with 
Britain ? The naval power upon Lake Erie. What 
protected the wide and wealthy regions of the North, 
in the same war, from the ravages of an insatiable 
foe ? The naval pozzjerupon Lake Champlain. And 
to fill the climax, to do justice to which would re- 
quire " a muse of fire to ascend the highest heaven of 
invention, "^"^ what made the cross of St. George and 
the Turkish Crescent bow to American prowess ? — 
The naval power. 

The profound sagacity and wary policy of Ameri- 
can Statesmen, who set the intricate machine of go- 
vernment in operation underour Republican Consti- 
tution, well understood the overwhelming bankrupt- 
cy in which the British Empire was sinking, or ra- 
ther sunk, by her immense naval force. They 
sought to bestow upon their beloved Republic rich- 
er blessings than the blessing of a national debt. No 

A very humourous poem of this period makes Admiral Ville- 
neuve thus express himself: — 

*' So now, mes sag;es sirs, we must give up de notioo, 
And let England peaceably govern de oceAn, ^ 

Ab old Neptune wont grant us da rale of de sea. 
He may give his dama'd pitchfork to Nelsou for me " 




human sagacity, however, could, at that time, foresee 
that American commerce would soon become the di- 
rect road to sudden national wealthy although they must \. 
have known, that an extended commerce could not 
long he protected, without a naval force, nor a naval] 
force be supported without commerce. England, I 
the imperious, and then undisputed mistress of the i 
ocean, wielding the trident of Neptune over every 
sea, beheld American canvas in every latitude 
Her jealousy was roused. Her armed ships search- 1 
ed our vessels for *' contraband goods." impressed , 
our seamen, and immured them in their '' floating dun- ; 
geons." Other petty naval powers, whose power 
on the ocean is now merged with that of Britain, the . 
naval dictator of, because the most powerful nation 
in, Europe, followed her example of aggression, as 
feeble whappets follow in the train of a ferocious 
mastiff. The pride of American seamen, arising, 
from the Rational glory of America, acquired in the 
glorious revolution, was compelled to succumb to 
the mandate of every puny whipster who could show 
a gun upon his deck. It was not voluntary submis- 
sion, but submission " eic necessitate ret," — the ne- 
cessity of tho case, — a most painful necessity. 

The national resources had been almust exclu- 
sively derived from individual wealth — and that 
wealth had for years been committed to the ocean 
as the road to immediate we-c^lth. Oiher nations/ 
which were contending for dominion upon land and 
upon water, for a considerable period, lost si^ht of 
the advancing wealth, and, as a consequence, national 


power of the American Republic. Contending for 
crowns which sat loosely upon the fearful heads thai 
sustained their ponderous weight, and dreading to 
see them fall, these nations, although contending 
with each other, seemed to unite in trying to blasi 
he growing power of America^ 

The Barbary powers, whose corsairs hovered 
over that portion of the ocean where some part oi 
our enterprising merchantmen were pursuing their 
lucrative business, plundered their vessels, and made 
slaves of their crews. The greater commercial na- 
tions, with more power, and also with more huma- 
nity, endeavoured to extirpate American commerce, 
and check the rapid progress of American wealth. 
They possessed na-val power, of which our Repub- 
lic was then destitute. Our patriotic rulers, as soon 
t»s they found our country in possession of the means 
adequate to the hard task of supporting our natural 
rights upon the ocean, began to devise " ways and 
means" to do it. 

It would require more pages than the limits of this 
volume will admit, to epitomize the diversified ar- 
guments resorted 'to by the most eminent of Ameri- 
can statesmen, in favour of, and against an efficient 
naval power. Some of them looked upon the " thou- 
sand armed ships" of England, and despaired. 
They saw also the Russian, French, Spanish, and 
Danish fleets, and dismissed all hopes of ever cop- 
ing with «n?/ naval power. But Washington was 
still alive ; and guiding the high destinies of our Re- 
3ublic in peace, as he had done in the war of \he 


Revolution. His prescience readily suggested t# 
his great mind the indispensable necessity of a nava? 
force to protect our extensive and extending com- 
merce. Negotiation, to be sure, had obtained some 
indemnification for spoliations upon it; but the most 
successful negotiations have always been made at 
the mouth of the cannon. Our rulers could no long- 
er endure the thought, that our citizens, who had 
sought an "home upon the deep," should become 
victims to every prince who could send out a few 
cruisers, with a rapacious crew. They were deter- 
mined that American citizens, pursuing a lawful 
commerce upon the ocean, should, as they ought, be 
protected there, as others pursuing lawful business 
on land. This was not the gasconading threat of a 
nurse who only brandishes the rod before the eyes 
of a truant child, without daring to strike ; it was the 
decisive language of a parent, having a right to com- 
mand, and power sufficient to enforce his decrees. 
The year 1794, the auspicious period which laid 
the foundation of our naval power, ought to be com- 
memorated with equal enthusiasm as that of I77C, 
•which made the declaration and laid the foundation' 
for American Independence. The first hull of a fri- 
gate that was laid by our government, was the key- 
stone to the triumphant arch of American glory. H 
fancy might be indulged upon a subject which needs 
not its fictitious aid, we might see Neptune approach- 
ing our shores, and surrendering his trident to the 
banners of Columbia, when the first American fri- 
gate was launched into the bosom of the deep. The 


wrieer, then a boy, may hope to be indulged for ex- 
pressing now the enthusiasm he felt, when he beheld 
the frigate Constitution launched from a Boston 
ship-yard. This untutored enthusiasm was occasion- 
ed, not by knowing, then, the immeasurable power of 
a navy, but from the immense assemblage of animated 
citizens who witnessed the animating scene. They 
might have exclaimed — " There is one of our pro- 
tectors upon the ocean — while she swims, she will not 
only protect our individual wealth, but she will man- 
fully sustain our national rights upon the waves." 
What might have then been prophecy, is now histo • 

Proceeding with that caution and judgment which 
must mark the course of owr rulers, they authorised 
the building of only four frigates of forty-four guns, 
and two of thirty-six. The amount of the force was 
infinitely of less importance than the recognition of 
the principle, that a naval force was necessary for 
the protection of our territory and our commerce. 
The elder Stephen Decatur was amongst the first 
Post-Captains who were appointed to command our 
infant navy. An opportunity was offered in the 
short war which occurred in the administration of 
Adams, between America and France, to call into 
operation our naval force. Indeed that war was 
nothing but naval warfare. 

It is readily admitted that the achievements of sin- 
gle ships or fleets, in the bloody and desperate con- 
tests whicli invariably follow upon the meeting ol 


ibrces nearly equal, sheds a lustre upon the officers 
and seamen, and even upon the names of the vessels 
'Engaged in them, which is seldom awarded to the 
tess brilliant, although no less valuable protection 
which is afforded to merchant vessels by public arm- 
ed ships. The American navy was commenced for 
the purpose of extending protection to American 
commerce, and not to encroach upon commercial 
rights upon the ocean. But when naval warfare 
!3ecame necessary to accomplish the great objects of 
our administration in establishing a navy, our early 
Post-Captains did not shrink from what was then 
vleemed a doubtful contest. 

'i'he achievements of the gallant and skilful Trux-' 
roN and Little ought never to be forgotten, although 

heir splendid victories in the war of 1798, with 
t''rancc, have almost been buried in oblivion, in the 
splendour of the victories acquired by the pupils of 
:he first list of our naval commanders ; yet when Ame- 
ricans cease to hold their early deeds in our naval his- 

ory in fond remembrance, they will forget the first 
victory upon the ocean, which stimulated American' 
youth to search for fame upon that element. The' 
eulogy of Truxton is not so often to be found iu the 
records of corporation dinners — votes of thanks — 
presentation of swords, and the assemblages of an' 
admiring populace, as^those of his gallant followers 
in naval warfare, who so richly deserved every ho-' 
nour and reward which a grateful and protected 
country have bestowed upon them. But AmericanA; 


6ouid not then duly appreciate the value and impor- 
tance of naval protection, and as to the ingratitude 
of Republics, it has become proverbial. 

When Truxton, in the Constellation, compelled the 
superior French frigate Insurgente to strike her flag, 
the naval power of the French empire almost vanish- 
ed, and that of America commenced. When he 
maintained a contest with a line-of-battle ship, 
through a long night-battle, and compelled her to 
seek for safety by flight, her commander, not then 
knowing his antagonist, declared, that " he must 
have been an American ; for no other people on 
earth could lond so rapidly, — fire so accurately, — 
and fight so desperately." 

The elder Decatur, in the mean time, with his gal- 
lant associates in the several ships under their com- 
mand, were sweeping marauding picaroons from the 
ocean, and convoying our richly laden merchantmen 
to their destined ports. Besides the immense 
amount of individual property thus saved to the own- 
ers ; the revenue alone arising to the government 
from this source, amounted to a sum greater than the 
whole expense of building and supporting the navy, 
up to that period. If this fact does not appeal to 
the lovers of national glory, it surely must to the wor- 
shippers of individual and national wealth. 

However rapidly we wish to glide over this sub- 
ject, and trace the younger Decatur in his career of 
naval glory, we ought again to pause and ofl?er up a 
tribute of undissembled admiration to the old vete- 
ran ocean -warriors, who, amidst perils that would 
4 * 

41^ LifE or 

seem to appal the very Genius of Victory herself, 
pointed out the path to America that so shortly has 
led her almost to the zenith of national greatnesso 
The world at that time was literally girdled with 
floating batteries, and all seemed to be pointed at 
our immense commerce, and our humble navy. Nel- 
son declared that in this little germ of naval power, 
he saw the future rival of Britain. Pride, and fear, 
and avarice, all conspired to wish and attempt an 
extermination of our gallant infant navy. Even at 
this period, although at peace with England, and 
lighting our worst enemy, an insolent admiral com- 
manded the gallant and vigilant Tryon of Connecti- 
cut, and then commanding the ship Connecticut, to: 
• come undur his lee" as a token of submission, or 
an acknowledgment of inferiority. He instantly 
cleared bis ship for action, and ordered all hands to 
quarters. The admiral sent an officer on board to 
know whether the order was heard, and if so, why it 
was not obeyed. " It was heard," said Capt. Try- 
on, ^- and the reason why it was not obeyed, you rea- 
dily perceive, is, that all my hands are at quarters, 
ready to defend this ship." Either fear or admira- 
tion prevented a repetition of the order, and the little 
ship rode on the windward side of the admiral, with 
her peak up, and her banners waving. 

In the first cruise the elder Decatur made in the 

Frigate Philadelphia, he found she did not sail so 

^wift as he wished. As she was approaching toward 

her station, she was descried at a distance by Capt. 

Tryon bearing toward him. Owing to thick wea^ 


iher, orsome other cause, the Captain did not disco- 
ver the character of his approaching visitor, and 
cleared ship for action. His officers and crew were 
elated at the prospect of a tete a tete with some 
Monsieur Capitaine. They were deprived of that 
pleasure, and enjoyed that of welcoming upon the 
station the noble Philadelphia frigate. After ex- 
changing the usual civilities, Commodore Decatur 
asked Captain Tryon, *' if his ship was a good sail- 
er?" — " She will sail with French Picaroons ^'^'^ said 
Captain Tryon, " but I do not know how she would 
sail with the Frigate Philadelphia,'^'^ — " Are you dis- 
posed to try it?" asked the Commodore. " If you 
please, sir," was the answer. The sailing- match 
was had; and in the specified time, the little ship 
Connecticut ran the Philadelphia " hull down" twice. 
The next day Captain Tryon and his officeifrpar- 
took of a splendid dinner on board the Philadelphia, 
when Commodore Decatur jocosely said, '' I'll ex- 
change ships with you Captain Tryon." — The 
younger Decatur at this time was serving as Mid- 
shipman in the frigate United States ; and little 
thought he should one day destroy his father's ship 
in the harbour of Tripoli. 

Innumerable instances might be mentioned to show 
the veteran firmness of the American post-captains 
and seamen of that day. Thank heaven, the spirits 
of these men survive in their successors, and, in al- 
allusion to them, we may exclaim, — Amor patrice 
'- vires acquirit eundo,'^'^ — The love of coufitry aug- 
ments its strength as it advances. 

44 LIFE 04f' 


Stephen Decatur's early education — Peculiar adrantag^ enjoyeo! 
by him— Enters the frigate United States as Midshipman, 1798 
— Promoted to Lieutenant — Cruises in the West-Indies ag:ain9t 
the Frenck — Knters the brig Norfolk as 1st Lieutenant, 1799— 
Sails to the Spanish Main — Re-enters frigate United States- 
Barbarism of French and Spanish to American Seamen — Victo- 
ries of Truxton, Little, &c. — Humiliation of the French — Peace 
with France — Rewards for heroism. 

Although Stephen Decatur came into existence 
on the shores of the Chesapeake, in Maryland, yet he 
can hardly be said to be a native of that State. The 
residence of his parents, for years before his birth, 
had been in the city of Philadelphia — and they only 
left W, as many distinguished citizens had done, in 
consequence of the possession of that important place 
by the British forces in the war of the revolutiono 
Upon evacuating it, Decatur's parents returned to 
their former residence there when he was but three 
months old. 

In this noble city, which has with much propriety 
been called the ♦' Athens of Columbia," Decatur 
was reared, educated, and prepared for the im- 
portant and splendid scenes through which he was 
afterwards to pass. A more eligible situation to 
acquire an accomplished education, and dignified 
deportment, and that ardent spirit of emulation 
which stimulates noble minds to noble deeds, can 
hardly be imagined than that enjoyed by young De- 


catur. His father held the first rank amongst expe- 
rienced navigators, and his house or course would 
be the resort of men the most enterprising and ad- 
venturous. The reader can almost now, through the 
" mind's eye," behold Stephen and James, suspend- 
ing for a while their literary studies, and rapturous- 
ly listening to the narrations of their father, as he oc- 
casionally returned from the bosom of the boister- 
ous ocean to that of his tranquil family. It would 
naturally direct their attention to that reading which 
described ancient and modern achievements upon 
the sea. In addition to the advantages afforded by 
the best libraries and accomplished instructors, these 
aspiring youths, who may be called the Decatii^ had 
often under their eyes, and of course under their ad- 
miration, many of the surviving veterans of the Re- 
volution. After their " young ideas had been taught 
to shoot,''^ and their expanded intellects began to 
dawn, they were amidst that body of wonderful and 
profound statesmen who commenced the gigantic la- 
bour of beginning the Republic under the Constitu- 
tion in 1789. They beheld the majestic form of 
Washington presiding with awful solemnity over 
the anxious councils of the nation. They witnessed 
the rewards and the honours then bestowed upon 
those whose wounds and scars were received in the 
great struggle for American Independence. They 
learned from time to time the encroachments made 
upon our commerce ; and they must have heard much 
of that debate, than which, a more important one 
ii€ver occupied the deliberations of our civil fa= 

46 LlJ^E O*' 

thers : — ** Shall the Republic have, or shali. 
SHE ifOT HAVE A Navy." They witnessed, and par- 
ticipated in the rapture which pervaded all the great 
commercial towns in our country, when the first 
keels of our armed ships were laid. 

Passing over numerous interesting incidents in the 
early education of these youths, (for they cannot yet 
be separated,) at the ages of fifteen and seventeen 
their whole views were directed towards the navy, 
and their studies calculated to prepare them for the 
duties of naval stations. 

At the earliest organization of the navy, their fa- 
ther, as previously mentioned, was appointed first 
to the command of a sloop of war, and soon after 
to that of the Philadelphia frigate. His sons, stimu- 
lated to enthusiasm by his example, soon after fol- 
lowed it, — and followed him in the pursuit of naval 
fame. It is not known to me irt what ship, nor un- 
der what commander, James first sailed ; and he can 
no more be mentioned in these Sketches until his 
tragical death, avenged by Stephen with an heroism 
unexampled, must be alluded to. 

Commodore Barry, one of the earliest Post-Cap- 
tains in the American navy, obtained for Stephen 
Decatur, the warrant of a Midshipman in 1798, and 
he immediately entered on board the frigate United 
States, then commanded by that accomplished, al- 
though since too much forgotten officer. 

It was on board this noble ship that Midsbipnaan 
Decatur began to reduce the theoretical knowledge 
he had previously obtained of naval tactics and na- 


ligation, to that actual practice which enabled him, 
after many years had rolled over his head, and after 
passing through many scenes of desperate carnage, 
and appalling horror, in the same ship to conquer, 
and, for the first time, to add a British frigate to the 
.American navy. 

But we must not here anticipaU the numerous 
achievements of Decatur, nor the progress of the 
navy as connected with them. It is the design to 
detail them in succession, and in as succinct and 
perspicuous a manner as the writer is able to per- 
form the task. He must again express his deep so- 
licitude, when reflecting upon the difficulty, delica- 
cy, and interesting nature of the subject. He dares 
not hope for applause, and scarcely hopes to avoid 
censure. Butps he would not be very highly elated 
by the one, nor very deeply depressed by the other, 
he will continue his delineations, however imperfect- 
ly they may be designed, or however unskilfully 
they may be coloured. This volume shall at least 
be a sincere, however humble tribute of the respect 
the writer wishes to offer to the memory of Decatur, 
and to the fathers and protectors, and augmentators 
of the naval power of America. 

The United States frigate, for a considerable time 
[ after Midshipman Decatur entered her, was engaged 
in the arduous duty of protecting, and convoying 
American merchantmen, and chastising oi destroying 
lithe contemptible swarms of French and Spanish pi- 
caroons that then infested the ocean. Had Barrjv 
like -Truxton and Little had the good fortul#e^*to 


have fallen in with a French national ship of su- 
perior force, during the naval warfare with France, 
it would not have been left for his favourite Midship- 
man, Decatur, to have led the frigate he then com- 
manded to gain the first frigate she ever conquered 
— nor would the glory of Decatur, although then just 
entering the years of manhood, have been postpon- 
ed to the contest with the Barbary powers. 

While in this frigate, he was promoted to the rank 
of Lieutenant ; an evidence of his progress in his 
darling f)rofession — of the attachment of his com- 
mander — and of the confidence of the administra- 
tion. The frigate, from long cruises, needed re- 
pairs, and was ordered into port to be refitted. 

It would seem that a young officer, having been 
long subjected to the severe duty to be unceasingly 
performed on board a frigate in the early stages of 
naval life, would pant for temporary repose, at least. 
Not so, the ardent Lieutenant ; he panted for nothing 
but naval renown. The conquest of the InsurgentCy 
La Vengeance and Bfrceau^ aroused him to a pitch 
of enthusiasm, which perhaps needed the restraint 
of prudent caution. He solicited an order to join 
the U. States' brig Norfolk. His request was grant- 
ed ; and he sailed in her as first Lieutenant to the 
Spanish Main ; hoping that this portion of the ocean 
would afford him some opportunity for the display of 
valour beyond that which is to be found in the more 
humble duty of conquering privateers, or convoying 
merchantmen. But he returned back with the Nor- 
folk without having accomplished tiie predominant 


wishes of his heart. But while he was thus pro- 
gressing in his profession — disappointed himself, 
and perhaps disappointing the high expectations of 
his too sanguine friends, he was acquiring that prac- 
tical skill in naval tactics — that mysterious art of 
cotnmanding freemen, and, at the same time, securing 
their attachment and respect, so indispensably ne- 
cessary in a naval commander. It was in these early 
schools, that Decatur acquired this master-art in his 

The U. States frigate having been fitted for sea, 
Lieut. Decatur entered her in the same capacity in 
which he left her. The naval warfare with France 
still continued, and continued by Frenchmen and 
Spaniards with a rapacity, barbarity, and diabolical 
cruelty, which assimilated the first m.entioned, gal- 
lant and humane people, to the well known sullen 
and execrable character of the last. They preyed 
upon American ships and American commerce, like 
ravenous wolves upon innocent and unprotected 
flocks, fn their treatment of our noble American 
sailors, they seemed to forget that they belonged to 
the human race. They were flogged, lacerated, al- 
most starved, and what was the " unkindest cut of 
all,^^ insulted as belonging to a cowardly, irifibecile, 
and mean nation, which had neither the power nor 
disposition to protect their commerce, or avenge the 
injuries of her citizens. The name of an American, 
which was a glorious passport through the worlds 
after the war of the revolution, was thus sunk, tra- 
duced, degraded, and sneered at by every petiT/ na- 



val power in Europe. England, though not then the, 
decided mistress of the sea, behaved with more re- 
spect, and although she was then able, as she has 
since proved, to annihilate every fleet in Europe, 
was guilty of comparatively no insult or injury to 
Americans ; Englishmen knew that Americans were 
too much like themselves to " Kiss the hand just 
rais''d to shed their blood,'''' 

But retribution soon trod with vindictive terror 
upon the heels of transgression ; and taught trans- 
gressors that their ways were hard. The thunder 
directed by Truxton, Little, Stewart, Tryon, Bar- 
ry, &c. and their rising officers and seamen, asto- 
nished these insolent foes, as much as the volcanoes 
€f Etna and Vesuvius alarm the natives of Sicily and 
Naples. After the victory over the Insurgente, La 
Vengeance, La Berceau, Diana, Flambeau, &c. the 
haughty tone of these boasting Hotspurs was lower- 
ed down even to mean supplication. Yes, a com- 
mander of a French armed ship having captured an 
American merchant vessel, addressed the master of 
her in terms like these, — " Capitaine, you see dat I 
NOW use you ver well ! Le Diahle! ! Iver much fear 
dat I be take myself, by some dem Americaine ship — 
and pray J Capitaine^ do tell de dmericaine officers dat 
1 treat a you ver well^ so dat dey may treat me ver 
wellf ven I be prisoner too^J^^ 

* Lest this sing^ular humiliation of an imperious officer may be 
thought too highly coloured, I would state that it was commuuicat- 
edby (/apt. David Churchill, of Connecticut, who was himself pri- 
soner to thi? oflficer. His word will oever be doubted. 


Decatur continurd on board this favourite United 
Slates Frigate, advancing towards that perfection in 
his profession to which he afterwards arrived, until 
peace was negotiated with France. 

The peace with France, suspended, for a time, 
the operations of the gallant little navy of the Re- 
public. Some of the senior officers of the navy re- 
tired to the bosoms of their families, admired by the 
commercial portion of the community, and conscious 
themselves that they had served a country well, 
which they loved better than they did themselves. 
Although in a government like ours, every man may 
fearlessly express his opinion, as to the degree of 
munificence that government ought to bestow upon 
those whose lives have been devoted to its protec- 
tion, in the field and upon the ocean, yet the govern- 
ment only can settle the question. To pour out the 
treasures of the nation upon fortunate and victorious 
officers in the army and navy, at the expense of the 
people who supply the treasury by their humble and 
unnoticed industry, might alarm an intelligent and 
free people, who vigilantly scrutinize every mea- 
sure of the government ; especially those which re- 
late to money concerns. Monarchies, whether des- 
potic or limited, always lavish favours upon those 
who support or augment the glory of their crowns. 
This gives splendour to the /ew, and reduces the 
xnany to poverty. The recent dukedom granted to 
Arthur Wellesly, Duke of Wellington, would have 
afforded, if properly distributed, domestic comforj. 



to thousands of the English peasantry, who have 
been driven to insurrection for the want of food. 

But extreme cases never fairly test a principle, 
any more than an argument that proves too much. 
The question is, whether the American Republic 
has not hitherto been too stinted in its bounty to its 
gallant defenders? The fathers of our gallant navy, 
who retired to the shades of private life, with gar- 
lands of laurel bedecking their brows, retired with 
them alone. The treasury had been enriched by their 
toils, their perseverance, and their valour — indivi- 
duals rolled in wealth around them, by the protection 
Ihey had affordcd-~yet they retired with no reward 
but that applause which their valour had entitled them 
to. When communing together, they might well say, 
as Washington, in his last conmiunication to Putnam, 
naid, '^ Republics have always been ungrateful.'* 
The names and the memories ofTruxton, Little, the 
senior Decatur, Barry, the senior Morris, Tryon, 
Dale, IVeble, and the rest of the fathers of our navy, 
are cherished und remembered with delight by eve- 
ry midshipman and lieutenant, who learned from 
ihem the skill, the discipline, and the whole system 
c*i' naval tactics which enabled them to secure to 
themselves the high honours and copious rewards 
which their country has bestowed upon them. Whe- 
iher their Preceptors are to be forgotten by others, 
and no national token of respect to be shown to them, 
is for the national councils to decide. Even the 
mouldering manes of Washington ?/ei remain without 
any national monument. 



Progress of the American Navy — Reduction of it by Act of Con- 
gress— Amount of it in 1801— Lieut. Decatur's views and deter» 
mination — Depredations of Barbary States upon American com- 
merce — Measures of the American government — Decatur enters 
into the first Mediterranean squadron as 1st Lieut, of the frigate 
p.ssex — his unremitting vigilance as a disciplinarian — Address to 
his seamen. 

In the preceding chapters, the Life of Decatur 
has been traced from his birth, to what may be call- 
ed ihe first period of his naval progress from a Mid" 
shipman to a first Lieutenant, In pursuit of the de- 
sign of this work, we must now revert back to that 
period of our Republican government, when the im- 
portant question whether the American navy should 
be augmented beyond its small beginningy or not, 
was agitated. 

It is not the busfness of the historian, oi* biogra- 
pher, to search for the motives, or to investigate the 
measures of statesmen. This question called into 
exertion the finest talents in our country ; and in the 
administration of Johis- Adams, our national council 
embraced an assemblage of men who would have 
done honour to any country. 

It was intended briefly to collate the arguments in 
favour of, and against the extension of the naval 
force, commenced by the Act of 1794. The inten- 
tion is relinquished for the more exkilirating and d|5" 


lightful task of recording, with a pleasure which caf> 
be but poorly expressed by language^ that the ad- 
vocates for 7iaval poiver^ by the irresistible force of 
reason, supported by the most brilliant eloquence, 
convinced our rulers of the necessity of naval de- 
fence. In 1798, the navy was augmented from six 
to twenty vessels of different rates. It would be 
useless to give a list of them. In the succeeding 
year they were increased to thirty-two, and, what 
then convinced our statesmen of the indispensable 
necessity of a gradual increase of the navy, provi- 
sion \vas made for building Six Seventy-Fours. 

But, lest the country should be burthened with 
public ships which were unfitted for service, hanging 
like a dead weight, and while exhausting the public 
treasure, could add nothing to the public defencCj 
Congress, toward the close of Mr. Adams' adminis- 
tration, authorised the Executive to dispose of such 
vessels a.^ should be deemed of the above character. 
The wisaom of this measure has since been clearly 
demonstrated to the entire satisfactioo of those wha 
are acquainted with the ponderous and inextin- 
guishable debt in which Britain is involved, and 
probably will be as long as she remains a kingdom. 
Although her immense navy is that which gives her 
an ahnost boundless power ; yet our cautious states- 
men knew well that it had been one great means of 
involving her in almost boundless debt. 

At the commencement of the administration of 
TffOMAS Jefferson, in 1801, our Republic was at 
peace withal! the powerful nations in the world ; of 


course, large standing armies upon land, which had 
no enemy upon land to conquer; and large fleets 
upon the ocean, which had no hostile fleets to en- 
counter, were deemed inconsistent with the public 
interest. The voice of the people called for an eco- 
nomical expenditure of the public treasure, and 
chose rather to see the national: debt discharged, 
than to see it increased by any splendid projects for 
the gratification of national or individual ambition. 
That portion of the public ships which was adjudged 
useless to the nation, was sold, and converted into 
merchantmen. The policy of thai measure is no 
longer doubted. 

But the determination of the administration, whol- 
ly to suspend the building of the vSeventy- Fours, 
Tvhen materials to a very large amount had been 
accumulated for that purpose, disappointed and al- 
most disheartened the friends of an efficient naval 
pozoer. It had recently been seen what a very small 
naval force had accomplished in the naval warfare 
with France, then the second naval power in the 
world. It had been seen, and it had been felt, what 
an immense augmentation of national wealth had 
been secured, and what a vast amount of individual 
property had been saved from sacrifice by our gal- 
lant countrymen, with a few armed ships, who car- 
ried our arms where they found our enemies. 

In this warfare, as already shown, the senior and 
junior Decatur had taken an active part, although 
neither of them had acquired those laurels which th& 
one, in the highestj and the other, from the lowes-t 


^ Uit of 


to the highest but one in the grade of officers, had 

sought to obtain. The father retired ; but the son 

still adhered to that profession for which he seemed 

so peculiarly designed, and in which he was destined 

to act so conspicuous a part. 

The following ships, in 1801, after the reduction 
of the navy, coniposed the whole naval force of the 
Republic. — United States Frigate, forty-four guns, 
the President, Constitution and Philadelphia, of the 
same force ; the Chesapeake, of thirty-six guns, the 
Constellation, Congress and New- York, of the same 
force; the Boston, of thirty-two guns, the Essex, 
Adams, John Adams and General Greene, of the 
same force. 

With these few public ships, and which were un- 
der the necessity of undergoing, previously, frequent 
repairs, was the American Republic to depend upon 
her rank upon the ocean. It was a hard case — but 
Stephen Decatur was never born to despair ; nor 
was he born to despair of the naval glory of Ameri- 
ca. He had a mind, capable of foreseeing the fu- 
ture greatness of his country, and a heart big enough 
to encounter all the dangers which might be endured 
in advancing its glory. 

When he entered into the naval service, it was not 
done merely to wear an epaulette upon his shoul- 
der, or a sword by his side, to excite the unmeaning 
admiration, and stupid stare of the rabble. — He had 
a country to save, and her injuries to avenge. He 
knew full well that the service into which he had en- 
tered, was a service pregnant with peril, and encir^ 


ded with clanger. This consideration, which would 
have induced a timid mind to retire to the peaceful 
shades of private repose, only sei'ved to stimulate 
him to pursue the hazardous path which he had en- 
tered. Although at this period he might have left 
the navy v/ith the reputation of an accomplish- 
ed young officer, yet this would have been too 
humble fame for him. And yet, it is not doing jus- 
tice to his character to say, that personal fame was 
his only object. He was a siticere lover of his 
country ^ and was determined, whether in a humble 
or exalted station, to defend its rights, and secure 
its independence as far as his own exertions could 
accomplish that great object. 

The little American Navy had but a short respite 
from action, after the arduous duty it had performed 
in the predatory warfare carried on against Ameri- 
can commerce by the French, until seasonable chas- 
tisement induced them to make a peace with America. 
The class of officers of Decatur's grade, had in that 
contest, begun, and well begun their naval educa- 
tion. They had acquired that practical knowledge 
of naval tactics which qualified them to move in 
more exalted stations ; and the country may now 
congratulate itself that an opportunity was then pre- 
sented to call into operation the skill and the valour 
of the youthful pupils of the American Navy. 

To every historian, the history of the barbarous, 
cruel, and sometimes destructive v/arfare, which the 
Barbary States, bordering upon the Mediterranean, 
bave, for centuries past, carried on against the who)'" 


commercial world, Ls perfectly familiar. It is left 
almost wholly to conjecture to determine why na- 
tions, powerful upon the ocean, have so long per- 
mitted the property of their subjects to become a sa- 
crifice, and their subjects themselves to become 
the victims of these merciless hordes of inhuman 
wretches. The little kingdoms of Morocco, Algiers, 
Tripoli and Tunis, ever since the discovery of the 
magnetic needle has so immensely extended the com- 
merce of the world, have preyed upon that com- 
merce, and made miserable slaves of those who car- 
ried it on. Not sufficiently powerful to draw forth the 
vindictive punishment of great naval powers, they 
have, nevertheless, been powerful enough to plun- 
der merchant vessels of all nations, and reduce their 
crews to horrid bondage. Had the sanguinary and 
powerful monarchies of Europe, instead of contend- 
ing for each others' crowns, and encroaching upon 
each others' dominions, reduced these ferocious 
sons of Ishmael, and worshippers of Mahomet, to 
obedience and fear, they would far better have serv- 
ed the cause of humanity. It seems to have been 
reserved for the American Republic, situated more 
than three thousand miles from these enemies of all 
mankind, to reduce them to complete submission — 
or that submission which is occasioned by /ear. In- 
deed, there is no other way for that portion of the 
world called Christian, to secure itself from the dis- 
ciples of Mahomet, but by exciting their fear. They 
have such a deadly and implacable hatred against 
Christians, that they think they render the most ac- 


ceptable service to their tutelar deity by immolating 
them upon the blood-stained altars of Mahomet. 
The most solemn treaties that can* be negotiated 
with them are bonds no stronge^r than % rope of sand, 
unless they are compelled to regard them by a force 
sufficient to menace them into a compliance with its^ 

At the commencement of the nineteenth century, 
Americar^ commerce was expnnded over the world. 
Much of it was spread upon the bosom of the Medi- 
terranean, wiihin the reach of those contemptible 
Barbary States already mentioned. Encouraged by 
the supposition that the American Republic, situated 
as they supposed in a wilderness across an immense 
ocean, would afford no protection to its adventurous 
merchants, they preyed upon them with impunity. 
Having long received tribute from nations which 
they knew to be powerful, they supposed Americans 
to be the last people on earth who would dare assail 
the Turkish crescent. Their vessels and cargoes 
were considered as fair plunder, and the only way 
to redeem her citizens from the most miserable bon- 
dage which the diabolical cruelty of Mahometans 
could inflict upon Christians, was supposed to be by 
paying an exorbitant ransom. 

The American government adopted a sentiment 
worthy of its rising greatness, that the whole commU' 
nity is degraded when one of its members suffers. 
Casting an indignant frown across the Atlantic, and 
over the Mediterranean, it beheld at home its little 
gallant navy, and saw its officers and seamen impa* 


tiently panting for naval glory, and for an opportu- 
nity to pour out vengeance against these unsanctified 
heathen — these spoilers of unprotected innocence— 
these butcherers of mankind. Disdaining to suppli- 
cate for favour or forbearance from those whom they 
could drive from imperious insolence to humble sub- 
mission, they scorned the very idea of paying tri- 
bute^ unless it was at the mouth of the cannon. If the 
world once paid tribute to Caesar, it was because 
Caesar had power to enforce it. The American go- 
vernment, knew too well the noble pride of Ameri- 
cans, to see them paying tribute to miserable Moors, 
Algerines, Tripoiitans and Tunisians. There is a 
real dignity in graceful submission to irresistible 
powe^r ; there is a kind of pleasure in obedience 
when paid to a great potentate ; but to see real 
power sinking down before arrogant weakness, as it 
cannot be endured by a gentleman, neither ought it 
to be endured by an independent nation. At this 
period the common sentiment of Americans was, 

BUTE." It was uttered by the faltering tongue of 
age, and it hung upon the lisping lips of infants. 

Decatur, if not already in his glory, clearly saw 
the shining path that led to it. He had nc»t that un- 
tutored and blustering courage which sometimes, by 
fortunate circumstances, crowns a rash fool with lau- 
rels, but had that cool, regulated and scientific forti- 
tude, which almost invariably carries forward a great 
man to temporal fame. If an hackneyed expression 
is admissible upon a subject so elevated, it might be 


said that Decatur was born to achieve victories " se- 
cundum artem.'^^ He did not wish to leave to the 
uncertain and variable fortune of war, those con- 
quests which are to be obtained by systematic, and 
regulated courage. At this period of his life he had 
acquired the first rudiments of naval tactics. He 
had studied his profession thoroughly, and was weH 
prepared for admission to the practice of it. 

The first squadron iitted out for the Mediterra- 
nean was placed under the command of Commodore 
Dale, who was amongst the earliest Post-Captains 
'appointed by Congress. Decatur was ordered to 
the Essex Frigate as her first lieutenant. He had 
for some time enjoyed all the blandishments of fa- 
shionable life, and moved in its most exalted circles. 
He had participated in all the charms of refined so- 
ciety, and, delighted himself, he imparted delight 
to his associates. But he had higher views than 
those which limit the mind of the mere man of fa- 
shion. That effeminacy which is almost invariably 
produced by a devotion to the unmeaning ceremony 
of modern high life and fashionable amusements, 
could not impos<3 their paralyzing effects upon this 
ardent child of fame. He hailed the time when ho 
was removed from the pretty amusement of pacing 
the parlour, to the more manly duty of pacing the 

The duty of a first Lieutenant on board of s fri- 
gate is vastly more arduous and difficult than those. 
who are unacquainted with naval discipline, imagine. 
Although not in absolute command, it is to him ihr- 



Captain looks, in the first instance, for the regjula" 
tion of the ship, and to him the crew arc pcj [)etual- 
ly looking for instruction in discipline, and in their 
duty*. Every thing is to be reduced to perfect sys- 
tem, and nothing must be left to accident or chance. 
The economy of a ship of war most nearly resem- 
bles that of a perfect piece of machinery ; — the parts 
must all move in unison, and must operate upon each 
other according to the original design. To be sure, 
a single ship or a fleet are both liable to be encoun- 
tered by the elements as well as by enemies ; and 
although they can conquer the latter, they are some- 
times compelled to bow to the irresistible power of 
the former. It would border upon a truism to say, 
that the utmost exertion of human skill and energy, 
are feeble when compelled to struggle against the 
decrees of that Power which "rides upon the wings 
of mighty windv-^," and agitates the bosom of the 
mighty deep. Even in the perilous hour, when 
*' rude Boreas blustering railer" seems to hold un- 
controlled dominion over the watery element, and to 
defy the efforts of man, thei*e, order and system 
is to be observed, and, even when sinking in a 
wrecked ship, an American seaman chooses to go 
down, stationed at his quarter*. But when ap- 
proaching an enemy — clearing ship for action — 

* CommoUore Decatur, •when he afterwards captured the Ma- 
cedonian, thus speaks of his first Lieut. W. H. Allen.— r" To his 
unremitting exertions in disciplining the crew, is to be imputed the 
obvious superiority of our gunnery, exhibited in the reeult of this 


beating to quar/ers — and discharging all the minute 
duties which, separately considered, would seem to 
a landsman too trifling to detail, but which, in the 
result, produced such a tremendous eftect, the utmost 
order and most perfect system must be unremittingly 

Lieutenant Decatur, when he entered the Essex 
Frigate, brought with him, not only the most un- 
daunted courage, but the practical skill of an ac- 
complished naval disciplinarian. Fie also brought 
with him the manners and deportment of a gentleman- 
officer. He knew, in the sphere in which he mov- 
ed, he had a right to command, and to enforce obe- 
dience ; but he chose rather to have the noble fel- 
lows in the ship submit to their duty through volun- 
tary choice, than by powerful coercion. He pos- 
sessed the admirable faculty of infusing into the 
minds of seamen, the ardour that inspired his own 
exalted heart, and of rendering the strict, and some- 
times severe duty of his men, their highest pleasure^ 
It might be hazardous, to say that no other young 
officer in the navy possessed all these qualities ; but 
it is fearlessly asserted, that no one possessed them 
in a higher degree than Lieut. Decatur, 

Assiduously employed in preparing the Essex for 
the first important armed expedition from the new to 
the old world, he thus addressed the whole-souled 
tars of the ship: — " Comrades — We are 710x0 about 
to embark upon an expedition^ which may terminate in 
our sudden deaths^ our perpetual slavery, or our im- 
mortal glory. The event is left for futurity to deter- 

64 LIFE Oi' 

mine. The first quality of a good seaman, ts, person- 
al courage, — the second, obedience to orders, — the 
third, fortitude under sufferings ; to these may he 
added, an ardent love of country, I need say 710 
more — / am confident you possess them alL"^^ Such 
an address as this, from such a man as Lieut. Dec?.- 
tur, to such men as American seamen, some of whom 
had recently been led to victory by Truxton, and 
all panting for fame, must have operated like a shock 
of electricity. In a very few words, it conveyed- 
:he ideas of an officer, ardent in the pursuit of glory 
— prepared for good or ill fortune — determined to 
be obeyed — glowing with patriotism toward his 
country, mingled with cordial affection for his mea. 
Looking to his Captain as his authorized comman- 
^der, he was uniformly respectful to him, and thus set 
an example ta his crew which corresponded with his 
previous precepts. He had learned the salutary- 
lessons of obedience, before he aspired to the a^^ 
fhority of commnndin^. 



1801, in the first American Squadron — Hazard of this enterprise 
— Captain Sterrett's victory in the Schooner Enterprise — Impa- 
tience of Lieut. Decatur in a blockading ship — He returns to 
Amei'ica in the Essex — National glory and National taxes — - 
Lieut. Decatur joins the second Mediterranean Squadron as Ist 
Lieut, of the frigate New-York — Sails to the Mediterranean — 
' Incessant attention to duty — Returns in the New- York to Ame- 

In 1801, the American squadron, under command 
of Commodore Dale, weighed anchor, and left the 
waters that wash the shores of our free Republic, to 
carry our arms into the renowned Mediterranean, 
which laves t^he shores of the most renowned nations 
of ancient or modern centuries. Decatur had taken 
an affectionate leave of his justly venerated father, 
and the highly refined and literary circles of his nu- 
merous friends and connections. It is difficult to 
conceive of a separation of friends more interesting^ 
The dignified and patriotic father, who had spent 
some years in the highest station in the navy when 
contending with civilized men, had now to dismiss a 
beloved son from his arms, who v/as destined to con- 
tend with merciless barbarians, who are totally re- 
gardless of the Idiws of civilized 7oarf are. His admir- 
ing companions of both sexes, who full well knew, and 
duly appreciated the goodness of his heart, ^nd ilic 


urbanity of his manners, could hardly endure the 
thought that he should expose himself to become a 
victim to his thirst for fame. But his resolution was 
taken, and irrevocably fixed ; and the sun might as 
well have been divorced from the ecliptic as to di- 
vert him from, his purpose. 

The reader may well pause again and reflect upon i 
the immense importance, and imminent hazard of! 
this expedition. To those the least acquainted with { 
history, the cruel depredations of the Barbary States I 
upon the whole commercial world for centuries, are ' 
known, and the indescribable horrors of slavery 
amongst these uncivilized and inveterate followers 
of Mahomet, have always excited ineffable dismay. 
Nations bordering upon them, for years, and we 
may say, for centuries, have attempted in vain to 
reduce them to submission ; and only secured them- 
selves from their rapacity by paying them tribute. 

Since the year 1 805, expeditions to the Mediter- 
ranean, have become familiar ; and, by our officers 
and seamen, rather considered as pastime and amuse- 
ment, than as entering into a hazardous and doubt- 
%1 contest ; but let it be remembered, that witil 1 801 , 
no ^American armed ship or squadron had ever pass- 
ed the streights into that sea, which had so long 
been infested by barbarian corsairs — let it also be 
remembered that Stephen Decatur, was one of 
those who led the van in the acquisition of the fame 
which has since shone so conspicuously upon the 
American navy in the Mediterranean. This requir- 
ed the most consummate fortitude, It might then. 


although in a minor station, be said of Decatur, as 
it was said of one of the first heroes of the revolu- 
tion : — He dared to lead, where any dared to 


No event of any deep interest occurred in the 
squadron in its passage to the Mediterranean. The 
solicitude of Commodore Dale, — of the Captains, — 
of all the Lieutenants and Midshipmen, and indeed 
of every seaman, down to the youngest boy, may 
well be conceived. From the close of the revolu- 
tionary war to that time, no American national ship 
had probably been seen sailing into the Mediterra- 
nean. British fleets and ships of every description 
were riding triumphant in the Atlantic and in that 
renowned sea. Flushed with the recent victories of 
the Mle and of Copenhagen^ although at peace with 
the Republic, the officers would look with that ma- 
lignant jealousy which characterizes the feelings of 
Englishmen toward our countrymen, upon a little 
squadron of American ships, boldly sailing over the 
theatre of their ozon glory. It could hardly be ex- 
pected that that intercourse which always passes be- 
tween armed ships of nations at peace with each other 
could be avoided. Decatur, second in command of 
the fine little frigate E5sea:,v/ould not then shrink from 
"a visit from any Admiral, of any grade, whether of 
the white, red, or blue, or of any Post-Captain, or 
Lieutenant in the British navy. That -ship, as well 
as the rest of the squadron, was in prime condition. 
Such intercourse did pass; and, as declared at that 
periqd, excited the admiration and jealousy, although 

6d jLii»E OP 

not then the fear, of the gallant ocean- warriors of the 
**/ast anchored ihle,^^ 

Commodore Dale conducted his squadron into the 
Mediterranean, without delay — declared the port of 
Tripoli to be in a state of blockade ; and, according 
to the old principles of blockade, laid his squadron 
before the port to enforce it. The thunder-struck 
Tripolitans remained in harbour with all their force, 
not daring to risk an encounter with a new and un> 
expected enemy. This put a sudden end to their 
ravages upon American commerce, which, for eigh- 
teen months previous, had been committed with im-^ 

Butthe inactive, though vigilant duty of blockad- 
ing an enemy, although of superior force, suited not 
the ardent and adventurous spirit of Decatur. It 
was his business, however, to obey the command of 
his then superiors. The wary and cautious mind of 
Commodore Dale was well convinced, that the little 
squadron under his command was only calculated to 
afford protection to his countrymen, not to commence 
offensive operations against their enemies. Indeed, 
his instructions would not pern^it him to act offen- 
sively, as appeared from the conduct of the gallant 
and never to be forgotten Sterrett, commander of the 
schooner Enterprise, belonging to his squadron. As 
this event is mentioned as connected with the squad- 
ron in which Decatur sailed, and was the Jirst bril- 
liant achievement of the American navy in the Medi- 
terranean, it will be described, as nearly as it can be 
recollected, in the language of the purser, when jse- 


fating It to the writer a few years since. — " Lying off 
the island of Malta, so celebrated in ancient and 
modern history, a Tripolitan cruiser bore down upon 
our schooner, and gave us a broadside. It was in- 
stantly returned. For two glasses [two hours] the 
contest was terrible as can be imagined. She low- 
ered the Turkish crescent to the stars and stripes — 
but the cheers for victory had scarcely ended, when 
the cruiser hoisted her red flag, and poured into us 
another broadside. The contest was renewed with 
renewed desperation. She again struck ; and when 
Capt. Sterrett was approaching her, it was a third 
time renewed. The indignation manifested by the 
captain and crew is indescribable. I left my sta- 
tion as purser of the ship, was handing cartridges 
to the men, and distinctly heard the Captain exclaim, 
'' Sink the damned treacherous creatures to the bot- 
tom/'^ The slaughter became dreadful on board 
the corsair, and the commander prostrated himself 
on the side of his ship, and, with his own hands, flung 
his own flag into the sea. Capt. Sterrett, being in- 
structed not to make any prize, from his quarter- 
deck, ordered the perfidious Turk to throw all his 
guns, ammunition and arms of every kind into the 
sea, and tell his master this was the only tribute he 
would ever after receive from Americans." 

Such was the interesting relation of a spectator 
and an actor in this Jirst and signal victory of an 
American ship over a barbarian corsair. Its au- 
thenticity cannot be doubted, as it is confirmed hi 
all the material circumstances, by the publications cf 


that period. While the reader feels indignant at tht 
perfidy of the Tripolir.ans, he cannot doubt their des- 
perate courage in this bloody conflict. But the con- 
sequences to the vanquished barbarians, when they 
returned into port, shows the difference between ar 
humane and generous nation, and a despotic and vin-" 
dictive power. The former would receive, ever' 
with applause, a c^t/ea/f J commander who had brave ' 
\y defended bis ship. Not so with the ferocious de- 
scendants of Ishmael, whose hands are against eve 
ry man, not only against all the rest of mankind, bui 
against their own inhuman clan. The Bashaw oi' 
Tripoli would rather approve than condemn the 
perfidy of his captain towards Capt. Sterrett — but 
to be conquered by a Christian — to strike the flag of 
Mahomet to a sect, deemed by him as only dogs, 
could not be endured. 7'he miserable and forlorn 
commander, without even the form of a trial, with 
his wourjds still bleeding, received five hundred bas- 
tinadoes, and was compelled to ride through the 
streets upon an ass, to excite the furious contempt of 
the enraged populace. 

This victory, although it might now be deemed a' 
trifle, when compared with the tremendous conflicts 
which have since given so many victories to Ameri- 
can fleets and ships, was nevertheless of immense 
importance to our country. Such consternation was 
produced by the loss of the corsair, and the terrible 
punishment of the commander, that the alarmed Tri- 
politans deserted the corsairs fitted for sea, nor could 
crews be found to supply those which were prepar- 


ing for service. This first victory of Stcrrett and 
his crew pro Juce<l an eifect upon Tripolitans, even 
greater than Hull's first victory did upon English- 

While Captain Sterrett was thus signalizing him- 
self in a contest with barbarians, Decatur, as first 
Lieutenant of the Essex, was compelled to perform 
the duty belonging to a mere blockading ship. He 
was too generous to envy this gallant champion the 
laurels he had gained by his valour; but he ardent- 
ly wished for an opportunity to emulate his valiant 
deeds by his own achievements. 

Decatur was in the situation of one of the ancient 
heroes — '* CompelUd to perform his dutt/, yet anxious 
1 gratify his inctination.'^'' It is undoubtedly a most 
fortunate circumstance for the naval glory of our 
country, th;U our early commanders in the navy ex- 
ercised caution in avenging the injuries received 
from our enemies upon the ocean. Had rashness 
aaarked their measures, they might indeed have 
shared with the glory of those who have gloriously 
fallen in " unequal combat;" but this would have 
secured no lasting benefit to their country, in whose 
cause they had embarked, and whose permanent in- 
terest it was their duty to pursue. Furthermore, 
the commanders of armies and of fleets have no 
righty wantonly to sacrifice the lives of the men, 
who have either voluntarily or coercively been plac- 
ed under their command. Men are not ammunition 
to be expended at the pleasure of an ambitious lead- 
er, wbo might gain applause by sacrificing them as 

72 LIFE OP j 

victims to his unhallowed ambition. Commodore! 
Dale knew too well the amount of his force to ad- 
vance into a contest where so many chances were 
against him. Had he commanded the force v^^hich one 
of his successors, Preble, afterwards commanded, 
his name might now be as glorious as his. But he 
accomplished the great object of his government in 
sending him, with the first American squadron, into! 
the Mediterranean — the protection of American com- 
merce in that sea. One of his officers, Capt. Ster- 
rett, commanding the Enterprise, was compelled to. 
fight his ship single handed ; and he did it to admi- 
ration. Had Decatur been placed in his situation, 
he would have displayed the same^courage; but he 
was reserved for a future display of that noblest of 

Commodore Dale, having accomplished the ob- 
ject for which he was dispatched with his squadron 
to the Mediterranean, returned with it to America. 
Lieut. Decatur returned in the Essex ; and was re- 
ceived by his friends and countrymen with those de- 
monstrations of respect, w^hich might he expected 
from the character he had previously established. 
He had made his entry upon the theatre of his future 
glory. He had received ocular demonstration of 
the predominant sentiment of the Mahometans of 
Africa- — inveterate malice against his counlrym.en", 
and a determination, if within their power, to extir- 
pate Americans from that sea upon which an im- 
mense portion of their commerce was carried on. 
He had made farther advances in his favourite pro- 

fessioo, and had studied the character of the fero- 
eious enemy he had afterwards to encounter. 

The American government had made no essential 
additions to its navy in the absence of Decatur— 
that is, to that part of it which was calculated for 
distant expeditions. Not a hull of a Seventy-four 
had yet been laid, and not a single frigate had yet 
been added to tho little gallant American navy. Al- 
though, as previously mentioned, provision had been 
made for building six line-of-battle ships, and the 
materials partially collected, the national authorities 
did not then see fit to prosecute this noble endeav- 
our to afford this mode of protection for American 
commerce and American territory. National econo- 
my was then, as it ever ought to be, the fashionable 
doctrine. That little, stinted economy which will 
sacrifice a future, although an almost certain good, 
to save a little present expense^ is by no means mean- 
ed here ; but that economy which was calculated to 
save the Republic from that never-ending, that 
constantly increasing, load of taxes, which tears 
from the hard earnings of patient industry almost its 
whole amount to increase the phantom of glory. 
One of the best kings, who ever filled the throne of 
the Bourbo r.s, when urged by the most ambitious 
minister of any king, to adopt some splendid project 
to advance the glory of his reign, answered-—" i 
have no right to advance my glory by distressinp- 
my subjects. \ wish for no greater glory than to 
see every one of my happy subjects, have a fowl in 
his pot every day." I must here be excused for 


74 LtFE or 

introducing the language of a British subject ; and net 
people on earth are fonder of national glory than 
the subjects of George IV. 

" We can inform Jonathan what are the inevita- 
ble consequences of being too fond of glory. Taxes 
;ipon every article which enters into the mouth, or 
covers the back, or is placed under the foot ; taxes ^ 
upon evfry thing which is pleasant to see, hear, feel, 
amell, or taste.; taxes upon warmth, light, or locomo- 
tion ; taxes on eve«ry thing on earth, and the v>'ater-. 
under the earth — of every thing that comet fror/: 
abroad, or is grown at home ; taxes on the raw mate- 
rial, taxes on every fresh value that is added to it b}- 
the industry of men ; taxes on the sauce which pam 
pers man's appetite, and the drug that restores him 
to health ; on the ermine which decorates the Judge 
and the rope which hangs the crimfnal ; on the poo! 
man's salt, and the rich man's spice ; on the brass 
aails of the coffin, and the ribbands of the bride ; af 
bed, or at board, couchant or levant, we must pay ! 
The school- boy whips his taxed top — the beardless 
youth manages his taxed horse with a taxed bridle 
on a taxed road; and the dying Englishman, pour 
ing his medicine v/hich has paid seven percent, into 
a spoon which has paid fifteen per cent, flings him- 
self back upon bis chintz bed, which has paid 2? 
per cent. — makes his will on an 8/. stamp, and ex- 
pires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid 
100^. for the privilege of putting him to death. His 
whole property is then taxed from 2 to 10 per cent, 
besides the probate^ Large fees are demanded for 


burying him in the Chancel: his virtues arc handed 
down to posterity on taxed marble ; and he is then 
gathered to his fathers, to be taxed no more*." 

Such is the language of a subject of the king of 
Great Britain, who participates as much as a subject 
can in the glory of Nelson and Wellington. Ame- 
ricans ponder with inexpressible delight upon the 
famahof Decatur and Jackson ; but the tears of dis- 
tress, occasioned b^ excessive taxation, thank hea- 
ven and our rulers, are not yet mingled with the 
smiles of triumph. The shouts of a famishing popu- 
lace, following in the train of a returning conquer- 
or, whose plaudits are rendered feeble for want of 
that food which has been exhausted by an army or 
a navy, can afford but a miserable satisfaction to a 
conquering hero, when recollecting that his glory 
has been acquired by robbing the people of the 
means of temporal happinesSo '' It was not that I 
loved CaEJsar less, but that I loved Rome more," was 
the exclamation of the magnanimous Brutus over the 
body of the ambitious and bleeding Caesar. It is 
not, that Americans are less fond of national glory, 
or less enthusiastically cherish the memory of its 
heroes, than Englishmen, but it is because they bel- 
ter understand the nature of true national glory, — 
that which produces the greatest happiness to the 
greatest number. 

If, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the 
American goyern^ient had commenced the syster» of 

* Edinburgh Magazitvf^ 


diminishing the national wealth, by a rapid increase 
of the navy, it might indeed, like England, have af* 
forded its citizens the means of making distant con- 
<|ucsts, and causing the thunder of America to re- 
verberate in every latitude. Better understanding 
the true interest of the Republic, and the pa^th to 
true glory, it only sought for sufficient power to de-.; 
fen'd our territory at home, and protect our commerce] 
upon the ocean. To the everlasting glory of ouri 
rulers, they never led us into an offensive war, ei-i 
iher upon land or water. Let the proud and impc-j 
rious parliament of England boast of the wealth she| 
uan draw from the two Indies — and then let her be re- 
minded of the distress, the misery and the agony she 
has spread over many of the finest portions of the 
globe, by means of her immense navy. Can the 
blood-stained history of Lord Hastings in India — 
the devastation of the whole Carnatic — the meian-, 
choly fate of Hyder Ali, and the Nabob of Arcot 
be forgotten ? And, can the distress of her own 
peasantry— But we turn from the horribly disgust- 
ing subject to the more exhiiirating one of tracing 
the innocent progress of the American navy, and the 
steps by which Decatur reached the acme of fame 
hy his exploits upon the ocean. 

After his return to America in the Essex, a small 
chasm occurred in his performance of naval service^ 
Another squadron v/as soon fitted for the same de- 
sign as that in which he returned to his native coun- 
try — protection of American commerce in the Me- 
diterranean. The American government had not 


Vfet seen fit to advance its naval force sufficiently to 
enable its naval commanders to act vindictively 
against the ferocious, yet contemptible Barbary 
States. Severe chastisement they most assuredly 
deserved; but Tripolitans were permitted, a little 
longer, to shield themselves in fancied security, and 
vainly to imagine that Americans would no longer 
spread dismay amongst them. 

The second Mediterranean squadron was com- 
manded by the senior Commodore Morris. Lieu- 
tenant Decatur exercised a patience which his sub- 
sequent vehement, and we may say impetuous cour- 
age would lead the reader to suppose he did not 
then possess. He continued in the navy, under the 
certain presumption that the government of his coun- 
try would shortly be convinced of the necessity of 
more energetic measures against the Mahometan 
pests that infested a sea over which American com- 
merce was 50 much expanded, and so much exposed. 

In the second squadron, he sailed as 1st Lieut, of 
the frigate New- York, a ship whose name no longer 
appears on our navy list. She had become nothing 
but a hulk, at the commencement of the second war 
between the American Republic and the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain, and barely escaped con- 
flagration at Washington, when the British forces., 
who had a right, by the principles of civilized war- 
fare, io desiroy her, but who chose, like the ancient 
Vandals in devastating Greece and Rome, to demo- 
lish and burn some of the finest specimens of art-. 

78 LjFB' or 

and the choicest productions of science and lite- 

Nothing occurred in this squadron of sufficient; 
importance to render a minute detail of its opera- 
tions necessary ; indeed, it would be inconsistenii 
with the design of this work. Decatur was almost 
incessantly employed in imparting naval instruction 
to the under- officers, and introducing that correct 
discipline amongst the seamen, which has since giv-i 
en such perfection to the naval tactics of America,* 
The reader is referred to the preceding chapter for 
the sentiments and the conduct of Decatur when on 
board the Essex. The same course was continued 
by him on board the New- York frigate. When he 
elitered her, he had a crew to discipline, who were 
mostly strangers to him. But a good seaman sin 
cerely respects and cheerfully obeys a good officer, 
the moment he meets him ; and although long ser- 
vice in the same ship, more strongly cements the 
bond of union betvv'cen an officer and a crew, yet 
wherever Decatur was placed, such is the declara- 
tion of one of his own officers, — " He seemed, as if 
by magic, to hold aboundUss sway over the very hearts 
of his seamen at first sight,^^ 

The very nature of naval service renders it neces- 
sary, either from promotions, difterent expeditions, 
unexpected danger, and numerous other causes, to 
remove Post-Captains, Masters commandant. Lieu- 
tenants, and perhaps Midshipmen, from the ships in 
which they had previously exercised command and 
performed duty, and with the crews of which they 
had become familiarized. Although it may becon^i^ 


indispensably necessary for the governnrient to pur- 
sue this course, that necessity does not in the least 
diminish the dilliculty it often imposes upon officers. 
It is admitted that an officer can generally enforce 
obedience to his commands over men whose names 
and faces are as much unknown to him as those of 
the enemy he may have to encounter; but that obe- 
dience which is solely the result of fear of punish- 
ment, is vastly different from that which proceeds 
from respect and attachment. 

During the time that Lieut. Decatur filled the 
very important station of 1st Lieutenant of the fri- 
gate Neio-York, which was once the fljg ship of the 
American squadron in the Mediterranean, that ship 
rendezvoused at the island of Malta. Itis well known 
that this is the island so interesting in sacred history^ 
as the place where Paul the Apostle, with 275 others, 
was wrecked — where he was entertained by the ther? 
barbarians — where he shook a deadly and venomous 
vipejr from his hansl unhurt — where he healed the fa- 
ther of Publius, " The chief man of the Island,^^ and 
from whence he departed \ot Syracuse^ ^ another ren- 
dezvous for the American squadron seventeen cen- 
turies after the visit of St. Paul to that renowned 
city. Malta also is one of the most interesting; 
islands mentioned m profane history, li v/as here the 
Knight-Templars, who claim an antiquity equal to, if 
not more remote than the " Wisest man of all the 
East," who built the Temple at Jerusalem, In modern 

* Vide " The Acts of the Apostles," Chap, xxvii, and xxY»i> 
Mid *' Universal History." 

80 tiyE OF 

days, it has been the resort of many of the •' thou* 
sand arnied ships" of the vaunting " Queen of the 
Oce?ii," In 1803, it was under the dominion of 
Great Britain; dnd Sir Ale^cander Ball, once a fa- 
vourite ofTictr of Nelson, and also a patron of the 
noble Bainhridsre, Portfr, &:c. while in slavery, was 
governor of the island. 

This place was the resort of many British naval offi- 
cers at this period. Elated and flushed with the then 
recent victories of Copenhagen and the Nile, they 
felt as if American naval officers were but mere no 
vices in the naval profession. They might possibly 
have heard of the victory of Truxton in the ConsieU 
lation over LHnsurgente. and of Little, in the Bostor: 
frigate over Le Berceau, and other gallant deeds i:; 
the naval warfare with France. But to conquer an J 
to annihilate French fleets, was by them, since th 
achievements of Duncan, Jervis and Nelson, con- 
dered as mere pastime. They had forgotten, per- 
haps, that their twtelary deity upon the ocean, whc 
afterwards fell at Trafalgar, declared, that " hi ihic 
little germ of the American Kavy he recognized th'. 
fifure rival of Britain, "^^ Exulting in the glory of Nel- 
son, their own, perhaps nothing but a reflection froir. 
his, some of them manifested a contempt for Ameri- 
can naval officers, at Malta, and were guilty of in-' 
dignities toward them. 

Lieut. Decatur, as ready to resent insults, as to 
reciprocate civilities, was aroiised to a high and 
manly pitch of indignation at the proud and super- 
iiilious demeanour of the British officers. He could' 
not patiently endure to seo an officer of any naval 


power, even wink disdainfully at the sword and 
the epaulette he wore as the reward for his pr. vious 
services. As America and Britain were then at 
peace, and as the more dignified British ofticers at 
Malta were uniformly courteous to those of Ameri- 
ca, the conduct of a few vaunting Hotspurs in the 
British navy, will not be nanutely detailed, nor the 
consequences that flowed from it, animadverted 
upon. Suffice it to say, the determined and high- 
minded Decatur, supported the dignity of his sta- 
tion, the infant glory of the American navy, and the 
honour of his country. The controversy eventuat- 
ed in the premature death of a British officer, and 
the temporary suspension of Lieut. Decatur's com- 

The civil power of the island interposed its salu- 
tary authority, to stop the effusion of blood upon 
what is called the " field of honour;" but which 
might more properly be called the yawning gulf, 
whose voracious jaws equally swallow up the noble 
champions of their country, and the rash children of 
desperation, Lieut* Decatur was ordered to return 
to America, as a passenger in the frigate Chesa- 

Should this subject be dropped here, the reader 
might be led to suppose that Decatur was degrad- 
ed. Far otherwise. No sooner was his whole con- 
duct investigated, than he was appointed to the com- 
mand of the noble Brig Argus, He immediately 
returned to the Mediterranean, and went on from 
victory to victory, until the Genius of Victory her- 
self claimed him as her favourite son. 



Lieut. Decatur ordered to take command of the brig Argus — For-^ 
tunate and unfortunate ships — Ideas of seamen concerning tliem 
— He sails in the Argu«, and joins the third Mediterranean Squad- 
ron under Com. Preble — Com. Preble and the Lmperor of Mo- 
rocco — Decatur leaves the brig Aigus, and takes command oi 
the schooner Enterprise — Disastrous loss of the frigate Philadel- 
phia — Lieut Decatur captures a Tripolitan corsair, and calls, 
her " Ketch Intrepid" — Rendezvous at Syracuse — Brief sketch d 
JussufT, Babhaw of Tripoli — bufferings of Capt. Eaiubridge and 
crew — Lieut. Decatur volunteers to attempt the destruction of 
the frigate Philadelphia. 

^FTER Licnt. Decatur returned to Asierica in the 
second Mediterranean Squadron, he was ordered by 
the Navy Department to take command of the brig 
Argus, It might be deemed rather fanciful by a 
grave and fastidious reader, to remark, that it was a 
fortunate circumstance with Lieut. Decatur, at this 
period of his eventfi]] life, that he had never yet held 
any command in a o'js^rac^fi ship. Indeed there ne- 
ver has been but one disgraced ship in the American 
navy. But more of this hereafter. Although seamen 
may be ranked with the most gallant and brave oj 
men, I believe the fact will not be denied, that no clasr 
of men are so much influenced by ideas ofy«/e andtZe^^, 
liny, more harshly called superstition. If a mer- 
chant vessel meets with an untoward accident, even 
at its launch, it is remembered by the sons of Nep- 
tune, and often decides their conduct in regard to 
her. If ^\iQ has been partially wrecked at sea, 


robbed by an enemy, lost many of her men by con- 
tagious sickness, or has often been driven on shore 
by gales, it is sometimes difficult to ship a crew for 
her. This sentiment is, if possible, more prevalent 
with the seamen In the jiaval than In the merchants'^ 
service. With a high cense -jf honour, and proud of 
Lhe name of an American, they will hardly enlist 
jndcr an officer who has even been unfortunate — 
■nuch less if he has been degradtd. This almost un- 
iccountable influence has an equal control over, 
heir minds in regard to the ship, 

Decatur had acted as Lieutenant on board the 
United States frigate in the short naval warfare with 
^""rance, and in the Essex in th« early stages of the 
varfare with Tripoli. Although these frigates had 
lot then acquired the fame which is now attached 
o their names^ they had been almost constantly in 
lommission sii-ce they were first fitted for sea, and 
lad rendered services which can hardly be estimat- 
d. The Argus, to which he was ordered as com- 
lander, bears a proud name with American seamen. 

The Argus v/as a fine vessel of her class, mount- 
iig eighteen guns. Although the command of a Se- 
enty-four, or a frigate, gives to the commander a 
jperior rank to him v.ho commands a slooj) of war, 
et the duty and responsibility is no less important, 
'he same system is to be pursued — the same disci- 
line exercised, and the same obedience to be shown. 

It is believed, that at the time Decatur took the 
>tnmand of the Argus, the rank of Master- comman- 

84 LIFE OI. 

danl, had not been established in the American navy ; 
for he took command of her as Lieutenant. The 
fact, however, is immaterial, as the duties devolving 
upon him were the same. To one wholly unac- 
quainted uith the system of naval tactics, it would 
excite nslonishment to observe the inimitable preci- 
sion with whi( h every operation is performed on 
board an armed ship. To describe it, would. require 
a volume larger than some of our systems of milita- 
ry exercise. 

Lieut. Decatur had become master of his profes- 
sion ; and the Argus, being the first vessel of which 
he was first in command, he could introduce on board 
of her that discipline, which, by unremitted exertion? 
for six years, he had become so perfectly acquaint 
ed with himself. Although he was ordered to sur- 
render the command of the Argus to Lieut. Hull 
upon his arrival in the Mediterranean, and take 
the command of the schooner Enterprise, then com 
manded by that gallant and accomplished officer 
yet he did not in the least, remit his accustomed vi 
gilance in preparing his crew for the arduous dut^ 
which they would probably have to discharge undei 
another commander. Stephen Decatur, howeve 
much he might wish to signalize himself by persona 
achievements, had no views unconnected with th( 
glory of every officer, seaman and ship, in the Ame 
rican navy. He felt, and he acted, as if every on< 

* Now Commodore Hull. 


of the two first were his brothers, and every one of 
the last ought to swim or sink in defending the 
rights, and in advancing the glory of hi« country. 

Numerous interesting incidents, of no great import- 
ance, however, might be mentioned, which took 
place in the passage of the Argus across the Atlan- 
tic, and up the Mediterranean. But why swell the 
volume with the minor events of a man's life, when 
it is so exceedingly fertile with those of a more ex- 
alted character? When he arrived in that sea, which 
was shortly to resound with the fame of his gallant, 
and I may say romantic, and perhaps desperate, 
'' deeds of noble daring^'^'' he joiiied, as previously 
ordered, the squadron of Com. PREBLE. 

In the very brief and imperfect notices which have 
been made of the rise, progress and achievements of 
the navy of the Republic, as connected with the life 
of Decatur, we now have reached the second period 
of the naval renown of our country, as the period of 
Truxton's command may emphatically be denomi- 
nated the first. Yes, Truxton may be called the 
Father^ as Preble may be denominated the Precep- 
tor^ of the brilliant constellation of gallant ocean- 
warriors, who now grace the Naval Register of our 

It would be a most grateful task for the writer of 
these imperfect sketches of the life and character of 
Stephen Decatur, if he were able to blend with them 
a suitable eulogy on the character of Preble, his 
favourite commander. But any language he could 
use, would lag far behind the feelings of those who 


8€ , LIFE OP 

served under that truly great naval officer, and 
would — 

" FalUn the ear profitless as water in a sieve." 

Preble was, like Decatur, bred a seaman. He 
early saw the gathering storm which hung, in low- 
ering darkness, over the wide spread, and rapidly 
spreading commerce of America. He knew it must 
be protected, or withdrawn from the ocean, the high- 
way of nations, which, like the highways on land, rs 
infested with robbers. He did not sink down in des- 
pair, and lament that the merchants of the Repub- 
lic should be suddenly driven from the seas, but ear- 
ly tendered his service to his country to aid in pro- 
tecting it. His active services did not escape the 
notice of a government, ever wishful to bestow its 
honours upon those whose merit richly deserved 
them. The eyes of the nation were fixed upon Pre- 
ble as the leader of that gallant band of heroes who 
were destined to avenge the injuries sustained by 
our countrymen from the wretched descendants of 
Ishmael, and the merciless followers of Mahomet, 
The choice of him, for that gigantic undertaking, 
evinced the penetrating sagacity of our government. 

Fearful of involving the nation in an endless and 
increasing load of taxes by a ponderous navy, our 
rulers had thus far only extended protection to our 
Mediterranean trade. But the measures of inildness 
towards the infernal hordes upon the Barbary coast, 
only increased their barbarous ravages and implaca- 
ble cruelty against christian merchants. More effi- 


cient measures were resolved upon by the American 
government, and pacific language was changed to 
that of open defiance. 

The year 1803 forms an era in the history of the 
American Navy. A small force was still in the Me- 
diterranean, and the accomplished, energetic and 
gallant Preble was appointed to the command of a 
squadron consisting of the Constitution, 44 guns—- 
Philadelphia, 44 — Argus, 18 — Syren, IG—Nautilus, 
16 — Vixen, 16 — and Enterprise, 14. Twenty-five 
years ago, such a squadron as this, coming from the 
American States, would have excited the sneers of 
every naval power in Europe; hniffteen years ago 
they saw this little squadron accomplish what the 
largest fleets had never done. 

Com. Preble hoisted his broad pendant on board 
the frigate Constitution. Lieut. Decatur, as he had 
been previously ordered to do, surrendered the com- 
mand of the Argus, and took command of the schoon- 
er Enterprise, which, when commanded by the gal- 
lant Sterrett, had been so distinguished. At the time 
Com. Preble arrived at Gibraltar, he found that the 
subjects of the Emperor of Morocco, in Moorish 
frigates, had encroached upon the rights of Ameri- 
can commerce. Although his primary object was 
to administer salutary chastisement to theTripolitans, 
yet, " on his way^^ to his ultimate destination, he 
concluded to pay a visit to the Emperor. Before 
his arrival. Commodores Rogers and Bainbridge had 
indicated to this Prince of the Moors what he might 
Inspect from Americans, if his subjects continued their 


depredations upon American commerce. But this 
imperious representive of the Sultan in Africa, seem- 
ed then to care little or nothing for a distant, and by 
him a despised power, although his armed ships had 
been captured and detained by its commanders. 
He or his officers had ordered all American mer- 
chantmen to be detained, and some had actually 
been seized. Com. Preble had ordered his squad- 
ron to bring in all Moorish vessels. Thus, in few- 
words, stood affairs with Morocco, when, on the 
5th October, 1803, Decatur's new chmmander, the 
decided Preble, anchored the noble Constitution, 
and the little Nautilus, in the bay, within half a mile 
of the strong circular battery in the city of Tan- 
gier. He was joined by the frigates New-York, 
and John Adams, Com. Rodgers. It was a proud 
sight for American seamen, to behold this little 
squadron riding at anchor before an Emperor's 
powerful battery, waiting the event either of a pa- 
cific interview, or a tremendous contest. Every ship 
was kept clear for action, and every man at his quar- 
ters night and day, — every thought was fixed upon 
the decision of Com. Preble and the emperor of Mo- 

Upon the 6th, the Emperor made his appearance 
with 20,000 troops on the beach, in full view of the 
squadron. After an exchange of salutes from the 
squadron and the battery, the Emperor, instead of 
sending forth the messengers of death, in hot shot 
and grape, sent a present of bullocks, sheep and 
fowls. But as the first would have excited no fear^ 


ihe last created but little joy. It was no time for 
ceremony. — Preble was a man of business, and his 
business must be done; and that without delay — he 
had more important concerns with the Bashaw of 
Tripoli, than he had with the potent Emperor of 
Morocco. Upon the 8th, the Emperor condescend- 
ed again to look upon Com. Preble's little squadron. 
Upon the ninth, the American Consul* was permit- 
ted to communicate with the Commodore, and as- 
sured him, that all American ships detained should 
be released, by order of the Emperor, and that the 

* This was the venerable James Simpson, who was appointee! 
by President Washington as consul at Morocco, soon after the 
organization of the American government. He scarcely saw his 
native country again to the day of his death in 1820. He had 
erected a beautiful mansion-house upon a commanding eminence in 
the vicinity of Tangier, which he dignified by the name of Mount 
Washington. V/hile the author of these sketches was writing a 
description of the Desert of Zahara, of the manners, habits and 
customs of the Wandering Arabs, and of the Western coast of Afri- 
ca, from the narration of the worthy and ingenuous Capt. Robbins, 
so long a slave to the Arabs, he often mentioned this venerable 
consul as the most benevolent friend of Christian slaves and Ame- 
rican seamen. It was to the exertions of this eEcellent man at 
Tangier, and of that pattern of humanity, Hon. William Will- 
smirk, at Mcgadore, that so many wretched slaves have been re- 
stored to freedom and happiness. After finishing the volume, I 
suggested to Capt. Robbins the propriety of dedicating it to these 
gentlemen, and couched the dedication in these terms — " Gentle- 
men — permit me to offer this volume to you. I have, upon the 
OCEAN, endured the distress occasioned by the elements — upoa 
LAND, the miseries inflicted by wan, and from Tou have enjoyed 
the blessings of huraane benevolence, which I can repay only by 

A. ft»BBINS 


§0 i-lPE OP 

Emperor would give audience to the Commodore OB 
shore the next day. 

Upon the 10th, the undaunted Commodore, hav- 
ing given orders to the commander of his squadron 
in his absence, to prepare for the worst, went ashore 
with only four attendants*, in full uniform, and com- 
pletely armed. He was as fearless on shore in Afri- 
ca, as he was on board of his squadron in the bay 
of Tangier. His admiring countrymen in the squad- 
ron, were gazing with anxious and silent expecta" 
lion for the result of the interview ; but the Commo- 
dore and his suite, of which the American consul 
was one, walked through the double files of Moorish 
dragoons with as much composure as they would 
have paced the quarter-deck of the frigate Constitu- 
tion which was prepared to defend them, or to spread 
dismay amongst the Moors. The Commodore was 
requested, not ordered, to lay aside his arms, which 
he promptly declined. He, with the venerable Ame- 
rican Consul, approached the Emperor, who was ar^ 
rayed in all the magnificent splendour of an eastern 
despot, and surrounded by an immense retinue of 
princes, guards and slaves. The Emperor asked 
the Commodore if he was not in fear of being de- 
tained as a slave. " No, Sir, you dare not detain 
me— but if you should presume to do it, my squad- 
ron now in your full view, would lay your battery, 
your city and your castles in ruins^ in one hour.'* 

* Capt. Charles Morris attended the Commodore as his Secre- 

liOgr, Cm^ ccacLWuricated these a»d laaDy more particulars. 


The awe-Struck Emperor, immediately gave orders 
for the restoration of all American ships, and con- 
firmed the treaty of 1786. The Commodore revok- 
ed his orders to capture Moorish vessels, and thus, 
in a few days, brought one of the most powerful of 
the Barhary States to the terms of peace. 

Decatur, in the schooner Enterprise, had for some 
time Iain off the island of Malta, preparing for the 
contest which he concluded must be entered into, 
when Com. Preble was ready to direct his whole 
forces against Tripoli. He had infused into the bo- 
soms of his officers and seamen the noble ardour 
that inspired his own. Commodore Preble, having 
settled his affairs with the Emperor of Morocco, 
was now preparing to accomplish the great object 
of his expedition — the complete subjugation of Tri- 

During this period, Capt. Bainbridge, iR the fri- 
gate Philadelphia, (whose first commander was De- 
catur's father,) with the Vixen Sloop of war, lay be- 
fore Tripoli, and, with this small force, completely 
blockaded that important port. On the last da^ of 
October, the Philadelphia, lying about fifteen miles 
from Tripoli, Capt. Bainbridge discovered a large 
ship with Tripolitan colours, between him and the 
shore. He immediately gave chase to her, and con- 
tinued the pursuit, until the ship entered the port for 
safety. In beating out of the harbour, this noble 
frigate struck violently upon an unseen and unde- 
scribed rock. It is wholly impossible to conceive 
what rawst have been the feelings of the gallant Baia- 

$2 fclFE OF _ 

bridge, and his no less gallant officers and creWy 
upon the happening of this dreadful disaster. He 
was even in a worse predicament than the heroic 
Trowbridge in the Culloden upon the ground. He 
was compelled to remain immoveable ; and, unable to 
aid, was only a witness of one of the splendid victo- 
ries of Nelson. Bambridge and his crew, while the 
frigate floated, would have fought all Tripoli single- 
handed. But his irreversible fate was decided — the 
ship could not then be moved, and he was compell- 
ed, when an overwhelming Tripolitan force assailed 
him, to strike the banner of his country to the cres- 
cent of Mahomet, and, with his noble crew, to be re- 
duced to the most abject slavery, which the most 
merciless of human beings can inflict upon civilized 
man. The whole crew exceeded three hundred 
Americans ; and they were immediately immured in 
a dungeon. In this crew were Bainbridge, Porter, 
Jones and Biddle, — names familiar to every Ameri- 
can who knows or appreciates the glory of his 
country. And here I have the infinite satisfaction 
of recording an instance of mutual attachment, per- 
haps without a parallel in the history of the most ro- 
mantic affection. Capt. Bainbridge, his officers 
and crew, now reduced, in a degree, to equality, by 
coinmon misery, pledged themselves to each other, 
never to separate alive ; but to endure one common 
bondage, or enjoy together one general emancipa- 
tion. The friends of the accomplished Biddle offer- 
ed the sum demanded for his ransom, which he de- 
cidedly refused to accept. This noble crew were 


confined in a tower which overlooked the bay of Tri- 
poli. They beheld their gallant countrymen, waft- 
ing triumphantly in their floating bulwarks, and knew 
that the day of their redemption would one day 
come. They knew that a Preble, a Decatur, and 
the whole band of unconquerable warriors from the 
*' layid of their Aomr,"' would not forget them. They 
knew what they had done in Morocco, and what they 
could do in Tripoli. Yet might they well say with 
the first of geniuses, — '^ Disguise thyself as thou 
wilt — still, slavcri/, thou art a bitter cup." They 
could not help thinking of their country — their 
friends; and, what to an ocean-warrior, perhaps, is 
dearer than all, the laurels they wished to gain in 
chastising the diabolical wretches, who, by an un- 
avoidable disaster, and not by their courage, now 
held them in degraded subjugation. 

But we turn from a picture, coloured in the dark- 
est shades of human calamity, to one of the bright- 
est ornaments of the human race. Lieutenant De- 
catur, on the 14th of December, sailed from Malta 
with the Schooner Enterprise, and laid his course 
for Tripoli. The Tripolitans had seen this little 
Schooner before, and the reader already knows what 
was the result of the interview. 

On the 23d, in full view of Tripoli, he engaged an 
armed Tripolitan vessel ; and in a few minutes made 
her his own. She was under Turkish colours, and 
manned principally with Greeks and Turks, and 
commanded by a Turkish captain. Under these 
circumstances, the Lieutenant hesitated forsooae time 


whether to detain or release the captured vessel. 
Upon investigation, he found that there were on 
board two very distinguished Tripolitan officers, 
and that the commander of her, in the most dastard- 
ly manner, had attacked the Philadelphia frigate 
when driven on a rock. He fiirther learned that on 
this occasion he fought under false colours ; and that 
when the heroic but unfortunate crew of the Phila= 
delphia could no longer resist the immense force 
brought against her, he boarded her; and with the 
well knowQ ferocity of a Mahometan, plundered the 
officers of the captured frigate. Here the exalted 
character of Decatur began to be developed. He 
was then, as he ever was, a lamb to his friends — a 
lion to his enemies. He had before his eyes the 
beloved frigate which had fallen a victim to misfor- 
tune and to demons. But, adhering rigidly to the 
rights of war. he manifested no resentment against 
the humbled and trembling wretches now in his pow- 
cr. His great spirit scorned to make war upon 
weakness, or triumph over a fallen foe. He indig- 
nantly disposed of the crew — forwarded the pa})er3 
of the vessel to the American government — took her 
into the service of his own country, and gave her a 
name which she afterwards so well supported, — 
The Ketch Intrepid. 

Notwithstanding the loss of the fine frigate Phila- 
delphia, and the bondage of her noble crew, which 
very materially reduced the force of Com. Preble's 
little squadron, that veteran officer was not to be de- 
terred from attemptinj:^ to accomplish the great oh 


ject of his government in sending him to the Medi- 
terranean. Fortiina<.ely for his own fame, and for 
the lasting glory and benefit of his beloved country, 
he united the most cool deliberation, with the most 
dauntless courage. The first enabled him to pre- 
pare well for the tremendous contest which lay be- 
fore him. He might have exclaimed, in the language 
of an inimitable, although not a very modern Bard - 

" The wide, <h' unbounded prospect lies before me, 
^ But shadow?, clouds, and darkness sit upon it." 

The second enabled him, when entered into the 
dreadful brunt of devastating warfare, to brave 
death in its most appalling and horrid forms. In 
Lieut. Decatur, he recognized a chivalrous warrior, 
who, amidst a host of dangers and the strides of 
death, thought «ess of himself than he did of his 
country and his crrw. Fortunately was it, we may 
again say, that there was such a man as Preble, at 
such a time, to command such a man as Decatur. 
He wanted nothing to stimulate him to the most dar- 
ing attempts. At that youthful period of his life, his 
courage rather needed restraint than excitement, 
Prebfe, as commander of the little squadron in the 
Mediterranean, was in some measure situated as 
Jackson was, when commanding his little army at 
N«^w Orleans. His language to Mr. Monroe, then 
Secretary at War, was, " As the safety of this city will 
depend upon the fate of this army, it must not be incaU' 
HoHsly exposed,^'' The gallant Commodore might 
bave said : — ^' As the glory of my country, the safe- 


ty ofher merchants, and the redemption of my coun- 
trymen from slavery, depend upon my small force, b 
must not rashly be carried into a contest, where so 
many chances are against its success." 

He selected the harbours of the cities of Syracuse 
and Messina for his general rendezvous in the Medi- 
terranean, — occasionally lay off the island of Malta, 
and sometimes carried his squadron into the bay oi 
Naples. No portion of this globe could afford the 
ardent hero and the classical scholar a more sub- 
lime subject for contemplation. Except some sec- 
tions of the immense American Republic, no part oi 
our world seems to have been created upon a scale 
so wonderfully grand. It is calculated to inspire the 
most exalted views of the boundless greatness and 
incomprehensible wisdom of creative power. Our 
countrymen were h^re almost in view of Elna and 
Vesuvius, which have for ag \s spread desolation 
over the cities at thrir bases. The gulf of Charybdis, 
the place where Euphemia onre was, and where the 
hideous desolation of earlhqurikes are yet visible, 
through Calabria^ were wiihin a few hours' sail. In 
addition to this, it hns been the theatre of the most 
important events recorded in ancient or modern his- 
tory. The mind of the historian, the scholar, the 
poet and the warrior, seems in be irresistibly hurried 
back to the days of antiquit), and traces the events 
and the works which have so astonishingly develop- 
ed the moral, physical and intellectual faculties of 
man. Commodore Preble had in his >quadron many 
scholars of the first water, as they were all heroes of 

the tirst stamp. The region in which they moved, 
and the object they had to accomplish, were both 
caicuUited to stimulate them to that pitch of unparal- 
leled enthusiasm, which led them to the achievement 
of such unparalleled deeds. 

The renowned city of Syracuse is situated upon 
the island of Sicily. The historian will readily re- 
Gollect its fnrmer grandeur and importance ; but the 
writer has enjoyed the infmite satistaction of learn- 
ing; its present state, from some of the accomplished 
officers of Commodore Preble's squadron, and other 
American gentlemen, who have recently explored 
the island of Sicily, and resi led in the city of Syra- 
cuse. This isla^id was once the region of fertility ; 
and while the Roman legions were striding from con- 
quest to conquest, over what was then called " the- 
whole world," this island was literally their grana- 
ry. The climate is altogether the finest that can be 
imagined. The soil produces not only all the ne- 
cessaries, but all the luxuries of life. The ancient 
Syracusans carried their city to a pitch of grandeur, 
second only to that of Rome. Jt can hardly be believ- 
ed in the nineteenth century, that this single city, in 
ancient days, furnished one hundred thousand foot 
soldiers, and ten thousand horsemen ; but sHch was 
the fact. Afid when it is mentioned that her navy 
amounted to four hundred vessels, the assertion would 
almost seem to be incredible; but it is no less true. 
At that period of their history, the Syracusans flour* 
ished by war,—- they afterwards became degenerat- 
ed by peace. Rome conquered Greece by arms. 


98 MFE OF 

and was herself conquered by the refinements of 
Greece. Itwss easy for the chins which composed 
what is generally called the " Northern Hive," in 
the fifth century of the Christian era, to conquer them 
both. They only had to conquer a people by arms, 
who had conquered themselves by eiieminacy. The 
Saxons, from whom Englishmen and Americans 
principally derive their origin, led tke van of that 
myriad who precipitated themselves upon the an- 
cient nations of Europe, and established those which 
Dov.' so completely eclipse their former splendour. 
The Gauls, Franks, and other clans, followed in their 
train, and European nations are now what the Ro- 
mans, Grecians, Carthaginii<ns, and other ancient 
nations were, about the commencement of the Chris- 
tian era ; and London, Paris, and other cities are 
now, what Rome, Syracuse, and other cities were 

While at anchor in the harbour of Syracuse, Lieut. 
Decatur, and his brother officer3, frequently went on 
shore, and explored this city of ancient wealth, re- 
finement and grandeur. In j)oint of extent^ the resi- 
dence of the Lieutenant, when in America, (although 
Philadelphia is the largest city in our Repunlic,) it 
would bear but a feeble comparison with Sysacuse. 
It is twenty-two miles in circumference ; although 
it^ limits could then be discovered only by the moul- 
dering ruins of its ancient boundaries. Although 
the natural charms of the country remain the same, 
as they were when the fiat of creative power brought 
(he iipirerse into existence, yet the miserable, dege- 


Derated, effeminated, and vitiated descendants of the 
ancient Syracusans, had so scandalously degraded 
the noble ancestors from whom they descended, that 
the officers of Commodore Preble's squadron, saw 
nothing; in thera to excite their respect — much less 
their admiration. . 

But Decatur was not ordered by his government 
to sail in an American armed ship to the Mediterra- 
nean, for the purpose of visiting the tombs of Archi- 
medes, Theocritus, Petrarch and Virgil, or to return 
home and amuse and delight his countrymen with the 
present state of the '' classic ground" which these 
splendid geniuses have rendered sacred. His busi- 
ness was to conquer a barbarous foe Jbordering upon 
another portion of the Mediterranean, who never had 
any more pretensions to the productions of genius, 
than they have to the exercise of humanity. He 
perfectly understood the ancient character of the 
Syracusans, and from ocular demonstration, had 
plenary evidence of their modern degeneracy. As 
the squadron rendezvoused there to obtain water 
and fresh provisions, the officers and seamen had 
occasion frequently to be on shore within the city 
by night and by day. Although the American Re- 
public was at peace with the Neapolitan govern- 
ment, yet there was no individual safety when in- 
tercourse became necessary with its vindictive and 
sanguinary subjects. From many interesting narra- 
tions of many of the accomplished officers of Com- 
modore Preble's squadron, the fact may be asserted^ 
|hat the Syracusans, who were amongst the most no 

100 t LIFE OF 

"ble of the ancients, are amongst the most degraded 
of the moderns. Their sordid and mercenary rulers 
exercise a boundless, undefined and unrestrained 
power over the miserable and degraded people — 
they, in hopeless despondence, prey upen each 
other; and, like Macbeth, having long waded in 
blood, may as well advance as to recede : and, as if 
hlood was their alimerd, they make a business oi as- 
■sassination. Armed with concealed daggers, stilet- 
toes and knives, our unsuspecting officers and sea- 
mea were assailed when the earth was shrouded in 
darkness, and sometimes escaped with their lives by 
putting their assailants to death. Lieut. Decatur, 
■ with his favourite associate, Midshipman Macdo- 
nough,* having occasion to be ashore until evening, 
the latter v;as assailed by three of these armed as- 
sassins. He placed himself against the wall of an 
ancient ruin, and defended himself with his cutlass. 
Jle severely wounded two of the assailants, the third 
fled ; and for safety ascended to the top of a build- 
ing—was pursued by Macdonough, precipitated 
himself to the ground, and met with the reward of 
his infernal thirst for blood, in instantaneous death. 
This is no place for grave and prolix reflections — 
Ihey belong to the writers of ethics, and not to the 
biographer; but it is utterly impossible to avoid the 
inquiry, how the human heart can become so com- 
pletely divested of the feelings of humanity, and be 
metamorphosed into those of beasts of prey ? — and 
how those portions of the world, v/here the arts and 
sciences not only once Nourished, but may he said 


dimost to have originated, should now be reduced to 
a state far worse than that which is naturally sa- 
vage ? Many portions of Asia^ Europe and Africa, 
bordering upon the renowned Mediterranean sea, 
are now inhabited by races of men far less magnani- 
mous, and Httle less ferocious, than the aborigines 
who roam through the boundless wildernesses of 
America, where science never diffused its lights, and 
^vhere civilization never imparted its refined bless- 
ings. ^ 

While at Syracuse, Lieut. Decatur was incessant- 
ly employed in preparing his crew for the unequal, 
the daring and desperate contest in which he was 
shortly to enter. His arduous and impatient soul 
panted for an opportunity to avenge the injuries of 
his country, and above all, to relieve his countrymen 
from the dreadful state of wretchedness to which 
they v/ere reduced by their slavery under Jussiiff, at 
that time, reigning. Bashaw of Tripoli. 

It will notj I trust, be deemed a digression — in- 
deed, upon second thought, it is no digression at all, 
to make a brief allusion to the blood-thirsty demon 
who sat upon the blood-stained throne of Tripoli, 
while Decatur was pouring out the vindictive wrath 
of an injured Republic, upon his no less blood-thirsty 

JussufF was, to the reigning family of Tripoli, 
what Richard 111. once was to the reigning family 
of England. He v/as a remote heir to the throne of 
the Bashaw, filled by his father. The certain pro- 
gress of the king of terrors, cr llie ^^anguinary han<i 

102 LIFE Oi 

of some other assassin, ?night have placed him upon 
the throne, according to the laws of succession, (ir 
they have any in Tripoli,) without ascending it with 
his hands reeking in the blood of his father and his 
eldest brother. Both of these he had murdered : 
and his next oldest brother, Harriet Caramalli, ixp' 
prehending the same fate, sought a refuge from un- 
natural death, by fleeing into Egypt ! Having no 
other rival, this modern Cain mounted the throne of 
his father and his brother; and, as he had acquired 
it by violating the laws of God, of Nature, and of 
Man, he endeavoured to support himself upon it, by 
re-acting the same tragical scenes which carried him 
to it. The " compunctious visitings" of conscience, 
the monitor in the human breast, excited no horrors 
in his callous and reprobate heart* A gleam of hor- 
rid triumph seemed to shed a baleful and blasting il- 
lumination over his blackened and bloody soul. He 
-' grinned horribly a ghastly smile" at the fate of his 
innocent and exiled brother, and gnashed his teeth 
at the gallant Eainbridge, his noble crew, and the 
rest of American prisoners then in his dungeons, 
ft was in vain for Mr. Lear, then American Consul, 
by all the melting and impassioned appeals he could 
make to the obdurate heart of this devil incarnate, 
to obtain the least mitigation of the indescribably 
wretched bondage to which his beloved country- 
men were reduced. As well might the iamb bleat 
for mercy in the paw of a tiger, or the child attempt 
to demolish the Bashaw's castle with his winu-gun> 
Mr. Lear was compelled to be an agonized specin- 


lor of the accuinuiated and accumulating miseries of 
gallant Americans, who had left the regions of hap» 
piness — the arms of fathers, mothers, brothers and 
sisters — of wives and children, to redeem by their 
courage, their own countrymen, who had previousljr 
been enslaved. The powerful arms of Bainbridge 
and his crew, which, at liberty, would have scatter- 
ed death amongst a host of Tiirks, were pinioned and 
lashed together, and driven to the shore ; and, in 
taunting derision, commanded to cast their swim- 
ming eyes upon their shi})mate«, then wafting in the 
bay of Tripoli i and to heave forth the sighs of 
hearts, already bursting, for the land of their homes. 
But I m.ust retract,— not a tear was dropped ; not a 
sigh was heaved ; for revenge had closed the flood- 
gates of grief, and American hearts, heating in bo- 
soms truly American, panted for nothing but ven- 
geance upon their demoniacal oppressors. 

The BashaWj v/ho might well be compared to the 
toad which wished to swell itself to the size of the 
ox, reposed in fancied security. He cast a malig- 
nant glance at the little squadron in which Decatur 
was one of the distinguished leaderso He saw in the 
bay spreading before his ciiy, his batteries, and his 
castles, a noble American frigate, (the Philadelphia,) 
and the pride of the American navy — upon which 
the** star-spangled banner" once triumphantly v/av° 
ed, now addend to his naval force ; manned by a doa- 
ble crew of Tripolitans, and with the Turkish crescent 
waving on its mast. He saw its once gallant crew, 
miserable slaves in his own gloomy dungeons ; and, 

104 -^-^^ -^ 

in a-^ticipation, ieasiea hi^ cannibal appetite upon 
all the victiiris which the Afuprican squadron couid 
add to his list, of Christian slaves. 

Decatur's fe:\rless and noble soul was not only 
aroused to the highest pitch of enthusiastic courage, 
but it was absolutely inflamed with desperation t» 
behold his former companions in the navy thus de- 
graded — thus humiliated — thus subjugated. But, 
like a lion growling at a distance, and indicating to 
his foe their future fate, he was restrained by a su- 
perior power, from rushing too precipitately upon 
the barbarous enemy he wished instantly to encoun- 
ter. All personal considerations we/e completely 
merged and lost in the agony he felt for his brother 
officers and seamen in slavery. He had taken his 
life in his hand, and seemed anxious to offer it up, 
if so decreed by the God of battles, for the redemp- 
tion of his endeared countrymen. But the gallant, 
the noble, and yet cautious Preble, his almost ador- 
ed commander, knew full well that the means in his 
hands must be directed Vv'ith the utmost caution to 
accomplish the end he had in view. With no less 
ardour tha« Decatur, he had a far greater responsi- 
bility as commander in chief of the litde American 
squadrcii. He could not endure the thought, that 
his favourite oilicer should fall a victim to his des- 
perate courage; and the gallant Lieutenant was, for 
a time, restrained from attempting the desperate and 
romantic enterprise. 

It is hardly within the compass of the human ima- 
gination to conceive of a combination of circum 


Stances so \^e\] calculated to inspire the soul of an 
ardent and chivalrous hero, likp Decatur, as tlie si- 
tuation of the Philadelphia frigate and her gallant 
crew. She was built in the city where he had spent 
the days of his boy hood — where he obtained the th- 
diments of a polite education, and the theoretical 
principles of naval tactics. In addition to this, his 
beloved and gallant lather was her first commander. 
Further — his companions (her crew) with whom, 
for previous years, he bad served in our infant Na- 
vy, were held in '* durance vile" by the vilest of 
wretches who bear the form of man. These were 
enough — but let not the cool reasoners upon human 
motives and human passions sneer when it is said, 
that a consideration paramount to all these swayed 
his noble heart — his country was degraded. 
That, indeed, was enough for him ; for his whole 
life evinced that his country v/as first in his heart — 
first in his arm, and first in the hour of appalling- 
danger. To that country his immortalized father 
had dedicated him — to that country he had volunta- 
rily devoted himself. Had he not been educated 
in a Christian country, it would seem as if he had 
taken his system from the doctrines taught by Ly> 
curgus to the ancient Spartans. — '^ Obedience to the 
laws- — respect for parents — reverence for old age 
— inflexible honour- — undaunted courage — contempt 
of danger and of death : — and, abeve all, the love 


* Vide Professor Ty tier's Lectures, on the elements of CeoerM 

^ History, Ancient and Modern, 

106 LIFE OF 

To recapture (he Philadelphia, was abselvitely im- 
practicable, as the uritor has been assured by some 
of the accomplished officers of Commodore Preble's 
squadron. She was moored under the guns of the 
Bashaw's castle and his extensive and powerful bat- 
teries ; and was herself couipleiely prepared to join 
them in repelling any assailant that should approach 
her. There were these alternatives — She must ei- 
ther be destroyed, constantly bjockaded, or suffered to 
escape and commit depredations upon the commerce, 
and outrage upon the citizens of the country who 
built, equipped and manned her. 

Decatur, with the most impassioned and fervent 
appeals to the Commodore, entreated him to permit 
an attempt to deytroi/ her as she lay at her moorings. 
It was an attempt so pregnant with danger, and ap- 
proaching so near to certain destruction, that the 
heroic, though cautious Preble hesitated in granting 
the request. The immment hazard of the enterprise 
was pointed out in such a manner as was calculated 
to allay the ardour of the most romanlic heroism.: 
But Decatur, rising above the ordinary calculations 
of chances — retiring into his own bosom, and form- 
ing his judgment from his own exalted gallantry, 
took no counsel from fear, but volunteered his ser- 
vices to his superior officer, to command the despe- 
rate expedition. At length, 1 

" He wrung from him his slow leave," — 

snd immediately commenced his preparations for the 
^wful undertaking. The ardour of the Lieutenant 


was increased as the danger of the attempt was mag- 
nified. At this early period of his life, he seemed 
to have revived the spirit which pervaded the hearts 
of men in th^ " Age of Chivalry;" and to hate 
adopted the ancient axiom, " the greater the danger 
the greater the glory." But let it be remembered 
that Decatur sought for glory, only by the discbarge 
of dull/. 

Uniting the most consummate sagacity, with the 
most daring cournge, he selected the little Ketch In- 
trepid, which as proviously mentioned he had him- 
self captured, in full view of the bay where the Phi- 
ladelphia was moored.. He was av/are that if the 
lexpedition should prove successful, it would render 
the mortification of the insolent Bashaw doubly se- 
vere, to see a little vessel which lately belonged 
o his orun marine force, boldly advance under the 
guns of hisbnttery and castle, and destroy the largest 
ship that belonged to his navy. A ship too whick 
16 neither built nor honourably captured, but whick 
became his by the irresistible laws of the elements. 

No sooner was it known that this expedition was 
o be undertaken, thon the crew of Lieut. Decatur 
volunteered their services — ever ready to follow 
heir beloved commander to victory or to death. 
Dther seamen followed their example. Nor was 
his the most conclusive evidence of the unbounded 
lonfidence placed in his skill and courage. Lieut, 
ur ; and for the expedition took the Brig Syren, and 
Ckarlfs Stewart, also volunteered under Deca- 

I . 

108 LIFE OF 

a few boats; and, to show still farther the high es- 
timation in which he was holden — Lif^ut. James 
Lawrence, and Charles Morris, and Thomas 
Macp<-)NOugh (then midshipmen) entered on board 
the Intrepid with Decatur. What a constellation of 
rising ocean-heroes were here associated! They 
were then all young officers, almost unknown to 
fame. JVbwj their names are all i^'^ntified with ihe 
naval glory of the Atnericaii Republic. 



iiKproper estimate of battles — Lieutenant Decatur sails for Trij)u- 
li'iiithe Ketch Intrepid — Baffled by adverse winds — Diminution 
of provisioas — Reaches the harbour of Tripoli 16th Feb. 1804— 
Loseii the assistance of the Syren and the boats — Enters the har- 
bom- with the Ketch intrepid — Boards the Philadelphia, follow- 
rd by Morris, Lawrence, Macdonough and the crew — Compels 
the Turks to surrender — Sets the Philadelphia frig^ate on fire, 
and secures his retreat — Gen. Eaton and Caramalli — Consterna- 
lion ®f Bashaw — Joy of American prisoners — Small force cf Com- 
modore Preble. 

The readers of history are extremely prone to 
attach importance to batdes upon land or upon sea 
in proportion to the mimbers engaged in them, and 
to bestow a greater or less degree of applause upon 
the victors on the same principle. Nothing can b^ 
more fallacious. The battle of New-Orleans, in 
America, in point of courage and generalship, equal- 
led that of Waterloo in Europe ; and the event we 
are about to record, is not surpassed, if indeed it 
was equalled, by the victory at Copenhagen. We 
do not here speak of the consequences which follow- 
ed to the different countries^ but of the heroes who 
achieved the victories ; and it is fearlessly asserted, 
that, when every circumstance is taken into conside- 
ration, the fame of Jackson, in the one, will vie 
with that of Wellington, — and Decatur's, in the other, 
with that of Nelson. 

As soon as the crews of the Ketch Intrepid aijfi 

110 LIFE OP 

the brig Syren were made up, the utmost dispatch 
was used in preparing them for the expedition. 
The Ketch was fitted out as a fire-ship, in case it 
should be necessary to use her as such. The Brig 
and the boats accompanying her, were to aid, as 
circumstances rendered it necessary, and to receive 
the crew of the Ketch if she was driven to the neces- 
sity of being blown up. 

Upon the 3d day of February, Decatur weighed 
anchor in the little Intrepid, accompanied by Lieut. 
Stewart, in the Syren, who was also accompanied 
by the boats. A favourable wind would have waft- 
ed them to their destined port in less than five days : 
but for fifteen days, they encountered the most bois- 
terous and tempestuous weather, instead of en- 
countering a barbarous enemy, they were buffeting 
the waves and struggling for life with a tumultuous 
and agitated sea. Nothing could be better calcu- 
lated to repress the ardour of Decatur and his little 
band. His provisions were diminished and almost 
expended ; and although not a murmur escaped from 
the lips of the humblest seaman, it may well be ima- 
gined what must be their reflections, when liable 
every hour to be swallowed up by the waves ; and, 
if they escaped them, to be famished with hunger ! 
Men of the stoutest hearts, who would undauntedly 
rush to the cannon's mouth, become even children 
at the prospect of famine. 

At length, upon the memorable iBth of February, 
J 304, a little before sunset, Decatur hove in sight of 
the bay of Tripoli, and of the frigate Philadelphia, 


With the Turkish Crescent proudly waving at her 
head. The apprehensions arising from storms and 
famine were suddenly banished by the prospect of a 
glorious victory or a glorious death. Loixl Nelson-* 
when entering into the action of Cape St, Vincent, 
exclaimed, *' Glorious Victory — or Westmin- 
ster Abbey*." Decatur might have exclaimed — 
" The Philadelphia Frigate — or a Monument 
IN Philadelphia City." 

It had previously been arranged between Decatur 
and Lieut. Stewart, that the Intrepid accompanied 
by the boats which had been attached to the Syren, 
should enter the harbour at 10 o'clock — with the 
utmost possible silence bear down upon the Phila- 
delphia, and take her by boarding. But as if fate 
had entered its -jeio against the success of the expe- 
dition, the Syren, with all the boats, by a change of 
wind, were driven from five to ten miles from the 
Intrepid, leaving Decatur, with only seventy volun- 
teers in this small Ketch. The moment of deeision 
had come. His provisions were nearly expended, 
and the expedition must have been relinquished for 

* To the common reader, the exclamation of Nelson may not 
be altogether inteltigible. It ha?, for some centuries, been custo- 
mary in England to entomb the bodies of Heroes, Statesmen, Poets, 
&c. in *^ Westminster Jlbbey,'''' as one of the highest honours that 
can be bestowed mpon the " illustrious dead," and to erect a mo- 
auaient or statue near them. The great Doct. Johnson, in the 
agonies of death, was consoled, when told that his body would be 
there deposited. The reader will find an elegant description of 
this ancient Cemetery in Professor feilliman's Journal. 

11% LIFE OF 

that season, unless the object of it was now accom- 
plished. He knew that his gallant little crew were 
as true to him as the needle, by which he directed 
his Ketch to Tripoli, was to the pole. Wherever 
he would lead, he knew they would follow. Having 
a Maltese pilot on board the Ketch, he ordered him 
to answer the hail from the frigate in the Tripolitaa 
tongue; and, if they were ordered to come to an 
anchor, to answer, that they had lost their anchors 
upon the coast in a gale of wind, and that a com- 
pliance with the order was impossible. He address- 
ed his gallant officers and men in the most animated 
and impassioned style — pointed out to them the glo- 
ry of the achievement, which would redound to 
themselves, and the lasting benefit it would secure 
to their country — that it would hasten the redemp- 
tion of their brother seamen fro n horrible bondage, 
and give to the name-of Americans an exalted rank 
even amongst Mahometans. Every heart on board 
swelled with enthusiasm, and responded to the pa- 
triotic sentiments of their beloved commander, by 
wishing to be led immediately into the contest 
Every man was completely armed — not only with 
the most deadly weapons, but with the most daunt 
less courage. 

The reader may form some faint conceptions oi 
the tremendous hazard of this engagement, by learn 
ing that the Philadelphia was moored near the Ba 
shaw's extensive and powerful batteries, and equal 
ly near to what he deemed his impregnable castle 
One of her full broadsides of twenty- six guns point- 


fed directly inlo the harbour, and were all mounted 
and loaded with double-headed shot. Two of the 
Tripolitan's largest corsairs were anchored withia 
two cables' length of her starboard quarter, while a 
great number of heavy gun-boats were stationed 
about the same distance from her starboard bow. 
As the Bashaw had reasons daily to expect an at- 
tack from Com. Preble's squadron, the Tripolitan 
commander of \he Philadelphia had augmented her 
crew to nearly a thousand Turks. In addition to all 
these formidable, — yea, appalling considerations, 
Decatur and his noble crew knew full well, that after 
having entered into this dreadfully unequal combat, 
there was no escape. It was a '^forlorn hope^'' — - 
it was victory, slavery, or death — death perhaps by 
the hands of the Turks — perhaps by the explosion 
of the Intrepid. 

As soon as darkness had concealed the Ketch 
from the view of the Tripolitans, Decatur bore slow- 
ly into the harbour, and approached the numerous 
magazines of death which were prepared to repel 
or destrdy any assailant that should approach. The 
light breeze he had when he entered the harbour, 
died away, and a dead calm succeeded. At 11 
o'clock, he had approached within two hundred 
yards of the Philadelphia, An unbroken silence 
for the three preceding hours had prevailed; re- 
minding the poetical reader of the expressive cou- 
plet — 

" A fearful silence now iuvacles the ear,, 
And in that silence ail a Umpent fear/' 
10 * 

114 LITE or 

At this portentous moment, the hoarse and disso- 
nant voice of a Turk hailed the Intrepid and ordered 
her to come to anchor. The faithful Maltese pilot 
answered as previously directed, and the sentinel 
supposed '' all luas wc//." The Ketch gradually 
approached the frigate ; and when within about fifty 
yards of her, Decatur ordered the Intrepid's small 
boat to take a rope and make it fast to the fore* 
chains of the frigate, and the men to return imme- 
diately on board the Ketch. This done, some of 
the crew, with the rope, began to warp the Ketch 
along-side the Philadelphia. The imperious Turks 
at this time began to imagine that " all \tas not • 
well." The Ketch was suddenly brought into con- 
tact with the frigate — Decatur, full armed, darted 
like lightning upon her deck, and was immediately 
followed by Midshipman Morris. For a full minute 
they were the only Americans on board, contending 
with hundreds of Turks. Lieut. Lawrence and 
Midshipman Macdonough, as soon as possible, fol- 
lowed their commander, and were themselves fol- 
lowed by the 7ohole o( the little crew of the Intrepid, 
A scene followed which beggars description. The 
consternation of the Turks, increased the wild con- 
fusion which the unexpected assault occasioned. 
They rushed upon deck from every other part of the 
frigate, and instead of aiding, obstructed each other 
rn defending her. Decatur and his crew formed a 
front equal to that of the Turks, and then impetuous. 
ly rushed upon them. It was the business of the 
Americans to slay, and of the Turks to die, l\ was 


impossible to ascertain the number slain ; but it was 
estimated from twenty to thirty. As soon as any 
Turk was wounded, he immediately jumped over- 
board, choosing a voluntary death, rather than the 
disgrace of losing blood by the hand of a " Chris- 
tian dog,^\ as the Mahometans univ^ersaliy call all 
Christians. Those who were not slain, or who had 
leaped overboard, excepting one, escaped in a boat 
to the shore. 

Decatur now found himself in complete possession 
of the Philadelphia, and commanded upon the same 
deck where his gallant father had commanded be- 
fore him. But in life, he was in the midst of death. 
He could not move the frigate, for there was no 
wind — he could not tov/ her out of the harboar, for 
he had not sufficient strength. The Bashaw's troops 
commenced a tremendous fire from their batteries 
and the castle, upon the frigate. The gua-boats 
were arranged in the harbour ; and the two corsairs 
near her were pouring their fire into her starboard 
quarter. Decatur and his gallant companions re- 
mained in the frigate, cool and collected, fully con- 
vinced ihdii that was the only place where they could 
defend themselves. Finding it totally impossible to 
withstand, for any length of time, such a tremen- 
<Ious cannonade as was now bearing upon him, he 
resolved to set the frigate on fire in every one of her 
most combustible parts, and run the hazard of escap- 
ing with his officers and seamen, in the little Intre- 
pid, which still lay along side of her. It was a mo- 
ment, pregnant with the most amfuL or the most 

lie LiFE or 

happij consequences to these gallant heroes. After 
the conllagration commenced, Decatur and his asso- 
ciates entered the Ketch, as it increased, and for 
some time were in imminent d;<nger of being blown 
up with her. As if heaven'smiled upon the conclu- 
sion of this enterprise, as it seemed to frown upon 
its beginning, a favourable breeze at this moment 
arose, which blew ihe Intrepid directly out of the 
reach of the enemy's cannon, and enabled Decatur, 
his officers, and seamen, to behold, at a secure dis- 
tance, the furious flames and rolling columns of smoke, 
which issued from the Philadelphia. As the flames 
heated the loaded cannon in the frigate, they were 
discharged, one after the other — those pointing into 
the harbour, without any injury, and those pointing 
into the city of Tripoli, to the great damage and con- 
sternation of the barbarous wretches who had load- 
ed them to destroy our countrymen. 

It is wholly impossible for those unaccustomed to 
scenes like this, to form a conception of the feelings 
of Decatur and his comrades upon this occasion. 
Their safe retreat was next to a resurrection from 
ihe dead. Not an American was slain in the despe- 
i-ate rencontre, and but four were wounded. Commo- 
dore Preble might well exclaim to Lieut. Decatur 
upon joining his squadron, as an ancient Baron to 
his favourite Knight — 

" Welcome to my arms ; thou art tv)ice a conqueror, 
For thou bringest home /a// numbers." 

Equally impossible is it to imagine the feelings of 
Capt* Bainbridge and his companions in bondage 


upon this almost miraculous event. They heard 
the roar of cannon in their gloomy dungeon, and sav/ 
the gleaming light of the flames; but knew not the 
cause. Upon learning the cheering tidings, joy 
converted their chains and cords to silken threads. 
It was a presage of their deliverance, and foretold 
to them a glorious jubilee. 

The highest reward a gallant and aspiring officer 
can receive is Promotion ; and to promote^ is the 
most difficult duty of our government. If by a mic- 
cessful enterprise like that just described, a junior 
officer attracts the attention of his government, and 
excites the admiration of his countrymen, the first 
naturally expects promotion, and the last, so far as 
they can, seem to demand it. Senior officers, not 
having had an opporlunity to signalize themselvesj 
feel the very excess of mortification at seeing a ju- 
nior carried over their heads for any reason what- 
ever. It was this that all but drove the gallant and 
lamented Lawrence to a resignation. It would be 
a digression to detail the particulars ; they are fa- 
miliar with every critical reader of our naval histo^ 
ry. At the time of Decatur's first, and in the esti- 
mation of some, his greatest achievement, there was 
no intermediate grade between a first Lieutenant 
and that of Post-Captain, to which he was promot- 
ed for the destruction of the Philadelphia. The 
most convincing evidence I can furnish of the VQYy 
high estimation in which Decatur, thus early in life, 
was holden by his brother officers, who were his se- 
niors; is, that ihey voluntarily consented, that he 

il8 LIFE Of 

should be promoted over them ; thus furnishing 
*' confirmaUo)!, strong as proof of holy writ," of the 
consummate skill and gallantry of Decatur, and of 
the exalted magnanimity of his brother officers. 

Capt. Decatur remained with the squadron of 
Com. Preble at their rendezvous until the s|)ring of 
2 804, enjoying with his admiring comrades the high 
reputation he had acquired. Far, however, from 
being satisfied with one glorious achievement, he 
only considered it as the heginninor of a life of glory. 

The unvarying modesty of all our naval cham- 
pions has become proverbial. It is not that affected 
modesty which made Caesar for a time decline a 
crown, and then aecept of it ; but that real dignified 
modesty which is a concomitant of real and exalt- 
ed worth. So far from gasconading boasting, they 
seldom speak of themselves or their achievements ; 
and instead of monopolizing the applause which the 
world is anxious to bestow upon them, they rather 
seem solicitous that their comrades should fully par- 
ticipate with them in the fame they have acquired, 
A literary corres[iondent of the writer, when request- 
ed to furnish some memoranda of one of our most 
distinguished Post-Captains, thus expresses himself: 
— " With respect to anecdotes drawn from private 
communications, as far as my ozon observation has ex- 
tended, Capt. *********** is « man of such singular 
modesty, that in the. course of an unreserved acquaint- 
ance with him for some years, I do not remember ever 
having heard him speak, in detail, of any incidents con-' 
nected with such of his own actiojis as reflect lusire on 


himself ^ or are higJily interesting to the puhlic,'^^ A 
more perfect picture of Capt. Decatur could not be 
drawn. He always seemed to have forgotten what 
he had accomplished, and only luokej forward to 
the temple of Fame, through the long and brilliant 
vista of deeds of immortal renown. 

Com. Preble, kAly sensible of the deficiency of 
his squauroi) in vessels of a smaller class, negotiat- 
ed with the l^iiig of Naples ior iY\Q loan of two bom- 
bards, and six j^un-boats. Nelson, when command- 
ing immense squadrons of ships of the line, declar- 
ed that " Frigates -ioere the eyes of a fleet ^"^^ and gun- 
boats were to Preble, what frigates were to him. 
This great man and veteran officer had the scantiest 
means to accomplish a most important end. But as 
the gallant Henry V. with his little army before 
Agincouft, " wished not for another man from Eng- 
land," so Preble wished not for another keel, ano- 
ther gun, or another man from America. His noble 
soul converted his litde squadron into a powerful 
fleet, and surrounded by such officers as Decatur, 
Somers, Stewart, Lawrence, Morris, Macdonough, 
Prippe, and others then less known, and perhaps 
equally gallant, his comrades were magnified into a 
nighty host. 

While Com. Preble was thus preparing to nego- 
late with the tyrannous and murderous JussufF at 
he mouth of his cannon, and to send his ultimatum 
n powder and ball, Mr. William Eaton, who had 
areviously been a consul from America up the Me- 
iiterranean, conceived the daring and romantic pro- 

120 LIFE 0^= 

ject of restoring Harriet Caramalli to the tiirone of 
Tripoli, which had been usurped by the reigning 
B^bhaw. Hamet had relinquished all hopes of re- 
gaining a throne which had always been acquired 
by blood and assassination. Like a philosopher, 
he had retired to Egypt, where the Beys of that an- 
cient kingdom fxtended to him their protection and 
their hospitality. To use his own language, as trans- 
lated into ours, he — '• reposed in the security of peace 
— had almost ceased to repine for the loss of his throne, 
and regretted only the lot of his unhappy people^ doom- 
ed to the yoke of his cruel and tyrannical brother J^^ 
Novel language this, to be sure, in the mouth of an 
Ishmaeliiish Mahometan! How much his " unhappy 
people" would have been benefitted by his reign, 
cannot now be determined ; as he is not amongst 
the *' legitimate sovereigns" who have in later times 
waded through the blood of their own subjects to 
thrones from which they were driven by the public 
voice ; — thrones which tremble beneath them, and 
which they maintain only by the strong arm of pow- 

Some few Americans, from the American squadron, 
joined Eaton, and many natives of various tribes, 
languages and colours, flocked to his standard. A 
motley sort of an army was thus formed, and Eator 
placed himself at their head as a General. He re 
pair'^d to Alexandria, and found the feeble Caramal 
li,a9 justpv'nt^, '•^reposing in security and peace. '^ 
Fortunate indeed had it been for him, if he had re 
maiDed in safety by continuing in obscurity. Fev 


instances are left us upon record of princes who 
have been exiled from their thrones and kingdoms, 
who have enjoyed either of them upon their restora- 
tion. The houses of Stuart, Bourbon and Braganza 
furnish the commentary. The expiring hopes of 
Caramalli, were brightened up by the ardent and 
romantic Eaton, as a sudden gust elicits a spark from 
the faint glimmering light in the socket. He cast a 
longing eye toward the dangerous throne of Tripoli, 
more than half a thousand miles distant, between 
which and himself stretched an immense desert, se- 
cond only in barrenness and desolation to that of 
Zahara, But nothing could repress the ardour of 
Eaton, The idea of an American, taking from the 
land where Pharaoh once held the children of Israel 
in captivity, an exiled prince, and placing him upon 
the throne of a distant kingdom, had something in it 
so outrageously captivating, that the enthusiastic 
mind of the chivalrous Eaton was lost to every other 

The grateful Caramalli, if an Ishmaelite can be. 
grateful, took leave of his Egyptian friends, and 
placed himself under the banner of Eaton. Fie en- 
tered into a convention with the General, by which 
h-e promised immense favours to the Americans, and 
to make the engagements reciprocal, the General 
promised to restore him to his throne. This diplo- 
matic arrangement was doubtless mutually satisfac- 
tory to the parties, although the American and Tri- 
po'staii governments had no hand in this negotiation. 

Caramalli, his General, and a great assemblage' 

122 LIFE OP 

of incongruous materials, called an army, moved 
across the deserts ; Bnd endured every thing which 
they might have anticipated from the nature of the 
country. After passing about six hundred miles, 
they reached the city of Derm, which they triura- 
phandy entered, and at least found some repose and 
a supply for their immediate wants. 

The reigning Bashaw, in the mean time, had aug- 
mented his garrisons to three thousand Turkish 
troops, and an army of more than twenty thousand 
Arabs were encamped in the neighbourhood of the 
strong city of Tripoli. However contemptuously 
he might smile at the force which surrounded his ap- 
proaching brother, by land, and however little he 
cared for the loss of the little city of Derne, a " fear- 
ful looking for of judgment" harrowed his guilty 
soul, when he beheld the whole of Com. Preble's 
squadron, upon the first week of August, approach- 
ing the harbour of Tripoli. 

He had seen the gallant Capt. Decatur, in his bay, 
capture one of his corsairs. — He had seen the same 
warrior, with the same corsair, destroy his heaviest 
ship of war, under the very guns of his batteries 
and castle, surrounded also by his marine force. 
The name of Decatur sounded in his ear, like the 
knell of his parting glory ; and when he saw the 
broad pendant of Preble, waving upon that won- 
der-working ship the Constitution, and surround- 
ed by Brigs, Bombards and Gun-boats, he almost 
despaired. He had the crew of the Philadelphia, 
and many other Americans, in wretched bondage. 
Determining to extort an enormous ransom for the 


prisoners, from the American government, to enable 
him to support the vain and gorgeous pageantry of 
royalty, he demanded the sum of six hundred thou- 
sand dollars for their emancipation, and an annual 
tribute, as the price of peace. This, Mr. Lear in- 
dignantly rejected. He left it with such negotiators 
as Preble, Decatur, &c. to make the interchange of 
powers, and to agree upon the preliminaries of a 

After having stated that the whole of Com. Pre- 
ble's squadron lay before Tripoli, the reader may 
have been led to suppose that it was a very formi- 
dable force. But to prepare the mind to follow him 
and his comrades into the harbour, and to pursue 
him to the very mouths of the Bashaw-s cannon upon 
his batteries, in his castle, and on board his cor- 
sairs, gun boats, and other marine force, mounting 
little less than three hundred cannon — Let it be re- 
membered that his whole squadron, including the 
Neapolitan bombards and gun-boats, mounted less 
guns than one cempletely armed Seventy-Four, and 
one Frigate. His squadron consisted of one frigate, 
three brigs, (one of which had been captured from 
the enemy,) three schooners, two bombards, and six 
gun-boats. His men amounted to a very little over 
one thousand, a considerable number of whom were 
Neapolitans, upon whom he could place but little re- 
liance in a close engagement with Turks. But he felt 
like a warrior — and knew that Americans were such. 

" From hearts so firmj 

Whom dangers fortify, and toils inspire, 
Wiiat has a leader not to hope f " 

134 LIFE OF 


Li.eutenani Decatur promoted to the rank of Captain — Prepara- 
tions for a general attack upon Tripoli — Capt. Decatur takes 
command of a division of Gun-boats — Disparity of for<. e between 
his and the enemy's — He grapples and captures a Tripolitaa 
boat — Is bearing for the squadron with his prize — Hears of the 
treacherous murder of his brother, Lieut. James Decatur — Re- 
turns to the engagement, and followed by Midshipman Macdo- 
nough and nine seamen, boards the enemy's boat — Slays the 
Turk who slew his brother, and bears his second prize to the 
squadron — Other achievements of the Squadron, Bombards, and 
"G un-boats — Effects of the attack upon the Bashaw and Tripoli- 

Capt. Decatur, at this time, (August 1804,) was 
placed in the^r^^ grade of officers in the American 
Navy; and, to remind him of the gallant achieve- 
ment for which he was there placed, his conmission 
bore date the memorable 16th day of February, 1 804. 
Fie also received a vote of thanks, expressed in the 
most applauding terms, and also an elegant sword, 
for the destruction of the Philadelphia frigate. 
These hi^h honours were amongst the first of this 
nature bestowed upon the officers of the Navy. 
They were more gratifying to such a mind as De- 
catur's, than it would have been to have captured a 
fleet of merchantmen, and to have shared largely in 
the prizes. Far from being elated with these une- 
quivocal tokens of the approbation of his govern^ 


ment and commander, he sought only to show the 
world, by his future conduct, that he deserved them. 

There being but one frigate jn the squadron, and 
that commanded by Commodore Preble, there was 
yet no national ship in the Mediterranean, of a rate 
that corresponded with Capt. Decatur's grade. But 
little did he care in what sort of vessel he served 
his country, so be it he could efficiently aid in com- 
pelling the imperious Jussufif to bow to American 
prowess ; and, after being humiliated, to release 
from bondage the noble and gallant Bainbridge— 
his gallant officers and seamen — and all the Ameri- 
cans holden in Mahometan slavery. 

Commodore Preble had made the best possible 
preparations he could, with his limited means, to ef- 
fect his ultimate object. The two preceding squad- 
rons sent from America to the Mediterranean, under 
Commodores Dale and Morris, had gone but little be- 
)^ond mere blockading ships — for this was all they 
could do. The American government, in the sea- 
son of 1 804, used every exertion to prepare a respect- 
able augmentation to/]Jommodore Preble's squadron, 
and in the mean time, he was preparing to make 
*' demonstrations" upon Tripolirather more impres- 
sive than those made by ten times his force upon 
brt Mc' Henry ^ fort Bowyer, and fort St, Phillip, by 
immense British squadrons, in the war of 1812, in 

After having been baffled for a long time by ad- 
verse winds, he reached the harbour of Tripoli, in 
the last week of July. The Bashaw affected to dis~ 
11 ^- 


LIFE or 

guise the real apprehensions he felt, by exclaiming 
to his courtiers — '' They will mark their distance for 
lacking — thei/ are a sort of Jews v^ho have no notion 
offghti^ig,"^^ He had not yet sufficiently studied the 
American character ; and needed a few more lessons 
from Decatur, to enable him thoroughly to compre- 
hend it. He was soon to learn that Americans upon 
the ocean were not like the children of Israel, or the 
descendants of Ishmael. 

Captain Decatur was selected by Commodore 
Prebic to command one division of the Gun-boats, 
and Lieut. Somers the other. The duty imposed 
upon them was of a nature the most hazardous ; as 
from the little water they drew, they could come al- 
most in contact with the Bashaw's batteries and cas- 
tle, where the numerous gun-boats of the Tripolitans 
were stationed. As this was one of the most des- 
perate^engagements amongst the numerous ones in 
which Capt. Decatur was ever called to display his 
personal prowess, as well as his nautical skill and 
desperatevcourage, the reader will indulge the wri- 
fer in detailing it particularly, as related to him by 
one of the officers on board the Constitution, lying 
in full view of the bloody scene. 

The bombards, each carrying a mortar of thirteen 
inches, were commanded, one by Lieut. Comman- 
dant Dent, and the other by tirst Lieut. Robinson, of 
the Constitution. The Gun- boats were thus arrang 
ed, mounting each a brass twenty-six pounder. 


Bo&tNo. IV. Capt. Decatur, 
No. V. Lieut. Bainbridge. 

?>'e. VL IJeut. Trippe. 


No. I. Lieut. Somer?, 
No. II. Lieut. J. Decatur 
No, III. Lieut, Dlake. 

' f, 


The Constitution, the Brigs, and the Schooners, 
were to be situated to cover theni from the fire of 
the batteries and the castle, and to silence the tre- 
mendous cannonade expected from more than two 
hundred pieces of heavy ordnance mounted in them, 
and on the marine force of the enemy. Although 
the squadron had been long in the Mediterranean, 
the unceasing vigilance and assiduity of Com. Pre- 
ble, Capt. Decatur, and the rest of the officers and 
seamen, had kept it in the most complete prepara- 
tion for any service. The Bashaw was also prepar- 
ed to receive them, and, (as he confidently expected.) 
to repulse them. Preble had not the most distant 
wish to eiiter the city with his small force. He was 
determined, if possible, to destroy the naval force, 
the batteries, and the castle of the enemy, and con- 
quer them into peace upon his chosen element. 

Upon the .Sd of August,.- the gales had subsided, 
and the Commodore resolved to commence an at- 
tack. The disparity of force between Preble and 
the Bashaw at Tripoli, was much greater than that 
of Nelson and the king of Denmark at Copenhagen. 
At about half past ten o'clock, the two bombards, 
from signals previously arranged, stood in for the 
town, followed by the whole squadron, in the most 
gallant style. More than two hundred of the Ba- 
shaw's guns were brought to bear directly upon the 
American squadron. Included in this force of the 
enemy, were one heavy armed Brig — two Schoon- 
ers— two large Gallies, and nineteen Gun-ho^ts, each 
®f superior force to those commanded by Capt. De- 

128 LIFE OF 

catur and Lieut. Somers ; as they mounted each a 
brass twenty-four pounder in the bow, and two smal- 
ler guns in the stern. — The number of men in each 
boat of the enemy, were forty. In the six boats of 
our squadron, were twenty-seven Americans, and 
thirteen Neapolitans each ; but as the latter, in close 
engagement, remained aghast in awe-struck astonish- 
ment, and declined boarding, they were of but little 
service. • 

Thus, then, at the commencement of the engage- 
ment between the rival gun- boats, the different forces 
stood : 

American. j Tripolitan. 

Gun-boat5 6, Guns 6. I Gun-boats, 19 

, . ,^^; Officers ) I Guns, 57 

Americans, ib^ f ^^^ { ^40 Officers and Seamen, 760 

Neapolitans, 78 ^g^^^^^^^ | 

To " make assurance doubly sure,^'' the enemy^s 
gun-boats were stationed directly undercover of the 
Bashaw^s batteries, and within gun-shot of them. 
So perfectly confident were their commanders of a 
decisive victory, that the sails of every one of them 
had been removed. Com. Preble had so placed his 
squadron as to afibrd every possible aid to his two 
Bombards and his six Gun-boats ; but his ulterior 
object v/as to pour his heaviest shot into the bat- 
teries, the castle, and the town, — knowing that if he 
dismayed the boasting Bashaw in his den, his affright- 
ed slaves would flee in promiscuous consternation. 

The elevated roof of the palace, — the terraces of 
the houses, and every building capable of sustaining 


spectators, were crowded to overflowing, to behold 
the triumph of Mahometans over Christians. 

At a little before 3 o'elock, the gallant Commo- 
dore made signal for general action. The bombards 
advanced ; and with a precision and rapidity, per- 
fectly astonishing, poured their shells into the city. 
The immense force of the Bashaw immediately open- 
ed their whole batteries upon the squadron, from the 
land and in the harbour. The Constitution, the 
Brigs, and Schooners, advanced within musket-shot 
of them, and answered the fire of the enemy, 

Capt. Decatur, in the leading gun-boat of his di- 
vision, followed by Lieutenants Bainbridge and 
Trippe, in Nos. 5 and 6, bore impetuously into the 
midst of the enemy's windward division of nine Gun- 
boats, consisting of the men and guns beiore men- 
tioned. He had previously ordered his three boats 
to unship their bowsprit, as he and his dauntless com- 
rades resolved to board the enemy. Lieut. Somers 
and his division, were to follow and support Capt. 
Des-nui's; but his and Lieut. Blake's boats had 
falien so far to leeward, that it was impossible. 
Lieut. James Decatur^ of No. 2, however, brought 
his boat into his intrepid brother's division, and en- 
tered into the engagement nearly at the same time 
with him. A contest more unequal cannot be ima- 
gined. As soon as the contending boats were 
brought into contact with each other, the discharge 
of the cannon and musquetry on board of them al- 
most entirely ceased, and the more bloody and de- 
structive struggle with swords, sabres, espon toons, 
spearS; scimitars, and other deadly weapons, sue- 

130 LIFE OF 

ceeded. Capt. Decatur grappled an enemy's boat, 
full armed and full manned — leaped on board her — 
was followed by only fifteen Americans, (little more 
than one third of the Tripolitans in numbers,) and in 
the space often minutes made her his prize. 

At this moment, the Americarj Gun-boats were 
brought within range of the Bashaw's batteries, 
which opened a tremc'ndous cannonade upon them. 
Commodore Preble, perceiving the imminent dan- 
ger, and the almost inevitable destruction of Capt. 
Decatur's division of boats, immediately ordered the 
signal for retreat to be made. In the heat of the 
battle of Copenhagen, Lord Parker ordered the sig- 
nal for retreat to be made. Oneof Nelso[i's officers 
observed it, and reminded the Admiral of the cir- 
cmistance. He immediately raised his glass to his 
stone-blind eye — declared he '' could not see z/" — 
and, at trie hazard of his life, for disobedience of or- 
ders, gained one of his greatest victories. It was 
not so with the no less valiant Decatur. Amongst 
the numerous signals on board the Commodore's; 
ship, that for the retreat of the boats had been omit- 
ted. The dauntless Preble then advanced with the 
Constitution, the Brigs, and the Schooners, to with- 
in three cables' length of the batteries — completely 
silenced them by a few broadsides, and covered the 
retreat of the Gun-boats with their prizes. 

But a duty, encircled with peril without a parallel; 
—an achievement to be performed without an equal 
— a display of affection surpassing the tales of ro- 
mance-— and the sudden execution of 


upon transgression, remained for Cap t. Decatur, be- 
fore he left the bK-^'od- stained harbour of Tripoli. 

His gallant brother, Lieut. James Decatur, no less 
daring than hi'nself, had captured a Tripolitan Gun- 
boat ; and, after it. was surrendered to hint, its com- 
mander, with diabolical perfidiousness, combined 
with dastardly ferocity, shot h'ur dead, just as he was 
stepping upon the deck! While the Americans were 
pecoveriHg the body of (heir sl^iin comnriander, the 
Turk escaped with the prize-boat- A^ Capt. Deca- 
tur was bearing his f liz tri"'7:o:;antly out of .he 
iiarbour, this heart-rending "< \-phe w^as comrau- 
aieated to him. 

Instinctive vengeance, sud- -n as the electric 
jhock, took possession of his .;,^'urally humane and 
philanthropic soul. It was n-> tir-.e for parhetic la- 
mentation. The mandate of nature, and of nature's 
jrod, cried aloud in his ear — -' Avenge a brother's 
3L00D." With a celerity almost supernanual, he 
changed his course — rushed within the enemy's 
vhole line with his single boat, with the gallant Mac- 
lonough and nine men only as his crew ! ! His pre- 
aous desperate rencontres, scarcely paralleled, and 
iever surpassed in any age or country, seem like 
afety itself, wheia compared with what immediately 
oUowed. Like an ancient knight, in the days of 
;hivalry, he scorned, on an occasion fike this^ to 
arnish his sword with the blood of vassals. His 
irst object was to board the boat that contained tie 
)ase and treacherous commander, whose hands :0\\ 
moked with the blood of his murdered brothero 

132 LirE OF 

This gained, he forced his way through a crew of 
Turks, quadruple the number of his own, and like 
an avenging messenger of the King of Terrors, sin- 
gled out the guilty victim. The strong and power- 
ful Turk first assailed him with a long espontoon, 
heavily ironed at the tlrusting end. In attempting 
to cut oiFthe staff, Captain Decatur furiously struck 
the ironed part of the weapon, and broke his sword 
at the hilt. The Turk made a violent thrust, and 
wcun?:-?'! D'^caiur in his sword arm and right breast. 
He : wj-ested the weapon from the hand of 

his £;igaiiliC antagonist ; and as one " doubly arni'd. 
zvho haih his quarrel just,'''' he closed with him ; and, 
after a long, fierce, and doubtful struggle, prostrated 
him up.on the deck. During this struggle, one of 
Decatur's crew, who had lost the use of both arms, 
by severe wounds, beheld a Turk, with an immense 
sabre, aiming a fatal blow at his adored commander. 
He immediately threw his mutilated body between 
th-' falling sabre ond his Captain's head — received 
a severe fracture in his own, and saved for his coun- 
tr) one of its most distinguished champions, to fight 
its future battles upon the ocean. 

While Decatur and the Turk were struggling for 
life in the very throat of death, the exasperated and 
infuriated crews rushed impetuously forward in de- 
fence of their respective Captains. The Turk drew 
a concealed daggf r fiom its sheath, which Decatur 
seized at the moment it was entering his heart — 
drew his own [)istol from his pocket, and instantly 
ficnt his furious foe — ! 

i)TEPHKN 1>EGAT«R. l3o 

" - To his loa^ account, unaaoiated, uaaimeaPd, 
With all his sins and imperfections on his head." 

Thus ended a conflict, feebly described, but dread- 
ful in the extreme. Capt. Decatur and all his men 
were severely wounded but four. The Turks lay 
killed and wounded in heaps around him. The 
boat was a floating Golgotha for the dead, and a 
bloody arena for the wounded and dying. Capt, 
Decatur bore his second priz€ out of the harbour, 
as he had the first, amidst a shower of ill directed 
shot from the astonished and bewildered enemy ; 
and conducted them both to the squadron. On board 
the two prizes, there were thirly-tkree officers and 
men killed, more than double the number of Ameri- 
cans under Decatur, at any one time in close en- 
gagement. Twentij-scven were made prisoners, nine- 
teen of whom were desperately wounded — the whole 
a miserable off-set for the bleod of Lieut. Decatur, 
treacherously slain. The blood of all Tripoli could 
not atone for it, nor a perpetual pilgrimage to Mecca 
wash away the bloody stain. 

While thus particular in describing this unparal- 
leled achievement of Captain Decatur, it is impossi- 
ble to overlook the achievements of his other asso- 
ciates in the Gun- boats. The gallant and lamented 
Lieut. Som.ers, as he could not join Decatur as oi*- 
dered, with his single boat No. f. attacked Jive full 
armed and full manned Tripolitan Gun-boats — com- 
mitted dreadful slaughter amongst them, and drove 
them upon the rocks in a condition dreadfully r,hat- 

134 LIFE OF 

tercJ. Lieut. Trippe, whose name will for ever be 
associated with courage, as well as that of Midship* 
man Henley, with only nme men beside themselves, 
rushed on board an enemy's Gun-boat — slew four- 
i^en, and made twenty-two prisoners, seven of whom 
vvere badly wounded. Lieut. Trippe received 
eleven sabre wounds. Lieut. Bainbridge, also dis- 
tinguished himself for saving his disabled boat and 
gallant crew from almost certain destruction, — and 
beating off the enemy. 

The Bombards, by the rapid and accurate direc- 
tions of shells, spread as much consternation in the 
city as the squadron did in the harbour. The skil- 
ful and fearless Com. Preble, in the noble Consti- 
tution, keeping his ship in easy motion, was found 
wherever the greatest danger threatened ; and, by 
frequently wearing and tacking, gave perpetual an- 
noyance to the enemy, and afforded to the smaller 
vessels of his squadron, constant protection. 

The enemy, driven to desperation, by the loss of 
/heir boats, and by the numerous hosts of their com- 
rades slain upon liind, as well as those who fell un- 
der their immediate view, attempted to rally, and 
regain what they had lost. They were suddenly 
foiled by the Brigs and Schooners, who acted a no 
less gallant part in this desperate ocean-affray than 
all the rest of this immortalized squadron. They 
attempted a second time ; and met with a second 
repulse. Finding that no naval power in the Mtdi- 
icrrancan could withstand an American squadron^ 


they sought a covert under rocks, a natural^ and un- 
der batteries and cast]es, arlijicial defences. 

At a little before 5 o'clock, the whole squadron, 
with their prizes and prisoners, moved majestically 
out of the harbour; and left the Bashaw to examine 
and reflect upon the consequences of the third vkit 
which Decatur had made him ; the last under the 
immediate command of the veteran Preble, his com- 
mander in chief. 

The reader, who has past his early, advanced and 
closing years of life, in the tranquil scenes of retire- 
ment, can form but a faint idea of the sensations of 
the officers and seamen of Com. Preble's squadron, 
when they met each other after this desperate and 
most unequal combat. Every one would naturally 
-inquire, — " How many Were killed and wounded in 
the Frigate — how many in the different Brigs, 
Schooners, Bombards and Gun-boats." It was for 
Capt. Decatur to make the answer. " Many are 
Tjoounded^ my comrades, but not one is slain, but my 
brother." He might have said, — " If you have tears 
to shed, shed them noio,'"' Well might the tears of 
grief be mingled with tlie smiles of triumph upon 
this saddening intelligence. '• Death loves a shin- 
ing mark'''' — and when Jajies Decatur fell, the 
American Navy lost a brilliant ornament — Com. 
Preble a favourite officer — Capt. Decatur a brothei" 
he loved as he did himself, and our Republic a most 
gallant and accomplished ocean-warrior. But like 
Nelson, he died in the arms of victory, and his death 
was most signally avenged. 

136 LIFE OT 

As represented by an officer of the Constitution^ 
when Captain Decatur, Lieut. Trippe, Macdonough, 
Henley and most of the officers and seamen, belong- 
ing to the Gun-boats, joined the squadron, they look- 
ed as if they had just escaped from the slaughter- 
house. Their truly noble blood was mingled with 
that of Mahometans and crimsoned the garbs of those 
who would never be stained with dishonour. 

The injury sustained by the squadron sinks into 
nothing, when the danger it was exposed to is, con- 
sidered. This was owing to the consummate nauti- 
cal skill and coolness of our officers and seamen, 
and to the stupid, sullen ignorance and consterna- 
tion of the enemy. To them the 3d of August was 
a day of dreadful retribution. A furious tornado 
liOt raore suMUeniy drives iliG fcstheJ'ed race to their 
woverts, than did the first discharges from our squad- 
ron, the frenzied Turks, who came to witness its dis- 
comfiture. From the representation of an intelli- 
gent officer, once of the Philadelphia, then a pri- 
soner to the Bashaw, it is learned, that every one in 
ihe city fled, who could flee. Even the troops in the 
batteries and castle dared not mount the parapet to 
discharge the cannon. The affrighted Bashaw, with 
ci Mahometan priest, concealed himself in his bomb- 
proof room ; and undoubtedly responded to the roar 
of Christian cannon by pitiful orisons to the Prophet 
of Mecca. It was as fruitless as the prayers of the 
Philistines to Dagon or Ashdod. His slaves, who 
had no covert, buried themselves in sand to escape 
the bursting bombs. Although it was a scene o^ 


blood and carnage, there is enough of the ludicrous 
in it to excite a smile in the American reader. It 
clearly evinces that those who are most boastful and 
imperious, when possessed of real or supposed pow- 
er, are the most mean, pusillanimous, and contempti- 
ble, when convinced of their weakness. 

I will here present the reader with the sentiments 
of a distinguished Turk, in the language of an Ame- 
rican officer, then a prisoner. He asked the officer 
— '• If those men that fought so were Americansj or 
Infernals in CAmii«?i shape, sent to destroy the sons 
of Mahomet the prophet? The English, French 
and Spanish consuls have told us that they are a 
young nation, and got their independence by means 
of France. That they had a small navy, and their 
officers were inexperienced: and that they were 
merely a nation of merchanls ; and that by taking 
their ships and men. we should get great ransoms. 
—Instead of this, their Preble pays us a coin of 
shot, shells and hard blows ; and sent a Decatur 
in a dark night, with a band of Christian dogs, 
iierce and cruel as the tvger, who killed our bro- 
thers and burnt our ships before our eyes*"." 

By this iirst attack, the city of Tripoli suffered 
considerable damage. Many of the guns were dis- 
mounted, and many Turks were slain. But it was 
in the Bashaw's marine force, where the most de- 
structive blow was struck. In the two prizes taken 
by Capt. Decatur^ and the one by Lieut. Trippe? 

Aiiierlcan Biograpliical Dictioaary 

19 ^ 


there were, originally, one hundred and twenty 
men. Forty-seven were killed — twenty-six wound- 
ed, who, with the remainder, were taken prisoners. 
Three full-manned boats were sunk, with every soul 
on board ; and almost every deck of the enemy's 
vessels, within the range of American cannon, was 
s^ept of its crew. 

In consequence of the destruction of the Philadel- 
phia frigate by Decatur, the barbarism of Jussuff, 
the bloody Bashaw, was increased against Capt,, 
Bainbridge and his officers and seamen in bondage. 
But Commodore Preble and Capt. Decatur, aided 
by the magnanimous and philanthropic exertions of 
Sir Alexander Ball, once a favourite officer with Nel- 
son, and then at the Island of Malta, found means to 
alleviate the dismal gloom of their bondage. A gal- 
lant naval commander like Sir Alexander Ball, could 
not endure the thought that a gallant hero like Bain- 
bridge and his noble crew, should suffer indignity or 
abuse from such sanguinary wretches as Jussuff and 
his slaves. 

After the 3d of August, the humbled Bashaw be- 
gan to relent. But his conviction was more the re- 
sult of alarming fears, than of a consciousness of 
guilt. The noble-hearted Decatur treated his 
wounded prisoners with the greatest humanity. 
Their wounds were dressed with the utmost care;, 
and, upon the 5th, he persuaded Commodore Preble 
to send fourteen of them home to their friends. In 
u generous bosom, although an enemy, such an act 
would have excited inexpressible admiration v arvd 

although a species of revenge calculated to " heap 
coals ofjire upon the hea(V'^ of a subdued enemy, yet 
it must have melted an heart of adamant. The Ba- 
shaw knew that one of his officers had basely slain 
the brother of the exalted Decatur ; and could not 
comprehend the motives of his humanity. His sa- 
vage sublilty augured evil, even from an act of pure 
benevolence. But when he heard the restored and 
wounded Tripolitans exclaim in the rapture of en- 
forced gratitude — " The Americans in battle artfiercet 
than lions^ and after victory, kinder than Mussulmen^^^ 
his savage heart began to soften. But, without a 
great ransom, he would not release a single pri- 
soner who belonged to the Philadelphia frigate. 

From the 3d to the 7th of August, Com. Preble^ 
Capt. Decatur, and the rest of the officers and sea- 
men, had but little time for repose after their ardu- 
ous toils in reaching the harbour of Tripoli, and 
administering to the Bashaw a portion of American 
vengeance. They were all incessantly engaged in 
preparing for another visit. Capt. Decatur had be- 
come perfectly familiar with the theatre of action on 
which the American squadron was now acting its 
various parts. Every scene was drawing toward 
the developement of the tragedy. The imperious 
tone of the Bashaw was lowered, as his hopes of safe- 
ty diminished. He however would surrender no pri- 
soners without a ransom beyond what Com. Pre- 
ble thought himself authorised by his government to 
oSer, He rather preferred to have Consul Lea^^ 

140 LIFE OF 

negotiate upon land ; and he felt confident of his 
powers to negotiate v/ith his invincible squadron, 

Capt. Decatur, indeed all the officers of every 
grade, and every seaman, exerted every nerve to 
aid Com. Preble. They stood around him like 
affectionate and obedient children around a beloved 
and dignified parent, anxious to learn his precepts, 
and prompt to obey his commands. He stood in the 
midst of them in the double capacity of their father, 
and a representative of his and their country. He 
knew they would follow wherever he would lead, 
and would lead where necessary prudence would 
prevent him from following. Well might the aston- 
ished Turks compare them to lions ; for they had 
proved themselves irresistible in battle — generous 
?.nd noble in victory. 

Stephen decatur, !4I 


€apt. Decatur receives high commendations from Com. Preble— 
Grief at the death of Lieut. J. Decatur — Notice of him — Propo- 
sals of the Commodore to the Bashaw — Renewal of the attack 
'.?poa Tripoli — Capt. Somers, Lieuts. "Wadsworth and Israel en- 
ter into the squadron of the enemy's boats, with the Ketch Intre- 
vid as a fire-ship — She explodes ! — Awful effects of the explosion 
— Reflection — Notice of Lieut. Wadsworth — Com. Preble su- 
perseded by Com. Barron — Brief notice of Edward Preble. 

Capt. Decatur, having thus far taken such a dis- 
tinguished and leading part in all the gallant achieve- 
ments in the naval warfare of America against Tri- 
poli, it became indispensably necessary to be some- 
what minute in describing them., in order to present 
him to the reader. 

For his unparalleled bravery, desperate courage, 
and unequalled success in the battle of the 3d of Au- 
gust, Com. Preble could bestow nothing but his 
highest and most unqualified commendation. This 
was not the mere effusion of an admiring comman- 
der, surrounded by his victorious comrades around 
the festive board, after a signal victory, but it was 
officially announced to the whole squadron in a '^ gene- 
ral order" upon the 4th. The Commodore knew well 
where to bestow applause, and when to make^ or ra- 
ther to recommend promotion. His general order is 
in the Navy Department ; and as to promotion, it was 
out of the question, as Decatur, although but twen- 

142 ^ LIFE Of 

ty-five years of age, had reached the highest grado 
in the American Navy. 

Amidst the congratulations in the squadron for the 
successful issue of the first attack upon Tripoli, a 
silent gloom irresistibly pervaded the hearts of the 
officers and seamen. It was not caused by con- 
templating upon the arduous and yet uncertain con- 
test which they were directly to renew. Inured to 
duty, and familiar with victory, they were total 
strangers to fear. But Lieut. James Decatur 
•' was dead !" While they were floating triumphant- 
ly upon the waves of the Mediterranean, his body 
was reposing in death upon its bed, and his gallant 
spirit had flown to heaven. The shouts of joy over 
all Britain for the victory of Trafalgar, were min- 
gled with groans of grief for the death of Nelson. 
No less pungent was the sorrov*^ of intrepid Ameri- 
cans at the fall of Lieut. Decatur. 

He had unremittingly pursued the duty of the na- 
val profession from the time he entered the navy, 
until the day he was basely and treacherously slain. 
It is inconsistent with the design of this volume, to 
go into a minute detail of his life. The life of his 
admired brother is the object of it. Suffice it then 
to say, that by a long course of assiduous duty, in 
various ships of the American navy, and under dif- 
ferent commanders, he secured to himself the confi- ^ 
dence of his superiors, and the approbation of his 
government. The post assigned him upon the Set 
of August, evinced the high estimation in which he ' 
was holden by the discerning and penetrating Com 


Preble. The manner in which he discharged the 
duty imposed upon him, and the manner in which 
he (ell, have ah'eady been mentioned. His memo- 
ry is embahiied with those of Somers, Wadsworth, 
and Israel, who followed him into'eternity, thirty 
days after he left the world, and who made their 
exit from the same sanguinary theatre upon which 
he fell. 

The fearful, yet temporising Bashaw, through the 
medium of a foreign consul, offered terms to Preble 
which he indignantly rejected, as degrading to his 
government. Upon the 7fh, another attack was re- 
solved upon, and the squadron arranged in order to 
execute it. The effe( t desired was produced. A 
leavy battery was silenced — m.nny bomb-shells and 
round shot were thrown into the town — and although 
the damige to the enemy was not so essential as the 
attack of the od, it increased the dismay of the Ba- 
shaw. — Amongst the Gun-boats engaged in this se» 
co[jd attack, was one taken from the enemy by De* 
catur. She v/as blown up by a hot ball sent from 
the batteries, and Lieut. Caldwell, Midshipman 
Dorsey, and eight seamen were killed ; six were 
wounded ; and Midshipman Spence, with eleven 
seamen, were rescued unhurt from the waves. 

Two days ntterwards, Commodore Preble took a 
leliberate view of the harbour in one of the Brigs, 
n order to determine the best mode of commencing 
I third attack. He gave '' no sleep to the eyes nor 
dumber to the eyelids" of the sullen and incorrigi- 
3le wretch who wielded the sceptre of blood-begot- 

244 LIFE OF 

ten power over his subjects, the wretched and de- 
graded race of beings, who were dragging out a 
miserable existence in Tripoli. The hopes of the 
Anierican prisoners increased, as those of the Ba- 
shaw and his troops diminished. The terms for 
ransom were lowered more thaw two- thirds ; but 
Preble and Decatur had become stern negotiators, 
and Mr. Lear chose to let them continue their diplo- 
matic skill. 

The prospects of a protracted warfare— at an im- 
mense expense to the American government ; the 
tedious and gloomy imprisonment of nearly half a 
thousand Americans in the dungeons of a barijarian, 
amongst whom were some of the noblest hearts that) 
ever beat in human bosoms — the probability that 
more American blood must be shed in effecting a 
complete subjugation of the yet unyielding Cashaw,i 
induced Com. Preble to offer the sum of eighty 
thousand dollars as a ransom for the prisoners, and 
ten thousand dollars as presents, provided he would 
enter into a solemn and perpetual treaty with thei 
American government never to demand an annualj 
tribute as the price of peace. 

The infatuated and infuriated Bashaw rejected; 
these proposals with affected disdain, mingled with! 
rpal fear. Cora. Preble had nothing now to dof 
but to renew his naval operations. He could enter- 
tain no rational hopes from the romantic and chival- 
rous attempt of Gen. Eaton, who had entered Derne 
with ihe Ex Bashaw Caramaili ; and with whom he 
ha^d made a treaty. This unfortunate prince, with 



his gallant general, and his rabble army co'tI^! no 
sooner have entered the city of Tripoli * r], 

guarded by more than 20,000 well arj- , ■ ra;;3, 
than one of the reigning Bashaw's galli, ; coi id Lave 
sunk the frigate Constitution.* He, therei; ;;% left 
it wholly with the American consul to arrange affair . 
with the august court of Tripoli, while he was de- 
termined to " manage his own affairs in his o,vi\ 
way," with his squadron in the harbour, 

Capt. Decatur, the next in command tc Com, 
Preble, his confidential adviser, and the id:! of eve- 
ry American in the squadron, stimulated the whole 
to the exertion of their utmost energy. To repel 
the idea that the pacific ofter of the Commodore 
arose from apprehensions of defeat, the bombards 
occasionally disgorged their destructive contents 
into the city ; when upon the 27th Aug. another ge- 
neral attack was made with such effect as to induce 
the Bashaw to renew negotiations for peace, but no- 
thing definitive was effected. Upon the 3d Septem- 
ber, another 'dii^ck was made, to the very great inju- 
ry of the Bashaw's batteries, castle and city. 

Although but few Americans had lost their lives 
in the various battles, yet the vessels of the squadron 

^- See Chap. VIII. However much tfee reader may admire tb'^. 
almost unparalleled exertions of Eaton In the cau*c n C'^r:nm'lUy aii'l 
regret the misfortunes of both, still the cool ane stai'-s- 

man could never give his sanction to a project - .-.r^ rjly ...m • 
cult of accomplishment, w^ith means so wholly inLompetent. .Lx- 
ton will never be forgotten ; but he will be remembered as a vic- 
tim to his owa romantic ambition. 


146 LIFE OF 

had suffered very considerable injury. Capt. De 
catur proposed that the Ketch Intrepid^ so often 
mentioned, which he had captured himself, and with 
which he had destroyed the Philadelphia frigate, 
should i3e converted into ^fire-ship, and sent into the 
midst of the enemy's gallies and gun-boats to com- 
plete their destruction. To this the Conimodore ac- 
ceded — loaded her with one hundred barrels of pow- 
der, and one hundred and fifty shells ; and fixed 
upon the night of the memorable 4th of September, 
for the daring and hazardous attempt. 

Capt. Dpcaiur would gladly have commanded the 
expedition, and probably from his seniority might 
have claimed the command ; but his generosity to 
his beloved brother officers .induced him to wave an 
opportunity of. adding another to the numerous lau- 
rels that composed the garland of victory upon his 
brow. Capt. Somers volunteered his services and 
was designated as the commander ; he was imme- 
diately joined by Lieuts. Wadsworth and Israel, and 
a sufficient number of gallant seamen. j 

Although Capt. Decatur was but a spectator of 
the awfully tremendous scene that followed, the read- • 
er may be gratified by a succinct account of it as re- 
lated by an accomplished eye-witness, to the writer, l 
The evening was unusually calm, and the sea scarce- I 
ly presented the smallest wave to the eye. Tha„ 
part of the squadron which was not designnted as o 
convoy to the Intrepid, lay in the outer harbour. 
Two swift sailing boats were attached to the Inlre- 
pid^ and the Argus, VLxen and Nautilus, were 


to conduct them to their destination, and receive the 
crew after the match was applied to the fatal train. 
At a little before nine o'clock, the Intrepid, followed 
by the convoy, moved slowly and silently into the 
inner harbour. Two of the enemy's heavy gallies, 
with more than a hundred men each, encountered 
the fire-ship, unconscious that she was pregnant with 
concealed magazines of death. They captured her 
of course, as the little crew could not withstand such 
an overwhelming force for a moment. It being the 
first prize the Tripolitans had made, the exulting 
captors were about bearing her and the prisoners 
triumphantly into port. The crew were to be im- 
mured in the same dungeon with Capt. Bainbridge 
and his crew, who had worn away eleven tedious 
months in dismal slavery. To Somers, Wadsworth 
iand Israel, 

" One hour of virtuous liberty was worth 
A whole eternity of bondage,'^'' — 

and instant death, far preferable to Turkish captivi- 
ty. It is still left tQ conjecture, and must always be 
so left, by whom their instantaneous release from 
slavery and from mortality was occasioned. It is 
with an agitated heart and a trembling hand that it 
is recorded, that the Intrepid suddenly exploded 
and a few gallant Americans with countless numbers 
of barJDarians, met with one common and undistin- 
guished destruction. 

It is generally understood by American readers, 
that Capt. Somers, his officers and crew, after being 

148 LIFE OF 

captured, mutually agreed to make voluntary sacri- 
fices of themselves, to avoid slavery and to destroy 
the enemy. In support of this, the writer is authoris- 
ed to state, that Capt. Somers, directly before enter- 
ing into this enterprise, declared that " he zvould 
never he captured by the enemy, or go into Turkish 

Itris entirely beyond the reach of the most fertile 
imagination to form an adequate conception of the 
reality of this awful scene. The silence that pre- 
ceded the approach of the Intrepid, was followed by 
the discharge of cannon and musketry, and ended , 
by the fearful and alarming shock of the explosion. 3 
Every living Christian and Mahometan, within view "1 
or hearing, stood aghast and awe-struck. 

For i\iG first, the only, and the last time in his life, 
Capt. Decatur was excited to a pitch of agonizing 
distress. Y/ith agitated strides he paced his deck^ 
— cast his eyes into the harbour where his gallant 
brother, thirty days before, was treacherously slain, 
and contemplated upon the fractured and mangled 
bodies of Somers, Wadsworth and Israel, sinking to 
a watery bed with him. If tears may ever be permit- 
ted to bedew the cheek of a warrior, it was a time to 
weep. If he could have avenged the deaths of his bro- 
thers by profession, as he had that of a brother by 
kindred, not a moment would have been spent in un- 
availing grief. But barbarous enemies and endear- 
ed comrades met with one common destiny, and all 
was an outspread scene of desolation. The remain- 
ing part of the night was as silent as the season that j 


iiiimediatcly succeeds some violent convulsion of 

If the biographical writer could be allowed to blend 
his own " reflections andremarks,'''' with the incidents 
and events he records, this momentous occurrence 
might justify them. It will, however, only be observ- 
ed, that Capt. Somers' memory has sometimes been 
assailed by those whose timid and scrupulous sys- 
tem of morals, evinces a " zeal zoithout knowledge,^^ 
Admitting that he made a voluntary sacrifice of him- 
self, his officers and his crew, to avenge the injuries 
of his country and rescue his numerous countrymen, 
in full view, from bondage. . Let the severest ca- 
iirist that ever perverted the plain dictates of con- 
science, by metaphysical subtlety, be asked if every 
man who enters the Navy or Army of his country, 
does not voluntarily expose himself to death in de- 
fending its rights, its honour, and its independence ? 
No matter in what manner death is occasioned, so 
be it the sacrifice adds to the security and advances 
the glory of his country. Whether it happens ia 
the midst of opposing hosts, — in single combat, — or 
as that of Somers and his companions did, by vohin- 
tary sacrifice, it equally redciuids to their glory and 
their country's weal. To those who form their sys- 
tems exclusively from the records of Inspiration, ex- 
amples from them might be quoted ; and the instance 
of Sampson alone, who fell with a host of his ene- 
mies, will not, by them, be denied as being anaIo° 
gous. The classical reader will immediately recol- 
13'^ •• ■ 

150 LIFE OF 

iect that Rome herself was twice saved from destruc- 
tion by thp voluntary sacrifice of the Decii. 

The writer hopes to be indulged in a brief allu- 
sion to the gallant, the accomplished, the lamented 
Lieut. Wadsworth, with whom he had the honour 
and enjoyed the pleasure of some acquaintance. His 
birth place and residence was in Portland, the me- 
tropolis of the StHte of Maine, and in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the great Preble. To a very ele- 
gant person, he added the captivating charms of a 
mind highly refined. His situation placed within 
his reach all the fascinating enjoyments of fashion- 
able life; but a participation in them, could not ren- 
der him eflfeminate. The previous examples of Ste- 
phen and James Decatur inspired his ardent bosom 
with a thirst for nav^il glory, and this was enhanced 
by the renown acquired by his distinguished towns- 
man, and naval father. Com. Preble. He repaired 
to the renovv^ned sea, whose waves are bounded by 
three of the great quarters of the globe, and almost 
in the sight of which, the American squadron was 
triumphantly wafting. He did not envy^ for envy 
found no place in his noble heart ; but he wished to 
emulate the gallant deeds of his brother officers. 
The disastrous, yet splendid affair of the 4th of Sep- 
tember, has been briefly detailed. Wadsworth, upon 
that fatal, awful night, left the world in a blaze of 
glory — gave his mangled corse to the waves — his 
exalted spirit to heaven — and his immortal fame to 
his country. Although his precious manes arc 


* Far away o^er the billozo^'^'^ his virtues and gallan- 
Irv n'e commemorated by a monument in his native 
to4v,j, the voluntary tribute of his admiring friends 
to !:i^ inestimable worth. 

While the American squadren was achieving such 
un])aralle!<^'! (hed^ in the Mediterranean, the Ame- 
rican govcTnaient, yo? unadvised of its splendid suc- 
cess, dispatched an additional squadron to that sea. 
From the state of the naval register, and the rank of 
the Post-Captains, the new squadron could not be 
supplied with officers^ without designating one who 
was senior to Coitj. Preble. This devolved upon 
Com. Barron, who arrived upon the 9th of Septem- 
ber, 1804. 

To an aspiring hero just entering the path of fame, 
and anxious to reach its temple, a sudden check to 
his progress is like the stroke of death. It was not 
so with Com. Preble when he was superseded by 
Com. Barron. His work was *' done and well 
done ;" and he surrendered the squadron to his se- 
nior as Gen. Jackson did his army to Gen Pincknpy, 
when there was nothing to do but to enjoy the fruits 
of victory. 

He immediately gave the command of his favour- 
ite frigate the Constitution, to his favourite officer 
Capt. Decatur, and obtained leave to return to 

The parting scene, as described by one viho wiU 
nesssed and who felt it, was one of the most interest- 
ing that the mind can conceive. For more than a 
year the Commodore and his gallant comrades had 

152 LIFE OF 

been absent from their beloved country— a t/p«r whirii 
may be denominated an age in the caU-ndar of our then 
infant navy — a period of splc ndid and " successful 
expenrnciit" with our ships, and of naval instruction 
and experience to our officers and seamen. Their 
attadiment had become cemented by cominoD toils, 
common dangers a. id common victories. The war- 
worn and veteran Preble gave the parting hand to 
his officers as a father to his children, and the sig- 
nal of departure to his seamen as to a numerous 
group of admiring domestics. The first manifested 
a dignified regret, mingled with conscious pride — 
the last gazed with noble grief, upon the last visible 
piece of canvas that wafted their beloved copfiman- 
der in chief from their view. 

Fully persuaded that the reader may be gratified 
with a very brief sketch of the life of Capt. Deca- 
tur's favourite commander, and his immediate pre- 
decessor in the command of the frigate Constitution^ 
it will here be attempted, however imperfectly it 
may be executed. 

Edward Preble was born in the town of Port- 
land, State of Maine, upon the 15th August, 1761. 
His daring and adventurous spirit in early life, could 
not be better gratified by his friends, than by pro- 
curing for him the birth of a Midshipman in the lit- 
tle naval force suddenly created in the war of the 
Revolution. In this capacity he entered the ship 
•' Pro/fc/or," Capt. Williams, in 1779, the year of 
Decatur's birth. _ The Protector mounted twenty- 
six guns — upon her first cruise, engaged the Admi- 


ral D?{^ of thirty-six guns — comjjclled her to strike 
her flag — and was prevented from conducting her 
triumphantly into an American port, by the explo- 
sion of the prize, imsnediately after her capture. 
The humane crew of the Protector picked up about 
forty of the Admiral Duff's crew, and every other 
soul on board perished. Thus early did our naval 
heroes show that genuine humanity is ever blended 
with true courage. 

He next entered the sloop of war Winthrop as first 
Lieutenant, under Capt. Little. Finding a British 
Brig of superior force, lying in the harbour of Pe- 
nobscot, Lieut. Preble conceived the daring project 
of taking her by surprise. Capt. Little concluded 
to make the hazardous attempt. Preble was plac- 
ed at the head of forty seamen ; and all were clad 
in white frocks. Upon the night in which the de- 
sign was to be executed or defeated, as the fortune 
of naval warfare should determine, Capt. Little ran 
the Winthrop along side the armed Brig, which lay 
near a considerable battery of cannon on shore. 
He was hailed by the enemy most vociferously, who 
exclaimed—" You xaill run aboard,^'^ Lieut. Preble 
coolly answered — " Aye aye, Sir, zve are coming 
aboard,^^ — and instantly jumped into the Brig, fol- 
lowed by only fourteen men, as the rest could not 
gain her by the violent motion of the vessel. While 
the Lieutenant was preparing for a desperate con- 
test, the anxious Capt. Little hailed him, and asked 
him — " Will you not have more men P'^'^ — The gallant 
Lieutenant, finding but little time to answer interrO" 

154 LIFE OF 

gatorios particularly, exclaimed with a stentorian 
voice, " JN'o. (Sir, we have more than 7oe want; we 
stand in each others^ way,^\ The luhite frocks of the 
Amerirarjs, enabled thpm to distinguish each other, 
even in dr»rkness. Thai jiart of the crew who had. 
gained the deck jumped over-board, and sw^am 
ashore, which was within pistol-shot. Many below 
followed their example andJeaped ant of the cabin- 
window. The Lieutenant, deliberately entered the 
cabin, where he found the officers either in bed or 
dressing. He sternly demanded a surrender of the 
Brig, assuring them that resistance was vain ; and 
might, to them, prove disastrous. The astonished 
British officers could in vain call their men to quar- 
ters, for they had made a passage through the waves 
to the shore. They surrendered as gracefully as 
they could ; and as Preble was conducting his prize 
out of port, the batteries opened upon it, and the 
infantry poured a harmless shower of musketry. 
This was amongst the most gallant deeds of the na- 
val force in the Revolutionary war; and placed 
Preble upon an eminence, upon which he ever stood 
to the day of his death. 

As the prototype of the gallant Decatur, he was 
by no means satisfied with one noble achievement as 
the foundation of his fame. He continued in the 
sloop of war Winthrop, in the assiduous discharge 
of duty, until the British crown acknowledged the 
independence of the American Republic. 

Then literally ended the small beginning of the 
American Navy. But the scintillations of naval glc* 


ry were not extinguished — they were only smother- 
ed — they were to be revived again into a blaze by 
the cheering breezes of national prosperity. 

It is not known to the writer that Lieut. Preble 
took any part in the naval warfare with France in 
the administration of Adams. The conchision may 
i fairly be made, that he did not; as he certainly 
would have been " heard from" if he had. But this 
is all conjecture. 

h\ 1801, he was appointed to the command of the 
well known frigate Essex, as Post-Captain, and pro- 
ceeded to the East Indies to afford protection and 
convoy to the American trade in those seas. Not 
long after his return, he was designated by go- 
I'vernment t© take command of that squadron in 
I wkich he, Capt. Decatur, and the brilliant list of 
American ocean-warriors associated with them, were 
to give weight and character to American naval 
j j^rowcss, arii>ngst distant nations, who before knew 
j Americans only as a nation of merchants, and upon 
^ whose commerce, and citizens, some of them had 
preyed with im})uniiy. 

. In tracing the life of Capt. Decatur from the time 
Com. Preble took the command of the American 

(squadron in the Mediferran'^an, until he retired from 
it, the writer was under the unavoidable necessity of 
blending with it that of the Commodore. It need 
not be here repeated. 

At the time he left the Mediterranean it had be- 
come the theatre of his fame. His glory was fami- 

15b LIFE OP 

liar to the Pope at Rome ; and although the squad- 
ron belonged to a distant and Protestant nation, he 
declared, that *' All Christendom had not effected in 
centuries, tchat the American squadron had accom- 
* plishedin the space of a, single year,"^"^ The name of 
Preble, as commander in chief, and of Decatur his 
leading champion, resounded through all the mari- 
time nations upon the shores of the Mediterranean. 
Not only Tripoli, but all the Barbary powers bor- 
dering upon that sea, wcve hold in check, and their 
indiscriminate depredaiions upon all the commercial 
world trading in its ports, enjoyed, in a greater or 
less degree, the benefits arising from ihe presence, 
the vigilance and the achievements of the American 
squadron. Even the jefdousy of British naval offi- 
cers, for a time, gave place to the effusions of invo- 
luntary admiration. 

But it was in the bosom of his own beloved 
country, where the vetrran Commodore received 
demonstrations of rcsj)e<:t and approbation most 
grateful to his patriotic and noble heart. Particu- 
lars must be omitted. The American government, 
fully acquainted with his nautical skill, and duly ap- 
preciating his invaluable services, employed him to 
assist in arranging, sysienvaiisingand advaF)cing the 
naval establishment of the Republic. He had con- 
quered Tripoli into a peace, wdiich was concluded 
in a few months after he returned to America. A 
vote of thanks, and a medal, were presented to him 
by Congress. 


He died in his native town, upon the 25th Au- 
gust, 1807. He has a monument of his fame in the 
heart of every officer and seaman- who ever served 
under him. It is enough to say that Stephen De- 
catur, never ceased to express his unqualified ad- 
miration of the immortal Preble, until he was ren- 
dered immortal himself, and followed his beloved 
and adored naval patron into eternity. 



Capt. Decatur takes commaaci of the frigate Constittttjon — Per- 
fection of discipline in the American Navy — He takes command 
«f the frigate Congress — Peace with Tripoli — Emancipation of 
Capt. Bainbridge^ his officers and seamen — Meeting between 
them and Capt. Decatur, American officers and seamen of the 
Squadron — Captain Decatur returns to America in the frigate 
Congress — Visits his Father, Commodore Decatur, at Philadel- 
phia — He is appointed Superiniendant of Gun-boats — Marries 
Miss Wheeler, of Norfolk, (Vir ) — Supersedes Com. Barron, and 
takes command of the frigate Chesapeake — " Affair of the Chesa- 
peake" — Captain Decatur takes command of the Southern 
Squadron as CoMMoroRE. 

Capt. Decatur, upon the retirement of Com, 
Preble, from the American squadrorj, in the Medi- 
terraaean, found himself senior to all the officers of 
the original squadron, and next in command to Com. 
Barron, who united the additional force with it, and 
assumed the chief command of the whole. 

As commander of the noble frigate Constitution, 
and of the gallant officers and seamen who had so 
long served under the immediate orders of Com. Pre- 
ble, Decatur felt as if a high degree of responsibili- 
ty devolved upon him. It was the first frigate he 
ever commanded, and he was the youngest officer in 
the American navy ever placed in so important a 
station. But although he had arrived only to that 
period of life v/hen the characters of men generally 


begin to develope their ^sermanen^ qualities, he had 
so intently and assiduously pursued the duties of his 
profession — had passed through so many grades of 
office — had seen such a diversity of service, and had 
fought so many batdes, that he had become qualified 
for any station in the navy. 

As the very respectable force brought into the 
Mediterranean by Com. Barron so essentially aug- 
mented the American squadron, the most efficient 
operations were probably expected to be immediate- 
ly commenced. But the Bashaw was already suf- 
ficiently humbled. Negotiations were opened upon 
shore, and the imited squadrons had little more to 
perform than the sluggish and irksome duty of stand- 
ing off and on, and awaiting the result of the delibe- 
rations at the Bashaw's palace. 

Capt. Decatur, after such a long series of inees- 
sant duty, might well be supposed to need repose. 
But, ever ready to receive and execute the orders 
of his new commander, he remitted no portion of his 
accustomed vigilance in preparing for it. While in 
command of the Constitution, he enjoyed the socie- 
ty of the accomplished officers who remained in her, 
and who had participated so largely in the dangers 
the squadron had encountered, and the victories it 
had gained. 

No event of sufficient interest to relate particular- 
ly, took place in relation to Capt. Decatur while on 
board the Constitution. It might be hazardous to 
say that the crew made great advances in the science 
of naval tactics while under his command, as they 

160 LIFE OF 

had so long served under the accomplished Preble j 
but it has ever been acknowledged that Capt. De- 
catur was amongst the most strict and best qualified 
disciplinarians in the American Navy. This, if not 
the very first, is next to the first quality of a naval 
officer. Discipline has been acquired by all the 
American officers, and to a degree of perfection un- 
known even to the oldest veteran Admirals of Bri- 
^ tain, who iiow enjoy the benefits of centuries of pre- 
vious naval experience, whereas scarce a quarter of 
a century has passed since the American Navy has 
had existence. 

In rar'^"'''^"=^lv r.ontemDlatinff the sDlendid achieve- 
ments of Decatur, the reader is exceedingly prone 
to overlook the causes which have produced such 
wonderful effects. Even his unequalled personal 
courage in action might have led him to the fate 
which almost invariably befalls misdirected rashness, 
had he not thoroughly acquired that nautical skill 
which enabled him to practise those masterly ma- 
noeuvreings, which so often baffled his most skilful 
adversaries. And also that military skilly which has 
given such complete perfection to American gunne- 
ry and produced such rapid and tremendous effects 
uppn the enemy. 

It is believed, that this system may be called the 
AMERICAN NAVAL SYSTEM — and that it is retained as 
m arcanum with our naval officers. After the most 
diligent research, no publication could be found, 
which developed, what, to a landsman, seems as a 
mystery. This unquestionably is the dictate (^i the 


soundest policy. Superior skill to the enemy, gives 
an advantage next to that of superior courage; and 
although Americans cannot pronounce all their ene- 
mies inferior in the last, it is perfectly honourable 
to conquer them by superiority in the first ; and to 
maintain that superiority by concealing the causes 
of it from them*'. Gen. Washington, when indeco- 
rously interrogated, asked the inquisitive meddler — 
*' Can you keep a secret, Sir P^^ — Certainly, I can.^^—-^ 
" So can /, Sir," the profound General replied. The 
student of military tactics can find treatise piled 
upon treatise, from the {.-ens of subalterns up to Ma- 
jor-Generals, and from the humble pamphlet to the 
ponderous octavo. Stiil it may be asked, have our 
officers in the army surpassed, or have they equalled 
those of the navy in au uniform system of discipline ? 
L.,, After the lapse of some time. Capt. Decatur was 
' removed from the Constitution to the frigate Con- 

I * After a few naval victories in the war of 1812, a distinguished 
. British writer, on the capture of the Boxer, thus expresses himself? 
*'-' The fact seems to be but too clearly established, that th€ Ame- 
ricans have some superior mode of Jiring ; and we cannot be too 
! anxiously employed in discovering; to what circumstances that su- 
' periority is owing.^' — Another British writer after lamenting in the 
■ Ititterness of grief, the loss of theMacedonian, says: " It affords an 
additional ground to reflect and to inquire seriously into the strange 
causes which have rendered our relative circumstances icith respect 
\ to this nevj enemy, so different from what they have had hitherto to 
j contend with.'*'* It is trusted they never will learn the Theory of 
I American naval tactics — and the Practice of them they will not be 

] disposed very soon to try again. A writer of a system of cooke- 

r ry, directing how to dress a dolphin., gravely says — " In the first 
place, catch a dolphin.'''' 

14 * 

162 LIFE OF 

gress, a ship of inferior rate. Ever respectful to hi? 
commander in chief, and ever cheerful in the dis- 
charge of any duty assigned him, he pursued the 
same undeviating course of discij)h"ne on board the 
Congress, as he ever had done from (he days of hi^ 
earliest promotion. Wherever he commanded, he 
possessed the rare faculty of infusing amongst die 
crew the spirit that pervaded his own bosom. Un- 
der him, rigid discipline became a pleasing pastime, 
and duty a pleasure. 

Negotiations in the mean time were lingering and 
progressing, delaying and advancing in Tripoli, 
The severe animadversions in the American Jour- 
nals at that day upon this subject, belong not to this 
volume. Whether the government ought to have 
supported and ratified the unofficial treaty made by 
Gen. Eaton, with the Ex-Bashaw, and to have re- 
stored the latter to his throne ; or to have rejected 
that made by Mr. Lear, an accredited agent of the 
government, are questions not here to be discussed. 
Stephen Decatur, who had so nobly and courage- 
ously aided in driving the reigning Bashaw to nego- 
tiate at all, had no hand or voice in this diplomatic 

Suffice it to say, that the sum of sixti/ thousand 
dollars was paid to the Bashaw — ihirti/ thousand 
dollars less than the gallant Preble, in the midst oi 
victory, had offered ; and Jive hundred and forty 
thousand dollars less than the insolent Bashaw, in 
fancied security, had demanded. The politician 
who is governed solely by money-logic, would cer- 


tainly be satisfied with this stipulation, especially as 
it was a sum insufficient to support the whole squad- 
ron for sixty days. But the dignified and patriotic 
statesman, who " surveys the whole ground" — who 
knows that peace was established after a long, ha- 
zardous, and, perhaps, {if continued,) a doubtful con- 
test — that ample provision was made for the freedom 
and security of the American trade — and that the 
noble and gallant Bainbridge, his gallent officers 
and seamen, and other Aniprican citizens, to the 
number of near half a thousand, who had been incar- 
cerated in dungeons for some years, and none liltle 
less than eighteen months, were immediately dis- 
charged without the least ransom, would unhesilat- 
ingly give his assent to this treaty. 

Amongst all the consequences flowing from the 
peace with Tripoli, no one "/as so perfectly well cal= 
culated to swell with exultation such a heart as De- 
catur's, as the restoration of the prisoners ; especial- 
ly the crew of the Philadelphia. It was their bon- 
dage which had for months stimulated him to the 
performance of deeds, which stand unrivalled upon the 
records of chivalrous courage. It was to him, next 
to a propitious Providence, that they owed their 
emancipation from a bondage, which as it is unknown 
lo Christian countries, can be but feebly pourlrayed 
in Christian language. Imagine the noble Bain- 
bridge^ the gallant Porter^ Jones and Bidd I e, hurling 
!: indignantly the cords that had" long bound them, at 
their humbled oppressors, and throwing themselves 
into the arms of the enraptured Decalur, HulljLaw- 

164 LIFE OF 

renct^ Morris, Macdonough, Szc, &;c. emphatically 
their " deliverers"— Conceive also the numerous 
crew, once more in freedom, manifesting by every 
token of gratitude, their admiration for the cham- 
pions of their liberty, and anxious once more to fol- 
low them or any other commanders in avenging the 
injuries and advancing the glory of their beloved 
country. Upon such an occasion as this, they might 
well give those tears to exulting joy, which had long 
been restrained by indignant grief. 

Capt. Decatur, upon the conclusion of peace with 
Tripoli, took his departure, in the frigate Congress, 
from the Mediterranean, in which he had served 
nearly four years, under Commodores Dale, Morris, 
and Preble. His fame had become familiar with 
the Pope and Cardinals of Rome — with Italians, 
Neapolitans, Sicilians, and Sardinians, even before it 
was generally known in his own country. But still the 
glory of his achievements were in a degree under- 
stood before he reached the shores of the American 

The honours already conferred upon him by 
promotion over the heads of his seniors, by their vo- 
luntary consent — a vote of thanks for his skill, va- 
lour and success, and the presentation of a sword as 
the insignia of his gallantry*, were fully enough to 

* Vide Chap. Vlll. It is believed this vote of thanks, and the 
present of a sword to Decatur, was the Jirst bestowed upon any 
officer in the navy since the conclusion of the naval warfare with 


satisfy a hero of such consummate modesty as De- 
catur. But the spontaneous effusions of admiration, 

" Bursting nncalPd from ev'ry gen'rous heart" 

could not but be grateful and exhilirating to feelings 
like his. 

Upon his arrival at Philadelphia, he immediately 
repaired to the country residence of his veteran and 
Teherable father in the vicinity of that city. The 
interview between such a father and such a son, 
must have been one of the most interesting that can 
be conceived by the most fertile and glowing imagi- 
nation. It must have been conducted by " Thoughts 
that breathe, and 7a or ds that burn,'''^ The father had 
lived to behold one son but just advanced into the 
years of manhood, loaded with honours which would 
have graced an aged vefcran. He had lived, (such 
is the fate of battles and the decrees of heaven) to 
weep the fall of another son, treacherously slain. 
But this tribute which nature paid to paternal affec- 
tion, was mingled with the exalted consolation, that 
James Decatur fell in the arms of victory, unstain- 
ed by a single act that could tarnish his escutcheon. 
He had also discovered in his son now before him, 
a display of fraternal attachment, which led him, at 
the imminent hazard of his life, to avenge the death 
of his son, and his brother*. 

After the return of the Mediterranean squadron 

* See Chap. !X 

166 LIFE OF 

to America in 1 805, the naval establishment was ma- 
terially reduced. Many of the ships were laid up 
in ordinary — many of the officers retired upon half- 
pay — some entered into the merchant service, as 
did the seamen generally. 

But so fully convinced was the government of the 
qualifications of Capt. Decatur to conduct the atibirs 
of the navy in the peace establishment, that he wasi 
very soon ordered to superintend the Gun-Boats 
which had increased to a very considerable amount 
at home, while our squadron was absent in the Me- 

As to the efficacy and utility of Gun-Boats for at- 
tack or defence in inner harbours, and at the moathsi 
of the numerous navigable streams in our vastly ex- 
tensive, and rapidly extending Republic, the ques-i 
tion will not be here discussed. It has, however;! 
been discussed, and has been settled by naval cha- 
racters. The reader has seen what was effected by 
only six Neapolitan Gun- boats, of inferior construc- 
tion to those of our own, in Tripoli; and those ac- 
quainted with the history of the second war between 
America and Britain, know what they etfected, where 
opportunity offered, during that war. 

It was left for Capt. Decatur to introduce into the 
Gun-Boats,a system properly adapted to that speciea 
of naval armament. To this he devoted himself with 
that assiduity which was in him a peculiar charac- 
teristic. ' 

To a superficial reasoner, the duty now assignee 
to Decatur would seem to be a degradation. For 9 


commander of Frigates to superintend Gun-Boats, 
would seem to them, like an eagle which had soared 
amongst the clouds, humbling himself by perching 
upon a shrub. Superficial indeed, is such reason- 
ing. The man of innate greatness, is never too ex- 
alted, to devote attention to things that are small, 
and never so small, but that he can readily compre- 
hend things that are great. Decatur in a Gun-Boat, 
was like Decatur in a Line of-baltU-ship. — He could 
not become small by being in a small place. 

His duty was now of such a naiure, as to afford 
him frequent opportunities to enjoy the accomplish- 
ed and refined society of the larger towns upon the 
sea board. From the age of nineteen, to this period 
of his life, he had been almost constantly upon the 
waves. Excepting upon the ocrasi<#)al and very 
short periods he was in American ports, he had 
been, by his profession, completely excluded from 
all society excepting that which he found in his own 
ships. More con«;enial spirits, to be sure, could 
not be associated, than those who were there bound 
together by the •' three fold cord'^^ of common toils, 
Common da: gers, and common victories. Such a 
ligament could not be " easi/y broken i"^* nor v/as it 
broken by Decatur, when he entered into the fash- 
ionable circles of Norfolk in Virginia. 

It was no ordinary transition for an ocean- warrior, 
like Decatur, to leave the thundering theatre of 
Mars, and make his debzit amidst the fascinating 
blandishments in the courts of Venus — where instead 
of parrying the thrust of Turkish spears and scimi- 

168 FIFE OF 

tars, he bad only to ward off the harmless shafts oi 
Cupid. His ears, which had long been stunned 
with broadsides and batteries of cannon, were now 
soothed " with the soft lulling of the liite.'^'^ He could 
not, however, descend to the level of the more effe 
minate courtier; and, " albeit, unused to the melting 
mood,^^ he could not *' pen doleful ballads to his mis 
iress^ eyebrowJ^^ 

Capt. Decatur, although he had the polish of th( 
dignified gentleman, never divested himself of th( 
engaging and frank simplicity of the seaman. H 
noble yet tender heart, had lost none of its finei 
feelings by the scenes of blood, carnage and death 
through which duty and courage had called him t( 
pass. To the most accomplished, elevated and dig 
nified females of our Republic, such a characte 
must be an object of real admiration. To their hig 
honour they have most unhesitatingly bestowed thei 
hands, their hearts and their fortunes upon sue 
raanly heroes. The surviving officers of our Nav 
and army, after discharging their arduous dutie 
upon the ocean and in the field, may return to thei 
domestic circles and find a rich reward for thei 
toils in the endearing attachment and intelligent so 
ciety of their bosom companions. 

In monarchies, the marriages in royal and nobl 
families, are most generally mere " matters of state ^ 
or " bargain and salt.'^'' A prince and princess joi 
in marriage, more to unite two crowns than tw 
hearts. A duke, marquis and count, marry, the on' 
a duchess, the other a marchioness, and the last 



countess, to combine extensive domains together, 
and often find themselves disjoined for ever. They 
roll along in miserable splendour through life, tor- 
mented and tormenting to the grave. 

In our young and ri.^ing Republic, especially 
amongst its gallant and heroic sons, and its exalted 
and refined daughters, no marriage-articles, except 
the single one of a mutual exchange of hearts, are 
necessary. To speak of the marriage of the gene- 
rous and heroic Capt. Decatur, to the justly cele- 
brated, and accomplished Miss Wheeler of Nor- 
folk in Virginia, is a subject too delicate for the un- 
tutored pen and unpractised heart of the writer. 
Without resorting to the inflated language of ro- 
inance, it may simply be said, that this union was 
ithe consummation of mutual bliss, and the source of 
.uniritrrrHpted felicity to the husband and to the wife, 
until it was dissolved by the premature stroke of 

I Capt. Decatur continued in the superintendance 
rof the Gun-Boats, for a considerable period, and 
the effect of the system introduced amongst them 
Iwas visible to every naval eye. But he was shortly 
to be removed from this service to another, if not 
of greater importance, certainly of greater responsj- 

i The unfortunate occurrence, in the unfortunate 
jfrigate Chesapeake, although perhaps familiar with 
inost readers, must be brieily alluded to, as it was 
connected with some of the most interesting events 
ot Capt, Decatur's life ; and in alluding to it, the 

170 LIFE OF 

v/riLer most ssn^ibiy feels the delicacy of the subject 
From this portion of these memoirs, he must neces- 
sarily glance forward to the coticlusion ; and when- 
ever the names of Decatur and Barron are mention- 
ed in relation to each other, it will be done with the 
most scrupulous regard to truth ; and if errors inter- 
vene, they shall not be intentional. It is not the bu- 
siness of the biographer to obtrude his opinions upon 
iheTcader; but to furnish a faithful detail of facts 
and occurrences from which he can form one for 

Toward the close of the year 1806, the British 
sailors on board a prize, ordered for Halifax, rose 
upon the prize-officer, conducted her to an Ameri- 
can port, and deserted from the service of their 
country. Some time afterwards, four men from a 
British cruiser, (the Halifax,) lying off Norfolk, Vir. 
made their escape, arrived at Norfolk, and imme- 
diately enlisted under Lieut. Sinclair, and were en- 
tered on board the Chesapeake, for which ship the 
Lieutenant was recrqiting. The commander of the 
cruiser pursued the men — identified them, and de- 
manded them of Lieut. Sinclair, who as junior offi- 
cer, referred him to Capt. Decatur. 

Whatever might have been the decision of the 
Captain, if he had had power to decide the question, 
lie too well understood his duty to arrogate to him- 
self an authority which he did not possess. Lieut. 
Sinclair was serving under the commander of the 
Chesapeake, and to him was he accountable for his 
conduct, Capt, Decatur wo^Jd not interfere. The 


men were not surrendered. At about the same 
time, four British seamen deserted from ihe Melam- 
pus, a British vessel, and were entered on board 
the Chesapeake. Mr. Erskine, the then British Mi- 
nister in America, applied to the government to 
surrender these British subjects, as they were d^j- 
clared to be; but the government did not interfere. 
Admiral Berkley, then upon the American station, 
ordered Capt. Humphreys, of the Leopard, to take 
these men by force, if not surrendered upon being 

Thus in brief, stood aflairs with the Chesapeake 
frigate, when in the month of June, 1807, Com. Bar- 
ron put to sea in her as her commander. Capt. 
Humphreys fell in with the Chesapeake at sea ; and 
after hailing her, sent an officer on board with a let- 
ter to Com. Barron, containing Admiral Berkley's 
orders ; assuring the Commodore that his duty com- 
pelled him to execute them. Com. Barron returned 
for answer, that there were no deserters on board 
the Chesapeake. Capt, Humphreys laid the Leop- 
ard close along side the Chesapeake— hailed her 
again, and receiving no satisfactory answer, the 
Leopard poured into her a full broadside. The 
Chesapeake struck her colours without firing a gun. 
Two British Lieutenants and a number of Midship- 
men immediately went on board the Chesapeake — 
took three deserters belonging to the Melampus, one 
to the Halifax, and some American seamen ; and 
then returned to the Leopard with them. The in- 
quisitive reader can gratify a more minute curiosity 

172 LirE OP 

than can here be satisfied, by perusing the trial 0[ 
Com. James Barron, which followed after this disas- 
trous event. 

Capt. Decatur was ordered to supersede Cora. 
Barron in the command of the Chesapeake — a most 
painful duty ; as he had served under Com. Barroa 
in the Mediterranean, after he superseded Com. Pre- 
ble in the command of the American squadron in 
that sea. But it was not for Capt. Decatur to 
decline the command of this ill-fated ship, in 
1807, any more than it was for his favourite friend, 
Capt. Lawrence, in 1813, who fell gloriously in de- 
fending her. His language was — " Don't give up 
the ship." 

The " Affair of the Chesapeake" just briefly men- 
tioned, produced a ferment through the whole Re- 
public. From New-Orleans to Canada — from the 
Atlantic to the waters of the Missisippi, there seem- 
ed to be but one exclamation — " My voice is still 
for war.'''* The recent achievements of our gallant 
little Navy in the Mediterranean, under Preble, De- 
catur, &;c. had rendered every keel that belonged to 
her, dear to Americans. They considered the Che- 
sapeake as disgraced, and the fame of the whole 
Navy, in some measure tarnished, by this outrage- 
ous violation of our national dignity and rights upon 
the ocean. It was in vain for the British minister, 
as the representative of the British crown, to disa- 
vow the act, unless it was accompanied with ample 
reparation and atonementj for the injury and thfii 


Commodore* Decatur, in the frigate Chesa- 
peake, was ordered to take the command of the 
Southern Squadron, It was impossible for him to 
foresee what would be the result of the late unwar- 
rantable and outrageous attack upon the frigate he 
now commanded. He knew, however, that a nation- 
nl ship, when traversing the ocean, was as sacred as 
national territory ; and that to attack it, in a hostile 
manner, would justify the most vigorous defence. 
He would never strike that flag under which he had 
so long sailed, and under which he had so often con- 
quered, unless it were to an overwhelming superiori- 
ty of force. 

From the period Com. Decatur entered into the 
command of the Southern Squadron in the Chesa- 
j peake frigate, until he was called upon for the dis- 
; charge of more important duties, he devoted himself 
with unwearied vigilance to the interest of that por^ 
non of the yet small American Navy that was in 

Were the writer disposed to swell this biographi- 

•' As this is the first time the ajrpdlaiion of Commodore has been 
J attached to the name of Decatur in this work, some readers may 
1 be -led to suppose, that Commodore is a title in the navy higher thaa 
■ that of Captain. The rank of Captain is the highest yet estabUsh- 
1 ed in the American Navy. A Commodore is the senior officer in a 
I squadron^ and as circurnstances might happen, may be a Master-^ 
\ Commandant^ a Liculenayity or a Midshipjiiayi. Even Com. Perry 
I and Com. Macdonough, had not been promoted to Captains^ when 
one conquered at Erie, and the other at Champlain. When after- 
rds promoted, Perry's commission was dated 10th Sept. 1813 
■; M;i-:vOiion^h-5 11th Sept. JB14,— the days of their victories. 
15 ^- 

174 LIFE OF 

cal memoii" to three ponderous octavos, as BosweO 
has the Life of Johnson, he might detail the numer- 
ous minor incidents of Com. Decatur's peculiarly 
interesting life, in the pleasing and interesting scenes 
of peace. In those scenes, he imparted 
high animation, and innocent hilarity to every circle 
he honoured by his presence. Although the gentle- 
man officer upon the quarter-deck, he was " all the s^en- 
ileman^'^ in the parlour. He was easy, frank, and ac- 
cessible as a companion, and resorted to every fa- 
miliarity not inconsistent with personal dignity, to 
banish that reserve which a consciousness of his su- 
periority inspired in his associates. In those placid 
scenes, he seemed to wish for every one who sur- 
rounded him, to forget what he had been^ and to re- 
gard him only for what he there zvas. 

But the subject paramount to all other considera- 
tijons in the mind of Com. Decatur, was, that of the 
American Navy. Of that he never lost sight ; and 
he considered every other enjoyment, amusement, 
and pleasure, as secondary to those he partook in, 
when advancing its prowess and seeing its glory 

It was not his business to " settle the aflfairs of 
the Republic*," which at this period of his lile be- 
gan to assume a lowering aspect ; and he knew too 
well the duty of a naval commander, to interfere in 
ihenu He only wailed for the orders of his govern* 

Vide Chap. XIIL 


ment, and held himself in constant readiness to exe- 
cute them. 

The Berlin and Milan decrees of the Emperor of 
France, and the Order^^ in C(iuncil ol il e court of 
St. James, produced a tremendous effect upon the 
vastly extended commerce of America. They 
amounted almost to a war of extermination against 
American commerce, and the wreck of it which re- 
mained, was sufik by the embargo laid by Congress 
upon American vessels. The '• restriclive system,''^ 
was justified by its advocates upon the principle of 
Lex Talionis^ or the law of retaliation. ■ What effect 
it produced upon the commerce of the Republic, or 
what coercion upon its enemies, has been demon- 
strated by its operation. From 1807 to 1812, Ame- 
rica could hardly be said (o be at peace or at war 
with the great belligerent powers of Europe. Good 
cause for open hostilities it had against more than 
one of them ; but the pacific policy of our rulers 
chose to exhaust the last efforts of Xegotiation^ be- 
fore they resorted to the last evil, a War, 

But the causes for war between America and Bri- 
tain, werel:onsLantly accumulating; and, like the 
latent fires of iEtna and Vesuvius, increased in ma- 
lignity the longer they were suppressed, Britain at 
this period was not only the greatest, but almost the 
only naval power in Europe. Nelson had not only 
conquered, but he had nearly annihilated the fleets 
of France, Spain and Denmark; and the only rea- 
son why that of the powerful Autocrat ol Russia (\id 

176 LIFE 01* 

not suffer the same fate,- was, because his wary poll* 
cy dictated to him not to expose it to certain destruc- 

Although distant nations scarcely ranked Ameri- 
ca with naval powers, yet the prOud and jealous Mi- 
nisters of George III. full well knew what the infant 
Navy of the Republic had accomplished in the At- 
lantic, at the close of the eighteenth, and in the Me- 
diterranean, at the commencement of the nineteenth 
century. The names of Truxton, Preble and De- 
catur reminded them of their own Duncan, Jervis 
and Nelson. Although the British government 
could not obliterate the fame of these American na-, 
val heroes, they wished to annihilate the little Navy 
in which they had acquired it. Hence the rude and 
outrageous attack upon the frigate Chesapeake, 
which Decatur now commanded, but which he did 
not command when she surrendered. Although the 
British government diplomaikally disavowed the 
act, and tendered satisfaction and atonement, yet it 
secretly rejoiced that she became such an easy vic- 
tim. Her naval commanders imagined that her fate 
was the forerunner of that of every deck that carried 
American guns. 

Next to the American Navy, amongst the causes 
of British jealousy, was the almost boundless ex- 
tent of American commerce. Americans for some 
years had been the carriers of almost all the bellige- 
rent powers in Europe ; and although Britain her- 
self participated 'm the benefit of this '•' carrying 


trade," she could not endure that the Republic 
should rapidly grow rich and powerful hy means 
of it. 

Com. Decatur, while in the Chesapeake frigate 
as commander of the Southern Squadron, had the 
double duty of watching British armed ships con- 
stantly hovering upon the American coast, and en- 
forcing the acts of the government regarding Ameri- 
can vessels. 

178 LIFE OF 


Commodore Decatur takes command of the Frigate United States- 
Interview with Capt. John iiurnam Cardtn^ in time of peace— 
British Naval I'fficf^r? on American station before the commencb- 
menf of War — Declaration of V\'ar against G. Britain — Immense 
disparity of naval force betv;een Ameicaand Britain — Com. 
Decatur puts to sea from .vew- York, June 21st, 1812 — iMakes an 
extensive cruise and Kuters the port of Boston — bails from thence 
8th October — Upon the 25th captures the Frigate Macedonian 
- — His official account of the action — » .ength of, and incidents in 
the action — Meeting of <'om. Decatur and Capt. Garden — 
Dreadful slaughter in the Macedonian — Arrival of frigate Unit- 
ed States and that ship at INew-London — Reception of flag at 
Washington— Arrival at New-York — Reception there — Com. 
Decatur's humanity. 

Com. Decatur, in 1810, was ordered to take com- 
mand of the frigate United States, which was again 
fitted for sea, and put in commission. Exhilirating 
indeed must have been the reflection, that he was 
now sole commander of the noble Frigate in which 
he commenced his naval career in the humble capa- 
pacity of Midshipman. A retrospective view of the 
scenes through which he had passed — the variety of 
"vessels in which he had served and conquered — the 
numerous commanders whom he had assiduously 
obeyed and supported, were calculated to produce 
in his mind the most complacent delight. — At the 
same limcj a glance into futurity excited his deepest 


solicitude. It was in his very nature to '* press for- 
ward to the mark of the prize of his high calling. " 
The glory he A«c? acquired, and the high standing he 
held in the records of fame, instead of producing su- 
pineness, rather excited his vigilance. He knew 
that the character he had acquired, must still be sup- 
ported ; and although he could scarcely hope to sur- 
pass the deeds he had already achieved, he was de- 
termined not to tarnish the brilliancy of them, by 
the rust of inaction. While the great Achilles was 
supinely reposing in his tent, t!ie blustering Ajax 
jWas exciting the admiration of Agamemnon, and 
'even the anxie y of Hector. 

j Com. Decatur, " through the mind's eye," saw 
the storm which was gathering, and even lowering, 
over his beloved country. PfM'fectly well acquaint- 
ed with the power and the disposition of the enemy 
[the Republic was to encounter, he looked forward 
to the contest as to a dreadful struggle in which 
^equals were to engage. Having one common ori- 
jgin, but no longer any common interest, he knew 
that when Americans and Englishmen, the descend- 
ants of Saxons, met each other in hostjle array, it 
would be an encounter, fierce in the extreme, and 
wcwld remind the classical reader of ancient bat- 

- When Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war.'' 

So confident \y^vq the statesmen, who guided the 
i destinies of America, that the just and equitable 

180 LlfE OP 

terms on which she would negotintc, would even- 
tuate in peace, that they were less vigilaiit in pre- 
paring for war, than they would have been under a 
different state of thiiibjs. The military spirit cf Ame- 
ricans 7ipon land^ was almost lost in the luxuries 
which sudden wealth occasions ; and the declara- 
tion of the facetious K'di^ht in regard to A«5 soldiers, 
might with some propriety be applied to ours. — 
*' They were thecankfrs of a cl'ill world antj a long 
peace" — and although they might afford " food for 
powder and fill a pit" they wrre littlf* calculated at 
once, to meet the veterans who had recently con- 
quered Portuguese, Spaniards and Frenchmen ; 
hence the disasters of the army, in the campaigns 
of 181-2 and 13, which awakened that martial fire 
that went on " conquering and to conquer," in 

The reverse of this picture may well apply to the 
gallant little American Navy. Although from 1805 
to the commencement of the second war between the 
Republic and Britain, but a small portion of it was 
in commission, or in service, the whole of it was, at 
all times, in prime order. The vigilance of the Na 
vy Department, although it could not extend, it 
nevertheless preserved, our few ships, and kept 
them in constant readiness for any emergency. What 
was still more important, Com. Decatur, and the 
rest of the Post Captains who v/ere, retained in 
service, would not permit the JS^aval spirit to sln?n' 

Bainbridge, Rodgers, Porter, Hull, Stewart, Jones, 


Lawrence, Biddle, Morris, Macdonougl?, Perry, 
Chauncey, and many other gallant and accomplish- 
ed officers, were in the bosom of the country, ready 
at a moment's warning to enter again into its naval 

The seamen too, who had served under them, were 
ready and anxious to fly instantly to their standards 
when called. 

Com. Decatur, after he took the command of the 
frigate United States, visited most of the naval ports. 
His ship was the rallying point of the Navy, and his 
presence infused admiration into the bosom of eve- 
ry officer and seaman who enjoyed his society. With 
acute penetration he discovered every error, in eve- 
ry species of naval armament, and with matchless 
skill, and " modest assurance," applied the correc- 

Tho?e kinds of courtesies and civilities which ge- 
nerally are interchanged between civil naval officers, 
belonging to different nations at peace with each 
otner, took place between Com. Decatur and the 
British naval officers upon the American station. 
One of the interviews which passed, is too engaging 
to be omitted, Capt. John S. Garden, afterwards 
the gallant and brave commander of the frigate Ma- 
cedonian, happened to enjoy one of those interest* 
ing interviews with Com. Decatur. "• Commgdore," 
said the Captain, " we now meet as friends, and 
God grant wemay nevermeet as enemies ; But we are 
subject to the orders of our governments, and must 
obey them." — " I heartily reciprocate the senti- 


182 LIFE OP 

ment," said the ingenuous Decatur. " But," sait 
Garden, (with that refined and elegant irony whict 
one gentleman can practise upon another without of- 
fence,) " suppose, in the course of events, we shouh 
meet as enemies, what, Sir, do you imagine woulc 
be the consequences to yourself, and to the force yoi 
should command." '' Why, Sir," said the hero o 
the Mediterranean, (giving full credit to the gallan 
try of Garden, without forgetting what was due tc 
his own character,) " if we should meet with forcei 
which might fairly be called equal, the conflict woulc 
undoubtedly be a severe one ; but the flag of my 
country should never leave the staff from which i 
waved, as long as there was a hull to support it/ 
With what exquisite delight must these dauntlesi 
warriors have contemplated each others' characters 
after the frank expression of such exalted senti 
rnents ? Over a vast expanse of ocean from the place 
of this interview, these men of inflexible honour, anc 
unparalleled heroism, again met upon the deck o 
the frigate United States ; but this belongs to a fu 
ture part of these Sketches. 

Had all the British ships, which for years previ 
ous to the commencement of hostilities, were hover 
;ng upon the American coast, had such commander 
as Capt. Garden, the frigate Chesapeake would neve 
have been disgraced by Humphreys of the Leopard 
and Bingham of the Little Belt would not have ow 
ed his existence to the sparing mercy of Com. Rodg 
ers of the frigate President, Many of these littli 
great British officers, who owed their greatness t< 


the reflections of a beam from the lustre of Nelson's 

" Dress'd up in a little brief authority — 
Most confident of what they were least assur'^dy 
PlayM most fantastic 4rick3 before high heaven"— 


and although, to pursue the quotation, they might 
lot have '' made the angels v/eep," they excited the 
ndignation of their own more dignified couatrymen, 
ind the sovereign contempt of such men as Rodgers 
ind Decatur, who well understood their characters. 
iVhile Americans are ever prompt to pay due rc- 
pect to the merits of Hotham, Hardy, and Garden, 
;ven though enemies, they feel an ineffable disgust 
t such beings as Humphreys and Bingham — Cock- 
burn, Beresford, and Stackpole. Lest this language 
liould be deemed acrimonious awd unauthorised, I 
vould just remind the reader again, that Humphreys 
ttacked the frigate Chesapeake, and Bingham the 
rigate President, in time of peace — that Cockbuni 
iolated every principle of civilized warfare on the 
)orders of Chesapeake bay, and applied the torch 
the Capitol, President's house, and national libra- 
y at Washington—that Beresford stripped the gal- 
ant Jones and his crew almost naked, when his 74 
pok the little Wasp of 18 guns — and that the blus- 
ering Stackpole, in the Statira of 44, declined, on 
'air and equal grounds, to fight Capt. Jones when he 
commanded the Macedonian, in time of war. It 
|)'ught to be the motto of every impartial historian 
ind biographer : '' Judex damnatur^ cum p^ccent ah' 

184 LIFE OP 

Passing over numerous interesting incidents in the 
life of Com. Decatur, of minor importance however, 
we now approach to that period when the constitut- 
ed authorities of the American Republic, having re- 
sorted to every measure consistent with the national 
dignity to avoid an ^' appeal to arms ;" and publish- 
ing to the world a manifesto, detailing the causes for 
the important measure ; declared that war existed 
between the United States of America, and the Unit- 
ed Kingdom of Great Britain. It was not for the 
officers and seamen of the Navy, nor the officers and 
soldiers of the Army to discuss the question, whe 
ther this declaration was founded in justice, neces' 
sity, or expediency ; and although the ardent politi 
-eal partizan, in the fervour of misguided zeal, migh 
ittCclare it to be unjust, unnecessary ^ wicked and un 
natural, it was the business of the Navy to sus 
tain the national rights and hoRour upon the ocean 
and of the Army to protect and defend our territorj 
sgaij^st every hostile invader. The 10th of June 
1812. forms an era in our history little less importan 
than the 4th of July 1776. It called upon the pa 
triotic sons of the Republic to maintain that inde 
peadeuce which was proclaimed by that venerabi 
body of gigantic statesmen, the " Old Congress," 
and which was established by the best blood tha 
ever flowed in man. . 

The effect this declaration had upon Com. Deca 
tur, and the matchless band of his brother officer 
and seamen, was suddenly developed. In ever 
naval port, and upon every deck that mounted 


gun, were heard the rapid '^ notes of dreadful pre- 

Never, since the discovery of the magnetic nee- 
dle had covered oceans with merchantmen of almost 
boundless wealth, and armed ships of often resistless 
power, was a contest entered into between rival na- 
tions upon the watery element with such an immense 
disparity of force. The list of the naval force of 
Britain, from 1812, when war commenced, to 1815, 
when it ended, numbered from seven hundred and 
fftyt-o one thousand sail— from first rates of 120 
guns to Schooners. There was not a ship belong- 
ing to any pov/er in Asia, Africa, or Europe, that pre- 
sumed to raise a hostile flag against them. To an- 
nihilate the handful of American ships it was con- 
cluded by British officers that it was only necessary 
io find them. 

Let the table be reversed, and the American na- 
val force in 1812 will appear to that of Britain, like 
a v/art to a mountain. " Look upon this picture and 
upon that.'^'^ The whole force which Cora. Deca- 
tur and his associates had at command was : — 

United States 

} Rate \ 


> 44 j 









\ 32 

'Jehu Adams 









Brig Adams 


Syrea } 16 


Enterprise > - . 

Rattlesnake S 

Viper. 12 

Vixen 8 

186 LIFE OF 

This little catalogue of ships ought to be in the 
memory of every lover of American greatness ; and 
although the whole of them carried less weight of 
metal than would have " the six Seventy-Fours," 
once ordered to be built by the government, yet their 
achievements in the progress of the war, inflicted a 
wound upon the enemy which will never be healed^ 
and shed rays of glory upon the American charac- 
ter which will never be obscured. 

It surely must excite the astonishment as well as 
the admiratioa of the reader, that Com. Decatur, 
every officer and every seaman on board the frigate 
United StateSj was in complete readiness to weigh 
anchor, and actually sailed from New- York, 21st 
June, within forty-eight hours after the declaration 
of war was made at the seat of government, and one 
hour after he received the intelligence. The good 
■♦vishes of every patriot heart, and the fervent pray- 
-Ts of every sincere Christian, in the immense throng 
ibat witnessed his departure, followed him and his 
chip's company, as they wafted off into the Atlantic 

[Je now entered into a new theatre of action, and 
vvas approaching into a contest, with to him a new 
«"nemy. He had witnessed the conquests of the lit- 
Je American squadron over the naval forces of France 
ii\ the warfare with that power in the administration 
of Adams. He had himself been the most prominent 
and distinguished leader in the brilliant and unsur 
passed victories in the Mediterranean, over Tripo- 


li, In the administration of Jefferson. But he was 
now, (in the administration of Madison,) to enter 
into a contest \vi«h the ocean-warriors of Brirain, 
who, so far from acknowledging any human beings 
that traversed the ocean as their equals, smiled at 
the idea that any should presume to oppose them. 
Better understanding the nature of naval service 
than to suppose, that, because Americans had con- 
quered Frenchmen and Tripolitans, they could, 0/ 
course, conquer Britons, his utmost solicitude was 
excited ; and, after commencing his cruise, he assi- 
duously endeavoured to impress upon the officers 
and seamen of his ship, the magnitude and import- 
ance of the service upon which they had entered. 
In his First Lieutenant, W. H. Allen, he recognized 
the perfect seaman, and noticed, with admiration, 
\he accuracy and precision with which he disciplin- 
ed the crew. Instead of reposing in his cabin, and 
suffering that ennui which listlessness produces, 
Com. Decatur was constantly on the alert. He did 
not assume that affected greatness which renders an 
officer indifferent to the minutice of duty ; but pos- 
sessed that real greatness which led him to attend 
to the smallest, and readily to comprehend the great- 
est concerns of his ship. Although he was sailing 

i; in a squadron under the command of Com. Rodg- 
ers, he made his ship his owyi province^ and felt 

i himself exclusively responsible for her manage- 

I ment. 

The first cruise of the frigate United States was 

188 LIFE OP 

a very extensive one. She was off the English 
Channel — along the coast of France, Spain and Por- 
tugal, to within thirty aiiles of the rock of Lisbon. 
She made the island of Madeira, and lay off Cora 
and Floros. She cruised along the banks of New- 
foundland, the coast of Novascotia ; indeed she tra- 
versed those portions of the Atlantic where there was 
the greatest probability of making an impression 
upon British commerce ; and, what was more ur- 
gently desired by her comma-nder, to try her metal 
with an equal British force. Although a number of 
prizes and prisoners were taken, the frigate United 
States returned with the squadron, without having 
signalized herself any otherwise than by the daring 
cruise she had made, in the very face of the ene- 
my, and by enabling an immense number of Ameri- 
can merchantmen to return home richly laden. ^ 
But superior joys were in store for him upon his 
arrival. The achievements of his gallant and ad- 
mired friend, Capt. Hull; and no less gallant Lieut. 
Morris, who was next to his right arm in the destruc- 
tion of the frigate Philadelphia, imparted a rapture to 
his heart, little less exhilirating than if he had achieved 
an equal deed himself. When he beheld the Flag of 
the Guerriere in the hands of his Mediterranean com- 
rades, who, with him, had so often made the Turkish 
Crescent bow, the measure of his delight was fulL 
When next he saw the Flag of thz Alerl in the pos- 
session of the gallant Porter, who was rescued from 
Turkish bondage by Lis achievements, his happi- 


uess was farther augmented. They were cheering 
auguries of the additional laurels which were short- 
ly to be added to the garland that graced his own 

Com. Decatur, in the frigate United States, sailed 
from Boston on the 8th October, upon his second 
cruise. Instead of encountering the foe, his ship 
endured severe struggles in gales of wind; but she 
was destined to survive them and to conquer the 

Nothing else of note occurred, until the memora- 
rable 25th ©f October, 1812. Upon that auspi- 
cious morning, the cheering notes — " A ship of war 
to windward," resounded through the noble fri- 
gate. Every heart on board swelled with enthu- 
siasm, and needed nothing to arouse them to cour- 
age. The cool and collected, yet animated man- 
ner of the Commodore, infused confidence and he-* 
roism into every bosom. The ship was instantly 
cleared for action — and ail hands repaired to quar- 

The official account of the action which followed, 
is with the highest pleasure incorporated into this 
volume. ' 

17. S. 5. Vniied States, at Sea, 
October 30, 1812. 

The Hon. Paul Hamilton, 

Sir — I have the hop ur :o inform you, that on 
the 25th inst. being in lat, 29 N, long, 29 39 W. 

190 LIFE OF 

we fell in with, and after an action of an hour and 
an half, captured his Britannic Majesty's ship Mace- 
donian, commanded by Capt. John Garden, and 
mounting 49 carriage guns, (the odd gun shifting.) 
She is a frigate of the largest class, two years old, 
four months out of dock, and reputed one of 
the best sailers in the British service. The enemy 
being to windward, had the advantage of engaging 
us at his own distance, which* was so great, that for 
the first half hour we did not use our carronades, 
and at no moment was he within the complete effect 
of our musketry or grape — to this circumstance and 
a heavy swell which was on at the time, I ascribe the 
unusual length of the action. 

The enthusiasm of every officer, seaman and ma- 
rine on board this ship on discovering the enemy — 
their steady conduct in battle, and precision of their 
fire, could not be surpa^^sed. Where all met my full- 
est expectations, it would be unjust in me to discri- 
minate. Permit me, however, to recommend to 
your particular notice, my First Lieutenant, Wm. 
H. Allen. He has served with me upwards of five 
years, and to his unremitted exertions in disciplin- 
ing the crew, is to be imputed the obvious superiori- 
ty of our gunnery exhibited in the result of the con- 

Subjoined is a list of t'he killed and wounded on 
both sides. Our loss, compared with that of the 
enemy, will appear small. Amongst our wounded, 
you will observe the name of Lieut. Funk, who died 


in a few hours after the action — he was an officer of 
great gallantry and promise, and the service has sus- 
tained a severe loss in his deulh. 

The Macedonian lost her Mizen-mast, fore and 
main top mast and main yard, and was much cut up 
in her hull. The damage sustained by this ship 
was not such as to render her return into port neces- 
sary, and had 1 not deemed it important that we 
should see our prize in, should have continued our 
cruise. ~^ 

With the highest consideration and respect, I am, 
ir, your obedient humble servant. 


List of killed and xooundedon hoard the United States. 

j Thomas Brown, New- York, seaman; Henry 
shepherd, Philadelphia, do. ; Wm. Murray, Boston, 
boy; M-iiiael O'Donncl. New- York, private ma- 
ne ; John Roberts, do. d^.^Kukd, 

John Mercer Funk, Philadelphia, Lieut. ; Joha 
rcbibc^ld, New- York, carj ehter's crew; Christian 
lark, do, seaman ; George Christopher, do. or- 
nary seaman; George Mahar, do. do.; Wm* 
mes, do. do.; John Lator.j do, private marine — 

On board the Macedonian there v;ere thirty-sis 
led, and sixty-eight ^wounded. Among the for- 

102 LIFE OF 

mer were the boatswain, one master's mate, and the 
school-master, and of the latter were the first and 
third lieutenants, one master's mate, and two mid- 

For brevity, modesty and perspicuity, we may 
safely challenge the admirer? of the oiBcial accounts 
of our naval -victories to produce any one that sur- 
passes this of Cora. Decatur's. Adtnirt-d they ge- 
nerally are, not only by the Aa;«ii(ari I'eader, but 
even Englishmen, in the midst of the chagrin and 
mortification they feel while reaJi\g them, inveluii- 
tarily express th^ir admira'ion. In speaking of the 
capture of the Macedonian, na^! Decatur's official 
account of it, a aistinguijihed Bi^itish wt'ter thus for- 
cibly expresses himseh :— *' W lile %'e .-^ee British 
superiority upon the ocean thus disp^ited^ and the 
victory of Americans thus described^ we know not 
which most to admire, the heroism of Decatur in 
capturing the Macedonian, or his mddesty in describ- 
ing the battle." 

One great cause of exultation at our naval victo- 
ries, has been the very short time in which they have 
been achieved. Com. Decatur assigns the reason 
for the '^ unusual leyigth of the action,"^^ (only 90 mi- 
ijytej) — '• The enemy, being to Windward, had the 
advantage of engaging us at his own distance, &c." 
< — The language of the naval court-martial who tried 
Caidon for losing his ship, is this — '* The court i:. of 
opinion, that previous to the commencement of the 


action, from an over-anxiety to keep the weather- 
gage, an opportunity was lost of closing with the 
enemy.' — It was " an opportunity lost," to Com. De- 
catur, by the " over-anxiety" of Capt, Garden. 
*' Closing with the enemy," was a lesson which the 
commander of the frigate United States thoroughly 
learned, and effectually practised in the Mediterra- 
nean during the war with Tripoli ; and had he 
been so fortunate as to have had the weather- 
gage of the Macedonian, and Nelson had been a 
spectator of the contest he would have exclaimed of 
Decatur, as he did of his favourite Coilingwood at 
the battle of Trafalgar — " See in what style the noble 
fellow carries his ship into action,^"^ 

Com. Decatur had on board his frigate a little boy, 
whose father, a noble seaman, had died and left the 
little fellow and his mother in poverty. As the Ma- 
cedonian hove in sight, and the seamen of the Unit- 
ed States frigate were clearing ship for action, the 
noble lad ran up to the Commodore, saying — '' Cap- 
tain, 1 wish my name might be put down onthe roll." 
— " Why so my lad ?" " So that I can draw a 
share of the prize-money, Sir," answered the young 
hero. His request was granted ; after the Macedo- 
nian struck, the Commodore called the lad to him— 
" Well, Bill, we have taken her, and your share of 
the prize, if we get her safe in, may be about g200 
—what will you do with it ?"— " Pll send ha'lf of it 
to my mother, Sir, and the other half shall send me to 
school." Delighted with a spirit so noble, and yet 
so affectionate, he took the fine little fellow into his 

194 LIFE OP 

protection— obtained for him a Midshipman's war*- 
rant — attended to his education — and he now bids 
fair to emulate and possibly to equal the achieve- 
ments of his noble patron. 

In the hottest of the engagement, and at the mo- 
ment the mizen-mast gf the Macedonian went by the 
board, a seaman actively engaged in working his 
gun, exclaimed to his comrades — " Aye, aye, we 
have made a Brig of her." Being overheard by 
the Commodore, he said, " Well my boys, take good 
sight at your object, and she will soon be a sloop ;" 
and im.mediately turning to another gunner, said — 
" My good fellow, aim at the yellow," [a stripe in 
ihe Macedonian between wind and water,] " her 
rigging is going fast enough; she must have a little 
more hulling.'^^ A favourite comrade of one of the 
seamen having fallen desperately wounded by his 
side, he exclaimed, '' ah, my poor fellow, I must at- 
tend to the enemy a few minutes longer, his colours 
must soon come down ; and then 1 will attend to 
you" — " Let me live till i hear that," said the ago- 
nized hero, " and I shall want attention from no- 

That admirable seaman, 1st Lieut. VV. H. Allen, 
in this action, beheld the practical result of the dis- 
cipline he had introduced into this noble ship, and 
unrivalled crew, and which occasioned Com. Deca- 
tur's high commendation. So rapid was the firing, 
and so completely was the frigate at one time enve- 
loped in fire and smoke, that the crew of the Mace- 
donian gave three cheers, supposing her to be on 


fye. Their cheers were soon converted to groans 
by the thickening messengers of death which pour- 
ed into their ill fated ship. 

After the Macedonian struck her colours, and her 
commander ascended the quarter-deck of the United 
States, a scene peculiarly aflfecting followed. With 
a dignified grace, he approached Com. Decatur and 
offered him his sword. With a benign suavity, and 
a manner wholly unassuming, the Commodore said, 
*' Sir, I cannot receive the sword of a man who has 
so bravely defended his ship, but I will receive your 
hand." It was the hand of Capt. JoA?i Surnam Car- 
den, with whom he had the interesting interview 
mentioned in a preceding chapter. Upon recogniz- 
ing each other, silence was the most impressive elo- 
quence. The fortune of battles had placed one gal- 
lant hero in the hands of another ; and they stead- 
fastly looked at each other with that kind of feel- 
ings which would be disgraced by any description. 
The affable grace of Com. Decatur, put the gallant 
Garden as much at ease as a conquered hero could be 
placed in the hour of defeat. He had left his ship 
almost a complete wreck, and could discover but 
little of the effects of the severe conflict in the frigate 
that had so effectually conquered her. The Mace- 
donian, when she struck, was in a state little better 
than that of the Guerriere^ Java and Peacock^ the 
last of which sunk even before the whole crew could 
be taken out, and the two others were abandoned 
by the captors and sunk. 

But the injury done to the ship is forgotten, when 

196 LIFE OF 

the slaughter made amongst the crew is considered. 
An officer of the frigate United States, besides com- 
municating many other interesting particulars, thus 
expresses himself: — " After securing our prisoners, 
I was sent on board the prize to assist in fitting her 
out, which we did in a few days under jury-masts* 
I assure you the scene she exhibited just after the 
action, was distressing to humanity. Fragments of 
the dead were distributed in every direction — the 
decks covered with blood — one continued agoniz- 
ing yell of the unhappy, wounded victims : 8i scene 
so horrible of ray fellow- creatures, 1 assure you, 
deprived me very much of the pleasure of vic- 

It will be recollected that the official report states 
the killed on board the Macedonian to be 36' — wound- 
ed — 68. Fify'three of the wounded died afterwards 
of their wounds ; making 89 in the whole ; — more 
lives than were lost by the Americans in all their 
battles with the Tripolitans ! And, what will astonish 
every reader, who has not, like the writer, critical- 
ly examined every official report to ascertain the 
fact— this loss of human lives on board the Macedo- 
nian, by instant death or wounds which proved mor- 
tal, was greater than that of the Americans in every 
me of the actions between single ships, where victa- 
j'ies were v^on ; and also in the victory upon Lake 
Erie, during the war with Great Britain ! Equally 
astonishing is it that this loss is only six less than 
that sustained by the Essex, of 32 guns, in the un- 
paralleled contest with the frigate Phmbe of 36— 


and sloop of war Cherub, of 28 — of the President 44 
with the Majestic (razee) frigates Endymion^ Porno- 
ne, Tenedos, and brig Despatch — and of the Argus of 
18 with the Pelican of 21 guns !— 

An important duty yet remained for Com. Deca- 
tur to perform — to conduct his ship and his shatter- 
ed prize over an immense and wide spread ocean, 
filled, in almost every direction, with vigilant and 
powerful enemies, and to reach an American port. 
Although the uniform courtesy and hospitality of the 
Commodore, made Capt. Carden " forget that he 
was a prisoner," yet he might well hope to be re- 
captured : and see the frigate United States, with 
the Macedonian, entering a British port. But ano- 
ther destiny awaited the persevering Decatur. It 
was for him to carry into port the first British fri- 
gate ever captured by a single frigate ; and it was 
for the little town of New-London, in Connecticut, 
to be the first to welcome the returning conqueror, 
with the trophy of his victory. 

He entered that port upon the 4th day of Decem- 
ber, 1812, with the frigate United Stales in prime 
order ; and the noble Macedonian which exhibited 
ocular demonstration that " she had seen servicej^"^ 
Although once amongst the newest, and by all, ac- 
knowledged the^r^^ ?-a^e frigate in the whole immense 
navy of Britain, she now belonged to the " Navy 
List" of America, The arrival of Com. Decatur 
called forth every demonstration of joy that could be 
evinced by the patriotic citizens of New-Londoo* 
That town and its vicinity, had always been a victini 
17 ^- 

198 aiFE OS" 

to British rapacity, ever since the British crOWS 
commenced the trade of war upon Americans. Its 
citizens now had before their eyes one evidence at 
least, that the claws of the British Lion might be 
rendered harmless by the talons of the American 

But little room can be spared for notices of the 
numerous and flattering evidenx;es of joy, evinced at 
the arrival of Com. Decatur at New- London. The 
Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council of that ci- 
ty, presented him their thanks. They could offer 
no higher proof of their admiration. A splendid ball 
was given in honour of the laurelled hero. He was 
charmed, again to witness the scenes of innocent 
festivity ; but the fascinating tones of the violin, and 
the changes and promenades of graceful nymphs, 
were no more pleasing to him, than the shrill sound 
of the Boatswain's pipe, calling all hands, and the 
animating thrill of the bugle, summoning to the bat- 
tles of his country. 

Upon his arrival at New-London, he immediate- 
ly despatched one of his accomplished and brave 
Lieutenants, Mr. Hamilton, to Washington, with the 
flag of the Macedonian, and his despatches. Lieuto 
Hamilton arrived at the metropolis upon the even- 
ing of the 8th December. A more happy combina- 
nation of circumstances cannot be ipiagined. It 
was upon the evening of a ball given in honour of 
the naval officers generally, and more particularly 
to one of the first of that gallant band, Capt* 
Charles Stewart* Not only the betfuty and fa • 


shion of the city, but much of the patriotism and ta- 
lents of the Republic were drawn together upon the 
joyous occasion. The graces were presiding over 
the festivities of the hall, and directing the move- 
ments of the " mazy dance." A whisper ran rapid- 
ly through the party, like a shock of electricity 
around a combined circle. It was suddenly an- 
nounced, that another flag of a British Ship of War 
had been brought to the city. Every heart was pal- 
pitating with joy, and " forgot its previous raptures." 
The party dismissed their delightful amusements, 
and waited for the " full fruition of joy." It was 
incipient joy whea Lieut. Hamilton entered the hall 
— it was joy consummated^ when the noble Capts. 
Hull and Stewart triumphandy bore the flag of the 
Macedonian through the enraptured assembly, and 
presented it to the dignified and elevated Mrs. Madi- 
son who was present. Those who had not the hap- 
piness to witness this scene may — 

■Talk of beauties that they never saw. 

And fancy raptures that they never knew." 

The Secretary of the Navy, Hon. Paul Hamilton^ 
his wife and daughter, were also present and pass- 
ed the embraces of the father, the mother^ and the 
sister, v}\ih Lieut. Hamilton. Assembled around 
the festive board, one of the managers gave for the 
toast — 

200 LIFE or 

*• Commodore Decatur, and the officers anf^ 


The tender and impassioned language of affec- 
tion and admiration, was instantly changed to the 
most enthusiastic plaudits. The hall reverberated 
with the -glory of Decatur. Memory called to 
view the capture of the Kptch Intrepid — the destruc- 
tion of the Philadelphia Frigate — the battle with the 
Tripolitan Gun-Boats — the death of the Turk who 
murdered Lieut James Decatur — and the flag of the 
Macedonian was suspended! in the hall, with those of 
the Guerriere, and the Alert, 

Com. Decatur, in the mean time, was preparing 
to conduct the frigates United States and Macedonian 
to New- York. He arrived in that port with them 
upon the first day of January, 1813, having been 
many days detained by adverse winds. He aHchor- 
ed the Macedonian at the Wallabout for repairs, and 
left the deck of the frigate United States, to enter 
ence more the city from which he sailed in one hour 
after the declaration of war was officially announced 
to him. 

It would be totally inconsistent with the limits and 
design of this volume to enter into particular details 
of all the manifestations of respect shown to Com. 
Decatur. He could not be inditferent to them ; but 
his modesty made him shrink from the glaring dis- 
play of them. 

Com. Decatur here met with two former asso- 
ciates when in the Mediterranean — Capts. Isaac 


Hull and Jacob Jones. The lyst he had, by his 
valour, emancipated from a bondage of eighteen 
months in a Tripolitan dungeon — he now saluted 
him as a champion, victorious over a superior Bri- 
tish force. He forgot the victory of the frigate 
United States over the Macedonian, when contemplat- 
ing that of the Wasp over the Frolie. 

The corporation, and citizens of New- York, ever 
foremost in rewarding patriotism and valour, dis- 
played their hospitality upon the occasion of Com. 
Decatur's arrival, in a style of spiendour unsurpass- 
ed. It was not a mere dinner to which he was in- 
vited — it was to a scene elucidating the highest 
taste, the finest arrangements, and the most noble 
sentiments. A capacious hall was colonnaded with 
masts of ships, and the flags of all the world were 
suspended upon them. Upon each table was a min- 
iature ship, displaying the " star-spangled banner" 
of America. An area of about 20, by 10 feet, was 
filled with water, and a miniature of the United 
States frigate was floating in it. A mainsail 33, by 
16 feet, was suspended in the rear of the artificial 
lake, upon which v/as painted the American Eagle, 
holding in his bsak a scroll with these words — '' Our 


One beautiful transparency represented the Ame- 
rican Eagle, holding in his mouth three medallions. 

*= A reference to the second chapter of this volume, will explain 
the appropriate meaning of this sentiment — worthy of the best Ra- 
man, in the best days of Kome. 

202 LIFE OF 

Upon one was inscribed " Hull and the Guer- 
riere" — on another — " Jones and the Frolic" — on 
aBother— .'^ DECATUR and the MACEDONIAN." 
Another splendid transparency represented the fri- 
gate Constitution taking the Guerriere in a blaze 
— August 19th 1812— The frigate United States 
taking the Macedonian, Oct. 25th, 1812 — The 
Wasp taking the Frolic, Nov. 18th, 1812. Upon 
displaying these inimitable representations, the 
whole company expressed their feelings by nine 
animated cheers. 

The feelings of these gallant men maybe conceiv- 
ed, but cannot be described. After they retired, 
amongst various other sentiments given on the occa- 
sion, was the following, which although it has rather 
too much of that species of humour called /?wnnmg^,is 
nevertheless extremely forcible, when understood. 
— •' The three naval Architects — Hull, who at one 
stroke laid the keels often hulls'^ — Jones who raised 
the frames — DECATUR, who gave the fnishing 

The corporation of the city of New- York, also 
gave to the whole crew of the frigate United States, 
a splendid dinner, in the same hall in which Com. 
Decatur dined. The decorations were precisely as 
just described excepting the lake in which the min- 
iature frigate wafted, which was filled with grog^ but 
produced not the least excess amongst those well 

* The " ten hulW alluded to an Act of Con°^ress thea recently 
passed for building/our 74'^ and six Frigate?. 


disciplined sailors. The crew exceeded 400, and 
were neatly dressed in blue jackets and trovvsers, 
scarlet vests, and glazed hats. As they marched 
froai the frigate to the City- Hotel, reiterated ap- 
plauses were given by the citizens. The splendour 
of thje hall — the miniature lake and frigate — and 
•above all, the transparencies of the victories of the 
United States, Constitution, and Wasp, carried their 
astonishment almost to delirium. The boatswain's 
whistle kept them in perfect order, and " Yankee 
Doodle," from the inimitable baud of the Macedo- 
nian, inspired them with ardent patriotism. After 
dinner, the boatswain thus ahswered Alderman Van- 
derbiit's elegant address. 

" in behalf of my shipmates, I return our sincere 
thanks to the corporation of the city of New- York, 
for the honour which they this day have done us. 
Rest assured, Sir, that it will be always our wish, 
to deserve the good opinion of our countrymea." 
Three hearty cheers, from the whole crew, evinced 
their, approbation of the boatswain's sentiments. 
They then drank to this toast, so perfectly in cha- 
racter with American tars — - 

'' American ships y all over the ocean J^^ 

At this time, Com. Decatur, and his accomplished 
Lieutenant, VV. H. Allen, entered the hall. The 
presence of the Commodore heightened their pre- 
vious rapture. He gave as a toast — 

'• Free trade and no impressments ^'^ 

204 LIFE OF 

which was received with an enthusiasm peculiar to 
sailors. He communicated to them the request of 
the managers of the Theatre, that they would attend 
in the evening ; and the whole pit was appropriated 
for their accomodation. The Commodore address- 
ed them nearly in these words — '' Sailors ! — Your 
orderly and decorous conduct this day gives me 
high satisfaction. Continue it through this even- 
ing; and convince the hospitable and patriotic citi- 
zens of New-Yoik, that you can maintain the same 
order in the midst of amusements, as you have done, 
when sailing upon the ocean and conquering the tne- 
my." It was answered by the well known and re- 
spectful salute of sailors. The admirable hand 
of the Macedonian again cheered them with patriot- 
ic airs. Excepting the lowering of an enemy's flag, 
this world could not alTord a scene more exhilirating 
to such a man as Stephen Decatur. 

One act of noble munificence in this truly noble 
crew, must not be omitted. Upon receiving their 
prize money, every one of the seamen immediately 
paid two dollars each, making a fund of nearly nine 
hundred dollars, for the benefit of the orphan chil- 
dren of John Archibald, who died by wounds receiv- 
ed in the action with the Macedonian. Com. Deca- 
tur placed the money in the hands of suitable trus- 
tees, and received from the father of Archibald, an 
address of thanks, couched in the impressive lan- 
guage of a grateful heart. But he looked his grati- 
tude more forcibly than he expressed it. On such ac 
occasion — 


'•'^ A glance sends volumes to the liearL 
While words impassioned die,"*^ 

The benevolent, the hunrjaTie,Hhe generous De- 
catur, upon this, and on numerous other occasions, 
enjoyed — " the luxury of doing good." It was not 
to his friends alone, to whom he extended the help- 
ing hand of humanity — to his enemies, wheri not in- 
consistent with his duty, he was a mmistering ange! 
of mercy. 

When he took possession of the Macedonian, he 
found her filled, not only with every munition and 
material of war, but with almost all the luxuries of 
the palace. He found an opportunity to repay the 
accomplished and gallant Capt. Garden for tne ma- 
ny civilities he had shown to American officers, 
while upon the American station. Every thing in 
the ship which belonged to the government as prize, 
he scrupulously accounted for; but every individual 
article that belonged to the officers and seamen, he 
punctiliously restored, or liberally paid for-* Capt. 
Garden had the finest band of music in the Briii<^h 
Navy, and the choicest supply of wine, &c. for hM 
own cabin. These and other conveniences to the 
amount of nearly a thousand dollars, Gom. Decpuf 
paid him for. Let the face of the commander o 
Poicliers 74, be crimsoned with shame, or turn : - 
with fear, when reminded that after capturinr ^ 
Wasp, 18, he deprived the gallant Gapt. Jone - d 
bis crew of every article except the cloches \}ir,i co- 
vered their bodies; and that these noble Ame: ■ ::: 

206 LIFE OP 

never shifted their dress, until they were exchanged, 
and arrived in a cartel in America*. Let arioiher 
fact connected with the Macedonian which this same 
Capt. Jones was appointed to command, be men- 
tioned by way of contrast between the American and 
British governments, and between American and 
British naval officers. The following is an extract 
from the Muster- Roll of the Macedonian, when cap- 
tured by Com. Decatur. 

" Christopher Dodge, American, aged 32, prest 
by the Thisbe, late Dedaigneuse, shipped in the 
Macedonian, July 1, 1810. 

Peter Johnson, American, aged 32, prest by the 
Dedalus, entered August 24, 1810. 

John Alexander, of Cape Ann, aged 29, prest by 
the Dedalus, entered August 25, 1810. ^ 

C. Dolphin, of Connecticut, aged 22, prest by the 
Namur, late Ceres, entered August 4, 1810. 

Major Cook, of Baltimore, aged 27, prest by the 
Royal William, late Mercury, entered Sept. 10, 

William Thompson, of Boston, aged 20, prest at 
Lisbon, entered Jan. 16, 1811, drowned at sea in 
boarding an American. 

* When the gallant seamen of the late ship Wasp arrived at the 
seat of government, the Secretary of the Navy, and other genile- 
men visited them in their destitute situation : the Secretary shook 
them each by the hand — applauded them for their gallantry in ac- 
tion, and fortitude under privations ; and gave orders for an in, me- 
diate supply of every comfort and convenience. These men ever 
afterwards would fight desperately against the brutal eoemy, and 
valiantly for their country. 


■ John Wallis, American, aged 23, prest by the 
Triton, entered Feb. 16, 1811, killed in action in 
the Macedonian ! 

John Card, American, aged 27, prest by the North 
Star, entered April 13, 1811, killed in action in the 
Macedonian !" 

Let the vaunting " Queen of the Ocean" boast of 
her thousand ships and matchless commanders ; and 
as Macbeth shuddered at the ghost of Banquo^ let her 
shudder at the ghosts of Thompson^ Wallis and Card^ 
compelled to fight their own countrymen, and per- 
haps to spill their brother's blood. But their blood 
has been avenged, so far as man can avenge ; and 
it is for that Being who " reigns in the armies of 
heaven above" to administer eternal justice. 

208 T.IFE OF 


Honours conferred upon Com. Decatur — He takes comiuand of a 
Squadron — Immense disparity between American and British 
Naval force on the American coast — List of both — Com. Deca- 
tur sails from New-York in Squadron — His ship struck by light- 
ning — Sails for a British 74 — Retreats to New-London — Pre- 
pares for defence — Razees — British Squadron — Contrast be- 
tween Hardy and Cockburn — Stratagems of War — Passport for 
the bodies of Lav/rery::e and Ludlow — (Jom. Decatur attempts to 
escape — Blue Lights — Steam Frigate — Challenge to the enemy 
— Impressed seamen — Dignified and humane officers — Com. 
Decatur and Com. Macdonough. 

Com. Decatur might now be said to be at the ze- 
nith of glory. Honours flowed in upon him in such 
rapid succession, that if the thirst for fame and the 
appetite for glory could ever be satisfied, he might 
well say " it is enough," — and yet, when acknow- 
ledging the honours conferred upon him and his gal- 
lant officers and seamen, his unassuming language 


be asked what deeds could Decatur perform, that 
would be '• more proportioned" to the highest ap- 
probation that could be bestowed, than what he had 
already achieved? I do not here allude to his last 
achievement — brilliant as it surely was, it was even 
.surpassed by those of his early life, and such, I trust. 


is the opinion of the readers of these imperfect 

Promotion he could not receive, for at twenty- 
five, he reached the highest grade of office in the 
American Navy. The almost endless series of pro- 
motions in the Navy of Britain, opens a wide door 
for her officers to pass through to naval honours. 
Admirals, and vice-Admirals — Admirals of the white, 
the red, and the blue, and Rear- Admirals almost ad 
infinitum, afford titles of honour to a numerous host 
of officers, whether they have earned them by deeds 
of valour, or acquired them by court favouritism. 
The titles of duke, earl, marquis, -viscount, baronet 
and knight, are also within the gift of the crown ; 
and it will be recollected that plain Capt. Broke of 
the Shannon, was '• dubbed a knight" for capturing 
by a fortunate circumstance, the ill-starred frigate 
Chesapeake, after she had fairly beaten the Shan- 

The most grateful reward to the gallant and noble 
Decatur, was the thanks of his government and the 
applause of his countrymen. They w^ere far high- 
er in his estimation, than a dukedom, or peerage 
with a princely estate torn from the hard earnings 
of humble and patient industry. These he enjoy- 
ed in full fruition. Nor were they nezo honours to 
him. Ten years before, he received from Con- 
gress, his COMMISSION, a vote of thanks, and a 


The Congress or the United States voted 
their thanks to Com. Decatur, his Officers and 

18 * 

210 LIFE Of 

Seamen, for the capture of the Macedonian— a gjold 
medal to him, and a silver one to each of his of* 

The State Legislatures of Pennsyhania and Mas- 
sachusetts also voted thanks to the Commodore, his 
Officers and Seamen — and the Legislature of Virgi" 
nia presented elegant swords to him, and to Lieuts. 
W. H. Allen, and J. B. Nicholson, for the same 

The Citizens of Philadelphia, (for '* those who 
knew him best, loved him most,") presented him 
with a sword of pure solid gold, of little less value 
than one thousand dollars. Perhaps the pecuniary 
_value of it ought not to be mentioned ; as neither 
the givers nor the receiver thought of it in any other 
point of view, than as a token of admiration on the 
one part, and an evidence on the other of consum- 
mate skill, gallant courage, and devoted patriotism. 
Sumptuous public dinners, and splendid public 
balls, were given to the Commodore wherever he 
could be found ; and had duty or inclination led him 
io travel by land, he unquestionably would have 
been urged and almost compelled to have eaten and 
danced his passage through the whole Republic, But 
he rather preferred to make another attempt to fight 
his passage o'^er the ocean, through the thickening 
ships of the enemy, which, at this period, almost en- 
circled the whole country. 

Com, Decatur, soon after his return to America, 
from his second brilliant cruise, was appointed to the 
command of a Squadron, consisting of the frigate 


United States, (his flag-ship,) — the frigate Macedo- 
nian, Capt. Jones — and the Sloop of War Hornet, 
Capt. Bi??DLE. These gallant and persevering offi- 
cers devoted themselves, with unceasing assiduity, 
in fitting their ships for sea. The Frigate U. States 
and the Sloop Hornet, notwithstanding the first bad 
i*ecently captured a first rate British Frigate, and 
the last had sunk a British ship of superior force, 
needed but little repairs ; yet the Macedonian was 
rendered almost a wreck, and needed thorough re- 
pairs. The Squadron was fitted for sea by the 24th 

While preparing this Squadron for sea; Com. De- 
catur, Capts. Jones and Biddle, enjoyed the high 
satisfaction of learning the splendid victory of the 
noble and gallant Com. Bainbridge, of the frigate 
Constitution, over the British frigate Java, Capt. 
Lambert, and that of Capt. Lawrence, of the Sloop 
of war Hornet, over the British sloop of war Pea- 
cock, Capt. Peake. The history of Naval warfare 
scarcely affords a parallel with these two victories. 
The new and elegant ship Java all but sunk in the 
action, and was afterwards blown up as a worthless 
wreck — her commander mortally wounded — 60 men 
killed, and 170 wounded. The sloop of war Pea- 
cock, one of the finest of her class, sunk even be- 
fore the whole of the conquered crew could be got- 
ten on board the Hornet. What enhanced the in- 
terest of these victories, was the delightful, and yet 
glorious association of ideas. The writer has fre- 
quently, in the later periods of Com. Decatur's Vifi, 

212 LIFE OF 

recurred back to hh MtNiiterrv'^nean achievements* 
How forcibly may we recur to iheni in this place ? 
Bainbricfc^e, Jones and Bin die, were once ifi the most 
dismal bondage in Tripoli — Decatur and Lawrence 
led in the destruction of the frigate Philadelphia, 
which hastened their emancipation ! They commenc- 
ed their naval intimacy in scenes of common dan- 
gers and common misery — it had now advanced to 
the high exultation of common victories obtained by 
them all, over the mistress of the ocean. Never had 
a whole class of men so much reason to admire each 
other, as the American Naval officers, who began 
their career of sufferings and victory in the Mediter- 
ranean, and who have so gloriously conquered in the 

The immense disparity of Naval force between 
America and Britain at the commencement of the 
war, has been alluded to in general terms. It may 
gratify the reader to learn more particularly the 
force of the enemy, when the undaunted and fearless 
Decatur, commenced his third cruise. The state- 
ment is derived from a source which will not be dis- 
puted, as it comes from the very loyal Mr. Steele^ 
whose annual " Navy List, of the Royal Navy of 
Great Britain" and their several " Stations" is made 
under the inspection of the " Lords Commissioners 
of the Admiralty," and more particularly under that 
of ' John V/ilson Croker, Esq.' This List for 
January 1st, 1813, assigns the following ships to 
tiie several stations undermentioned : — 




Frolic, brig 
Muros, brig 

Guns. Commanders. 

32 R. Hawkins, esq. 

18 Whinyates. 

18 Wm. Evans. 
14 Lt. C. Hobart. 

London papers of the 10th of January, stated 
that a squadron of 19 sail of the line, several large 
frigates, (razees) and 5 bomb vessels, would instant- 
ly proceed to the coast of America, to bombard some 
of the principal ports. The following are named as 
part of that force. Some of them were then on our 

Royal Oak 




La Hogue 


















c R'r Ad. L'd A. Beaiiclerc; 

I Capt. F. G. Shortland. 
Joseph Bingham esq. 
Hon. T. B. Capel. 
L. S. Regnier, esq: 
R. D. Oliver. 
John Halliday. 
C. W. Fahie, esq. 
Rt. Hon. Lord J. Colvillc. 
Wm. Prouse, esq. 
Geo. M'Kinley, esq. 
P. L. Wooicombe, esq. 

Going first off the Western Islands. 



Mutine, brig 

36 Arthur Farquahar. 
38 Samuel Pym. 
18 N.D. Courcy. 










Rolla, brig 


C. J. Austin, esq. 
R. Henderson, esq. 
E. W. C. R. Owens, esq. 
Philip Browne, esq. 
Wm. Hall, esq. 


San Domingo 






























c Ad. Sir J. B. Warren, bt. 
I Capt. Charles Gill. 
Thomas Baker, esq. 
C Rear Ad. Cockburn, kt. 
I Capt. B. H. Ross. 
Sir J. P. Beresford, kt. 
Sir Thomas Hardy, bart. 
Robert Barrie, esq. 
A. R. Kerr, esq. 
James Saunders, esq. 
E. P. Epworth, esq. 
J. A. Gordon, esq. 
P. B. V. Broke, esq. 
E. P. Brenton, esq. 
Hassard Stackpole, esq. 
Hyde Parker, esq. 
Richard Byron, esq. 




Arachne, brig 
Arab do. 

Atalanta do. 
Colibri do. 
Curlew do. 
Heron, brig 
Moselle, brig 
Sophia, brig 
Magnet, do. 

Plumper, gun brig 
HoHy, schr. 
Bream, do. 
Cuttle, do. 
Fierce, do. 
Herring, do. 
Mackerel, do. 

36 Geo. Burdett,esq. 

SQ Hugh Pigott, esq. 

32 Lord J. Townsend. 

24 Thomas Graham, esq. 

20 Thomas Fellows, esq. 

20 John Pasco, esq. 

20 F. Nftwco^nb, esq. 

18 C. H. Watson, esq. 

18 John WiUon, esq. 

18 Frederick Hickey, esq, 

18 J. Thompson, esq. 

13 Michael Head, esq, 

18 Hon. H. D. Byng. 

13 Wm. M'Culloch, esq. 

13 John Evans, esq. 

18 David Scott, esq. 

18 Mowbray, esq. 

18 H. F. Banhouse, esq. 

13 N. Luckyer, esq. 

16 D. M. Maurice, esq, 

\Q A. Gordon, esq. 

12 Lt. J. Bray. 

12 R. R. B. Yates. 

8 Lt. S.S. Treacher. 

4 Lt. C. D. Browne. 

4 Lt. W. L. Patterson. 


4 Lt. John Murray. 

4 Lt. T. H. Hutchinson, 

* Lost near Eastport, Maine. 



The following vessels were on the Jamaica and 
LiPew^n] Island Stations, and on passage to the 
West Indies, the 1st of January : 

Dragon 74 

Arethusa 38 

Sybelle 38 

^Southampton 32 

Jason 32 

Narcissus 32 
Mercury {enJluU) 28 

Garland 22 

Coquette 20 

*Cyane 20 

Lightning 20 

Brazen 18 

Bold, brig 18 

Crane 18 

Dauntless 18 

Dernerara, g. b. 18 

Peruvian, brig 18 

Indian 18 

Sappho, brig 18 

Sapphire 18 

Maria, brig 16 

Swaggerer 16 

Protection, g. b. 14 

(R'rad.SirF. Laforey,bt. 
( Capt. F. A. Collier. 

C. Upton, esq. convoy/. 
Sir James Yeo. 
Hon. Wm. King. 
J. R. Lumley. 

C. Mihvard. 

John Simpson. <, 

Thomas Forrest. 
B. C. Doyle. 

John Skekel. 
James Stuart. 

D. Barber. ) convoy with 
W. H. Smith. > the Sybelle. 
A. F. Westropp. 

Henry Jane. 

H. O'Gready. 

Henry Haynes. 

Lieut. Bligh. 

G. J. Evelyn. 
c Lieut. G. Mitchener, 
\ convoy with Sybelle 

Lost on the Bahama Keys. 



Liberty, cutter b. 


Lieut. G. M. Guise. 

Morne Fortunee, b 

. 14 

J. Steele. 

Netley, sch. 


G. Green. 

Spider, b. 


F. G. Willoch. 

Elizabeth, sch. 


Lieut. Edward F. Droyei 

Rapide, do. 


N. W. Pere. 

Algerine, cutter, 


D. Carpenter. 

"^Dominico, g. b. 


Robert Hockings. 

Opossum, do. 


Thomas Woolridge. 

Ballahon, sch. 


Norfolk King. 

Green Linnet 




Lieut. Charles Browne- 




C Adm. Sir E. Nagle, bart« 
I Capt. Edward Hawkes. 
W. P. Cumby, esq. 
Wm. Gregory, esq. 
John Cooksley, esq. 
Lieut. Wm. Smith. 
N. Vassal. 
The Guerriere, the Macedonian^ the Java^ the Pea- 
zock, and the Frolic, once belonged to this List. 
The names of the Jlrst^ and three last, although not 











* Lost on the Bahama Keys. 

t Upset and sunk while in chase of the American privateer 
Tack's Favourite. 
X Captured by U^e Essex. 




the same timbers were afterwards added to the Ame- 
rican Navy List. 

i\gain> — " Lookvpon that Picture, and then upon 
this,^'^ — ft would make the reader think of " little 
iulus" following after " Anchises." 




Com. Rodgers. 

United States 





Capt. Lawrence. 















Repairing at Washington 



do. do. 



Cant. Porter. 




John Adams 










Lieut. Allen. 



Mast. Com. J. Baintwidge 



Lieut. Blakely. 






The fastidious disciples of the " Doctrine oi 
Chances," would feel that wonder, which is the ef- 
fect of timidity upon weakness, that the government 
of the American Republic, or its Navai officers 


should presume to expose a ship or a seaman to the 
destruction of such an overwhelming superiority of 
force. The government and its officers knew what 
had been accomplished, and were not to be deterred 
hy fear from further attempts. They took no coun- 
sel from that paralyzing passion in the breast of do- 

Com. Decatur received his sailing-orders with ex- 
ultation, and Capts. Jones and Biddle panted for an 
opportunity to gather further laurels. 

Upon the 24th of May, the Commodore's broad 
pendant waved from the head of his favourite -fri- 
gate United States. The " Star-spangled Banner'' 
held the place once occupied by " St. George's 
Cross" on the Macedonian ; and the liltie Hornet 
still retained her stings. They passed into the 
sound ; and when off Hunt's Point, the main-mast of 
the Commodore's ship was struck w^ith lightning, 
and his broad pendant came down ; being compell- 
ed, surely, in this instance, to yield to a " superior 
FORCE." It entered a port-hole — went down the 
after hatchway, through the ward- room, into the 
Surgeon's room — tore up his bed and put out his 
candle — then passed between the skin and ceil- 
ing of the ship, and tore up about twenty nails of 
her copper at the water's edge. The Macedo- 
nian, but 100 yards astern, hove her top-sails aback, 
fearing the nre might iind its way to the magazine. 
The Squadron, however, was soon again under full 

Upon June 1st, a British 74 vras discovered off 

220 LIFE ov 

the harbour of New-London. Immediate sail was 
made for her, and a prize was already taken in an- 
ticipation. At this moment the remainder of the Bri- 
tish squadron — a 74, a Razee, and a frigate, show- 
ed themselves, coming from their covert behind Mon- 
tauk Point. This force was almost as irresistible 
as the lightning from which the American squadron 
had recently escaped; and it made good its retreat 
into the harbour of New- London ; not, however, un- 
til the Commodore's ship gave the razee a few shots 
from her stern chasers. 

Such are the sudden changes in the fortune of 
naval warfare. The Commodore found himself 
blockaded in the same port ioto which he lately con- 
ducted the first British frigate as a prize, that ever 
entered an American harbour. 

Expecting from the great force of the enemy an 
immediate attack, the squadron was prepared, aided 
by the military force at forts Trumbull and Gris- 
wold, to give Sir Thos. M. Hardy a reception as 
warm and more effectual than his adored Nelson 
found at Copenhagen. 

As this is the first time Razees have been mention- 
ed, some readers may wish for a description, of what, 
however, may properly be called a non-descript in 
naval armaments. They are actually 74 gun-ships, 
with a little portion of their decks cut down, and the 
exclusion of their smaller guns which are of but little 
use except in close engagements. They are deemed by 
the first naval characters a full match for two first rate 
frigates. The wary admiralty of Old England^, af-. 


tor seeing their finest frigates for the first time bow- 
ing to an equal force, designed these mongrel bul- 
warks of her prowess, for contests with American 
frigates, and denominated them razees ! If a double 
entendre were allowable upon a subject that ought 
to excite contempt, we might safely venture to say, 
that in single combat with a plain American 44, they 
would be razeed of more deck and more guns than 
what the British naval architects would approve of. 
The admiralty of Britain, by this measure, bestow- 
ed the highest compliment upon American officers 
and seamen, and virtually acknowledged their own 
inferiority in conflicts between equal forces — -and the 
crown would probably have knighted the comman- 
der of a British razee for capturing an Americanfri- 

Com. Decatur moored his squadron five miles 
above the town, and took every precautionary mea- 
sure, in conjunction with the United States' forces 
in the forts and the Connecticut militia, which im- 
mediately appeared, to prepore for a vigorous de- 
fence. His prcjience and example inspired confi- 
dence in every bosom, and imparted the ardent glow 
of patriotism to every heart. Although Com. De- 
catur, Capts, Jones and Biddle, their officers and 
seamen, w^ere driven, by a force wholly irresistible 
f,»y them, from their chosen element, — and that for- 
midable. force still menacing them and the country, 
vet, spirits like tlicirs were never created to '* de- 
spair of the Republic." The first had long been 
familiar with scenes of carnage and death in their 



222 LIFE OP 

most horrid forms, and the second and the third fiad 
endured the horrors of a lengthened bondage amongst 
the most ferocious and merciless of barbarians — and 
all had been in victorious conflicts with the mistress 
of the ocean. 

It would not comport with the intended limits of 
this volume, to detail all the minor events that took 
place in the naval and military forces at, and near 
New-London, during the long period the American 
Squadron was there blockaded. The British Squad- 
ron under Sir Thomas M, Hardy, was at all times 
too formidable to attack and to® vigilant to escape. 
It originally consisted of the Bamilies, 74, Sir T. 
M. Hardy — Valiant, 74, R. D. Oliver— Mcasta, 40, 
A. R. Kerr— Orpheus, 36, H. Pigott. The Siatira, 
38, H, Stackpole, (" sister-ship" of the Macedoni- 
an.) and Z« Hogue, 74, and Endyjnion, 44, after- 
wards joined ; besides Tenders, Barges, Boats, &c. 
&;c. Sir Thomas could diminish or augment his 
squadron at pleasure, as there were always British 
ships enough within a few days' call. 

It might be considered as a fortunate circumstance 
for the citizens of Connecticut and New- York, resi- 
dent on the borders of Long-Island sound, that such 
a noble and magnanimous enemy as Sir T. M. Har- 
dy, commanded in those waters. The inhabitants 
upon the waters and the borders of the Chesapeake 
suffered a far different destiny where the sanguina- 
ry and detested Cockbiirn, held dominion. Hardy, 
one of the heroes of Trafalgar, and who received 
the dying Nelson in his arms on board the Victory,^ 


scorned to make war upon unresisting weakness. 
But let the fate of Hampton, Havre de Grace^ French- 
town and Fredericktown be remembered ; and to 
place Cockburn upon the very pinnacle of infamy 
for *' scorn to point its slow unmoving finger at,'''' let 
the wanton destruction ©f the Capitol, the Presi- 
dent's house, the National Library, and the dilapi- 
dations upon the Naval Monument at Washington 
be brought to light. It is almost with a blush 1 men- 
tion the name of this paragon of infamy upon the 
same page with the valiant Hardy, who never violat- 
ed the established principles of civilized warfare. 
Scarcely a living animal was taken from the islands 
or the main, without they were paid for, or offered 
pay refused*. No defenceless villager was driven 
in despair from his burning mansion ; no unprotect- 
ed female suffered violence from brutal passion. 
This truly noble Hero knew his duty to his king and 
country, and he performed it. His squadron cap- 
tured every merchantman within its reach. One de- 
tachment of it destroyed a large amount of shipping 
at Pettipaug — another made a " demonstration^'' up- 
on the borough oi Stoning ton, and were repulsed by 
the unparalleled heroism of the citizens. He would 
most gladly have recaptured the Macedonian, and 
have been delighted to have added the frigate Unit- 
ed States and the sloop of War Hornet to the " Roy- 
al Navy •,*' but he knew that a Decatur, as valiant 

•Gardner, Esq., proprietor of Gardner's island, refris- 

^pay for twenty head of fine cattlco 

224 LIFE OF 

and magnanimous as himself, was placed as a watch- 
man upon these wooden walls of the Republic. Sir 
Thomas could do nothing but smile at the gasconad- 
ing threat of one of his officers, " That they meant 
to have the Macedonian, if they followed her into a 
corn-field.'^'' Undoubtedly they would have rejoiced 
to reap such a prize in any field. But Com. Har- 
dy's *' system of navigation*' would hardly admit of 
gathering a crop on such an element. 

Although Com. Decatur and Com. Hardy would 
prefer an ocean-battle to obtain a conquest, yei stra- 
tagem has always been practised to obtain the same 
object. Such was resorted to by the commanders 
of the Valiant and Acada^ to decoy Com. Decatur 
into the hands of the enemy. About the middle of 
June, these ships left their stations — captured a 
coasting vessel, and assured the master of her, that 
the Valiant had struck upon a rock, and that the 
Acasta was going with her to Halifax for repairs, 
and to take out the crew if she should sink. In a 
week they returned with an additional Frigate and a 
Brig of War ! 

Upon the 19th June, the day upon which war was 
declared the year preceding, the American flag was 
hoisted under that of the British on board their 
squadron. Had thai flag been taken in action with 
an equal force, there would have been more mean- 
ing in it. They could distincUy see the American 
flag upon the mast of the Macedonian. 

Upon the Soth a schooner fitted out as a sort of 
flre-ship at New- York., by a Mr. ScudJer, who ac- 


knowledged the fact, exploded near the British 
squadron, destroyed some boats and about 100 men. 
Com. Hardy, probably supposing it to have origi-- 
nated in Com. Decatur's squadron, sent the follow- 
ing note on shore by a flag of truce. 

" The inhabitants of Stoninglon, New-London, 
and the vicinity, are hereby informed, that after this 
date, no boat of any description shall be suffered to 
approach or pass his Britannic majesty's squadron, 
lying off New- London, flags of truce excepted. 

Given on board his Majesty's ship Ramilies, the 
26th June, 1813. 

T. M. HARDY, Capt." 

Although the gallant and lamented Gen. Pike, 
-died by a British stratagem still more unusual than 
this, yet Com. Decatur, as the reader will present- 
ly iGBvn, proposed a different mode to take or destroy 
the British squadron than by that of blowing it up 
with fire-ships, or torpedoes. 

Com. Decatur, about the first of September, re- 
ceived from Com. Bainbridge the original British 
passport for the Brig Henry, fitted out by the patri- 
otic George Crowninshield and manned by twelve 
sea-captains, to proceed from Salem, (Mass.) to Ha- 
lifax, and to bring to their native land the bodies of 
the gallant and lamented Capt. Lawrence and 
Lieut. Ludlow who fell in the Chesapeake frigate. 
The object was to enable Com. Decatur to obtain 
an extension of the same passport^ from the com- 

226 LIF^ OF 

manding officer of this station, for the Hmry to pro^ 
ceed to New-York with the bodies. The Commo- 
dore immediately despatched Lieut. Nicholson with 
a flag of truce, and a letter addressed to Sir T. M. 
Hardy, " or the officer commanding H. B» M, Squad- 
ron off JSfezc'London,'^^ Capt. Oliver of the Valiant 
was the " officer commanding.''' Lieut. Nicholson 
was ordered to lis by with his boat, in weather ex- 
tremely boisterou*^, and was refused the privilege of 
coming to the leeward of the Valiant Tor protection. 
An officer was sent on board the flag-boat — the de- 
spatches were sent to Capt. Oliv^T, with the original 
passport. After an hour's detention, a letter was 
sent on board, to Com. Decatur, informing him that 
his letter and the passport would be sent to Com. 
Hardy, then at Halifax ! 

The feelings of Com. Decatur on receipt of the 
letter, can neither be described nor conceiv^ed. Jn 
consequence of this refusal, the bodies of these sleep- 
ing heroes were transported by land, from Salem 
through Massachusetts and Connecticut to New- 
York. That this refusal should not appear too glar- 
ing an outrage upon humanity, it ought to be men- 
tioned that Capt. Oliver, subsequently^ when it was 
too late to have effect, granted the request I 

While Com. Decatur's squadron was rendered 
thus inactive, and driven from the occaji, a " fresh 
water" squadron, surrounded by a wilderness, 
achieved a deed which produced inexpressible as- 
tonishment in the enemy, and joy as inexpressible 
with Americans. As Com. Perry^s victory upon 


Lake Erie was the first gained over the enemy in 
squadron^ as Capt. Hull's was the^ir^^ over a single 
ship, they have been echoed and re-echoed, until it 
might be supposed that the thirst for praise itself, 
Vvould have been saturated. This capture of the 
British squadron upon Lake Erie is an anomaly in 
the history of Raval warfare. Although Nelson had 
taught the manner of breaking through an enemy's 
line, yet it was for Com. Perry to leave his own dis- 
abled ship in the hands of his Lieutenant^ who re- 
luctantly struck her flag — take the ship of the next 
officer in command, almost uninjured, and despatch 
him on another service — then with his fresh ship, 
aided by the gallantry and skill of her former com- 
mander, in bringing fresh ships into close action, to 
gain a decided victory, is surely without a parallel. 
Com. Perry and Capt. Elliott seta new example; 
whether it ever vvill be followed, must be left for fu- 
ture naval conflicts to determine. Particulars must 
here be omitted ; but they may be learned from 
Com. Perry's three official letters to the Secretary/ of 
the Kavy ; and his three civil letters io Maj, Gen, 
Harrison, The General aided the Commodore in 
obtaining the victory upon water — the Commodore, 
in return, aided the General in conquering upon 

But such are the sudden reverses of those who 
travel the road to fame, that they are often compell- 
ed to mingle the tears of grief with the smiles of 
triumph. Scarce had the exhiliration of joy excit- 
ed in the bosom of Com. Decatur by the victory up- 

228 LIFE or 

on Lake Erie subsided, before the death of one of 
his former la vourite lieutenants was announced. Af- 
ter the capture of the Mactdoiiian^ Lieut. W. H. 
Allen, was promoted, and ordered to take com- 
mand of the Argus^ the first armed vessel that De- 
catur commanded. He carried the American minis- 
ter to France, and repaired to the Irish channel, 
where, in a short time, he captured British property 
to the amount of $2,000,000, as Me^ confess; yet 
they admired the hand that struck them, it 
was raised with so much dignity and foil with so 
much humanity. When Capt. Allen fell himself, j 
nobly fighting the Pc/ican upon the 14th August, and 
was buried in the midst of the enemies he had so j 
nobly fought, their demonstrations of respect for his f! 
character, speak his highest eulogy. He was in- 
terred with the honours of war ; and the American 
flag under which he had gallantly fought, enclosed 
his reliques as they were borne to the vault, where 
his slain midshipman Mr. Delphi/ had previously 
been deposited. Like the gallant Lawrence, he^ 
fearlessly fought — he nobly fell — and was — 

" By strangers hoiiourM, and b)' strangers mourn'd." 

Upon the 4th October, Com. Decatur abandon- 
ed the fort he had erected on Dragon- Hill — descend- 
ed the river about three miles, determining to watch 
every possible opportunity to escape from his irk- 
some and disheartening situation. It was doubtless L 
as irksome for Com. Hardy to blockade, as it was ^^ 


br Com. Decatur to be blockaded — they both pre- 
erred a more active and glorious service. But the 
brtune of war had placed them in this situation ; 
md if it had been the pleasure of their several go- 
vernments, that they should have remained in it dur- 
ing life, they must either have fought their way out 
>f it, — submitted to it, or left a service from which 
hey derived their highest enjoyment. 

The vigilance of the blockading squadron was 
uch, that no opportunity, for a long time, occurred 
o attempt an escape with any hoj)cs of success. 
ndeed, it was the bounden duty of the British 
quaflron, to prevent Com. Decatur's escape, or to 
apture or destroy his ships ; and if they had failed 
o do one of them, every officer in the enemy's 
quadron would have met with the severe punish- 
nent whirh a British naval court-martial, invariably 
nflicts for the most trifling omission of duty, or com- 
fiission of error. 

It is always the policy of war to obtain the most 
orrect intelligence of an enemy's situation — the 
mount of his force — his movements, and, if possi- 
)le, his intentions. The British almost invariably 
lave their emissaries in t!;; midst of their enemies. 
t is easy^ from the similarity of language and ap- 
jearance, to introduce their own subjects into an 
American Squadion, or Encampment ; and such is the 
ireakness or corruption of man, it is not hard, even 
bribe their enemies with gold. That the British 
ad emissaries of one or the other character atNev/- 
lOndon, is placed beyond the doubts even of stub- 


230 LIFE OP 

born incredulity, unless of that stubbornness whicti 
i5 often the last subterfuge of guilt. The citizens 
oi Mezo- London and Groton had passed through the' 
very extremity of sufferings, inflicted upon them by, 
the most execrable of traitors — Benedict Arnold; 
and the most remote suspicion of treason^ could not 
for a moment attach itself to them. Their patriots 
ism in the first war between the Republic and Brit- 
ain — and the avidity with which they flew to arms 
in the second, to defend Com. Decatur's squadron, 
most forcibly repels the least imputation of disaflfec- 
tion. But they had in the midst of them, either for- 
eign emissaries, or domestic traitors, from some- 
where ; and they could not detect them. Even the 
chosen followers of the Redeemer innocently har^ 
boured and caressed an unknown traitor; and if ao, 
American accepted of " thirty pieces of silver," oi 
thirty thousand of gold, to betray his country, it ijs 
not to be regretted if he has met with the fate o( Is* 

But let the language of the noble, the patriotic, 
and, in this instance, the indignant Decatur, speafe 
for itself. 

'' Mw'London, Dec, Wth, 181^. 
" Some few nights since, the weather promise^ 
an opportunity for this squadron to get to sea, anc 
it was said on shore that wo intended to make the, 
attempt. In the course of the evening two blue 
lights were burnt on both the points at the harbour's 
mouth as signals to the enemy, and there i? no" ^ 


3oubtj but that they have by signals and otherwise, 
nstantaneous information of our movements. Great 
3ut unsuccessful exertions have been made to de- 
ed those who communicate with the enemy by sig- 
nal. The editor of the New-London Gazette, to 
ilarm them, and in hope to prevent the repetition of 
'hese signals, stated in that newspaper, that they had 
oeen observed and ventured to denounce those who 
lad made them in animated and indignant terms, 
rhe consequence is, that he has incurred the express 
:ensure of some of his neighbours. Notwithstand- 
ng these signals have been repeated, and have been 
een by 20 persons at least in this squadron, there 
ire men in N. London who have the hardihood to 
iffect to disbelieve it, and the effrontery to avow 
heir disbelief. I am, sir, with the highest conside- 
ation and respect, your very obedient and humble 


Hon, Wm, Jones, Secretary/ of the Kavy, 

Here let the gloomy subject rest. The bosom 
^f the patriot cannot be disturbed by it; and as to 
he traitors \n\\o " hurnt the two blue lights,^"^ if still 
n existence, may their pillows be pillows of thorns 
—may their sleep be agony ; and may they even be 
:leprived of tears to appease the gnav;ings of guilt, 
ntil they confess it, and become the subjects of hu- 
man justice, and, if so decreed, of divine mercy. 

Com. Decatur, Capts. Jones and Biddle, as they 
sould not escape, and as the enemy would not at- 

232 LIFE GF 

lack Ihem at anchor, turned their attention to a new 
species of naval armament, invented by that une- 
qualled mechanist, Robert Fulton. As it is em-^^ 
braced in the object of this work to blend with the 
biography of Com. Decatur " brief notices of the 
origin^ progress and achievements of the American 
JVar^/," it is deemed useful to furnish the reader ^ith 
his opinion, a»d that of other distinguished naval 
characters, of Fulton's Steam Frigate. 

^^ Jsfew'Lotidon.) Januari/ 3, 1S14. \ 
We, the undersigned, have this day examined the 
model and plans of a vessel of war, submitted to us 
by Robert Fulton, to carry 24 guns, 24 or 32 pound- 
ers, and use red hot shot, to be propelled by steami 
at the speed of from 4 to 5 miles an hour, without thej 
aid of wind or tide. The properties of which ves-l 
sel are: That without masts or sails, she can move 
ivith sufficient speed ; that her machinery being 
guarded, she cannot be crippled ; that her sides are 
30 thick as to be impenetrable to every kind of shot — 
and in a calm or light breeze, she can take choice 
of position or distance from an enemy. Consider' 
ing the speed which the application of steam has al- 
ready given to heavy floating bodies, we have ful! 
confidence, that should such a vessel move only fouii 
miles an hour, she could, under favourable circum-|' 
stances, which may always be gained over enemies' 
vessels in our ports, harbours, bays and sounds, be 
rendered more formidable to an enemy than anj| 
kind of engine hitherto invented. And in suci 


case she would be equal to the destruction of one or 
more 74's, or of compelling her or them to depart 
from our waters. We, therefore, give it as our de- 
cided opinion, that it is among the best interests of tac 
United States, to carry this plan into immediate ex 




Mil) 'York, Jan, 10, 1814. 
We, the subscribers, having examined the model 
of the above described vessel of war. to be propell- 
ed by steam, do fully concur in the above opinion 
of the practicability and utility of the same. 


It is to be regretted, that this novel, floating en- 
gine of destruction had not been in readiness to test 
its power upon the Royal Navy of Britain in the se- 
cond war ; and although a third one is to be depre- 
;ated, it is ardently hoped by every lover of the 
! Republic that in a future war with that or any other 
power, such engines or some others, may protect our 

ports, harbours, bays and sounds" from the de- 
predation of every hostile intruder. 

To return to Com. Decatur, and his blockaded 
squadron, and to Com. Hardy who was still block- 
ading him. Capt, Moran, had been captured and 
20 ■^- 

234 LIFE OF 

was on board the Ramilies. Sir Thomas remarkec; 
to him that — " Now that two frigates were off, oi 
equal force to the United States and Macedonian, he 
should have no objections to a meeting taking place, 
but that he could not allow the challenge to come 
from the English commanders,^^ Capt. Moran was 
paroled — came on shore, and without knowing Com. 
Decatur, mentioned the circumstance in his hearing. 
He immediately despatched Gapt. Biddle in a flag 
of truce, with a challenge from the American com- 
manders. The crews of the United States and Ma- 
cedonian were called, and laconically addressed. 
Com. Decatur said — " Officers and seamen — You 
will shortly be called upon again to try your skill 
and valour. This ship and his Britannic Majesty's 
ship Endt/mion oi equal force will speedily try their 
strength. You are accustomed to victory, and you 
will not tarnish the glory you have already won. I 
have no fears for the result." 

The ardent, yet modest Capt. Jones, addressed 
his officers and seamen nearly as follows. — '* My 
lads- — the Macedonian was once conquered by Ame- 
rican tars, and she will soon have an opportunity to 
gain a victory herself. You have not forgotten the 
Sloop of war Frolic, and you will shortly be intro- 
duced to the Frigate Statira. My lads — our cruise 
will be short, and 1 trust a very profitable one." — • 
Three hearty cheers were given in answer to these 

Com. Hardy, by signals, called the commanders 
of the Eridvmion and Statira onboard the Ramiliesy 


and modestly said to them — " Gentlemen, here are 
two letters for you — it rests altogether v^ilh you to 
decide the matter." — Capt. Stackpole answered — - 
*•' 'Pon honour, sir, it is the most acceptable letter I 
ever received." Capt. Flope of the Endymion was 
less boisterous and proba}))y more courageous. 

All was animation in the frigates United States 
and Macedonian. The officers and seamen were 
anxious to be led immediately into the contest- 
when lo! the Borer sloop of war came in, and in- 
formed that the invitation had been finally declin- 
ed ! 

A correspondence followed upon this subject be- 
tween Commodores Decatur and Hardy, and Capt. 
Stackpole, quite too prolix for insertion at lengtho 
A paragraph from Stackpole's letter will be intro- 
duced to show^ the difference between him, and those 
who know what belongs to an accomplished officer 
= — in his letter of January i7th 1314, he says :— 

" The honour of my king, the defence of my 
country, engaged in a just and unprovoked war, ad- 
ded to the glory of the British flag, is all I have in 

The " honour of his king and country" would not 
be much advanced by having those affairs of state 
settled in the cabin of the Siaiira, by Capt Hassard 
Stackpole, which belong to the ministers of his Ma- 
jesty at St. James. 

The commander of the frigate Siaiira^ (if mtn and 

236 nds^E OP 

things have any analogy) would have been more ap- 
propriately located in the British brig Szoaggerer, 
16 guns, (see preceding Navy List.) — To be excu- 
sed for a little pedantry, " Staiira''' signifies a 57^5- 
pension of zorath, and the meaning of " Sicaggerer'''* 
is, like the old Ahnanacs — " familiar to the meanest 

Com. Decatur thus elegantly and pointedly con- 
cludes his letter of January 19th : — 

'' Whether the war we are engaged in be just or 
unprovoked on the part of Great Britain, as Capt.^ 
Stackpole has been pleased to suggest, is consider- 
ed by us as a question exclusively with the civiK 
ians, and I am perfectly ready to admit both my in- 
competence and unwillingness to confront Capt. 
Stackpole in its discussion. I am, Sir, with the high- 
est consideration and respect, 


To Com. Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Bart, 4'C." 

Com. Vi^vdy finishes the correspondence upon this 
subject in these terms : — 

" 1 beg to assure you, Sir, 1 shall hail with plea- 
sure the return of an amicable adjustment of the dif- 
ferences between the two nations, and have the ho- 
nour to be, &:c. 

To Com. Stephen Decatur, &c, <^^c, S^c, /V. London^'^''' 


ft realiy excites astonishment that two oificers 
like Sir T. M. Hardy and Capt. H. Stackpole en- 
gaged for the sam« " king and country" should hold 
language so diametrically opposite — but — " who 
shall decide when doctors disagree." 

It will be recollected that the sentiment given by 
Com. Decatur at the dinner furnished his crew 
at New- York was — ' Free Trade, and no Impress- 
ment.' To ensure the one, and prevent the other, 
were the great causes for which he was then, and al- 
ways had been contending, both with Christians and 
Mahometans, for Mahometan slavery is not much to 
be preferred to Christian impressment. He was em- 
phatically " The Sailor's Friend," and would exert 
every nerve to relieve them from distress, or restore 
them from bondage. 

In April, 1813, di father came to New-London to 
rescue a son from bondage. It was an aged man by 
the name of Alfred Carpenter^ of Norwich, (Conn.) 
If there can be any thing like good fortune in bon- 
dage, it was so for John Carpenter that he had been 
in a British ship five years with Sir T. M. Hardy, or 
others like him. A flag of truce was immediately 
despatched to the Ramilies, with the father. He- 
was courteously received on board. Sir Thomas 
witnessed the embrace of the father and son, with 
the rapture of a benignant heart — immediately dis- 
charged the worthy and grateful seaman who bad 
become a favourite, and gave him the necessary do- 
cuments to obtain $2300 as wages and prize-money^ 

238 LIFE OP 

Let the language of this magnanimous enemy speak 
his eulogy. 


Off Block- Island, ^pril 29, 1813. 

" Sir — I have the honour to acknowledge the re- 
ceipt of your letter of yesterday's date, and in re- 
ply I beg leave to say, that it is far from the wish c: 
the commander in chief on this station, to keep any 
subject belonging to the United States, on board 
any of our ships of war. I have therefore seni 
by the bearer of this, John Carpenter; and if ■ 
thought there was another citizen of the Uniteci 
States on board the ship I have the honour to com- 
mand, he should be sent by the same conveyance. 
I have directed the Orpheus to land all the priso- 
ners she has on board, by getting proper receipts 
for them, and if the government of America do not 
think proper to send back the few men who have un- 
fortunately fallen into their hands, I shall acquit 
myself of having done every thing in my power to 
lessen the hardships attached to the fortune of war; 
and sh.\Il, (though with much reluctance) in future 
be under the necessity of sending all the prisoner? 
to Halifax or Bermuda. 1 have sent by the flag o 
truce Capt, Fludson, who was captured by the Ra 
milies a few days ago ; may I beg of you to sen-d . 
receipt for him, with the other prisoners ? 

I have the honour to be, yours most faithfully, 

To James Stezoarl, esq, agent for British priso- 
ners, <^'C." 


In March, 1814, Capt. Thomas B. Capel became 
commander of the British Squadron off New-Lon- 
tlon, in the La Hogiie, 74. Com. Decatur discover- 
ed that Capt. Stackpole had an American seaman, 
impressed in August 1803, and that he had been in 
the Statira six years. His name was Hiram Thay- 
er^ of Greenwich, (Mass.) Com. Decatur despatch- 
ed Lieut. Hamilton with a flag to demand his dis- 
charge. Stackpole refused to discharge him, al- 
though the evidence of his nativity was as clear as 
that of the Prince Regent, under whom he served. 
The father of Thayer arrived at New-London in 
search for his lost son. 

I cannot deny myself nor the reader the pleasure 
and the indignation of inserting an extract of Com. 
Decatur's letter to the Secretary of the Navy, and 
Capt. Capel's to him upon this subject. Pleasure, 
to discover the goodness of the Commodore's heart, 
and Capt. Ca pel's urbanity — indignation at the dia- 
bolical wickedness of the gasconading Stackpole 
towards unresisting wretchedness. Let official do- 
cuments tell the rest. 


U. S. S, United SiaUs, A'. London, March Sth, 1814. 
Sir, — John Thayer, the father of Hiram, assures 
me that the certificate of the selectmen, the town- 
clerk, and the mijiister of Greenwich were forward- 
ed some time ago to Mr. Mitchell, the resident agent 
for American prisoners of war at Halifax, but does 

240 LIFE O*' 

not know the reason why he was not discharg 

The son has written to the father, and inform 
him, that on his representing to Capt. Stackpole 
that he was an American citizen and would notfii^ht 
against his country, that Capt. Siackpolr told him, 
*' if they fell in with an Americanman of war, and he 
did not do his duty, he should be tied to the mast, and 
shot at like a dog ! /" 

On Monday the 14th inst. John Thayer requf st- 
ed me to allow him a flag to go off to the enemy, 
and ask the release of his son. This I granted at 
once, and addressed a note to Capt. Capel, stating 
that I felt persuaded that the application of the fa- 
ther, furnished as he was with conclusive evidcace 
of the nativity and the identity of the son, would 
induce an immediate order for his discharge. The 
reply is enclosed. The son descried his father at a 
distance in the boat, and told the 1st lieutenant of the 
Stafira that it vjas his father ; and I understand the 
feelings manifested by the old man , on receiving the 
hand of his son, proved beyond all other evidence the 
property he had in him. There is not a doubt left 
on the mind of a single British officer, of Hiram 
Thayer's being an American citizen — and yet he is 
detained., not as a prisoner of war, but compelled, un- 
der the most cruel threats, to serve the cneynies of hi; 

Thayer has so recommended himself by his so 
briety, industry and seaniafi-^hip, as to be appointed 
a boatswain's mate, and is now serving in that ca- 


pacity in the Stalira — and he says there is due to 
him from the British government about 250/. ster- 
Hng. He has also assured his father, that he has al- 
ways refused to receive any bounty or advance, lest 
it might afford some pretext for denying him his dis- 
charge whenever a proper application should be 
made for it. 

1 am, sir, &;c. 



H. B. M. Ship La Hague, of 
JV. London, 14th March, 1814. 
Sir — -1 have the honour to acknowledge the re- 
ceipt of your letter, together with the certificates of 
exchange and discharge from parole, forwarded to 
you at the request of Col. Barclay the commissary- 
general of British prisoners of war; and I beg to 
return you my thanks for your polite attention. 

r regret that it is not in my power to comply with 
your request, in ordering the son of Mr. John Thay- 
er to be discharged from H. M. siiip Statira, but I 
will forward your application to the commander in 
chief by the earliest opportunity, and I have n© 
doubt he will order his immediate discharge*. 
I am sir, &c. 

Commanding H. B. M. Squadron off N. London. 
To Com, Decatur, Com, U, S. Squadron .M London, 

* Thayer was afterwards discharges! . 

242 LIFE OF 

It is with delight, wholly inexpressible, that such 
instances of humanity and philanthropy are record- 
ed. They serve for a time to make — *' Grim vi- 
sag'd war to smooth its wrinkled front," and to af- 
ford some refutation of the melancholy and pathetic 
exclamation of another of the poets of nature — 

** Man's inhiimanity to wan, 
Makes countless thousands mourn." 

Should the examples of such officers as the noble 
Pecatur, and the no less noble Hardy, find imita- 
tion with all the officers of the American Republic^ 
and the British Empire, the time might come, when 
the Eagle and the Lion, as well as the Lion and the 
Lamb would lie down together — and the sound of 
the Lute would be heard where the Clarion of war 
resounds. — It is worse than futile to expatiate upon 
the hackneyed idea that Americans and Englishmen 
have one common origin and ought to be friends. 
Let the British parliament learn from the " Lords 
Spiritual" who carry the " sanctity of their lawn" 
into its senate, and mingle it with " the pure ermine 
of justice" that adorns its " Lords Temporal" that 
harmony is not to be obtained by insolence and in- 
justice* — /7;id that a race of men like American- 

* The great Lord Erskine, in July, 1820, thus addressed the 
Peers of England : — " Remember to be just ; — we stood above all 
other countries in our character for justice and equity, let us I ' 
careful not to forfeit timt character." 


when injured, will always obtain redress — and that 
Englishmen, when invading this sacred right will al- 
ways be compelled to submit. 
" While Com. Decatur was thus cut off from dis- 
playing his skill and valour upon a more extended 
theatre, the reader has been furnished with a few, 
out of the numerous instances of his active attention 
to every thing relating to the navy and to seamen, 
that came within his immediate observation. This 
tended in a degree to dissipate the languor which 
inaction will produce in the most active spirit. 

The summer and autumn of 1814, presented to 
the view of Americans, many objects calculated to 
excite their deepest solicitude, and to call forth their 
highest energies. The fleets and armies of the 
" Allied Sovereigns" of Europe, in the van of which., 
our enemy went on conquering and to conquer, had 
restored every *' legitimate sovereign" that could 
be found, and a sullen peace followed in Europe. 
The British ministry had disgorged their unoccupied 
troops upon our northern borders, with some of their 
best generals ; and Com. Downie, one of their dis- 
tinguished naval commanders, had a decided supe- 
riority of force to Com. Macdonough. The com- 
mand of Lake Champlain, at this momentous crisis, 
was of more importance, perhaps, than that of any 
other of the interior waters upon the continent of 
America. The hopes of the Northern and Middle 
Slates were fixed upon the gallant Macdonough, and 
iheir fears were excited from his inferiority of force. 

544 LIFE OF 

No one could participate more deeply m those feel- 
ings than Com. Decatur, who was precluded from 
participating in the danger of his admired friend. 
Decatur and Macdonough had gone hand in hand in 
the great Mediterranean school, and in the desperate 
conflicts with the Tripolitans. The latter, then in a 
Hiinor station, had followed the former in defending 
against the attacks of Syracusans, with their daggers ^ 
and stilettoes — the second that gained the deck of 
the Philadelphia after him, and valiantly succoured 
him in conquering the host of Turks, and destroying ' 
the frigate — and, to complete the climax of unsur- 
passed deeds of " noble daring," he was his main 
support in that unequalled contest with the Tripo- 
litan Gun-Boats in avenging the death of Lieut. De- 

After this rapid sketchy I leave it for the reader 
to judge what must have been the rapture and ex- 
ultation of Com. Decatur, when the splendid and 
glorious victory o{ September 11th, 1814, was an- - 
nounced! Had he gained the victory himself his" 
joy would not have been exceeded. It was not on- 
ly that his admired friend and former associate had 
added to the laurels he had previously won, but that 
one of the most important sections of the Republic 
was saved from the depredations of such a Vandal 
foe as had devastated the western frontier — the bor- 
ders of the Chesapeake — and the Metropolis. 

This was one of the hardest fought battles and 
important, victories during the war, as the enemy ' 


knew the immense consequences a victory would 
have been to themselves ; and the slaughter amongst 
them was dreadful. Com. Macdonough's fleet was 
at anchor in Plattsbiirgh bay, and the immense Bri- 
tish army as confidently expected to witness a sud- 
den victory over him as commander in chief, as the 
hosts of Tripolitans did, when he was a Midship- 
Qian under Com. Decatur. The disappointment of 
both was equal ; and they fled with almost equal 
precipitation when they heard the roar of American 
cannon, and witnessed the destructive effect of the 
unequalled gunnery of American seamen. The ad- 
mirable order in which Com. Macdonough had ar- 
ranged his fleet, has ever been spoken of, as evinc- 
ng the utmost nautical skill, and naval science. His 
ship, the Saratoga, for a considerable time, bore 
learly the whole weight of the enemy's fire. Her 
starboard side had nearly every gun dismounted, 
[lad he at this period, struck his flag to a force so 
nuch superior, not even a v/hisper of censure would 
lave been heard ; but it was at this portentous mo- 
T>ent, that the character of Macdoitough developed 
tself. With perfect self-possession, he winded his 
ship — brought afresh broad-side on Com. Downie's 
hip — compelled her to strike her flag — then sprang 
broad-side upon another ship — compelled her to 
strike also, and the victory was obtained. This 
aint sketch is only given to carry along with the 
fuemoirs of Com. Decatur the greater achievementf^ 
9f our Navy ; and more particularly, those of his 
21 * 

246 LIFE OP 

associates in the Mediterranean. He had previous-i 
ly enjoyed the satisfaction of congratulating many 
of them for their skill, valour and victories over a 
powerful Christian enemy, as he once saw them as- 
sist in compelling Mahometans to bow. His joy 
was enhanced when he embraced his gallant frientL 
Macdonough as one of the " conquering heroes." 



Join. Decatur dismantles the fri2:ate3 United Siales.OMd Macedonian 
— Achievements of the Essex, Capt. Porter — Expedition to the 
East-Indies resolved upon by the Navy Department — The 
Squadron for that service — (/"om. Decatur designated as com- 
ma.nder of it — -ails in the frigate President^ encounters and beats 
the frigate Endymiony and surrenders to tlie ichole British squad- 
ron — His offi ial account of the action — Additioual particulars—- 
Falsehoods of an Eno^li-h editor, and the consequences of them — 
The remairider of Com. Decatur's Squadron, Hornet and Pea- 

Com. Decatur remained at New-London with his 
squadron through that part of the season of 1814, 
during which there was any reasonable hope that he 
might escape the British blockading force, and put 
to sea with his ships. When the season arrived 
which precluded all hopes of escaping, he moved 
the frigates United States and Macedonian to the 
head of navigation in the river Thames, for ships of 
heavy burthen, and dismantled them. The Sloop 
of War Hornet, he ordered to remain at her station 
as a guard-ship. 

At the commencement of the year 1815, the Navy 
Department determined to make an attempt to send 
a squadron to the East-Indies, to protect American 
commerce in those seas, and to annoy the enemy in 

248 UFE OF 

that rpgion. It was well known what the gallant 
and determined Ca})t. Porter bad accomplished in a 
single frigate, the little Essex, in another quarter. 
The history of naval enterprise and perseverance 
does not afford a parallel to that which he accom- 
plished. He literally swept British commerce from 
an immense ocean. His little frigate, in her eccen- 
tric course, spread as much consternation amongst 
British merchants, as the comet once did amongst ti- 
mid women, and men who think and act like timid 
women. No human calculation could determine 
where the Essex would strike, or what she would 
burn. The Lords Commissioners of the whole Ad- 
miralty of Britain despatched ship after ship, and 
squadron after squadron — the " north gave tip, and 
the south kept not back^' — almost every thing of 
British that could float, v^^as despatched to catch the 
little Essex. She had taken from British purses tiao 
million dollars, a sum sufficient to build six 74 gun- 
ships ; and to capture her, cost the treasury of Eng- 
hnt] five million dollars — of course sufficient to build 
fifteen 74 gun-ships. But while enjoying a short 
respite from her labours, under the supposed pro- 
tection of a neutral port, a British squadron under 
Com. Hillyer, after being all but conquered himself, 
took the little Essex, in a slate so riddled and bat- 
tered by the gallant and desperate defence she 
made, that it is doubtful, whetncr the same Essex is 
now ranked in the List of the Royal Navy. As she 
was taken in open violation of the Law of MaiionUp 


in- a neutral port, so her gallant commander, "after 
his enemies had violated the law of honour, return- 
ed to his country and his duty, without being ew- 
changed for a Captain of the British Navy*. 

However unpropitious the prospect might be of 
an American ship or squadron escaping the enemy's 
ships which lined our coast, and choked our sounds, 
bays, and harbours, the Navy Department resolved 
to send every armed ship to sea, that could reach it 
by escaping the enemy, or fighting a passage through 
Lhem. Our Naval officers reversed the maxim of 
:he British knight who declared that—" It was bet- 
ter to die with rust, than to be scoured to death 
Vjfith perpetual motion!." They felt as impatient 
&ut of water as the leviathan, which majestically 
maintains his dominion in the mighty deep. 

The squadron designed for the important cruise 
:o the East- Indies, and the commander, will be di- 
ectly mentioned. The Hornet w^as still at New- 
London under the command of Capt. Biddle. He 
kvas ordered, if possible, to escape from the harbour 
>f New-London by the blockading squadron there, 
ind reach New- York through the squadron off the 
Book, consisting of a number of frigates, sloops of 
ivar and a razee. Capt. Biddle had a duty of ex- 
;reme difficulty to perform in reaching the harbour 
sf New- York ; but with the most admirable skillf 

* Vide Com. Porter's official report, 
+ Vide Shakespeare's Henry IV. 

250 LIFE OP 

upon the night of the 18th November, he eluded the 
vigilant watch of the British squadron at New-Lon- 
don, — passed through that otf New- York, and join- 
ed the other ships of the American squadron. This 
achievement alone entitles Capt. Biddle to an high 
rank amongst accomplished navigators. 

The ships and officers of this squadron consisted 
of the frigate President. Com. Decatur — Sloops of 
war, Hornet, Capt. Biddle — Peacock, (new) Capt. 
Warrington, and Tom Eozi^line, (storeship,) Lieut. 
Hofiman*. A little embarrassment arose at the Na- 
vy Department in consequence of designating Com. 

* As this is the first time the name of Lieut, B. V. Hoffman has 
occarred iu these sketches, it may gratify the reader to learn that 
he was a Lieutenant oa board the Coristitution, Capt. Stewart, in 
the distinguished action on tlie 20th February, 1815, between that 
ship and the tvjo sliips of war Cyane and Levant. The year before, 
the Cyane engaged a French 44 gun frigate and fought her until a i 
British 74 came up and took her — and but a short period before 
that, she engaged a /r/g-af*?, 14 gun-brig and ^'re gun<-hoals, and 
beat them off, for v.^hich i\\e commander deservedly received the 
honours of knighthood — yet, with the assistance of the Levant, of 
21 guns, she and her consort both struck to the Constitution, most 
emphatically called *' Old Jrcn-Sides.''^ Lieut. Hoffman was de- 
spatched with the Cyane to America — through all the enemy's 
ships, arrived at New- York, and elegantly described the action im 
his letter to the Secretary of the Navy. Capt. Stewart says in his 
•fficial letter — •' He gallantly supported the reputation ofanAmeri'^ 
tan seaman'''' Such a commendation, from such an officer as Capt, 
Stewart, rendered Lieut. Hoffman a fit associate for (,om. Deca-. 
tur. He was also an active ollicer in the Constitution, in the ac- 
^on? with the Guerriere and Java . 


Decatur as commander of the President, Com, 
Rodgers had recently returned from a cruise in that 
ship, and, as she needed repairs, the comn[iand of the 
Gnerriere, nearly ready for sea, was offered to him. 
He preferred retaining the command of the Presi- 
dent, which had been offered lo Com. Decatur. 
Thus circumstanced, Com. Rodgers, with his cha- 
racteristic magnanimity, gave the choice of ships 
to Com. Decatur, who took the President. 

The squadron was fitted for sea by the 14th Jan- 
uary. Com. Decatur, fully aware that if he got to 
sea, he must go through a host of enemy's ships 
cautiously determined to sail singly himself, and de- 
signated the island of Tristan d'Acunha^ as the 
Dlace of rendezvous for the s<|uadron. 

Upon the evening of the 14lh January, 1815, 
Com. Decatur and his officers took leave of the gal- 
lant and accomplished officers of the remaining ships 
of his squadron— some of them, alas ! for the last 
time, weighed anchor in the noble frigate President, 
ind, with his pilot, attempted to put to seat. The 

* For au interesting and elegant account of this island, see Ana» 
ectic Magaziae. 

t When Com. Decatur dismantled the frigate United States, 
md was appointed to the ccmmaud of this squadron, his officers and 
;re\y urgently hoped that they might follow their beloved com- 
nander to any ship and throu2:h every danger. 1 hey remained 
ogether. It will be renieoabered that the gallaut and lamented 

AWR.ENCE was removed from the noble Constitution and his creiv, 
vith whom he had ht'coine famiiiaTf to the ill-starred Chesapeake zxid 
ler crew-, to lohom he was cf/ncst a7i entire stranger. The result U 
Loo well known ! 


252 LIFE or 

official account of the occurrences that followed, are 
detailed by Com. Decatur in his h Iter to the Secre- 
tary of the Navy, in a style so far surpassing any 
other description that could be given, that it is here 
offered to the admiration of the reader. 

H. B. M, Skip Endymion, ) 
At Sea, Jan. 18, 1815. ) 

Sir, — The painful duty of detailing to you the 
particular causes which preceded and/ led to the, 
captiire of the late United States frigate President,! 
by a squadron of his Britannic m^^jesty's ships (asj 
per margin) has devolved upon Hie. / Jn my com- 1 
• muniration of the 14th, I made kiiown to you ray 
intention of proceeding to s^a diat evening. Owing, 
to some mistake of the pilots, the ship in going out, 
grounded on the bur, where she continued to strike 
heavily for an hour and a half. Although she had 
broken several of her rudder-braces, and had re- 
ceived such other material injury a* to render her 
return into port desirable, I was unable to do sol 
from the strong vresterly wind which was then blow- 
ing. It being now high water, it became necessaryj, 
to force her over the bar before the tide fell ; in this 
we succeeded by 10 o'clock, when we shaped out 
course along the shore of Long- Island for 50 miles,! 
and then steered S. E. by E. At 5 o'clock, three 
ships were discovered ahead ; we immediately haul 
ed up the ship and passed 2 miles to the noithwarc^^ 


©f them. At daylight, we discovered four ships in 
chase, one on each quarter and two astern, the lead- 
ing ship of the enemy, a razee — she commenced 
a fire upon us, but without effect. At meridian, the 
wind became light and baffling, we had increased 
our distance from the razee, but the next ship astern, 
which was also a large ship, had gained and conti- 
nued to gain upon us considerably; we immediate- 
ly occupied all hands to lighten ship, by starting 
water, cutting the anchors, throwing overboard pro- 
visions, cabjes, spare spars, boats and every article 
that could be got at, keeping the sails wet from the 
royals down. At 3, we had the wind quite light; 
the enemy who had now been joined by a brig, had 
a strong breeze and were coming up with us rapid- 
ly. The Endymion (mounting 50 guns, 24 pound- 
ers on the main deck) had now approached us with- 
in gun-shot, and had commenced a fire w^ith her bow 
guns, which we returned from our stern. At 5 
o'clock, she had obtained a position on our star- 
board quarter, within half point-blank shot, on which 
neither our stern nor quarter guns would bear; we 
were now steering E. by N. the wind N. W. 1 re- 
mained with her in this position for half an hour, in 
.he hope that she would close with us on our broad- 
iide, in which case I had prepared^my crew to board, 
but from his continuing to yaw his ship to maintain 
lis position, it became* evident that to close was not 
lis intention. Every fire now cut some of our sails 
^ >F rigging. To have continued our course under 


254 LIFE OP 

these circumstances, would have beeH placinpr it in 
his power to cripple us, without being sul)ject to in- 
jury himself, and to have hauled up' more to the 
northward to bringoursternguns to beai*. would have 
exposed us to his raking fire. It was now dusk, 
when I determined toalier my course S. for the pur- 
pose of bringing the enemy abeam, and although 
their ships astern were drawing up fast, 1 felt satis- 
fied Ivshould be enabled to throw him out of the com» 
bat before they could come up, and was not without 
hopes, if the night proved dark, (of which there was 
every appearance) that I might still be enabled to 
effect my escape. Our opponent kept otf at the 
same instant we did, and commenced at the same 
time. We continued engaged steering south with 
steering sails set two hours and a half, when we 
completely succeeded in dismantling her. Previous* 
ly to her dropping entirely out of the action, there 
were intervals of minutes, when the ships were 
broadside and broadside, in which she did not fire 
a gun. At this period (half past 8 o'clock) although 
dark, the other ships of the squadron were in sight 
and almost within gun-shot. We were of course^ 
compelled to abandon her. In resuming our for- 
mer coarse for the purpose of avoiding the squads 
ron, we were compelled to present our stern to our 
antagonist — but such was his state, though we were 
thus exposed and within range of his guns for hal 
an hour, that he did not avail himself of this favour 
able opportunity of raking us. We continued this 


course until 1 1 o'clock, when two fresh ships of the 
enemy (the Pomone and Tenedos) had come up. 
The Pomone had opened her fire on her larboard 
bow, within musket-shot ; the other about two ca- 
bles' length astern, taking a raking position on our 
quarter; and the rest (with the exception of the 
Endymion) within gun-shot. Thus situated, with 
about one fifth of my crew killed and wounded, my 
ship crippled, and a more than four-fold force op- 
posed to me, without a chance of escape left, I deem- 
ed it my duty to surrender. 

It is with emotions of pride I bear testimony to the 
gallantry and steadiness of every officer and I 
had the honour to command on this occasion, and I 
feel satisfied that the fact of their beating a force 
equal to themselves, in th^ presence, and almost 
under the guns of so vastly a superior force, when 
too, it was almost self evident, that whatever their 
exertions might be, they must ultimately be captur- 
ed, will be taken as evidence of what they would 
have performed, had the force opposed to them been 
in any degree equal. 

It is with extreme pain I have to inform you that 
Lieutenants Babbit, Hamilton and Howell, fell in 
the action. They have left no officers of superior 
merit behind them. 

li\ Sir, the issue of this affair had been fortunate, 
I should have felt it my duty to have recommended 
to your attention Lieutenants Shubrick and Galla- 

256 LIFE OP 

gher. They maintained through the day the repu- 
tation they had acquired in former actions. 

Lieut. Twiggs, of the marines, displayed great 
zeal ; his men were well supplied and their fire in- 
comparable, so long as the enemy continued within 
musket range. 

Midshipman Randolph, who had charge of the 
fore-castle division, managed it to my entire satis- 

From Mr. Robinson, who was serving as a volun- 
teer, I received essential aid, particularly after I was 
deprived of the services of the master, and the se- 
vere loss I had sustained in my officers on the quar- 

Of our loss in killed and wounded, I am unable 
a,t present to give you a correct statement ; the at- 
tention of the surgeon being so entirely occupied 
with the wounded, that he was unable to make out 
a correct return when I left the President, nor shall 
I be able to make it until our arrival into port, we 
having parted company with the squadron yester- 
day. The enclosed list, with the exception I fear 
of its being short of the number, will be found cor- 

For twenty-four hours after the action it was near- 
ly calm, and the squadron were occupied in repair- 
ing the crippled ships. Such of the crew of the 
President as were not badly wounded, were put on 
board the different ships ; myself and part of my 


rn^ew were put on board this ship. On the 1 7th we 
had a gale from the eastward, when this ship lost 
uher bowsprit, fore and mainmast and mizen topmast, 
[all of which were badly wounded, and was in conse- 
quence of her disabled condition, obliged to throw 
overboard all her upper deck guns ; her loss in kill- 
ed and wounded must have been very great. I have 
not been able to ascertain the extent. Ten were 
buried after 1 came on board, (36 hours after the 
action;) the badly wounded, such as are obliged to 
keep their cots, occupy the starboard side of the 
gyn-deck from the cabin-bulk-head to the mainmast. 
From the crippled state of the President's spars, J 
feel satisfied she could not have saved her masts, 
and I feel serious apprehensions for the safety pf 
our wounded left on board. 

J It is due to Capt. HopG4.o state that every atten- 
tion has been paid by him, to myself and offV-ers 
that have been placed on board his ship, that deli- 
cacy and humanity could dictate. 
1 have the honour, Szc. 

Hon, B» W* Crozcninshield, Secretary of the MiVi/,> 

The loss on board the frigate President, was 25 
killed, and 60 wounded. 

It is a little singular that Com. Decatur should so 
much have underrated the disaster which, in the es- 
timation of the most distinguished naval characters^ 

258 LIFE OP 

occasioned the ultimate loss of the frigate President. 
Instead of the President remaining on the bar at 
New York '* an hour and an half" to those who could 
not be mistaken, it was certain she remained there, 
violently beating and thumping, in a strong wester- 
ly gale for more than two hours, without any one's 
fault ; and, being heavily laden, for a very long 
cruise, serious fears were entertained that she would 
go to pieces. And here one of those misfortunes 
which no sagacity could foresee — no prudence pre- 
vent — and no skill avert, and which renders science, 
presence of mind, and fortitude equally unavailing, 
happened to the' skilful, the cool aad dauntless De- 
catur. His ship, rendered more fit for the dock 
than the ocean, was propelled forth by an irresisti- 
ble wind, and, although navigated with superior skill, 
was driven into the midst of a foe more than four 
times her force*, in the night season. She still 
would sail ; and the object of the commander was, 
to call into operation those masterly manoeuvreings 
which had so often enabled American ships to es- 
cape from an overwhelming superiority of force, and 
which entitles our naval officers to applause, littk 
less than that which they have received for conquer- 
ing a superior force. 

To effect an escape from the enemy's squadroa 
which was in chase of the President, was the sole 

* The British squadron consisted of the Majestic, {razee, or 74,) 
Endi/mion, 60 — Pomonef 38 — Tenedos, 38 — Despatch. 18. 


(object of Com. Decatur; and if to engage and con- 
quer the leading ship of the enemy, of equal force 
wiih his own, would contribute to that object, it cer- 
tainly was justifiable to make the attempt, although 
his prize m.ight afterwards be recaptured and his 
own ship taken. He did make the attempt and the 
Eridymion was effectually conquered — her guns were 
silenced, — and she omitted to fire upon the Presi- 
dent, when the best raking position was afforded 
her; while the frigate President, carrying royal 
studding-sails, and near effecting an escape, was 
again attacked by the Pomone and Tenedos^ and the 
Majestic and Despatch were within gun-shot. The 
rigging of the President being further injured by this 
fresh attack; — finding resistance vain, and escape 
I impossible, for the first, and only time in his life, 
I Com. Decatur lowered hi-- flag. He had gained a 
ji decisive victory; and, if the common result of vic- 
tory had followed, the American banner would now 
(wave upon the noble ship Endymion^ and her name 
would appear in the List of the American Navy. 

Com. Decatur was ready to deliver his sword 
to that officer of the British squadron who had a 
right to receive it. The gallant Capt. Hope of the 
Endymion, would not have asked it had he been in 
the squadron, for he did not join it until six hours 
after the action. Com. Decatur surrendered his 
ship, and surrendered it only to the whole squadron^ 
aid to the Commander in Chief only would he offer 
it. It was delivered to Capta Hays of the Majestic, 


(senior officer) upon his qimrter-clfck, who, with 
that politeness with wl/ich one biave man always 
demeans himself toivarJ anoth' r, immediately re- 
turn*^'(i it to him who had always so r^obly used it. 
He did not forget to return Com. Decatur his sword 
for SI vpn days, as Co-n. Ilillyer did that of the gal- 
lant Capt, Porior, and then to say, " it is in my ser- 
vant's possession, until the master may please to call 
for it.'^ 

A fact which does not appear in Com. Decatur's offi- 
cial letter of the 1 8th January ought to be mentioned* 
Capt. Hope had on board the Endymion during the 
action, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Master's-mate, •and 50 sea- 
men from the Saturn, in addition to his own crew— 
and yet he was beaten. 

Why Com. Decatur, should not have mentioned 
his own wound, can be accounted for only from that 
principle of modesty, which restrains a brave man 
from speaking of himself. 

Upon Com. Decatur's arrival at Bermuda, the 
utmost attention was paid to him by the civil, naval 
and military authorities of the place. His well esta- 
blished character had reached that place before he 
appeared there upon his parole of honour. 

But although Com. Decatur had long been fami- 
liar with the thunders of batteries and castles upon 
land, and the roaring of cannon upon the ocean, he 
here had to encounter a species of force with which 
he was yet to be made acquainted — " The Artillery 
of the Pre55. "~A power whichj like Mcrcuryjin the 


kands of science and skill, is an invaluable blessing ; 
but in those of ignornnce and sullen stupidity, a dan- 
gerous and troublesome evil. The editor of the Ber- 
muda Royal Gazette^ (not however until he felt him- 
self secure by the return of Com. Decatur to Ameri- 
ca) published in his paper an outrageous falsehood, 
calculated to cast a shade upon the brilliant fame of 
the Commodore. Amongst other falsehoods he 
stated that '• The President struck to the Endymion, 
and that after she struck, Com, Decatur concealed 68 
men in her hold to rise upon the prize crew /" Capt. 
Hope^ of the Endymion^ disclaimed all knowledge of 
the article, until he saw it in the Gazette, and ex- 
pressly contradicted it. The Editor still persisted 5 
and Mr. R. B. Randolph^ one of the Midshipmen of 
the President under Com. Decatur, and who stil! 
remained in the Island, chastised the Editor in the 
King^s Square^ (to use the Midshipman's language,) 
*' in the most ample and satisfactory manner." 
Nor was this all. The governor of the Island de- 
clared, officially, that — " in justice to himself — to 
Capt. Hope, and to the British nation ; and in com- 
mon justice to Com. Decatur, who is not present to 
defend himself" — the scurrilous publication must be 
retracted, or he would no longer continue to be " his 
majesty^s printer.''^ — Probably the Editor who took 
his first degree from Mr. Randolph upon his back, 
and choosing not to be advanced any farther into 
the arcanum of discipline, and to secure his bread 

262 LIFE OP 

from the crown, retracted with submission as mean^ 
as his slander was impudent. 

It was said that Capt. Garden received thanks in 
England for his defence of the Mtcedoaian. He de- 
served them as much as Capt. Broke did a knight' 
hood for taking the Chesapeake. The opinion of 
the Court of Inquiry concerning the loss of the fri' 
gate President, is as highly commendatory to Com. 
Decatur as the vote of thanks for capturing the Ma^ 
cedonian, I regret that its length forbids an inser- 
tion entire. A few extracts will be given. — " The 
primary cause of the loss of the President was her 
running upon the bar as she was leaving this port." 
— " Her hogged and twisted appearance after she 
arrived at liermuda, must have been the effect of 
that unfortunate accident."—" The striking of the 
President on the bar, cannot be imputed to the fault 
of any officer who was attached to her." As to ef- 
fecting an escape, the Court say — " No means, in 
our opinion, were so likely to be attended with suc- 
cess, as those which were adopted by Com. Deca- 
tur." As to the action with the Endymioji, it is said 
— '' In this unequal conflict, the enemy gained the 
ship, but the victory was ours,^^ Jn regard to the pro- 
position to board the enemy, " and the manner in 
which the proposition was received by his gallant 
crew," the Court, with an elegance worthy of the 
exalted subject, say — " Such a design, at such a time 
could only be conceived by a soul without fear, anc 
approved, with enthusiastic cheering, by men regard- 

steRien decatue. 263 

less of danger,'''^ And, finally, " That his conduct, 
and the conduct of his officers and crew, were high- 
ly honourable to them, and to the American Navy^ 
and deserve the 7Lmrmest gratitude of their country, '^'^ 

T'he Secretary of the Navy, after bestowing the 
most flattering commendations upon Com. Decatur, 
says — " It would have been equally unjust to your 
merit, as well as to my sentiments, and teelings, to 
have passed over this investigation with a formal 

The writer has been thus minute, and he fears 
tedious, in detailing the particulars of the loss of 
the frigate President. To give an account of a vic- 
tory is much easier, than to assign a reason for a 
disaster — a dfeat we cannot with propriety denomi- 
nate the loss of the Presiflent. In common with his 
countrymen, the writer participated in the temporary 
gloom which pervaded the couiUry, when it was an- 
nounced — " The frigate President is captured by the 
British, from Com. Decatur!" It was almost simul- 
taneous wMth the annuiiciaiion of peace between 
the Republic and Britain ; and the joy excited 
by the one, was essentially damped by the other. 
But no sooner was the occurrence understood, than 
a new cause for triumph was affoided for our naval 
victories, and every one was ready to exclaim, in 
the language of the Court of Inquiry who investigat- 
ed the subject — '' The enemy gained a ship, but 


The reader will naturally inquire what became 

264 LIFE ©p^ 

of the Hornet, Capt. Biddle, and Peacock, Capt, 
Warrino^ton, which belonged lo Com. Decatur's 
Squadron. It would be a delightful employ, to give 
a minute account of these noble Sloops of War, and 
their gallant commanders while in this squadron, 
A brief one will be attempted. 

Pursuant to Com. Decatur's orders, they pro- 
ceeded unmolested to the Island of Tristan (VAcun- 
ha, as the place of rendezvous appointed by him. 
The Hornet separated from the Peacock in a chase, 
two days out. Upon the 23d March, 1815, as Capl 
Biddle was about to anchor the Hornet at the north 
end of Tristan d'Acunha, he fell in with one of the 
largest armed, and brst fitted Brigs in the British 
navy, and commanded by one of the most distin- 
guished of the younger class of British naval offi- 
cers. It was the Penguin. Capt. Dickinson, mounting 
20 guns. Admiral Tyler loaned him 12 men from 
the Mtdway, 74, — and he was directed particularly 
to cruise for the Young Wasp., much superior in her 
armament to the Hornet, The little Hornet, in the 
hands of Capt. Biddle, nobly supported the fame 
she acquired in the hands of the heroic and lament- 
ed Capt. Lawrence. 

Capt. Biddle, in his letter to his beloved com- 
mander, Com. Decatur, of the 25th Mnrch, says — | 
" From the firing of the first gun, to the last time the 
enemy cried out he had surrendertd, was exactly 
twenty tuw minutes. "^"^ After surrendering the first 
time, Capt. Biddle received a dangerous wound in 


liis neck!! Twenty mon were killed or died of 
wounds in the Penguin, and thirty -five wounded. 
In the Hornet 1 killed, 9 wounded. The Penguin 
was so completely riddled in her hull, and her rig- 
ging so effectually demolished, that Capt. Biudle 
scuttled and sunk her-— the second ship of superior 
force, that the Hornet had sent to the bottom. 

Toward the close of the action, the gallant Capt. 
Dickinson exclaimed to his 1st Lieut. Mc'' Donald^ 
' — " The fellows are giving it to us like hell — we 
must get on board," — and ia a few minutes after, fell 
dead upon his deck, with a terrible shot. — Capt. 
Biddle asked Mc'Donald why he did not board the 
Hornet? He answered — '' He did try — but found 
the men rather backward — and so you know we 
concluded to give it up." 

The Peacock, Capt., Warrington, joined the Hor- 
net, a few days after this brilliant victory, — remain- 
ed at Tristan d^Acunha, according to Com. Deca- 
tur's instructions; and then sailed for the East- In- 
dies. — Upon the 27th and 28th April, chased u 
strange sail, supposed to be an Indiaman, until she 
was discovered to be a ship of the line ; which, up- 
on the 29th, hoisted English colours — showed a rear 
Admiral's flag, and commenced firing upon the Hor^ 
net' — The chase lasted 42 hours! and to give the 
expressive language of Capt. Biddle in his letter 
lo Com. Decatur of June 10th, 1815 — '^ It was with 
the most painful reluctance, and upon the fullest 
conviction, that it was indispensable, in order to 
prevent a greater misfortune, that 1 could bring my 

266 LIFE OP 

mind to consent to part with my gujis.'^'^ One of 
Capt. Bidclle's accomplished officers remarks, after 
describing the imminent danger they were in, and 
their fortunate escape — " Never has there been so 
evident an interposition of the goodness of a divine 
Father — my heart with gratitude, ackno^wledges his 
supreme power and goodness." A heart tlius grate- 
ful to a Divine Father, would raise a fearless hand 
in fighting his enemy. When every hope of escape 
had vanished, and the shot were whistling through 
the Hornet, the exhausted Capt. Biddle mustered his 
worn-out officers and crew — thanked them for their 
unparalleled exertions, and told them they might 
soon expect to be captured. " Not a dry eye," 
(continues the officer) '* was to be seen at the men- 
tion of capture. The rugged hearts of the sailors, like 
ice before the sun, wept in unison with their brave 

Upon the arrival of the Hornet at St, Salvador 
upon the 9th June, without anchor, cable, or boat, 
and but o??e gtin, Capt. Biddle received news of 
Peace, The Hornet returned safe to America ; and 
the veteraB Decatur, welcom.ed the gallant Biddle, 
with one of the remainder of his squadron* — a squad- 
ron never surpassed either in conquering an equal, or 
in escaping an overwhelming 5M/>enor force. When- 

* The PeHCOck cruised nine months. A war against Alg^iers had 
t>een declared, prosecuted and ended, since the Peacock sailed ; 
and Com. Decatur returned triumphantly from the Mediterrane- 
an, about the same time Capt. Warrington returned with the Pea- 


ever a British naval officer looks with complacency 
upon the frigate President at Spithead, let him re- 
member the shattered Endymion, — the sunken Pen- 
j§fwm, and the mortified rear admiral (name unknown) 
whose cannon could not sink, and whose skill could 
not capture the Hornet or Peacock, In regard to the 
whole of this little squadron, then, we may again re- 
peat : — 

* The enemy gained a ship — the victory was 





Com. Decatur returns from his fourfh cruise — Reception — Peace 
ratified — Scenes of domestic felicity — Depredations of Barbary 
powers — By whom instigated — Squadron to chastise and humble 
them — Com. Decatur appointed to command the first iVlediter 
ranean Squadron in 1815 — Victory over Algerine Admiral— 
Consternation of the JJey — Indemnifies Americans and concludes 
a Treaty of Peace — Com. Decatur demands and receives indem- 
nification from Tunis ^xi(\. Tripoli for British violations — Demands 
release of Christian captives — Restores them to Naples, and is 
honoured by the King — Surrenders squadron to Com. Bain 
bridge, and returns to America — Com. Bainbridge^s respect to 

Com. Decatur, in his fourth cruise, had been ab- 
sent from New-York, ffiy-one clays, during which 
time he conquered a British frigate equal to his 
force — almost escaped a British squadron four times 
his force — arrived in a British port — arranged his 
affairs with the British forces, and upon returning 
again to New- York found his beloved country en 
joying a peace which he had so signally aided ir 
rendering secure, and it is hoped as permanent a 
the fame he had acquired. He was welcom3d intc 
that patriotic city with no less ardour of attachment 
and with no less admiration for his gallantry, thar 
when he gladdened the eyes of the citizens with tht 
sight of \\it Macedonian, on the Ist of January, 181^ 


and were not the repetition of ceremonious attentions 
calculated to '* pall upon the senses," and splendid 
spectacles, like beauty made familiar, to *' fade in 
the eye," they might well have again surrounded 
the festive board, and displayed another transpa 
rency : — " The President beating the Endymi- 
ON, Jan. 15th, 1815." But the exalted sentiment 
in the Declaration of American Independence, in 
the Jirst war with Britain, and which was rendered 
secure by the second war just closed, is : — 

'• Enemies in War — in Peace, Friends." 

Could the noble Decatur, and the no less noble 
Hardy have now met, they could cordially have re- 
ciprocated the sentiment expressed by the last, even 
when in sight of the first with a superior force — ^' I 
shall hail, with pleasure, the return of an amicable 
adjustment of the diflerences between the two na- 
tions*." These " differences," would have been 
" adjusted" in the cabin of Com. Decatur's frigate, 
or Sir T. M. Hardy's 74, in twelve hours, had they 
been clothed with diplomatic powers. The formal 
exhibition of credentials, interchange of powers, pro- 
tocols, sine- quanons , ultimatums, et cetera, et cetera, 
would soon have been " cleared for action," and 
they would have brought their minds to the subject 
in a style as noble as either of them would have 
carried their ships into combat. 

Corn. Decatur was now in the enjoyment of eve- 
Vide Chap. XI II. —Challenge, &c. 
23 "" 



ry temporal friicity. Although in a degree woii. 
by the " peltings of the pitiless storms" of war, 
created by the passion of men, and those of the > 
elements by the winds of heaven, he had no muti- ■ 
iated limb to torture or deform him. From boy- 
hood he had been in the thickest showers of the 
messengers of death, and the king of terrors had 
strode around him, and often encrimsoned him with 
the blood of his foes ; but these dangers he had es- 
caped almost unhurt, and might have said with his 
admired friend Com.. Macdonough, after the car- 
nage around him had ceased, and he untouched. 
'• There is a power above, zvhich determines the fate 
ofman.'^^ It was not the destiny of Com. Decatur 
to die by the hands of foreign enemies. 

Although he had long been inured to the fatiguesjthe 
anxieties, the privations, and the ruggedness of na- 
val warfare, and had reaped so largely of the con- 
quest-wove wreaths of garlands, in two^ hemis- 
pheres, yet he had not lost his relish for the mild, 
and innocent, and fascinating charms of peace. Al- 
though he was as fearless and death-daring as Rich«^.v 

* " The same chivalrous chief, who bore 
Rich tributes once from Barb'ry's shore,* 

As Allah'' s sons can tell — 
But now a nobler trophy t shows, 
Wrested from mightier, manlier foes, 

Who fought so long — so well.'^ 

Ot'EAN — A i^A\Ah OjlS>^ 

Tripoli, 1804 t Macedonian, ietS- 


ard in war, he had, unlike him, other employments 
in peace than " To view his own shadow in the sun, 
and descant upon its deformities," or to" lay plots 
and form inductions" for the murder of his kinsmen 
or his companions. Although he was delighted 
with, and imparted delight to public assenjblies and 
splendid levees, yet it was in the bosom of his own fam- 
ily where his happiness was consummated — for there 
he found his ozun hearty and carried into it the heart 
he received for it. His kindred, by blood, had 
been farther diminished by the death of his venera- 
ted father, and perhaps by others. The death of 
this noble father must have severed one of the strong 
ligaments that bound his gallant son to this world. 
Could he have survived the war with Britain^ as he 
did that of Tripoli, and have rejoiced with his coun- 
trymen in the augmented renown of his son, and the 
increased glory of the American Navy, he might 
well have exclaimed to his Creator — " Jstow let thy 
servant die in peace." 

But these charming scenes, in which rapturous 
delight was mingled with soothing melancholy, were 
of short duration with Com. Decatur, He was 
again to be called into a contest which might be 
more sanguinary than even those through which he 
had passed. It was not merely with one of the Bar- 
bary powers — it was with every one of them who 
had preyed upon American commerce or citizens 
themselves, but who had permitted Englishmen, dur- 
ing the last war, to violate the law of nations in their 

272 LIFE OP 

neutral ports, by capturing American ships and sea- 
men in them. 

As these injuries from Barbarians were chiefly 
sustained during the war with Britain, and, as a bel- 
ligerent, she possessed a right to do America all 
the harm she could, perhaps it will be deemed equal- 
ly justifiable in that power to have let loose upon us 
the Savages of Africa, as well as those of America. 
That the ravages im the Mediterranean sea and 
ports upon Americans, by the Barbary powers, in 
1813, 1814, and 1815, were encouraged or caused 
by Englishmen, is easily demonstrated, and will be 
very briefly attempted. 

Tobias Lear, Esq. once the private Secretary 
and confidential friend of President Washington, had 
for many years been American consul-general at the 
Barbary states. It will be recollected that he ne- 
gotiated the peace with Tripoli, while Com. Deca- 
catur was lying before that place in the Constitu- 
tion, and Congress. At the commencement of the war 
with Great Britain, Mr. Lear was American Consul- 
General at Algiers. After the declaration of war, the 
American ship Alleghany arrived at Algiers with 
stores, in fulfilment of our treaty with that power. 
The Dey refused to receive them — ordered Consul 
Lear and every American to leave the city in the 
Alleghany. The ship arrived at Gibraltar — ^"was 
condemned, with her cargo — her crew sent to Eng- 
land as prisoners of war; and Mr. Lear, although. 
a Consul-General, was compelled to return to Ame- 
rica by way of Cadiz. At about the same time the 


Algerine fleet of 5 Frigates, 3 Corvettes, 2 Brigs, 1 
Xebec, 1 Schooner, and several Gun-Boats and Row- 
Gallies, sailed from Algiers. At near the close of 
the year 1812, orders were given in London for 
stores to equip the ALGERINE NAVY, to the. 
amount of One Hundred Sixty Thousand Dol- 
lars. A very short extract from Consul Lear's let- 
ter will be all the other reason that will here be giv- 
en as to the cause of the war with Algiers, He says 
— '' 1 had reason to think the conduct of the Dey of 
Algiers, toward the United States, was instigated by 
the Bi itish ; as it was universally acknowledged 
by the public functionaries, and others in Algiers, 
that the government of the United States had been 
remarkably faithful in the fulfilment of their trea- 
ty stipulations with the Dey and Regency of Al- 

But however the war was occasioned, it will very 
briefly be shown how it was conducted and con- 

Com. Decatur, was once more designated to ap- 
pear in the theatre ©f his early glory, as Commander 
in Chief of a squadron to conquer the enemy into 
peace, and then, as a Negotiator, to agree upon the 
terms of it. His name had become as terrible to 
the enemies of America, upon the ocean, as that of 
Nelson once was to the enemies of Britain. 

The ships and the commanders in the squadron, 
destined to the Mediterranean in 1815, were as fol- 

274 LIFE OP 

«. ^, . ^ . A A Com. D<*catur > 

Flag Ship, Guernere, ^4 \ 

° ' ' ' Capt. Lewis. 3 

Frigate Macedonian, 36 Capt. Jones. 

„ „ Constellation, 36 Capt. Gordon. 

Sloopot War, Ontario, 18 Mast. Com. J.D.Elliot. 

„ „ Epervier, 18 Lieut. Downes. 

Schooner, Flambeau, 12 Lieut. J. B. Nicholson. 

„ „ Spark, 12 Lieut. T. Gamble. 

„ „ Spitfire, 11 Lieut. A. J. Dallas. 

„ „ Torch, 10 Lieut. W. Chauncey. 

Com. DecaturrendezvousedatNew-York, with his 
squadron, as one instrument of negotiation, and with 
Instructions from the President of the U. S. as another. 
He sailed from New York, 20th May, 1815, and reach- 
ed the bay of Gibraltar in twenty-five days, (14lh 
June) — sailed round the harbour with his squad- 
ron, in elegant style, with his broad pendant, and 
all his flags flying, without coming to anchor. As 
he was passing round, an immense throng of British 
naval officers' were critically viewing the American 
fleet. One of them asked an American gentleman 
present, to give the names of the different ships. 
With the utmost politeness, he pointed to the Com- 
modore's, and said — " That, Sir, is the Guerriere,'^^ 
^ — Then pointing to Capt. Jones' — '' That, Sir, is 
the Macedonian'*'^ — Then at Lieut. Downes' — ^' That, 
Sir, is the Epervitr^'^ — and, proceeding, " The next, j 
Sir, is— •' O damn the neAt,'-' said they, and in I 
chagrin walked off at hearing the names of three \ 
ships captured from their navy. Their informant - 


[night have given them more names of ships, cap- 
urcd from Britain, than the whole of Com. Deca- 
ur's squadron. 

* Com. Decatur having learned that despatches 
A'ere instatjtiy sent off to the Algerine fleet, announc- 
ng his arrival at Gibraltar, immediately passed the 
traits into the Mediterranean, in pursuit of it, fear- 
ng it would reach a " neutral port." 

The celebj-ated Hammida, was the Algerine Ad- 
niral, and sailed in the frigate Mazouda, He had 
xcited the unbounded admiration of the Dey, by 
lis unceasing activity, and the terror of defenceless 
nerchantmen by his diabolical rapacity. Upon 
Tune 17th, Com. Decatur, in the Gu( rriere, had the 
;ood fortune to fall in with the Admiral's frigate 
vhich had sejjarated from the ileet — gave him two 
)roadsides — brought down the Turkish crescent — • 
illed thiity of the crew, and amongst them the re- 
lowned Hammida ;. and took 406 prisoners. Upon 
he 1 9th, captured an Algerine Brig of 22 guns and 
ent her into Carlhagena. 

Correctly concluding the enemy's fleet had reach- 
id a neutral port, he shaped his course, with his 
)rize and prisoners for Algiers. He arrived there 

* The facts from which the following brief sketch is made, were 
lathered from the official letters of Com. Decatur, and W. bH A- 
KR, Esq. to Hon Jamies Mokroe, secretary of State — from 
lose of Com. Decatur, to Hon. Benjamijv W. Cuowninshield, 
ecretary of the iVavy — and from publications, and communioi 
Ions, upon wliich the most perfect reliance is placed. 

276 LIFE or 

upon the 28th, and came to an anchor with his whole 

Determining to know, forthwith, whether peace 
could be negotiated upon the terms he and William 
Sh ALER, Esq., (who was a joint negotiator with him,) 
had to propose, he immediately despatched a letter 
from the President of the United States, to the Dcy, 
to enable him to have a fair opportunity to negotiate 
upon fair and equal terms, and that without the least 
delay or procrastination. Com. Decatur could ne- 
gotiate at Algiers either way, and as rapidly as lord 
Nelson once did at Copenhagen — but let not the 
comparison go farther. Decatur was prepared to 
make war upon, or peace with, a power vvhi( h had 
wantonly invaded the rights of his country — Nelson 
" but beshrew the sombre pencil." 

Upon receipt of the President's letter, the Dey 
despatched his Port-Captain (an ofificerhigh in rank) 
accompanied by the Swedish consul, on board the 
Guerriere, who were received with the utmost cour- 
tesy by Com. Decatur and Mr. Shalcr, who inform- 
ed the Port Captain that they were authorised, h) 
the American government, to negotiate a treaty, th< 
basis of which mui^t be, an unequivocal relinquish 
ment of all annual tribute, or ransom for prisoners 
The Port-Captain still had confidence in the marin 
force of the Dey, and in Admiral Hammida ; and as 
sured the Commodore that their squadron was saf 
in a neutral port. " Not all of it,^^ answered Con: 
Decatur. *' The frigate Mazouda^ and a 22 gu 
Brig, are already captured^ and your Admiral Harr> 


mida is killed.^'' With a look of incredulit}^, min- 
gled with that contempt which a Mahometan is taught 
by his religion to feel towards Christians, and which 
he never relinquishes until contempt gives place to 
fear^ he denied the fact. Hammida's Lieutenant, 
who was a prisoner in the Guerriere, was called in, 
who tremblingly acknowledged the truth of the as- 
sertion. The dismayed Port-Captain said that he 
was not authorised to make a treaty ; and besought 
that hostilities might cease, until a treaty could 
be negotiated on shore. Said Com. Decatur : 
' Hostilities 7oill not cease nntil a treaty is made ; 
and a treaty -will not be made any zchere but on board 
the Gucrriere,"^^ 

The Port-Captain, and the Swedish Consul went 
on shore. The next day, June 30th, the Port-Cap- 
tain and Swedish Consul came out again to the Guer- 
riere, with full powers to negotiate. The articles 
of a treaty w-ore presented to them, by the American 
Commissioners, which it was declared would not 
bo varied in any material point. The Algerine com- 
missioners insisted that, property taken from Ame- 
ricans should not be restored, as it was dispersed 
into many hands. It was answered, '^ As it was un- 
justly taken it must he restored or j) aid for ^'''^ The re- 
iitiquishment of tribute from America, was the most 
difficult point to settle ; as the relinquishment to that 
power might lead to a relinquishment to all others, 
and cause the Dey's destruction. It was said, even 
a little powder as annual tribute, might be satisfac- 
tory, " If you insist upon receiving powder' as tri'* 

278 LIFE OP 

6w^e," said the Comnicdore, " you must expect to n 
ceive balls with itJ^'> 

The unyielding firmness of the American Coni< 
missioners — added to the force which they had 
to compel a compIi:^nce with their reasonable 
demands, induced the Dey to ratify the treaty the 
same day it was made, (June 30th, 1815.) 

One of the Dey's courtiers, while this sudden ne- 
gotiation was going on, thus addressed the British 
Consul : — " You told us that the American Navy 
would be destroyed in six months by you^ and nozo 
ihey make war upon 2is with ih7'ce of your ozon ves- 
sels they have taken from you." 
^ Thus was a very important treaty negotiated ia 
forty-eight hours, giving to. the American govern- 
ment and citizens, privileges and immunities never 
before granted by a Barbary State to any Christian 
power. The treaty consists of twenty- two articles, 
and is too long for insertion is this volume. In 
consequence of obtaining just such a treaty as was 
demanded, the captured frigate was indignantly 
given up, to appease the lacerated feelings of the 
Dey, ^nd to save him from the assassination of his 
own slaves. The brig was given up, upon the re- 
lease of the Spanish consul, and a Spanish merchant, 
in bondage in Algiers ! 

Com. Decatur immediately despatched Capt. 
LewiSf in the Brig Epervier^ to America, with the 
treaty, and left Mr. Shaler at Algiers, as American 
Consul-General to the Barbary States. 

Com. Decatur having closed his concerns with 


Omar, Dey of Algiers, learned that the Bey of Tunis 
had violated our treaty with that power, by permit- 
ting a British ship of war to take two prizes of the 
MMino from the neutral port of Tunis, during the 
war with Britain. He left Algiers 8th July — ob- 
cained water and refreshments at Cagliari on the 
15th — ^and, on the 25th, anchored in the bay of 
Tunis, The Commodore communicated with the 
American consul, and immediately demanded am- 
ple satisfaction. The Bey, although he had a pow- 
erful marine force between him and the American 
squadron, acceded to the demand of g4C,000, and 
paid the money to Mr. Noah^ agent for the Abcellino, 
upon the 31st. Upon paying the money, the prime 
minister's brother, who fluently spoke English, 
turned to the British consul, then in conference with 
Com. Decatur, and indignantly said, — " You see 
Sir, what Tunis is obliged to pay for your insolence, 
I ask you whether you think it just,^r5^ to violate 
our neutrality, and then to leave us to be destroy- 
ed, or pay for your aggressions ?" Such an in- 
terrogatory from ^ Mahometan io a Christian, would 
have made Hamlet exclaim — " That is worm- 

Upon the 2nd August, Com. Decatur sailed for 
Tripoli, and anchored there upon the 5th. A com- 
bination of circumstances rendered his arrival at 
ihis place, and the situation in which he arrived, 
most peculiarly interesting. He once more beheld 
the batteries and the castle, under the guns of which, 
more than eleven and a half years before, he de- 

280 LIFE OP 

stroyedthe frigate Philadelphia — and but two days 
from e/ei^e/i years since he, with the gallant Macdo- 
MouGH and a little crew, fought the unparalleled bat- 
lie with the gun- boats — slew double their own 
number — captured two full-manned boats with one 
boat less than half-manned^ and avenged the death 
of Lieut. Decatur, Here too was the theatre oft 
Somers^^ Wadszoorth'^s and IsraeVs glory, and their 
glorious voluntary deaths. If gallant spirits above, 
are permitted to witness scenes below, with what' 
rapture must the spirits of these immortalized heroes 
have hovered over the American squadron, wafting 
triumphantly upon the waves from which they as- 

From the deck of the Macedonian^ a visible trophy 
'^f Decatur's glory, the gallant Capt. Jo7ies could 
view the castle in which he was, for many tedious 
months, gloomily incarcerated — from which his pre- 
sent commander in chief, with the great Preble, re- 
stored him — and whose noble prize he now com- 

Com. Decatur immediately communicated with 
Mr. Jones, the American consul at Tripoli, and 
learned that the Bashdi-w permitted di British sloop of 
war to take two American vessels from his harbour, 
and refused protection to an American cruiser in the 
last war. The Commodore immediately made de- 
mand of the Bashaw for a full restitution. The sum 
demanded was g25,0G0. The governor was de- 
spatched to the Guerriere to induce a diminution of 
the sum. He might have said — " Most potent 


gchief, my master, the son of the Prophet, eleven 
years past, demanded of the great Preble, ^600,000, 
as tribute and ransom, and received but g60,000." 
The Commodore might have answered — *' Your de- 
mand arose from your wickedness in enslaving Ame- 
rican citizens — ours arises from justice in claiming 
indemnification for your violation of our treaty. The 
American government paid the ^60,000 out of com- 
passion to your master, and we demand about half 
of it back as a matter of right — The money must be 
immediately paid to the American consul." It was 

Com. Decatur demanded the restoration of two 
Danesj and eight Neapolitans from bondage. The}?- 
were restored, and came on board the Guerriere to. 
lail their " Deliverer." 

Com. Decatur sailed for Syracuse, the principal 
rendezvous of Com. Prebleh squadron in 1 803 an<3 
1804, where the then Lieut. Decatur, with Stewart^ 
Liawrence, Morris, Macdonough and other young 
and gallant ocean-warriors, digested those plans and 
expeditions that began that reputation which each of 
them have so nobly advanced since, and w^hich may 
now be said to be unrivalled by any class of men 
who ever existed. The squadron reached there the 
10th August, and upon the 20th reached Messina, for 
the purpo§e of making a few repairs, as the squad- 
ron had been on the wing almost constantly since 
it left America. He was here on the dominions of 
the king of Naples, and here landed the overjoyed 
24 ""■ 

i^82 LIFE oy 

Neapolitans whom he rescued from Tripolitan bon 

Com. Decatur, after sufficiently repairing, sailed 
for the Bay of Naples, and arrived there Sept. 2d. 
Every officer in the squadron well knew, that in this 
bay, Nelson once received the most unbounded hon- 
ours, and that in this bay, captivated by the fasci- 
nating charms, and depraved by the diabolical heart 
of Lady Hamilton, he impressed a stain upon his 
escutcheon which the splendid rays of his glory 
could never conceal. The murdered Neapolitan 
Marquis Caracciallo, will never be forgotten by the 
readers of Nelson's biography*. 

The noble Decatur, with a fame untarnished, and 
with a grateful heart, arrived here to acknowledge 
a favour, years before received from the king of Na- 
ples, or two Sicilies, and to make a suitable return 
for the obligation. Through the Minister of Forr 
eign Affairs, he thus addressed the King* 

U, S» Ship GuerrierCy Naples, Sepi, 8, 1815. 
Sir, — I have the honour to inform your excellen- 
cy that in my late negotiation with the Bashaw of 
Tripoli, I demanded and obtained the release of 
eight Neapolitan captives, subjects of his majesty, 
the king of the two Sicilies. These I have landed 
at Messina, It affords me great pleasure to have 
had it in my power, by this small service, to evince 

* Vide Southey'>s Li(e of Nelson. Charnock, another biographer 
©f Nelson has emitted this tragical story. 


to his majesty the grateful sense entertained by our 
government, of the aid formerly rendered to us by 
his Majesty during our war with Tripoli. 

With great respect and consicieration, I have the 
honour to be your excellency's most obedient ser- 
vant. ^ 

His excellency the Marquis Cercello, 
Secretary of State, ire, ^rc. 

The Marquis, after acknowledging the receipt of 
the letter, and laying it before '' the king his mas- 
ter," thus proceeds. 

Maples, 12th Sept., 1815. 

Sir, — His Majesty has ordered me to acknow- 
ledge this peculiar favour as the act of your geuerosi- 
ty which you have been pleased to call a return for 
the trifling assistance which the squadron of your 
nation formerly received from his royal government 
during the war with Tripoli. 

In doing myself the pleasure of manifesting this 
sentiment of my king, and of assuring you, in his 
name, that the brave American nation will always 
find in his Majesty's ports the best reception — I beg 
you will receive the assurances of my most distin- 
guished consideration. 

Marquis CERCELLO, 
Secretary of State, and Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, 

Com. Decatur, Commander of 

the Squadron of U, S* of £merice(. 

284 LIFE OF 

When Com. Decatur received this acknowledg-^ 
ment from the king of the Two Sicilies, his noble 
and generous heart felt a higher satisfaction than 
when Nelson, from the same source received the 
Title and Dukedom oi Bronte, 

The Commodore, in a letter to the Secretary of 
the Navy, of August 31st, says — " I hope to find the 
relief squadron from America," — He sailed for Gi- 
braltar, and there enjoyed the satisfaction of finding 
his noble friend Com. Bainbridge, in the noble line* 
of battle-ship Independence, the first American ship 
of her rate that ever anchored in the bay of Gibral- 
tar. She was accompanied by the Congress^ Chip- 
pezoa, Saranac^ Erie, &c. and both Squadrons formed 
a junction under Com. Bainbridge. 

Upon the arrival of Com. Bainbridge at Gibraltar 
with the relief squadron, the officers of his Britannic 
Majesty's army, were as much irritated with the 
names of some of his ships, as the naval officers were 
with those of Com. Decatur's. The *' Chippewa''^ 
reminded them of the battle of the 5th of July, 1814, 
in the Peninsula of Upper Canada. The '* Sara- 
nac'''' of the battle of Plattsburgh, September 11th. 
The '' Ene" of the splendid sortie from that fort, 
September 17th. 

Com. Bainbridge arrived at Carthagena about 
the 1 0th of August, 1815 — proceeded to Algiers^ 
and by exhibiting the Independence^ convinced the 
Dey of a fact which he before doubted ; that the 
American government could build Seventy-Fours 
without the consent of that of Great Britain. He 


found Mr. Shahr and his countrymen in the enjoy- 
ment of the peace negotiated a few weeks before by 
Com. Decatur and him. 

He then proceeded to Tripoli, and found the vigilant 
Decatur had suddenly settled affairs with that bar- 
barian power. It is easy to imagine the feelings of 
the noble Commodore upon reaching the bay of Tri- 
poli, It was there the fine frigate Philadelphia was 
lost upon the rocks, under his command— and it 
was in the dismal dungeon now in his view, where 
he, Capls. Porter, Jones, Biddle, and his fine crew, 
lingered away eighteen tedious months in a bondage 
indescribably wretched. Had war existed, the cas- 
tle where he was immured, would have been demo- 
lished by his vsquadron in one hour. 

He then sailed for Tunis and found the dismayed 
Tunisian Bey had given all that Decatur demand- 
ed, — showed him his squadron, and took his leave. 

He then sailed for Malaga, having missed Com. 
Decatur, who was either at Messina repairing his 
fleet, or at J^aples, receiving the grateful acknow- 
ledgments of a king. At Malaga, the governor ma- 
nifested a respect for Com. Bainbridge which he 
never had shown to any admiral, of high or low 
grade. He made the Commodore a formal visit in 
i\\£ Independence, where afterwards, (in 1817,) the 
President of the United States paid him the same 
respect. No man deserved his honours better. 
Com. Bainbridge is not only an accomplished and 
gallant, but a veteran naval officer. 

He met Com. Decatur at Gibraltar — the two 

286 LIFE OP 

squadrons formed a junction at that place— and he, 
with infinite satisfaction, lowered his broad pendant, 
and saw thf^t of his noble friend in life and at death, 
triumphantly waving over a noble fleet of Seven- 
teen Sail : a fleet, a commander, officers, and sea- 
men, never surpassed, if ever equalled. 

Eleven years before this period, the little squadron? 
of Com. Preble had excited the admiration of the 
friends of the Republic, and the consternation of her 
enemies. The achievements of this, had produced 
unspeakable astonishment. Com. Bainbridge, in 
speaking of the Barbary powers of Africa, says — 
*' The only mode of convincing these people is, by ocu- 
lar demonstration.'^'^ Com. Decatur says — " The 
only sure guarantee we can have for the tnaintenance 
of the peace just concluded with these people^ is the 
presence in the Mediterranean of a respectable naval 

The disciples and followers of Allah, Mahomet, 
Mohammed, or whatever the arch impostor of Mecca. 
may be called, may hereafter rest assured, that their 
four-times daily repeated orisons, and their devo- 
tional enumeration of beads, will no more save them 
from the Christian cannon of America, when they 
recommence their Mahometan rapacity. 



Eecapitulation of Com. Decatur's achievements, &c. m the Me • 
•literranean ia 1315 — Rewards by promotion — Necessity of dif- 
ferent grades of office — Arduous duties of Department of the 
.Yrmj — Board of Navy Commissioners established — Com. De- 
catur appointed Navy ComQiissioner — Duties of the Navy Com- 
missioners — Responsibility of the office — Naval Architecture — 
Kates of ships — Comparafive power — Annual expense of ships of 
difTerent rates — Improvement in Ship-building — Inventions — As- 
siduity of (Jom. Decatur — Honours paid him — Difficulty of de- 
sjo^natin^ Officers — Com. Macdonough — Com. BarroHv 

Com. Decatur arrived in America in the Guerriere^ 
upon the 12th day of November 1815, having sur- 
rendered the other ships of his squadron to Com. 
Bainbridge, and which returned in the squadron with 
him. Com. Decatur had been absent from Ameri- 
ca one hundred and eighty'Seven days. It may afford 
gratification, as it suroiy must excite astonishment 
to the reader, to recapitulate in few words, the ser- 
vice performed, and the deeds achieved by the 
squadron under his command during this period — 
the time in which a single merchantman usually 
makes a voyage from an American to an European 
port, and back again. In this little period of time, 
Com. Decatur 

1. Made a voyage from America to Europe m squad- 

2. Captured an Algerine Frigate in the Mediterra- 

288 LIFE OF 

7iean^ killed the Algerine Admiral with 30 of his 
crew, and took 406 prisoners. 

3. Captured a large Algerine Brig of war, w'ithi 
170 prisoners, and sent her to a neutral port. 

4. Negotiated a most advantageous treaty with the 
Dey of Algiers — obtained indemnification for 
captures of American merchantmen, «Sz:c. &c. and I 
released a Spanish consul and merchant from bon- 

5. Demanded and obtained indemnification from the 
kingdom of Tunis, for suffering the British to vio- 
late the neuiraliiij of their port by taking Ameri- 
can vessels. 

6. Demanded and obtained from the kingdom of 
Tripoli indemnification for the same cause, and 
the release of ten European Christian slaves in 

7. Repaired the American Squadron in a Neapolitan 

8. Restored to the king of the Two Sicilies, eight of 
his subjects rescued from Turkish bondage — re- 
ceived his grateful acknowledgments and assur- 
ances of favour to the " brave American nation,'^^ 

9. Sailed down the Mediterranean and surrendered 
his squadron (except the Guerriere) in prime or- 
der to Com. Bainbridge. 

10. Made a voyage from Europe to America in the 

We may fruitlessly search the annals of naviga- 
tion from the time the magnetic needle was disco- 
vered — from the days of Vasquez de Gama and Co' 


iumbus, (the first of whom first doubled the Cape of 
Good Hope, at about the same time thf* last discover- 
ed the continent of America) down to this period 
(1820) for a parallel with this accurate statement. 
Had Com. Decatur, with his squadron, gone merely 
upon a sailing " match against time," as his skilful 
father did against C'^pt. Tryon*", he would have 
been far more successful than his progenitor. But 
how must the admiration of the reader be augment- 
ed when he reflects, that during this period he con- 
quered one of the most powerful and warring king- 
doms of Mahomet into peace — compelled two more 
refractory kingdoms of the Prophet of Mecca to bow 
to American prowess, and, after restoring Christian 
captives to their homes, received the grateful hom- 
age of a Christian king P The celerity dind power o{ 
his movements in this justly renowned expedition, 
reminds one of the passage of the electric fluid 
through the atmosphere, mu\ the prostration of eve- 
ry object it strikes, at one moment raising wonder, 
at the next exciting consternationt ! 

In this, Decatur's last expedition to the Medi- 
terranean, he clearly evinced the five great qualifi- 
cations of an accomplished naval commander — Nau- 

* Vide Chap. III. 

t Lest this should be deemed " a most Jlery simi.le^'^'' its extrava- 
gance is certainly less than that of a writer in Queen Ann's reiga 
(the Augustan age of England) who compares the victories of the 
Duke of Marlborough to that of Michael, hurling mouritains at the 
rebellious angels, and thrusting them out of heaven. 


290 LIFE OF 

RY IN ACTION. The two last he had but little o].- 
portunity to call into operation ; for the renowned 
Hammida, in the heaviest Algerine frigate Mazonda 
with a crew of from 450, to 500, was slain at the; 
first broadside from the Gucrriere, and at the second, ' 
his lieutenant struck the Turkish crescent to the 
American banner. 

Com. Decatur's arrival from the Mediterranean, ; 
diffused the most enthusiastic joy amongst his asso- 
ciates — the measures he had pursued, received the 
high commeridation, and unqualified approbation of 
the American government; and his countrymen, 
with an undivided voice, gave him a rank amongst 
the first Heroes and Benefactors of the Republic. 

It was ever the happiness of Com. Decatur to 
know that his reputation was consi3ni\y progressing 
by every successive act of his naval life, and that in 
no single instance had he the mortification to per- 
ceive that it was retrograding. To impute this to 
mere " good fortune," would be a miserable eulogy 
upon his active worth and positive merit, A contin- 
ued series of fortunate events, not unfrequently gives 
a temporary eclat, to the man of mere negative qua- 
lities. It is a fortuitous fame, however, which van- 
ishes with the uncertain and capricious whims of 
fortune which gave it existence. Stephen Deca- 
tur left nothing to be decided by fortune, and sub- 
liiittcd not the least event to its decision. To be 
sure, like all other men, he was liable to have his 
mo^t judicious calculations, and active exertions de- 
feated by misfortufies -, but if they succeeded, to /?/<= 


kill, energy, and perseverance, was the credit due, 
and to him was it justly given. 

In a preceding chapter, the subject of having a 
variety of grades of office, as affording a reward for 
gallant deeds by promotion, was with extreme de- 
ference, however, suggested. It is not for the biog- 
rapher to obtrude his own opinion upon his reader, 
or the public. But since slightly mentioning the 
subject, the writer has carefully examined all the 
Reports of Naval Committees, and the official opin- 
ions of the different Secretaries of the Navy, and 
may certainly allude to them without the charge of 

The Report of the Naval Committee of Novem- 
ber 1814, states that, " The nation with whom we 
are now at war (Great Britain) is said to have about 
a thousand public ships ; to command which, she ha? 
not less than two hundred ADMIRALS, of ten differ 
ent grades, ascending from rear Jldmirctl of the blue, 
to the Admiral of the fleet."' 

This able committee rccummeadtd the appoint- 
ment of officers above the grade oi Post-Captain, 
(now the highest) which would of course be Admi- 
rals. It has already been seen that even the Alge- 
rines had one Admiral at least, until Com. Decatur 
encountered him in a single ship, and killed hioi in 

The Hon. William Jones, the vigilant and active 
Secretary of the Navy, during almost the whole of 
the second war with Britain, thus forcibly and ele- 
gantly expresses himself upon this subject : — " Cap- 
tains of long and honourable standing, cannot but 

'292 LIFE OF 

contrast the cheerless prospect of promotion in the 
naval service, with the rapid and high distinction 
which their military brethren, with equal, but not 
higher pretensions, have attained." 

Let the '• contrast-' be pi'cscnted to the reader. — 
Two fifths, if not one half of the whole force of the' 
Republic in the second war, was in the Navy. In 
THE Army u'ore 8 Major Generals, and 16 Briga^ 
dier-Gcntrah, The immense number of Colonehj 
Liei/lcnant -Colonels J Majors, Captains and Lieuten- 
ants, may be easily calculated upon the princi[;les 
upon which the army was organized. 

The Navy had and still iins but three grades of 
(ijlice — Post Captains, Masters-Commandants and 
Lieut cnants ^ ihc title of Commodore, 3s prcYiousiy 
■ emaiked, arising solely from the circumstance, of 
:)eing senior officer in a squadron. It is presumed 
hat son)C of our venerated and gallant Post-Cap- 
Jains have held that immoveable rank (unless it be 
by removal from the Navy) for more than twenty-five 
years. Although the subject is a " cheerless" one 
indeed, I hope to be pardoned for the levity »of re- 
inarking, that the elder gallant officers of the Ameri- 
can Navy, whose locks have been blanched upon 
the ocean, and whose crowns have become bald in 
the service of their countiy, have not to impute the 
last, as an old British Post-Captain did, to the nu- 
merous junior officers who had travelled over his 
head, to the dignity of .Admirals — for our govern- 
ment have not yet seen fit to give to our noble Navy 
a sing I r Admiral, 

The Hon. B. W. Crowninshield. wha came into 


the Ndvy Department upon the retirement of Mr:r 
Jones, in his first communication recommended the 
creation of the rank of Admiral, He thus cogently 
assigns the reason — " It has been seen and lament- 
ed, that for want of this grade of command, the gal- 
lantry of a subordinate officer could be rewarded by 
promotion, while his gallant superior officer must re- 
main stationary,''^ 

In 1814, out of the immense navy of Britain, she 
had but ninety-nine 74s in commission^ and she had two 
hundred and nine admirals — besides twenty sex en ^ 
upon half pay! In 1820, in ihe House of Lords ihere 
are thirteen Peers of the Realm raised to that high 
dignity for naval achievements. Perhaps the asse- 
veration of Shakespeare's ever-living facetious 
knight, will apply to this case — " It is ever the way 
of this, our English nation, to make too inuch of a good 
thing j^^ and if a boundless national debt, and inter- 
minable ramifications of taxation, arc " good things'* 
the blessings of them have been somewhat increas- 
ed in this way. 

But, while pouring out the effusions of our grate- 
ful hearts in admiration of our peerless Naval Cham- 
pions, let us not diminish our confidence in the un- 
equalled government of our majestic Republic. In 
the course of these hasty sketches, the caution ot 
our rulers in augmenting the national debt, by sud- 
denly advancing the national glory, has been ad- 
verted to, and will not be repeated*. It redounds 
to their endless honour- — it extorts encomiums from 

Vide Ckap. V. 

294 LIFE OF 

our bitterest enemies— it imparls to our countrymen 
the richest blessings. To say, they have been 
too stinted in their economy, in regard to the Navy ^, 
and illiberal in their rewards to our naval heroes, 
v.'ouid require an arrogance which but few, even of 
our untutored, unthinking and visionary politicians 
possess. But as ours is a government of thepfo- 
ple, the people may fearlessly, although respectful- 
ly express their sentiments of the government. The 
voice of the people must and will prevail. To re- 
sist it, if it were possible, is not just, and if it were 
just, is not possible. It is presumed then, that our 
Civil Fathers will in a proper time, and in a proper 
manner, bestow those rewards by rank and emolu- 
ment, which our gallant Ocean- Warriors so richly 

Mr. Secretary Hamilton, Jones and Crotcnin shield, 
and the most distinguished Post-Captains, all con- 
curred in the opinion of the indispensable necessity 
of creating a Board of Navy Commissioners, The 
great and diversified duties of the Navy Depart- 
ment had so accumulated, that it became wholly im- 
practicable for the most capable and laborious se- 
cretary to discharge the duties of it with honour to 
himself and advantage to the nation. — The Naval 
Committee of 1815, discovered alarming abuses in 
the Navy, from, to use their language — 
Isl. The excessive and laborious duty of the Secre- 
2d. The want of sufficient checks upon, and the con- 
sequent irrespDnsibilifi/ of, subordinate agents^ 


3d. The great latitude allowed commanders in al- 
tering, repairing, and finishing their ships. 
Congress, in the session of 1815, established the 
board of Navy Commissioners, and the President, 
by and with the advice of the Senate, appointed 
Com. Rodgers. Capts. Hull and Porter, to the high 
and important duties of the office. Never was there 
a more judicious selection of officers. They were 
all veterans of the " Mediterranean School." The 
first was the vigilant watchman over American com- 
merce and seamen during the war in disguise with 
Britain, and dared to return the fire of a British ship 
of War. In open war the frigate President, drew af- 
ter her an immense portion of the British fleet, and 
enabled a vast amount of American property to 
reach our sliores in safety. The second, brought 
down the first British flag of the first British 
frigate that ever struck to an equal force. The 
third, when an impudent British commander of 
a force something inferior to him, bore down 
upon the Essex, almost sunk him in eight mi- 
nutes. He sent the first British flag to Washing- 
ton. With the Essex he swept British commerce 
from the immense Pacific ocean. — The Essex — but 
where could we stop in detailing her achievements. 
She drained the coffers of British merchants, and 
the treasury of England of wealth sufficient to build 
the whole of the then American Navy. 

Upon the return of Com. Decatur from the Medi- 
terranean, and the retirement of Capt. Hull, he suc- 
ceeded him as a Navy Commissioner. 
■ As it regards his capability of discharging the 
highly important and very responsible duties of this 


UTE or 

station, 1 need say nothing to those who have had 
the patience to peruse these imperfect sketches ol 
his life. 

The duties of a Kavy Commissioner^ (so far as the 
organization of the government, and the navy of 
America and England have an analogy) corresponds 
with that of a Lord of Admiralty in the laiter coun- 
try. It is always the part of wisdom to accumulate 
wisdom even from the expericHce of enemies ; and 
although our commanders, seamen, discipline, naval 
skill, &:c., have been proved to be decidedly su{)e- 
rior to their enemy's, yet it might be erroneous to 
say that they have not derived, in past times, some 
benefit, in this respect, from the first maritime pow- 
er in the universe. 

The duties of the board of Navy Commissioners 
are as multifarious as the vast variety of Naval con- 
cerns; and although the President of the United 
States, and the Secretary of the Navy have a para- 
mount authority, yet, through this board, almost tv- 
tvy important measure originates. From volumin- 
ous reports and documents the following brief out- 
line is collected. The Board, 

1 . Determine the various classes of ships to be built, 
quality of materials, models, <Sz;c. 

2. Establish regulations for the necessary expendi- 
tures and the correct accounting for theni. 

3. Regulations for ascertaining the actual state of 
decayed- damaged, or defective vessels, and the 
disposition of them. 

4. Regulations for the Naval Service, at Sea and 
upon the Lakes. 


5. Regulations for flotillas, and for every species of 

harbour defence. 
G, Regulations for Navy-yards, Arsenals, depot of 

stores, materials, &c. 

7. R,egulations for cruising ships, ships in port, for 
the recruiting service, ofiicers on duty on shore, 
and on furlough. 

- o 

8. A systenfi for hospitals, and the medical depart- 
ment. • 

3. Regulations for the conduct of Pursers, fixing 
their emoaiment — mode of accounting and secur- 
ing seamen from undue advantages. 
iO. Regulations for the examination of the officers 
of theNi^ivy below Master-Commandant — classing 
them in the scale of merit — determining promo- 
iions, and the applications for warrant appoint- 

These important duties, with all their various ra- 
mifications, surely must need the most comprehen- 
sive views, and the most minute acquaintance with 
naval science. They also require the most unceas- 
ing vigilance and application. No wonder that 
abuses should have crept into the Navy, and that a 
succession of Secretaries should have urged an es- 
tablishment of such a board. These abuses havQ 
been corrected, and the pecuniary affairs of the Na- 
vy are now as accurately adjusted as the accounts 
of an educated merchant. * 

Aithough'co/i/^r/crtce, to a certain degree, must be 
reposed in every agent of the Republic, yet that 
confidence ought ever to be under the controlling 
hand of responsibility* The guardians of our rights 

2-98 LIFE cr 

will never adopt the sentiment of an English minis- 
ter, who demanded from Parliament " necessary con- 
fidence ;" and who was answered by one of the 
greatest statesmen who ever graced the councils of 
Britain. " Necessary confidmct in the public agents, 
is at best but a necessary evil^ and ought not to be 
re])03ed." Our rulers, thanks to the stubborn 
and unyielding resistance against corruption, have 
not yet passed " ^'Icts of Indemnify^,'*'' to shield en- 
croachments upon the Constitution, and peculations 
in the treasury from punishment. 

Com. Decatur brought into this board his whole 
experience — his whole vigilance, and his unspotted 
integrity. In his brother commissioners, he found 
men like himself, devoted to the best interest of the 
Navy and the country. A new era commenced in 
our growing naval establishment. Order was 
brought out of cenfasion, and system was substitut- 
ed for derangement. They were to the Navy, what 
the unequalled Hamilton once was to the Treasury* 

It might be supposed that this was a relief from 
his arduous duties upon the ocean. Ask Com. 
Rodgers and Capt. Porter if it were so ? Ask them 
jf their perpetual duties, do not excite unremitting 
solicitude, and call forth every exertion of the mind 
and the body? Even the details of common busi- 
ness, which require nothing but ordinary attention, 
without any exertion of judgment, is irksome and fa- 
tiguing — add to this the necessity of improvement, 
where errors have been discovered, and of invention, 

* Such acts have frequently been passed to shield a British mi- 
nister from disgrace and punislunent. 


where some new regulation is necessary — add again, 
the exposure to censure, when mistaken, and the 
cold and hesitating approbation when right, and the 
official duties of a Navy-Commissioner will assume 
an aspect far from captivating, but these duties must 
be performed. 

Naval Architecture^ more than any one in the 
whole circle of the arts, requires original genius, 
taste and judgment. The ancient orders of archi- 
tecture, in erecting temples, palaces and mansions 
vpon earth; and the little improvement, and great 
injuries they have sustained by modern architects^ 
are easily learned by the commonest ability, and re- 
duced to practice by mere mechanical ingenuity. 
So plain is the road in this art, that he who reads 
may run in it ; and if by ignorance or wilfulness he 
strays from it, he gets involved in an inextricable 
labyrinth of blunders, from which he can only be 
relieved by retracing his wandering steps. But in 
the erection of Ships, there can hardly be said to be 
an established principle^ for where there is, there may 
be uniformilij , Why is it often said that such and 
such a ship is the best sailer in the American or Bri- 
tish Navy? Why did Com. Decatur say so of the 
Macedonian! and why was his noble father in the 
Philadelphia, he-aien by Capt. Tryon in the Connec- 
tirnt^ in a sailing- match ? Why did the naval archi- 
tects of Britain take models from the wretched Che- 
saptake^ when broken up, when she was deemed al- 
togeth( r the most ill constructed ship in the Ameri- 
can Navy 1 It was owing even to her superiority 
over their own. if the President and the Essex, were 

300 LIFE Ui' 

not too much battered and riddled by the squadrons 
of Com. Hays and Hillyer, to have reached British 
ports, perhaps the ship-carpenters of" his majesty 
George IV. may derive a still greater benefit from 
scrutinizing the wrecks of them. They are the only 
models they will ever have in their ports, unless 
they are gained by the same overwhelming su})eri-- 
ority of force. 

Although our Navy cannot number the years con- 
tained in a quarter of a century, yet, in point of 
elegance, strength, power, and celerity, our *ihips 
most decidoily surpass any that have floated upon 
the ocean from the days of Carthage to this age. 
Witness the escapes of the Constitution, ^rgus, Hor- 
7iet, Peacock, i^-c, and the victories of every s3ne of 
our smps in fair and equal combat; and, to mention 
the most signal instance of rapidity in movement, 
witness the Guerriere, and Com. Decatur's second 
squadron in 1815. 

It is to the skill, genius, and inventive faculties of 
our Navy-Commissioners, Post-Captains, and Na- 
val Architects, that we owe this American superiori- 
ty, in the construction of our ships. But their arma- 
ment also is of prime consideration. The reader 
may be gratified by a very brief sketch made from 
voluminous documents of the comparative force of 
ships of different rates. 

In ihc British Navy there are four denominations 
of ships — 1 . Ships of the line, fiom the largest, down 
to Sixty fours, 2. Fifty fours to Fifties, a distinct 
class, but rated with the line-of-battle-ships. 3. For- 
ties to Twenties, unexceptionably rated as Frigates. 


All the foregoing are commanded by Post-Captains. 
4. Eighteens to Sixteens, are Sloops of War, All 
are pierced and mount more gims than they are re- 
gistered at. Besides these, there are Schooners, 
Fire-shipSj Bombardsj Gun-Boats, Tenders, Cutters, 
&c., &;c. 

In the American Navy are Seventy-Fours, Fortij- 
fours, Thirty-sixes, Siocteens, Brigs, Schooners, Gun- 
Boats, t^c. 

The comparative force of Seventy-Fours and For- 
ty fours, (although at first it may excite surprise) is 
as one to three. It is demonstrated thus : a 74, at 
one round, discharges 3224 lbs. of, shot; a 44 dis- 
charges 1360 lbs. As the class of ships is increas- 
ed, the force is increased, in pro|)ortion of one to 
three. Seventy-fours are stronger in scantling, 
thicker in sides and bottom, less penetrable to shot, 
and less liable to be battered. A Seventy-four is a 
fair match for three 44's in action. To give the fri- 
gates the most favourable position, two at the quar- 
ter and stern, and one abreast of the 74. From the 
superior weight of metal in the destructive battery 
of the 74, the frigate abreast would be dismasted or 
sunk with two broadsides. In the mean time, the 
quarter and stern of the 74 might not be essentially 
injured ; and when a broadside could be brought to 
bear upon the other two frigates, they must share 
the fate of the first. Still, three frigates might take 
a 74, and, what is quite as probable, a 74 might 
capture or sink three frigates. 

The relative efliciency of Frigates and Sloops of 

502 LIFE OP 

JVar is at least as one lo two ^ and nearly the same 
reasoning will apply lo them as to 74's and 44'6. 
The Cyane was frigate built, and mounted 34 guns ; 
the Levant, 21, and yet the gallant and accomplish- 
Capt. Charles Stewart, (from whose enumera- 
tions the preceding statement was collated,) caplm- 
ed them both in 40 minutes. 

Having very briefly alluded to the erection and 
armament of ships, 1 will with still greater brevity 
allude to the expense of both, premising that the as- 
tonishing saving of money has been effected by the 
indefatigable exertions of the Secretary and Commis- 
sioners of the Navy. Twenty years ago, the ex- 
])ense of building and equipping a 74, was estimat- 
ed at g342, 700; only 5eue?« years ago, at §300,000. 
The expense of a 74, and of consequence, of every 
description of ships, is reduced nearly one third. 
The animal expense of a &4, in commission in 1812, 
was estimated at ^202,1 10 ; its annual expense now, 
(1820) including repairs, is 188,529 64; a 44 gun 
Frigate, §133,985 73; a 36 gun Frigate, §110,557 
19; a Sloop of War, §59.069 42 ; a Brig, §39,774 
67; a large Schooner, §23,350, and small, §6,452; 
a Gun-Boat, or Galley, §6, 243; a Steam Frigate, 
§55,660 41; a Block-Ship, §39,774 67; a Re- 
ceiving Ship, §4,240. The reason of mentioning 
the minute sums is, that the writer prefers " official 
documents" to '-'■ vague conjectures." 

Com. Decatur was indefatigable in discharging 

the duties of his important, responsible, and difficult 

station. Thoso duties, as they were discharged in 

he cabinet i excited no applause from the multitude, 


who knew not their importance. He was no long- 
er engaged in bringing clown the Cross of St. George, 
in the Atlantic, or the Turkish Crescent in the Me- 
diterranean. His pursuits attracted no attention 
from the world, which must always have a brilliant 
object before it to produce its admiration. But the 
acute penetration of a Crow^ninshield in the Navy- 
Department, and of a Rodgers and a Porter 
in the Board of the Navy, full well knew and duly 
appreciated his surpassing excellence. As our Na- 
vy has justly become the favourite of the Republic, 
James Monroe, President of the United States, and, 
by the Constitution, Commander in Chief of the ma- 
ritime, (as well as the military force,) was here ena- 
bled to discover the profound science of Com. De- 
catur in naval tactics. He had before, in common 
with our countrymen, participated largely in the en- 
thusiastic rapture produced by his unequalled victo- 
ries in the Mediterranean sea, and on ihe Atlantic 
ocean ; he here had an opportunity to notice the 
theory of that almost mysterious system, which ena- 
bled him no less than his dauntless bravery to 
achieve them. Comparisons have always been just- 
ly pronounced odious, and will not be entered into; 
.411 the American naval officers of the first grade, 
are accomplished commanders. They have un- 
doubtedly acquired some of the theory of their pro- 
fession from books ; but as books never teach the 
use of books, they have reduced the knowledge they 
acquired from them in the closet, to actual practice 
upon the ocean. 

The confidence reposed in Com. Decatur when 

304 LIFE OP 

he was appointed a Navy Commissioner, by the cau- 
tious, penetrating, and profound Statesmen, who 
placed him there, evinced his entire fitness to fill 
the high and important station. His survivors in 
that station will not doubt the judiciousness of the 
choice. Nor will a Murray, a Bainbridge, or a 
Campbell, his seniors, doubt it. T'here was one 
more senior to him, and ha could not doubt it — it was 
Com. James Barron. 

Com. Decatur had other views than those who 
Iiold a sinecure office under the monarch of Biitain, 
who derive an immense reward from their govern- 
ment without rendering any service to the nation. 
In order to discharge his duties to that country to 
which his gallant and patriotic father had devoted 
him, he was aware that he must first understand it. 
Knowing that a ship of war, if originally badly con- 
structed^ could never be amended^ he sought for the 
best information that could be obtained from ancient 
and modern experience. He knew full well that 
Englishmen claimed all the " original discoveries" 
that had been made in modern Naval Architecture. 
He knew that one Englishman claimed the inven- 
tion of " diagonal braces,^'' and the construction of 
ships by " timbers so closely adhering to each other, 
and caulked, as to be impervious to water." He 
knew also that they claimed the invention of " iron 
cables." He knew that they claimed the invention 
of " iron knees" for ships. Without violently dis- 
puting the claims of our transatlantic enemies, he 
was solicitous that the American Navy should have 
a]l the benefit of tjiese discoveries, let them havf' 


originated wherever they did. At the same time he 
knew where they did originate. He knew that the 
first claimed invention was not original with En- 
glishmen. He knew that the invention of the Steam 
Frigate " with timbers impervious to water," by 
that unparalleled mechanist, Fulton, the model of 
which he examined at New-London, when blockad- 
ed there, by an immensely superior force, was made 
many months anterior to any pretensions of an En- 
glish architect. As to " iron cables,'' he knew that 
they had been used on the Delaware river, on the 
banks of which he spent his early life, long before 
an English architect knew their use*. As to " iron 
knees," he knew that Com. Truxton showed an 
American naval architect the " iron knees" of the 
frigate Insurgents^ captured by him in the little Con- 
stellation, in 1799. All these improvements be-" 
came familiar with Americans, before Englishmen 
pretended to have discovered them. 

While England claims to be the mother of Ameri- 
ca, let her not forget that the child will not for ever 
bear the unprovoked rod of his parent. Nor— 
*- Lick the hand just rais'd to shed its blood"-— and 

* The writer, iti iavestigatia^; this subject, had an interview with 
9nt of the oldest and ndost experienced ship-builders in New-Eng~ 
land. lie comuieaced the business at fourteen, and excepting the 
period of the Revolutionary War, in which he was a g^allant sol- 
dier under Gen. PuTjfAM, followed it to this time, (1821o) He 
distinctly remembers examining a " chain cable'' upon an armed 
^^mencan ship in New-York, in 1733, when discharged from the 
army and minutely described it. He did not fight in the second 
war, but he would now nerve his irm at the sight of Capt, Short- 
landr, v/ho assassinated his son in Dartmoor Prison, in 1814! I 
26 * 


that sometimes he surpasses his progenitors in sci 
ence an i achievements. 

Com. Dt'catur, although ever ready to meet ihf 
enemies of his country, in combat, never detracted 
from their skill or gallantry. He would as readil}- 
acknowledge the real skill and prowess of an En- 
glishman as a Turk, both of whom he had conquer- 
ed, and both of whom he had treated with humanity 
and respect, when he had vanquished them. He 
was aware that his countrymen were as inventive, in 
improving the construction of ships, as they were 
skilful in navigating and fearless in fighting them ; 
and preferred the real superiority of his own, to the 
gasconading boasts of another nation. 

But while Com. Decatur was thus engaged in ad- 
vancing the permanent force of the American Na- 
vy, temporary relaxations from the intensity of ap- 
plication to his official duties, enabled him to parti- 
cipate in the captivating enjoyments of accomplish- 
e J society, beside that which the metropolis afforded. 

Three states lay in their claim to him as a citizen 
— Maryland, because he was horn in it — Pennsyl- 
vania, because he adopted it, and Virginia, because 
she furnished him with the source of his most ex- 
quisite CDJoyment, a lovely, dignified and accom- 
plished bosom companion. It is not necessary tQ 
decide which state has the best claim to citizenship; 
suffice it to say, each of them strived to outvie each 
other in civility to him, whenever his short excur- 
sions led him into them. His entry into their larger 
towns, although in the most unostentatious style, 
called forth every possible demonstration of esteem^ 


I'espect and admiration. It was not the unmeaning 
and idolatrous veneration which a degraded and hu- 
miliated people pay to monarchs and princes who 
have no claim upon their affection, and which pro- 
ceeds more t'rooi tear than attachment— it was the 
voluntary effusion of the heart, proceeding from a 
knowledgs of his inestimable worth, and anackiiow- 
ledgement of the incalculable services he had" ren- 
dered the Republic. 

The refined and patriotic citizens of Baltimore^ 
ever prompt in serving their country themselves, 
and equally ready to manifest their respect for those 
who have, presented Com. Decatur with a superb 
service of plate, upon each piece of which was this 
inscription — 

•' The Citizens or Baltimore, to Com. Deca- 

" Rebus gestis insigni — ob virtutes dilecto*." 

Although the classical examiner would readily see 
from this inscription that the citizens of Baltimore 
conveyed the truth admitted by all, that Com. De- 
catur, was " Distinguished for his heroism, and ad- 
mired for his virtues,"^^ yet some observers might not 
be so fortunate. 

The citizens of Norfolk^ (Vir.) than whom, no 
portion of Americans better knew the private and 
public worth of Com. Decatur, besides the constant 
display oi individual esiecm^ invited him to a splen- 

* Although it is readily admitted, that the most elegant moilos 
are to be found in this most elegant of languages, yet as English 
is ih^Aanguage oi Americans, however dift'ei-eut their principles^ 
would it not be more judiciQUs to convey our idtas in our vernacu- 
lar ion§ue ? 

308 LIFE OP 

did public dinner. It is upon such occasions, that 
the frank and unsophisticated sentiments of generous 
bosoms are elucidated. Surrounding the festives, 
board, and casting their eyes upon the Hero of the ;i 
Mediterranean, they gave in unison, this sentiment 
— 'than which nothing could be more forcibly con- 
ceived, or elegantly expressed. 

" The Crescent — Its lustre was dimmed, even 
by the tzoinkling of our Stars." 

Such a sentiment was worthy of the present gene- 
ration of Virginians, amongst whose fathers, in the 
war of the Revolution, were Washington, Jeffer- 
son, Madison, Monroe and Patrick Henry. It 
compelled Com. Decatur to take a sudden retros- 
pect of his evcHtful life in the Mediterranean — hi» 
capture of the Intrepid — his destruction of the Phi- 
ladelphia frigate, and his unparalleled conflict with 
the Gun-Boats. 

At Petersburg, in that patriotic state, they were 
no less ardent in their attachment to the favourite, 
and favoured Decatur. After receiving every pub- 
lic demonstration of respect that could be shown, 
he gave the following, modest, ingenuous, and grate- 
ful sentiment. 

" The Citizens of Petersburg — They render 
honours to those for services, which theij themselves 
have exceeded." 

In Philadelphia, he was always received with 
rapture, for there they "" knew him best,'''* His 
early companions presented him with a splendid 
service of plate, accompanied with a most finished 
and elegant letter. A short extract from his an- 


swer will be inserted. " I beg the committee, com- 
posed of names with which my earliest and most 
agreeable ideas are associated, to accept my warm- 
est thanks for the very flattering sentiments you 
have expressed toward me." 

The events in the Navy Department, not imme- 
diately connected with the life and character of 
Stephen Decatur, cannot be enlarged upon. From 
the time he entered upon the arduous duties of a 
Navy-Commissioner, his mind was completely en- 
grossed by them ; every other object was of secon- 
dary consideration. Amidst these duties, however, 
he participated in the captivating enjoyments of the 
metropolis. He enjoyed the society of the great 
men of our great Republic, there stationed to man- 
age its vast concerns. He here appeared in the ca- 
pacity of a Statesman, and excited no less respect 
than when he appeared in the more dazzling cha- 
racter of a Hero, With the Secretary of the Navy, 
his brother Commissioners, and naval officers, he 
was perfectly at home ; and surely, amongst all the 
objects of magnitude, that involves the profound re- 
tlections of our rulers, no one surpasses, nor indeed 
equals that of naval defence. With a sea-board of 
three thousand miles, — indented with some ot the 
largest bays, sounds and rivers in the world — their 
borders and mouths, containing much of the vast 
wealth accumulated from the interior — assailable in 
numberless points by a naval enemy, it is reduced 
to absolute demonstration, that our safety in future 
depends, much, very much upon naval power. How- 
ever much we may be struck with the formidable 

310 LIFE OF 

power of land batteries, the experience of modern 
warfare evinces clearly, the vast superiority of bat- 
teries that are floating. With our majestic ships of ' 
the line, our frigates, sloops and Brigs, Americans 
can carry our arms where they find our enemies, and 
make them flee from where they are found. If they 
dare intrude upon our harbours, they will meet with 
that novel, that tremendous, that almost resistless 
engine of death and destruction, the steam frigate. 
To be sure our immense frontier is to be guarded ' 
hy armies, 2.i\d fortijicatious ; but even there, a mov- 
ing rampart of high-minded men, is found to be vast- 
ly more efficient than stationary forts, redoubts and 
breast- works. Present to the enemy our flying ar- 
tillery, and a rampart, formed by a front, bristled 
with bai/onets, and led on by brandishing szvords, an 
enemy will much sooner retire than they would from 
a fort which they might besiege with safety at a se- 
cure distance — which they might possibly overcome 
by starvation, or conquer by an overwhelming su- 
periority of force. But the writer, in this volume, 
has nothing to do with the armi/ of the Republic, it 
belongs, with all its imperfections and errors to the 
,Navy, It was only intended to show, that a rnovca- 
hie force is every where preferable to a stationary 
one, any zvhere. 

The most difficult duty, and, in a personal point 
of view, the most liable to censure, that Com. Der 
catur had to perform, as Navy-Commissioner, was 
the selection of officers for different commands. In 
every other of the vast variety of duties he had to 
discharge, in conjunction with the Secretary of the 


Navy, and his brother Commissioners, they related 
to the Navy generalli/ ^ and equally affected every 
one from the highest to the lovcesl grade of officers. 
But in restorifig oilicers to commands, after they had 
been suspended from them by arrests, inquiries, and 
trials, and after the term of susjDensions, after inqui- 
ries and trials, had expired, exposed them to the 
personal animadversions of every naval officer who 
had been implicated. 

The President of the United States, during the 
period of Com. Barron's most important command, 
thus expresses himself — " Of the various executive 
duties, no one excites more anxious concern, than that 
of placing the interest of our fellow-citizens in the 
hands of honest men, with under standing suficient for 
their stations. No duty at the same time is more diffi- 
cult to fulfil:'' 

Numerous instances upon this subject might be 
mentioned ; but perhaps no one so signal as that of 
the arrest of Com. Macdonough by Com. Stewart in 
the Mediterranean in 1819 can be alluded to. The 
particulars are not sufficiently known to the writer 
to give a minute detail : and were th^y so, the li- 
mits of this work vv'ould forbid them. Suffice it to 
say, he was arrested by Com. Stewart — deprived of 
his command to which his junior succeeded; and he 
arrived at the seat of government to account for his 
conduct. Upon his arrival there, the President of 
the United States, the Secretary of the Navy, and 
the Navy-Commissioners, behrld one of the heroes 
of the Mediterranean and the hero of Champlain 

312 LIFE OF 

under Jirrest ! His unspotted life — his unexampled 
modest}' — his achievements in the wars against 
Turks and Englishmen, induced them all to hope 
that he was *' not guilty." 

No one could possibly enter into the feelings of 
the endeared Macdonough, like Stephen Decatur. 
He had been his favourite Midshipman in the Medi- 
terranean — he had followed wherever he led, and 
where but few others would follow. He had seen 
him add one of the most splendid trophies to the na- 
val prowess of America over England — he must 
have hoped that he had not even made a mistake in 
his duty. But what was the admiration of the no- 
ble Decatur, when he found his beloved friend, as 
noble as liimself, ingenuously acknowledging that 
he had been mistaken ? Macdonough had oftea 
achieved victories over the enemies of his country 
' — he here achieved his greatest — it was a victory 
over himself. Com. Decatur enjo}TO the infinite 
satisfaction of seeing Com. Macdonough immediate- 
ly after placed in the highest command which one, 
commanding a single ship, in the American Navy, 
can be placed — that of the command of a Seventy- 
four. /. 
Com. Barron, whose name stands the third in the 
Naval Register of the American Republic, had long 
been out of service. He had been suspended from 
the naval service in consequence of the well known 
'* affair of the Chesapeake and Leopard frigates ;' 
the details of which would be harrowing up, and 
opening afresh the most aggravated wound ever i 


dieted upon the honour of the American Navy. 
The writer hesitates as he approaches the subject, 
Frora that disastrous affair, more than from any 
other cause, arose the second war between our 
peaceful Republic and imperious Britain ; and, it 
any calamity greater than war to our country, could 
have visited it, it essentially contributed to the tra- 
gical — the disastrous death of Stephen Decatur. 


314 LIVE OF 


Com. Barron solicits a command ia the Navy — Com. Dccftit ir's 
opinion as to his re-admission into the Navy — The unlbilLmale 
misunderstandino^ between them — It eventuates in a challenge to 
sing-le combat, from Barron to Decatur — Duelling — Result of 
the meeting — Immediate effects of it — Honours to the remains of 
Com. Decatur — Funeral ceremonies at his interment — His Cha- 

The writer approaches to the conclusion of these 
sketches, with a solicitude, if possible, greater than 
that which he has experienced in the progress of 
them. His bjood almost congeals as he writes — his 
heart throbs at every sentence — and his feeble pow- 
ers sensibly experience their insufficiency to pour- 
T.ray the calamitous catastrophe and its calamitous 
consequences. It is not for the writer to fathom 
the motives of Com. James Barron, nor pronounce 
a sentence upon a deed which has s{)read mourning 
through our vast Republic. To his Country, and to 
his Creator, is he accountable. Stephen Decatur's 
fame would acquire no new tint of lustre by an at- 
tempt to throw a shade over the character of the 
surviving combatajit. A Dearborn could not blast 
the fame of a Putnam, by attempting to erect the 
fabrick of his glory upon his ruins. Com. Barron 
is too generous to triumph over a fallen hero, or at- 
tempt to tarnish his fame. 

Let the reader peruse the following unvarnished 
tale, and as nothing will be recorded with a view ol 


impairing the living reputation of Com. Barron, so 
nothing will be omitted to defend the tnemory of 
Com. Decatur — consecrated by death. Defend, did 
J say ? let me retract — his memory needs not the 
defence of the living. His posthumous fame can 
neither be augmented by eulogy, nor diminished by 

As a Navy-Commissioner, Com. Decatur had an 
important official duty to perform ; and for the per- 
formance of it, he was accountable to his superiors, 
to his country, to his conscience, and his Creator. 
Let his decision have affected whom it might, the re- 
putation, the honour, and the glory of the American 
Navy, were ever first in his thoughts, first in his 
words, and first in his deeds. Having been devot- 
ed to the naval service of his country by his noble 
father, and by his own ardent heroism, he had ever 
manifested a readiness to spill his blood, and spend 
his life in advancing its glory. The Navy was bis 
pole-star; and his views were as undeviatingly fix- 
ed upon it, as the needle points to the pole. He 
had arisen from the lowest to the highest grade of 
command in actual service, and for ever submitted to 
the orders of his superiors, and the decisions of na- 
val tribunals, without an animadversion. When 
called upon to decide upon the conduct of others, he 
approved or disapproved as his well-informed judg- 
ment dictated. Personal attachments, and also per- 
sonal antipathies, (if he had any) were merged and 
swallowed up in the paramount interest of the Navy. 

When placed in the important official station of 
jN"avy-Commissioner, he had the highly delicate, and 

316 LIFE OP 

responsible duty of a judge of merit and demerit to 
perform. It would require some being " more than 
man'^^ to satisfy all, and in some instances, decisions 
might meet with reprehensions, from those who were 
" less than mari''^ ought to be. His motto in this ca- 
pacity was — " Be just, arid fear not.'''' When called 
upon by official duty to decide a question which 
might affect his senior in the Navy, he as fearlessly 
and as impartially pronounced his judgment, as in 
the case of the youngest Midshipman, Unspotted 
himself as an officer, he made himself the standard 
of naval character. Alas! the model was too per- 
fect for universal imitation, and he perhaps too un- 
yielding and too tenacious, in adhering to it. The 
honour of the American Navy was to him as the vir- 
tue of a wife was to Caesar — " It must not only be 
chaste — it must be misuspected,'^^ If there ever was 
degeneracy in the Navy, he was always too exalt- 
ed to sink to it, and too elevated to be approached 
hy it, 

^"hus fixed and thus undeviating, Com. Barron 
solicited the Navy Department for a re-instatement, 
in his command in the Navy. Com. Decatur had 
served under him in the Mediterranean, in 1804, 
and succeeded him in the command of the Chesa- 
peake frigate in 1807. From the last mentioned pe- 
riod to 1819, Cora. Barron had not been in actual ser- 
vice, although he had ever been under that pay 
which was established for officers in his situatioH. 
In that year, (1819) Com. Decatur, as Navy-Com- 
missioner, had to express his opinion in regard to 
the fitness of Com, Barron to take a command in the 


Navy. He did express it in his official capacity, 
and in interviews v/ith officers of the Navy. 

As to the " affair with the Chesapeake," in 1807, 
however deeply it might have wounded the honour 
of the Navy, he had nothing to do. Com. Barron 
had suffered the disabilities which a court-martial 
adjudged ; and those disabilities had ceased — the 
time of his suspension from service had expired. 
But, Com. Decatur, frankly, and unreservedly de- 
clared, that " he entertained, and still did entertain 
the opinion that his conduct as an officer, since that af- 
fair, had been such, as ought for ever to bar his re-' 
admission into the service,'''' at the same time unequi- 
vocally declaring, that he " disclaimed all personal ' 
enmity towards him,"^^ 

As to the sentence of the court-martial, although 
approved by the President of the United States, 
Com. Barron declared it to be " cruel, and unmerit- 
ed,''^ and further remarks—'' // is the privilege of a 
man deeply injured as I have been by that decision^ 
and conscious of not deserving it, to- remonstrate 
against it,'''' Before what tribunal that remonstrance 
was to be made, is not conceived. As to his conduct 
since the promulgation of that sentence, Com. Bar- 
ron endeavoured to exculpate himself from every 

A long and animated correspondence commenced 
between these officers in June J 819, and terminated 
in February, 1820. It is sincerely to be lamented 
that it ever met the public eye — it is deeply to be 

* Vkle correspondence of Decatur and Baaron. 
21 * 

318 LIFE OF 

regretted that the jealous enemies of our rising Na* 
vy, ever pored over it with malignant satisfaction — ^ 
for satisfaction it will ever be to them to discover 
disaffection between our accomplished and gallant 
Naval officers. While Americans lament the per- 
sonal altercations between Perry and Heathy Deca- 
tur and Barron, &c., our enemies rejoice at them. 

Without dwelling longer upon a subject pregnant 
with the most gloomy reflections, we must now add, 
that the various explanations and recriminations, 
between Commodores Decatur and Barron, ended 
in a direct call from the last to meet the first in the 
field of single combat, and which he accepted*. 

This is no place to enter into a dissertation upon 
the subject of duelling, nor will it be attempted. It 
belongs to the Legislators of our Republic tojenact 
laws upon the subject — it belongs to Judicial Tribu- 
nals to enforce them — it belongs to the Ministers of 
our Holy Religion to pronounce the canons of the 
Div^fne Law — it belongs to the Teachers of Morali- 
ty to inculcate its doctrines upon this practice. 
v4bove all, it belongs to the most distinguished offi- 
cers ofour Navy and Army to evince their sentiments 
upon this subject by their examples* They have 
devoted themselves to the " Profession of Arms." 
It is a profession in which a high sense of honour 
-forms the prominent feature. Not that superficial. 

* In 1778, the Earl of St. Vincent {^ir John Jervis) received a 
challeng-e from Sir John Orde, for giving a preference to Sir Ho- 
ratio Nelson in the command of a squadron. It was of course ac 
cepted. But the friends of the parties interfered. The civil au 
thority put their lordships under bonds for keeping the peace, ant 
j'^gtrft Jnc'J two gallant officer? from making war upon each other 


^merile atid execrable sense of honour which is foun» 
ded upon the mere unmeaning punctilios of modern 
refinement, modern effeminacy, and modern degene- 
racy. That sense of honour is meaned, which led 
our ancestors to proclaim us free — to scorn submis- 
sion to tyrants — to face them upon ocean and upon 
earth, and to pour out their richest blood for their 
country. Their arms were turned against the ene- 
mies of the Republic, and not against each other/ 

While the officer of genuine honour vviU avoid 
the infliction of a wound upon the reputotiun of his 
superior, equal, or inferior, he will equally avoid 
that unrestrained resentment which calls upon him 
to violate the laws of Earth, of Heaven, and of Hon- 
our itself. It is impossible to ascertain the degree 
of moral guilt between him whose provocation rous- 
es up the spirit of revenge, and him whose ven- 
geance can be appeased only with blood. Alas! 
within the last quarter of a century, our Republic 
has been called to mourn the destruction of many of 
her best citizens upon that Aceldema — " The field 
of Honoiir,^^ A catalogue will not be attempted, for 
it would present an awful chasm in our greatness. 

The twenty- second day of March, 1820, ought to 
be kept as an anniversary of grief — a day of lamen- 
tation. Upon that fatal, bloody day, the rich tri- 
bute of Decatur's veins was poured out upon the 
plains of Bladensburg by the hand of a brother officer. 
As he was approaching the fatal spot, and as no 
voice of human persuasion could deter him from his 
awful determination, why could not some ministering 
angel of sparing mercy have thus addressed him.^- 

320 LiPE or 

"Erring and inconsiderate mortal, forbear! Al- 
though it is not given you to pierce the impervious 
veil which still conceals unknown worlds from your 
view, yet pause and reflect! Remember your coan- 
try to which you have devoted yourself, — to which 
your service and life belong — and which has so 
abundantly rewarded your valour! Remember the 
enemies you have fought — the victories you have 
won — the dangers you have escaped — the glory you 
have acquired. Remember the declaration of your 
sainted father — " Our children are the proper- 
ty OF our country." — Remember your brother 
whose fate you escaped, and whose death you aven- 
ged — Remember your surviving relatives and asso- 
ciates, who now anxiously await your fate — Reracnv 
ber the tender and affectionate companion of your 
bosom, whose throbbing and agitated heart, in breath- 
less expectation and horror, listens the report of the 
fearful shot. And, above all, remember that Pre- 
serving Providence which has guarded you in the 
midst of death, in justifiable warfare, and tremble 
♦It the thought of entering into a contest in open vio- 
lation of his decrees, is fame your object? you 
have already reached its temple. Is vengeance 
your design ? it must not be — that belongs to heav- 
en. Return, therefore, to your exalted station, and 
to the bosom of your anxious family." 

But no monitory voice from the heavens above, 
and no voice *' crying aloud from the groitndj^'^ dis- 
suaded the ambitious Challenger from advancing 
to the field. The Challenged Decatur suffered 
his chivalrous conceptions of honour, to overcome 


the dictates of philosophy — the claims of his coun- 
try — the entreaties of his real friends, and his own 
conscientious scruples, in regard to the propriety of 
the act, to meet his unrelenting opponent in the field 
of single combat; and there, arm to arm, furnished 
with deadly weapons, to decide a controversy which 
nothing but the capricious determination of fate 
could put to rest. 

The accompanying friends of the militant parties, 
after the " dreadful notes of preparation'''' were 
sounded, silently waited the result. The incompa- 
rable military skill of the combatants, so often suc- 
cessfully exercised against the enemies of their 
country, was alas! too fatally skilful upon this aw- 
ful occasion. At the same moment they both fired 
— at nearly the same place both inflicted a wound-— 
at the same moment they both fell — one mortally^ 
the other severely wounded. 

Com. Decatur was accompanied to the place al- 
lotted for the shocking catastrophe, by Com. Bain- 
bridge as his second, and his surgeon. Com. Bar- 
ron was accompanied by Capt. Elliott, as his sec- 
ond, and his surgeon. No explanation took place 
upon the field. The result of the interview has been 
briefly, for it could not otherwise be detailed. Who 
can, even at this lapse of time, expatiate over the 
gushing wound of Decatur in retrospect? Who must 
not have been petrified with horror that actually be- 
held the life's blood of this unsurpassed hero, crim- 
soning the turf of his native country, and let forth, 
by the hand of a native countryman, and that hand 

322 LIFE OP 

at the same time, paralized by a wound all but mor 

When the wounded combatants viewed each other 
at butafew paces distant, with what agony must fheii* 
fixed eyes have gazed? Not from the agony oi their 
wounds — tor mere pain of body, any man of fortitude 
will bear without a groan. But '' a wounded spirit, 
who can bear?" While yet the lamp of lite was un- 
extinguished in either of them, the well- nerved arms 
which just now pointed the deadly weapons, from 
which issued the unerring messengers of death, were 
now tremblingly extended in iokeu of reconciliation. 
Oh ! why could not these stern, unyielding devotees 
of the delusive pSantom of false honour, one hour 
betbre, have said to each other, " Live, and I will 



Com. Decatur was removed to his mansion-house 
in Washington, languishingin thcagony of approach- 
ing dissolution. A sudden and violent convulsion in 
nature could scarcely have produced a more agitat- 
ing shock. Indeed the laws of nature had been via* 
lated, and one of its fairest works had been pros- 
trated. Every object, from those of the first mag- 
nitude, to those of the most trilling concern, were 
immediately abandoned, and every thought was in- 
tensely fixed upon the living — the dying Decatur. 
Almost regardless of the form.*; which tender sensi- 
bility enjoins, when approaching the house of death 
and mourning, every one involuntarily rushed to the 
residence of the bleeding citizen, and hero, who but 
a few hours before, gladdened their eyes by his pre- 


The sublime and exalted contemplations of the 
hero's soul, were scarcnly interi'upted by thr- agony 
of his body. While nature was stryggling to retain 
its agonizing grasp upon this world, his celestial 
spirit was panting for the regions of immortality : 
but his immortal soul was not sumaioned hence, un- 
til his lips [ ronouncod his decided disapprobation 
OF THE MANNER IN wiicH HE FELL. His denuncia- 
tion against duelling, was like a voice uttered from 
the tomb. Decatur's last faltering exclamations 
were a denunciation against the duellist. 

His death left a chasm in the Navy which it might 
be presum|)tuous to say cannot be filled; but which, 
it is confidently said, cannot be filled better. Jt pro- 
duced a sensation in the metropolis, at the moment 
it was announced, and through the country as the 
saddening ifjtelligence spread, which never had been 
experiej ced since the fall of Hamilton, who like 
him, died in the midst of his glory and usefulness, 
and who like him, acknowledged the guilt of the 
practice by which he fell. 

' During the gloomy interim between the 22d and 
24th of March, every possible demonstration of re- 
spect was paid to the remains of Com. Decatur, 
by the public aiithoritie^r, and every condolence, 
which the deepest sympathy could afford, was ex- 
tended to the inconsolable Mrs. Decatur. 

The ardent affection and glowing patriotism of 
the eloquent John Randolph, led him to introduce 
a motion into the house of Representatives {m the 
purpose of inducing ^formal display of soirovv upon 
the occasion, it called forth the most unqualified 

324 LIFE OF 

eulogies upon the character of thp deceased hero ; 
but lest a recorded resolution, upon the subject of 
his funeral or badges of mourning, might be constru- 
ed into an approbuion of the mode in which he di- 
ed, it was deemed far more judicious to leave it to 
the spontaneous, and voluntary eftusions of sorrow- 
ing hearts to manifest grief in a way the most appro- 
priate to the melancholy occasion. 

Upon the 24th, the metropolis was thronged by 
^he largest concourse of the public authorities, civil, 
naval and military, foreign ministers, strangers of 
distinction, and citizens, that was ever witnessed 
there upon a similar occasion, since the corner- 
stone of the Capitol was deposited, and the founda- 
tion of the city was laid. — The deepest sorrow was 
depicted upon every countenance — the great busi- 
ness of the Republic was suspended in every de- 
partment. At 4 o'clock, the late residence of the 
deceased hero, was approached, and his sacred re- 
mains were received by those who were to bear 
them to the tomb of Kalorama. The Procession 
was thus appropriately arranged. 

Funeral firing party of Marines, with music. 

Officers of the Navy of the United States. 

Officers of Marine Corps. 

The Clergy. 

Pall Beartra. Pall Bearers* 

Com. Tingry, "^ q f Com. Rodgers, 

Corn. M.icdonough, | O j Com. Porter, 

Gen. Jessup, y t^^ Gen. Brown, 
Cnpi. Ballard, ^ I Capt. Cassin, 

Lieul. M'Pherson, J • i^Capt, Ciiaunceyo 


President of the United States and Heads of Depart- 
Members of the Senate and House of Representa- 
Judges, Marshal, and other Civil Officers of the 
United States. 
Officers of the Army of the United States. 
The Mayors and other Civil Officers of the District. 
Foreign Ministers with their Suites, and Consuls of 
Foreign Powers. 
The Citizens. 
The military honours of the solemn occasion, 
were rendered by the truly excellent Marine Corps. 
under the orders of their accomplished commander, 
Major Miller. As the procession began its solemn 
movement, minute guns from the Mivi/ Yard weic 
commenced ; and were continued duriiig the proces- 
sion and funeral service. The same cannon which 
had so often announced the splendid arhievements 
of Decatur, now marked the periods in bearing his 
remains from his late abode to the tomb. Their re- 
verberating thunder mournfull) echoed through the 
metropolis, and the surrounding region, and aiuioua- 
ced the approach of a sleeping hero to the silt^nt ce- 
metery. When the volleys of musketry ech'td 
forth the last token of respect to the sacred rehques, 
it was known that all that was mortal of Decuiur 
was concealed from human view,— that his body be- 
longed to the earth — his exalted and immortal spirit 


ji(5 LIFE OP 

to heaven, and his character, his fame and his glory 
to his country. 

During these solemn and impressive ceremonies, 
Com. Barron was larigur^hing upon his couch with 
the wound received at the moment that was, which 
carried Com. Decatur to the tomb; the thunder of 
the minute guns, and the discharge of musketry 
must have vibrated through a heart tortured to ago- 
ny. His destiny was yet uncertain — he was upon 
the verge cA two worlds, uncertain to which the next 
hour might consign him. He remembered that the 
living Decatur said to him: — " 1 have not chal- 


Can there be a pang in death more excruciating than 
his reflections must have been? He might have ex- 
claimed with the bard : — 

*' O Providence, extend thy care to me ! 

For J^ature sialcs, unequal to the combat, ;l 

And weak Philosophy denies her succours." I 

But Com. Barron still survives ; and survives if 
is confidently hoped, to be an ornament to the naval 
service, and a living witness against the horrid, the 
appalling custom, which hurried one of the most gal- 
lant and noble spirits into eternity, and which 
brought Am to the very verge of it. The conflict 
between the departed Decatur and the surviving Bar- 
ron was no common affair of honour. It did not ori-< 
ginate in the personal hostility of the partir> — it 
was in the cause of the American Navy they fou^hl 
each other; and had the noble Decatur ifistantlji 
died, the wounded Barron would have exclaimed in 



a faltering voice over his bloody and mangled 

corpse, as Monmouth did over Percy'' s : 

" Lie there, great heart — the earth that bears thee dead. 
Bears x\oi alive, so high a gentleman." 

Decatur is dead — and if he must have died in the 
midst of his years and glory, would tc heaven he 
had fallen upon his own deck, like Lawrence, Al- 
len, and Burrows ! Then might we exclaim in the 
language of a bard whose genius was as exalted as 
his heroism : — 

« . Sampson hath quit himself 

Like Sampson ; — and heroically hath finished 
A life heroic." 

The course of his life points out a brilliant orb for 
the ocean-warrior to move in — the manner of his 
death, a destructive vortex to shun. But living, he 
was admired— dying, he was lamented, and his me- 
mory will be cherished in fond remembrance, as long 
as ardent patriotism, fearless courage, and exalted 
virtues, shall receive an approving sentence in the heart. 

Hereafter, when the sculptured marble, or the 
towering monument, as imperishable as Decatur's 
fame, shall point to the place where he rests from 
his toils and his dangers, the traveller will linger 
around it and exclaim — Do we admire the Ameri- 
can youth who devotes his early years to the acqui- 
sition of solid science, and polite literature ? Such 
was Decatur in youth. Are we charmed with the 
youthful hero, anxious to emulate the gallant deeds 
of noble ancestors ? Such a youth was Decatur« 
Do we admire the man who rises above effeminate 

328 LIFE OP 

enjoyment, and meets a host of enemies in foreign 
climes, to rescue his countrymen from bondage ? Such 
a man was Decatur. Are we enraptured with the 
dauntless heroism of a warrior who dared to meet a 
foe whose power is deemed irresistible ? Such De- 
catur did. Do we admire the judge who dares to 
pronounce a sentence which may endanger himself? 
Such a judge was Decatur. Are we tortured into 
the agony of grief that an exalted spirit should fall a 
victim to the delusive phantom of false honour ? 
Alas! Decatur so fell. " What a fall was there, 
my countrymen,'^'^ 

The whole character of the subject of these biog- 
raphical memoirs, may be summed up in few words* 

STEPHEN DECATUR was created and consti- 
tuted for an ocean- warrior. His whole nature was 
peculiarly adapted to the perilous and brilliant 
sphere of action upon the watery element. That is 
the expanded theatre upon which he was designed 
to act the most important parts, and shine illustrious 
in the most tremendous scenes. To his natural 
adaptation for a seaman, he added all the auxiliary 
aids of scientific acfjuirement. He first made him- 
self a general scholar — then a theoretical navigator 
— .then a pract>ical seaman. Before his nautical 
skill, the rolling and convulsed ocean lost half of 
its appalling horrors ; and its hideous tempests seem^' 
ed to become subservient to his wishes. 

But this important trait in his character was ak 
most forgotten in his more brilliant acquirement of 
naval tactics. He was the accomplished naval tacti- 
cian. The most minute branches of naval science 


0€ver escaped his attention, and the most important 
never exceeded his comprehension. The various 
manoeuvreings of a ship, or a squadron, were as fa- 
miliar with him, as the evolutions of an army to the 
scientific military officer. Whether encountering 
ihe enemy in the humble galley, or breasting the 
shock of battle in the majestic ship, he bore into ac- 
tion as if the Genius of Victory hovered over him, 
and gave him conquest in anticipation. When in 
the midst of an engagement, he fearlessly and un- 
dauntedly soared in columns of fire and smoke, and 
with the fury and velocity of lightning, charged up- 
on the astonished foe. His own personal safety oc- 
cupied not a single thought — his fearless soul was 
engrossed with the safety of his crew and his ship, 
and the destruction of the enemy. But the mom.ent 
the thundering cannon ceased their terrific roaring, 
and the battle-fray was ended, he was changed into 
a ministering spirit of mercy. Over his slain ene- 
my, he dropped a tear — to a wounded one, he im- 
parted consolation — he mingled his sighs with the 
groans of the dying, and rendered every honour to 
the gallant dead. 

Whether encountering an overwhelming host of 
furious Turks, equally regardless of honourable 
combat, and thankless for favours after they were 
conquered — or wresting victory from a more mag° 
nanimous and skilful foe, he was ever the same- 
Terrible and fearless in battle— Mild and humane 
in victory* 

As a Naval Officer^ he v/as as perfect a modei as 
28 * 

330 LIFE OP 

the world afforded. To his superiors in rank, ha 
was respectful — to his equals, generous and affec- 
tionate — to his inferiors, mild, humane, and conde- 
scending — he was the seaman's friend. As a disci- 
plinarian, he never spared himself, nor would he 
permit any under his command to be spared : but 
he had the peculiar felicity of rendering the sever- 
est duty the highest pleasure. He governed his 
men more by the respect and love he secured from 
ihem, than by the exertion of the power with which 
he was clothed. He infused into the bosoms of his 
officers and seamen, the noble and patriotic ardour 
which inspired his own exalted heart. They would 
follow him vfherever he led, and would lead wher- 
ever he ordered. They were as true to him as their 
souls were to their bodies; and would suffer them 
to be separated before they would desert him in the 
hour of peril. When designated as a judge of the 
merits or demerits of his brethren in the naval ser- 
vice, his philanthropy led him to give full credit t0 
their virtues in exalted or humble stations, while hi^ 
stern integrity made him a dignified censor over 
their errors. | 

But however high he stood in his profession as a 
naval commander, it was in the mild and captivat- 
ing scenes of peace, where he shone with unclouded 
lustre. His heart was the temple of benevolence — • 
his mind was refined by literature and science — his 
deportment was that of the polished gentleman. 

In his person, he was a little above the middling 
height, and rather delicately though elegantly form- 
ed. His countenance was all expression. His eye 


discovered that inquietude which indicates an ar- 
dent mind; and although it beamed with benignity, 
it evinced an impatience for action. While his man- 
ly and dignified virtues commanded respect, the 
suavity of his manners invited to familiarity. His high 
sense of honour forbade him to inflict a wound upon 
others ; and, with the majesty of virtue, to repel 
with indignation, the most remote suspicion of his 
^wn honour. 

But his love of country was his crowning glory. 
His whole life was a commentary upon the noble 
sentiment of his noble ancestor. 
' Our Children are the property of our Coun- 

For his country he lived — for his country he fought 
— his countrymen will cherish and admire his me- 
mory, until the name of his country itself shall be 
extinguished in the final consummation of all things. 

332 LIFE OP 

[The spleadid " Naval Victories" achieved by Americans over 
Briton?, in the second war between the American Republic and 
the British Empire, occasioned a great variety of " Nautical 
Songs," calculated for almost every variety of taste. None c/ 
the Naval Heroes called forth the effusions of the Muse v/i 
more rapture than Stephen Decatur. The following pro- 
ductioii, except the 3d verse, appeared soon after the capture of 
tlie MacedojviAjV. The elegant author* v;ill excuse r>ne pro- 
saic verse for being introduced amongst his highly poetical ones.] 

Tune — " To Anacreon in. Heaven,'''' 

I. To the Court of Old Neptune, the god of the sea, 

JJ^he sons of Columbia sent a -petition, 

That he their protector and patron would be ; 

When this answer arriv'd free from terms or condition - 

" riepair to the sea ; 

" You conq'rors shall be ; 
'* And proclaim to the world that Columbia is free : 
'- Beside, my proud trident DECATUR shall bear, 
" And the laurels of Vict'ry triumphantly wear! 

il. The Tritons arose from their watery bed, 
And sounding their trumpets /Eolus attended ; 
Who summon'd his Zephyrs, and to them he said, 
*' Old Neptune Columbia's cause has bcfrieoded. 

" As the world you explore, 

" And revisit each shore, 
''■ To all nations proclaim tb.e glad sound evermore ; 
" That DECATUR old Neptune's proud trident shall 

** And the iaurels of Vict'ry triumphantly wear !" 

* J. R. Calvert, Esq, 


III. In that sea where the Crescent long proudly had 

The sons of Mahomet the Christians enslaved ; 

There DECATUR repair'd, and the Turk fiercely 
And there from dire bondage the Christian he saved. 
The Crescent soon bow'd, 
'Fore his thunder so loud. 
And his light'ning, resistless, dispelled the dark cloud 
Which Allah^s disciples and demons had spread, 
The terror of man — now no longer the dread. 

IV. The Naiads, in chariots ©f coral so bright, 
Skimm'd swiftly the wide, liquid plain, quite enchanted j 
Soon the proud Macedonian gladden'd their sight, 

And DECATUR advancing, with courage undaunted ; 
They saw with a smile, 
' The fast-anchor'd Isle, 
Resigning the laurels obtain'd at the Nile ! 
And when Victory crown'd brave Columbia's cause, 
The Trumpet of Fame shook the world with applause. 

V. Dame Amphitrite flew to the Archives above. 
To see the great mandate of Neptune recorded. 
When tracing the records of Lybian Jove, 

To find where renown to brave deeds was awarded ; 

There WASHINGTON'S name, 

Recerded by Fame, 
Resplendent as light, to her view quickly came ! 
In raptures she cries, " Here DECA FUR I'll place, 
On the page which the deeds of brave WASHINGTON 
grace !" 

334 LIFE OF 

[The lamented and deplored death of Com Decatur, called forth 
numerous effusions of the pathetic and elegiac muse. The bril- 
liant imagination and harmonious numbers of the following; irre- 
gular ode, induce the writer to insert it in the conclusion of these 
memoirs. The reader will recolle''t that the eminence in the 
vicinity of the metropolis, called Kalorama, was the residence of 
the great Epic Poet of America, Joel Barlow — that he died iu 
France when Ambassador — and that the body of Decatur was 
deposited in his family tomb.] 

Methought I stood on Kalorama's height, 

Reclining, pensive, on Decatur's tomb, 
When, lo ! a form divinely bright. 

Celestial glories beaming in her face, 
Descends, while floods of light the dreary place illume" 

And thus address'd me, with a heavenly grace : — 
*' Say, youthful bard, whose humble name 
Has never graced the rolls of Fame, 
What brought ihee to this sacred place, 
And wily the tear that trickles down thy face ? 
Say, hast thou sought these peaceful shades 
To woo the lov'd Aonian maids. 
Where favoured by the tuneful nine. 

His lyre great Barlow strung. 
And, with an energy divine, 

Immortal epics sung ? 
Alas ! he sleeps upon a foreign shore — 
The muses his sad fnie deplore — 
His lyre, that once so sweetly breath'd 
But now with mournful cypress wreath'd 
For ever slumbers, and is heard no more • 
Yet, mortal ! know my name is Fame ; 
And to the world his merits I proclaim! 

Or still more pious, hast thou come 
To weep o'er brave Decatur's tomb ? 


And dost thou shed the feeling tear 
O'er his reliques that slumber here ?" 
'Tis true, said I ; I here deplore 
The gallant hero, now no more ; 
Who, like a^'outhful Hercules, 
Subdued his savage enemies ! 
And who at a maturer age, 
Encounter'd Britain's hostile rage ; 
And dared with more than equal foes contend— 
AVhile Victory and Fame his glorious course attend— 
And whose dread cannon shook Barbarians shore. 
While Algiers trembi'd at the thund'ring roar. 
Alas ! he slumbers with the dead ; 
The light'ning of his eye is gone ! 
And cypress wreaths entwine r.round that head. 
Where Glory her bright halo shed ; 
And darkness hovers o'er that face 

Which beam'd with every social grace — 
Where manly coura«;e shone. 
NordoHs the muse alone 
Decatur's fate bemoan ; 
But floods oi sympathetic tears are shed : 
Columbia mourns her hero dead, 
With weeping eyes, and with dejected head ; 
And sable clouds of wo the nation overspread. 
Scarce had I ce:is'd, when thus the power again :-^- 

'* No more indulge thy pensive strain, 
Thy grief is useless, and thy soriows vain — 
Rise, and behold his triLimphs o'er the main '.'' 
When on a craggy rock I stood, 
Which overhung the ocean-shore, 
Beheld the tumult of the floods 
And heard the surges roar. 

336 LIFE OF 

I saw two warlike ships engage. 
With hostile fury and destructive rage ; 
And heard the cannon's thundering roar 
Reverberate through rocks, and roll along the shore 
'Midst clouds of smoke the starry flag was seen, 
Waving in triumph, o'er the dreadful scene ; 
While shining through the battle's storm, 
I saw the brave DECATUR'S form ; 
His arm like lightning, dealt the fatal blow, 
* And hurl'd Columbia's thunders on the foe ! 
The battle's din no more is heard — ■ 

The scene of sorrow disappear'd. 
When, lo ! again my wondering eyes 
Saw Fame, bright goddess, glittering in the skies - 
1 heard her golden trump resound 

With an immortal strain. 
While bursts of glory flash'd around, 

And brighten'd all the main : i 

•' Hear, mortal, hear ! the wonders thou hast seen | 

Give but a glimpse of his imnqortal fi^me ; ' j 

I might display a more expanded scene, 

And with new glories grace Decatur's name ! 
But thoa couldst not endure the dazzling sight — 
For how can mortal eyes sustain such heavenly light ?l 
But hark ! I hear a louder sound, i 

Like peals of thunder, bursting on my ear j 1 

While all the listening nations round, 

The immortal praises of DECA i'UR hear f ; 



Recapitulation. — Squadrons, Ships, Sloops of War, 
Brigs, Schooners and Gun-Boats, iji which StephexX De- 
catur served or conquered ; the time when, the capacity 
in which, and in what Wars. 






JS'amcs of 

Ships and 


Frigale U. 
States, Mld- 
shipmaa aud 

Bi\ Norfolk, 
1st. Lieut 

Frigate U. 
States, Lieu- 

Diit^ and Achievemenls. 

Studying the Theory of Naval 
Tactics, and reducing it to Prac- 

Practicing and teaching 

In what trar.Sj 


&c. &c. 

With the 

JVaval ComTruxton. 
' Decatur. 

Disciplining Crew — (youvoyim 
Merchantmen — Chastising 

Frigate Es- Mediterranean. 

sex Istj Disciplining Crew, in Naval 

Lieutenant. Tactics and Nautical skill ; a- 
rousins: their coura2:e. 

1802 Frigate New 
York, Ist 


Brig Argus. 
Lt. Com'dt, 

Schooner En- 
terprise, Lt. 


Disciplining crew, teaching Na- 
val gunnery, police of the ship, 
&c. &c. ileturned to Amei-ica 
in the Chesapeake. 

Disciplining crew, teaching tac- 
tics, nautical 
tacic. Sec. &c. 

Attacked and captured Tripolitan 
corsair, and two distinguished 
commanders, named the captur- 
ed vessel Ketch Intrepid, 
Dec. 23d. 

Capt. Little. 

■' Try on. 
■' Barry. 


Com. Dale. 



Lt. Stewart. 


Ketch Intre- Boarded, and captured Frigate Lawrence. 
pid, 70 men, Philadelphia, of 34 guns, 750 
4guns,Lieut. men. Killed 30, wounded 120, Jtform, ^r. 
Com'dt. land burned the ship, under Ba- 

jshaw's battery and castle ! Feb, Macdonougfh. 

1 16th. [none killed.] 






j\ antes oj 

IShips and 


Di:'.dr>n of 


Senior Oih 


Frigate Con- 



Rank from 

Feb. 16th. 






dan t of A- 

Gun- Boats. 

Duty and Achievements. 

\\\ iNo. IV. 1 gun, charo:ed 9 
un-boats of 3 gruns and 40 inen 
':'ach. Captured an enemy's 
bir^e boat, bearing- out his prize 
— James Decatur treacherously 
^hdn. Returned to the combat, 
with a Pvlidshipman and 8 men, 
captured the Turk's boat who 
lew his brother, and shot him 
dead In both prizes 33 officers 
and men slain — Lost not a man 
Aug-. 3. 

Crew disciplined by Preble. 
and needed no more disciplining. 
Blockading enemy, and awaiting 
negotiation on shore. 

In ichat tears, i 
Commanders, ,| 
fcc. , 



Somers, &«. 


J. Decatur. 



J. Bainbridge 


Blockading- enemy, and awaiting 
negotiations at the Bashaw's pa- 
lace. Returned to America up- 
on conclusion of Tripolitan war. 

Atlantic. Teace, 

Teaching the peculiar disci-' or 

pline for Gun-Boats; modes of *' War iij 

attack, .'^ingly or in squadron. Dissfuise. 

Frigate Oui'sing on the American coast ; 
Chesapeake watchng foreign armed ships,and 
and the ) enforcing acts of Congress 

U. States. 


U. fctates. 


Preparing for what might come 
visiting port":, &;c. &c. 

l5^ Cruise. 
Sailed in a Squadron comman- 
ded by Com. Bodgers. 
'2d Cruise. 
Captured H. B M. Frigate 
Macedonian, 49 guns, Oct. 25. 









.N'ames of 

Ships and 


Duti/ and ^Achievements. 

In what wars^ 







U. States, 


Sloop of War 


2d Cruise. 
Driven into JNew-London Har- 
bour, by a superior British 
-squadron, and blockaded ; at- 
tempts aa escape ; Challenges 
enemy ; examines Steam-Boat ; 
impressed seamen, &c. &c. &;c. 


Lawrem e, 














Si's, of War, 



Ath Cruise. 
Beat tlie Frigate Endymiony 
and surrendered to the whole 
British Squadron ; Jan. 15, re- 
turned on parole. 




Si's, of War, 






Captured Algerine Frigate Ma- 
zouda ; killed Hammida, and 29 
men. June 17 
Captured Alg. Br. 22 g. 19 
Arrived at Algiers 29 
Made a Treaty 30 
Ar. at Tunis, demand. -46,000 
as indemnification July 31 
Arrived at Tripoli, demanded 
525,000 Aug. 9 
Arrived at Messina, repaired, 
left captives 20 
Arrived at Naples Sept, 2 
Communicat. with the king, 8 
Arrived at Gibraltar, and 
joined Com. Bainbridge 18 
Arrived in Araei'ica Nov. 12 





Arranging affairs of Navy with 
Navy Department, designating 
officers, &c. &c 



Died March 22, in defending the 
honour of the American Navy. 



i. Brief views of the most important events in 
the lives of Com. Bainbridge, Com. Portefy 
Capt. Lawrence and Com. Macdonough, 
contemporaries of Decatur. 

II. Succinct sketch of the American Navj 
from its commencement. 

III. A List of the Officers of the Navy, to witn 
Secretary^ Navy -Commissioners^ Post-Cap- 
tains , Masters-Comm'dts.j and Lieutenants, 
with their present stations, and also a list of 

IV« A complete list of the Vessels of war of 
the American Navy and stations in 18£L 
with other valuable tables. 

[As the Publisher of this Edition has seen fit to ornament d 
with an elegant Frontispiece, consisting of a group of IlEROlsa 
surrounding the immortalized Dfxatur, it is deemed cxpedienl 
to introduce into the Volume a Miniature Memoir of the gallant 
Bainbridge, Porter, Laavrence, and Macdonough, hi: 
Contemporaries in War, in Peace, and in Glory. The Skekhu] 
were furnished to the Author by a gentleman, whose genius hasi 
embraced "wmZ/wm tn parro, and wbo?e modesty inhibits me fr^'^m 
reutJoniDg bis namc.l. 



WILLIAM Bainbridge, was born at Princeton; 
New- Jersey, May 7th, 1774. His father was a 
respectable Physician of that place. He received 
his education under the care of his grand-father, 
John Taylor, of Monmouth County ; which consist- 
ed of the ordinary branches of English instruction 
and the French language. 

At t?he age of sixteen, he commenced a clerk-ship 
in a counting-house at New-York, and after a short 
service, went to sea in the employ of Miller and Mur- 
ray. His services and conduct, wei'€ so satisfacto- 
ry to them, that at the age of eighteen, they gave 
him a mate's birth in the ship Hope, in a voyage ta 
Holland. During this voyage, the crew mutinied, 
in a gale of wind, and had nearly succeeded in throw- 
mg the Capt. overboard, when Bainbridge, hearing 
the alarm, look a pistol, (which was however desti- 
tute of a lock,) and by the assistance of an Irish ap- 
prentice-boy, seized the ringleader, and restored or* 
der on board. At the age of nineteen, fee had com- 
mand of a ship in the Dutcli trade, and continued in 
command of Yariou>s ships in the Kuropean trade un- 


til 1798. In 1796 on a voyage from Bourdeaux to 
St. Thomas, with but four small guns and nine meH, 
he was engaged by a British schooner, commanded 
by a Sailing-master, mounting nine guns and man- 
ned with thirty-five men. After killing several of 
her crew he compelled her to strike, and as the two 
countries were at peace, indignantly sent her away 
to make report of her action* 

In July 1798, and without application from him, 
he was offered the command of the U. S. schooner 
Retaliation of fourteen guns, which he accepted un- 
der a Lieutenant's commission, conditioned that he 
should stand first of that grade for promotion. 

In the fall of that year the Retaliation, in cruising 
to windward of Gaudaloupe, was captured by two 
French Frigates and a Lugger. General Desfour- 
neaux was on board of one of these Frigates on his 
passage to take command of the Island in place of 
Victor Hughes. To demonstrate a seeming friendship 
towards our government, arising from political mo- 
tives as it would appear, he proposed that Bainbridgc 
should take his ship and return to the United States, 
when at the same time, other American vessels of 
much greater value, were retained and their crews 
treated as criminals. Perceiving the flimsy thread 
of his finesse, Bainbridge replied that he wished ei- 
ther to be considered a prisoner of war, or to- have 
his commission restored, with liberty to cruise against 
the commerce of France, agreeably to instructions 
from his government. The General, after threaten- 
ing to put every American to the sword, should the 


Retaliation be found cruising against the French, 
ordered him to proceed to the United States, with 
his ship and forty of his crew. Soon after his re- 
turn, an exchange was effected ; and he again sailed 
on a cruise to the West-Indies, in the brig Norfolk, 
of eighteen guns, under the commission of master- 
cdmmandant ; during which cruise he compelled a 
Privateer of sixteen guns to run ashore, and captured 
another, with several merchant vessels, and destroy- 
ed a number of barges . 

On his return from that cruise, he sailed in a 
squadron, for the protection of the United States' 
trade,toCuba5 and on leaving that station, was pre- 
sented with an address, from the American mer- 
chants, concerned in the trade, in testimony " of the 
vigilance, perseverance, and urbanity which had 
marked his conduct during his arduous command on 
that station," and the " essential services which he 
had rendered to his country." 

On his return to the United States in 1800, he 
sailed in the Frigate George Washington, un- 
der a Captain''^ commission, with presents to the 
Dey of Algiers, as agreed upon by treaty. He 
was well received by the Dey, who presented him 
with an elegant Turkish sabre in testimony of the 
personal friendship which he entertained towards 
him, as well as the power which he represented. 
But appearances soon changed. Avarice being a 
predominant passion, he soon became unmindful 
of the treasures bestowed upon him, and in a few 
days made a demand of the George Washington, t® 


carry his ambassador and presents to the Grand 
Seignior of Constantinople, under f)retence of a sti 
pulation in our treaty with him. This treaty, how 
ever, related only to our merchant vessels, but as th 
Frigate was the?; in harbour, and completely in hi 
power; and as the Dcy threatened in case of refus 
to imprison every American in Algiers, he was u; 
der the necessity of complying. 

This expedition was however favourable to ou 
government. The American flag being entire _ 
unknown to the Grand Seignior, three Officers were] 
sent in succession, to inquire what ship it was, and 
what flag she bore, — they knew not what was 
meant by an American Frigate, and it was not until 
Capt. Bainbridge explained that America was the 
New World, that they had any conception of the 
country. The messengers from the Dey were or- 
dered on board the Capudan Pacha, (or Turkish High 
Admiral's ship,) who tore the letters, spat and 
stamped upon them, and rejected the presents with 
indignation. The Dey was ordered to declare war 
against France within sixty days. At the same time 
Com. Bainbridge was received with marked atten- 
tion. The Algerine flag, which he had been com- 
pelled to carry at his mizen, was ordered to be haul- 
ed down, the American shifted to its place, and Com. 
Bainbridge rewarded with presents. 

The excellent order of his ship, and fine healthy 
appearance of his crew, seemed to be a convincing 
proof in the mind of the Seignior, that the '' new 


world*' which he represented, must be already 
great and powerful. 

In December, the George Washington sailed for 
Algiers, with the ambassador's secretary to give an 
account of the unfortunate result of his embassy; 
where he arrived on the 2l5t Jan., having touched 
at Malta to land some Turks, as a favour to the Ca- 
pudan Pacha. Finding that Captain Bainbridge 
was id favour with the Turkish Admiral, (who was 
related to the Grand Seignior by marriage,) and 
learning likewise the order of the Grand Seignior, 
the tyrant was so effectually humbled, that he re- 
leased four bundled prisoners, and declared war 
against France. The consul and other French sub- 
jects then in port, were received ori board the George 
Washington; and after landing them in Alicant, 
Capt. Bainbridge arrived at Philadelphia April 1801, 
■ receiving from his government the highest approba- 
ition for his conduct during this delicate service. 
I In June following he again sailed to the M^diter- 
ranean in the Essex, where he was employed in 
protecting American and other neutral ships, ac^ainst 
Tripolitan cruisers, and from whence he returned to 
New York in July, 1802. 

In July 1803, he sailed in the Frigate Philadel- 
phia, to join Com. Preble's squadron in the Medi- 
terranean. Off Cape de Gutt, he fell in with, and 
captured the Mirbohar of 22 guns and 110 men, 
from Morocco, and re-took an American Brig, seized 
by her, a short time previous. On board the Mirbo- 
har they found orders by which it appeared that the 


Emperor of Morocco was about commencing depre 
dations upon American commerce. The captur 
of this ship put an ead to hostilities, and a perma 
nent peace was established. 

In company with the Vixen, Capt. Bainbridg 
then proeeeded to blockade the harbour of Tripol 
and on the 31st Oct. seeing a strange ship, gav 
chase to her, and when within four miles and an ha 
of the harbour, unfortunately ran upon a pile < 
rocks ; which, as it appeared, were not laid dow 
on our charts. This was indeed a dilemma, no 
foreseen, and which could not be overcome. Gun 
were thrown overboard, water started and the fore 
mast cut away, but all to no purpose. The enemy 
Gun-Boats immediately commenced an attack, whic 
was sustained six hours, when she turned so far u[ 
on her side, that the guns could not be brought 
bear; and Capt. Bainbridge was under the necess 
ty of surrendering, but not until he had first thrown 
overboard every article of value, drowned the ma- 
gazine and scuttled the ship. The Officers and 
crew were then seized by the Algerines, stripped 
without ceremony of whatever was found upon them 
valuable, and conveyed by the boats on shore, and 
from thence to the Pacha's Castle. 

The treatment which they received, was far more 
mild than they had reason to anticipate. After the 
burning of the Philadelphia by Decatur, on 16th 
Feb., 1804, they were closely confined, not so much 
with a view to make them suffer, as through fear ol 
t'feeir escape. 


The Korrr 'of the town — the burning of 

the Phi' - iie explosion of the Fire-ship, 

and ■ >; , attacks made upon the Town, all 

pa«5..r \, iiiiip their view ; and at one time, a twenty- 
four j">ound shot passed witl^iin a few inches of Bain- 
bri(3ge's head ; still they were compelled to remain 
inactive witnesses to the efforts of their countrymen. 

At length a treaty was concluded by Col. Lear, 
^nd the sum of sixty thousand dollars having been 
paid to the Pacha, the officers and seamen were li- 
berated, June 3d 1805, after nineteen months con- 
inement, and embarked on board the squadron. 
Soon after Com. Bainbridgc returned to the United 

After various commands in the peace establish- 
nent, at the declaration of war with Great Britain in 
1812, he was ordered to the comm:and of the Con- 
stellation, and from thence to the Constitution. In 
company with the Sloop of War Hornet, he set sail 
on a cruise to the East- Indies, and having parted 
with her, running down the coast of Brazil, fell in 
with the British Frigate Java, a new ship, carrying 
49 guns, and upwards of four hundred men. She 
had on board more than one hundred supernumera- 
ry officers and seamen, destined for the East-India 
service. The action continued one hour and fifty-five 
minutes, when the Java was left a mere wreck, with 
not a spar standing. The commanding officer, Capt. 
Lambert, was mortally wounded. It being found 
jmpossible to get her to the United States, the priso- 
ners and baggage v/ere taken out, and the ship blowr 


up. Her loss in killed, was 60, and bcUvenn o 
and two hundred wounded. Nine were killed 
board the Constitution, and twenty-five wound 
and among the latter was the Comn:iodore. 

The victory was brilliant, and in the highest 
gree honourable to Com. Bainbridge ; but not mo! 
so, than the kindness and courtesy, which he ma 
fested towards the prisoners while under his char 
and as a characteristic of our Naval commanders geri 
erally, we are proud to add, they have given ampl, 
testimony that they are as " gentle in peace," a 
*' dauntless in war." Having conquered, the e^ 
pectations of their country are answered, and thij 
no longer consider the conquered enemy a foe. T' 
Constitution being in a decayed state, the Com. wi 
induced to abandon the contemplated cruise, and 
turn to the United States. He was soon after a| 
pointed to the command of the Eastern Station, an 
to the superintendance of building the seventy-foi 
at Charlestown. At this time, he is with the squac 
ron up the Mediterranean, in command of the Cc 
lumbus 74 gun-ship. With a reputation still unsu 
lied, America is proud to enroll hid among the fir 
.>f hcF sons. 


COMMODORE David Porter was born at Boston, 
Feb. 1st, 1780. His father was an officer in the 
Navy, during the Revolutionary War, and was dis= 
linguished by his courage and daring spirit. 

The first voyage undertaicen by the subject of this 
sketch, v/as in a trading vessel, commanded by his 
father, to St. Domingo. Whilst at the port of Jere- 
mie, in that island, a press-gang attempted to board, 
and were gallantly repelled, with the loss of several 
killed, on both sides. Young Porter, who was then 
but sixteen, had his share in the engagement. One 
man was shot down by his side, and the affair re- 
' fleeted much praise upon the Captain, and his crew. 
In his second voyage, he was twice impressed by 
the British, but eflbcted his escape ; and returned 
home, in the winter season, in a suffering condition, 
for want of clothing. 

Soon after this, he entered the United States 
Navy, as Midshipman; sailed in the Constellation 
with Com. Truxton, and in the action with the 
French Frigate Insurgente, distinguished himself, 
by the gallantry of his conduct. When advanced 
to the rank of Lieutenant, it was by dint of meritj 
liaving no friends to bring hirn into notice. Joining 



the U. S. Schooner Experiment, commanded by 
Capt. Maly, they proceeded on a cruise to the West 
Indies, fell in with a number of Brigand barges, 
when he was again brought into honourable notice; 
He was likewise employed in boats, cutting ou 
vessels, where he greatly distinguished himself b 
good judgment, and personal prowess. 

Whilst on that station, he look charge of a small 
Pilot-Boat, mounting five small swivels, taken from 
the tops of the Constellation. 

Falling in with a French Privateer, mounting a 
long twelve pounder, with several swivels, and hav- 
ing forty men, he determined to engage her. The; 
contest was for some time doubtful, but the Priva-| 
*eer at length surrendered, having lost seven killed,' 
and fifteen wounded. Porter had several killed, 
but none wounded. A prize which the Privateer 
had in company, was likewise taken. His conduct 
on this occasion, was highly spoken of by his com-' 
niandcr. In his second expedition to the West In- 
dies, with Capt. Charles Stewart, they were like- 
wise successful in operating against the Privateers. 

In the first squadron to the iVIediterranean, Porter 
was first Lieutenant of the Enterprise, Capt. Stew- 
art, and rendered himself very conspicuous, in an 
engagement with a Tripolitan Corsair, of much 
greater force, which, in the event, was compelled 
to surrender. 

On anotheroccasion, v/ithan expedition of boats, 
he entered the harbour of Tripoli, to destroy a num- 
ber of vessels laden with vv-hcnt, which service w^s. 


pcriormed effectually ; but in the engagement, h6 
received a ball through his thigh. 

Nothing of consequence occurred after he receiv- 
ed his wound, until the 31st Oct. 1803. Porter had 
been previously transferred to the Frigate Philadel- 
phia, as first Lieutenant, under Capt. Bainbridge; 
and was on board when she ran aground, at that 
date, near the harbour of Tripoli ; was taken posses- 
sion of by the enemy, and the crew made prisoners* 
It will he unnecessary to detail the particulars of 
that disastrous affair, as the facts are generally so 
well known. It is sufficient to add, that during a 
long and dreary confinement, he never suffered him- 
self to sink into despondency, but applied himself 
closely to his study ; thus preparing the way to 
become a still more useful member of his country 
and of society. A treaty of peace having at length 
been concluded with Tripoli, tlie officers and crew 
of the Philadelphia were set at liberty, and sailed 
to join the squadron at Syracuse. Porter having 
been appointed to the command of the U. S, Brig 
Enterprise, proceeded to cruise in the M^diterra^ 

Passing the slreights of Gibraltar, he was attack- 
ed by twelve Spanish Gun-Boats, pretending to sup- 
pose she was a British Brig. Although their weight 
of metal was vastly superior, he soon compelled 
them to sheer off. 

After an arduous service of five years, he return- 
; d to the United States, was married to Miss Ander* 
of Pennsylvania , and afterwards took command 


of the Flotilla on the New-Orleans station, \vh*;i5 
he rendered important s(;rvices in enforcing the cm 
bargo and non-intercourse laws. In this service h^^ 
likewise ferreted out, and captured a French piratic;: 
schooner, which had so long infested the Clicsr 
peake, as to attract the attention of government. 
At the declaration of War with Great Britain, ir 

1812, he sailed from New York, in command of tht 
Essex, fell in with, and after a short engagement 
captured the British Sloop of War Alert, Capt 

Returning to the United States, to refit, he again 
put to sea Oct. 27th, 1812, and proceeded to th( 
coast of Brazil, agreeably to instructions from Com 
Bainbridgc, where places for rendezvous had beer 
agreed upon between them. On that coast he fel 
in with his majesty's Packet Nocton, out of whicl 
he took £11,000 sterling, in specie. About thii 
time, he heard of the capture of the Java, by Com^ 
Bainbridge, and of his return to the U. S. ; likc' 
wise that the Hornet had been taken by the Mon-i 
tague, and that the British force on that coast wai! 
considerably increased, and were in pursuit of him. 
He therefore abandoned his ground, and ran dowr| 
as far as Rio de La Plata ; from thence to the Pa-' 
•:iiic Ocean, and reached Valjjaraiso, March 1-ith 

1813. Sailinc: from thence down the coast of Chi-! 
li, and Peru, he brought too a Peruvian corsair, anci 
found on board twenty-four Americans held as prison- 
ers, whom he liberated, throwing her guns and ammu-i 
r.ition icto the sea^ He continued cruising for seve-j 



rai months in the Pacific, capturing great numbers 
of British vessels. Two were given to the priso- 
ners ; three sent to Valparaiso, and three to Ameri- 
ca. Most of the ships taken mounted several guns. 
He therefore equipped one with twenty guns, and 
gave the command to Lieut. Downes, calling her the 
Essex Jr. 

The numerous prizes taken, furnished him abun- 
dantly with provisions, clothing, and naval stores ; 
so that, without inconvenience, he was enabled to 
keep at sea for a long time. From (he sj)oiIs of his 
enemy, he had now under his command a little squad- 
ron, which spread devastati-jii, and became the ter^ 
ror of those seas. Merchants, tjotonly in the Ports 
of the Pacific, but in Great Britain, groaned under 
the weight of losses ; every arrival bringing a 
catalogue of captures. Although shi})s were sent 
after him into the Pacific, the China Stas, offNew- 
Timor, New-Holland, and the river La Plata; still 
the manner in which he cruised, completely eluded 
their vigilance. Shunning the American coast, he 
was either lying among the desolate groups which 
form the Gallipagos islands, or in the open seas. 
At length, Lieut. Downes returned from Valparaiso., 
nvhither he had sailed to convoy the prizes, and 
brought intelligence, that Com. Hillyer was expect- 
ed at that place with the Frigate Phoebe, of 36 guns, 
and two Sloops of War. He had become glutted 
with spoils, and the easy captures of Merchantmen 
were not calculated to raise him to that zenith of 
fame, after which he aspired. As an opportunity 
iiow appeared to present, in which it was probable 


he might meet the enemy on equal terms, lie dtic! 
mined to embrace it : and after running into the Is I 
and of Nooaheeva. to repair, proceeded to Val- 
paraiso. While here, at anchor, Com. Hillyer ar- 
rived, but contrary to anticipation, with a Frigate 
superior in size to his, and accompanied by the 
Cherub, Sloop of War, both fitted out with picked 
crews, expressly for this enterprise. Their force 
amounted to 81 guns, and 500 men, with the crew 
of a Letter of Marque. That of the Essex of 46 
guns, and 255 men. The Essex Jun. being design- 
ed for a store ship, mounted ten 18 pound carron- 
ades, and ten short sixes, with but 60 men. 

This disparity of force would not permit the ven- 
ture of a general action. He therefore endeavoured 
to provoke a challenge from the Phcebe, although 
vastly superior to the Essex, but without effect. 
Fearing an addition would be made to their force, 
he wished if possible to make his escape. 

On the 28th March, a gale came on, and the Es- 
sex parting her cable, the Com. thought that a more 
favourable opportunity \t'ould not occur, to pass the 
enemy, and sail was therefore ordered to be immedi- 
ately made. On clearing the harbour, a sudden squall 
carried away the main-top-maj^t, and tinditig it. impos- 
sible to return, he ran into a bay at some distance from 
his formeranchorage, expecting that the enemy would 
respect the neutrality of the port, but in this he 
was disappointed. Both ships now drew up, and 
commenced an attack upon the Essex. Capt. Por- 
ter succeeded three diflerent times in getting springs 
lipon his cables, but ihey were as often bhot away. 


Jeaving him exposed to a rakiog fire from the ene- 
my. Ih thivS situation, his chief depenflance was 
upon three long twelves from her stern, which were 
managed so dexterously that the enemy were oblig- 
ed to haul ofi', and repair. His crew were not, how- 
ever disheartened, although morally certain of 
being conquered. 

The conflict was sustained with unabated fury, 
until resistance was ineftectual, when the flag was 
struck, and the ship resigned to an overwhelming 
force. Out of 235 men, 38 were killed, 66 w^ound- 
ed, and 31 missing; making in all 134. The spec- 
tacle was truly horrid ; and when the officer came on 
board, to take possession, he turned from the spec- 
tacle, as if sickened at its sight. 

It was with difficulty that either the Essex or 
Phoebe, could be got into the harbour of St. Sal- 
vador, both being very much injured, the latter 
having 18 shots in the hull, and some of them 3 feet 
under water. 

Capt. Porter and his crew were soon after paro- 
led, and returned to New- York. On landing, a car- 
riage was provided for him, and drawn by the popu- 
lace, to his lodgings, with shouts and acclamations. 

The mere loss of the Essex, could hardly be con- 
sidered unfortunate, as she had done more injury to 
the enemy's commerce than the rest of the Navy to- 

Since the close of the war, Capt. Porter has been 
in various commands, and is at this time, one of the 
Navy-Commissioners, enjoying alike the confidence 
of government; and the love of his country. 


*— oe©©®©— — ' 

CAPT. James Lawrence, was born at Burlington, 
New-Jersey, October 1st, 1781. His father, John 
Lawrence Es(|., was an eminent counsellor \i law 
of the same place. By the death of his mother, he 
was left in infancy in charge of his sisters. Aiiec- 
tionate in disposition and ardent in his attachments,, 
he ever entertained towards them the warmest grat- 
itude, for their tenderness and care in his early 
youth. He entered as midshipman in the service 
of his country, at about the age of sixteen, where 
his strict attention to the discharge of his duties, 
and his endearing manners gained him the esteem, 
both of officers and seamen. 

At the declaration of war with Tripoli, he was, 
promoted to a Lieutenancy, and volunteered his servi- 
ces as first Lieut, under Decatur, in destroying the 
Frigate Philadel[)hia, one of the most brilliant an( 
gallant enterprises ever undertaken and executed by 

After continuing in the Mediterranean three and 
half years, he returned to the U. S. and was agaiii 
sent on that station, in comniand of Gun Boat No, 
6, where he remained sixteen months. After that 
time, ho commanded the Vixen, Wasp, Aigus an< 


Hornet. At the commencement of the war in 1 812, 
he sailed in the Hornet Sloop of war, under Commo- 
dore Rodgers. His second cruise in the Hornet, 
was in company with Com. Bainbridge, who com- 
manded the Constitution. While coastini^ oif the 
Brazils, he fell in with the Bonne Cit03'enne, a Bri- 
tish ship of war, and chased her into St. Salvador. 
Notwithstanding she was of superior force, Law- 
rence sent her a challenge, which was refused, al- 
though he pledged his honour, that no other Ameri- 
can vessel should interfere. 

Leaving St. Salvador, on the morning of Feb, 
24th, off Demarara, he fell in with the British Brig 
Peacock, Capt. Peake, of equal force. The con- 
test commenced within half pistol shot, and in fif- 
teen minutes the Peacock hoisted signals of distress, 
being in a sinking condition from the fire of the Hor- 
net. Every exertion was made to keep her afloat 
until the prisoners could be removed, but notwith- 
standing, she went down with thirteen of her creWj 
and three American tars, who nobly perished in re- 
lieving a conquered foe. Among the slain, was 
Capt. Peake. He received two wounds: the last 
proving mortal. He was laid in the cabin, and with 
his flag for a shrond, and ship for a sepulchre, this 
brave sailor sunk to rest ; an interment worthy of 
so brave a man. 

The treatment of Lawrence towards his prisoners 
was such as to draw from the officers the expression, 
that " they ceased to consider themselves prison- 
ers." Finding that the crew had lost all their cloth 


ing, to the honour of our tars, a subscription wets 
made, and each man 5?u}>plied froai his own ward 
rohe two shiris, a bluejacket and trowscrs. 

C-ipt. Lruvrorsce was received with great applause 
on his return to this country, h;iving in the interim 
been promoted to the rank of Post Captain. Soon 
afferhis return he was appointed to the commando 
the Frigate Constitution ; but the next day to his 
great chagrin, the onJer was countermanded, with 
directions to take the Chesapeake then lying at Bos- 
ton. This ship was considered the worst in the Na- 
vy, and the circumstance of her having been dis- 
graced in the affair of the Leopard, arquired for her 
among sailors, the reputation of bein^r an unlucky 
ship; so much so, that it was with difficulty crews 
could be recruited for her. 

Four successive letters v;ere written by Lawrence 
to the Secretary of the Navy, requesting to be con 
tinned in the command of the Hornet, but receiv- 
ing no answer, he was under the necessity of com 
plying with the order. 

Being nearly ready for sea at Boston, the British 
Frigate Shannon, Capt. Broke Commander, appear 
ed off* the harbour, hoisting sigr»als expressive of a 
challenge. The Shannon was one of the best ships 
in the British Navy, equipped in the best manner, 
and manned with a picked crew for the express 
purpose of fighting our largest Frigates. The 
Chesapeake was not only an indifferent ship, but 
manned mostly by new recruits. 

Lawrence however determined to accept the chal- 



lenge, although sensible of the disparity under which 
he laboured. He had formerly challenged the Bon- 
jne Citoyenne, and should he now decline, it might 
loccasion public remarks to his discredit. To his 
crew, he was a stranger, and even in the midst of 
the customary harangue previous to the engage- 
iment, murmurs of dissatisfaction were heard from 
them. A Portuguese replied to Capt. Lawrence, 
complaining that they had not received their prize 

It was a critical moment, and the Captain there- 
fore thought it advisable to order the purser to give 
them checks. Under these embarrassing circum- 
stances the action was fought, June I, 1813. 

The vessels manoeuvercd until within pistol shot, 
when both, at about the same instant opened their 
broadsides. The Chesapeake had the advantage, 
until unfortunately by the death of three men, shot 
from the helm, successively, the vessel lost her way 
and caught by the anchor, in one of the Shannon's 
after ports. In this situation the enemy's guns were 
brought into a raking position, killing or wounding 
the greater part of the crew. Capt. Lawrence had 
at this time received a mortal wound, and although 
destruction appeared inevitable, exclaimed, " don't 
give up the ship." The enemy soon after board- 
ed, and the strife was at an end. Lawrence lan- 
guished in great bodily pain for four days, and expir- 
ed. He was wrapped in the flag of the Chesapeake, 
and conveyed to Halifax on board the Shannon. 
At his interment, the British officers crowded to yield 


the last sad honours to him who so bravely fought, 
and who now no longer was their foe. By order ofj 
government, a vessel was soon after dispatched toHa-J 
lifax, in which his remains were conveyed to his na4 
live State, and deposited with his fathers. | 

Deeply as may be regretted the fate of the en-j 
gagement, we have no cause to lament, as nothina 
of honour was lost in the conflict. The name ol 
Lawrence, with his worthy associates who fell on* 
that eventful day, is immortalized in the records of 



THE father of Capt. Thomas Macdonough, resided 
in the County of New-Castle, Delaware, on a farm 
called the Trapp. He was conspicuously eminent 
in the practice of Physic, and in the year 1775, was 
appointed Major in Col. John Haslett's Regimentj 
raised by the State of Delaware, but did not long 
continue in the service. After the close of the re- 
volutionary struggle, he received the appointment 
of Judge, which office he held until 1796, at which 
time he died. His eldest son, James, was with Com. 
Truxton in the en2:a£cement between the Constella= 
tion and Insurgente; at which time he lost his leg 
and which rendered it necessary for him to retire 
from service, 

Thomas Macdonough, the subject of tke present 
sketch, entered the United States' service, under 
a Midshipman's warrant, not long after the death of 
his father. After serving some time in our Navy, 
he sailed with the little fleet up the Mediterranean, 
where he (with other young officers,) rendered him» 
self conspicuous in the v/ars with Ti'ipoli. 

He was remarkable for his gravity and circum- 
spection, and at the same time evinced a dauntless 
invincibility of spirit, which was not to be counteract- 
i^d. even by Mahometan prowess. 


The following incident displays his firmness an 
decision of character. A merchant's Brig, came in 
to port, whilst Capt. Smith was on shore, and an 
chored ahead of the Syren. A short time after, a 
British Frigate, then lying in port, sent a boat on 
board the Brig and came off with one man more 
than she went with. Blacdonough learning that they 
had impressed an American, overtook her with an 
armed gig, and rescued the man, along-side of the Fri 
gate. The Englishman, after threatening to take the 
man by force, says, " you are a very indiscreet young 
man, what would you have done if 1 had been in th 
boat?" " I would have taken the man, or lost my 
life," " What, Sir, would you attempt to stop me 
were I now to undertake to impress men from that 
Brig?" " To convince you I would, you have only 
to make the attempt." Soon after, seeing the En- 
glishman bearing down for the Brig, MacdonougK 
manned, and got into his boat, in readiness for pur 
suit. The Englishman, after sailing around th( 
Brig, returned again to his Frigate. 

Syracuse, once the seat of all those virtues whici 
adorn the human mind and render men good ant 
great, is now unhappily one of the most vicious an( 
depraved on earth ; robberies and assassinations ar 
considered mere as pastime. While at this place 
Macdonough was detained on shore one night, til 
the ship's boat had returned to the Fleet. He thei 
hired a boat, but finding three men, instead of two 
(the usual complement,) going in it, he suspectec 
^hem of some evil design and refused to go, where 


upon they drew their poniards and attacked him^- 
By spirited exertions he succeeded in wounding two, 
while the other took to his heels. Macdonough pur- 
sued him to the roof of the Barracks, frooi whence 
he threw himself, with the loss of his life. 

No incident of consequence occurred in the life of 
Macdonough between the Tripoli tan war, and that 
which commenced with Great Britain in 1812. He 
was then appointed to the command of a small Na- 
val force on Lake Champiain, for the purpose of pro- 

:Ling our frontiers. 

This was considered an important point of de- 
fence, as there was reason to suppose that if the ene- 
my had been successful in the affair at Baltimore, 
an attack would have been undertaken upon New- 
York, by the fleet then on our coast, and on Albany 
by the Northern Army. 

Thus stood affairs, when Sir George Prevost, with 
14,000 men, took up his march, intending to dislodge 
Gen. Macomb from his post, at Plattsburgh. Capt. 
Downie, commanding the British Squadron, was or- 
dered at the same time to attack the American force, 
which was believed to be of consequence in their 
plan of operations. 

Macdonough was apprised of their intentions, and 
I decided to receive them at anchor. On the llth of 
I Sept. 1814, the enemy anchored in line, 300 yards 
I from the American. The action commenced at nine 
i A. M. ; and after a hard fought battle, the enemy's 
ship, Brig, and both sloops struck: — Three Gallies 
I were sunk, and the remaining ten made off in a shat- 



tered condition. The loss of the Americans was 
52 killed, and fifty-eight wounded: that of the Bri- 
tish 84 killed, and 110 wounded. 

Immediately after the action commenced, a game 
cock on board, flew up the fore-hatchway, light- 
ed on the bell, and crowed with all his might, unli 
the bell was struck by a shot and knocked in pieces. 
He then flew into the rigging, and continued crow 
ing until the action ceased. Many of the seamen 
considered it as a prelude to victory. 

A precipitate retreat was made by the British ar- 
my, leaving our troops in quiet possession of th( 
country which they had vainly essayed to conquer, 
The two contending armies, and thousands of spec- 
tators, were in full view of the engagement, awaitin; 
with breathless anxiety, the issue of the battle. Th< 
occasion was pregnant with importance. It was t( 
decide,whether the inhabitants should be driven froi 
their houses in beggary, or remain in peaceabh 
possession of their fire-sides. The result was all 
that could be desired or expected. 

Prevost made a precipitate retreat — The Ameri<! 
can Eagle rode triumphant, and the country was res 
stored to tranquility. 

In consequence of this achievement, the thanks 
Congress with appropriate medals, were presente( 
to Com. Macdonough, with medals and swords to th^ 
under officers, and three months' extra pay to the pet- 
ty officers, seamen and marines. The State of New- 
York granted him 1000 acres of land, and the State of 
Connecticut, a brace of pistols, not only in teslimo- 


fiy of his brilliant achievement on the Lake, but for 
the exalted opinion entertained of his private cha- 

The numerous, and flattering demonstrations of 
respect, which the gallant and accomplished Macdo- 
nough has received from Congress, the State Legisla- 
tures, and Corporations, are known to most readers. 
No one could hardly be more gratifying, than the pre- 
sentation of a splendid sword from the Legislature of 
New- York, which was delivered in the city of Hart- 
ford, Conn. But the present of a sword from the offi- 
cers and seamen whom he commanded in llie Medi- 
terranean, was the most unequivocal evidence of re- 
spect that can be conceived. Jt speaks volumes of 
eulogy. The expense of it was g 1300, huiiis pecu- 
niary value is forgotten, when it is looked upon as a 
token of respect. 

The arrest of Com. Macdonough by Com. Stew- 
art, produced great excitement. But the correct- 
ness of the procedure was acknowledged by the in- 
genuous Macdonough ; and he was appointed to the 
command of the Ohio, 74, which command he now 



— '®®®®- 

THE germs of the Naval Establishment of the United States 
are to be found in the ordinances of the Revolutionary Congress oi 
His. It consists of the Navy, properly so called, and the Marine 
Corps. Under the Confederation however, little was, or couK 
be doae towards perfecting a respectable Naval Establishment 
The history of the Maritime war of the Revolution, is a history o: 
iiic gallant efforts of individual enterprise. Scarcely a single pub> 
he armed ship sailed under the direction of the Continental Con- 
gress, nor were the fiscal concerns of the country sufficiently proS' 
perous to support the expenses of a maritime establishment. 

The first provision for the establishment of a Navy under the pre- 
sent constitution, is found in an Act of the 27th of March 1794, 
and was enacted with a viev/ to prevent and punish the depreda- 
tions of the Algerine Corsairs, on the commerce of the United States 
This act authorized the purchasing or building oi four ships of' 
guns, and Hvo of 36 guns each. Under its fostering care, the Na 
vy began to assume respectability and power. Vessels of war o 
various dimensions were built ; (^ocks were erected for the con- 
venience of repairing them, and, every thing evinced a determi- 
fiation on the part of Government to create a permanent and ef- 
licient naval force. In 1801, the Navy was reduced to a Peace 
Xstablishment. From 1794 until 1801, therefore, may be cons-i- 
dereJ as the first epoch of the American Navy, under the Fede- 
ral Government. This period was distinguished by a short mari- 
time struggle with France, during which, the heroic bravery of 
Ame^can seamen was victoriou?^ and furnished a sure pledge cf 
Iheic ftitur«B achievements-. 


The Act of the 28th of February 1803, authorized tlie Presi- 
dent to c^usejifieen gun-boats to be built, which number v/as sub- 
sequently extended to two hundred or more, and was designed to 
form a line of harbour defence. This may be considered as the 
commencement of the gun-boat system. The loud cry for retrench- 
ment, wliich was heard in all parts of the country, induced the go- 
vernment to adopt this system. It was however soon found whol- 
ly inadequate to the security of the National flag from insult, and 
the protection of a widely extended commerce from depredation. 
It therefore grew into disrepute, and was- partially abandoued on 
the 30th of March 1812, by an Act of that date which directed that 
the gun-boats then in commission should be laid up, and those not 
in commission be distributed in the several harbours on the mari- 
time frontier most exposed to attack. By the Act of the 27th of 
February 1815 they -*vere ordered to be sold. From 1801 to 1812, 
may therefore be considered as the second epoch in the Navy of the 
United States. This period is memorable for the War of the Med- 
terranean with the Regency of I'ripoli. In this short conflict, the 
American Navy challenged the admiration and acclamation of 
Europe. It was here that galaxy of American Naval heroes, who, 
in the late war with Great Britain crowned themselves and their 
country with immortal honour, first breathed the spirit of victory. 
The history of this period is full of the enterprise and energy of the 
officers and seamen, and is distinguished by the most daring acts of 
individual heroism. 

By an act of the 2d of January 1813, Congress authorized the 
building of four ships of not less than 74 guns, and six ships to rate 
44 guns each. On the 29th of April 1816, another act was passed, 
entitled an act for the gradual increase of the Navy, by which the 
sum of one million of dollars per annum was appropriated for eight 
years,and authority given for the building of nine 74s and twelve 44s, 
including one 74 and three 44s of those provided for by the act of the 
2d of January, 1813. The act of the 29th of April, 1816, also makes 
provision for the building of three Steam Batteries. A resolution 
of Congress prescribes the mode of naming the vessels of the Na- 
vy to be by lot, viz. the first class to be named after the States of 
the Unioils the second class after the rivers ; the third class aftet^ 
the principal cities or towns ; and ' no two vessels are to bear the 
*ame name. The third epoch of the American Navy may therefore 


be reckoned from the 18th of June 1812, until the year 181 
whirh, though short ia poirit of time, was fall and resplendent > 
glorious achievements. During this eventful period, the skill, the 
hardihood, the inextinguishable valour of the American charade'' 
shone conspicuous. 

From these considerations and the prevailing sBntixnents of the 
people, there can be no doubt but that the United States is destined 
to become a powerful maritime nation . That it should aim to become 
such, so far as may be necessary, for all defensive purposes, is un- 
doubtedly its true policy ; a policy founded in wisdom, and sanction- 
ed by experience. But this does not require as some have suppos- 
ed, that we should have a navy equal to that of Great Britain, and 
which would enable us to dispute with her the dominion of the 
ocean. From geographical and local considerations, we must al- 
ways have great advantages over the British or any other power, 
in maintaining a matitime war upon our own coast. From the 
great distance, and the difficulty of obtaining supplies, it is impos- 
sible for any European nation to maintain a large naval force upon 
our coast for any length of time, not to take into consideration the 
perils and vicissitudes to which such an armament is exposed, upon 
a distant and dangerous coast, deprived of the benefit and security 
of ports and harbours, and of its utter inability to remain on the 
coast during certain seasons. From these and other considerations, 
a navy comparatively small,' would be adequate to the purposes of 
defence ; more especially, if, as during the late war, our officers 
and seameu maintain a decided naval su})eriority. 

Iti.-^ not to be disguised that a respectable naval establishment is 
attended with a heavy expense, and should one be acquired be- 
fore the nation was able to sustain it, whereby it might embarrass 
tha treasury, or occasion unusual burdens upon the people, it wouid 
certainly produce a re-actipn in the public mind ; and considerincr 
the nature of our institutions, and how immediately every thing 
depends upon popular opinion, it could not be a matter of surprise 
if the navy should fall a sacrifice to it. Such a case has already 
once occurred in our history. The existing laws have provided pro- 
bably for the more rapid increase of the navy, than was advisable ; 
more especially conViderinij the embarrassed state of the treasur 
and the probable dlminulioa of the im^^ort?, which, may render 
»iF!'?e?sarv to have recourse to other sources of revenue, "With 


nation, as with an individual, it is infinitely easiex' to increase than 
to diminish expenses ; and with either, when a system of expendi-= 
tare has been adopted, although it was entirely unnecessary at the 
time, it is extremely difficult to abandon it, or even retrench upon 
it afterwards. It is scarcely possible to observe too much caution 
in guarding against the extension of the public expenditure. If 
there is any one axiom in politics, established by universal histcry, 
it is, that all governments, whatever may be their form or spirit, 
tend to a constant increase of expenditure. We need not imagine 
that the United States forms no exception to this principle, inas= 
much as that for the first year after the organization of the federal 
government, its revenue was but betv/een 3 and 4 millions^ and the 
present year an estimated revenue of more than 20 millions, leaves 
a deficit of more than the whole r-evcnue at the period referred to. 

These observations are not made from any views unfi^iendly to 
a navy, but to show the neces?itv of proceeding gr^duall)', and of 
observing due caution in its extension. The friends of a navy have 
no occasion to be over solicitous. The spirit of the nation is in their 
favour, and it would be more conducive to the objects they have in 
TJew, that it should be repressed rather than excited. 

Whoever considers the vast extent of our country, its rapid 
advancement in population, wealth and resources ; the industry and 
enterprise of our citizens, the undefined and almost unknown re- 
gions of public land?, vvhich, whilst they constitute a national do- 
main, that, under a proper system of management, would ultimate- 
ly afford a revenue adequate to the whole public expenditure, pre- 
sent every variety of surface and of soil, which invite the residence 
cf man, and promise a rich reward to agricultural industry, and an 
immense increase of population, must be sensible of the ultimate ca- 
pacity of the United States to sustain a large maritime power. They 
will likewise, we believe, be sensible that it is neither necessary nor 
expedient to increase our Navy any faster than may correspond with 
the developement of the resources of the country. It is also most 
devoutly to be hoped, that the public mind will never become so 
perverted upon this subject as to sanction the opinion, that the 
greatness and glory of our country vi'il] dr.; nd upon her maritime 
power. We want a navy for a shield, not lor a scourge. Those 
who are fascinated with Naval "glory, we would recommend to cast 
their eyes across the Atlantic, and view the present condition ot 


Crc::i Britain, the " Mistress of the Ocean." Her naval supre- 
macy is now undisputed ; she has maintained a long and successful 
career of naval warfare and glory ; she has vanquished and nearly 
annihilated the maritime power of every nation in Europe ; she has 
liadher Drakes, her (^ollingwoods, her Vincents and her Nelsons, 
and what has been the result ? What has the nation acquired by 
the toils and exertions of two centuries ? By the sacrifice of a hun- 
dred millions of lives, and ten hundred millions of treasure ? If any 
have doubts as to these inquiries, we would refer them to the 
people of that country to remove them. Let them ask the widow 
whose husband was killed in the battle of the Nile, the mother 
whose sons fell at Trafalgar, or the farmer whose stock has been 
sold by the tax-gatherer. Let them listen to the sighs of two mil- 
lions of paupers — to the indignant voice of a once brave and mag-- 
nanimous, but now degraded, oppressed and starving population, 
groaning under the weight of an intolerable system of taxation, and 
struggling as in the last effort of despair, to throw off the chains 
which bind them, or break them over the heads of their oppressors. 
Such are the fruits of a spirit of dominion and glory. Afar 
nobler destiny we trust awaits our country. The temple of her 
naval glory can never be raised at the expense of her prosperity 
and happiness. Her greatest glory, it is to be hoped, will ever 
consist in her republican institutions, in a free press, and free suf- 
frage ; in the equality, liberty, independence and intelligence of 
her citizens ; in that exemption from external wars and internal 
violence, resulting from representative authority, and a pacific 
policy ; in the justice of her government, the magnitude of her 
power, and the extent of her territory, population and resources 


•legister oi the officers of the na^'y including midshipmen — list of 
vessets of war of the United States, with their stations, in 1821 ; togeth- 
er with other valuable., authentic documents. 


The office of Secretary of the navy was established by act of Con- 
gress, 1793 ; from him are issued all orders to the navy relating to the 
aoncerns of the establishment. The office is held at the discretion of 
the Presifient of the United States. 

Smith Thompson, "" 




Washington City, 

N. York. 

6000 00 

Chief Clerk. 

Benjamin Homans, 



2000 00 


John Bovle, 



1600 00 

John H. Sherburne, 



1400 00 

Charles Hay, 


Virginia, ' 

1400 00 

Henry Rich, 



1000 00 

Thomas Fillebrown, jr. 



800 00 



William Righter, 



410 00 


This board was created by act of congress in 1815, to assist the Sec- 
retary in the discharge of his duties ; the board is attached to the office 
of secretary of the navy, under whose superintendance all the duties of 
this body are conducted relating to the obtaining naval sfdres and mate- 
vials, and the construction, armament, equipment, and employment, 
of vessels of war, as well as other concerns connected with the estab- 
Ishment. The proceedings of this body are always subject to the 
inspection of the President of the United States. 

JVuvy Commissioners. 

Washington City, 



John Rodgers, President, 


3500 00 

Isaac Chauncey, 



3500 00 

David Porter," 



3500 00 


James K. Paulding, 



2000 00 

CMef Clerk. 

Charles W. Goidsborough, 



1600 00 

John Green, 



1150 00 

Joseph P. M'Corkle, 



1000 00 

Laurence Brengle, 



1000 00 

R. A. Slye, 


Dis. Col. 

1000 00 

Burwell Randolph, 



800 00 


Conrad Schwartz, 



1000 00 


Benjamin G. Bowen, 



410 00 




Name and Rank. 


Alexander Murray, 
-John Rodgers, 

James Barron, 

William Bainbridge, 

Thomas Tingey, 

Charles Stewart, 

Isaac Hull, 

Isaac Chauncey, 

John Shaw, 
. JohnH. Dent, 

David Porter, 

John Cassin, 

Samuel Evans, 

Jacob Jones, 
Charles Morris, 
Arthur Sinclair, 
Thomas Macdonough 
Lewis Warrington,' 
Joseph Bainbridge, 
William M. Crane, 
James T. Leonard,* 
James Biddle, 
Charles G. Ridgely, 
Robert T Spence, 
Daniel T. Patterson, 
Samuel Angus, 
Mel. T. Wbolsey, 
John Orde Crejghton, 
Edward Trencliard, 
John Downes, 
John D Henley, 
Jesse D. Elliott, 

Dates of Commis- 

1 July, 1793 
5 March, 1799 



22 May, 
20 May, 

23 Nov. 

22 April, 

23 do. 

24 do. 
27 Aug. 
29 Dec. 



March, 1813 






Jllasters Commandant 
Robert Henley, 
Stephen Cassin, 
James Renshaw, 
David Deacon, 
Louis Alexis, 
Sidney Smith, 
Thomas Brown, 
Samuel Woodhouse, 
Ch. C. B. Thompson, 
Alex. S. Wadsworth, 
George W. Rodgcrs, 
George C. Read, 
Henry E Ballard, 
W^illiam Carter, 
Joseph J. Nicholson, 

11 Sept. 

22 Nov. 

23 do. 

24 do. 

4 Feb. 
28 do. 

27 April, 

5 March, 

27 March, 1818 





12 Aug. 
11 Sept. 
10 Dec. 


28 Feb. 
1 March, 
27* April, 






5 March, 




N. J. 















N. Jer. 

N. Jer. 

N. York. 



N. H. 



N. York, 

W.L ■ 

N. Jersey 



Mary I'd. 

Where stationed. 


President N. Bd. 

Not on duty. 

Columbus 74. 

N. Yd. WashingtOB 

Franklin 74. 

Charleston, Mass. 

Comms. Nav}'. 

Independence 74. 

Not on duty. 

Comms. Navy. 

N. Yard, Norfolk. 

do. New-York, 

Constitution Fri. 

N. Yd. Portsmouth 

Norfolk, Virginia. : 

Ohio, 74. 

Fri. Guerriere. 

Steam Ship Fulton. 
Frigate U. States, 
Lake Champlain. 

Constellation Fri. 
Comg. at N. O. 
Recruiting, N. Y. 
Comg. S. Harbour. 
Newport, R. I. 
Ship Cyane. 
Fri. Macedonian. 
Fri. Congress. 
Surveying Coast 

1814 Virginia, 
do. Penn. 







N. Jersey 


N. York 










New. York, 
N. Yd. Washington. 
Recruiting, Boston. 
Comg. Lake Erie- 
Lake Champlain, 
Sloop Peacock. 
Corvette J. Adams. 
N. Yd. New- York 
Sloop Hornet. 
Norfolk, Vir. 
Norfolk, Vir 





Sloop Ontario. 

.lohn H. Elton, 


N. Jersey 

Surveying coast. 

Kdmond P. Kennedy, 




Altixander J. Dallas, 



Philada recruiting. 

,' hn B.Nicholson, 


N. York, 

Washington 74. 

kman V. Hoffman, 


New- York. 


18 April, 1818 


Norfolk, Vir. 

v.curge Budd, 

19 March, 18J0 



i'liomas A. C Jones, 



Washington, N. \'d. 

Joseph S. M'Pherson, 



Gosport, Vir. 

John Porter, 



Portsmouth N. H. 

William B. Finch, 



Franklin 74. 

William B.Shubrick, 


S. Car. 


Beiijaiuiu W. Booth, 



fudependence 74. 

Alexander Claxton, 




Charles W. Morgan, 




Name and Raiii:. 

Where born. 

Wimie Stationed. 


Francis J. Mitchell, 



George Merrill, 



Joseph Nicholson, 



ll:tyriiond H. J. Perry, 


Newport, R. I. 

Lawrence Kearney, 


Brig Enterprize. 

William H. Watson, 


Gosport, N. Yard. 

iFoxhall A. Parker, 


N. Yard, New -York. 

Edward R. M'Call, 



Daniel Turner, 

Rhode- [sland. 

Scb.ooner Nonsuch. 

William H. Allen, 



David Conner, 


Recruiting, Philadel. 

John Gallagher, 



Thomas H. Stevens, 


Frigate Constellation. 

Henry S Newcomb, 



James P. Oellers, 



William M. Hunter, 


Recruiting, Boston. 

John D. Sloat, 



William H. Cocke, 


Recvg. ship Alert. 

Matthew C, Perry, 



Charles AV. Skinner, 



Joseph Wragg, 


Franklin 74. 

Samuel W. Adams, 

Ne w -Hani psh i re. 

Sackett's Harbour- 

John R. Madison, 


Schooner Lynx. 

George Pearce, 



Frederick W Smith, 



N D.Nicholson, 


New- York, 

Otlio Norris, 



John T. Newton, 


Sloop Hornet. 

Samuel Henley, 


Frigate Guerricre. 

Joseph Smith, 



Lawrence Kousseau, 



G. W. Storer, 



Joseph Cassin, 


John Adams, 

Robert M Rose, 


Columbus 74. 

Beverley Kennon, 


Norfolk, Va. 

F.dward R. Shubrick, 



N. B. The Lieutenants 

are placed in oi-d^r correspont 

ling to the dates of tlieiv 




Charles A. Budd, 
Francis H, Cregoiy, 
John M. Maury, 
Kobert Spedden, 
John K. Clack, 
Philip H. Voihees, 
Benjamin Cooper, 
WiHiaitj L. Gordon, 
Silss Duncan, 
James Ram age, 
Dulany Forrest, 
Jolin Tayloe, jr. 
David Geissinger, 
Robert F. Stockton, 
Thomas S. Cunningham, 
haac M'Keever, 
John P. Zantzinger, 
Charles E. Crowley, 
Henry Gilliam, 
AVilliam D. Salter, 
Charles S. M Cawley, 
John H.Bell, 
Thomas M. Newell, 
VMeA. F. Vallette, 
William A. Spencer, 
Fi'ancis B. Gamble, 
William Laughton, 
Nelson Webster, 
Richard Dashiell, 
Thomas L*. Webb, 
John Percival, 
Charles T. Stallings, 
John H. Aulick, 
William V. Taylor, 
Mervine P. Mix, 
Bladen Dulany, 
James M'Gowan, 
Nathaniel L. Montgomery, 
William A. C. Farragut, 
George B. M'Culloch, 
Walter G. Anderson, 
Stephen ChampHn, 
William Lowe, 
Richard G. Edwards, 
Isaac Mayo, 
W. K. Latimer, 
William Mervine, 
Thomas Crabb, 
Edward B. Babbitt, 
G. W. Hamersley, 
Thomas Paine, jr., 
James Armstrong, 
Joseph Smoot, 
Robert B Randolph, 
W^illiam Berry, 
Samuel L. Breeze, 







New -Jersey, 

South Carolina, 
New "York, 
North Carolina, 
New -Jersey, 
New -York, 



Rhode Island, 
North Carolina, 

Rhode Island, 
New -York, 

Lake ©liamplaitj. 
Washiugton 74. 
Frigate Macedonian. 
New -Orleans. 
Constellation. »'' 
Frigate Congress. 
Corvette Cyane. 
iirig Spark. 
Washington City. 
Not on duty. 

Hi gator. 
Sloop Cyane. 
Charleston, S. C. 
Columbus 74. 
Irrigate U. States. 
Independence 74, 
Sloop Cyane. i 

Gosport, Va, 
Charlestown, Mass. 
Sloop Ontario. 
Newport, R. I. 
New -York. 
Frigate Guerriere. 
Washington 74. 
Sloop Erie. 
Philadela. recruititi] 
Gosport, Va, 
Newport, R. I. 
On Furlough. 
Washington, N. Yd 
Ohio 74. 

Frigate Macedonian 
Sloop Cyane. 

•\'igate Constellatio 

ndependence 74. 
f;un Boat, 158. 
Gun Boat 168. 
(yolumbus 74. 
Frigate Macedonian 

Frigate Constellatioi 
I Constitution. 





n Evans, 
Benjamin Page, jr. 
John T, Ritchie, 
John A. Wish, 
John Gwinn, 
William A. Weaver, 
Thomas W. Wyman, 
James L. Morris, 
John A. Belsches, 
Andrew Fitzhugh, 
William M. Caldwell, 
John K. Cai'ter, 
Joseph K. Cross, 
Abraham S. Ten Eick, 
Thomas S. Hamerslev, 
John White, 
William M. Robbins, 
Robert Field, 

i Hiram Paulding, 
J. D. Williamson, 
Uriah P. Levy, 
Enoch H. Johns, 
Charles Lacy, 
i:]ement W. Stevens, 
Charles Boarman, 
French Forrest, 
Edgar Freeman, 

i Thomas A, Tippett, 
W^illiam E. M'Kenney, 
William L Belt, 

, Charles H. Caldwell, 
William Jameson, 
James W. H.Ray, 

, William Boerum, 

I Charles L. Williamson, 

' Charles Gaunt, 

' William W. Ramsay, 
Ralph Vorhees, 
James Nicholson, 
Robert E. Searcey, 
Thomas H. Bowyer, 
Alexander Eskridge, 
Ebenezer Ridgeway, 

; Thomas A. Conover, 

; Archibald S. Campbell, 

i William Taylor, 
George W. Isaacs, 

\ John C. Long, 
Henry R. Warner, 

( John H. Gi-aham, 
Nathaniel Carter, jr. 
Henry Ward, 
Henry Henry, 

; Samuel W. Downing, 

I Richard S. Hunter, 

; William Pottenger, 








New -York, 




New- York, 


New- York, 





New- York, 




New -Jersey, 






New. York, 





New'- York, 


New -Jersey, 
















New -Jersey, 

Sloop Peacock. 
Washington City 
Sloop Peacock. 
Columbus 74. 
Franklin 74. 
Washington 74, 
Columbus 74. 

Frigate Congress. 
Charlestown, Mass. 
Frigate Guerriere. 
Sloop Ontario. 
Franklin 74. 
On Furlough. 
Sackets Harbour. 
Frigate Macedonian. 
Washington N. Y'ard. 
Columbus 74. 
Erie, Pa. 

Frigate Constellation. 
Brig Enterprize. 
Columbus 74. 
Independence 74. 
Norfolk, Va. 
Frigate (Juerriere. 
Sloop Ontario. 
Frigate MacedoniajQ. 
John Adams. 
Sloop Cyane. 
Washington N. Yard. 
Columbus 74. 
Sloop Hornet. 
Franklin 74. 
Franklin 74. 
Gosport, Va. 
Columbus 74. 
Columbus 74. 
Independence 74. 
New -York. 
Frigate Java. 
Columbus 74. 
Norfolk, recruiting. 
Sloop Peacock. 
Sloop Hornet. 
Steam Frigate, 


Henry W. Ogden, 
John H. Lee, 
Walter Abbott, 
Jaines M. M'Intosh, 
Josiah Tatnall, 
William Temple, 
George M'Cawley, 
Hugh N. Page, 
James A. Perry, 
Archibald M'Neal, 
John A. Cook, 
William Inman, 
Joel Abbot, 
Lewis E. Simonds, 
John M. Dale, 
Peleg K. Dunham, 
Harrison H. Cocke, 
William H. Mott, 
William 1. M'Cluny, 
Albert G. Wall, 
Ephraim D. Whitlock, 
James F. Curtis, 
James Goodrum, 
J, B.Montgomer}'', 
Horace B. Sawyer, 
Cornelius K. Stribling, 
James E. Legare, 
Joshua R. Sands, 
Allen B W. Griffin, 
Richard jNI. Potter, 
John L. Cunimings, 
Samuel A. Eakin, 
Fredericks. Gibbon, 
John J. Young, 
Charles H. Bell, 
Abraham Bigelow, 
Otho Stallings, 
Zachariah "VV^. Nixon, 
Henry C. Newton, 
Frank Ellery, 
Frederick Varnum, 
Frederick G. Wolbert, 
Walter Newcomb, 
Joseph R. Jarvis, 
Thomas W. Frcelon, 
Pardon M. Whipple, 
James Williams, 










Rhode Island, 

South Carolina, 

District Columbia, 





Rhode Island, 










South Carolina, 

South Carolina, 


Mar> land, 





New- York, 






Rhode Island, 





New -York, 


John Adams. , 
Frigate Congress, 
Frigate Congress. 
Frigate Macedonian. 
Columbus 74, 
John Adams. 
Frigate Constitution. 
Washington N. Yard. 
Franklin 74. 
Charlestown, Mass. 
Independence 74. 
Frigate Congress, 
Columbus 74. 
New- York. 
Charleston, S, C. 
Frigate U. States, 
Norfolk, Va. 
Independence 74. 
Not on duty. 
Sloop Cyane. 
Washington 74. 
Frigate Constellatioii, 
Schooner Nonsuch. 
New- York. 
Sloop Peacock. 
Frigate Guerriere. 
Columbus 74. 
Schooner Lynx. 
Sloop Ontario. 
Sloop Ontario. 
New -York. 
Washington 74. 
Newport, R. I. 
Independence 74. 
Columbus 74. 

Washington 74. 
Columbus, 74. 

Name and Rank. 

Where Born. 

Name and Rank. 

Where Born, 



Albert A. Alexander, 


Wra. M. Armstrong, 


Joseph H. Ashbridge, 

R Island. 

Francis Armstrong, 


Henry A. Adams, 


George Adams, 


Alex.' M'Kim Andrew, 


Jacob S. Allison, 


Nathaniel Alexander, 


Henry I. Auehmuty, 

R. L 



John H.Abbot, Mass. 

Thomas S. Brown, Conn. 

James A. D. Brown^ Conn. 

San)uel Barron, Virginia. 

Horatio Beatty, D. C. 

Russel Baldwin, N. York. 

Henry Bruce, Mass. 

John Bubier, Mass. 

Edmond Byrne, Penn. 

John D. Bird, Delaware 

Timothy G. Benham, Conn. 

James G. Boughan, Md. 

Franklin Buchanan, Penn. 

Arthur Baiubridge, N. Jersey 

Joseph Bowman, Penn. 

Littleton M. Booth, Virginia. 

Arch. R. Bogardus, N. York, 

Benjamin F. Bache, Per.n. 

Oscar Bui lus, N.York, 

Abraham Bennet, Delaware 

Edward Barnwell, N. York. 

Robert S. Bullus, N. York. 

George S. Blake, Mass. 

Joshua Barney, Md. 

Theo{lorus Bailey, jr. N. York. 

Joseph R. Blake, Vh'ginia. 

Thomas O. BrufF, D. C. 

Thos. M'K. Buchanan, Penn. 

Edward Boutwell, Virginia, 

James Bradford, Lou. 

Joseph R. Brown, Penn. 

John Q. A. Boyd, Virginia. 

John E. Bispham, N. Jersey 

S. M. Brackenridge, Ken. 

Richard Barker, Alass. 

Edward O. Blanclwird, Mass. 

George W. Bleecker, N. York. 

Augustus Barnhouse, Ohio, 

John S. Chauncey, N. York. 

Joseph S. Cornwell, N. York. 

Enos R. Childs, Md. 

James M. Cutts, Mass. 

Thomas B. Curtis, Mass. 

Edward. W.Carpender, N. York, 

Augustus Cutts, Mass. 

David Conynghani, Penn. 

Joseph S. Cannon, Delaware, 

Robt. B. Cunningham, Virginia. 

Joseph Cutts, jun. Mass. 

James S. Coxe, A. L. Penn. 

Charles B. Childs, N. York. 

Richard Cochrane, N. York. 

John Cremer, Md. 

\yra.E. Cambridge, S.C. 

Jacob Crowninshield, 


James H. Clinton. 


William Campbell, 


James E. Calhoun, 


Thomas H. P. Cooper, 


John R. Coxe, 


John A. Carr, 


Samuel B. Cocke, 


Robert B. Coffin, 

N. York. 

Charles E. Cutts, 

N. Hamp 

John Cassin, 


Samuel T. Cooper, 


Oscar Davis, 


Charles P. Derby, 


Thomas 0. Davis, 

N. C. 

Richard Dominick, 

N. York. 

8. Dusenberry, A. M. 

N. York. 

George D. Dodds, 

R. L 

Hugh Dulany, 

S. C. 

Gaston Devizack. 


Heniy Dyson, 


Thomas Dornin, 

N. York. 

Samuel F. Dupont, 

N. Jersey 

Marmaduke Dove, jr. 

D. C. 

Albert E. Downes, 


Charles Ellery, 

R. L 

Christoph. T.'Emmet, 


Frederick Engle, 


Henry Etting, 


Henry Eagle, jr. 

N. York. 

Francis B.^Ellison, 

N. York. 

Thomas Evans, 


David C.Farragut, A.L 

. Tenn. 

James M. Freeman, 


Beniamin Follet, 

N. York. 

Robert Y. Fair'.ie, 

N. York. 

Witliam Foster, A. M. 

N. York. 

George B . Forrester, 


L. M. Goldsborough, 

D. C. 

Jacob E. GiMemeyer, 


Daniel Goodwin, 


Benjamin S Grimke, 


Thomas R. Geriy, 


William H. Gardner, 


Thomas R. Gedney, 


James Glynn, 


Timothy Gay, 


James T. Gerry, 

Mas§, ^ 

William Green, 

D C. 

Alex. G. Gordon, 

William M.Glendy, 


Charles W. Gay, 


Sylvanus Gedon, 



John Graham, D. C. 

Samuel Gaillard, S. C. 

Moses H. Hunter, N. Jersev. 

Levy M. Harby, . S. C. ' 

Joseph L. G. Hardy, S. C. 

Eciward W Hamilton, S. C. 

James Hodge, Perm. 

Joseph Hail, Conn. 

Thomas R. Handy, R. I. 

John F. Howell, Penn. 

George N. Hollins, ISId. 

Thomas Hayes, Penn. 

JohnHeth, * Virginia. 

William H. Horner, Mass. 

Han-y D. Hunter, Penn. 

John L. Harris, Tenn. 

William S. Harris, Ken. 

William L. Howard, N. Y. 

Hubbard H. Hobbs, Virginia. 

John E. Heron, Virginia. 

Alexander Hossack, N. Y. 

Abraham Hossack, N. Y. 

Lucivs C. Haylin, Penn. 

Alex. H. Hopkinson, Penn. 

Robert Harris, jr. N. Hamp. 

Peyton T. Henley, A'^irginia. 

SteVi\ Humphreys, N.York. 

Patricius Hepburn, D. C. 

Andrew A. Harwood, Penn. 

Charles E. Hawkins, N. York. 

John Hamilton, N. York. 

James T. Homans, N. York. 

Paul H. Hayie, S. C. 

Cai'ey H. Harcford, Vir. 

John W. Hunter, Penn. 

Duncan N. Ingraham, Mass. 

Oscar Irving, N. Y, 

George Izard, Penn. 

Skeffingt. S. Jameson, D. C. 
Richard A. Jones, 

Frederick Janett, Penn. 

Walter F. Jones, Virginia. 

Joshua H. Justin, R. Island 

Edward S. Johnson, R. Island 

Robert W. Jones, N. York. 
Zac F. Johnston, Md, 

Charles H. Jackson, Conn. 

John C. Jones, Md. 

Adam S. Kuhn, Penn. 

John Kelley, Penn. 

James D. Knight, S. C. 

Matthew Keogh. Trelund, 

Thomas King, Ireland. 

William H. Kennon, Virginia. 

Stephen B. Kingston, Penn. 

C. H. A.H.Kennedy, Virginia. 

Richard Kennon, Virginia. 

Shomas I. Leib, Penn. 

T. W. Le Compte, Md. 

George F. Leverett, N. Hamp. 

Edward A Lansing, N. York. 

Stephen B. Lassalle, Penn. 

Charles Lowndes, S. C. 

Christopher Lowndes, Md. 

;\rthur Lewis, Virginia. 

Andrew K. Long, Md. 

John H. Little, Md. 

John L. Luke, Ken. 

Edward S. Lewis, Vir. 

James L. Lardner, Conn, 

Samuel Lockwood, Penn. 

Charles W.Minchin, D. C. 

William B. M-Lean, N. York, 

Richard Mackall, Md. 

Daniel H. Mackay, N. Y. 

John Marston, jr. Mass. 

Joseph Moorbead, Ohio. 

David W. M'Rorie, N. C. 

Daniel S. M'Cauley, Penn. 

Michael Mahony, Vermont 

Joseph Matt i son, N.J. 

William W. M'Kean, Penn. 

Joseph Myers, N. Car. 

Samuel Mercer, S. Car. 

Robert F Martin, S. Car. 

Robt-rt Marshall, N. Y. 

Alex. M. Murray, Penn. 

Oliver H Middleton, England. 

George A. Magruder, Virginia. 

James P. M*Call, Georgia. 

Edward Y. Marshall, N. York. 

T. Jefferson Manning, N. Jersey. 

John Marshall, Virginia. 

Alexander M, Mull, Md. 

Charles V. Morris, N. Yoik. 

Henry W. Morris, N. York. 

John H. Marshall, Lou. 

Richard D. Miller, Georgia. 

John Manning, N. C. 

Hugh G. Munn, N. York. 

John W. Mooers, N. York. 
Richard R. M'Mullin, 

JRichard H. Morris, Vermont. 

jSamue] M'Mullen, Ken. 

Robert H. Nichols, N. York 

AVm. C Nicholson, 
Win. D. Newman, 
Joseph B. Nones, 
Wm. B. Nicholson, 
Johi? S. Nicholas, 
Joseph M. Nicholson, 
James L. Nowlaiid, 
Thomas H. Newman, 
Edwin B. Newton, 
JLloyd B Newell. 
Frederick Neville, 

Patrick H, Overton, 

Garret I. Pendegrast, 
Thomas Petti.s:ru, 
Charles T. Piatt, 
Edwai'd Price, 
Samuel B. Phelps, 
John E. Prentiss, 
Jolt S. Paine, 
William Pollard, 
John F. Pelot, 
Alex. B. Pinkham, 
Richard S. Pinckney, 
David H. Porter, 
John yV. Palmer, 
Robert Porter, 
George F. Pierson, 
William P. Piercy, 
William H. Pennock, 
Edward Pinkney, 
John Pope, 
Elisha Peck, 
John H. Pleasonton, 
Wilson C. Pui'viance, 
Levin M. Powell, 
Reuben R. Pinkham, 
William Pierson, 
John M. Patterson, 
Hugh Y. Purviance, 
Henry Pinkney, 
Alexander F. Porter, 
Richard S. Piatt, 
James M. Prevost, 
George W. Pitcher, 
Henry Potter, 

Samuel Renshaw, 
Edmund M. Russell, 
Charles C. Russell, 
Samuel Rogers, 
William T. Rogers, 
William Rice, 
Robert Ritchie, 
Solonaeo Rutter, 




Victor M. Randolph, 


N. York. 

John Rudd, 

R. Island. 


Herman Rutgers, 

N. York. 


Wm. W. Ritteidiouse, 



Edward C. Ratkdge, 



John Reed, jr. 



Isaac H. Rand, 

Mass. _ 


Thos. M. Randolph, 


D. C. 

Pierre C. Rion, 



John G. Rodgers, 



John M. Rinker, 


Cad Ringgold, 


N. C. 

Nat. B. Richardson, 


Hillary Rhodes, 



M. H. Van Rennselaer 

, N. Yoj-k! 

S.Car. • 

N. York. 

Richard Stewart, 


N. York. 

John L. Saunders, 



Hugh C. Sweeney, 



John M. Sullivan, 

N. York. 


William Skiddy, 

N. York. 


John Swartwout, 

N. York. 

N. C. 

David R. Stewart, 



Robert M. Summers. 



William F. Shields, 



Irvine Shubriek, 



Joua. W. Sherburne, 


N. C. 

Roger C. Shaw, 


N. H. 

Menitt S. Scott, 



G. W. Sommerville, 



John H. Smith, 



Francis Sanderson, 



Jesse Smith, 


Henry D. Scott, 



Alexander Slidell, 

N. York. 


George Shute, 



Joseph G. Smith, 



William Seton, 

N. York. 

N. Jersey. 

George W. Simms. 

D. C. 

N. York: 

Thomas 0. Selfridge, 



William Shaw, 



Charles H. Starr, 



Albert G. Slaughter, 


N. York. 

Robert Steed, 


N. York. 

Isaac S. Sterett, 



Thompson D. Shaw, 


N. C. 

Samuel Swartwout, 

N. Y. 

Thomas Sands, 



Charles F. Shoemaker 



Lewis Seeger, 



Joseph Stallings, 


N. Jersey, 

Thomas H. Saul, 


N. York. 


Neheraiah Tilton, 



John P. Tuttle, 



Henry E. Turner, 

R. Islaad, 


John Tompkins, Kentucky. 

Benj. Tallmadge, jr. Conn. 

William B. G Taylor. N. C. 

Alexander Thompson, N.York, 

Richard Taylor, jr. Virginia. 

John L. Thomas, Md. 

Samuel S. Turner, Mass. 

Griffin Tompkins, N. York. 

Charles C, Turner, Virginia. 

Henry W. Tibbs, Virginia. 
Robert T. Thorburn, 

George P. Upshur, Virginia. 

.lames K. Vallettc, Penn. 

Gersham J. Van Brunt. N.Jersey, 

Daniel R. Walker, Md. 

James Williams, Md. 

Stephen B. Wilson, N. York. 

Wti). S. J. Washington, Vrs;iflia. 

William C. Wetmore, N.York. 

Clem. S. Whittington, Md. 

William S. Walker, N. H< 

Oliver W. Wood, R. Island 

Thomas V. Wilson, Virgiuis. 

George F. Weaver, Virginia. 

James P. Wilson, Md. 

Thos. B. Worthington, D. C. 

William G. Woolsey, Penn 

Rolla Weems, D. C. 

Mason Wilson, T«^nn. 

Charles W^ilkes, jr. N.York. 

John V7. West, Penn. 

ijamcs B. Wright, Virginia. 

Dudley Walker, Mass. 

James B. AVitherell, Mo. 

Conway Whittle, Virginia 

Hampton Westcott, N. Jerscy 

William C. Whittle, Virginia 

Henry D. Zantzinger. 


Nairt(-,5 and Foi 



WL ere built. 

Pi-esent station. 

Alert, Gims 



Receiving vessel at Norfolk. 

Alligator, schr 

. 12 



Cruizing for slave ships oft" 





Not in service. [Coast Afri. 





Med'n. protecting commerce. 





.SniUd May 13, for Med. Sea. 




Xorf. May 28, from a cruise in 




Haiti more. 

Jn the S. Sea. [the China Seas. 




N. York, fitting for sen. 





Noi-folk, good order. 

Despatch, sch. 




Oct. 1 820, on survt y 'g service 

Dolphin sch. 




Phil, fitting for South Sea. 



1813. |55sillimofe. 

New York, repairing. 





Peiisacola, with despatches. 





N'. York, fitting for Scmth Sea. 

Fultoti, St. fr. 



New -York. 

New-York, good order. 





Norfolk, ill ordinary. 

Hornet, ship 




Pensacola, with Am. Com'rs 

Hornet, sch. 



In ordinary. 










do. receiving ship. 

John Adams, 



Chston S. C. 

Norfolk, fitting'for sea. 




New-Orleans, receiving ship? 

Lynx, sch. 




Supposed lost at sea. 




Boston, just from the S. Sea. 

N. Carolina, 





Noil such, sch. 


Gulf Mex.crtiizing for pirates. 





New-York, in ordinary. 





Mediterranean Sea. 





Norfolk, from Mediterranean 

Pori!oise, sch. 




Gulf Mexico, cruizing. J 

Shark sch^ 




Washington fitting for sea | 


Spark, 12 



Maditerranean Sea. 

Surprise, 6 


Not in service. 

United States, 44 



Norfolk, repairing. 

Washington, 74 


Ptsmth, N.H. 

New-York, in ordinarv. 

Tchifonti block 

ship, 22 



State of preservation. 

O f No. 10, 6 

Charleston, S. C. 

wJ 168,&158 

g 1 67, 

do. in Commission. 

Tender at Washington. 

?^ I 76, & 72 

Norfolk, V:<. 


77te folloiving vessels are on the Lakes — most of them are 
covered, and in a state for preservation. 
Lake Champlmfi, Allen, 1 ; Burrows, 2 ; Boxer, 2 ; Centipede, 2 ; 
Galleys. Confiance, 37 ; Eagle, 20 ; Nettle galley, 2 ; Linnet 16 ; 
Saratoga, 26 ; Ticonderoga, 17 ; Vipi-r galley, 2.— -Lake Erie, Detroit, 
18 ; Ghent, 1 ; Lawrence, 18 ; Niagara, 18 ; Porcupine, 1 ; Queen 
Charlotte, 14. — Lake 07itario, Chippewa, 106 ; Jefterson, 22 ; Jones, 
22 ; Lady of the Lake, 1 ; Mohawk, 56 ; Madison, 22 ; Orleans, 106: 
Oneida, 18 ; Pike, 28 ; Superior, 64 ; Sylph, GO; 14 Gun-Boats. 

Table shewing the cost of the J\'avi/ when in service. 

The following is a copy of a statement, ■which appeared in Niles Regis- 
ter, Oct. 7, 1820, which shews the annual cost of each description of 
Vessels of which our nav)" is or will be composed when in service. 

For pay and 

F« r provis- 

For mar- ] 

[lep"rs &|Forhos 


subsistence of 


incrs clo- ; 

!l contin- pital 


all on board. 

tbin^-, &C. j^^TiCcs. IstorM. 

t xp' nsf. 

A 74 

^97,845 00 62,610 041 2,4^4 60 

25,000 1,600 189,529 64 

A 44 

70,048 00 43,122 08 i 1,965 25 

17,500 1,350 133,985 33 

A 36 

58,751 00 35,573 Si 1,532 35 

1.3,500 1,500 110,557 19 
7,500 800 59,060 41 

A Sloop 

32,276 25 17,562 96 921 20 

A Brig. 
A Schr.of 
lai'ge size. 

23,290 50 12,273 02 611 15 
13,900 00 7,600 00 

3,000 600 

39,774 67 

1,400 350 

23,250 00 

Small do. 

3,619 00 2,045 00 

650 138 

6,452 00 

A gunboat 

or galley. 

3,G19 00 2,045 00 

470 100 

6,243 00 

Steam bat. 

32,276 25 17,562 96 

921 20 7,500/ 800 59,060 41 

Block ship 

23,290 50 12,273 02 

611 15| 3,000 600 39,774 67 


1 1 


1,675 25) 

785 65 


l,500i 250 

4,200 90 

'• Suppose, then, all the ships and Vessels ol' war authoriztxl by law were built, equip- 
ped, and in actual service, full manned ; suppose a state of actual war, in which 
state alone would they all be employed •, what would the whole annual expense of 
our navy be ? the following will shew." 


1 2 ships of the line 
14 large 44s. 

3 36s. 

6 sloops, 

2 brigs, 

5 large schooneis, 

5 small do. 




10 gun boats and galleys, 62,430,00 
4 steam batteries, 236,241,64 

Block Ship, 39,774,07 

Receiving Ship, 4,210,90 

Total expense of the "~^ 

navy in service. ^5,406,900,88 

*' Toman these ships and Vessels of war, and battejies, would require 21, 670 per- 
sons, including officers, seamen, ordinary seamen, marines and boys which makes our 
ships, in coimnission, and actual service cost ^250 per man per aivuum, a cost at 
which surely no one will complain." 

N. B, The vessel on the lakes are not considered, in the feregoiBg statements. 




Sheuing tlie places ofbirth^ and number of the different grades 
of officers in the navy. 



















Where born. 

































41 15| 












































































































5 2 











South Carolina, 



































District of Colum. 

















































Not stated, 

















"9 24 






There are six navy yards occupied by the UnitcdjStates, viz. : No. 
1, at Portsmouth, N. H. of 58 acres cost §4(.),0()0 Charles .Morris, 
Capt. Commandant. — No. 2, at Charlestown, Mass. of 34 acres (exclu- 
sive of extensive ilats) cost §39,214, Is uac Hull, capt. commaudant — 
No. 3, atNew-York, of 40 acres cost §40,000, Samu I Evans, capt. com- 
mandant. — No. 4, at Philadelphia, of 11 acres cost §37,000, Alexander 
Murray, capt.. commandant.— No. 5, at Washingtoa, D. C. 37 acres 
cost S4j^*^*^> Thomas Tingey, capt. commandant and navy agent, Ste- 
phen Cassin, master commandant. — No. 6, at Gosport, Vir. 16 acres cost 
§12,000, John Cassin. capt. commajidant. 

There are now building 4 ships of 74 guns each ; one at Portsmouth, 
Boston, Philadelphia, and Norfolk. Also iJ frigates of 44 gucs each, 
one at New-York, and Boston. 


C 12 6 

: ^.^-^ 


.*- .. 



■ • 1 1 * 

°* * 



O M O 




H\^f/>i:^ \^J^ : 


^* '^.^ ••. 

• .0.^ 

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