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Toast of Com. Decatur's father, 1804. 


Compiler of " Robbins' Journal," author of the " President's 
Tour," " Memoirs of Jackson," &;c, &c. 






%^ n^l 


L. S. BE IT REMEMDERED, That Ofi the eighth day of 
January, in the forty-tirth year of the Independ- 
ence of the United States of America, S. Putnam Waldo, 
of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title 
of a Book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in 
the words following, to wit : — " The Lite and 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 
Children, they are the Property of our Country.' — Toast 
of Com. Decatur's Father, 1804. By S. Putnam Wal- 
do, Esq. Compiler of" Bobbins' 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 small tribute of ad 
miration for your naval science, nautical skill, and gal- 
lant achievements, to offer this volume to you. He 
hopes to find a shield for its imperfections, in the frank- 
ness and candour of your characters. It would be the 
consummation of vanity to suppose that any efforts of his, 
coald dtvate the character of STEPHEN DECATUR 
in \jour estimation ; and it is a real consolation to reflect 
that it cannot be ch.ipressed by the manner in which it is 
pourtrayed. The very brief 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 i2;iven 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, 

1 am your admiring fellow-citizen, 





THE rapid sale ot the first Edition of this Volume, was the in- 
ducement for publishing the present very large Edition, The wri=> 
ter is, of course, precluded from saying any thing of the merits of 
the work, in regard to the manner in which it is executed : but he 
will certainly escape the imputation of vanity, when he assures the 
canJid reader, that, in ^^ point of fact'''' 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, v/ho commenced their naval profession in the 
Amtrican 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 author, since the publication of the first Edition, has enjoy= 
ed the pleasure of interviews with distinguished officers of the navys, 
who have condescended to peruse it ; and whose gentlemanlike ci- 
vility has pronounced itcorroct, 7%eir 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 Bainbridge, Porter, Lawrencb^ 

1 * 


and Macdonouch, 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, andLieiite 
nants, with their places of birth, date of Commissions, and Sta 
tions, must be interesting te 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, they may re- 
flect, with proud satisfaction, that they are in the station, in which 
STEPHEN DECATUR commencedhh career, and from which he 
ascended to the acme of human glory. 

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

Should the same indulgence be extended to this, as has been 
shewn to the other productions of the writer, it will add to the zeal 
which he feels in a work, v/hich now engrosses his attention — 
*' Sketches of American Xaval Heroes in the War of the Revolution,^'' 


MiddklQWUi August 1821 


— ®®®®— — 


[introductory, j 

NAVAL Heroes identified with Naval Glory — Commercial ente?- 
prise of Americans — Bi'itish Jealousy against American iJolo- 
nies — First dawning of Naval Glory amongst Ameiicaus — Con- 
stellation of Ocean- Warriors — Stephen IJecatur. P. 13 


Decatur's birth — 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. 20 


Extinction of Naval Power and Naval Spirit at the close of the 
Revolution — A Seventy-four presented to Louis XVI. — Conjec- 
ture concerning her — iVstonishing effects of Naval Power — 
Encroachments upon American Coihmerce and humiliation of 
American Seamen — Act of Congress 1794 for building six l''rig- 
ates — Enthusiasm excited by it — Frigate Constitution — Achieve- 
ments of Truxton, Little, &:c. — Anecdotes of the elder Decatur 
and Tryon — Midshipman Stephen Decatur. 30 


Stephen Decatur's early education— Peculiar advantages enjoyed 
by him — Enters the frigate United '-'tates as Midshipman 1798 — ■ 
Promoted to Lieutenant — Cruises in the West-indies against the 
French — Enters the brig Norfolk as Ist Lieutenant 1799 — Sails 
to the rjpaniih Main — Re -enters frigate United States — Barba- 
rism of French and Spanish to American Seamen — Victories of 
Truxton, Little, &c.— Humiliation of the French — Peace with 
France — Rewards for heroism. .14 



Fro°:ress of the American Navy — Reduction of it by Act of Cou- 
gress — Amount of it in 1801 — Lieut. Decatur's views and de- 
terminatioQ — Depredations of Barbary states upon American 
Commerce — Measures of the American government — Decatur 
enters into the first Mediterranean squadron as Ist Lieut, of the 
frigate Essex — His unremitting vigilance as a disciplinarian — Ad- 
dress to his seamen. 53 


Lieut. Decatur sails in the frigate Essex to the Mediterranean, 
1801, in the first American Squadron — Hazard of this enterprise 
— Captain Sterrett's victory in the bchooner Enterprise — impa- 
tience of Lieut. Decatur in a blockading ship — He returns to 
America in the Essex — National glory and National taxes— Lieut. 
Decatur joins the second Mediterranean Squadron as 1st Lieut, 
©f the frigate New- York — Sails to the Mediterranean — Inces- 
sant attention to duty — Returns in the New- 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 — Com. Preble and the Emperor 
of Morocco — Decatur leaves the Brig Argup, and takes command 
of the schooner Enterprise — Disastrous lots of the frigate Phila- 
delphia — Lieut. Decatur captures a Tripolitan corsair, and calls 
her " Ketch Intrepid" — Rendezvous at Syracuse — Brief sketch 
of Jussuff, Bashaw of Tripoli — Sufferings of Capt. Baiubridge 
and crew — Lieut. Decatur volunteei^s to atlempt the destruction 
of the frigate Philadeiishia. 82 


improper estimate of battles — Lieutenant Decatur sails for Tripo- 
li in the Ketch Intrepid — Baffled by adverse winds — Diminution 
of pro.i:^ions — Reaches the harbour of'l'ripoli 16th Feb. 1804 — 
Loses the assi-tance of the ^yren ?-.nd the boats — Lnteis the har- 
bour with the Ketch Intrepid — Boards the Philadelphia, follow- 
ed by Morrib, Lawrence, Macdonough and the crew — Compels 
the Turks to surrender — Sets the Philadelphia frigate on fire, 
and secures his retreat — Gen. Eaton and Caramalli — Consterna- 
tion of Bashaw — Joy of Americaa priscHiers-— Small force of 
Com. Preble. 109 



Lieutenant 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 force be- 
tween his and the enemy's — He grapples and captures a Tripo- 
litan boat — Is bearing for the squadron with his prize — Hears of 
the treachei'ous murder of his brother, Lieut. James Decatur— 
Keturns to the engagement, and followed by Midshipman Mac- 
donough 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 
Gun-boats — Effects of the attack upon the Bashaw, and Tripo- 
litans. 124 


Capt. Decatur receives high commendations from Com. Preble— 
Grief at the death of Lieut. J. Decatur — Notice of him — Pro- 
posals of the Commodore to the Bashaw — Renewal of the attack 
tipon Tripoli— Capt. Somers, Lieuts. Wadsworth and Israel en- 
ter into the squadron of the enemy's boats with the Ketch Inlre- 
fid as a fire ship — Slie explodes ! — Awful effects of the explosion 
— 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 Coustitutios-— 
Perfection of discipline in the American Navy — He takes com- 
mand of the Frigate Congress— Peace with Tripoli — Emanci- 
pation of Capt, Bainbridgt) 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- 
' ies Miss Wheeler, of Norfolk, (Vir.)— Supersedes Com. Bar- 
ron, and takes command of the frigate Cheeapeake— " Affair of 
the Chesapeake"— Cajj/ctin Decatur takes command of the 
Southern Squadron as Commodore. 158 


v.'ommorfore Decatur takes command of the Frigate United States — 
Interview with Capt. John Sumam Carden, in time of peace-'- 
British Naval Officers on American station before the commence- 
ment of /-Far— Declaration of War against G. Britain— Im- 
aiense disparity of Navai force betweea America and Britain— 


Com. Decatur puts to sea from New-York, June 21st 1812 — 
Makes an extensive cruise and enters the port ol' L)Oj:ton---?aiis 
from thence 8th October — Upon the 25th captures the frigate 
Macedonian — His official account of the action — Length of, 
and incidents in the action — Meeting of Com. Decatur and Capt. 
Garden— -Dreadful slaughter in the Macedonian— Ariival of 
frigate United States and that ship at ISew-London — Keception 
of Flag at Washington — Arrival at iMew-York — Keception 
there — Com, Decatur's humanity. 178 


Honours conferred upon Com. Decatur — He takes command of a 
tjquadron— Immense disparity between Ameiicau andBiiiish 
Naval force on the American coa3t---List of both— -Com. Deca- 
tur sails from INeve-York in Squadron— His ship struck by light- 
ning — Sails for a British 74 — Retreats to New-London— Pre- 
pares for defence— 'Razees— B I itish Squadron— Contrast be- 
tween Hardy and CocA-'^Mm— Stratagems of War—'Passport for 
the bodies ef Lawrence and Ludlow— Com. Decatur attempts 
to escape— Blue Lights— Sterim frigate— Challenge to the ene- 
my—Impressed seamen— Dignified and humane oiliccrs-— Com. 
Decatur and (Jom. Macdonough. iiOSJ 


Com. Decatur dismantles the frigates Uniicd States and Macedonian 
— Achievements of the Lssex, Capt. Porter— Lxpedition to the 
East-indies resolved upon by the !Navy L)epartment-— Tiie 
Squadron for that servire— -i.'>n:s Dece.tur defigualed as com- 
mander of it— sails iu the f=i. .le Presidenty encounterp and 
beats the fi-igate Endynuon, ..n ; tU'-r.^n'lers to the uhcle British 
Squadron-— His otficial a<"coiu<t oi the actlof--— Additional parti- 
culars — Falsehoods of an EnglisM eJit'r, and the consequences 
of them — The remainder oi Com. Decatur's Squadron, Hornet 
and Peacock. 247 


Com. Decatur returns from his /oi<r//i cruise — Reception— pf.ace 
ratified — Scenes of domestic felint) — Df^pi f drtiors cf B^rlary 
powers— By whom instigated — bquad-on to cliastise and humble 
them — Com. Decatur appointed to ccmmaud ihe first Mediter- 
ranean Squadron in 1815— Victory over Alg,trine Admiral- 
Consternation of the Dey— Indemnifies Amei leans and concludes 
a Treaty of Peace— Com. Decatur demands and receives in- 
demnification from Tunis and Tripoli for British violations- 
Demand? release of Christian captives— Restores them to Na- 
pies, and is honoured by the King— Surrenders squadron to 
Com. Bainbridge, and returns to .America— Com. Eaiubridge— 
Respect paid to him. UQi 



Recapitulation of Com. Decatur's achievements &c. in the Medi- 
terranean in 1815— -itewarJs by promotion — Necessity of diffe- 
rent grades of office— Arduous duties of Department of the JYavy 
—Board of Navy Comiviissioners established— Com. Uecatur 
appointed Navy Commissioner— Duties of the Navy Commis- 
sioners — Responsibility of the office— Naval Architecture— 
Rate:! of Ships— Comparidive power— Annual expense of ships 
of different rates---! mprovement in Ship-buddina: — Inventions — 
Assiduity of Com. Decatur— Honours paid him— Difficulty of 
designating officers — Com. Macdonough...Com. Barron. 287 


Com. Barron solicits a command in the Navy... Com. Decatur's 
opinion as to his re-admission into the Navy... The unfortunate 
misunderstanding' between eventuates in a challenge to 
finale combat, from Barron to Decatur.. .Duelling.. Result of 
the meeting... I.mmauiate effects of it.. .Honours to the remains 
of Com. Decatur.. .Funeral ceremonies at his interment.. .His 
Character. 314 


Sketch oH the Life of Cora. Wm. Bainbridge. 343 

do. Com. David Porter. 351 

do. Capt. James Lawrence. 3.58 

do. Cora. Thomas Vfacdonough. 363 

A succinct sketch of the Navy from its commencement. 368 

Navy Register.. Boardof Commissioners for the Navy... Navy List 

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

Vessels of War of the United States,. .Table shewing the cost of 

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

and number of the different grades of officers in the Navy., .Navy 







NaA'al Heroes ideutilied with Naval Glory — Comnierciai enieipii.'*: 
of Americans — British jealousy against American Colonies — 
First dawning of Naval Glory among^st Americans — Constellation 
of Ocean- Warriors — Stephek Decatur. 

Stephen Decatur's name and glory are so inse- 
parably identified with that of the Ajierican Navy^ 
that it is almost impossible to contemplate the high 
renown of the last, without associating with 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 other's growth, and strengthening with each 
other's strength," until they 6o<A acquired the digni- 
fied and noble attitude of manhood, 



Until the auspicious era o( sezcnieen hundred and 
nine ti/' eight, 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-beam through a dark and lowering cloud. 
This constituted the Jlrst period of the navy and of 
Decatur's naval life. 

The warfare with the Barbary 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 im- 
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 a perspective paintings it will be 
the design of the writer to keep Stephen 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, unostentatious 
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- 
parling 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 Apams 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 im 



portance. But this was the result of individual exer- 
tion, 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 dan- 
ger that surrounded him. 

American seamen were also seen, enduring the 
blasting rays of an equinoctial sun, and bearing home 
to their country all the varied productions pf the 
tropical 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 litde else 
than the rapid accumulation of wealth. But let 
it never be forgotten, that our countrymen, by these 
^■)ursuits. wrroadding;?rflfrr/cflf^ knowledge, to thef/ico^ 


ry of navigation — 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 infatuated policy of Britain 
drove them into a contest with the mother-country, 
every thing considered, the most powerful nation in 
the world, the confederated states had not a single 
armed vessel floating 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 oi 2^ naval force. The coun- 
try and its resources, w^ere literally in possession of 
its implacable enemy, when that tremendous and 
awfully unequal contest commenced, which terminat- 
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, 
elicited themselves with the most cheering brillian- 
cy. It was not that systematic, regulated courage. 



which for the last quarter of a century has led am 
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 struggle, 
and show, that with means apparently wholly ineffi- 
cient, the naval spirit of 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 afe 1776, to establish a naval force, when the re- 
sources of the country were next to nothing. With 
a 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 v€slige 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 splendour that il- 
lumines the modern history of the Republic. 

In the midst of this constellation, STEPHEN DE- 
CATUR shines with rrsplpndent 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 ornameni 
of the American Navy. 

* Gen, Andrew Jackson, 



Decatur's birth — Birth places — Difference between beginning 
and gnrfmg great names — Brief notice of Decatur's ancestors — 
His father, one of the original Post-Captairis in the American 
Navy — Dedication of his sons to the Republic — The inestimable 
value of the Legacy. 

Stephen Decatur, who, from the humble 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 future greatness, seem to be of but lit- 
tle 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- 
tious consequence, which, intrinsically seems not to 
belong to them. 

A place that derives all 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, 
geniusj or heroism, can impart fame to the place of 


his nativity, any more than the glory of a man's an- 
r.estors 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 of an English reader to be lold 



that some of the blood of the Tudors or Stuarts* is 
coursing sluggishly through the veins of the modern 
hero of a nnemoir; and although the present legiti- 
mate princes of the British Empire have but little le- 
gitimate blood amongst their subjects, it would un- 
doubtedly be highly gratifying to learn that he can 
claini consanguinity, or even some affinity with the 
house of Brunswick,] 

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 Maryland^ the native, and 
Pennsylvania, the adopted state of Decatur, or in- 
deed of any other of the ancient colonies, 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 A«f/ 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 vtere 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. 

t The present reigning family in the liritish Empire v 


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 oxon names : and surely 
it is far more gratifying to see 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 those 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 anceslorsj 
Are bat hy grace 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 family 
aristocracy, prostrates the very genius of our con- 
stitution. The rising youth of America 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- lather was a native of La Rochelle, in 
France, celebrated for the refinement and taste 
which prevails in the large cities of thai 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 States 
can trace their origin to that people. The same 
cause that drove Englishmen, Scotsmen, Irishmen, 


Germans, (fee. 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 beeu 
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 historj'^^x 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 fiitlier oi 
our hero, was born. What were the pecuniary cir- 
cumstances of this family, at this period, is unknown 
to the writer, and is of but liitle consequence to the 
reader. That adventurous spirit, which characte- 
rises the name of Decatur, iriduced him, in earlv 
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 
bosom 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 commercial 
enterprize was the sure passport to sudden wealth. 
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 ardent spirit led him, 
amongst the very first of the naval heroes of 1798, to 
tender his services to his country. Let it be re- 
membered, that at that period, the Re[)ubllc had no 
commanders who had distinguished themselves — 
America was not even ranked with naval powers. 
It therefore required a devotion to country w^hich 
must border upon the romantic, to engage in a ser- 


vice apparently so pregnant with difficulty and ha- 

Notwithstanding the blaze of glory which nozo en- 
circles our naval officers, it is no more than justice to 
ihejlrst 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-warriors 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 they 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 v^as built for the Decalurs^ 
for she was first commanded by the father in th^ na- 
val warfare with France, who lived to see her de- 
stroj^ed by the son, 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 
nearo with France he resigned his command, and 



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- 
iicity, the fame of his beloved sons, Stephen and 
James. Siitirig 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 
enjoyed in his family. Turning his animated eyes^ 
ahernately toward 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 scntimcnt that 

would have done honour to the Decii of Rome, 
and which led thein 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 retiree! 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 
1808, and closed a life which rendered him lament- 
ed 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— pin- 


STJed 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 \x\ our conquering ships. He seemed to be 
the genius of Victory, hovering over our floating bul- 
warks, and shedding its radiance even in the hour of 



Extinctioa of Naval Power and Naval Spirit at the close of the 
Revolution — A Seventy-four presented to Louis XVI. — Conjec- 
ture concerning her — 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 consiitiUion of Civil Government, as the supreme 
jaw of the land. The establishment of this Consti- 
tution is, perhaps, without a parallel in the history 
4^ the civilized world. It was not the unresisted 

-^ Vide Memoirs of Jack?on_, p. 13^ />th edition- 


mandate of a succcvssful usurper, nor was it a govern- 
ment imposed upon the people by a victorious army. 
It was digested by profound statesmen, wiio 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 eniirc 
unanimity, but by a majority of the people, suiii- 
ciendy respectable to give its operation a promising, 
commencement. The people, having emancipated 
themselves from the power of a British monwrch — 
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 application of its principles; and the pa- 
triotism, and integrity, of all the early offirers 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 upDu 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 fef ble as a reed shaken 
by the wind. Involved in debt without a treasury 
—the veteran soldiers of the revolution yet bleed- 

32 LIFE 01 

ing, and their toils unrewarded — the commerce oi 
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 revolutionary struggle. 
the few little 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 XVI., 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, 
w-hich. like the daughters of the horse- leech, con- 
tinually cry, '• give^ gwe,^^ and which pervaded so 
completely the bosoms of Americans at this period, 
might have suffered 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 aa 



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^he first spoliation upon qur 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, 
they little thought of providing defence against f?i 

34 LIFE Oi 

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 
a large standing army, in time of peace, they re- 
luctantly 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 Nelson, in a single day, conquered 


•Vance and Spain at Trafalgar*. How has it come 
o pass that the best portions of Asia have lost their 
mcient dominion, and are now colonies of European 
lations? — By naval power. Pages might be swell- 
ed with this '' swelling theme." But, rapidly to an- 
icipate what will hereafter be more minutely notic- 
ed. What preserved the immense territoi'y 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 Vv'ealthy regions of the North, 
in the same war, from the ravages of an insatiable 
foe? The naraZ/jozuferupon 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 under our 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- 
e*' blessings tuan the blessing of a national debt. No 

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

" So now, mes sages sir?, we must give up de notion, 
And let England peaceably govern de ocean, 
Ab eld Neptune wont grant us de rule of de sea, 
He may give his dama'd pitchfork to Nelson for me." 


human sagacity, however, could, at that time, foresee 
that American commerce would soon become the di- 
rect road to sudden national wealth, although they must 
have known, that an extended commerce could not 
long he protecit'd, without a naval force, nor a naval 
force be supported without commerce. England, 
the imperious, and then undisputed mistress of the 
ocean, wielding the trideiU of Neptune over every 
sea, beheld American canvas in every latitude. 
Her jealousy was roused. Her armed ships search- 
ed our vessels for " conti-aband goods," impressed 
our seamen, and immured them in their " floating dun- 
geons." Other petty naval })owrrs, whose power 
on the oeean is now merged with that of Britain, the 
naval dictator of, because the mo>t powerful nation 
in, Europe, folloued her example of aggression, as 
feeble whappets follow in the train of a ferocious 
mastiff. The f^ride of American seamen, arising 
from the naiional glory of America, acquired in the 
glorious revolution, was con)pplled 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 " ex necessitate rei,''^ — the ne- 
cessity of the case, — a most painful necessity. 

The nati(ji)al resources had been almost exclu- 
sively derived from individual wf ahh — and thft 
wealth had for years been committed to the ocean 
as the road to immediale wealth. Other nations, 
which were contending for dominion upon land and 
upon water, for a considerable period, lo~.t si^ht of 
the advancing wealth, and, as a consequence, national 


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

The Barbary powers, whose corsairs hovered 
over that portion of the ocean where some part of 
our enterprising merchantmen were pursuing their 
lucrative business, plundered theirvessels, 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 naval power, of which our Repub- 
lic was then destitute. Our patriotic rulers, as soon 
as 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 poiver. 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 ajir/ naval power. But Washington was 
still alive; and guiding the high destinies of our Re- 
public in peape, as he had done in the war of ih^ 



Revolution. His prescience readily Suggested to 
his great mind the indispensable necessity of a naval 
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 1776, 
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. If 
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. Tl>e 


ivriter, then a boy, may hope to be indulged for ex- 
pressing now the enthusiasm hefelt, 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 
7aust mark the course of our rulers, they authorised 
the building of only four frigates of forty-four guns, 
and two of thirly-six. The amount of the force was 
infinitely of less iinportance 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 v^iho were appointed to command our 
infant navy. An opportunity was offered in the 
ihort 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 which iavariably follow upon the meeting af 



forces 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 
less 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 
com.merce, and not to encroach upon commercial 
rights upon the ocean. But when naval warfare 
became necessary to accomplish the great objects of 
our administration in establishing a navy, our early 
Post-Captains did not shrink from what was then 
leemed a doubtful contest. 

The achievements of the gallant and skilful Trux- 
; ON and Little ought never to be forgotten, although 
i,heir splendid victories in the war of 1798, with 
France, have almost been buried in oblivion, in the 
splendour of the victories acquired by the pitpils of 
'he first list of our naval commanders ; yet when Ame- 
ricans cease to hold their early deeds in our naval his- 
tory 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 in 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, w^ho so richly deserved every ho- 
nour and reward which a grateful and protected 
country have bestowed upon them. But American.^ 


should not then duly appreciate the value and impor- 
tance of naval protection, and as to the ingratitude 
of Republics, it h'^s become proverbial. 

When Truxton, in the Constellation, compelled the 
superior French frigate Insurgente to strike her flag, 
the naval power of the French cQipire 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 load so rapidly, — fire so accurately, — - 
and fight so desperately." 

The elder Decatur, in the mean time, with his gatl- \ 
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, li this fact does not appeal to 
the lovers of national glory, it surely must to the wor- 
shippers of individual and national v/ealth. 

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 offer up a 
tribute of undissembled admiration to the old yeie^ 
van ocean-warriors, who, amidst perils that would 

•:^i* LIFE or 

seem to appal the very Genius of Victory herseit' 
pointed out the path to America that so shortly has 
led her almost to the zenith of national greatness- 
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 
fighting our worst enemy, an insolent admiral com- 
manded the gallant and vigilant Tryon of Connecti- 
cut, and then commanding the ship Connecticut, to 
'• come under his lee" as a token of submission, or 
an acknowledgment of inferiority. He instantly 
cleared his 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 
.^hip 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 
swift 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 \vea 


ther,qrsome 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 notlinow 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 officers par- 
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 
allusion to them, we may exclaim, — Amor patriot 
* vires acquirit eundo,^'' — The love of country aug- 
ments its strength as it advances. 



Stepheu Decatur's early e lucation — Peculiar advantages enjoyed 
by him — Enters the f'-i^-.tte United '^tates as Vlidshiuman, 1798 
—Promoted to Lieutenant — Crui'^es in the West-Indies against 
the Frenck — Knters the brig Norfolk as 1st Lieutenant, 1799 — 
Sails to the Spanish Main — lie-eniers frigate United States — 
Barbarism of French and Spanish to American Seamen— Vloio- 
ries of Truxton, Little, &c. — fiumilialion of the French — Peace 
r\'ith 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 it, as many distinguished citizens had done, in 
consequence of the possession of that important place 
by the British forces in the war of the revolution. 
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. Hi<J father held the first rank amongst expe- 
rienced navigators, and his house ot 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 ihe Dccatii^ 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 bee?! taught 
to shoot,^^ and their ex{)anded 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 theji 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 
never occupied the deliberations of our civil fa- 


thers : — -'Shall the Republic have, or shall 
SHE NOT HAVE A Navy." They witnessed, and par- 
ticipated in the rapture which pervaded all the great 
commercial towns in our countr)', 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 i/ei 
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 in 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 Midshipman 
Decatur began to reduce the theoretical knowledge 
he had previously obtained of naval tactics and na- 


vigation, ta 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 anticipate 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. But as 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 or destroying 
the contemptible swarms of French and Spanish pi- 
caroons that then infested the ocean. Had Barry, 
like Truxton and Little had the good fortune to 


have fallen in with a French national ship of su- 
perior force, during the naval warfare with France, 
it would not haYe been left for his favourite Midship- 
man, Decatur, to have led the frigate he then com- 
manded to gain the Jirst 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 profession — 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 Insurgentey 
La Vengeance and B^rceau, aroused him to a pitch 
of enthusiasm, which perhaps needed the restraint 
of prudent caution. He solicited an order to join 
the U. Slates' brig Norfolk. His request was grant- 
ed ; and he sailed in her as Jimt 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 bac k with the Nor- 
folk without having accomplished the 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 
commanding 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 seay 
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 mentioned, 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 itmocent and unprotected 
flocks. In 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, imbecile, 
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 world, 
after the war of the revolution, was thus sunk, tra- 
duced, degraded, and sneered at by every petti/ 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 bloodJ''' 

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 
of 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 Diable ! ! Iver much fear 
dat I be take myself y by some dem Americaint ship — 
and pray, Capitaine, do tell de Americaine officers dat 
1 treat a you ver well, so dat dey may treat me ver 
well, ven I be prisoner too^J^^ 

* Lest this singular humiliatioa of an imperious officer may be 
thought too highly coloured, I would state that it was communicat- 
ed by Capt. David Churchill, of Connec^ticut, who was himself pri- 
soner to this officer. His word will never be doubted. 


Decatur continued on board this favourite United 
States 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 few, and reduces the 
many to poverty. The recent dukedom granted to 
Arthur Wellesly, Duke of Wellington, would have 
afforded, if properly distributed, domestic comfort 



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 stiwted 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 
ihei/ had afforded — 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 communication toPuTNAM, 
said, " Republics have always been ungrateful." 
The names and the memories of Truxton, Little, the 
senior Decatur, Barry, the senior Morris, Tryon, 
Dale, Preble, and the rest of the fathers of our navy^ 
are cherished and remembered with delight by eve- 
vy midshipman and lieutenant, who learned from 
ihem the skill, the discipline, and the whole system 
of naval tactics which enabled them to secure to 
themselves the high honours and copious rewards 
which their country has bestowed upon them. Whe- 
ther their Preceptors are to be forgotten by others^ 
and x\o national token of respect to be shown to themj 
is for the national councils to decide. Even the 
mouldering manes of Washington yet remain without 
any national monument. 



Progress of the American Navy—Reduction of it by Act of Con- 
fess—Amount of it in 1801— Lieut. Decatur's views and deter- 
mination— Depredations of Barbary States upon American corfi= 
merce — Measures of the American government — Decatur enters 
into the first Mediterranean squadron as 1st Lieut, of the frigate 
Essex — 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 the^r^; period of his naval progress from a Mid" 
skipman to a first Lieutenant. In pursuit of the de- 
sign of this v/ork, we must now revert back to that 
period of our Republican government, when the im- 
portant question v/hether the American navy should 
be augmented beyond its small beginnings or not^ 
was agitated. 

It is not the business of the historian, or 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 John Adams, our national council 
embraced an assemblage of men who would have 
done honour to any country. 

It was intended briefly to roliate the arguments in 
favour of, and again«t the extension of the naval 
force, commenced by the Act of 1794, The inten- 
tion is relinquished for the more exhiiirating and ds- 


iightful task of recording, with a pleasure which can 
be but poorly expressed by language, that the ad- 
vocates for naval power, 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 sw 
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 was 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 publie 
treasure, could add nothing to the public defence. 
Congress, toward ihe close of Mr. Adams' adminis- 
tration, authorised the Executive to dispose of such 
vessels as should be deemed of the above character. 
The wisdom of this measure has since been clearly 
demonstrated to the entire satisfaction of those who 
are acquainted v/ith 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 almost 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 
Thomas Jefferson, in 1801, our Republic was at 
|5cace with all 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 that measure is no 
longer doubted. 

But the determination of the administration, whol- 
ly to suspend the building of the Seventy-Fours, 
when materials to a very large amount had been 
accumulated for that purpose, disappointed and al- 
most disheartened the friends of an efficient naval 
power. 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 the 
one,, in the highest, and the other, from the lowest 


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, composed the whole naval force of the 

Republic United States Frigate, forty-four gunvS, 

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 nava! service, it was no! 
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. — Uf had 
a country to save, and her injuries to avengf'. He 
knew full well that the service into which he had en- 
tered, was a service pregnant with peril, and encir- 


cled with danger. This consideration, v.'hich would 
have induced a timid mind to retire to the peaceful 
shades of private ref)Ose, only served to KStimulate 
him to pursue the hazardous path which he had en- 
tered. Ahhough at this period he might have left 
the navy with 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 sincere 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 warfare, which the 
Barbary States, bordering upon the Mediterranean ^ 
have, for centuries past, carried on against the whok 

<58 LIFE OF 

commercial world, is 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 tli( ir 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, 
Tri{)oli 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 Ishniael, 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 hy fear. 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-siained altars of Mahomet. 
The most solemn treaties that can be negotiated 
with them are bonds no stronger than a 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, 
American commerce was expanded over the world. 
Much of it was spread upon the bosom of the Medi- 
terranean, within the reach of those contemptible 
Batbary States already mentioned. Encouraged by 
the supposition that the American Republic, situated 
as they .supposed in a wilderness across an immense 
ocean, would nfford tio protection to its adventurous 
merchants, they preyed upon them with impunity. 
Having long received tribute from nations which 
they knew to be powerful, they suf^posed Americans 
to be the last people on earth who would dare assail 
the Turkish crescent. Their ves>sels 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 Amf rican government adopted a sentiment 
worthy of it» rising greatness, that the whole commu' 
nity is degraded when otie of its members suffers. 
Casting an indignant frown across the Adantic, and 
over the Mediterranean, it beheld at home its little 
gallant navy, and saw it.-i officers and seamen impa- 

60 EirE OF 

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 Cassar, 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 pacing tribute to miserable Moors, 
Algerines, Tripolitans and Tunisians. There is a 
real dignity in graceful submission to irresistible 
power ; 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, 
'' Millions for Defence — not a cent for Tri- 
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 not 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- 
mindum ariem,^^ 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 well 
prepared for admission to the practice of it. 

The first squadron fitted 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 associateso 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 impose their paralyzing effects upon this 
ardent child of fame. He hailed the time when he 
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 a 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 the 

62 LfPE OP 

Captain looks, in the first instance, for the regula- 
tion of the ship, and to him the crew are perpetual- 
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 winds," 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, there, 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 quarters. But when ap- 
proaching an enemy— clearing ship for action — 

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


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

Lieutenant Decatur, when he entered the Essex 
Frigaie, broucjht with him, not only the most un- 
daunted courage, but the practical skill of an ac- 
complished naval disciplinarian. He 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— -^fe are now about 
to embark upon an expidition^ which may terminate in 
our sudden deaths^ our perpetual slavery^ or our im- 
Tfiorial glory. The event is left for futurity to deter- 


mi7ie. The first q^iality of a good seaman, is, person- 
al courage, — the second, obedience to orders, — tht 
third, fortitude under sufferings ; to these may be 
added, an ardeiit love of country, I need say no 
?nore — / am confident you possess them all,^^ Such 
an address as this, from such a man as Lieut. Deca- 
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 electricrty. In a very few words, it conveyed 
the 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 men. 
Looking to his Captain as his authorized comman- 
der, he was uniformly respectful to him, and thus set 
an example to his crew which corresponded with his 
previous precepts. He had learned the salutary 
lessons of obedience, before he aspired to the au- 
thority of commandins^. 



Lieut. DccaUir sails in the Frigate Essex to the Mediterranean, 
1801, ia the first American Squadron — Hazard of this enterprise 
— Captain Sterrett's victory in the Schooner Enterprise — Impa- 
tience of Lieut. Uecatuy in a blockading ship — He returns to 
America in the Essex — National °^lory and National taxes — 
Lieut. Decatur joins the second Mediterranean Squadron as 1st 
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 tiie shores of the most renowned nations 
of ancient or modern centuries. Decatur had taken 
an affectionate leave of his justly venerated father,, 
and the hig'ily refmed 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 v^'ith civilized men, had now to dismiss a 
beloved son from his arms, who was destined to con- 
tend with merciless barbarians, v/ho are totally re- 
gardless of the laws of civilized warfare. His admir- 
ing companions of both sexes, who full well knew, and 
July appreciated the goodness of his hcari, aad ^he 

60 WFE OF 

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 
the immense importance, and imminent hazard of 
this expedition. To those the least acquainted with 
history, the cruel depredations of the Barbary States 
wpon 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 1805, expeditions to the Mediter- 
ranean, have become familiar; and, by our officers 
and seamen, ratherconsidered as pastime and amuse- 
ment, than as entering into a hazardous and doubt- 
ful contest ; but let it be remembered, that until 1 801 5 
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- 
«d 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 Nile 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 omn 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 Es5ea:,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 
period, excited theBdmiration and jealousy, although 


not then ihe fear, of the gallant ocean- warriors of the 
*' fust anchored isle.^^ 

Coimnodore Dtile conducted hissquadion 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 The thunder-struck 
Tripolitans remained in harbour with all their force, 
not darirjg 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- 

But the 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, hov/ever, to obey the command of 
his then superiors. The wary and cautious mind of 
Commodoj-e 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 permit hira to act offen- 
sively, as appeared from the conduct of the gallant 
and never to be forejotten Sterreit, 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 i\\Q first bril- 
liant achievement of the American navy in the Medi- 
terranean, it will b« described, as nearly as it can be 
yccoUected, in the language of the purser, when r€- 


lating it to the writer a few years since. — *^ Lying off 
the island of MaJia, 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 approachi.Mg 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 hot- 
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 in 
all the material circumstances; by the publications of 


that period. While the reader feels indignant at the 
perfidy of the Tripolif.ans, he cannot doubt their des- 
perate courage in this bloody conflict. But the con- 
sequences to the vanquished barbarians, when they 
retiirned into port, shows the difference betueen an 
humane and generous nation, and a despotic and vin- 
dictive power. The fornier v/ould receive, even 
with applause, a defealcd commander who had brave- 
ly defended his 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, but 
against their own inhuman clan. The Bashaw of 
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. The miserable and forlorn 
commander, without even the form of a trial, with 
his wounds still bleeding, received five hundred bas* 
linadoes, 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 7iom 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, ar\d 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 prepay- 


ing for service. This first victory of StcrrcU and 
his crew prorluced an eftect upon Tripolitans, even 
greater than Hull's first victory did upon English- 

While Captain Sterrctt 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 v/ished for an opportunity to emulate his valiant 
deeds by his own achievements, 

Decatur was in the situation of one of the ancient 
heroes — '' Comp tiled to perform his duty, yd anxious 
to gratify his inclination,'^'' It is utidoubtedly a most 
fortunate circumstance for the naval glory of our 
country, that our early commanders in tho navy ex- 
ercised caution in avenging the injui-ies received 
fron\ our enemies unon the ocean. Had rashness 
marked their measures, they might indeed have 
shared with the glory of those who have gloriously 
fallen in " unequal combat ;" but this would hav6 
secured no lasting benefit to their country, in whose 
cause they had embarked, and v;hose permanent in- 
terest it was their duty to pursue. Furthermore, 
the commanders of armies and of fleets have no 
rights zaantonly to sacrifice the lives of the men, 
who have ehher vol unturily or coercivdy been plac- 
ed under their command. Men are not amnwnition 
to be expended at the pleasure of an ambilious lead- 
er, who might gain applause by sacrificing them a€ 

72 t^lTE OF 

victims to his unhallowed ambition. Commocbre 
Dale knew too well the amount of his force to ad- 
vance iiito 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 banded ; 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 disj)lay 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, which might be expected 
from the character he had previously established. 
He had made his entry upon the theatre of his future 
glory. He had received ocular demor^stration of 
the predominant sentiment of the Mahometans of 
Africa — inveterate malice against his countrymen, 
and a determination, if within their power, to extir- 
pate Americans from that sea upon which an im- 
mense poriion of their commerce was carried on. 
He had made farther advances in his favourite pro- 


Cession, and had studied the character of the fero- 
cious 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 the 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, thanalional authorities 
did not then see fit to prosecute this noble endeav- 
our to afford this mode of protection for Americac 
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 ite 
whole amount to increase the phantom of glory. 
One of the best kings, who ever filled the throne of 
the Bourbons, when urged by the most ambitious 
minister of any king, to adopt some splendid project 
to advance the glory of his roign, answered — '* I 
have no right to advance ?n?/ glori/ by distressing 
my subjects. I 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 


^4 ti'FE OF 

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

" We can inform Jo?5athan what are the inevita- 
ble consequences of being too fond of glory. Taxes 
upon every article which enters into the mouth, or 
covers the back, or is placed under the foot ; taxes 
']pon every thing which is pleasant to see, hear, feel, 
smell, or taste ; taxes upon warmth, light, or locomo- 
tion ; taxes on every thing on earth, and the waters 
under the earth — 6f every thing that comes from 
abroad, or is grown at home ; taxes on the raw mate- 
rial, taxes on every fresh value that is added to it by 
the industry of men ; taxes on the sauce which pam- 
pers man's appetite, and the drug that restores him 
to health ; on the erniine which decorates the Judge, 
and the rope which hangs the rrimfnal 5 on the poor 
man's salt, and the rich mwn's spice ; on the brass 
nails of the coffin, and the ribbr^nds of the bride ; at 
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 which has paid seven percent, into 
a spoon which has paid fifteen per cent, (lings him- 
self b?.ck upon his chintz bed, which has paid 22 
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. Jiarge fees are demanded for 


burying him in the Chancel; his virtues are 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 
fame of Decatur and Jackson ; but the tears of dis- 
tress, occasioned by excessive taxation, thank hea- 
ven and cur 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 array 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 happiness. " It was not that I 
loved Cassar less, but that I loved Rome more," was 
the exclamation of the magnanimous Brutus over the 
body of the ambitious and bleeding Cjesar. 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 bet- 
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 government had commenced the system of 

^ Edinburgh. Ma^rin*. 


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- 
quests, and causing the thunder of America to re- 
verberate in every latitude. Better understanding 
the true interest of the Republic, and the path to 
true glory, it only sought for sufficient power to de- 
fend our territory at home, and protect our commerce 
upon the ocean. To the everlasting glory of our 
rulers, they never led us into an offensive war, ei- 
ther upon land or water. Let the proud and impe- 
rious parliament of England boast of the wealth she 
€an 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 melan- 
choly fate of Hyder Ali, and the Nabob of Arcot 
be forgotten? And, can the distress of her own 
peasantry But we tarn from the horribly disgust- 
ing subject to the more exhilirating one of tracing 
the innocent progress of the American navy, and the 
steps by which Decatur reached the acme of fame 
by 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 was 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^- 
■Jiterranean. The American government had noi 


yet 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- 
inerce was so 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 
hui a hulk, at the commencement of the second war 
between the American Republic and the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain, and barely escaped con* 
llagration at Washington, when the British forces, 
who had a right, by the principles of civilized war- 
fare, to destroy her, but who chose, like the ancient 
Vandals in devastating Greece and Rome, to demo- 
lish nnd bw'n ■^♦'-me of the finest sDecimens of art. 


and the choicest productions of science and lite- 

Nothing occurred in this squadron of sufficient 
importance to render a minute detail of its opera- 
lions necessary ; indeed, it would be inconsistent 
with the design of this work. Decatur was almost 
incessantly employed in imparling naval instruction 
to the under-ufficers, and introducing that correct 
discipline amongst the seamen, which has since giv- 
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 
entered 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 between an officer and a crew, yet 
wherever Decatur was placed, such is the declara- 
iion of one of his own afficers, — " He seemed, as if 
% ^<^gi<^i ^0 hold a boundless sway over the very hearts 
rrfhis seamen at first sight, '^^ 

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

uidispensabiy necessary for the government to pur- 
sue this course, that necessity does not in the least 
diminish the difficulty it often imposes upon officers. 
It is admitted that an officer can generally enforce 
obedience to his conaimands 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 difterent 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 New-York, which was once the flag ship of the 
American squadron in the Mediterranean, that ship 
rendezvoused at the island of Malta. It is 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 then 
barbarians — where he shook a deadly and venomous 
viper from his hand unhurt — where he healed the fa- 
ther of Publius, " The chief man of the Island^'^'' and 
from whence he departed {o\ 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 \i\ profane history, \i was 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 moderia 

* Vide " Tke Acts of the Apoetles," Chap, xsvii, and xxviii, 
atid " Universal Hhtory.'* 


days, it has been the resort of many ot the " thou- 
sand armed ships" of the vaunting " Queen of the 
Ocean." In 1803, it was under the dominion of 
Great Britain ; and Sir Alexander Ball, once a fa- 
vourite oiiicer of Nelson, and aiso a patron of the 
noble Bainbridge, Porter, kc. 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 Constel- 
lation over Vhisurgente, and of Little, in the Boston 
frigate over Le Berceau, and other gallant deeds in 
the naval warfare with France. But to conquer and 
to annihilate French ileets, was by tkem, since the 
achievements of Duncan, Jervis and Nelson, consi- 
dered as mere pastime. They had forgotten, per- 
haps, that their tutelary deity upon the ocean, who 
afterwards fell at Trafalgar, declared, that " In this 
little germ of the .American Kuvy he recognized the 
future rival of Britain,'''^ Exulting in the glory of Nel- 
son, their ozon, perhaps nothing but a reflection from 
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 aroused to a high and 
manly pitch of indignation at the proud and super- 
cilious demeanour of the British officers. He could 
not patiently endure to see an officer of any naval 


power, even wink disdainfully at the sword and 
the epaulette he wore as the reward for his previous 
services. As America and Britain were then at 
peace, and as the more dignijled British officers at 
Malta were uniformly courteous to those of Ameri- 
ca, the conduct of a few vaunting Hotspurs in the 
British navy, will not be nwnutely 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 cona- 

The civil power of the island interposed its salu- 
tary authority, to stop the effiision of blood upoa 
what is caUed the " field of honour j" 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 en froni 
victory to victory, until the Genius of Victory her 
self claimed him as her favourite sor. 

3i* ' LIFE O*' 


Lieut. Decatur ordered to take command of the brig Ar^us — For- 
tunate and unfortunate ships — Ideas of seamen concerning them 
— He sails in the Argus, and joins the third Mediterranean Squad- 
ron under Com. Preble — Com. Treble and the Emperor of Mo- 
rocco — Decatur leaves the brig Argus, and takes command of 
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 of 
Jussuff, Bashavi^ of Tripoli — Sufferings of Capt. Bainbridge and 
crew — Lieut. Decatur volunteers to attempt the destruction of 
the frigate Philadelphia. 

After Lieut. Decatur returned to America 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 eventful life, that he, had never yet held 
any command in a disgraced ship* Indeed there ne- 
ver has been but one disgraced ship in the American 
fiavy. But more of this hereafter. Although seamen 
may be ranked with the most gallant and brave of 
men, I believe ihe fact will not be denied, that no class 
©f men are so much influenced by ideas o^fate and des- 
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- 
iune, and often decides their conduct in regard to 
her. If she has been partially wrecked at sea,. 


robbed by an enemy, lost many of hcv 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 naval than in the merchants'' 
service. With a high sense of honour, and proud of 
the name of an American, fhey will hardly erdist 
umJer an oJKcer who has even been iinf 01 innate — ~ 
much less if he has been degraded. This almost un- 
accountable influence has an equal control over 
their minds in regard to the ship, 

Decatur had acted as Lieutenant on board the 
United States frigate in the short naval warfare with 
France, and in the Essex in the early stages of the 
warfare with Tripoli. Although these frigates had 
not then acquired the fame which is now attached 
to their names, they had been almost constantly in 
commission siMce they were first fitted for sea, and 
had rendered services which can hardly be estimat- 
ed. The Argus, to which he was ordered as com- 
mander, bears a proud name with American seamen. 

The Argus was a fine vessel of her class, mount- 
ing eighteen guns. Although the command oi a Se- 
venty-four, or a frigate, gives to the commander a 
superior rank to him who commands a sloop of war, 
yet the duty and responsibility is no less important. 
The same system is to be pursued — the same disci- 
pline exercised, and the same obedience to be shown. 

It is believed, that at the time Decatur took the 
command of (he Argus, i\^e rank of Master-comman- 

$i LIFE or 

dantj 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 with the system of naval tactics', it would 
excite astonishment to observe the inimitable preci- 
sion with which everj^ 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 exertions 
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 duty 
which they would probably h^ve to discharge under 
another commander. Stephen Decatur, however 
much he might wish to signalize himself by personal 
achievements, had no views unconnected with the 
glory of every officer, seaman and ship, in the Ame- 
rican navy. He felt, and he acted, as if every one 

* 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 hk 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 joined, as previously 
ordered, the squadron of Com. PREBLE. 

In the very brief and imperfect notices which have 
been made of thf 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 miy emphatically be denomi- 
nated the Jirst, 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 wh© 



served under that truly great naval officer, and 

would — 

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

Preble was, like Decatur, bred a seaman. Fie 
early saw the gathering storm which hung, in low- 
ering darkness, over the wide spread, and rapidly 
spreading commrrre of America. He knew it must 
be protected, or withdrawn from the ocean, the high- 
way of nations, which, like the highways on land, is 
infested with robbers. He did not sink down in i3es- 
pair, and lameiit that the merchants of the Repub- 
lic should be sudderdy 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, 
fivinced the penetrating sagacity of our governnpent. 

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 
Mediterranear) trade. But the measures of mildness 
towards the infernal hordes upon the Barbary coast, 
only increased their b irbarous ravages and implaca- 
ble cruelty against christian merchants. More effi- 


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

The year 130 3 forms an era in the history of the 
American Navy. A small force was still in the Me- 
diterranean, ar)d the accoflrjplif^hed, energetic and 
gallant Preble was appointed to the command of a 
squadron consisting of the Constitution, 44 guns-^ 
Philadelphia, 44— Argus, 18 — Syren, 16— 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 ; hwiffteen 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 comma-nded 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 administersalutary chastisement to the Tripolitans, 
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 
ex|3ect from Americans, if his subjects continued thei^ 


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 
bim 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 commander, the 
decided Preble, anchored the noble Constitution, 
and the little Nautilus, in the bay, within half a mde 
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^ 


I'he last created but little joy. it w&s ho lime kir 
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 appointed 
by President Washington as consul at Morocco, soou after the 
organizatioQ of the American government. He scarcely saw his 
native country again to the day of his death in 1G20. He had 
erected a beautiful mansion-house upon a cornmanding eminence iii 
t-he vicinity cf Tangier, which he dignified by the name of Mount 
fVashinglon. While 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. Rabbins, 
50 long a slave to the Arab?, 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 excellent roan at 
Tangier, and of that pattern of humanity, Hon. William Will- 
sniRF,, at Mogadore, that so many wretched slaves have been re- 
stored to 'freedom and happiness. After finishing the volume, I 
suggested ti? Capt. Robbins the propriety of dedicating it to these 
gentlemen, and couched the dedication in these terms — " Gentle- 
men — permit ine to offer thiii volume to you. I have, upon the 
OCEAN, endured the distress occasioned by the elements — upon 
LAND, the miseries inflicted by man, and from you have enjoyed 
the blessings of humane benevolence, which I can repay only by 

A. ReBBiws. 


Emperor would give audience to the Commodore on 
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- 
tion for the result of the interview 5 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 amongsf 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 
Kie — 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- 
'f^iVfi and commnaicated these and m.any more particular?. 


The awe-Struck Emperor, immediately gave orders 
for the restoration of all American ships, atid 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 Barbary States to the terms ol" peace. 

Decatur, in the schooner Enterprise, had for some 
time lain 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, 
Wf s now preparing to accomplish ihe great object 
of his expedition — the complete subjugation of Tri- 

During this period, Capt. Bainbridge, h 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 day of 
October, the Philadelphia, lying about fifteen miles 
from Tripoli, Capt. Bainbridge discovered a large 
ship with Tripolitan colours, between hini 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 must have been the feelings of the gallant Bai»- 

§^ 1.IFE OF 

bridge, qt)(] his no less gallant officers and creWj 
upon the hap|.< .^'' of jfiis dreadful disaster. He 
was even in a w. .-? {>rrdi(:amcni than the heroic 
Trowbridge in the Culloden upon the ground. He 
was compelled to remain immoveable ; and, unable to 
aid, w^5 only a witness of oi^e of the splendid victo- 
ries of Nelson. Bainbridge and 'is 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 Tripoiitan 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 thre.e 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 
common misery, pledged themselves to each other, 
never to separate alive 5 but to endure one common 
bondage, or enjoy together one general emancipa- 
tion. The friends of the accomplished Biddle ofler- 
ed the sura demanded for his ransom, which he de- 
cidedly refused to accept. This noble crew wer^. 


confined in a lower which overlooked the bay of Tri- 
poli. The) bf'held iheir 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 
*' land of their Aomt," 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 gef)iuses, — '' Disj^juise thyself as thoa 
wilt — still, slavery, 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 D^'cember, 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 for some lirue 



whether to detain or release the captured vpsseL 
Upon ifivesii^ation, he foui^d that there were on 
board two very distinguished Tripolitan officers, 
and that the commander of her, in the dastard- 
ly manner, had attacked the Philadelphia frigate 
when driven on a rock. He ferther 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 known 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- 
er. His great spirit scorned to make war upon 
weakness, or triumph over a fallen foe. He indig- 
nantly disposed of the crew — forwarded the papers 
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- 
ferred from attempting to accomplish the great ob- 


ject of his government in sending him to the Medi- 
terranean. Fortunately 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, tb' unbonnded prospect lies before me. 
But shadows, clouds, and darkness ^it upon it." 

The second enabled him, when entered into the 
dreadful brunt of devastating vvarfaie, to brave 
death in its most app^illing and horrid fortns. In 
Lieut. Decatur, he recognized a chivalrous warrior, 
who, amidst a host of dangers and the strides oY 
death, thoughtless of himself than he did of his 
country and his cr/'W. Fortunately was it, we may 
again say, that there was such a man as Prfble, 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 hi^ Isfe, his 
courage rather n^^eded restraint than excitement. 
Preble, as commander of the little squadron in the 
Mediterranean, was in some measure situated as 
Jackson was, when commanding his little army at 
New 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 he incnU' 
Hously exposed."^^ The gallant Commotlore might 
have said : — *' As the glory of my country, the safe- 

96 LIFE 0F 

ty of her merchants, and the redemption of my coun- 
trymen from slavery, depend upon my small force, it 
mu>t 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 oft' the island of Malta, 
and sometimes carried his squadron into the bay of 
Naples. No portion of this globe could atford the 
ardent hero and the clussical scholar a more sub- 
lime subject for contemplation. Except some sec- 
tions of ihp immense American Republic, no part of 
our world seems to have been created upon a scale 
so wonderfully gratid. It is calculated to itispire the 
most exalted views of the boundless greatness and 
incomprehensible wisdom of creative power. Our 
countrymen were here almost in view of E/rj« and 
Vesuvius^ which have for ag s spread desolation 
over the cities at th? ir bases. The gulf of Chary bdis, 
the place where Euphtmia owe was, and where the 
hideous desolation of earthquakes are yet visible, 
through C«/a6ria, were wiihifi a few hours' sail. In 
addition to this, it has been the theatre of the most 
im[)oriani events reccH'ded in ancient or modern his- 
tory. The mind of the historian, the scholar, the 
poet and the warrior, seejus to be irresistibly hurried 
back to the days of antiquity, and traces the events 
and the works wliich have so astonishingly develop- 
ed the moral, physical and intellectual faculties of 
man. Commodore Preble had in his squadron many 
scholars of the first water, as they were all heroes of 


the first stamp. The region in which they moved, 
and the object they had to accomplish, were both 
calculated 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- 
collect its former grandeur and importance ; but the 
writer has enjoyed the infinite satisfaction 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 resided in the city of Syra- 
cuse. This island was once the region of fertility ; 
and while the Roman legions were striding from con- 
quest to conquest, over what v^^as 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 feheircity to a pitch of grandeur^ 
second only to that of Rome. It can hardly be believ- 
ed in the nineteenih century, that this single city, ih 
ancient days, funiished f>ne hur^dred thousand foot 
soldiers, and ten thousand horsemen ; but swch was 
the fact. And when it is mentioned that her navy 
amounted to lour 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, 



and was herself conquered by the refineaients of 
Graece. It was easy for the clans 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 effeminacy. The 
Saxons, from v/hom Englihhmen and Americans 
principally derive their origin, led the van of that 
myriad who precipitated themselves upon the an- 
cient nations of Europe, and established those which 
now so completely eclipse their former splendour. 
The Gaals, Franks, and other clans, followed in their 
train, and European nations are now what the Ro- 
mans, Grecians, Carthaginians, 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 officers, frequently wentoii 
shore, and explored this city of ancient wealth, re- 
finement and grandeur. In point of extent^ the resi- 
dence of the Lieutenant, when in America, (although 
Philadelphia is the largest city in our Republic,) it 
would bear but a feeble comparison with Syracuse. 
It is twenty-two miles in circumference ; although 
its 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 ih(.)y were when the fiat of creative power brought 
the universe 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 them to excite their respect — much less 
their admiration. 

But Decatur was not ordered by his governmen-t 
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 retur» 
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 bordering upon 
another portion of the Mediterranean, whoneverhadi 
any more pretensiotis 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^ 
that the Svracnsans, who wore nmon.s:st the most n*^- 

iOO tirE OF 

fele of the ancients, are amongst the most degraded 
©f 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 up©n each 
other; and, like Macbeth, havifig long waded in 
blood, may as well advance as to recede ; and, as if 
blood was their aliment, they make a business of gs- 
sassination. Armed with concealed daggers, stilet- 
toes and knives, our unsuspecting officers and sea- 
men were assailed when the earth was shrouded in 
darkness, and sometimes escaped witii their lives by 
patting their assailants to death. Lieut. Decatur, 
with his favourite associate, Midshipman Macdo- 
nough, having occasion to be ashore until evening, 
the latter was assailed by three of these armed as- 
sassins. He placed himself against the wall of aa 
ancient ruin, and defended himself with his cutlass. 
He severely wounded two of the assailants, the third 
iled ; 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 instantarieous death. 
This is no place for grave and prolix reflections — 
ihf.y 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 
kovv those portions of the world, where the arts and 
sciences not only once fiourished, but may be sai4 


airaost 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 j 
bordering upon the renowned Mediterranean sea, 
are now inhabited by races of men far less magnani- 
mous, and little less ferocious, than the aborigines 
who roam through the boundless wildernesses of 
America, where science never diffused its lights, and 
where civilization never imparted its refined bless- 

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 
shcrlly 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 were reduced by their slavery under Jussuff^ at 
that time, reigning Bashaw of Tripoli. 

It will not, 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, 
wl^ile 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 III. once was to the reigning family 

of England. He was a remote heir to the throne of 

the Bashaw, filled by his father. The certain pro» 

gress of the king of terrors, or the sanguinary hand 

9^. ^ % 

102 LIFE Oi 

of some other assassin, might have placed him uporj 
the throne, accorcling to the laws of succession, (if 
they have any in Tripoli,) without ascqjiding it v.itb 
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, ap- 
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 
:t by violating the lavv^ 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 visitijigs" 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 ajid bloody soul. He 
" grinned horribly a ghastly smile" at the fate of his 
innocent and exiled brother, and gnashed his teeth 
at the gallant Bainbridge, his noble crew, and the 
rest of American prisoners then in his dungeons. 
It 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 tidtigation of tlie indescribably 
wretched bondage to v/hich his beloved country- 
men were reduced. As well njight the lamb bleat 
for mercy in the paw of a tiger, or the child attempt 
to demolish the Bashaw's castle with his wind-gun* 
Mr. Lear was compelled to be an agonized specta- 


tor of ihe accumulated 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 previously 
been enslaved. The powerful arms of Bain bridge 
and his crew, which, at liberty, would have scatter- 
ed death amongst a host of Turks, were pinioned and 
lashed together, and driven to the shore ; and, in 
taunting derision, commanded to cast their swim- 
ming eyes upon their shipmates, then wafting in the 
bay of Tripoli ; and to heave forth the sighs of 
hearts, already bursting, for the land of their homes. 
But [ mubt retract, — not a tear was dropped ; not a 
sigh was heaved ; for revenge had closed the flood- 
gates of grief, and American hearts, beating in bo- 
soms truly American, panted for nothing but ven- 
geance upon their demoniacal oppressors. 

The Bashaw, who might well be compared to the 
toad which wished to swell itself to the size of the 
ox, reposed in fn^cied security. He cast a malig- 
nant glance at the little squadron in which Decatur 
was one of the distinguished leaders. He saw in the 
bay spreading before his city, his batteries, and his 
castles, anobleAmerioHQ frigate, (the Philadelphi;^,) 
and the pride of the American navy~~upon which 
the " star-spangled banner" once triumphantly uav- 
ed, now added to his naval force ; manned by a dou- 
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. 

204 LIFE &F 

in anticipation, feasted his cannibal appetite upoir 
all the victims which the American squadron could 
add to his list of Christian slaves. 

Decatur's fearless 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 were 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 ahnost a<ior- 
ed comma'ider, knew full well that the means in his 
hands must be directed with the utmost caution to 
accomplish the end he had in view. With no less 
ardour than Decatur, he had a far greater responsi- 
bility as commander in chief of the little American 
squadron. He could not endure the thought, that 
his favourite officer should fall a victim to his des- 
perate courage; and the gallant Lieutenant was. for 
a time, restrained from attempting the desperate and 
romantic eritcrprise. 

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


stances so well calculated to inspire the soul of an 
ardent arid chivalrous hero, like Decatur, as the si- 
tuation of the Philadelphia frigate and her gallant 
crew. She was built in the ciiy where he had spent 
the days of his boy- hood — where he obtained the ru- 
diments of a polite education, and the theoretical 
principles of naval tactics. In addition to this, his 
beloved and gallant father was her first commander. 
Further — his companions (hor crew) with whom, 
for previous years, he had served in our infant Na- 
vy, were held in '• durance vile" by the vijpst of 
wretches who bear the form ot 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 was first in his heart — • 
first in his arm, and first in the hour of appalh'ng 
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^ above all, the love 


* Vide Professor Tytler's Lectures, on the elements of Genfriv 
History, Ancieat a.n'X Modern . 

i06 LIFE OF 

To recapture the Philadelphia, was absolutely im- 
practicable, as the writer has been assured by some 
of the accomplished officers of Commodore Preble'6 
squadron. She was moored under the guns of the 
Bashaw's castle and his extensive and pow< rful bat- 
teries ; and was herself completely prepared tojoia 
them in repelling any assailant that should approach 
her. 7'here wire these alternatives — She must ei- 
ther be ihsiroycd, constantly hlockadtd, or suffered to 
escape and commit depredations upon the commerce, 
and outragv^ npori 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 destroy 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 imminent hazard ot" the enterprise 
was pointed out in such a manner as was calculated 
to allay the ardour of the most romantic 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, 

'* He wrung; from him bis slow leave," — 

jund immediately commenced his preparations for the 
awftil iindrrtaking. The ardour of the Lic-utenam 


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 the •• Age of Chivalry;" ynd'to hav« 
adopted the ancient axiom, '' the greater the danger 
the greater the glory." But let it be rememhered 
that Decatur sought for glory, only by the discharge 
©f duty. 

Uniting the mos4 consummate sagacity,'with the 
most daring courage, he selected the little Krtch In- 
irepid, which as previously mentioned be iind him- 
self captured, in full view of the bay where thp Phi- 
ladelphia was moored. He was aware that if the 
expedition should prove successful, it would render 
the mortitication of the insolent Bashaw doubly se- 
vere, to see a little vessel which lately belonged 
to his own m;u"ine force, boldly advance under the 
guns of his battery and castle, and destroy the largest 
ship that belonged to his n:ivy. A ship too which 
he neither built nor honourably captured, but which 
became his by the irresistible laws of the elements. 

No sooner was it known that this expedition was 
to be undertaken, than the crew of Lieut. D.xatur 
volunteered their services — ever re^dy to follow 
their beloved comma r.der to victory or to death. 
Other seamen followiKl their example. Nor was 
this the most conclusive evidence of the unbounded 
confidence placed in his bkill and courage. Lieut, 
tur : and for the ex?.editien took the Brig Syren, and 

Charles Stewart, alse volunteered under Deca- 

108 UPE OF 

a few boats ; and, to show still farther the high es« 
timation in which he was holden — Lieut. James 
Lawrence, and Charles Morris, and Thomas 
Macponouoh (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. JVbw their names are all identified with tke 
naval glory of the American Republic. 



Improper estimate of battles — Lieutenaut Decatur sails for Tripo- 
li in the Ketch Intrepid — Baffled by adverse winds — Diminution 
of provisions — Reaches the harbour of Tripoli 16th Feb. 1804 — 
Loses the assistance of the Syren and the boats — Enters the har- 
bour with the Ketch Intrepid — Boards the Philadelphia, follow- 
ed by Morris, Lawrence, Macdonough and the crew — Compels 
the Turks to surrender — Sets the Philadelphia frigate on fire, 
and secures his retreat — Gen. Eaton and Caramalli — Consterna- 
tion of Bashaw — Joy of American prisoners — Small force of Com* 
modore Preble. 

The readers of history are extremely prone to 
attach importance lo battles upon land or upon sea 
in proportion to the numbers engaged in them, and 
to bestow a greater or less degree of applause upon 
the victors on the same principle. Nothing can be 
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 diflferent 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 and 

i 10 LIFE Oh 

the brig Syren were made up, the utmost dispatcii 
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 j 
but for fifteen days, they encountered the most bois- 
terous and tempestuous weather, Instead of en- 
countering a barbarous enemy, they were buffeting 
ihe waves and struggling for life with a tumultuous 
vjid 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 
.he lips of the humblest seaman, it may well be ima- 
gined what must be their reflections, when liable 
' -very hour to be swallowed up by the waves ; and, 
if they escaped them, to be famished with hunger I 
Men of the stoutest hearts, who would undauntedly 
rush to the oannon's mouth, becomti even children 
at the prospect of famine. 

At length, upon the. memorable 16th of February, 
•1304, a litde 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. Lord 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 Mokument 
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 veto 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 thq 
Intrepid, leaving Decatur, \vith only seventy volun- 
teers in this small Ketch. The moment of decision 
had come. His provisions were nearly expended, 
and the expedition must i^ave been relinquished for 

*'Tothe common reader, the cEclamation of Nelson may not 
be altog:ethcr intelligible. It Hrp, for some reuturies, been custo- 
mary in England to entomb the bodies of Heroe^, Statesmen, Poet?, 
&c. in '■'■ Westminsier Abbey ^"^"^ as o?ir- of the higliest honours that 
can be bestowed upon the ^' illustrious dead," and to erect a mo- 
nument or statue near them. The great Doct. Johnson, ia the 
agonies of deatlr, was consoled, when told that his body would be 
there deposited. The reader will find an elegant description of 
this accieut Cem.etery in Professor Silliman's Jonrnal. 


ihat season, unless the object of it was 7iow accom- 
plisheci. 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 wodd follow. Having 
a Maltese pilot on board the Ketch, he ordered him 
to answer the hail from the frigate in the Tripolitan 
tongue ; and, if ihey were ordered t^: come to an 
anchor, to answer, that they had lost cheir anchors 
ypon 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 o^t to them the glo- 
ry of the achievement, winch vould redound to 
themselves, and the lasting benefit it would secure 
to their country— that it would hasten the redemp- 
tion of their brother seamen from 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 im.mediately 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 of 
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 broadside^ of twenty- six guns point- 


ed directly into the harbour, and were all mounted 
and loaded with double-headed shot. Two of the 
Tripolitan's largest corsairs were anchored within 
two cables' length of her starboard quarter, while a 
great number of heavy gun-boats were stationed 
about the sami? 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 the 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, 
aiere was no escape. It was a ^^ forlorn hope'^^ — 
It was victory, slavery, or death — death perhaps by 
".iie hands of the Turks — -perhaps by the explosion 
if the Intrepid. 

As soon as darkness had concealed the Ketch 
iVom the view of ihe Tripolitans, Decatur bore slow» 
y into the harbour, and approached the numerous 
magazines of death which were prepared to repel 
or destroy any assailant that should approach. The 
light breeze he had when he entered the harbour, 
'lied away, and a dead calm succeeded. At 1 1 
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- 

*' A ftarfui silence now invades tiie ear. 
And in that silence bXI^b! tempest fear," 
10 * 

»14 LIFE Oi 

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 toas welL'^^ 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 tune began to imagine that " all was 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 of the little crew of the Intrepid. 
A scene followed which beggars description. The 
f;onsternation 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 
is 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. It was 


impossible to ascertain the number slain ; but it was 
estimated from twenty to thirty. As soon as any 
Turk was wounded, he inimediately jumped over- 
board, choosing a voluntary death, rather than the 
disgrace of losing blood by the hand of a " Chris- 
tinn dog,^'' as the Mahometans universally 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 
©f 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 tow her out of the harbour, for 
he had not sufficient strength. The Bashaw's troops 
commenced a tremendous fire from their batteries 
and the castle, upon the frigate. The gun-boatB 
were arranged in the harbour ; and the two corsairig 
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 that that was the only place where they could 
defend themselves. Finding it totally impossible t© 
withstand, for any length of time, such a tremen- 
dous 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 [ntre- 
pid, which still lay along side of her. It was a mo- 
ment, pregnant with the most mufulj or the most 

lie LIFE OF 

/^cf;)/?3/ consequences to these gallant heroes. After 
the conflagration commenced, Decatur and his asso- 
ciates entered the Ketch, as it increased, and for 
some time were in imminent danger 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 favoux'able breeze at this moment 
arose, which blew the Intrepid directly out of the 
reach of the enemy's cannon, and enabled Decaturj 
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 Lad load- 
ed them to destroy our countrymen. 

It is wholly impossible for those unaccustomed to 
ocenes like this, to form a conception of the feelings 
of Decatur and his comrades upon this occasion. 
Their safe retrea^ was next to a resurrection from 
the dead. Not an American was slain in the despe- 
rate 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 twice a cenqucror, 
For thou bringest home full 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 saw 
the gleaming light of the iiames ; 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 jabilee. 

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 suc- 
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 kst, so far as 
they can, seem to demand it. Senior offic*:rs, not 
having had an opportwiity to signalize themselves, 
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 very 
high estimation in which Decatur, thus early in life, 
was holden by his brother officers, who were his se- 
niors, is, that they voluntarily consented, that he 

118 LIFE or 

should be promoted over them; thus furnishing 
^^ confirmation, 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 spring of 
1804, 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 heginning of a life of glory. 

The unvarying modesty of all our naval cham- 
pions has become proverbial, it is not that afl'ected 
modesty which made Caesar for a time decline a 
crown, and then accept 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 correspondent 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 
commuyiications , as far as my ozcn observation has ex- 
tended, Capt, *********** is a 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 coU' 
nected with such of his own actions as reflect lusire on 


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

Com. Preble, fully sensible of the deficiency of 
his squadron in vessels of a smaller class, negotiat- 
ed with the king of Naples for the loan of two bom- 
bards, and six gun-boats. Nelson, when command- 
ing immense squadrons of ships of the line, declar- 
ed that " Frigates were 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 
Agincourt, " 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 
youl converted his little squadron into a powerful 
lleet, and surrounded by such officers as Decatur, 
Somers, Stewart, Lawrence, Morris, Macdonough, 
Trippe, and others then less known, and perhaps 
equally gallant, his comrades were magnified into a 
mighty host. 

While Com. Preble was thus preparing to nego- 
tiate with the tyrannous and murderous Jussuff at 
the mouth of his cannon, and to send his ultimatum 
in powder and ball, Mr. William Eaton, who had 
previously been a consul from America up the Me- 
diterranean, conceived the daring and romantic pro- 

120 LIFE OP 

ject of restoring Harriet Caramalli to the throne of 
Tripoli, which had been usurped by the reigning 
Bashaw. Hamet had relinquished al! 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 extended 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 
Ishmaelitish 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 trerrible beneath them, and 
which they maintain only by the strong arm of pow- 

Some few Americans, from the American squadron, 
jomed Eaton, and many natives of various tribes, 
languages and colours, flocked to his standard. A 
motley sort of an army was thus formed, and Eaton 
placed himself at their head as a General. He re- 
paired to Alexandria, and found the feeble Caramal- 
li, as just mentioned, " reposing in security andpeace^ 
Fortunate indeed had it been for him, if he had re- 
mained in safety by continuing in obscurity. Few 


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 . tora- 
tion. The houses oi Stuart, Bourbon and Braganza 
furnish the commentary. The expiring hop^s of 
Cararaalli, were brightened up by the ar^^ent 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 captiva^ting, that the enthusiastic 
mind of the chivalrous Eaton was lost to every other 

The grateful Caramalli, i[ an Ishmaelito can be 
grateful, took leave of his Egyptian friends, and 
placed himself under the banner of Eaton. He en- 
tered into a convention with the General, by which 
he 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 partfts, although the American and Tri- 
politan governments had no hand in thi^ negoUahon. 

Caramalli, his General, and a great assemblage 


122 LIFE OF 

of incongruous materials, called an army, moved 
across the deserts ; and 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 Derne, which they trium- 
phantly 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 
pared 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 casde, 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-bfeats, 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 firm, 

Whom dangers fortify, and toils inspire, 
Whr.t has a leader not to hope ?" 

124 LIFE 03 


u^iut.^j. . IJecaiur promoted to the raiik of Captain — Prepara- 
tions ior a general attack upon Tripoli — Capt. Decatur takes 
command of a division of Gun-boats — })isparity offeree between 
his and the enemy's — He grapples and captures a Tripolitan 
boat — Is bearing for the squadron with his prize — Hears of the 
treacherous murder of his brother, Lieut. James Decatur — Re- 
luriis to the engagement, and followed by Midshipman Macdo- 
ijougli and nine seamen, boards tlie 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 
fjlun-boats — Effects of the attack upon the Bashaw and Tripoli- 

Capt. Decatur, at this time, (August 1804,) was 
placed in the Jirst grade of officers in the American 
Navy; and, to remind him of the gallant achieve- 
ment for which he was there placed, his commission 
bore date the memorable 16th day of February, 1804. 
He 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 high 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- 


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

There being but one frigate in 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 Jussuff 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 Slediterranean, under 
Commodores Dale and Morris, had gone but little be- 
yond 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 Commodore Preble's squadron. 
and in the mean time, he w&s preparing to make 
*' demonstrations-' upon Tripolirather more impres- 
sive than those made by ten times his force upon 
fort Mc^Henri/, fort Bowyer. and fort St. P/dllip, by 
immense British squadrons, in the war of 1812, in 

After having been bailied for a long time by ad- 
verse winds, he reached the harbour of Tripoli, in 
the last week of Jujy. The Bashaw affected to di*s- 
U * 

126 LIFE OF 

guise the real apprehensions he felt, by exclaiming 
to his courtiers — " The^/ will mark their distance for 
tacking — the}/ are a sort of Jews who have no notion 
of fighting, "^"^ 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 
Preble 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 
desperate courage, the reader will indulge the wri- 
ter 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 first Lieut. Robinson, of 
the Constitution. The Gun-boats were thus arrang- 
ed, mounting each a brass twenty-six pounder. 


^oat Ivo. IV. (Japt. Decatur, 
No. V. liieut. Bainbridge, 
JSo. VI, Lieut. Tnppe. 


JSo, 1. Lieut. Somers, 
No. 11. Lieut. J. Decatur, 
No. HI. Ljeiit, Blake. 


The Constitution, the Brigs, and the Schooners, 
Ivere to be situated to cover them 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.) 
J.0 repulse them. Preble had not the most distant 
wish to enter 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, fdiowed 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-boats, each 
of superior force U> those commanded by Capt. De 


catur and Lieut. Somers ; as they mounted each (?; 
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 

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

American. 1 Tripolitan. 

Gua-boats 6, Guns 6. j Gun-boats, 19 

. . ,.^ i Officers ; I Guns, r>7 

AmeriG3ns, Ib^ f and >240 Officers and Seamen, 760 

Neapohtaas,7C^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. Cor^i. Preble had so placed his 
squadron as to aUbrd every possible aid to his two 
Bombards and his six Gun-boats ; but his ulterior 
object was to pour his heaviest shot into the bat- 
teries, the castle, and (he 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 


5]jectators, 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 imn^diately 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 before 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. 
Decatur's ; but his and Lieut. Blake's boats had 
fallen so far to leeward, that it was impossible. 
Lieut. James Decatu?^ 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, espontoons, 
rpears, 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 American Gun-boats were 
brought with^p range of the Bashaw's batteries^ 
which opened a tremendous 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. One of Nelson's officers 
observed it, and reminded the Admiral of the cir- 
cumstance. He immediately raised his glass to his 
stone-blind eye — declared he " could not see z/" — 
and, at the 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 achieyement to be performed without an equal 
—a display of affection surpassing the tales of ro- 
mance — and the sudden execution of vengeance 


upon transgression, remained for Capt. Decatur, be- 
fore he left the blood-stained harbour of Tripoli. 
{ His gallant brother, Lieut. James Decatur, no less 
daring than himself, had captured a Tripolitan Gun- 
boat ; and, after it was surrendered to him, its com- 
mander, with diabolical perfidiousness, combined 
with dastardly ferocity, shot him dead, just as he was 
stepping upon the deck! While the Americans were 
recovering the body of their slain commander, the 
Turk escaped with the prize-boat. As Capt. Deca- 
tur was bearing his prize triumphantly out of the 
harbour, this heart-rending catastrophe was commu- 
nicated to him. 

Instinctive vengeance, sudden as the electric 
shocl^, took possession of his naturally humane and 
philanthropic soul. It was no fime for pathetic la- 
mentation. The mandate of nature, and of nature's 
God, cried aloud in his ear — " Avenge a brother's 
BLOOD." With a celerity almost supernatural, he 
changed his course—rushed within the enemy's 
whole line with his single boat, with jhe gallant Mac- 
donough and nine men only as his crew ! ! His pre- 
vious desperate rencontres, scarcely paralleled, and 
never surpassed in any age or country, seem like 
safety itself, wheft compared with what immediately 
followed. Like an ancient knight, in the days of 
chivalry, he scorned, on an occasion like this, to 
tarnish his sv/ord with the blood of vassals. His 
first object was to board the boat that contained the 
base and treacherous commander, whose hands still 
smoked with the blood of his murdered brother. 

132 LIFE Oi 

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 thrusting end. Jn attempting 
to cut off the 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 
wounded Decatur in his sword arm and right breast. 
He suddenly wrested the weapon from the hand of 
his gigantic antagonist ; and as one " doubly arni'd^ 
who hath his quarrel just ^'^'^ he closed with him ; and, 
altera long, fierce, and doubtful struggle, prostrated 
hirn upon the deck. During this struggle, one of 
Decatur's crew, who had lost the use of both arms, 
by severe wounds, beheld a Turk, witii an immense 
sabre, aiming a fatal blow at his adore.:! commander. 
He immediately threw his mut'lated body between 
the falling sabre and his Captain's head — received 
a severe fracture in his own, and saved for his coun- 
try 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 dagger from its sheath, which Decatur 
seized at the moment it was entering his heart- 
drew I'is own pistol from his pocket, and instantly 
sent his furious foe— 


" To Wis loiig accouiit, nnanohiteJ, iinanueaPd, , 

With all his sins and iinperfections on his head." 

Thus ended a conflict, feebly described, but dread- 
ful in the exiremeo 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 Goigoiha for the dead, and a 
bloody arena for the wounded and dying, Capt, 
Decatur bore his second prize out of the harbour, 
as he had the first, amidst a shower of ill directed 
shot from the astonished and bewildered enemy ; 
and conducted thcni both to the squadron. On board 
:he two prizes, there were thirty'tkree ofHcers and 
vaQn killed, more than double the number of Ameri- 
cans under Decatur, at any one time in close en- 
gagement. Tioenty-scvcn were made prisoners, nine- 
/jf?zof whom were desperately wounded — the whole 
a miserable off-set for the blood of Lieut. Decatur, 
treacherously slain. The blood of all Tripoli could 
not atone for ii^ 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. Somers, as he could not join Decatur as or- 
dered, with his slmj^le boat No. f. attacked Jive ful! 
armed and full manned Tripolilan Gun-boats — com- 
mitted dreadful slaughter amongst them, and drove 
■licm upon the rocks in a condition dreadfully >h^.t^ 

134 LIFE O.^ 

tered. Lieut. Trippe, whose name will for ever be 
associated with courage, as well as that of Midship- 
man Henley, with only nine men beside themselves, 
rushed on board an enemy's Gun- boat — slew four^ 
hen, and made twenty-two prisoners, seven of whom 
were 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 aad fearless Com. Preble, in the noble Consti- 
tution, keeping his ship in easy motion, was found 
wherever the greatest danger threatened; and, by 
frequently \vearing and tacking, gave perpetual an- 
noyance to the enemy, and atTorded to the smaller 
vessels of his squadron, constant protection. 

The enemy, driven to desperation, by the loss of 
their boats, and by the numerous hosts of their com- 
rades slain upon land, as well as those who fell un- 
der their immediate view, attempted to rally, and 
regain what they had lost. They were suddenly 
ioiled by the Brigs and Schooners, who acted a no 
less gallant p'art 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 Mcdi- 
Urranean could withstand an >^merican squadron^ 


they sought ^ covert uader rocksj a natural, and un- 
der battprios and castles, artificial 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 upo« the consequences of the third \hi\. 
which Decatur bad 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 
v:ounded, my comrades, but not one is slain, but my 
brother." He might have said, — " If you have tears 
to shed, shed them now*^' Well might the tears of 
grief be mingled with the smiles of triumph upon 
this saddening intelligence. " Death loves a shin- 
ing mark'''' — and when James Decatur fell, the 
American Navy lost a brilliant ornament — Com. 
Preble a favourite officer — Capt. Decatur a brother 
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. 

^36 LIFE OF 

As represented by an officer of the Constitution; 
when Captain Decatur, Lieut. Trippe, Macdonough, 
Henley and most of tiie 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 
\vho would never be stained with dishonour. 

The injury sustained by the squadron sinks into 
nothing, when the danger it was exposed to is con- 
•^idercd. This was owing to the consummate nauti- 
cal skill and coolness of our officers and seamen, 
ind to the stupid, sullen ignorance and consterna- 
.ion of the enemy. To them the 3d of August was 
-i day of dreadful retribution. A furious tornado 
not more suddenly drives the feathered race to their 
•overts, than did the first discharges from our squad- 
iOn, the frenzied Turks, who came to witness its dis- 
'"omflture. From the representation of m\ intelli- 
gent oilicer, once of the Philadelphia, then a pri- 
soner to the Bashaw, it is learned, that every one in 
he city lied, who could flee. Even the troops in the 
batteries and castle dared not mount the parapet to 
discharge the cannon. The affrighted Bashaw, with 
n Mahometan priest, concealed himself in his bomb- 
proof room ; and undoubtedly responded to the roar 
o^ Christian cannon by pitiful orisons to the Prophet 
\f Mecca. It was as fruitless as the prayers of the 
Philistines to Dagon or Ashded. His slaves, who 
had no covert, buried themselves in sand to escape 
the burstins; bombs. Althou2;h it was a scene o^ 


blood and carnage, there is enough of U'le tudiorous 
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, ^re the most mean, pusillanimous, and contempti- 
ble, when convinced of their weakness. 

I will here present the read-er 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 Americans, or 
Infernals in Christian 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 merchants ; and that by taking, 
their ships and men, we should get great ransoiiis, 
— Iristead 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, 
icrce and cruel as the tyger, who killed our bro- 
ilers and burnt our ships before our eyes"^." 

By this first attack, the city of Tripoli suftered 
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 
»y Capt. Decatur, and the one by Lieut, Trippe, 

■ American Biographical Dictioaarj, 
12 * 

138 LirE OF 

there were, originally, one hundred and twenty 
men. Forly-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'.-3 
vessels, within the range of American cannon, was 
swept 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 Dec-atur treated his 
wounded {)risoners with the greatest humanity. 
Their wounds were dressed with the, utmost care j 
and, upon the 5th, he persuaded Commodore Preble 
to send fourteen of them home to their friends. In 
a generous bosom, although an enemy, such an act 
ivould have excited inexpressible admiration ; and 

Stephen decatur. 13'^ 

Eikhough a species of revenge calculated to '* heap 
coals ofjire upon the head^'' 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 subtilty 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 are fiercer 
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 v/ere 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 Bashav/ 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 
OiTer. He rather preferred to have Consul Lear 

140 LITE dF 

negotiate upon land ; and he felt confident of his 
powers to negotiate with 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 
and noble in victory. 



:ipL. DecaUu' receives high commendations from Com. Prebie— • 
Girief at the death of Lieut. J. Decatur — Notice ofhim — Propo • 
.-•ab of the Commodore to the Bashav,r — Renewal of the attack 
upon Tripoli — Capt. Somers, Lieuts. Wadsworth and Israel en- 
ter hito the squadron of the enemy's boats^ wiih the Ketch Intre- 
pid as a fire-ship — She explodes 1 — Awful effects of the explosion 
— ilefiection — Notice cf Lieut. Wadsv/orth — Com. Preble su- 
perseded by Com. Barron — Brief notice of Edward Preble. 

Capt. Decalur, having thus far taken such a dis- 
Tinguihihed and leading part in al! the gallant achieve- 
ments in the naval warfare of America against Tri- 
poli, it became indispensably necessary to be some- 
what minute in describing ihem^ 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 
q^cm//?/ announced to the whole squadron in a '' gene- 
ral order" upon the 4th. The Commodore knew well 
v«^here 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 
^\\i of the question, as Decatur, although but twen- 

142 LIFE Oi' 

ty-fjve years of age, had reached the highest grade 
in the American Suvy. 

Amidst the congratulations in the scjuadron for the 
successful issue of the first attack upon Tripoli, ff" 
silent gloom irresistibly pervaded the hearts of the 
officers and seamen. It was not caused bv 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 iioating 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 })ungcnt 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 3d 
of Augus't, evinced the high estim.ation 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 fell, have already been mentioned. His memo- 
ry is embahiied with those of Soaiers, Wadsworth, 
and Israel, v;ho 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 7i.h, another attack was re- 
solved upon, and the squadron arranged in order to 
execute it. The effect desired was produced. A 
heavy battery was silonced — many bomb-shells and 
round shot were thrown into the town — -and although 

he damage to the enemy was not so essential as the 
attack of the 3d, it increased the dismay of the Ba- 
shaw. — Amongst the Gun-boats engaged in this se- 
cond attack, was one taken from the enemy by De- 

jatur. She was 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 afterwards, Commodore Preble took a 
deliberate view of the harbour in one of the Brigs, 
in order to determine the best mode of commencing 
a third attack. He gave " no sleep to the eyes nor 
slumber to the eyelids" of the sullen and^ncorrigi- 
ble wretch who wielded the sceptre of blood-begot- 

144 LIFE OF 

ten power over bis subjects, the wretcheci and de- 
graded race of beings, who were dragging out a 
miserable existence in Tripoli. The hopes of the 
American prisoners increased, as those of the Ba- 
shaw and his troops diminished. The terms for 
ransom v^ere lowered more than two- thirds ; but 
Preble and Decatur had become stern negotiators, 
and Mr. Lear chose to let them continue their diplo- 
ma tic 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 barbarian; 
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 Bashaw, 
induced Com. Prebic to offer the sum of eighty 
thGiisand dollars as a ransom for the prisoners, and 
ten thousand dollars as presents, provided he would 
enter into a solemn and perpetual treaty with the 
American government never to demand an annual 
tribute as the price of peace. 

The infatuated and infuriated Bashaw rejected 
these proposals with affected disdain, mingled with 
real fear. Com. Preble had nothing now to do 
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 the Ex-Bashaw Caramalli ; and with zchom he 
had made a treaty. This unfortunate prince, with 


his gallant general, and his rabble army could no 
sooner have entered the city of Tripoli by land, 
guarded by more than 20,000 well armed Arabs, 
than one of the reigning Bashaw's gallies could have 
sunk the frigate Cor)stitution.*' He. thprefore, left 
it wholly with the American consul toarrange afTnirs 
with the august court of Tripoli, while he was de- 
termined to " manage iiis own affiiirs in his own 
way," with his S(jnadron in the harbour, 

Capt. Decatur, the next in command to Com. 
Preble, his confidential adviser, and the idol of eve- 
ry American in the squadron, stimulated the whole 
to the exertioji of their utmost energy., To repel 
the idea that the pacific offer of the Commodore 
arose from apprehensions of defeat, the bombards 
occasionally disgorged their destructive contents 
into the city ; when upon the 27ih Aug. another ge- 
neral attack was made with such effect as to i^iduce 
the Bashaw to renew negotiations for peace, but no- 
thing definitive was eflected. Upon the 3d Septem- 
ber, another ■^^\.iack was made, to the very great inju- 
ry of the Bashaw's batteries, castle and city. 

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

* See Chap VIII. However much the reader may aJmire the 
almost anparallclf'd exertions oC Eaton in the causeof Corcwif///?:, and 
reg^ret the misfortunes of both, still the cool and reflecting- states- 
man could never give his sanation to a project so extremely diffi- 
cult of accomplishment, with means so wholly incompetent. Ea- 
tou will never be forgotten ; but he will be remembered as a vic- 
tim to hia owu 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 be converted into d^ fire-ship, and sent into the 
midst of the enemy's gallies and gun-boats to com- 
plrte their destruction. To this the Commodore 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. Decatur 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. 

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. 
The evening was unusually calm, and the sea scarce- 
ly presented the smallest wave to the eye. That 
part of the squadron which was not designated as a 
convoy lo the Intrepid, lay in the outer harbour. 
Two swift sailing boats were attached to the Intre- 
pid, and the Argus, Vixen 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 litde 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 
and Israel, 

" One hour of virtuous liberty v/as worth 
A whole eterniiy of bondage,''^ — 

and instant death, far preferable to Turkish captivi- 
ty. It is still left to 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 barbarians, met with one common and undistin- 
guished destruction. 

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


eaptured, mutually agreed to make voluntary sacr?- 
fices of themselves, to avoid slavery and to destroy 
the enemy. In support of this, the v/ritor is authorise 
ed to state, that Capt. Somers, directly before enter- 
ing into this enterprise, declared that " Ae zoould 
never be captured by the enemy ^ or go into Turkish 

It is 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 exp/losion. 
Every living Christian and Mahometan, within view 
or hearing, stood aghast and awe-struck. 

For the frsf, the only, and the last time in his life, 
Cspt. Decatur was excited to a pilch of agonizing 
distress. With 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 


immediately succeeds some violent convulsion of 

If the biographical writer could be allowed to blend 
his own " reflections and remarks,'^ with the incidents 
and events he records, this momentous occurrence 
might justify them, it will, however, only be observ- 
ed, that Capt. Som.ers' 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- 
suist 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 countryj 
does not voluntarily expose himself to death in de- 
fending its rights, its honour, and its independence? 
No matter in v.'hat manner death is occasioned, so 
be it the sacriiice adds to the security and advances 
the glory of his country. Whether it happens in. 
the midst of opposing hosts, — in single combat,-— or 
as that of Son^ers and his companions did, by volun- 
tary sacrifice, it equally redounds 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 analo- 
gous. The classical reader will immediately reco?- 
15? ^ 

150 LIFE or 

iect -that Rome herself was twice saved from destrac- 
tion by the 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 State 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 
bis reach all the fascinating enjoyments of fashion- 
able life; but a participation in them, could not ren- 
der him eflcminate. The previous examples of Ste- 
phen and James Decatur inspired his ardent bosom 
with a thirst for naval glory, and this was enhanced 
by the renown acquired by his distinguished towns- 
man, and naval father, Com. Preble. He repaired 
to the renowned 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 5 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 weaves — his 
exalted spirit to heaven— and his immortal fame to 
his country. Although his precious manes ar?? 


*^ Far away ohr the billnzv^^^ his virtues and gallan- 
try are commemorated by a monument in his native 
town, the voluntary tribute of his admiring friends 
to bis inestimable worth. 

While the American squadron was achieving such 
unparalleled deeds in the Mediterranean, the Ame- 
rican governmentj yet 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 designatin?^ one who 
v/as senior to Com. 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 psogress 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 Pinckney, 
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 who wit- 
nesssed and who felt it, was one of the most interest- 
ing that the mind can conceive. For more than a 
year the Commodere and his gallant comrades had 

152 LIFE OF 

been absent from their beloved country — a year which 
may boilenorninatrcl an a^e, in the calendar oi our then 
infant navy — -* r)eriod of splendid and " successful 
experimeiit'' with onr ships, and of naval instruction 
and experience to our officers and seanjen. Their 
attaohnient had become cemented by common toils, 
common dangers and 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 o( departure to his seamen as to a numerous 
group of admiring domestics. The first manifested 
a dignified regret, mjngled with conscious pride — 
the last gazed with noble grief, upon the last visible 
piece of canvas that wafted their beloved comman- 
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 1 5th 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 xhe ship 
'* Protector ^'^'^ Capt. Williams, in 1779. the year of 
Decatur's birth. The Protector mounted twenty- 
six guns— upon her first cruise, engaged the Mmi- 


ral Duff of thirty-six guns — compelled her to strike 
her flag — and was prevented from conducting her 
triumphantly into an American port, by the explo- 
sion of the prize, immediately 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 nexi 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 deleated, 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 xdUI run aboard, ■ u'leui, Preble 
coolly answered — " Aye aye^ Sir, lue are comin© 
aboard,'^'' — and instantly jumped into the Brig, fol- 
lowed by only fourteen men, as the rest coidd 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 OP 

gatories particularly, exclaimed with a stentorian 
voice, " J^Oy Sir, we have more than zee want ; wt 
stand in each others'^ way*'''' The white frocks of the 
Americans, enabled them to distinguish each other, 
even in darkness. That part of the crew who had 
gained the deck jumped over-board, and swam 
ashore, which was within pistol-shot. Many below 
followed their example and leaped out 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 deed^ of the na- 
val force in the Revolutionary war; and placed 
Preble upon an eminence, upon which he ever stood 
to the day of hr^ death. 

As the prototype of the gallant Decatur, he was 
by no means satisiied 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 glo-^ 


i-y were not extinguished — they were only smother- • 
Gd — 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 Adaras. The conclusion may 
fairly be made, that he did not; as he certainly 
would have been " heard from" if he had. But this 
is all conjecture. 

In 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- 
vernment t0 take command of that squadron in 
which he, Capt. Decatur, ^md the brilliant list of 
American ocean- warriors associated with them, were 
to give weight and character to American naval 
prowess, amongst distant nations, who before knew 
Americans only as a nation of merchants, and upoR 
whose commerce, and citizens, some of them had 
preyed with impunity. ' 

In tracing the life of Capt. Decatur from the time 
Com. Preble took the command of the American 
squadron in the Mediterranean, 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- 

156 LIFE OF 

liar to the Pope at Rome. ; and although the squad- 
ron belonged to a distant and Prott'stant nation, he 
declared, that " ^11 Chrislendom had not efficttd in 
centuries^ what the American squadron hud accom- 
plished in* the space of a single year,^"^ The name of 
Preble, as cofumander in chief, and of Decatur his 
leading champion, resonnded through all the mari- 
time nations upon the shores of tfie Mediterranean. 
Not only Tripoli, but all dio Baibai-y })0\ver.s bor- 
dering upon that sea, were h^ld in check, and their 
indiscriminate depredations upon all the commercial 
world trading in its ports, enjoyed, in a gieater or 
less degree, the beniefits arising from the presence, 
the vigilance and the achievenjents of the American 
squadron. Even the jealousy of British naval offi- 
cers, for a time, gave place to the effusions of invo- 
luntary admiration. 

But it \vas in the bosom of his own beloved 
countrvj wheie the veteran Commodoi-e received 
demonstrations of respect and a})prc>bation most 
grateful to his pati-iolic and noble heart. Particu- 
lars must be omitted. The Atiierican government, 
fully acquainted with his nautical skill, and duly ap- 
preciating his invaluable services, employed him to 
assist in arranging, systematising and advancing the 
naval establishment of the R^pnblic. He had con- 
querrd Tripoli into a peace, which was concluded 
in a few months after he returned to Ameiica. A 
vote of thanks, and a medal, were presented to him 
hy 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 etemity* 


158 V LjFE OF 


Cftpt. Decatur takes command of the frigate Constitution — Per- 
fection of discipline in the American ISavy— He takes command 
of 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 Superintendant of Gun-boats — Marries 
Miss Wheeler, of Norfolk, (Vir ) — Supersedes Com. Barron, and 
takes command of the frigate Chesapeake — " Aflfair of the Chesa- 
peake" — Captain Decatur takes command of the Southern 
Squadron as Commodore. 

Capt. Decatur, upon the retirement of Com. 
Preble, from the American squadroi], in the Medi- 
terraaean, found himself senior to all the offir-ers 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 
Jong s,erved 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 when the characters of men generally 


begin to develope their permanent 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 battles, that he had become qualified 
for any station in the navy. 

As the very respectable force brought into th,e 
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 Ba*haw was already suf- 
ficiently humbled. Negotiations were opened upon 
shore, and the united 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 

i60 LIFE OF 

liad so long served under the accomplished Preble - 
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 now 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 rapturously contemplating the splendid 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 
whicfh enabled him to practise those masterly ma- 
rioeuvreings, which so often baffled his most skilful 
adversaries. And also ih^imilitary skill, which has 
given such complete perfection to American gunne- 
ry and produced such rapid and tremendous eff*ects 
ypon the enemy. 

It is believed, that this system may be called the 
AMERICAN NAVAL SYSTEM — and that it is retained as 
an 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 of the 


soundest policy. Superior skill to the eneriiy, 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 ?'^'' — Certainly, I can,^^-^ 
" So can I, SiV the profound General replied. The 
student of military tactics can find treatise piled 
upon treatise, from the pens of subalterns up to Ma- 
jor-Generals, and from the humble pamphlet to the 
ponderous octavo. Still it may be asked, have our 
officers in the army surpassed, or have they equalled 
'hose of the navy in an uniform system of discipline ? 
After the lapse of some time, Capt. Decatur was 
removed from the Constitution to the frigate Con- 

* After a few naval victories in the war of 1812, a disting-uished 
British writer, on the capture of the Boxer, thus expresses himself j 
" The fact seems to be but too clearly established, that the Ame- 
ricans have some superior mode of firing ; and we cannot be too 
'inxiously employed in discovering to what circumstances tliat su- 
periority is owing." — Another British writer after lamenting^ in the 
bitterness of grief, the loss oi ihaMacedonian, says: " It affords an 
additional ground to reflect and to inquire seriously into the strange 
causes which have rendered our relative circumstances loith respect 
to this new enemy, so different from what they have had hitherto to 
contend with.^^ It is trusted they never will leam the Theory of 
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- 
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 his 
commander in chief, and ever cheerful in the dis- 
charge of any duty assigned him, he pursued the 
same undeviating course of discipline on board the 
Congress, as he ever had done from the da)S of his 
earliest promotion. Wherever he commanded, he 
possessed the rare faculty of infusing amongst the 
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, v/ith the Ex-Bashaw, and to have re- 
stored the latter to his throne 5 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 sixty thousand 
dollars was paid to the Bashaw — thirty thousand 
dollars less than the gallant Preble, in the midst of 
victory, had offered 5 and Jive hundred and forty 
thousand dollars less than the insolent Bashaw, in 
fancied security, had demanded. The politician 
who is governed solely by raoney-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 gallant officers 
and seamen, and other American citizens, to the 
number of near half a thousand, who had been incar- 
cerated in dungeons for some years, and none little 
less than eighteen months, were immediately dis- 
charged without the least ransom, would unhesitat- 
ingly give his assent to this treaty. 
. Amongst all the consequences flowing from the 
peace with Tripoli, no one was 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 
to Christian countries, can be but feebly pourtrayed 
in Christian language. Imagine the noble Bain- 
bridge, the gallant Porter^ Jones and -BzWrf/e, hurling 
indignantly the cords that had long bound them, at 
their humbled oppressors, and throwing themselves 
into the arms of the enraptured Decatur, Hull^ Law- 

t64 LfPE CP 

rence, Morris^ Macdonough, &;c. &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 knoron 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 setiiors, 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 first bestowed upon any 
officer in the navy shce the coDcIusJon cf the naval warfare -with 


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

" Bursting uncalled 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 
venerable 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 words 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 veteran. 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. IX. 

1^6 iirE OT 

to America in 1805, the naval estaV>lishment 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 condutt the aftairs 
of the navy in the peace establishment, that he was 
very soon ordered to superititend the Gun-Boat», 
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-B(tats for at- 
tack or defence in inner harbours, and at the mouths 
of the numerous navigable streams in our vastly ex- 
tensive, and rapidly extending Republic, the ques- 
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 effected, where 
opportunity offered, during that war. 

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

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


aommandef 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- battle skip. — i/e could 
not become small by being in a small place. 

His duty was now of such a nature, 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 occasiotial and very 
short periods he was in American ports, he had 
been, by his profession, complete!) excluded from 
all society excepting that which he found in his own 
ships. More congenial spirits, to be sure, could 
not be associated, than those who were there bound 
together by the '* three fold conV^ of common toils, 
common da gers, and common victories. Such a 
ligament could not be " easily broken ^^^ nor was it 
broken by Decatur, when he entered into the fash- 
ionable circles of Norfolk in V^irginia. 

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

188 FIFE OF 

tars, he had 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 lute,^^ 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^ eyebrow,^^ 

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

In monarchies, the marriages in roi/al and noble 
families, are most generally mere " matters ofstate,"^^ 
or *' bargain and sale.^'' A prince and princess join 
in marriage, mors to unite two crowns than two 
hearts. A duke, marquis and count, marry, the one 
a duchess, the other a marchioness, and the last a 


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 rising 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- 
mance, it may simply be said, that this union was 
tho consummation of mutual bliss, and the source of 
uninterrupted felicity to the husband and to the wife, 
until it was dissolved by the premature stroke of 

Capt. Decatur continued in the superintendance 
of the GuM-Boats, for a considerable period, and 
the effect of the system introduced amongst them- 
was 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 responsi- 

The unfortunate occurrence, in the unfortunate 
frigate Chesapeake, although perhaps familiar with 
iTiost readers, must be briefly alluded to, as it was 
connected with some of the most interesting events 
of Capt. Decatur's life ; and in alluding to it, the 

170 LIFE OP 

writer most sensibly feels the delicacy of the subject. 
From this portion of these memoirs, he must npces- 
sarily glance iorvvard to the conclusion ; and when- 
ever the names of Decatur and Barron are mention- 
ed in relation to each other, it will be done wiih 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 
the reader; 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 
apon 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 recruiting. Tlie commander of the 
cruiser pursued the men — identified them, and de- 
manded them of Lieut. Sinclair, who as junior offi- 
cer, referred him toCapt. Decatur. 

Whatever misfht have been the decision of the 
Captain, if he had had power to decide the question, 
he loo well understood bis 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. Decaiur would not interfere. The 


men were not surrendered. At about, the same 
time, four British seamen deserted from the 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 de- 
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 aftairs 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 

i7i2 LIFE OP 

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

Capt. Decatur was ordered to supersede Com, 
Barron in the command of the Chesapeake — a most 
painful duty ; as he had served under Com. Bcirron 
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 commatid 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 zo«r." 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 di.ygraced, 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 ampk 
reparation and atonement, for the injury and the 


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- 
al 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- 
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- 
lion of the yet small American Navy that was in 

Were the writer disposed to swell this biographi- 

'■■^ As 11 is is the first time the appellation of Commodore has been 
'attached to the name of Decatur in this work, some readers may 
'>e led to suppose, that Commodoi-e is a title in the navy higher than 
Lhat of Captain. The rank of Captain is the highest yet establish- 
ed in the American Navy. A Commodore is the senioj olflBcer in a 
squadron, and as circumstances n)ig:lit happen, may be a Master- 
Commandant, a Lieutenant, or a Midshipman. Even Com. Perry 
and Com. Macdonough, had not been promoted to Captains, when 
one conquered at Erie, and the other at Champlain. When after" 
jiards premoted, Perry's commission was dated 10th Sept. 1813 
•and Macdonough's 11 th isept. 1814, — the days of their victories, 
12 * 

174 LIFE or 

cal memoir to three ponderous octavos, as Bostrell 
has the Life of Johnson, he misjht detail the numer- 
ous minor incidents of Com. Decatur's peculiarly 
interesting life, in the pleasing and interesting scenes 
of peace. In those charming scenes, he imparted 
high animation, »and innocent hilarity to every circle 
he honoured by his presence. Although the gentle- 
man f)^cfriipon the quarter-deck, he was ^'' all thes^en- 
tleman'^'' 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 was. 

But the subject paramount to all other considera- 
tions 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 affairs of 
the Republic*," which at this period of his life be- 
gan to assume a lowering aspect 5 and he knew toa 
well the duty of a naval commander, to interfere in 
them* He only waited for the orders of his govern- 

VMe Chap, XIIL 


iHpnt. and held himself in constant readiness to exe- 
*<;utf' them. 

The Berlin and Milan decrees of the Emperor of 
France, and the Order*! in Council of the court of 
St. James, produced a tremendous effect upon the 
vastly extended commerce of America. They 
amounted almost to a war of exterminalion against 
American co»nmerce.i and the wreck of it which re- 
mained, was sunk by the embargo laid by Congress 
upon American vessels. The *' restrictive 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 to 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 Negotiation, be- 
fore they resorted to the last evil, a War, 

But the causes for war between America and Bri* 
tain, were constantly 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 
©nly 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 of Russia did 

176 LITE OP 

not suffer the same fate, was, because his wary poli- 
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. fall 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 diplomatically disavowed the 
actj 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 in the benefit of this " carrying 


trade," she could not endure that the Republic 
should rapidly grow rich and powerful by 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- 
<?an vessels. 

178 LITE OF 


Commodore Deontur takes command of the Frigate United States-^ 
Interview with Capt. John Surnatn Carden, in time of peace — 
British Naval fficers on American station before the commence' 
ment of War — liecla ration of War again?! G. Britain — Immense 
disparity of naval force between America and Britain — Com. 
Decatur puts to sea from .New-York, June 21st, 1812 — iMakes an 
extensive cruise and enters the port of Boston — Sails from thence 
8th October — Upon the 25th captures the Frigate Macedonian 
— His official account of the action — l^ength of, and incidents in 
the action — Meeting of (^om. Decatur and Capt. Carden — 
Dreadful slaughter in the Macedonian — Arrival of frigate Unit- 
ed States and that ship at iNew-London — Keception 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 time, 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«6? acquired, and the hi^h 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: thp deeds he had already achieved, he was de- 
termined not to tarnish the brilliancy of them, by 
the rust of innciion. While the great Achilles was 
supinely reposing in his tent, tlie blustering Ajax 
was exciting the admiration of Agamemnon, and 
even the anxie y of Hector. 

Com. Der'atur. '• through the mind's eye," saw 
the storm which was gathering, and even lowering, 
over his beloved country. Pfrfertly well acquaint- 
ed with the power and the dispo*<ilion 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 cotiimon ori- 
gin, but no longer any common interest, he knew 
that vvhen A n^ricans and Englishmen, the descend- 
ants of Saxons, met each other in hostile array, it 
would bp an encounter, fierce in ti.e extreme, and 
would remind the classical reader of ancient bat- 

** When Greek meets Greek, then coiJies the tug of war." 

So confident were the statesmen, who guided the 
destinies of America, that the just and equitable 

180 LIFE OP 

terras on which she would negotinte, would even^ 
tuute in peace, that they were less vigilant in pre- 
paring for war, than they would have been under a 
different state of things. The military spirit of Ame- 
ricans upon land, was almost lost in the luxuries 
which sudden wealth occasions ; and the declara- 
tion of the facetious Knight in regard io his soldiers, 
might with some propriety be applied to ours, — 
'* They were the cankers of a dull world and a long 
peace" — and although they might afford " fif^od for 
powder and fill a pit" they were little calculated at 
once, to meet the veterans who had recently con- 
quered Portuguese, Spaniards and Frenchmen ; 
hence the disasters of the army, in the campaij;ns 
of 1812 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 180d 
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 pre.served, 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 were retained in 
^er\ncc^ would not permit the. Naval spirit to slum- 

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


Lawrence, Biddie, Morris, Macdonougb, 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 Ufated Slates, 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 otlicer 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- 

Those kinds of courtesies and civilities which ge- 
nerally are interchanged between civil naval officers, 
belonging to different nations at peace with each 
other, 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, Carden, afterwards 
the gallant and brave commander of the frigate Ma- 
cedonian, happened to enjoy one of those interest^j 
ing interviews with Com. Decatur. " ConimoJore," 
said the Captain, " we now meet as friends, and 
God grant we may never meet as enemies ; but we are 
subject to the orders of our governments, and must 
obey them." — '« I heartily reciprocate the senil- 

182 LIFE OF 

ment," said the ingenuous Decatur. '• But," said 
Garden, (with that rctined and elegant irony which 
one gentleman can practise upon another without of- 
fence,) " suppose, in the course o{ e\enis, we should 
meet as enemies, what, Sir, do you^imagine would 
be the consequences to yourself, and to the force you 
should command." " Why, Sir," said the hero of 
the Mediterranean, (giving full credit to the gallan- 
try of Garden, without forgetting what was due to 
his own character,) " if we should meet w^ith forces 
which might fairly be called equal, the conflict would 
undoubtedly be a severe one^; but the flag of my 
country should never leave the staff from wdiich it 
waved, as long as there was a hull to support it." 
With what exquisite delight must these dauntless 
warriors have contemplated each others' characters, 
after tlic frank expression of such exalted senti- 
ments ? Over a vast expanse of ocean from the place 
of this interview^ these men of inflexible honour, and 
unparalleled heroism, again' met upon the deck of 
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- 
ing upon the American coast, had such commanders 
as Capt. Garden, the frigate Chsapeake would never 
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 Gom. Rodg- 
ers of the frigate President. Many of these little 
great British officers, who owed their greatness to 


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

*' DressM up in a little brief authority — 
.¥05/ confident of what they were least assur'd^ 
Play'd most fantastic tricks before high heaven" — 

and although, to pursue the quotation, they might 
not have " made the angels weep," they excited the 
indignation of their own more dignified countrymen, 
and the sovereign contempt of such men as Rodgers 
and Decatur, who well understood their characters. 
While Americans are ever prompt to pay due re- 
spect to the merits of Hotham, Hardy, and Garden, 
even though enemies, they feel an ineffable disgust 
at such beings as Humphreys and Bingham — Cock- 
burn, Beresford, and Stackpole. Lest this language 
should be deemed acrimonious and unauthorised, I 
would just remind the reader again^ that Humphreys 
attacked the frigate Chesapeake, and Bingham the 
frigate President, in time of peace — that Cockburn 
violated every principle of civilized warfare on the 
borders of Chesapeake bay, and applied the torch 
to the Capitol, President's house, and national libra- 
ry at Washington — that Beresford stripped the gal- 
lant Jones and his crew almost naked, when his 74 
took the little Wasp of 18 guns— and that the blus- 
tering Stackpole, in the Statira of 44, declined, on 
fair and equal grounds, to fight Capt. Jones when he 
commanded the Macedonian, in time of war. It 
o'jght to be the motto of every impartial historian 
and biographer : " Judex damnafur, cum nocens abr 

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 Statesof 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, '.vhe- 
ther this declaration was founded in justice, neces- 
sity, or expediency; and although the ardent politi- 
cal partizan, in the fervour of misguided zeal, might 
declare it to be unjust, unnecessary^ wicked and wn- 
natural, it was the business of the Navy to sus- 
tain the national rights and honour upon the ocean, 
and of the Army to protect and defend our territory 
against every hostile invader. The 19th of June, 
1812, forms an era in our history litde less important 
than the 4th of July 1776. It called upon the pa- 
triotic sons of the Republic to maintain that inde- 
peHdence which was proclaimed by that venerable 
body of gigantic statesmen, the " Old Congress," 
and which was established by the best blood that 
ever flowed in man. 

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



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 shi|)S 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 
fifty to one thousand sail— from first rates of 120 
guns to Schooners. There was not a ship belong- 
ing to any power 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 
to 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 Com. Deca- 
tur and his associates had at command was : — 

United States 

) Rate 


} 44 






> o6 






John Adam= 










Brig Adams 













lot) 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 ordei'cd 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 admiration of the reader, that Com. Decatur, 
every officer and every seaman on board the frigate 
United States, 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 
wishes of every patriot heart, and the fervent pray- 
ers of every sincere Christian, in the immense throng 
that witnessed his departure, followed him and his 
ship's company, as they wafted off into the Atlantic 

He now entered into a new theatre of action, and 
was approaching into a contest, with to him a new 
enemy. He had v. itnessed the conquests of the lit- 
tle American squadron over the naval forces of France 
in the warfare with that })owcr 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 Trino= 


li, in the administration of Jefff.rson. But he was 
now, (in the administration of M\dison,) to enter 
into a contest with the ocean- vvajriors of Britain, 
who, so far from acknowlfd<^inej any human beings 
that traversed the ocean as their equals, smihxJ 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, of 
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, VV. H. Allen, he recognized 
the perfect seaman, and noticed, with admiration, 
the 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 minutiie 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 
in a squadron under the command of Com. Rodg- 
ers, he made his ship his own provirice^ and hit 
himself exclusively responsible for her manage- 

The first cruise of the frigate United States was 

188 LIFE OF 

a very extensive one. She was off the English 
Channel — along the coast of France, Spain and Por- 
tugal, to within thirt^^ miles of the rock of Lisbon. 
She made the island of Madeira, and lay off Cora 
and Floros. She cruised along the bajiks 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 v>'as more ur- 
gently desired by her commander, 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 dariing 
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 eshilirating 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 the Alert in the pos- 
session of the gallant Porter, who was rescued from 
Turkish bondage by his achievements,, his happi- 


ness 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 of October, 181^. 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 all hands repaired to quar^ 

The official account of the action which followed^ 
is with the highest pleasure incorporated into this 

U. S, S, United States, at Sea, 
October 30, 1812. 

The Hon. Paul Hamilton, 

Sir — I have the honour to inform you, that on 
the 25th inst. being in lat. 29 N, long. 29 39 W. 

190 LIFE OP 

we fell in with, nn<l after an action of an hour and 
an half, captured his Briiaruiic M<ijr^t)'s shif) Mace- 
donian, co-.nmanded by Caf)t. John Garden, and 
mounting 4i> carnage guns, (the odd gun siiitting.) 
She is a fricrate of the larj:e8t class, two years oid, 
four months ou^ of dock, and reputed one of 
the best sailers in t!)e British service. The enemy 
being to windward, had liie advantage of engaging 
us at his ovvn <ii^tance, which was so ,ii;reat, that tor 
the first half hr)i:r we did not use our carronades, 
and at nomofueni was he wiihin the compdcte effect 
of our musheiry or gi^ne — to this < ircinnstance and 
a heavy swell which wa.son at the lime, I ascribe the 
unusual lenjith of the action. 

The enthusiasm of every officer, seaman and ma- 
rine on board this ^hip on discovering the enemy — 
their steady conduct in battle, and j^recision of their 
fire, could not be surpassed. Where all met my full- 
est expectation^, it would he 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 tiie 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 death. 

The Macedonian lost lier Mizen-mast, fore and 
main top mast and main yard, and was much cut up 
in her hull. The damage sustained hy this ship 
was not such as to render her return into port neces- 
sary, aiid had ! noi deemed it imfjortant that we 
should see our prize in, should have continued our 

With the highest consideration atul resp«^'ct, I am, 
sir, your obedient hund^lo servant. 


List ofklllfidand zcoundedon board the United States, 

Thomas Bi-own, New- York, seaman; Henry 
Shepherd, Phihidelphia, do. ; VVm. Murray, Boston, 
a boy ; Michael 0'D.)nnel, New York, private ma- 
rine ; John Roberts, do. do. — Killed, 

John Mercer Funk, Philadelphia, Lieut. ; John 
Archibald, New- York, carpe?iter's crew ; Christian 
Clark, do. seaman ; George Christopher, do. or- 
din;iry seaman; George Mvdiar, do. do. ; Wm* 
James, do. do.; John Laton, do. private marine — 

On board the Macedonian there were thirty-six 
killed, and sixty-eight wounded. Among the for- 

192 LIFE ©P 

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 perspicmty, we may 
safely challenge the admirers of the official accounts 
of our naval victories to produce any one that sur- 
passes this of Com. Decatui'jj. Adsnired they ge- 
nerally are, not only by the American reader, hut 
even Englishmen, in the midst of the chagrin and 
mortification they feel while reading them, involun- 
tarily express their admiration. In speaking of the 
capture of the Macedonian, and Decatur's official 
account of it, a distinguished British writer thus tor- 
cibly expresses himself:—" While we see British 
superiority upon the ocean thus disputed, and the 
victory of Americans thus described, we know not 
which most to admire, the heroism of Decatur in 
capturing the Macedonian, or his modesty 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 length of the action,^^ (only 90 mi- 
tt. -tes) — '• The enemy, being to windward, had the 
a. 'vantage of engaging us at his own distance, &c." 
— The language of the naval court-martial who tried 
Garden for losing his ship, is this — " The cojirt is of 
opinion, that previous to the commencement of the 


action, from an over-anxieiy to keep the weather- 
gage, an opportunity was lost of closing with the 
fiieiny.' — 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 bfeen a 
spectator of the contest he would have exclaimed of 
Decatur, as he did of his favourite Collingwood at 
the battle of Trafalgar — " Seein what style the noble 
felloio 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 
litrie fellow and his mother in poverty. As the Ma- 
cedoman iiove 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, I wish my ntme might be put down on the 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 ?" — '' I'll send half of it 
to my mothf^r, 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 


iy4 LIFE OF 

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 of 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 immediately turning to another gunner, said— 
^' My good fellow, aim at the yellow," [a stripe in 
the Macedonian between wind and water,] '' her 
rigging is going fast enough; she must have a little 
more hnlling.^^ 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 I 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. W, 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 cheerSj supposing her to be on 


fire. 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 affecting 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, 1 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. John 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 feeK 
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 OP 

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-ma.«ts. 
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 : si scene 
so horrible of my fellow-creatures, I assure you, 
deprived me \ery 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. Fifty '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 wourids which proved mor- 
tal, was greater than that of the Americans in every 
one of the actions between single ships, where victo- 
ries 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 Pkebe of 36-- 


and sloop of war Cherub, of 28 — of the President 44 
with the Majestic (r;»zee) frigates Eadymion^ Pomo- 
ne, Tenedos, and brig Despatch — and of the Argus of 
18 with the Pelican -^f 21 gun.s !— - 

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. Garden " 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 iirst 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 Deceni- 
ber, 1812, with the frigate United States in prime 
order ; and the noble Macedonia?! which exhibited- 
ocular demonstration that " she had seen service,''^ 
Although once amongst the newest, and by all, ac- 
knowledged the^rsfra/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-London, 
That town and its vicinity, had always been a victim 
17 ^- 


to British rapacity, ever since the British crown 
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 evidences 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. Lieut. 
Hamilton arrived at the metropolis upon the even- 
ing of the 8th December. A more happy combina- 
«iation of circumstances cannot be imagined. It 
was upon the evening of a ball given in honour of 
the naval ofiicers generally, and more particularly 
to one of the lirst of that gallant band, Capt* 
Charges Stewart. Not only the beauty and fa- 


shion of the city, but much of the patriotism and ta- 
lents of the Rep'ihiic v/ere dr\WD 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 p?trty, like a shock of electricity 
around a combined cirole. 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 when Lieut. Hamilton entered the hall 
— it was joy connanmate.d, when the noble Capts. 
Hull and Stewart triumphantly 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 seine may — 

■Talk of beauties that tfeey 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, with Lieut. Hamilton. Assembled around 
the festive board, one of the iiianagers gave for the 

200 LIFE OF 

'^Commodore Decatur, and the officers and 


The tender and impassioned language of affec- 
tion and adiiiiration, was instantly changed to the 
most enthusiastic plaudits. The hall reverberated 
with the glory of Decatur. Mpmory called to 
view the capture of the Ketch Intrepir! — the drstruc- 
tion of the PJdladdphia Frigate — the battle with the 
Tnpolitan Gu7\-Boats — the death of the Turk who 
murdered Lieut James Decatur — and the fiag of the 
Macedonian was suspended in the hall, with those of 
the Gnerriert and the £lert. 

Corn* Decatur, in the mean time, was preparing 
to conduct the frigates United Stales and Macedonian 
to New-York. He arrivecf in that port with them 
upon the first day of January, 1813, having been 
many days detained by adverse winds. He apichor- 
ed the Macedonian at thei^lj^llabout for repairs, and 
left the deck of the frigate United States, to enter 
once more the city from which he sailed in one hour 
after the declaration of war v/as officially announced 
to him. 

It would be totally inconsistent with the limits and 
design of this volume to enter into particular details 
of ail the manifestations of respect shown to Com. 
Decatur. He could not be indifferent to them ; but 
his modesty made him shrirrk 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 last 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 Frolic, 

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 splendour unsurpass- 
ed. Jt 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 wsfs 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 t'.j United 
States frigate was floating in it. A mainsail 33, by 
16 feet, was suspended in the rear of the artificial 
lake, upon which was painted the American Eagle, 
hol(!iag in his beak 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 Ro- 
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 
another—" 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 c?.\\ed punning, 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 finishing 

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 huUs^^ alluded to an Act of Congress then recently 
X9ai3Be<l for huildiagfoiir 74'^ and six Frigates, 


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

'* In behalf of my shipmates, I return o^ur sincere 
thanks to the corporation of the city of New- York, 
for the honour which they this day haf% done us. 
Rest assured, Sir, that it will be a [way's our wish, 
to deserve the good opinion of our countryineft." 
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, all over the ocean.^^ 

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


'' Free trade and no impressmcnis,'*'' 

204 LIFE ©F 

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 ad(h'ess- 
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- York, that }ou can maintaiii the same 
order in the midst of amusements, as you have done, 
when sailing upon the ocean and conquering the ene- 
my." It was answered by the v\t'll known and re- 
spectful salute of sailors. The admirable band 
of the Macedonian again cheered them with patriot- 
ic airs. Excepting the lowering of an enemy's Hag, 
this world cftuld not afford a scene more exhilirating 
to such a man as Stephen Decatur. 

One act of lioble 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 hafnds 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 an 
occasion — 


"' A glance sends volumes to the heart, 
While words impassioned die.^^ 

The benevolent, the humane, the generous De- 
catur, upon this, and on numerous other occasions, 
enjoyed — " the luxury of doing good." It was niit 
to his friends alone, to whom he extended the help- 
ing hand of humanity — to his enemies, when nor in- 
convsistent with his duty, he was a ministering angel 
of mercy. 

When he took possession of the Macedonian, he 
found her filled, not only with evefy 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 the 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 British 
Navy, and the choicest supply of wine, &c. for his 
own cabin. These and other conveniences to the 
amount of nearly a thousand dollars, Gom. Decatur 
paid him for. Let the face of the commander of the 
Poictiers 74, be crimsoned with shame, or turu pale 
with fear, when reminded that after capturing the 
Wasp, 13, he deprived the gallant Gapt. Jones and 
his crew of every article except the clothes that co- 
vered their bodies ; and that these noble Americans 


never shifted their dress, until they were exchangedj 
and arrived in a cartel in America*. Let another 
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- 
lured 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 Secretax^ of the Navy, and other gentle- 
men visited them in their destitute situation : the Secretary shook 
'«:hem each by the hand — applauded them for theii' gallantry in ac- 
tion, and fortitude under privations ; and gave orders for an imme- 
diate supply of every comfort and convenience. These men ever 
aftervsrards would fight desperately against the brutal enemy, 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 1" 

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 5 and 
it is for that Being who " reigns in the armies ot 
heaven above" to administer eternal justice. 

208 LIFE or 


Honours conferred upon Com. Decatur — He lakes command of a 
Squadron — Immense disparity between American and British 
Navai 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 — Pa&sport for 
the bodies of Lawrence and Ludlow — (/om. 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 ? 1 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. 


13 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 redy and the blue, and Rear-Admirals almost ad 
infinitum, afford titles of honour to a numerous host 
of oifficers, 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 were 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 new honours to 
liim. Ten years before, be received from Con- 
gress, his COMMISSION, a \ote of thanks, and a 


The Congress of the United States voted 
their thanks to Cora. Decatur, his Officers and 
IC -^ 

210 LIFE OF 

Seamen, for the capture of the Macedonian — a gold 
modal to him, and a silver one to each of his of- 

The State Legislatures of Pennsylvania and Mas- 
sachusetts also voted thanks to the Commodore, his 
OlTicers 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 
wiih a sword of pure' solid gold, of little less value 
than one thousand dollars. Perhaps the pecuniary 
value of it ought nt>t 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. 

Sum.ptuous 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 iofght 
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 fiag-ship,) — the frigate Micdo- 
nian, Capt. Jones — and the Sloop of War Hurnet, 
Capt. BiDDLE. These gallant and persevering offi- 
cers devoted them.^elves, with unceasing assiduity, 
in fitting their ships for sea. The Frigate U. States 
and the Sloop Hornet, notwithstanding the first had 
recently captured a first rate British Frigate, and 
the last had sunk a British ship of siiperior force, 
neetied 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 
May, 1813. 

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 Con}. 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 v/riter has fre- 
quently, in the later periods of Com. Decatur's life, 

212 LIFE OJ* 

recurred back to his Mediterranean achievements,. 
How forcibly may we recur to thern in this place ? 
Bainhridge.^ Jones and Biddle, were once in the most 
dismal bondage in Tripoli — Decatur and Lawrence 
led in the jestruction 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 begau 
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 comfes 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 Wilson Croker, Esq.' This List for 
January 1st, 1813, assigns the following ships to 
t]ie 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 pons. The following are named as 
part of that force. Some of them were then on our 

Royal Oak 


La Hogue 




^Theseus * 




c R'r Ad. LM A. Beauclerc; 

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. Colville. 
Wm. Prouse, esq. 
Geo. M'Kinley, esq. 
P. L. Woolcombe, esq. 

* Going first off the Western Islands. 


LIFE oy 

Mutine, brig 

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


C. J. Austin, esq. 

R. Henderson, esq. 

E. W. C. R. Owens, esq, 

Philip Browne, esq. 
Wm. Hall, esq. 










Rolla, brig 


San Domingo 






























f Ad. SirJ.B. Warren, bt, 
I Capt. Charles Gill. 
Thomas Baker, esq. 
C Rear Ad. Cockburn, kt. 
( 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 12 

Holly, schr. 
Bream, do. 



Cuttle, do. 


Fierce, do. 


Herring, do. 


Mackerel, do. 


Geo. Burdett,esq. 
Hugh Pigott, esq. 
Lord J. Townsend. 
Thomas Graham, esq. 
Thomas Fellows, esq. 
John Pasco, esq. 
F. Newcomb, esq. 

C. H. Watson, esq. 
John Wilson, esq. 
Frederick Hickey, esq. 
J. Thompson, esq. 
Michael Head, esq. 
Hon. H. D. Byng. 
Wm. M'Cijlloch, esq. 
John Evans, esq. 
David Scott, esq. 

Mowbray, esq. 

H. F. Banhouse, esq. 
N. Luckyer, esq. 

D. M. Maurice, esq. 
A. Gordon, esq. 
Lt. J. Bray. 

R. R. B. Yates. 
Lt. S. S. Treacher. 
Lt. C. D. Browne. 
Lt. W. L. Patterson. 

Lt. John Murray. 
Lt. T. H. Hutchinson. 

Lost near Easlport, Maine,. 



The following vessels were on the Jamaica and 
Leeward Island Stations, and on passage to the 
"West Indies, the 1st of January : 



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





C. Upton, esq. convoy. 



Sir James Yco. 



Hon. Wm. King. 



J. R. Luniley. 

M^^rcury {en flute) 


C. M.lward. 






John Simpson. 



Thomas Forrest. 



B. C. Doyle. 



Bold, brig 


John Skekel. 



James Stuart. 



D. Barber. ) convoy with 
W. H. Smith. 5 the Sybelle. 

Demerara, g. b. 


Peruvian, brig 


A. F. Westropp. 



Henry Jane. 

Sappho, brig 


H. O'G ready. 



Henry Haynes. 

Maria, brig 


Lieut. Bligh. ' 



G. J. Evelyn. 
c Lieut. G. Mitchener, 

Protection, g. b. 


convoy w'ith Sybelle* 

* Lost en the Bahama Keys. 



Liberty, cutter b. 


Lieut. G. M. Guise. 

Morne Fortunee, b. 

, 14 

J. Steele. 

Netley, sch. 


G. Green. 

Spicier, b. 


F. G. Willoch. 

Elizabeth, sch. 


Lieut. Edward F. Droyer. 

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. 
( 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' 
cocky and the Frolic, once belonged to this List. 
The names of the Jlrst, and three last, although not 











* Lost oa the Bahama Keys. 

t Upset and sunk while in chase of the Americaa privateer 
Jack's Favourite. 

1 Captured by the Essex. 




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

Again, — *' Look upon that Picture^ and then upon 
tkis.^'^ — It would make the reader think of *' little 
lulus" following after " Anchises." 




Com. Rodgers. 

United States 

44 • 




Capt. Lawrence, 













New- York 


Repairing at Washington 



do. do. 



Capt. Porter. 




John Adams 






1 o 


A±KJl lie I 


1 o 


Lieut. Allen. 



Mast. Com. J. Bainbridge, 



Lieut. Blakely. 






The fastidious disciples of the " Doctrine of 
Chances," would feel that wonder, which is the ef- 
fect of timidity upon weakness, that the government 
®f the American Republic, or its Naval 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 little 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 with 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 fire might find its way to the magazine^ 
The Squadron, however, was soon again under full 

Upon June 1st, a British 74 was discovered oft* 

220 LIFE OF 

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 
hy 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 
frigate?. The wary admiralty of Old England, af- 


ler 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 prepare for a vigorous de- 
fence. His presence and example inspired confi- 
dence in every bosom, and imparted the ardent glow 
of patriotism to every heart. Although Cora. De- 
catur, Capts. Jones and Biddle, their officers and 
seamen, were driven, by a force wholly irresistible 
by them, from their chosen element,— and that for- 
midable force still menacing them and the country^ 
yet, spirits like theirs were never created to ^' de- 
spair of the Republic." The first had long been 
familiar with scenes of carnage and death in tkeir 
19 ■- 

222 LIFE OP 

most horrid forms, and the second and the third had 
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 too vigilant to escape. 
it originally consisted of the Ramilies, 74, Sir T. 
M. Hardy — Valiant, 74, R. D. Oliver-— A cast a, 40, 
A. R. Kerr—Orpheus, 36, H. Pigott. The Statira, 
38, H. Stackpole, (" sister-ship" of the Macedoni- 
an,) and La Hogne, 74, and Endymion, 44, after- 
wards joined ; besides Tenders, Barges, Boats, &:c. 
he. Sir Thomas could diminish or augment his 
squadron at pleasure, as there were always British 
^hips 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 
5ipon the waters and the borders of the Chesapeake 
suffered a far different destiny where the sanguina- 
ry and detested Cockburn, held dominion. Hardy, 
one of the heroes of Trafalgar, and who received 
■he 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 Fredencktozun 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 of 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 I 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 warfore. 
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 shippino- 
at Pettipaug — another made a •' demonstration''^ up- 
on the borough of 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, refus- 

ed pay for twenty head of fine catUe. 

224 . LIFE OP^ 

and magnanimous ns himseif, was placod as a ivatch- 
man upon those wooden walls of \hv R( public. Sir 
Thomas could do nothing but smilo at the gasconad- 
iflo- threat of one of his officers, " That they meant 
to have the Mncedoiuan, if they fallozved her into a- 
corn-Jield.'^ Undoubtedly they would have rejoiced 
io-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, yet stra- 
tagem has always been practised to obtain the same 
object. Such was resorted to by the commanders 
of the Valiant and Aca?Aa, 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 dayiipon which war was 
declared the year preceding, the American flag was 
hoisted wider that of the British en board their 
squadron. Had that flag been taken in action with 
an equal force, there would have been more mean- 
m^ in it. They could distincdy see the American 
flag upon the mast of i\iG Macedonian. 
■ Upon the 25th a schooner fitted out as a sort of 
fire-ship at Kew-York, by a Mr. Scudder, who ac- 


knovvledged 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 trace. 

" 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 
^6th 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 \, 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 LIFE OP 

manding officer of this station, for the Henry 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 New- London,'''^ Capt. Oliver of the Valiant 
was the " officer commanding.'*' Lieut. Nicholson 
was ordered to lie by with his boat, in weather ex- 
tremely boisterous, and was refused the privilege of 
coming to the leeward of the Valiant for protection. 
An officer was sent on board the flag-boat — the de- 
spatches were sent to Capt. Oliver, 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 conceived. In 
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 outras^e upon humanity, it ought to be men- 
tioned that Cnpt. 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 ocean, a " fresh 
water" squadron, surrounded by a wilderness, 
aciiicved a deed which produced inexpressible as- 
tonishment in the pn my, and joy as inexpressible 
with Americans. As Com. Perryh victor)? upon 


Lake Eric was the first gained over the enemy in 
squadron^ as Capt. Hull's was i\\e first over a single 
ship, they have been echoed and re-echoed, until it 
might be supposed that tlie thirst for praise itself, 
would have been saturated. This capture of the 
British squadron upon Lake Erie is an anomaly in 
the history of Kaval 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 set a new example; 
whether it ever will 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 Navy ; and his three civil letters to Maj, Gen. 
Harrison, The General uiJfd the Comiuodore in 
obtaining the victory upon water — the Commo-ore, 
in return, aided the General in conquering upon 

But such are the sudden rei^erses 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 OF 

on Lake Erie subsided, before the death of one of 
his former favourite lieutenants was announced. Af- 
ter the capture of the Macedonian^ 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 g2,000,000, as they confess"; yet 
they admired the hand that struck them, it 
was raised with so much dignity and fell with so 
much humanity. When Capt. Allen fell himself, 
nobly fighting the Pe/ican upon the 14th August, and 
was buried in the midst of the enemies he had so 
nobly fought, their demonstrations of respect for his 
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. Delphy had previously 
been deposited. Like the gallant Lawrence, he 
fearlessly fought — he nobly fell — and was — 

<' By strangers honour'd, and b}'- strangers moura'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 
as irksome for Com. Hardy to blockade^ as it was 


for Com. Decatur to be blockaded — they both pre- 
ferred a more active and glorious service. But the 
fortune of war had placed them in this situ'adon ; 
and 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 
of '\i<f — submitted to it, or left a service from which 
they derived their highest enjoyment. 

The vigilance of the blockading squadron was 
such, that no opportunity, for a long time, occurred 
to attempt an escape with any hopes of success. 
Indeed, it was the bounden duty of the British 
squadron, to prevent Com. Decatur's escape, or to 
capture or destroy his ships; and if they had failed 
to do one of them, every officer in the enemy's 
squadron would have met with the severe punish- 
ment which a British naval court-martial, invariably 
inflicts for the most trifling omission of duty, or com- 
mission of error. 

It is always the policy of war to obtain the most 
correct intelligence of an enemy's situation — the 
amount of his force — his movements, aod, if possi- 
ble, his intentions. The British almost invariably 
have their emissaries in the midst of their enemies. 
Jt is easy^ from the similarity of language and ap- 
pearance, to introduce their own subjects into an 
American Squadron, or Encampment ; and such is the 
weakness or corruption of man, it is not hard, even 
Jo bribe their enemies with gold. That the British 
had emissaries of one or the other character atNev/- 
London, is placed beyond the doubts even of stub« 

230 LIFE OF 

born incredulity, unless of that stubbornness which 
is often the last subterfuge of guilt. The citizens 
of New-London and Groton had passed through the 
very extremity of sufferings, inflicted upon them by 
the most execrable of traitors — Btnedict Arnold ; 
and the most remote suspicion of treason^ could not 
for a moment attach itself to them. Their patriot- 
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 disaffec- 
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 an 
.American accepted of " thirty pieces of silver," or 
thirty thousand of gold, to betray his country, it is 
not to be regretted if he has met with the fate of Is- 

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

** New- London^ Dec. 20th, 1813. 
** Some few nights since, the weather promised 
an opportunity for this squadron to get to sea, and 
it was said on shore that we 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 is not a 


doubt, but that they have by signals and otherwise, 
instantaneous information of our movements. Great 
but unsuccessful exertions have been made to de- 
tect those who communicate with the enemy by sig- 
nal. The editor of the New-London Gazette, to 
alarm them, and in hope to prevent the repetition of 
these signals, stated in that newspaper, that they had 
been observed and ventured to denounce those who 
had made them in animated and indignant terms. 
The consequence is, that he has incurred the express 
censure of some of his neighbours. Notwithstand- 
ing these signals have been repeated, and have been 
seen by 20 persons at least in this squadron, there 
are men in N. London who have the hardihood t« 
affect to disbelieve it, and the effrontery to avow 
their disbelief. I am, sir, with the highest conside- 
ration and respect, your very obedient and humble 


Hon, Wm, Jones, Secretary of the Navy, 

Here let the gloomy subject rest. The bosom 
of the patriot cannot be disturbed by it ; and as to 
the traitors who " burnt the two blue lights,^'^ if still 
in existence, may their pillows be pillows of thorns 
— may their sleep be agony ; and may they even be 
deprived of tears to appease the gnawings of guilt, 
until 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 
could not escape, and as the enemy would not at- 

532 ilFE OF 

tack them at anchor, turned iheir 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 
Mivy^^^ it is deemed useful to furnish the reader with 
his opinion, aHd that of other distinguished naval 
<!haractersj of Fulton's Steam Frigate. 

*' New- London^ January 3, 1814. 
We, the undersigned, have this day examined the 
2iiode! and plans of a vessel of war, submitted to us 
by Robert Fulton, to carry 24 guns, 24 or 3S pound- 
ers, and use red hot shot, to be propelled by steam 
at the speed of from 4 to 5 miles an hour, without the 
aid of wind or tide. The properties of which ves- 
sel are : That v/ithout masts or sails, she can move 
with sufficient speed ; that her machinery being 
guarded, she cannot be crippled ; that her sides are 
so 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 sjieed which the application of steam has al- 
ready given to heavy floating bodies, we have full 
confidence, that should such a vessel move only four 
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 any 
kind of engine hitherto invented. And in such 


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 tne 
United States, to carry this plan into immediate ex- 



Mzo- 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- 
cated, it is ardently hoped by every lover of the 
Republic that in k 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 remarked 
to him that — '' Now that two frigates were off, of 
equal force to the United States and Macedonian, he 
shjuld 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 Capt. 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 Endymion of 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. Yoil 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 Endymion and Statira on bosrd the Ramilies? 


and modestly said to them — ** Gentlemen, here are 
two letters for you— it rests altogether with you to 
decide the matter." — Capt. Stackpole answered — 
" 'Pon honour, sir, it is the most acceptable letter I 
ever received." Capt. Hope of the Eiidymion was 
less boisterous and probably 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 length. 
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 17th 1814, 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 m 

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

The commander of ihefrigate Staiira, (if men and 

236 LIFE OP 

tilings have any analogy) would have been more ap- 
propriately located in the British brig Swaggerer^ 
16 guns, fsee preceding Navy List.) — To be excu- 
sed for a little pedantry, '' Statira''^ signifies a sus- 
pension of wrath, and the meaning of *' Swaggerer''^ 
is, like the old Almanacs — " familiar to the meaaest 

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 civil- 
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, t^c." 

Com. Yi^ivdy finishes the correspondence upon this 
subject in these terras : — 

" I beg to assure you. Sir, I 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, &e. 

To Com. Stephen Decatur, «!^c. 4^c. c^c. ^f. London^"' 


Vt really excites astonishment that two officers 
like Sir T. M. Hardy and Capt. H. Stackpole en- 
gaged for the same " 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, 3i 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. IJardy, 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 had 
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, April 29, 1813. 

" Sir — I have the honour to acknowledge the re» 
ceipt of your letter of yesterday's date, and in re- 
ply 1 beg leave to say, that it is far from the wish of 
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 sent 
by the bearer of this, John Carpenter ; and if I 
thought there was another citizen of the United 
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 shall, (though with much reluctance) in future 
be under the necessity of sending all the prisoners 
to Halifax or Bermuda. 1 have sent by the flag of 
truce Capt. Hadson, who was captured by the Ra- 
milies a few days ago ; may I beg of you to send a 
receipt for him, with the other prisoners ? 

I have the honour to be, yours most faithfully, 


To James SUzoart, esq* agent for British priso- 


fn March, t8l4, Capt. Thomas B. Capel became 
commander of the British Squadron off New-Lon- 
don, in the La Hoguc, 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. CapePs urbanity^ — indignation at the dia- 
bolical wickedness of the gasconading Stackpole 
towards unresisting wretchedness. Let official do- 
cuments tell the rest. 


U, 5. S. United States, jV. London, March Sth, 1814. 
Sir, — John Thayer, the father of Hiram, assures 
me that the certificate of the selectmea, the town- 
clerk, and the minister 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 OF , 

not know the reason why he was not discharged 

The son has written to the father^ and informed 
him, that on his representing to Capt. Stackpole 
that he was an American citizen and would not fight 
against his country, that Capt. Siackpole told him, 
" if they fell in with an American man of roar, and he 
did not do his duty, he should be tied to the mast, and 
shot at like a dog ! /" 

On Monday the 14(h inst. John Thayer request- 
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 evidcHce 
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 
Statira that it was his father ; and I understand the 
feelings manifested by the old man , on receiving the 
hajxd 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 enemies of his 

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


pacity in the Statira — and he says there is due to 
him from the British government about 250/. ster- 
ling. 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 Hognc. off 
JV*. Londrm, \Atk Mank, 1814. 
Sir — I have the honour to acknowledge the re- 
ceipt of your letter, together with the ceriifirates of 
exchange and dischar^je from parole, forwarded to 
you at the rrqiicst of Col. Barclay the commissary- 
general of British prisoners of war; and I beg to 
return you my thanks for your polite attention. 

I regrpt tiiat 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. ship Stiiira, but I 
will forward your application to the commander in 
chief by the earliest opportunity, and I have no 
doubt he will order his immediate dischaige*. 
I am sir, &rc. 

Commanding H. B. M, S ju^dron otl* jN. London. 
To Com, Decatur, Com, U, S. Squadron J\f, London*. 

* Thayer was afterwards dischargecU 

^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 — 

** Marl's inhumanity to man, 
Makes countless thousands mourn." 

Should the examples of such officers as the noble 
Decatur, 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*^ — and that a race of men like Americans, 

* The great Lord Erskine, in July, 1820, thus addressed the 
Peers of England : — " Kemember to be just; — we stood above all 
other countries in our character for justice and equity, let us be 
Gftrefui sot to forfeit that 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 unoccitpud 
troops upon our northern borders, with some of their 
best generals ; and Cora. Downie, one of their dis- 
tinguished naval commanders, had a decided supe- 
riority of force to Com. Macdonougii. 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 
States were fixed upon the gallant Macdonough, and 
their fears were excited from his inferiority of force. 

244 LIFE OP 

No one could participate more deeply in 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 
minor 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 sketch, 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 11 /A, 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 Pittsburgh 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 TripoUtans did, when he was a Midship- 
man 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- 
ing the utmost nautical skill, and naval science. His 
ship, the Saratoga, for a considerable time, bore 
nearly the whole weight of the enemy's fire. Her 
starboard side had nearly every gun dismounted. 
Had he at this period, struck his flag to a force so 
much superior, not even a whisper of censure would 
have been heard ; but it was at this portentous mo- 
ment, that the character of Macdoi?ough developed 
itself. With perfect self-possession, he zainded his 
ship — brought afresh broad- side on Com. Downie's 
ship — compelled her to strike her flag — then sprang 
a broad-side upon another ship— compelled her to 
strike also, and the victory was obtained. This 
faint sketch is only given to carry along with the 
memoirs of Com. Decatur the greater achievements 
of our Navy ; and more particularly, those of his 
21 -^ 

246 LIFE OP 

associates in the Mediterranean, He had previous- 
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 friend 
Macdonough as one of the " conquering heroes." 



Com* Decatur dismantles the frigates Unifed SfaUsdind Macedonian 
— Achievemei*.* of the Hlssex, Capt, Porter — K.xpediiioi: to the 
East-hnlies reached upon b}' Hie Navy Departmrnt — The 
Squadron for that service — Com DeratJjr deslo;nated as com- 
mander of it — iails in thefrigatf^ Prrsidenfy encounters and beats 
the frigate Endymion, and surrenders to tne irftole British squad- 
ron — His offi ial account of the action — Additional i.'ar1i'M\lr'.rs — ■ 
Falsehoods of an English editor, and the consequences of them — - 
The remainder of Com. Decatur"'s dquadron, 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 prechided 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 

243 LIFE OF 

that region. It was well known what the gallatU 
and determined Capt. Porter had accomplished in a 
single frigate, the Hltie Essex, in another quarter. 
The history of naval enter()rise and perseverance 
does not afford a parallel to thu which he accom- 
plished. He literally swept Biitish commerce from 
an immense ocean. [lis 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 an(] 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 up, and 
the south kept not back" — almost every thing of 
British that could float, was despatched to catch the 
Httle Essex. She had taken from British purses tzoo 
million dollars, a sum sufficient to build six 74 gvn- 
ships ; and to capture her, cost the treasury of Eng- 
\d.i-\i\ Jive million dollars — of course sufficient to build 
fifteen 74 gim-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 state so riddled and bat- 
tered by the gallant and desperate defence she 
made, that it is doubtful, whether the same Essex is 
now ranked in the List of the Rnyal Navy. As she 
was taken in open violation of the Lazo of Nations^. 


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 ex^ 
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 
them. Our Naval officers reversed the maxim of 
the British knight who declared that — " It was bet- 
ter to die with rust, than to be scoured to death 
with perpetual motion!." They felt as impatient 
out of water as the leviathan, which majestically 
maintains his dominion in the mighty deep. 

The squadron designed for the important cruise 
to the East- Indies, and the commander, will be di- 
rectly mentioned. The Hornet was still at New- 
London under the command of Capt. Biddle. He 
was ordered, if possible, to escape from the harbour 
of New London % the blockading squadron there, 
and reach New- York /Aror/g/i the squadron off the 
Honk, consisting of a number of frigates, sloops of 
war and a razee. Capt. Biddle had a duty of ex- 
treme difficulty to perform in reaching the harbour 
of New- York ; but with the most admirable skill, 

* Vide Com. Porter's official report, 
t Vide Shakespeare's Henry IV. 

250 LIFE OF 

upon the night of the 18th November, he eluded the 
vigilant watch of the British squadron at New-Lon- 
don, — passed through that off 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 Borvline, (storeship,) Lieut* 
Hoffman*. 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 haa 
occurred ia these sketches, it may gratify the reader to learn that 
he was a Lientenant on board the Constitution, Capt. Stewart, in 
the distinguished action on the 20th February, 1815, between that 
ship and the ivjo ships of war Cyane and Levant. The year before, 
the Cyane engaged a French 44 gun frigate and fought her until a 
British 74 came up and took her — and but a short period before 
that, s'ne engaged a frigate, 14 gun-brig and Jive gunr-hoals, and 
beat them off, for which the commander deservedly received the 
honours of knighthood — ^yet, with the assistance of the Levant, of 
Si guns, she and her consort both struck to the Constitution, most 
emphatically called " Old Iron-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 in 
his letter to the Secretary of the Navy. Capt. Stewart says in his 
efficial letter — " He gallantly supported the reputation of an Ameri^ 
ean seaman.'''' Such a commendation, from such an officer as Capt. 
Stewart, rendered Lieut, Hoffman a fit associate for (Jom. Deca- 
tur. He was also an active officer in the Constitution, in the ac- 
tions with the Guerriere aad Java, 


Decatur as commander of the President. Com. 
Roflgers had recently returned from a cruise in that 
ship, and, as she needed repairs, the command of the 
Giierriere, nearly ready for sea, was offered to him. 
He preferred retaining the command of the Presi- 
dent, which had been offered to 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'Acuriha"^ as the 
place of rendezvous for the squadron. 

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

* For an interesting aad elegant account of this island, see Ana- 
iectic Magazine. 

t When Com, Decatur dismantled the frigate United States, 
and was appointed to the command of this squadron, his officers and 
crew urgently hoped that they might follow their beloved com- 
mander to any ship and through every danger. They remained 
together. It will be remembered that the gallant and lamented 
Lawrence v/as r^^moved from the noble Const Uution -dud his crew, 
with whom he had familiar^ t© the iil-^tarred Chesapeake^nd 
her crew, i) w/ he loas almosl an entire stranger. The result is 
ioo well known ! 

252 LIFE OF 

official account of the occurrences that followed, are 
dettiiied by Com. Decatur in his later to ihe Secre- 
tary of the Navy, iu a style so far surpa>sing any 
other description that could be given, that it inhere 
offered to the admiraiion of the reader. 

H, B. M, Ship Endymion, ) 
Jt Sta, Jan, 18, 1815. I 

Sir,— The painfiil duty of detailing to you the 
p?r.icuiar causes whirh preceded and led to the 
ca})ture of the laf United States frigate President, 
by a sqnadron of his Brilanriic majesty's ships (as 
per margin) has devolved upon me. In my com- 
niur)ication of the I4ih, I made known to you my 
intention of proceedinu to sea that eveniflg. Owing 
to some mistake of the pilof^, the sldp in going out, 
grounded on the bar, 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 as to render her 
return into port desirable, I was unable to do so 
from the strong westerly wind which was then blow- 
ing. It bring now high water, it became necessary 
to for^e her uvf r the bar befrtre the tide fell ; in this 
we succeeded by 10 o'clock, when we shaped our 
conrsp akmg the shore of Long- Island for 60 miles, 
3 = ^! then steered S. E. by E. At 6 o'clock, three 
ships were discovered ahead ; we immediately haul- 
ed up the ship and passed 2 miles to ihe northward 


of them. At daylight, wc 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- 
inied to gain upon us considerably; we immediate- 
ly occupied all hands to lighten ship, by starting 
water, cutting the anchors, throwing overboard pro- 
visions, cables, 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 with 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 beir; we 
were now steering E. by N. the wind N. W. 1 re- 
mained with her in this position for half an hour, in 
the hope that she would close with us on om broad- 
side, 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 
his intention. Every fire now cut some of our sails 
or rigging. To have continued our course under 


254 LIFE OP 

these circumstances, would have beea placing it in 
his power to cripple us, without being subject to in- 
jury himself, and to have hauled up more to the 
northward to bring ourstern guns to bear, would have 
exposed us to his raking fire. It was now dusk, 
when I determined to alter my course S, for the pur- 
pose of bringing the enemy abeam, and although 
their ships astern were drawing up fast, I felt satis- 
fied I-should 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 v/hich there was 
every appearance) that I might still be enabled to 
effect my escape. Our opponent kept off 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 v»-e 
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 course for the purpose of avoiding the squad- 
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 half 
an hour, that he did not avail himself of this favour- 
able opportunity of raking us. We continued this 


course until 11 oVlock, 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 en 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 man 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 the 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 thai 
Lieutenants Babbit, Hamilton and Howell, fell in 
the action. They have left no officers of superior 
merit behind them. 

h\ 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 
at 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 
1 be able to make it until our arrival into port, we 
having parted company w^ith 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 


crew were put on board this ship. On the 17th we 
had a gale from the eastward, when this ship lost 
her 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 I came on board, (36 hours after the 
action;) the badly wounded, such as are obliged tQ 
keep their cots, occupy the starboard side of the 
gun-deck from the cabin-bulk-head to the mainmast. 
From the crippled state of the President's spars, I 
feel satisfied she could not have saved her masts, 
and I feel serious apprehensions for the safety of 
our wounded left on board. 

It is due to Capt. Hope to state that every atten- 
tion has been paid by him, to myself and off,':ers 
that have been placed on board his ship, that deli- 
cacy and humanity could dictate. 
1 have the honour, iic. 


Hon, B, W, Crozjoninshield, Secretary of the Navy, 

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- 
Mmation of the most distinguished naval characters^ 

22 * 

258 LIFE OF 

occasioned the ultimate loss of the frigate PresidenL 
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'?i 
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 atid 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, 
v/as driven into the midst of a foe more than four 
limes her force*, in the night season. She still 
would sail ; and the object of the commander was, 
to call into operation those masterly manceuvreings 
which had so often enabled American ships to e^- 
cape from an overwhelming superiority of force, and 
which entitles our naval officers to applause, litde 
less than that which they have received for conquer- 
ing a superior force. 

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

* The British squadron consisted of the Majestic, (razee or 74,) 
Endymion, 50— Pomonc, 38— Tmcdw, 38— i?espa/c/<, 18. 


object of Com. Decatur; and if to engage and con* 
quer the leading ship of the enemy, of equal force 
with his own, would contribute to that object, it cer- 
tainly was justifiable to make the attempt, although, 
his prize might afterwards be recaptured and his 
own ship taken. He did make the attempt and the 
Endymion 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 
impossible, for the first, and only time in his life, 
Com. Decatur lowered his flag. He had gained a 
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^ 
a ;d to the Commander in Chief only would he offer 
it. It was delivered to Capt. Hays of the Majestic, 

^60 LIFE OF 

(senior ofificer) upon his quarter-deck, who, with 
th^t politeness with which one brave mnn always 
demeans himself toward another, immediately re- 
turned it to hira who had always so nobly used it. 
Up did not forget to return Com. Decatur his sword 
for seven days, as Com. Hillyer did that of the gal- 
lant Capt. Porter, 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 effi- 
cial letter of the 1 8th January ought to be mentioned. 
Capt. Hope had on board the Endymion during the 
action, 1 Lieutenant, 1 ?rlaster'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 v/ound, 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 vvas 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 |)arole 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 w'hich 
he was yet to be made acquainted—^' The Jrtillery 
of the Pre95."— A power which, like Mercury, in the 


hands of science and skill, is an invaluable blessing ; 
but in those of ignorance and sullen stupidity, a dan- 
gerous and troublesome evil. The editor of the Ber- 
muda Royal Gazette^ (not however until he felt him- 
self ^ccwre 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. Amonj>;st 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 crezo /" 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 > 
and Mr. R. B. Randolph^ one of the Midshipmen of 
the President under Com. Decatur, and who still 
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 
maj e sty'' 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 OF 

frem the crown, retracted with submission as mea^j 
as his slander was impudent. 

It was said that Capt. Garden received thanks in 
England for his defence of the Macedonian, 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 ibrbids 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 Lcrmuda, 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 Endymion, it is said 
— " In this unequal conflict, the enemy gained the 
ship, but the victory was ours,^"^ In 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, and 
approved., with enthusiastic cheering, by men regard- 


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 roarmest gratitude of their country,'^'' 

The 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 feelir^gs, to 
have passed over this investigation with a formal 

The writer has been thus minute, and he fears 
tedious, in detailing the parliculdrs 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 defeat we cannot with propriety denomi- 
nate the loss of the President. In common with his 
countrymen, the writer participated in the temporary 
gloom which pervaded the country, when it was an- 
nounced — '* The frigate President is captured by the 
British, from Com. Decatur!" It was almost simul- 
taneous with the annunciation of pccice 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 afforded for our naval 
victories, and every one was ready to exclaim, in 
the language of the Court of Incjuiry who investieat- 
ed the subject — '' The enemy gained a ship, but 


The reader will naturally inquire what became 

264 LIFE ©F 

of thp Homely Capt. Biddle, and Peacock, Capt. 
Warrington, which belongod to 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 H'^Acun- 
ha^ as the place of rendezvous appointed by him. 
The Hornet separated from the Peacock in a chase, 
two days out. Upon the 23.1 JVLuxh, 1815, as Capt. 
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 best 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, C^pt. Dirkinson, mounting 
20 guns. Admiral Tyler loaned him 12 men from 
the Medway^ 74, — and he was directed paiticulnrly 
to cruise for the YoxiiLg Wasp , uiwch superior in her 
armament to the Hornet, The little Hornet, in the 
hands of Capt. Biddle, nobly 'supported the fam^ 
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 March, says — 
*' From the firing of the first gun. to the last time the 
enemy cried out he had surrendtrfd, was exactly 
twenty two minutes. "^"^ After surrendering the first 
time, Capt. Biddle received a dangerous wound in 


his neck!! Twenty men were killed or died of 
wounds in the Penguin, and thirty jive 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. Biddle 
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 in 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 dPAcunha, according to Com. Deca- 
tur's instructions; and then sailed for the East-In- 
dies. — Upon the 27th and 28th April, chased a 
strange sail, supposed to be an Indiaman, until she 
was discovered to be a ship of the line ; which, up- 
on the29ih, 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 
to Com. Decatur of June lOth, 1815 — " It was with 
the most painful reluctance, and upon the fullest 
conviction, that it was indispens'able, in order to 
prevent a greater misfortune, that 1 could bring my 

26Q 1.IPE OF 

mind to consent to part with my guns.''^ One of 
Capt. Bicldle'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, acknowledges his 
supreme power and goodness." A heart thus 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 one gun, Capt. Biddle received news of 
Peace. The Hornet returned safe to America ; and 
the veteran Decatur, welcomed 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 superior force. Wben- 


* The Peacock cruised nine months. A war agfainst Algiers had 
been declared, prosecuted and ended, since the Peacock sailed ; 
and Com. Decatur returned triumphantly from the Mediterrane- 
an, about the same time Capt. Warrington retiirncd with tlie 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- 
gt/m, 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 
zohole of this little squadron, then, we may again re- 
peat : — 

' The enemy gained a ship — the victory wa9 


^68 rJFE OP 


Com. Decatur retiiras from hh fourth cruise — Reception — Peack 
ratified — Scenes of domestic felicity — Depredations of Barbary 
powei's — By whom instigated — Squadron to chastise and humble 
them — Com. Decatur appointed to command the first Mediter- 
ranean Squadron in 1815 — Victory over Algerine Admiral — 
Consternation of the Dey — Indemnifies Americans and concludes 
a Treaty of Peace — Com. Decatur demands and receives indem- 
nification from Tvmwand Tripoli for British violations — Demands 
release of Christian captives — Restores them to JNaples, and is 
honoured by the King — Surrenders squadron to Com. Bain- 

CoM. Decatur, in his fourth cruise, had been ab- 
sent from New-York, ffty-ont days, during which 
;,ime 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 in 
rendering secure, and it is hoped as permanent as 
the fame he had acquired. He was welcomed into 
that patriotic city with no less ardour of attachment, 
and with no less admiration for his gallantry, than 
when he gladdened the eyes of the citizens with the 
sie;htof i\iQ Macedonian, on the 1st of January, 1813 


aiicl were not the repetition of ceremonious attentions 
calculated to " pall upon the senses," and splen<i?i 
spectacles, like beauty made familiar, to " fade m 
the eye," they might well have again surroundt-d 
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 first 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 itoble 
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 differences 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 diplorr.atic powers. The formal 
exhibition o^ credentials, interchange of pom ers. pro- 
tocols^ sine-guanons, 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 -ither of them would have 
carried their ships intocc nbat. 

Com. Decatur was now in the enjoyment of eve- 

VUlo Chap. XlII.— Challenge, &c. 


LirE Of 

ry temporal felicity. Although in a degree worn 
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- 
lated 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 poiaer 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 fatigues, the 
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- 

* •< The same chivalrous chief, who bore 
Kich tributes once from Barb'ry's shore,* 

As jillaWs sons can tell — 
But now a nobler trophyt shows. 
Wrested from mightier, manlier foes, 

Who fought so long — so well." 

Ocean — A Naval Ope 

Tripoli, 1804. -t Macedoman, 1812, 


ard in war, he had, unlike him, other employments 
in peace than " To view hi>^ 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 assemblies and 
splendid levees, yet it was in the bosom of his own fam- 
ily where his happiness was consummated — for there 
he found his ozvn heart, 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 rrjoiced 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—'' J^ow 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 ojie 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 OF 

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 x^merica 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 in 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- 
xica 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 British ; 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 of his early glory, as Commander 
in Chief of a squadron to conquer the enemy into 
peace, and then, as a Kegotiator, 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- 
lows — 

^74 LIFE OP 

T^i rs, . ^ . .. Com. Decatur ) 

r las Ship, Guerriere, ^^ r^ . -r - i 

® ' Capt. Lewis. > 

Frigate Macedoniarij 36 Capt. Jones. 

„ „ Constellation, 36 Capt. Gordon. 

Sloopof War, Ontario, IS 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. Cbauncey. 

Com.Decaturrendezvousedat New- York, with his 
squadron, as one instrument of negotiation, and with 
Instructions from the President of the U. S. as anothera 
He sailed from New- York, 20th May, 1815, and reach- 
ed the bay of Gibraltar in trventy-Jive days, (14th 
June) — sailed round the harbour with his squad- 
ron, in elegant style, with his broad pendant, and 
all his flags flying, without coming U> 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'^^ — The'n at Lieut. Downes' — '' That, 
Sir, is the Epervier'^^ — and, proceeding, " The next, 

Sir, is " O damn the next," said they, and in 

chagrin walked off at hearing the names of three 
ships captured from their navy. Their informant 


might have given them more names of ships, cap- 
tured from Britain, than the whole of Com. Deca- 
tur's squadron. 

* Com. Decatur having learned that despatches 
were instantly sent off to the Algerine fleet, announc- 
ing his arrival at Gibraltar, immediately passed the 
straits into the Mediterranean, in pursuit of it, fear- 
ing it would reach a " neutral port." 

The celebrated Hammida, was the Algerine Ad- 
miral, and sailed in the frigate Mazouda, He had 
excited the unbounded admiration of the Dey, by 
his unceasing activity, and the terror of defenceless 
merchantmen by his diabolical rapacity. Upon 
June 17th, Com. Decatur,. in the Guerriere, had the 
good fortune to fall in with the Admiral's frigate 
which had separated fi-om the fleet — gave hitn two 
broadsides — brought down the Turkish crescent — 
killed thirty of the crew, and amongst them the re- 
nowned Hammida ; and took 40G prisoners. Upon 
the 1 9th, captured an Algerine Brig of 22 guns and 
sent her into Carthagena. 

Correctly concluding the enemy's fleet had reach- 
ed a neutral port, he shaped his course, with his 
prize and prisoners for Algiers, fie arrived there 

* The fads kom which the following brief sketch is made, were 
gathered from the official letters of Com. Decatur, and VV. Sha- 
LER, Esq. to Hon James Momroe, Secretary of btate — from 
those of Com. Decatur, to Hon. Benjamijs W. CnowNiivSHiELD, 
Secretary of the Navy — and from publ-ications, and communica. 
tions, upon which the most perfect reliaace is placed. 

276 LIFE OP 

upon the 28lh, and came to an anchor with his whole 

Determining to know, forthwith, whether peace 
could be negotiated upon the terms he and Wilf.iam 
Sh ALER, Esq., (who was a joint negotiator with him,) 
had to propose, he inimediately despatched a letter 
from the President of the United States, to the Dey, 
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 eitlier 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 which 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 officer high in rank) 
accompanied by the Swedish consul, on board the 
Guerriere, who were received with the utmost cour- 
tesy by Com. Decatur and Mr. Shaler, who inform- 
ed the Port-Captain that they were authorised, by 
the American government, to negotiate a treaty, the 
basis of which must be, an unequivocal relinquish- 
ment of all annual tribute, or ransom for prisoners. 
The Port-Captain still had confidence in the marine 
force of the Dey, and in Admiral Hammida ; and as- 
sured the Commodore that their squadron was safe 
in a neutral port. " Noi all of it,^'^ answered Com. 
Decatur. " The frigate Mazouda^ and a 22 gun 
Brig, are already captured, and your Admiral Ham- 


mida is killed.'''^ With a look of incredulity, min- 
gled with that contempt which a Mahometan is tauj^ht 
by his religion to feel towards Christians, and which 
he never relinquishes until conlempt 2;ive5 place to 
fear, he denied the fact. Himmida's Lieutenant, 
who Wfis a prisoner in the Guerriere, was called in, 
who tremblingly acknowled2;pd 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 : 
" Ho.'itilities rvill not cease until a treaty is made ; 
and a treaty will not be made any where but on board 
the Guerriere,^'' 

The Port-Captain, and the Swedish Consul went 
Qn shore. The next day, June 30th, the Port-Cap- 
tain and Swerlish Consul came out again to the Guer- 
riere, with full powers to negotiate. The articles 
of a treaty were presented to them, by the American 
Commissioners, which it was declared would not 
be varied in any mrjtcnal 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, '' ^s it was un- 
justly taken it must be restored vr paid for, "^"^ The re- 
linquishment of tribute from Aaic .« ica, was the most 
difficult point to settle ; as the relinqiiishment to that 
power might lead to a relinquishment to all otfiers, 
and cause the Dey's destruction. It was said, even 
a litde powder as annual tribute, vixh\\\i be satisfac- 
tory. " If you insist upon receiving powder as tri- 

^78 LIFE OF 

bute.^^ said the Commodore, '^ youmnst expect to re- 
ceive BALLS zviih it,'^^ 

The unyielding firmness of the American Com- 
missioners — added to the force which they had 
to compel a compliance 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 now 
they make war upon us with three of your oion ves- 
sels they have taken from you." 

Thus was a very important treaty negotiated in 
forty- eight hours, giving to the American govern- 
mer»t 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 Ih this volume. In 
co[)sequence of obtaining just such a treaty as was 
demanded, the captured frigate was indignantly- 
given up, to apppase the lacerated feelings of the 
T>ey^ and to save hirn 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. 
Lctois, in the Brig Epervier, to America, with the 
treaty, and left Mr. Shaler at Algiers, as American 
Consul-Gpneral to the Barbary States. 
^ CQin> 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 
Abccllino from the neutral port of Tunis, during the 
war with Britain. He left Algiers 8th July — ob- 
tained water and refreshments at Cagliari on the 
I5th — and, on the 25th, anchored in the bay of 
Tunis. The Commodore communicated with the 
American consul, and immediately demanded am- 
pie satisfaction. The Bey, although he had a pow- 
erful marine force between him and the American 
squadron, acceded to the demand of $4C,000, and 
paid the money to Mr. Jfoah, agent for the AhMino. 
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,y/r5^ to violate 
our neutrality, and then to leave us to be destroy- 
ed^ or pay for your aggressions ?*' Such an in- 
terrogatory from a Mahometan to a Christian^ would 
have made Hamlet exclaim — ^' That is worm- 

Upon the 2nd August, Com. Decatur sailed for 
Tripoli, and anchored thereupon the 5th. A com- 
bination of circumstances rendered his arrival at 
this 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 

stroyed the frigate Philadelphia — and but Iwo days 
from eleven years since he, with the gallant Macdo- 
NOUGH and a little crew, fought the unparalleled bat- 
tle with the gun-boats — slew double their own 
number — captured two full-manntd boats with one 
boat less than half- manned^ and avenged the death 
of Lieut, Decatur, Here too was the theatre of 
Some?'s\ WadswortK's and IsraePs 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 
of Decatur's glory, the gallant Capt. Jones 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 — a lid whose noble prize he now com- 

Com. Decatur immediately communicated with 
Mr. Jones^ the American consul at Tripoli, and 
learned that the Bd?>\\2i\v 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 g25,000. The governor was de- 
spatched to the Guerriere to induce a diminution of 
the sum. He might have said — " Most potent 


chief, my master, the son of the Prophet, eleven 
years past, demanded of the great Preble, g600,000, 
as tiibute and ransom, and received but §60,000." 
The Com'nodore might have answered — " Your de- 
mand arose from your wickedness in enslaving Ame- 
rican citizens — ours arises from justice in claiming 
indeniiiification 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. - They 
were restored, and came on board the Guerriere to 
hail their ^' Deliverer." 

Com. Decatur sailed for Syracuse, the principal 
rendezvous of Com. PrebWs squadron in 1803 an^ 
1804, where the then Lieut. Decatur, with Stewart, 
Lawrence, 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 which 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 purpose 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 overjoyet^ 

282 LIFE OF 

NcBpolitans 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 For- 
pign Affairs^ he thus addressed the King. 

U. S. Ship Guerriere^ J^aples, Sept, 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 aflbrds me great pleasure to have 
had it in my power, by this small service, to evince 

* Vide Souther/'' s Life of Nelson. Charnock^ another biographer 
of Nelson has omitted this tragical story. 


to his majesty the grateful sense entertained by our 
government, of the aid formerly rendered to us by 
his M ijesty during our war with Tripoli. 

With great respect and consideration, I have the 
honour to be your excellency's most obedient ser- 

His excellency the Marquis Cercello, 
Secretary of Stale, t^c. v^c. 

The Marquis, after acknowledging the receipt of 
the letter, and laying it before " the king his mas- 
ter," thus proceeds. 

Naples, -12th Sept., 1815. 

Sir, — His Majesty has ordered ine to acknow- 
ledge this peculiar favour as the act of your generosi- 
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 — 1 beg 
you will receive the assurances of my most distin- 
guished consideration. 

Marquis CERCELLO, 
Secretary of State, and Minister of 
Foreign Affair^:, 

Com. Decatur, Commander of 

the Squadron ofU, S» of America* 

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 N,eIson, from the same source received the 
Title and Dukedom of^ 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- 
peioa, Saranac, Erie, Sic, 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 irrilated with the 
■names of some of his ships, as the naval officers were 
v;ith those of Com. Decatur's. The " Chippezoa^^ 
reminded them of the battle of the 5th of July, 1814, 
in the Peninsula of Uj)per Canada. The " Sara- 
iiac^'' of the battle of Plattsburgh, September 11th, 
The " EWe" of the splendid sortie from that fort, 
September 17th. 

Com. Bainbridge arrived at Carthagena about 
the -10th 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. Shaler 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, Capts. 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 squadron in one hour. 

He then sailed for Tunis and found the dismayed 
7\misian Bey had given all that Decatur demand- 
ed, — showed him his squadron, and took his leave. 

He then sailed for Mrilaga, having missed Com. 
Decatur, who was either at Messina repairing his 
fleet, or at Jsfaples, 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 
the 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 QF 

squadrons formed a junction at that place — and he, 
with infinite satisfaction, lowered his broad pendant, 
and saw that 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 co7ivinci?ig these people is, by ocu- 
lar demonstration.'^^ Com. Decatur says — " The 
only sure guarantee we can have for the maintenance 
of the peace just concluded zoith these people, is the 
presence in the Mediterrajiean of a respectable naval 
force J^ 

The disciples and followers of Allah, .Mahomet^ 
Mohammed^ ov whatever the arch impostor of j¥eccc 
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, 




Recapitulation of Com. Decatur's achievements, &Lc. in the Me- 
diterranean ia 1815 — Rewards by promotion — Necessity of dif- 
ferent grades of office — Arduous duties of Department of the 
^/V'ar?/ — Board of Navy Commissiois'Ers established — Com. De- 
catur appointed Navy Commissioner — Duties of the Navy Com- 
missioners — Responsibility of the office — Naval Architecture — 
Rates of ships — Comparative power — Annual expenseof ships of 
different rates — Improvement in Ship-building — Inventions — As- 
siduity of Com. Decatur — Honours paid him — Difficulty of de- 
signating; Officers — Com. Macdonough — Com. Barron. 

Com. Decatur arrived in America in the Guerriere^ 
upon the 12th day of November 1815, having sur- 
rendered the other ships of hi.^ 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 surely 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 duritig this period — 
the time in which a single merchai^tman usually 
makes a voyage from an American to an European 
port, af;d back again. In this little period of time, 
Com. Decatur 

1. Made a voyage from America to Ev.rope in squad- 

2, Captured an Algerine Frigate in the Mediterra- 

288 LIFE OP 

nean, killed the Algerinf Admiral with 30 of his 
crew, and took 406 prisoners. 

3. Captured a large Algeriiie Brig of war, with 
170 prisoners, and sc;it her to a neutral port. 

4. Negotiated a most advaiit-^.geous t- eaty with the 
Dey of Afgitrs — obtained itidenitiificdtion for 
captures of Americiin n[\erchan(n:;e/), &;c. <Sz;c. and 
rel'-'dsed a Spanish consul and nierchant from bon- 

5. Dr^manded and obtained indemnification from the 
kingdom of 7'ums. \or suffering the British to vio- 
late the 7ieutr(tlity of their port by taking Ameri- 
can vessels. 

6. Demanded and obtained from the kingdom of 
Tripoli i!)de!nr)ification 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 oi 
his subjects rescued from Turkish bondage — re- 
ceived his grateful acknowledgments and assur- 
ances of favour to the " brave American naiion*^^ 

9. S,:ilpd down the Mediterranean and surrendered 
hi.- srumth'on (except the Guerriere) in prime or- 
der to Com, Bdinbndge. 

10. Made a voyage from Europe to America in the 

We may frtiitlessly search the annals of naviga- 
tion from the time the magnetic needle was disco- 
vered — trom 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 the 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 Capt. 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 ? The celerity and power of 
his movements in this justly renowned expedition, 
reminds one of the passage of the electric fluid 
through the atmosphere, and the prostration of eve- 
ry object it strikes, at one moment raising wonder, 
at the next exciting consternation! ! 

In this, Decatur's last expedition to the Medi- 
terranean, he clearly evinced the five great qualifi- 
cations of an accomplished naval commander — Nau- 

* VkleChap. III. 

t Lest this should be deemed " a most fiery simile,''^ its extrava- 
gance is Cftrtainly less than that of a writer in Queen Jinn's reWn 
(the Augustan age of England) who compares the victories of the 
Duke of Marlborough to that of Michael^ hurling mountains at the 


290 LIFE OF 

RY IN ACTION. The two last he iiad hut liule op- 
portunity to call into operation ; for the renowned 
Hamniida, in the heaviest Algerine frigate Mazouda 
with a crew of from 430, to 500, was slain at the 
first broadside from the Guerritre, and at the second, 
his lieutenant struck the Turkish crescent to the 
American banner. 

Com. Decatur's arrival from the Mediterranean, 
dilTused the most enthusiastic joy amongst his asso- 
ciates — the measures he had pursued, received the 
high commendation, and unqualified approbation of 
the American government; and his countrymen, 
with an undivided voire, gave him a rank amongst 
the first Heroes and Benefactors of the Republic. 

It was ever the happiness of Com. Decatur to 
koow that his reputation was constQni\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 hi> 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- 
tnitted not the least event to its decision. To be 
sure, like all other men, he was liable to have his 
most judicious calculations, and active exertions de- 
feated by misfortunes ; but if they succeeded, to his 


skill, 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 alTording 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. Dut since slightly mentioning the 
sol)ject, the writer has carefully examined all the 
Reports of* Naval Committees, and the official opin- 
ions of the different Secretaries of the Navy, and 
rnay certainly allude to them without tlie 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 coi^mand which, she has 
not less than Iwo hundred ■A'DM.XKklu'^. of ten difler- 
ani grades, ascending from rear Jdmiral of the blrie, 
to the Admiral of the fjeet.'' 

This able committee recomiiiended the appoint- 
jr.ent of officers above the grade of Post-Captain, 
(now the highest) v;hich 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 him in 

The Hon. William Jones, the vigilant and active 
Secretary of the Navy, during almost the whole of 
the second war v/ith Britain, thus forcibly and ele- 
gantly ex})rcssos himself upon this subject : — " Cap- 
tains of long and honourable standing, rannot but 



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 presented 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 were 8 Major Generals, and 16 Briga- 
dier- Generals, The immense number of Colonels^ 
Lieutenant- Colonels, Majors, Captains and Lieuten- 
ants, may be easily calculated upon the principles 
upon which the army was organized. 

The Navy had and still has but three grades of 
office — Post-Captains, Masters-Commandants and 
Lieutenants; ihc title of Com?«of?o?*e, as previously 
remarked, arising solely from the circumstance, of 
being senior officer in a squadron. It is presumed 
that some of our venerated and gallant Post-Cap- 
tains have held that immf^veable rank (unless it be 
by removal from the Kavy) for more than iiuenty-five 
yeurs^ Although the subject is a •' cheerless" one 
indeed, I hope to be pardoned for the levity of re- 
marking, 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 country, liavc not to impute the 
last, as an old British Post- Captain did, to the nu- 
merous jun'iGr officers who had travelled over his 
head, to the dignity of Admirals — for our govern- 
ment have not yel seen fit to give to our noble Navy 
a single Adniimh 

The Hon. B. W. CaowNiNsmELD, who caisie into 


ihe Navy Department upon the retirement 6f Mr. 
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 jiavy of Britain, she 
had but ninety-nine 74s in commission, and she had two 
hundred and nine admirals — besides twenty- seven^ 
upon half pay ! In 1 820, in the House of Lords there 
are thirteen Peers of the Realm raised to that higli 
dignity for n«ra/ achievements. Perhaps the asse- 
veration of Shakespeare's ever- living facetious 
knight, will apply to this case—" // is ever the way 
of this, our English nation, to make too much of a good 
thing ;'^^ and if a boundless national debt, and inter- 
minable ramifications of taxation, are " 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 of 
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 
.0 their endless honour — it extorts encomiums from 


"294 i^iFE oi 

our bitterest enemies — it imparts to our coiinirymen 
the richest blessings. To say, they have been 
loo stinted in their economy, in regard to the Navy ; 
and illiberal in their rewards to our naval heroes, 
would require an arrogance which but few, even of 
our untutored, unthinking and visionary politicians 
possess. But as ours is a government of ihepeo- 
pie, 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 emola- 
ment, which our gallant Ocean-Warriors so richly 

Mr. Secretary Hamilton, Jones and Crowyiinshield^ 
and the most distinguished Post-Captains, all con- 
curred in the opinion of the indispensable necessity 
of creating a Board of JVavi/ Commissioners, The 
crreat 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 
(he Navy, from, to use their language — 
?st. The excessive and laborious duty of the Secre- 
■l(\. The want of sufficient checks upon, and the con- 
frequent irre.?ponsibility of, subordinate agents. 


Jd. The great latitude allowed commanders in al- 
tering, repairing, and firiishing-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 ^' Mnditerranean School." The 
first was the vigilajit watchman over American com- 
merce and seamen during the zvar in disguise with 
Britoin, and dared to return the fire of a British ship 
of War. In vpen 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 shores in safety. 7'he 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 t?ii- 
nutes. He sent the first British fiag 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 cofl^ers 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 



Station, 1 need say nothing to those who have had 
the patience to peruse these importect sketches of 
his life. 

The duties of a Mtvi/ Commissioner, (so fi>r as the 
organization of the government, and the naw of 
America and England have an analogy) corresj)onds 
with that of a Lard of Admiralty in the latter coun- 
try. It is always the part of wisdom to accumulate 
wisdom even from the experience of enemies ; and 
although our commanders, seamen, discipline, naval 
skill, (fee, hav£ been proved to be decidedly supe- 
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 ev- 
ery important measure originates. From volumin- 
ous reports and documents the following brief out- 
line is collected. The Bo'^rd, 

1 . Determine the various classes of ships to be built,, 
quality of materials, models, (fee. 

2. Establish regulations for the necessary expendi- 
tures and the correct accounting for them. 

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 
imon 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. Regulations for cruising ships, ships in port, for 
the recruiting service, otficers on duty on shore, 
and on furlough. 

8. A system for hospitals, and the medical depart- 

9. Regulations for the conduct of Pursers, fixing 
their emolument — mode of accounting and secur- 
ing seamen from undue advantages. 

10. Regulations for the examination of the officers 
of the Navy below Master- Commandant—classing 
them in the scale of merit — dctermiiiing promo- 
tions^ 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 
abtises should have crept into the Navy, and that a 
succession of Secretaries should have urged an es- 
tablishment of such a board. These abuses have 
been corrected, and the pecuniary affciirs of the Na- 
vy are now as accurately adjusted as the accounts 
of an educated merchant. 

Although confidence, 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 

298 LIFE OF 

will never adopt the sentiment of an English minis- 
ter, who demanded from Parliament " necessary con- 
fidence 5" and who was answered. by one of the 
greatest statesmen who ever graced the councils of 
Britain. " Necessary confidence in the public agents, 
is at best but a ntcessary evil, and ought not to be 
reposed." Our rulers, thanks to the stubborn 
and unyielding resistance against corruption, have 
not yet passed " jlcts of Indemnity^ ^^'^ to shield en- 
croachments upon the Constitution, and peculations 
in the treasury from punishment. 

Com. Decatur brought into this hoard 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 countr\\ A new era commenced in 
our grov/ing naval establishment. Order v/as 
brought out of ceiifusion, and system was substitut- 
ed for derangement. They were to the Navy, what 
f he 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. 
Rodgcrs and Capt. Porter if it were so ? A.^k them 
if their perpetual d;jties, do not excite unremitting 
solicitude, and call forth every exertion of the mind 
and the body ? Even the details of common busi- 
ness, which refjiiirr" nothing but ordinary attention, 
without any c x( rlion of judgment, is irksome and fa- 
tiguing — add to this the necessity of improvement^ 
where errors have been discovered, and of invention^ 

* Sach acts have frequently been passcil to shield a British mi- 
Siieterfroffi dis^^race and punisiiment. 


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. 

Kaval Architecture^ more than any one in the 
whole circle of the arts, requires original genius, 
taste and judgment. The ancient ordfrs of archi- 
tecture, in erecting temples, palaces and mansions 
upon earth; and the little improvement, and great 
injuries they have sustained by modern architects, 
are easily learned by the commonebt abiht), aa*i re- 
duced to practice by mere mechanical ijigrnuity. 
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 oi Ships, there can hardly be said to be 
an established principle^ for where there is, there may 
be uniformity. Why is it often said that such and 
such a ship is the best sailer in the American or Bri- 
tish Na-vy? Why did Com. Decatur say so of the 
Macedonian? and why was his noble father in the 
Philad' Iphia, heiiien by Capt. Try on in the Connec- 
ticut, in a sailing niatch ? Why did the naval archi- 
tects of Britain take models from the wretched Che- 
sapeake, when l^roken up, when she was deemed al- 
together the most ill-constructed ship in the Ameri- 
can Navy ? It was owing even to her superiority 
Qver their own. M the President -and the Essex, were 

300 LIFE OF 

not too much battered and riddled by the squadrofis 
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 superi- 
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 .^hips 
most decidei'Jly surpass any that have floated upon 
the ocean from the days of Carthage to this age. 
Witness the escapes of the Constitution, Argus, Hor- 
net^ Peacock^ v§/*c., and the victories of every one of 
our ships in fair and equal combat ; and, to mention 
the most signal instance of rapidity in movement, 
witness the Guerriere, and Com. Decatur's second 
scjuadron 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 the British Navy there are four denominations 
of ships — 1. Ships of the line, from the lar^^est, down 
to Sixty fours. 2. Fifty fours to Fifties, a distinct 
class, but rated with the Ime-of-batde-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 guns than they are re- 
gistered at. Besides these, there are SchooKers. 
Fire-ships, Bombards, Gun-Boats, Tenders, Cutters, 
(Sic, &;c. 

In the American Navy are Seventy -Fours, Forty- 
fours, Thirty-sixes, Sixteens, Brigs, Schooners, Gun- 
Boats, i^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 proportion 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 44'5 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. 

Tke relative efficiency of Frigates and Sloops of 

302 LIFE OF 

M^ar is at least as one to two ; and nearly the same 
reasoning will apply to them as to 74's and 44'3. 
The Ci/ane 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,) captur- 
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- 
pense of building and equipping a 74, was estimat- 
ed at ^342,700; only ser^^i years ago, at §300,000. 
The expense of a 74, and of consequence, of every 
description of ships, is reduced nearly one third. 
The annual expense of a B4, in commission in 1812, 
was estimated at ^02,1 10 ; its annual expense now, 
(1820) including repairs, is 188,529 64; a 44 gun 
Frigate, g 133,985 73; a 36 gun Frigate, gl 10,557 
19; a Sloop of War, g59,069 42 ; a Brig, g39,774 
67; a large Schooner, g23,350, and small, g6,452 ; 
a Gun-Boat, or Galley, J^6, 243 ; a Steam Frigate, 
$59,660 41; a Block-Ship, g39,774 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. Those duties, as they were discharged in 

he cabinety excited no applause from the multitude. 


who knew not their importance. He was no long- 
er engaged in bringing down 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 Crowninshield 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 the 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. 
All 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 book? ; but as books never teach the 
use of books, they have reduced the knowledge they 
acquired from them in the closet, to actual practice 
ypon the ocean. 

The confidence reposed in Com. Decatur when 

304 LIFE oy 

he was appointed a Navy Commissioner, by the cati- 
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. There was one 
more senior to him, and he could not doubt it — it was 
Com. James Barron. 

Com. Decatur had other viev;s than those who 
hold a sinecure office under the monarch of Britain, 
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 trans-atlantic enemies, he 
was solicitous that the American Navy should have 
ail the benefit of these discoveries, let them have 


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, die 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 Insurgente, captured by him in the little Con- 
stellation, in 1799. All these improvements be- 
came familiar with J]mericans, 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 raised to shed its blood" — and 

* The writer, in investig'atiag this subject, had an interview with 
one of the oldest and most experienced ship-builders in New-Eng- 
land. He commenced the business at fourteen, and excepting the 
period of the Revolutionary War, in which he was a gallant sol- 
dier under Gen. PuTi:JAM, followed it to this time, (1821.) He 
distinctly remembers examining a *' chain cable" upon an armed 
AiaericamYii'^'ra iN'ew-York, in ] 703, when discharged from the 
army and minutely described it. He did not fight in the second 
war, but he would now nerve his arm at the sight of Capt. Short- 
iand, who assassinated his son in Dartmoor Prison, in 1814 ! ! 
26 * 

306 LIFE OF 

that sometimes he surpasses his progenitors m sci- 
ence and achievements. 

Coiiic Decatur, although ever ready to meet the 
enemies of his country, in combat, never detracted 
from their skiil or gallantry. He would as readily 
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- 
ed society, beside that which the metropolis afforded. 
Three states la}' in their claim to him as a citizen 
— Maryland, because he was born in it — Pennsyl- 
uania, because he adopted it, and Virginia, because 
she furnished him v/ith the source of his most ex- 
quisite enioyment, a lovely, dignified and accom- 
niisbed bosom companion. It is not necessary to 
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 
toivns, although in the most unostentatious style, 
caUed forth every possible demonstration of esteeaio 


respect 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 from fear than attachment — it was the 
voluntary effusion of the heart, proceeding from a 
knowledge of his inestimable worth, and an acknow- 
ledi^ement of the incalculable services he had ren- 
dered the Republic. 

The refined and patriotic citizens of Baltimore, 
ever prompt in Stcrving 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 cf which was this 
inscription — 

'' The Citizens of Baltimorb, 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 Ms heroism^ and ad- 
mired for his virtues,'^^ yet some observers might not 
be so fortunate. 

The citizens of Norfolk, (Vir.) than whoir*, no 
portion of Americans better knew the private and 
public worth of Com. Decatur, besides the constant 
display of mfZiric/wa/ esteem, invited him to a splen- 

* Although it is readily admitted, that the most elegant motlos 
are to be found in this most elegant of languages, yet as English 
is the language of Americans^ however different their principles^ 
would it not be more judicious to convey our ideas in our vernacu- 
lar tongue ? 


did public dinner. It is upon such occasions, that 
the frank and unsophisticated sentiments of generous 
bosoms are elucidated. Surrounding the festive 
board, and casting their eyes upon the Hero of the 
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 twinkling 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 iu the Mediterranean — his 
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, 
^e gave the following, modest, ingenuous, and grate- 
ful sentiment. 

*' The Citizens of Petersburg — They render 
honours to those for services, which they 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 anr 


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 ^^ 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- 
flections of our rulers, no one surpasses, nor indeed 
equals that of naval defence. With a sea- board of 
three thousand miles, — indented with some of 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 enem.y, 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 OP 

power of land batteries, the experience of modern 
warfare evinces clearly, the vast superiority of bat- 
teries that ^re 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 
by armies^ and fortifications ; but even there, a nio'C' 
ing rampart of high-minded men, is found to be vast- 
ly more eflficient than stationary forts, redoubts and 
breast-works. Present to the enemy our flying ar- 
tillery, and a rampart, formed by a front, bristled 
with bayonets^ and led on by brandishing 5ryorc?5, an 
enemy will much soonrr 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 army of the Republic, it 
belongs, with all its imperfections and errors to the 
Mtvy. It was only intended to show, that a movea- 
ble 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. De^ 
catur hat! 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 gmerally ; ami equally affected every 
one from the hi^he^t to the loioost si^'tde of office rs. 
But in re^ic.riiig otficers to commands, alter they had 
bc^n suspended from them by arrests, inquiries, and 
trials, and after the term of suspensions, after inqui- 
ries and trials, had expired, exposed them to the 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 
ha7ids of honest men, with under standing sufficient 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. Alacdonough 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 they so, the li- 
mits of this work would 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, beheld one of the heroes 
of the Mediterranean and the hero of Champlain 

31-2 LiPE OF 

under arrest ! His unspotted life — bis unexampled 
morVsty — 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, 
Me had been his favourite Midshipman in the Medi- 
terranean — he had followed wherever he led, and 
where but few others tuould 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 himself, 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 enjoyed the infimte 
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- 

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 in • 


flicted upon the honour of the American Navy. 
The writer hesitates as he approaches the subject. 
From that disastrous affair, more than from any 
other cause, arose the second war between ouu 
peaceful Republic and imperious Britain ; and, if 
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 LIFE OF 


Oom. Barron solicits a command in the Navy — Com. Docat ir's 
opinion as to his re-admission into the Navy — The unfoitunate 
misunderstanding between them — It eventuates in a challenge to 
single combat, from Barron to Decatur — Duelling — Result of 
the meeting — Immediate effects of it — Honours to the remain? of 
Com. Dec?itur — Funeral ceremonies at his interment — His Ch A- 


The writer approaches to the conchision of these 
sketches, with a solicitude, if possible, greater than 
that which he has experienced in the progress of 
them. His blood almost congeals as he writes — his 
heart throbs at every sentence — and his feeble pow- 
ers sensibly experience their insufficiency to pour- 
tray 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 spread 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 combata.nt. 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 of 


impairing the living reputation of Com. Barron, so 
nothing will be omitted to defend the memory 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 ars 
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 his 
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 actunl 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. PersQiial 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 
Navy^Comniissioner, hehactthe highly delicate, and 

316 LIFE OF 

responsible duty of a -judge of merit and demerit to 
perform, it would require some being " more than 
maii''^ to satisfy all, and in some instances, decisions 
might meet with reprehensions, from those who were 
" less than man?'' ought to be. His motto in this ca- 
pacity was — " Be just, and 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 v^as to him as the vir- 
tue of a wife was to Csesar — ^' It must not only be 
chaste- — it must be unsuspected,'''^ If there ever was 
degeneracy in the Navy, he was always too exalt- 
ed to sink to it, and too elevated to be approached 
by it. 

Thus 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 1 8 1 9, Com. 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 yeor, (1819) Com. Decatur, as Navy-Com- 
missioner, had to express his opinion in regard to 
tho fitness of Com. Barron to take a command in th^ 


Navy. He did express it in his official capacity, 
and in interviews with officers of the Navy. 

As to the '* aftaiF 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 office^', 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 
enraity 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 — " It 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 l)e 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 1819, and terminated 
in February, 1820. It is sincerely to be lamented 
^ihat it ever met the public eye — it is deeply to be 

* Vide correspondence of Decatur and Barron. 
27 * 

•313 LIFE OF 

regretted that the jealous enemies of our rising Na^ 
vy, ever pored over it with malignant satisfaction— 
for satisfcj^tion it will ever be to them to discover 
disaffection between our accomplished and gallant 
Naval officers. While Americans lament the [^r- 
sonal altercations betv/een Perri/ and Heath, 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 
\n 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 to enact 
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 
Divine Law — it belongs to the Teachers of Morali- 
ty to inculcate its doctrines upon this practice. 
Above all, it belongs to the most distinguished offi- 
cers of our 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, 

* la 1779, the Eaiiof St. Vincent QiAr John Jervis) received a 
'challenge from Sir John Orde, for giving a preference to Sir Ho- 
ratio Kelson in the command of a squadron. It was of course ac- 
cepted. But the friends of the parties iaterfered. The civil au- 
thority put their lordships under bonds for keeping the peace, and 
vo'trained two gallant officers from making war upon eacli other. 


puerile and 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^ atul not a'gainst each other ! 

While the officer of genuine honour will avoid 
the infliction of a wound upon the re[;utation of his 
superior, equal, or inferior, he will rciually avoid 
that unrestrained resentment which calls upon him 
to violate the laws of Earth, of fleavf-^n, and of Hon- 
our itself. It is impossible to ascertain the degree 
of moral gijilt between hira whose provocation rous- 
es up the spirit of revenge, and hira whose ven- 
geance can be appeased only with blood. AlasT 
within the last quarter of a century, our Republic 
has been called to mourn the destruction of many of 
Iier best citizens upon that Aceldema — " The feld 
of Honour,^'^ 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.- — 

7320 LIFE OP 

*• 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 coun- 
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 or 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 — -Remem- 
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 wliich has guarded you in the 
midst of death, in justifiable warfare, and tremble 
at 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 ycur exalted i^taiion, and 
to the bosom of your anxious family." 

But no monitory voice irom the heavens above, 
and no voice " crying aloud from the ground,'''^ dis- 
suaded the ambitious Challenger from advancing 
to the field. The Challenged Decatur suffered 
Lis 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 h\\ — 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 lime, 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 counti y, 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 but a few paces distant, with what agony must their 
fixed eyes have gazed? Not from the agony of their 
wounds — for 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 life was un- 
extinguished in eitherof 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 iok^u o{ recomciliation* 
Oil ! why could not these stern, unyielding devotees 
of the delusive phantom of false honour, one hour 
before, have said to each other, " Live, and I will 



Com. Decatur was removed to his mansion-house 
in Washington, languishing in the agony 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 vio- 
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 trifling concern, were 
immediately abandoned, and every thought was in- 
tensely fixed upon the living — the dying Decatur. 
Almost regardless of the forms which tender sensi- 
bility enjoins, when approaching the house of death 
and mourning, every one involuntv^rily rushed to the 
residence of the bleeding citizen and hero, whobut 
a few hours before, gladdened their eyes by his pre- 


The sublime and osalted contemplations of the 
hero's soul, were scarcely interrupted by the agony 
of hh body. While nature was siruggling to retain 
its agonizing grasp upon this world, his celestial 
spirit was panting for the regions of immortality: 
but his immortal soul was not summoned hcHce, un- 
til his lips pronounced his decided disapprobation 
or THE MANNER IN WHICH HE FELL. His denuncia- 
tion ag.iirjst DUELLING, was like a voice uttered from 
the tomb. Df.catur's last faltering exclamations 
were' a denunciation against the duellist. 

His death left a chasm in the Navy which it might 
be presumptuous to say cannot be filled ; but which, 
it is confidently said, cannot be filled better. U pro- 
duced a sensation in the metropolis, at the moment 
it was announced, and through the country as the 
saddening intelligence spread, which never had been 
experienced 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 demonstrafion of re- 
spect was paid to the remains of Com. Decatur, 
by the public authorities, and every condolence, 
which the deepest sympathy could afford, was ex- 
tended to the inconsolable Mrs. Decatur. 

The ardent aif'^ction and glowing patriotism of 
the eloquent John Randolph, led him to introduce 
a motion into the house of Representatives for the 
purpose of inducing a /ormflr/ display of sorrow upon 
ihe, occasion. It called forth the most unqualified 

324 Life op 

eulogies upon the character of the deceased hero , 
but lest a recorded resolution, upon the subject of 
his funeral or badges of inourning, might be constru- 
ed into an approbation ol the mode in which he di- 
ed, it was deemed farm^re 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 
the largest concourse of the public authorises, 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 Ol the Navy of the United States. 

Officers of Marine Corps. 



Pall Bearers, 

Pail Bearers, 

Com. Ti::.-cy, 
Com. M ! -Jonough, 
Gpu. Jes:^iip, 
Capi. Bailed. 
Lieut. M'Poerson, 

-) r, f CotL. Rod-ers, 
1 d 1 Com. Porter, 
>> ^< Gen. Brown, 
00 1 Capt. Cassin, 
; •'' I Capt. Chaunce^ 


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 })rocession began its solemn 
movement, minute guns from the Mvi/ Yard were 
commenced ; and were continued during the proces- 
sion and funeral service. The same cannon which 
had so often announced the splendid achievements 
of Decatur, now marked the periods in bearing his 
remains fi'om his late abode to the tomb. Their re- 
verber^iting thunder mournfully echoed through the 
metropolis, and the surrounding region, and announ- 
ced ihe approach of a sleepiL'g hero to ihe silent te- 
meiery. When the volleys of musketry echoed 
forth the last token of respect to the sacred relicjues, 
it was ktiovvn that all that was mortal of Decatur 
was concealed frorj) human view,— that his body be- 
longed to the earth — his exiiltedand immortal spirit 


326 LIFE OP 

to heaven, and his character, his fame and his glory 
to his country. 

During those solemn and impres<^ivo cerem'>nies, 
Com. Barron was languishing upon his cv)U( h with 
the wound received at the moment that was, s\hich 
carried Com. Decatur to the tomb; the ih"i.nrr of 
the minute guns, and the discharge of mu^kiiiy 
must have vibrated through a heart tortured to a<J0- 
riy. His destiny was yet uncertain — he was ujion 
the verge oi hvo worlds, uncertain to which the next 
hour might consign him. He remembered that the 
living Decatur said to him: — " I 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 J extend thy care to me ! 
For jVature sinks, unequal to the combat, 
And weak Philosophy denies her succours." 

But Com. Barron still survives ; and survives it 
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 him to the very verge of it. The conflict 
between the df?parted Decatur and the surviving Bar- 
ron was no common atlair of honour. It did not ori- 
ginate in the personal hostility of the parties — it 
•was in the cause of the American Navy they fought 
each other; and had the noble Decatur instantly 
died, the zvounded 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 not a/it?, "o hi^h a ^entleman." 

Decatur is dead— and if he must have died in the 
midst of his years and glory, would to heaven he 
hi 1 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 : — u 

«♦ Sampson hath quit himself 

Like Sampson ; — and heroically hath finished 
A life heroic." 

The course of his life points out a brilliant orb for 
ihe ocean-warrior to move in — the manyier 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 
human 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 foils 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, lorescue 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- 
luted 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 acquirement. He first made him- 
self a general scholar — then a theoretical navigator 
■ — then a practical 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 al- 
most forgotten in his more brilliant acquirement of 
naval tactics. He was the accomplished naval tacti- 
cian. The most minute branches of naval sciePaCe 


jiever 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 
the 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, 
ond 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 overwhelmiing 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 J^aval Officer^ he was as perfect a model as 
28 ^ 

330 LIFE OF 

the world afforded. To his superiors in rank, he 
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 
them, 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 v/herever 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 to 
their virtues in exalted or humble stations, while his 
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, v^^here 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 hifn to inflict a wound upon 
others ; and, with the majVsfy of virtue, to repel 
w^ith indignation, the most remote suspicion of his 
own honour. 

But his love of country was his crowning glory. 
His whole Vih 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 consummnh'on of all things. 

332 LIFE OP 

[The spienJid " Naval Victories" achieved by Americans over 
Briton?, in the second war between the American Republic and 
the British Empire, occasiijned a great variety of '' Nautical 
Songs," calculated for almost every variety of taste. None of 
the Naval Heroes called forth the effusions of the Muse with 
more rapture than Stephen Decatur. The following pro- 
duction, except the 3d verse, appeared soon after the capture of 
the Macei»oivian. The elegant author* will excuse one pro- 
saic verse for being introduced amongst liis highly poetical ones.] 

Tune — " To Anacreon in Heaven."' 

I. To the Court of Old Neptune, the god of the sea. 
The sons of Columbia sent a petition, 

That he their protector and patron would be ; 

When this answer arriv'd tree from t&rms or condition ; 

" Repair to the sea ; 

" You conq'rors shall be ; 
" And proclaim to the world that Columbia is free : 
" Beside, my proud trident DECATUK shall bear, 
" And the laurels of VictVy triumphantly wear! 

II. 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 befriended. 

" As the world you explore, 
" And revisit each shore, 
•' To all nations proclaim the glad sound evermore ; 
*' That DECATUR old Neptune's proud trident shall 

" And the laurels of Vict'ry triumphantly wear I'' 

* J. R. Calvert, Es<^ 


III. In that sea where the Crescent long proudly had 

The sons o^ Mahomet the Christians enslaved ; 

There DECATUR repair'd, and the Turk fiercely 
And there from dire bondage the Christian he saved. 
The Crescent soonbow'd, 
'Pore his thunder so loud, 
And his light'ning, resistless, dispelFd 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 of coral so bright, 
Skimm'd swiftly the wide, liquid plain, quite enchanted,; 
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 applaus^. 

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 ligfU, to her view quickly came ! 
In raptures she cries, " Here DECATUR 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 
numer'vis effusion? of the pathetic and elegiac muse. The bril- 
liant imao^nation and harmonious numbers of the following irre- 
gular ode, induce the writer to insert it in the conclusion of these 
memoirs, "(he reader will recoil^' t that the eminence in the 
riciiiity of the metropolis, called Kalorama, was the residence of 
the great Epic Poet of America, Joel Barlow — that he died in 
J>ance when Ambassador — and that the body of Decatur was 
deposited in his family tomb, j 

Methoiight I stood on Kalorama's height, 

Reclining:, pensive, on Decatur's tomb, 
When, lo ! a form div inely bright, 

Celestial glorias beaming in her flice. 
Descends, while floods of light the dreary place ilhime i 

And thus addressed me, with a heavenly grace :— 
" Say, youthful bard, whose humble name 
Has never graced the rolls of Fame, 
What brought thee to this sacred place, 
And why the tear that trickles down thy face '^ 
Sav hast thou sought these peaceful shades 
To woo the lovM Aonian maids, 
Where fjvoured by the tuneful nine, 

His lyre great Barlow strung, 
And, with an energy divine, 

Immortal epics sung ? 
Alas ! he sleeps n.pon a foreign shore— 
The muses hi^ fate deplore — 
Hia lyre, liiat once so sweetly breath'd 
But novv with mournful cypress wreath'd 
For ever slumbers, and is heard no more : 
Yet. mortal ! know my ?i ;me is Fame ; 
And » ihe world his , it^ . proclaim! 

Or still more piouns. hast thou come 
To weep o'er brave Decatur's tomb ? 


And dost thou shed ihe A^.eling tear 
O'er his religues th-jt slumber here V 
''I'is true, said i ; I here deplore 
The g (ll'iut hero, now no more ; 
Who, like a youthfui Hercules, 
Subdued his sav:tge enemies ! 
And who at a m iturer age, 
Encounter'd Briuun's hostile rage ; 
And dared with more than equal foes contend^ — 
While Vixiorij and Fame his glorious course attend— 
And whose droad cannon shook Barbarians shore, 
Wlule AIji;iers tiembrd at the thund'ring roar. 
Alas ! he slumbers with the dead ; 
The lightening of his eye is gone ! 
And cypress wreaths entwine around that head. 
Where Glory her bright halo shed ; 
And darkness hovers o'er that face 

Which beam'd with every social grace — 
Where manly courage shone. 
Nor does the muse alone 
Decatur's fate bemoan ; 
But floods of 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 ceas'd, when thus the power again : — - 

" No more indulge thy pensive straio, 
Thy grief is useless, and thy sorrows vain — 
Rise, and beliold his triumphs o'er the main 5" 
When on a craggy rock I stood, 
Which overhung the ocean-shore, 
Beheld the tumult of the flood, 
And hea.rd the surges roar. 

336 LIFE OF 

I saw two wnrlike ships engage* 

With hostile fury and destructive rage ; 

And heard the cannon's thundering roar 

Reverberate through rocks, and roil along the shore ; 

'Midst clouds of smoke the starry flag was seen, 

Waving in triumph, o'er t!ie dreadful scene ; 

While shining through the battle's storm, 

I saw the brave DECA i'UR'S form ; 

His arm hke lightning, dealt the fatal blow. 

And hurFd 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 : 

I heard her golden trump resound 

With an immortal strain. 
While bursts of glory flash'd around, 

And brighten'd all the main : 
*' Hear, mortal, hear ! the wonders thou hast seen 

Give but a glimpse of his immortal fame ; 
I might display a more expanded sceae, 

And with new glories grace Decatur's name ! 
But thou couidst not endure the dazzling sight — 
For how can mortal eyes sustain such heavenly light ?'^ 
But hark ! I hear a louder sound. 

Like peals of thunder, bursting on my ear ; 
While rill the listening nations round, 

The immortal praises of DECATUR hear ! 



KccAPiTULATioN. — Squackons, Ships, Sloops of War, 
Brigs, Schooners and Gun-Boats, in which Stephen De- 
catur served or conquered ; the time when, the capacity 
in which, and in what Wars. 

A''ames of 

Ships and 


Duty and Achievemenls. 

In what warSj 


k,c. &ic. 



Frigate Uj.'^tudyiiig' the Theory of Naval 
States, Mid- Tactics, and reducuig it to Prac- 
siiipaiaa and lice. 

Br. Norfolk, 
1st Lieut. 


Practi( log and teaching Kaval 
Disci ft line. 

U. Discipliuing Crew — Convoyim 
iieu-' Merchantmen — Chastising 
I Frenchmen. 




E— I Mediterranean. 

U-t;Disci|,liiiiiio' Crew, in Navai 


FrLs;ate New 
york, Ibt 

Brig Ar2,-us, 
Lt. Com'dt'. 

Schooner En- 
terprise, Lt. 

Ketch Intre- 
pid, 70 men, 
4^uns, Lieut, 

Tactics and Nautical skill 
rou-iag their courage. 

Oisciplining crew, teaching Na- 
val gunnery, police of the siiip, 
k.c. &c. Returned to America 
in th? Chesapeake. 

!)is ■ipliuiag crew, teaching tac- 
tics, nautical skill, modes of at- 
tack. Sec. .K;c. 

Attacked and captured Tripolitan 
corsair, and two distinguished 
commanders, named the captur- 
ed vessel Kktch Intrepid, 
Dec. 23d. 

Boarded, and captured Frigate 
Philadelphia, of 54 guns, 750 
men. Killed 30, wounded 1"2G, 
and burned the ship, under Ba- 
shaw's battery and castle 1 Feb. 
ifcith. \_aone killed.] 


With the 

Com Truxton 
*' Decatur, 

Capt. Little. 
" Tryon. 
" Barry, 


Com. Dale. 



Lt. Stewart, 


Lawrence . 
Morris^ jr. 



JS'ames of 

In, lokat wars, 


iShips and Dul^ and Achievements. 





Division of In No. IV. 1 gun, charged 9 



^un-boats of .3 guns and 40 men 


Senior Offi- 

each. Captured an enemy's 


Large boat, hearing out his prize 
— James Decatur treacherously 


slain. Returned to the combat, 

Somers, k.<s„ 

with a Midshipman and 8 men, 

captured the Turk's boat whd 


slew his brother, and shot him 

dead. In both prizes 33 officers 

J. Decatur. 

and men slain — Lost not a man. 

Aug. 3. 



Frigate Con- 

Crew disciplined by Frkble, 



and needed no more disciplining. 


Blockading enemy, and awaiting 

J. Bainbridge 

Rank from 

negotiation on shore. 

Feb. 16th. 




Blockading eneroy, and awaiting 


negotiations at the Bashaw's pa- 


lace. Returned to America up- 

on conclusion of Tripolitan war. 





dantof A- 

Teaching the peculiar disci- 



pline for Gun-Boats; modes of 

" War in 

Gun- Boats. 

attack, singly or in squadron. 




Cruising on the American coast ; 


watchng foreign armed ships,and 

and the 

enforcing acts of Congress. 


j Squadron. 




Preparing for what might come ; 


U. States. 

visiting ports, &c. &c. 






-[$1 Cruise. 

\ V. States. 

Sailed in a Squadron comman- 


j Captain. 

ded by Com. Rodgers. 


2rf Cruise, 

' Captured H. B. M. Frigate 


i 'lacedoniao, 49 guns, Oct. 25. 




A''ames of 

Ships anrf 


2;313| SaiTADRON. 
I U. States, 
Sloop of War 





SPs of War, 






Si's, of War, 








Dut^ and AcJiievemtnt'S. 

In what warSf 



3rf Cruise. 
Driven into iNew-London Har- 
bour, by a superior British 
:Squadron, and blockaded ; at- 
tempts an escape ; Challenges 
enemy ; examines Steam-Boat ; 
impressed seamen, (fee. &c. fee. 

4lh Cruise. 
Beat the Frigate Endymion^ 
and surrendered to the whole 
British Squadron ; Jan. 15, re- 
turned on parole. 

Captured Algerine Frigate Ma- 
zouda ; killed Hammida, and 29 











&C. &C; 

men. June 

Captured Alg. Br. 22 g. 19 

ArriCed at Algiers 29 

Made a Treaty 30 

\r. at Tunis, demand, ;*46,000 
as indemnification July 31 

Arrived at ''i'ripoli, demanded 



Aug. 9 

Arrived at Messina, repaired, 
left caj.itives 20 

Arrived at Naples Sept, 2 

Communicat. v.'ith the king, 8 
Arrived at Gibraltar, and 
joined Com. Bainbridge 18 

Arrived in America Nov. 12 

Arranging affairs of Navy with| 
Navy Department, designating! 
officers, (tc. &c- 

1820 Single 
! C^ombat. 

JDied March 22, in defending the 
jaonourof the American Navv. 




I. Brief views of the most important events iii 
the lives of Com. Bainbridge, Com. Porter, 
Capt. Lawrence and Com. Macdonongh, 
contemporaries of Decatur. 

U. Succinct sketch of the American Navy 
from its commencement. 

Jli. A List of the Officers of the Navy, to wit. 
Secretary, Navy- Commission ers. Post- Cap- 
tains, Masters-Comm'dts., pnd 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 18^1, 
with other valuable tables^ 

[As the Publisher of this Edition has seen fit to ornament it 
with an elegant Frontispiece, consisting of a group of Heroes 
surrounding the immortalized Decatur, it is deemed expedient 
to introduce into the Volume a Miniature Memoir of the gallant 
Bainbridge, Porter, Lawrence, and MACDONorcH, his 
Contemporaries in War, in Peace, and in Glory. The Skclches 
were furnished to the Author by a gentleman, whose genius has 
embraced multum in parvOf and whose mode?ty inhibits me from 
mentioning his name.] 



— — ®®@® 

WILLIAM Bainbridge, ^vas born at Princeton, 
New- Jersey, May 7lh, 1774. His father was a 
respectable Physician of that place. He received 
'his euucation 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 the 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, were so satisfacto- 
ry to them, that at the age of eighteen, they gav3 
him a mate's birth in the ship Hope, in a voyage to 
Holland. During this voyage, the crew mutinied, 
in a gale of wind, and had nearly succeeded in throw- 
ing the Capt. overboard, when Bainbridge, hearing 
the alarm, took 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, he had com- 
mand of a ship in the Dutch trade, and continued in 
command of various ships in the European trade un- 


til 1798. In 1796 on a voyage from Bourdcaux to 
St. Thomas, with but four small guns and ninemerf, 
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 Cauda loupe, v/as captured by two 
French Frigates and a Lugger. General Desfour- 
ricaux was on board of one of these Frigates on his 
passage to take command of the Island in place of 
Victor Hughes. Todeo)onstratea seeming fi'iendship 
towards our govcrnraenf, arising from political mo- 
tives as it would appear, heproj)9sed that Bainbridgc 
should take his ship and return to the United States, 
when at the same time, other American vessels of 
!T^'{ch greater value, were retained and their crews 
•'i-eated 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 
*he commerce of France, agreeably to instructions 
-rom his government. The General, after threatea- 
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- 
commandant ; 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 barcfes. 

On his return from that cruise, he sailed in a 
squadron, for the protection of the United States' 
trade, toCuba; 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 v/hich 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's 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 fi'iendship which he entertained towards 
him, as well as the power wliich he represcnted- 
But appearances soon changed. Avarice being a 
predominant passion, he soon became unmindful 
of the treasures bestowed upon him, and in a few 
'';")vs made a demand of the George Washington, to 


carry his ambassador and presents to the Grand 
Seignior of Constantinople, under pretence of a sti- 
pulation in our treaty with him. This treaty, how- 
ever, related only to our merchant vessels, but as the 
Frigate was thew in harbour, and completely in his 
power; and as the Dey threatened in case of refusal 
to imprison cvi^vy American in Algiers, he was un- 
der the necessity of complying. 

This expedition was however favourable to our 
government. The American flag being entirely 
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 the}' had any conception of the 
country. The messengers from the Dey were or- 
dered on board the Ca pud. in 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 hismizen, v/as 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 he a convincing 
proof in the niind of the Seigiiior. that the " new 


worlcP' which he represented, must be already 
great and powerful. 

In December, the George Washington sailed for 
Algiers, with the ambassador's secretary to give au 
account of the unfortunate result of his embassy; 
where he arrived on the 2 1st Jan., having touched 
at Malta to land some Turks, as a favour to the Ca- 
pudan Pacha. Finding that Captain Bainbridge 
was in favour wiih the Turkish Admiral, (who was 
related to the Grand S(Mg:.ior by marriage,) and 
learning likewise the order of the Grand Seignior, 
the tyrant was so effectually humbled, that he re- 
leased four hundred prisoners, and declared war 
against France. The consul and other French sub- 
jects then in port, were received on board the George 
Washington; and after landjng them in Alicant, 
Capt. Bainbridge arrived at Philadelplua April 1 801 , 
receiving from his government the highest approba- 
tion for his conduct during this delicate service. 

In June following he again sailed to the Mediter- 
ranean in the Essex, where he was employed in 
protecting American and other neutral ships, against 
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 Gatt, 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 fomid orders by which it appeared that the 


Emperor of Morocco was about commencing depre- 
dations upon AniCiican commerce. The capture 
of this ship put an end to hostilities, and a perma- 
nent peace was established. 

In company with the Vixen, Capt. Bainbridge 
then proceeded to blockade the harbour of Tripoli, 
and on the 31st Oct. seeing a strange ship, gave 
chase to her, and when within four miles and an half 
of the harbour, unfortunately ran upon a pile of 
rocks ; which, as it appeared, were not laid down 
on our charts. This was indeed a dileiuma, not 
foreseen, and which could not be overcome. Guns 
were thrown overboard, water started and the fore- 
mast cut away, but all to no purpose. The enemy's 
Gun-Boats immediately commenced an attack, which 
was sustained six hours, when she turned so far up- 
on her side, that the guns could not be brought to 
bear; and Capt. Bainbridge was under the necessi- 
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 wpre 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 of 
their escape. 


The bombardment of the town — the burning of 
the Philadelphia — the explosion o^ the Fire-ship, 
and the various attacks made upon the Town, all 
passed within their view ; and at one time, a twenty- 
four pound shot passed within a few inches of Bain- 
bridge's head; still they were compelled to remain 
inactive witnesses to the efforts of their couiftrymen. 

At length a treaty was concluded by Col. Lear, 
and the sum of sixty thousand dollars having been 
paid to the Pacha, the officers and seamen were li- 
berated, June 3d 1803, after nineteen months con- 
finement, and embarked on board the squadron. 
Soon after Com. Baiii bridge returned to the United 
States. * 

After various commands in the peace establish- 
ment, at the declaration of war with Great Britain in 
1812, he was ordered to the coramynd of the Con- 
stellation, and from thence to the Constitution. In 
com.pany with the Sloop of War ilornet, he set sail 
on a cruise to the East Indies, and having parted 
with her, running down the coast of Brazil, fell la 
with the British Frigate Java, a new ship, carrying 
49 guns, and upwards of four hundred men. She 
had on board more than one fiundrsd supernumera- 
ry ofiicers and seamen, destined for the Ea.-t-India 
service. The action continued one hour and fifty-five 
minutes, when the Java was left a mere wreck, with 
not a spar standi ig. The commanding officer, Capt. 
Lambert, was mortally wounded. It being found 
impossible to get her to the United States, the priso- 
ners and baggage were taken out, and the ship blcwN 


Up. Her loss in killed, was 60, and between one 
and two hundred wounded. Nine were killed on 
board the Constitution, and twenty-five wounded, 
and among the latter was the Commodore. 

The victory was brilliant, and in the highest de- 
gree honourable to Com. Bainbridge ; but not more 
so, than* the kindness and courtesy, which he mani- 
fested towards the prisoners while under his charge : 
and as a characteristic of our Naval commanders gen- 
erally, we are proud to add, they have given ample 
testimony that they are as " gentle in peace," as 
" dauntless in war." Having conquered, the ex- 
pectations of their country are answered, and they 
no longer consffier the conquered enemy a foe. The 
Constitution being in a decayed state, the Com. was 
induced to abandon the contemplated cruise, and re- 
turn to the United States. He was soon after ap- 
pointed to the command of the Eastern Station, and 
to the superintendance of building the seventy- four 
ftt Charlestown. At this time, he is with the squad- 
ron up the Mediterranean, in command of the Co- 
lumbus 74 gun-ship. With a reputation still unsul- 
Vied, America is proud to enroll him among the first 
if her sons. 


COMMODORE David Porter was born at Boston, 
Feb. 1st, 17S0. His father was an officer in the 
Navy, during the Revolutionary War, and was dis- 
tinguished by his courage and daring spirit. 

The first voyage undertaken by the subject of this 
sketch, was 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- 
flected much praise upon the Captain, and his crew. 
In his second voyage, he was twice impressed by 
the British, but effected his escape ; and returned 
home, in the winter season, in a suffering condition, 
for Vv'ant of clothing. 

Soon after this, he entered the United States 
Navy, as Midshipman ; sailed in the Constellation 
with Com. Truxton, and in t!)e 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 merits 
having no friends to bring him into notice. Joining!; 


(he U. S. Schooner Experiment, commanded by 
Capt. Waley, 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 empl()}ed in boats, cutting out 
vessels, where he greatly distinguished himself by 
good judgment, and personal prowess. 

Whilst on that station, he took charge of a small 
Pilot-Boat, mounting five small swivels, taken from 
'tic tops of the Constellation. , 

Falling in with a French Mvatecr, 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- 
teer at length surrendered, having lost seven killed, 
and fifteen wounded. Porter had several killed, 
but none wounded. A prize wdaich the Privateer 
had in company, was likewise taken. His conduct 
on this occasion, was highly spoken of by his com- 
mander. In his second expedition to the West In- 
dies, with Cant. Charles Stewart, they were like- 
wise successful in operating against the Privateers. 

In the first squadron to the Mediterranean, Porter 
was lirst Lieutenant of the Enterprise, Capt. Stew^- 
art, and rendeied himself very conspicuous, in an 
engagement with a Tripolitan Corsair, of much 
greater force, which, in the event, was compelled 
to surrender. 

On another occasion, with an expedition of boa(s, 
iie entered the harbour of Tripoli, to destroy a num- 
ber of vessels laden with wheat, which service was 

COM. DAVID porteh. 353 

performed effectually ; but in the engagement, he 
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 \Tas 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 be 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 whh Tripoli, the officers and crew 
of the Philadelphia were set at liberty, and sailed 
to joii') the squadron at Syracuse. Porter having 
been appointed to the command of the U. S, Brig 
Enterprise, proceeded to cruise in the Mediterra- 

Passing the strcights of Gibraltar, he v/as attack- 
ed by twelve S|)anish Gun-Boats, pretending to sup- 
pose she was a British Brig. Although their weight 
of metal was vastly superior, he soon compelled 
ihcm to sheer off. 

After an arduous service of five years, he return- 
ed to the United States, was married to Miss Ander- 
!^.on of Pennsylvania : and afterwards took command 


of the Flotilla on the New-Orleans station, where 
he rendered important services in enforcing the em- 
bargo and non-intercourselaws. In this service he 
likewise ferreted out, and captured a French piratical 
schooner, which had so long infested the Chesa- 
peake, as to attract the attention of government. 
At the declaration of War with Great Britain, in 

181 2. he sailed from New York, in command of the 
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 the 
coast of Brazil, agreeably to instructions from Com. 
Bainbridge, where places for rendezvous had been 
agreed upon between them. On that coast he fell 
in with his majesty's Packet Nocton, out of which 
he took £11,000 sterling, in specie. About this 
lime, he heard of the capture of the Java, by Com. 
B;Mnbri'!ge, and of his return to the U. S. ; like- 
wise that tlie Hornet had been taken by the Mon- 
tague, and that the Bi'itish force on that coast was 
considerably ituTcased, and were in pursuit of him. 
He therefore abandoned his ground, and ran down 
as far as Rio de La Plata ; from thence 'to the Pa- 
cific Ocean, and reached Valj)araiso, March 14th, 

1813. Sailing from thence down the coast of Chi- 
li, and Peru, he brought too a Peruvian corsair, and 
found on board twenty-four Americans held as prison- 
ers, whom he liberated, throwing her guns and ammu- 
nition into tbesoa* He continued cruisins^ for seve- 


ral months In the Pacific, capturing great numbers 
of British vessels. Two were given to the priso- 
ners; three sent to Valj-araiso, and tf.ree to Ameri- 
ca. Most of the ships taken mouiUed 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 ihe spoils ot his 
enemy, he had now under his command a little squad- 
ron, which spread devastation, and became the ter- 
ror of those seas. Merchants, not only in the Ports 
of the Pacific, but in Great Britain, groaned under 
the weight of losses ; every ari'ivai bringing a 
catalogue of captures. Although ships were sent 
after him into the Pacific, the China Seas, otfNew- 
Timor, New-Holland, and the river Lt 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 Galiipagos islands, or in the open seas. 
At length, Lieut. Downes returned from Valparaiso, 
whither he had sailed to convoy the prizes, and 
brought intelligence, that Com. Hillyer was expect- 
ed at that place with the Frigate Phcebe, of 3G 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 
now appeared to present, in which it was probable 


he might meet the enemy on equal terms, he deter- 
mined to embrace it : and after running into the Isl- 
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 entei'prise. Their force 
aniounted to 81 guns, and 500 men, with the crew^ 
of a Letter of Marque. That of the Essex of 40 
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 Phoebe, 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 2Sth March, a gale came on, and the Es- 
sex parting her cable, the Com. thought that a more 
favourable opportunity would not occur, to pass th.e 
enemy, and sail was therefore ordered to be immedi- 
ately Diade. On clearing the harbour, a sudden squall 
carried away the main-top-mast, and finding it impos- 
sible to return, he ran into a bay at some distance from 
his former anchorage, expecting that tlie enemy would 
respect the neutrality of the port, but in this he 
was disappointed. Buth ships now drew up, and 
commenced an attack upon the Essex. Capt. Por- 
ter succeeded three different times in getting springs 
i]pon his cables, but they were as often fchot away., 


ieaving him exposed to a raking firr from the ene- 
my, la this situation, his chief dependance was 
upon three long twelves from her stern, which were 
managed so dexterously that the enemy were oblig- - 
ed to haul off, and repair. His crew were not, how- 
ever disheartened, although morally certain of 
being conquered. 

The conflict was sustained v.'ith unabated fury, 
until resistance was ineffectual, when the flag was 
struck, and the ship resigned to an overwhelming 
force. Out of 255 men, 58 were killed, 66 wound- 
ed, and 31 missing; making in all 154. 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 ieat 
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 hSrdly 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-Coftimissioners, enjoying alike the confidcfice 
of government, aud the love of his country. 


CAPT. James Lawrence, was born at Burlington, 
New-Jersey, October 1st, 1781. His father, John 
Lawrence Esq., was an eminent counsellor at law 
of the sannc place. By the death of his mother, he 
was left in infancy in charge of his sisters. Affec^ 
tionate in disposition and ardent in his attachments, 
he ever entertained tovvards 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 sixteer>, where 
his strict att(?ntion 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- 

*tes as first Lieut, undcv Decatur, in destroying the 

^ Frigate Philadel{)hia, one of the most brilliant and 

gallant enter^ises ever undertaken and executed by 


After continuing in the Mediterranean three and a 
half years, he returned to the U. S. and was again 
sent on that station, in command of Gui' Buat No. 
G, where he remained sixteen months^ Alter that 
time, he commanded the Vixen, Wasp, Argus and 


Hornet. At the commencement of the war in 10#%t, 
he sailed in the Hornet Sloop of war, under Ci^nmio- 
dore Rodgers. His second cruise in the Hornet, 
ivas in company with Com. B:iinbridge, who com- 
maiided the C{)n>titution. W^;i!e coasting off the 
Bmzils, he fell in with the Bonne Citoyenne, a Bri- 
tish ship of war. and chased her into St. Salvador. 
Notwi(hstandii]g she was of superior force, Law- 
rence sent her a challenge, which was refused, al- 
though he ])ledgetj 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 eoual 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 n^ade to keep her afloat 
until the prisonei-s could be removed, but notwith- 
standing, she went down with thirteen of her crew, 
and three American tars, v/ho 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 shro«d, 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 oflicers 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 was 
marie, and each man supplied from his owfi ward- 
robe two shirts, a blue jacket and trowsers. 

Capt. Lawrence was received with great applause 
<on his return to this country, havins^ in the interim 
been promoted to the rank of Post Captain. Soon 
after his return he was appointed to the coniaiand of 
the Frigate Constitution ; but the next day to his 
great chagrin, the order was counteqiianch d, with 
directions to take the Chesapeake then lying ■\i Bos- 
ton. This ship was considere<J the worst in the Na- 
vy, and the circumstance of her having been dis- 
graced in the affair of the Leopard, acquired for her, 
among sailors, the reputation of being an unlucky 
ship; so much so, that it was with difficulty crews 
could be recruited for her. 

Four successive letters were written by Lawrence 
to the Secretary of the Navy, requesting to be con- 
tinued 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 signals 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- 


knge, although sensible of the disparity under which 
he laboured. He had formerly challenged the Bon- 
ne Citoyenne, and should he now decline, it might 
occasion public remarks to his discredit. To his 
crew, he was a stranger, and even in the midst of 
ihe customary harangue previous to the engage- 
ment, 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 
ihem checks. Under these embarrassing circum> 
stances tlie action was fo'jght, 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 unforiufialfly 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 of 
government, a vessel was soon afterdispatiched to Ha- 
lifax, in which his remains were conveyed to his na- 
tive State, and deposited with his fathers. 

Deeply as may be regretted the fate of the en- 
gagement, we have no cause to lament, as nothing 
of honour was lost in the conflict. The name of 
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 Regiment, 
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 engagement 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 the present 
sketch, entered the United States' service, under 
a Midshipman's warrant, not long after the drath of 
his father. After servir.g some time in our Navy, 
he sailed with the litde fleet up the MediteriTdtt^aiij 
where he (with other young officers.) rendered him- 
self conspicuous in the wars with Tripoli. 

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- 
ed, even by Mahometan prowess. 


The following incident displays his firmness and 
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. Macdonough 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 I had been in the 
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 1 would, you have only 
to make the attempt." Soon aftei', seeing the En- 
glishman bearing down for the Brig, Macdonough 
manned, and got into his boat, in readiness for pur- 
suit. The Englishman, after sailing around the 
Brig, returned again to his Frigate. ' 

Syracuse, once the seat of all those virtues which 
adorn the human mind and render men good and 
great, is now unhappily one of the most vicious and 
depraved on earth ; robberies and assassinations are 
considered mere as pastime. While at this place, 
Macdonough was detained on shore one night, till 
the ship's boat had returned to the Fleet. He then 
hired a boat, but finding three men, instead of two, 
(the usual complement,) going in it, he suspected 
them 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, from whence 
he threw himself, with the loss of his life. 

No incident of consequence occurred in the life of 
Macdonough between the Tripolitan war, and that 
which conimeneed with Great Britain in 1812. He 
v/as then appointed to the command of a small Na- 
val force on Lake Champlain, for the purpose of pro^ 
tecting 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. Capto 
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 thei? 
plan of operations. 

Macdonough was apprised of their intentions, and 
decided to receive them at anchor. On the llth of 
Sept. 1814, the enemy anchored in line, 300 yards 
from th^ American. The action commenced at nine 
A. M. ; and after a hard fought battle, the enemy's 
ship, Brig, and both sloops struck: — Three Gallies 
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, until 
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 the 
country which they had vainly essayed to conquer. 
The two contending armies, and thousands of spec- 
tators, were in full view of the engagement, awaiting 
with breathless anxiety, the issue of the battle. The 
occasion was pregnant with importance. It was to 
decide,whpther the inhabitants should be driven from 
their houses in beggary, or remain in peaceable 
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 re- 
stored to tranquility. 

In consequence of this achievement, the thanks of 
Congress with appropriate medals, were presented 
to Com. Macdonough, with medals and swords to the 
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 testimo* 


ry 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 the Medi- 
terranean, was the most unequivocal evidence of re- 
spect that can be conceived. It sjjeaks volumes of 
eulogy. The expense of it was ."^ISOO, butits/jenf- 
niary value is forgotten, when it is looked upon as a 
token of respect. 

The arrest of Com. Macdonough by Com. Slew- 
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 State? 
are to be found in the ordinances of the Revolutionary Cong^ress of 
1775. It consists of the Navy^ properly so called, and the Marine 
Corps. Under the Confederation however, little was, or could 
be done towards perfecting a respectable Naval Establishqjent. 
The history of the Maritime war of the Revolution, is a history of 
the gallant efforts of individual enterprise. Scarcely a single pub- 
lic armed ship sailed under the direction of the Continenhil 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 Algei'ine Corsairs, on the commerce of the United States. 
This act authorized the purchasing or building of four ships of 44 
guns, and two of 36 guns each. Under its fostering care, the Na- 
vy began to assume respectability and power. Vessels of war of 
various dimensions were built ; docks were erected for the con- 
venience of repairing them, and every thing evinced a determi- 
nation on the part of Government to create a permanent and ef- 
ficient naval force. In 1801, the Navy was reduced to a Peace 
Establishment. From 17S4 until 1801, therefore, may be consi- 
dered ?i3 the Jirst epoch of the American Nav}', under the Fede- 
ral Government. This period was distinguished by a short mari- 
time struggle with France, during which, the heroic bravery of 
American seamen was victorious, and furaished a sure pledge of 
thfeir future achievements. 


The Act of the 28th of February 1803, authorized the Presi- 
i.ent to C2i\xse. fifteen gun-boats to be built, which number was sub- 
sequently extended to two hundred or more, and was designed to 
foraf a line of harbour defence. This may be considered as the 
commencement of the gun-boat system. The loud cry for retrench- 
ment, which 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 abandoned on 
the 30th of xVk^rch 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 1813 they were ordered to be sold. From 1801 to 1812, 
may therefore be considered as the second epoch in the Navy of the 
United btates. This period is memorable for the War of the Med- 
iterranean 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 witu immortal honour, first breathed the spirit of victory. 
The history of this period is full of the enterprise and energy of th© 
officers and seamen, and is distinguished by the most daring acts of 
individu*! heroism. 

By an act of the 2d of January 1813, Congress authorized the 
building oi four ships of not less than 74 guns, and six ships to rate 
44 guns each. On the 29th ot 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 autliority 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 Union ; the second class after the rivers ; the third class after 
the principal cities or towns ; and no two vessels are to bear the 
same name. 1 he third epoch of the Aaiericaa Navy may therefore 


be reckoned from the 18th of June 1812, until the year 1815, 
which, though short in point of time, was full and resplendent in 
glorious achievements. During this eventful period, the skill, the 
hardihood, the inextinguishable valour of the American character 
shone conspicuous. 

From these considerations and the prevailing sentijnents of the 
people, there can be uo doubt but that the United otates is destined 
to become a powerful maiitime 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 
ccean. From geographical and local considerations, we must al- 
ways have great advantages over the British or any other power, 
in maintaining a maritime war upon our own coast. From the 
great distince, and the dilTiculty of obtaining supplies, it is impos- 
sible for any European nation to maintain a large naval force upon 
our coast for aay 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 barboure, and of its utter inability to remain on the 
coast during certain §ea«oii=. h roia these and other considerations, 
a navy comparatively small, would be adequat"^^ to the purposes of 
defence ; more espei^ially, if, as during tht late war, our officers 
and seamen maintain a decided naval superiority. 

It is not to be disgui'^ed that a respectable naval establishment is 
attended with a hea^y expense, and should one be acquired be- 
fore the nation was able to sustain it, whereby it might enbarrass 
the treasury, or occasion unusual burdens upon the pfnrl.^, it would 
certainly produce a re-action in the public niiiiJ ; ""i considering 
the nature of our institutions, and bow immediately every thing 
depends upon popular opinion, it could not he a matter of surprise 
if the navy should fall a sacrifice to it. ^ucJ^. a case has already 
once occurred in our history. The existing laws have provided pro- 
bably for the more rapid increase of the navy, th^n was advisable ; 
more especially cona'fleriag the embarrassed state of the treasriry, 
and the probable diminution of the imports, which may render it 
)»eces3arv to have r'''Course to other source? of revenue. With a 

SKETCH OF THE NAVY, (fec. 371 

nation, as with an individual, it is infinitely easier to increase thaa 
to diiBioish expenses ; and with either, when a system of expendi- 
ture 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 tisiiversal history, 
it is, that all governments, whatever may be their form or spirit, 
tend to a constant increase of expend! (urt. We need not imaj^ine 
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, it? revenue was but between 3 and 4 millions, and the 
present ye?ir an estimated revenue of more than 20 millions, leaves 
a deficit of more than the whole revenue at the period referred to. 

The=e observations are not made from any views unfriendly to 
a navy, but to show the necessity of proceeding gradually, and of 
observin'; due caution in its extension. The friends ef 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 
view, 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 lands, which, whilst they constitute a national do- 
main, that, under a proper system of management, would ultimate- 
]y afibrd a revenue adequate to the whole public expenditure, pre- 
,^ent every variety of surface and of soil, which invite the residence 
of 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 v'^tateB 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 re'^ources 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 
^•reatness and glory of our country will depend upon her maritime 
power. We want a navy for a shield, not for a scourge Those 
who are fascinated with Naval glory, we would recomineud to cast 
their eyes acrosw the Atlantic, and view the present condition of 

372 SKETCH OF the navy, &;c. 

Great Britain, the " ?r]i;tress of the Ocean." Her naval supre-'- 
macy is now uadispnted ; she has maintained a long and successful 
career of naval warfHre and glory ; she has vanquished and nearly 
annihilated the maritime power of every nation in Eur-<pe ; she has 
had her Drakes, her Colling'.voods, 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 li ve.s, 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 ©f the iNile, the mother 
whose sons fell at Trafalgar, or the farmer whose sto&k has been 
Kold 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- 
nanimou?, but now degraded, oppressed and starving popylation, 
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. A far 
Hobler 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 gl'^r}', 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 ol 
her citizens ; in that exemption from external wars and internal 
v>iolence, resulting from representative authority, and a pacific 
polity ; in the justice of her government, the magnitude of her 
power, a«d the extent of her territory, population and resource?. 


Begister ot the officers of the navy including midshipmen — list of 
vessels 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 
concerns of the establishment. The office is held at the discretion of 
the President of the United States. 





Smith Thompson, 

Chief Clerk. 

Washington City, 

N. York. 

6000 00 

Benjamin Romans, 



2000 00 

. Clerks. 

John Boyle, 



1600 00 

John H. Sherburne, 



1400 00 

Charles Hay, 



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 Avhose superintendanee all the duties of 
this body ai*e conducted relating to the obtaining naval stores and mate- 
rials, 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. 

JVavt; Commissioners. 




John Rodgers, President, 

Washington City, 


3500 00 

Isaac Chauncev, 



3500 00 

David Porter, 



3500 00 


James K. Paulding, 



2000 00 

Chief Clerk. 

Charles W. Goldsborough, 

John Green, 



1600 00 



1150 00 

Joseph P. MCorkle, 



1000 00 

Laurence Brengle, 



1000 00 

R. A. Slye, 


Dis. Col. 

1000 00 

Burwell Randolph, 



800 00 


Conrad Schwartz, 



1000 00 


Beniamin G. Bowen, 


I do. 


410 00 





Name and Rank. 

Dales of Commis- 


\Vhere stationed. 


Alexander Murray, 

1 July, 




.fohn Rodgers, 

5 March, 1791 

) Md. 

President N. Bd. 

.lanies Barron, 

22 May, 



Not on duty. 

William T3ainbridge, 

20 May, 



Columbus 74. 

Thomas Tingey, 

23 Nov. 

1 80 i 


N. \^d. Washington. 

Charles Stewart, 

22 April, 



Franklin 74. 

Isaac Hull, 

23 do. 


Charleston, Mass. 

Isaac Chauncey, 

24 do. 


Comms. Nav)"^. 

vfolm Shaw, 

27 Aug. 



Independence 74. 

Jo!m H. DtMit, 

29 Dec. 



Not on duty. 

Divid Porter, 

2 JiUy, 



Comms. Navy. 

John Cassin, 

3 do. 


N. Yard, Norfolk. 

Samuel Evans, 

4 do. 

N. J. 

do. New- York, 

Jacob Jones, 

3 March 



Constitution Fri. 

Charles Morris, 

5 do. 


N. Yd. Portsmouth. 

Arthur Sinclair, 

24 do. 


Norfolk, Virginia. 

Thomas Macdonough, 

11 Sept. 



Ohio, 74. 

Lewis Warrington, 

22 Nov. 



Fri. Guerriere. 

Joseph Bainbridge, 

23 do. 

N. Jer. 

Steam Ship Fulton. 

William M. Crane, 

24 do. 

N. Jer. 

Frigate U. States. 

James T. Leonard, 

4 Feb. 


N. York, 

Lake Champlain. 

Jitmes Biddle, 

2S do. 



(vharlcs G. Ridgely, 



Constellation Fri, 

liobertT, S pence. 


N. H. 


Daniel T. Patterson, 



Comg. at N. O. 

Samuel Angus, 

27 April, 



Recruiting, N. Y. 
Comg. S. Harbour. 

MeK T. Wbolsey, 


N. York, 

John Oi'de Creighton, 



Newport, R. 1. 

Edward Ti'enchard, 

5 ?»larch. 


N. Jersey 

Ship Cyane. 

John Downes, 



Fri. Macedonian. 

John D. Henley, 



Fri. Congress. 

Jesse D. Elliott, 

27 March, 


Mary I'd. 

Surveying Coast. 

Masters Commandant. 

Robert Henley, 

12 Aug. 




Stephen Cassin, 

11 Sept. 



N. Yd. Washington. 

James Renshaw, 

10 Dec. 



Recruiting, Boston. 

David Deacon, 



Comg. Lake Erie. 

Louis Alexis, 




Sidney Smith, 

28 Feb. 


N. York, 

Lake Champlain. 

Thomas Brown, 

1 March, 



Sloop Peacock. 

Samuel VVoodliouse, 

27 April, 




Ch. C B. Thompson, 




Alex. S. Wads worth, 



Corvette J. Adams, 

George W Rodgers, 



N. Yd. New-York. 

George C. Read, 



Sloop Hornet. 
Norfolk, Vir. 

Henry E Ballard, 



Willi'im Carter, 



Norfolk, Vir, 

Joseph J . N icholson, i 

3 March. 






Wolcott Chauncey, 



Sloop Ontario. 

John H. Elton, 



Surveying coast. 

Edniond P. Kennedy, 




Alexander J. Dallas, 



I'hilada recruiting. 

John B. Nicholson, 



Washington 74. 

Beekman V. Hoftnian, 


N. York, 

New- York. 

Jesse Wilkinson, 

18 April, 1818 


N'orfolk, Vir. 

George Budd, 

19 March, 1820 



Thomas A. C. Jones, 



Wasliington, N. Yd 

Joseph S. M'Pherson, 



Gosport, Vir, 

John Porter, 



Portsmouth N. H. 

William B. Finch, 



Franklin 74. 

William B. Shnbrick, 


S. Car. 

Charles town. 

Benjamin W. Booth, 



independence 74. 

Alexander Claxton, 




Charles W. Morgan, 




Name and Rank. 

Francis J. Mitchell, 
George Merrill, 
Joseph Nicholson, 
ilaymond H. J. Perry, 
Lawrence Kearney, 
William II. Watson, 
Foxhall A. Parker, 
Edward R. M'Call, 
Daniel Turner, 
William H. Allen, 
David Connei', 
John Gallagher, 
Thomas H, Stevens, 
Henry S Newcomb, 
•James P. Oellers, 
William M. Hunter, 
John D. Sloat, 
William H. Cocke, 
Matthew C. Perry, 
Charles W. Skinner, 
Joseph Wi-agg, 
Samuel VV. Adams, 
.lohn R. Madison, 
George Pearce, 
Frederick W. Smith, 
N. D. Nicholson, 
Otho Norris, 
John T. Newton, 
Samuel Henley, 
Joseph Smith, 
Lawrence Jioussean, 
G. W. Storer, 
Joseph Cassin, 
jiobert M. Rose, 
Beverley Kennon, 
.Edward R. Shubrick, 

N. B. The Lieutenants arc 

















^f ew-York, 














Where S'.ationiti. 




iN'ewport, R. I. 

Brig Enterprizr. 

Gosport, N. Yard. 

N. Yard, New -York. 


Schooner Nonsuch. 


Recruiting, Philadel, 


Frigate Constellation 



Recruiting, Boston. 

New- York. 

Rec\g. ship Al. r^ 



Franklin 74. 


ScliooiKT Tjvnx 





Sioop Hornet. 

Frigate Guerrier- 




John Adams 

Columbus 74. 

Norfolk, Va. 


placed in order correspoiiding' \n the dat< s of fli 



Charles A. Budd, 
Francis H. Gregoiy, 
John M. Maury, 
Robert Spedden, 
John H. Clack, 
Philip H. Vorhees, 
Benjamin Cooper, 
William L. Gordon. 
Silas Duncan, 
James Ramage, 
Dulany Fewest, 
John Tayloe, jr. 
David Geissinger, 
Robert F. Stockton, 
Thomas S. Cunningham, 
Isaac M'Keever, 
John P. Zat»tzinger, 
Charles E. Crowley, 
Henry Gilliam, 
William D. Salter, 
Charles S. M'Cawley, 
John H. Bell, 
Thomas M. Newell, 
Elie A. F. Vallette, 
William A. Spencer, 
Francis B. Gamble, 
William Laughton, 
Nelson Webster, 
Richard Dashiell, 
Thomas T. Webb, 
John Percival, 
Charles T. StalUngs, 
John H. Aulick, 

William V. Taylor, 
Mervine P. Mix, 
Bladen Dulany, 
James M'Gowan, 

Nathaniel L. Montgomery, 

William A. C. Farragut, 

George B. M'CuUoch, 

Walter G. Anderson, 

Stc]>hen Champlin, 

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, 

William Berry, 

Samuel L. Breeze, 







District Columbi J 
New -Jersey, 

South Carolina, 
North Carolina, 
New- Jersey, 
New -York, 
i Connecticut, 

New -Jersey, 



Rhode Island, 


North Carolina, 






Rhode Island, 





New -York, 

Lake €Siaraplain. 
Washington 74. 
Frigate Macedonian. 
Frigate Congress. 
Corvette Cyane. 
Brig Spark. 
Washington City. 
Not on duty. 
Sloop Cyane. 
Charleston, S. C 
Columbus 74. 
Frigate U. States. 
Independence 74. 
Sloop Cyane. 
Gosport, Va. 
Sloop Ontario. 
Newport, R. I. 
Frigate GueiTiere. 
Washington 74. 
Sloop Eria 
Philadela. recruiting. 
Gosport, Va. 
Newport, R. I. 
On Fui'lough. 
Washington, N. Yd. 
Ohio 74. 

Frigate Macedonian. 
Sloop Cj'ane. 
Frigate Constellation, 
liidependcnce 74. 
Gun Boat, 158. 
Gun Boat 168. 
Columbus 74. 
Frigate Macedonian. 
Frigate Constellation. 
I Constitution. 


>U>ha Evnns, 
lienjamin Page, jr. 
Jphn T. Ritciiie, 
John A. Wish, 
John Gwinn, 
William A. Weaver, 
Thomas W. Wyman, 
James L. Morris, 
John A. Relsches, 
Andrew Fitzhugh, 
William M. Caldwell, 
John K. Carter, 
Joseph K. Cross, 
Abraham S. Ten Eick, 
Thomas S. Hamersley, 
John White, 
William M. Rohbiiis, 
Robert Field, 
Hiram Paulding, 
J. D. Williamson, 
Uriah P. Levy, 
Enoch H. Johns, 
Charles Lacy, 
Clement W.' Stevens, 
Charles Boarnmn, 
French Forrest, 
Edgar Freeman, 
Thomas A, Tippett, 
William E, M'Kenney, 
William I. Belt, 
Charles H. Caldwell, 
William Jameson, - 
James W. II. Ray, 
William Boerum, 
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, 
William Taylor, 
George W. Isaacs, 
John C. Long, 
Henry R, Warner, 
John H. Graham, 
Nathaniel Carter, jr. 
Henry Ward, 
Henry Henry, 
Samuel W. Downing. 
Richard S. Hunter, 
Wil'iara Pottenger, 











New- York, 


New York, 









New -Jersey, 






New -York, 





New -York, 




New- Jersey, 











Nf w-Hara pshi re, 



New- Jersey, 

Sloop Peacock. 
W^ashington City 
Sloop Peacock. 
Columbus f4. 
Franklin 74. 
Washington 74. 
Columbus 74. 

Frigate Congres.s. 
Charlestown, Mass. 
Frigate Guerriere. 
Sloop Gntai'io. 
Franklin 74. 
On Furlough. 
Sackets Harbour. 
Frigate Macedonian. 
Washington N. Yard. 
Columbus 74. 
Erie, Pa. 

Frigate Constellation. 
Brig Entei^^rize. 
Columbus 74. 
Independence 74. 
Norfolk, Va. 
Frigate Guerriere. 
New -York. 
Sloop Ontario. 
Frigate Macedonian. 
John Adams. 
Sloop Cyane. 
W^ashingtou N. Yai-fJ. 
Columbus 74. 
Sloop Hornet. 
Franklin 74. 
Franklin 74. 
Gosport, Va. 
Columbus 74. 
Columbus ?4. 
Independence 74. 
Frigate Java, 
Columbus 74. 
Norfolk, recruiting-. 
Sloop Peacock. 
Sloop Hornet. 
jSteam Friaate. 




Henry W. Ogden, 
John H. Lee, 
Walter Abbott, 
James M. M'Intosli, 
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 I. M'Cluny, 
Albert G. Wall, 
Ephraim D. AVhillock, 
James F. Curtis, 
James Goodrum, 
J» B. Montgomeiy, 
Horace B. Sawyer, 
Cornelius K. Stribling, 
James E. Legare, 
Joshua R. Sands, 
Allen B. W. Griffin, 
Richard M. Potter, 
John L Cumraings, 
Samuel A. Eakin, 
Frederick S. Gibbon, 
John J. Young, 
Charles H. Bell, 
Abraham Bigelow, 
Otho Stallings, 
Zachariah W. Nixon, 
Henry C Newton, 
Frank Ellery, 
Frederick Varnum, 
Frederick G. Wolbei t, 
Walter Ncwcomb, 
Joseph R. Jarvis, 
Thomas W. Freelon, 
Pardon M. AV^hipjile, 
James A¥iHiams, 

Rhode Island, 
South Carolina, 
Disti-ict Columbia, 
Rhode Island, 
New- Jersey, 
Virginia, - 
South Carolina, 
South Carolina, 
New- Jersey, 
i New- York, 
Rhode Island, 
In ew -York, 

John Adams, 
Frigate Congress, 
Frigate Congress. 
Frigate Macedonian . 
Columbus 74. 
John Adams. 
Frigate Constitutioi.. 
Washington N. Y'ard. 
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 Constellation. 
Schooner Nonsuch. 
Sloop Peacock. 
Frigate Guerriere. 
Cojumbus 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 ai.d RarJc 

Where Born. 


Mbert A, Alexander, D. C. 

•foseph H. Ashbridge, R Island. 

Henry A. Adams, Pcnn. 

Alex.'M'Kim AndreAV, Md. 

Nathaniel Alexander, Viriginia. 

Wm. M. Armstrong, 
Francis Armstrong, 
George Adams, 
Jacob S. Allison, 
Henry I. Auchmuty, 

S. C. 


John H.Abbot, Mass. 

ITiomas S. Brown, Conn. 

James A. D. Brown^ Conn. 

Samuel Barroa, Virginia. 

Horatio Beatty, D. C. 

Rnssel Baldwin, N. York. 

Henry Bruce, Mass. 

John Kuhicr, Mass. 

Etlmond Byrne, Penn. 

John D. Bird, Delaware 

Timothy G. Benhmn, Conn. 

James G. Boughan, Md. 

Franklin Buchanan, Penn. 

Arthur Bainbridge, N. Jersey 

Joseph Bowman, Penn. 

Littleton M. Booth, Virginia. 

Arch. 11. Bogardus, N. York, 

Benjamin F. Bache, Penn. 

Oscar Bui lus, N.York, 

Abraham Rennet, Delaware 

Edward Barnwell, N. York. 

Robert S. Bullus, N.York. 

George S. Blake, Mass. 

Joshua Barney, Md. 

Theodoras Bailey, jr. N. York. 

Joseph R. Blake, Virginia. 

Thomas O. BrufF, D. C. 

Thos. M'K. Buchanan, Penn. 

Edward Boutv/ell, Virginia, 

James Bradford, Lou. 

Joseph R. Brovvji,^ Penn. 

John Q. A. Boyd, Virginia. 

John E. Bispham, N. Jersey 

S. M. Bracken ridge, Ken. 

Richard Barker, Mass. 

Edward O. Blanch«ard, Mass. 

George W. Bleeckcr, 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 Conyngham, Penn, 

Joseph S. Cannon, Delav/are 
Robt. B. Cunningham, Virguiia. 

Joseph Cutts, jun. Mass. 

James S Coxe, A.L. Penn. 

Charles B. Childs, N. York. 

Richard Cochrane, N, York. 

John Cremer, Md. 

Wm. E. Cambridge, S. C. 

Jacob Crow ninshield, Mass. 

James H. Clinton, N. York 

William Campbelt, Md. 

James E. Calhoun, S, C. 

Thomas H. P. Cooper, S. C. 

John R. Coxe, Penn, 

John A. Carr, Md. 

Samuel B. Cocke, Virgini--^, 

Robert B. Coffin, N. York. 

Charles E. Cutts, N. Hamp. 

John Cassin, Penn. 

Samuel T. Cooper, Mass. 

Oscar Davis, Penn. 

Charles P. Derby, Mass. 

Thomas O. Davis, N. C. 

Richard Dominick, N. York. 

S. Dusenberry, A.M. N. York, 

George D. Dodds, R. I. 

HughDulany, S. C. 

Gaston Devizack. Lou. 

Henry Dyson, Ma?s. 

Tliomas Dornin, N.York. 

Samuel F. Dupont, N. Jersey . 

Marmaduke Dove, jr. D. C. 

Albert E. Downes, Mass. 

Charles Ellery, R. 1. 
Christoph. T. Emmet, Ireland. 

Frederick Engle, Penn, 
Henry Ettir.g, Md. 

Henry Eagle, jr. N. York. 

Francis B. Ellison, N.York. 

Thomas Evans, Penn, 

David C. Farragut, A.L, Tenn. 
James M. Freeman, Mass, 

Benjamin Follet, N. York. 

Robert Y. Fair'ie, N. York. 
William Foster, A. M. N. York. 
George B. Forrester, Georgia. 

L.M, Goldsborough, D. C. 
Jacob E. Gillemeyer, Md. 
Daniel Goodwin, Ma.'jS. 

Benjamin S Grimke, S. C. 
Tlionias R. Gerry, Mass, 

WiSljam H. Gardner^ Md. 
Thomas R. Gedney, S. C. 

James Glynn, Virginia. 
Timothy Gay, Mass. 

James T. GeiTy, Mass. 

William Green, Virginia- 

Alex. G. Gordon, D. C. 

William M. Glendy, Md. 
Charles W. Gay, Mass, 

Sylyanns Godon, Penn. 


Jolv.i Graham, D. C. 

Samuel Gaillard, S. C. 

Moses H. Hunter, N. Jersey, 

Levy M. Hafbv, S, C. 

Joseph L. e. Hardv, S, C. 

Edward W Hamilton, S. C. 

James Hodge, Penn. 

Joseph Hull, Co:in. 

Thomas R. Handv, II. I. 

John F. Howell, ' Penn. 

George N. Hollins, Md. 

Thomas Hayes, Perm. 

John Heth, Virginia. 

M illiam H., Mass. 

Harry D. Hunter, Penn. 

John L. Harris, Tenn. 

William S. Harris, Ken. 

William L. Howard, N. Y. 

Hubliard 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, Virginia. 

Stern Humphreys, N. Yoi-k. 

Patricius Flepburn, I). C. 

Andi-ew A. Harwood, Penn. 

Charles E. Hawkins, N. York. 

John Hamilton, N. York. 

James T. Homans, N. York. 

Paul H. Hay I e, S. C. 

Carey H. Hareford, Vir. 

John'W. Huntej-, Penn. 

Ouncan N. Ingraham, Mass. 

Oscar Irving, N. Y. 

George Izard, Penn. 

Skeffingt. S. Jameson, D. C. 
Hichard A. Jones, 

Frederick Janett, Penn. 

Walter F. Jones, Virginia. 

Joshua H. Justin, R. Ishind 

Edward S. Johtsson, R. Island 

Robert W. Jones, N. York. 

Zae. F. Johnston, Md. 

Charles H. Jackson, Conn. 

John C. Jones, Md. 

Adam S Kuhn, Penn. 

.»ohn Kelley, Penn. 

Jam.'s D. Knight, S. C. 

Matthew Keogh. Ireland- 

Thomas King, 
William H. Kennon, 
Stejjhen B. Kingston, 
C. H. A. H. Kennedy, 
Richard Kennon, 

Shomas I. Leib, 
T. W, Le Comi)te, 
George F. Lever ett, 
Edward A Lansing, 
Stephen B. Lassalle, 
Charles Lowndes, 
Christopher Lowndes, 
I Arthur Lewis, 
Andrew K. Long, 
John H, Little, 
John L. Luke, 
Edward S. Lewis, 
James L. Lardner, 
Samuel Lockwood, 

Chai'lesW. Minchin, 
William B. M'Lean, 
Richard iSIackall, 
Daniel H. Mackay, 
John Marston, jr. 
Joseph Moorhead, 
David W. M'Rorie, 
Daniel S. M'Cauley, 
Michael Mahony, 
Jospph Mattison, 
William W. M'Kean, 
Joseph Myers, 
Samuel Mercer, 
Robert F. Martin, 
Robert Marshal), 
Alex. M. Murray, 
Oliver H Middleton, 
George A. Maeruder, 
James P. M'Call, 
Edward Y. Marshall, 
T. Jefferson Manning, 
John Marshall, 
Alexander M. Mull, 
Charles V. Moi-ris, 
Henry W. Morris, 
John "H. Marshall, 
Richard D. Miller, 
John Manning, 
Hugh G. Munn, 
John W. Mooers, 
Richard R. M'Mullin, 

iRichard H. Morris, 
; Samuel M'Muilen, 








N. Hamp. 

N. York. 


S. C. 









D. C. 

N. York 
N. Y 

K c: 



!<«. J. 


N. Car. 

S. Car. 

S. Car. 

N. Y. 





N. York. 

N. Jersey. 



N. York. 

N. York. 



N. C.^ 

N. York. 

N. York. 


iRobert H. Nichols, N. York. 



VVm. C. Nicholsou, IVld. 

Wm. D. Newman, N. York. 

Joseph B. Nones, Penn. 

Wm. B. Nicholson, Md. 

John S. Nicholas, Virginia. 

Joseph M. Nicholson, Md. 

James L. Nowland, Md. 

Thomas H. Newman, Penn. 

Edwin B. Newton, D. C. 

Lloyd B. Newell. Georgia. 

Frederick Neville, Ohio. 

Patrick H. Overton, N. C. 

Garret I. Pendegrast, Kentucky. 

Thomas Pettigru, S. Car. 

Charles T. Piatt, N. York. 

Edward Price, N. York. 

Samuel B. Phelps, Conn. 

John E. Prentiss, Mass. 

Jott S. Paine, Mass. 

William Pollard, Penn. 

John F. Pelot, N, C. 

Alex. B. Pinkham, Mass. 

Richaixl S. Pinckney, S. C. 

David H. Porter, Penn. 

John W. Palmer, Conn. 

Robert Porter, N. C. 

George F. Pierson, N. H. 

William P. Piercy, Penn. 

William H. Pennock, Virginia. 

Edward Pinkney, Md. 

John Pope, Mass. 
Elisha Peck, 

John H. Pleasonton, D. C. 

Wilson C. Purviauce, Md. 

Levin M. Powell, Virginia. 

Reuben R. Pinkham, Mass. 

William Pierson, N.Jersey 

John M. Patterson, N. York. 

Hugh Y. Purviance, Md. 

Henry Pinkney, Md. 

Alexander F. Porter, Penn. 

Richard S. Piatt, N. York. 

James M. Prevost, N. York. 

George W. Pitcher, Missouri. 

Henry Potter, N. C. 

Samuel Renshfiw, Penn. 

Etimund M. Rus.sell, Mass. 

Charles C. Russell, M.-^ss. 

Samuel Rosers, N. Jersey 

William T^ Rogers, N.York. 

WiUian) Rice, Mass. 

Robert Ritcliie, Md. 

Solomon Rutter, Md. 

Victor M. Randolph, 


John Rudd, 

R. Island. 

Herman Rutgers, 

N. York. 

Wm. W. Rittenhouse, 


Edward C. Rutledge, 

N. C. 

John Reed, jr. 


[saac H. Rand, 


Thos. M. Randolph, 


Pierre C. Rion, 


John G. Roc^^ers, 


John M. Rinker, 


Cad Ringgold, 


Nat. B. Richardson, 


Hillary Rhodes, 


H. H. Van Rennselaer 

N. York. 

Richard Stewart, 


John L. Saunders, 


Hugh C. Sweeney, 


John M. Sullivan, 

N. York. 

William Skiddy, 

N. York. 

John Swartwout, 

N. York. 

David R. Stewart, 


Robert M. Summers, 


William F. Shields, 


Irvine Shubrick, 


Jona. W. Sherburne, 


Roger C. Shaw, 


Merritt S. Scott, 


G. W. SommerviUe, 

Ten. ' 

John H. Smith, 


Francis Sanderson, 


Jesse Smith, 


Henry D. Scott, 


Alexander Slidell, 

N. York. 

George Shute, 


Joseph G. Smith, 


William Seton, 

N. York. 

George W. Simms. 

D. C. 

Thomas O. Selfridge, 


William Shaw, 


Cliarles H. Starr, 


Albert G. Slaughter, 


Robert Steed, 


Isaac S. Sterett, 


Thompson D. Shaw, 


Samuel SAvartwout, 

N. Y. 

Thomas Sands, 


Charles F. Shoemaker 

, Penn, 

Lewis Seeger, 


Joseph Stallings, 


Thomas H. Saul, 


Nehemiah Tilton, 


John P. Tuttle, 


liemy E. Turner. 

R. Island, 



John Tompkins, Kentucky 

Benj. Talliiuirl^e, jr. Conn. 

Willi.m B. G' Taylor. N. C. 

Alexander Thompson, N. York, 

ilicliard Taylor, jr. Virginia. 

Johf. L. Thomas, JMd. 

Samuel S. Turner, Mas<3. 

Gi'iffin Tompkins, N. York. 

Charles C. Turner, . Virginia. 

Henry W. Tib])s, Virginia. 
Robert T. Thorburn, 

George P. Upshur, Virginia. 

•lames K. Vallette, Penn. 

Gersham J. Van Brunt. N.Jersev. 

Daniel R. Vv^alker, Md. 

Jamies Williams, INId. 

Stephen B. Wilson, N. York. 

Wm. S. J. Washington, Vrginia. 

William C. Wetmnre, N. York. 

Clem. S. W^hittington, Md. 

William S. W^alker, N. H. 

Oliver W. Wood, R. Island 

Thomas V. W^ilson, Virginia. 

George F. Weaver, Virginia, 

James P. Wilson, Md. 

Thos. B Worthington, D. C. 

William G. Woolsey, Penn 

Rolia Weems, D. C. 

Mason .Wilson, Tenn. 

Chai-les Wilkes, jr. N. York. 

John W. West, Penn. 

James B. Wright, Virginia. 

Dudley Walker, Mass. 

James B. Witherell, Mo. 

C(»nway AVhittle, Virginia. 

Hampton Westcott, N. Jersey 

William^. Whittle, Virginia. 

Henry D. Zantzinger. 


Xainei and Foi-ce 

Alert, Guns 1 
Alligator, sclir. 12 

Asp, 2 

Columbus, 74 

Constitution, 44 

Congress, 3f> 

Constellation, 36 

Cyane, 24 

Delaware, 74 

Despatch, sch. 2 

Dolphin sch. 14 

Erie, 18 

Enterprize, 12 

Franklin, 74 

Pulton, St. fr. 30 

Guerriere, 44 

Hornet, ship 18 

Hornet, sch. 5 

Independence, 74 

.lava, 44 

John Adams, 24 

Louisiana 18 

Lynx, sch. 7 

Macedonian, 38 

N. Carolina, 74 

Nonsuch, sch. fi 

Ohio, 74 

Ontario, 22 

Peacock, 18 

Porpoise, sch. 18 

r'hark sch. ^i 









Wlure built. 

Pi-esent station. 

Receiving vessel at Norfolk. 
Boston, ** Cruizing for slave ships oft' 
Baltimore, Not in service. [Coast AtVi. 
Washington, Med'n. protecting commerce. 
Boston, Sailed May 13, for Med. Sea. 

Ptsmth, N.H. Norf. May 28, from a cruise in 
Baltimore, In the S. Sea. [the China Seas. 

N. York, fitting for sen. 
Norfolk, Norfolk, good order. 

Norfolk, Oct. 1820, on survey'g service 

Philadelphia. Phil, fitting for South Sea. 
Baltimore, New York, repairing. 
Baltimore, Pensacola, with despatches, 
Philadelphia, N. York, fitting for South Sea. 
New-York, New-York, good order. 
Philadelphia, Norfolk, in ordinary. 
Washington, Pensacola, with Am. Com'rs 

In ordinary. 
Boston, Boston. 

Baltimore, do. receiving ship. 

Ch'ston S. C. Norfolk, fitting for sea. 

New-Orleans, receiving ship. 
Washington, Supposed lost at sea. 

Boston, just from the S. Sea. 
Pliiladelphia, Philadelphia. 

Gulf Mex. cruizing for pirates. 
New-York, New- York, in ordinary. 
Baltimore, j Mediterranean Sea. 
New-York JNorfolk, from Mediterranean 
Boston, I Gulf Mexico, cruizing. 

Washington, 'Washington felting for sea. 


Spaik, 12 

Surprise, 6 

United States, 44 
Washington, 74 
Tchitbnti block 



o fNo. I a. 

70, & 72 





Ptsmth, N.H 


Maditerranean Sea. 
Not in service. 
Norfolk, repairing-. 
New-York, in ordinary 

State of preservation, 
Charleston, S. C. 

do. in Comraission. 
Tender at Washington. 
Norfolk, Va. 

17ie folloivins^ vessels are on the Lakes — most of them are 
covered, and in a state for preservation. 
Lake Champlain, Allen, 1 ; Burrows. 2 ; Boxer, 2 ; Centipede, 2 ; 
Galleys. Confiance, 37 ; Eagle, 20 ; Nettle galley, 2 ; Linnet 16 ; 
Saratoga, 26 ; Ticonderoga, 17 ; Viper galley, 2. — Lake Erie, Detroit, 
18 ; Ghent, 1 ; Lawrence, 18 ; Niagara, 18 ; Porcupine, 1 ; Queen 
Charlotte, 14. — Lake Ontario, Chippewa, 106 ; Jefferson, 22 ; Jones, 
22 ; Lady of the Lake, 1 ; xMohawk, 56 ; Madison, 22 ; Orleans, 106 : 
Oneida, 18 ; Pike, 28 ; Superior, 64 ; Sylph, 20; 14 Gun-Boats. 

J'able shetving the cost of the JS^avy 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 ot which our navy is or will be conijjosed when in service. 

For pay and 
all on board. 

For provis- 

For inar- 
isiers clo- 
thing, ,^f 

K'p'rs &-|Forhos- 
al! co!!tiu- pital 
g''!;ces. I stores. 

A 74 

^97,845 00 

62,610 041 2,474 60 

23,00011,600 189,-29 64 

A 44 

70,048 00 

43,122 08 1,965 25 

17,50011,350 133,98:. .j3 

A 36 

58,751 00 

35,573 8i 1,532 35 

13,500 1,'200| 110,557 19 

A Sloop 

32,276 25 

17,562 96 921 20 

7,500 800J 59,060 41 

A Brig. 
A Schr.of 

23,290 50 

12,273 02 611 15 

3,000 600 39,774 67 

large size. 

13,900 00 7,600 00 ' 

1,400 350 23,250 00 

Small do. 

3,619 00 2,045 00 

65 138 6,452 00 

A s^unboat 

or galley. 

3,619 00 2,045 00 

470 100 6,243 00 

Steam bat. 

32,276 25 17,562 96 921 20 7,500 800 50,060 41 

Block ship 

23,290 50 12,273 02 61115 3,000 600 59,774 67 



1,675 25| 

785 65 1 ] 

l,500j 250 4,200 90 

'■ Suppose, thtii, alltheslupsaiid Vtsstls ot ^\ar aiitliuriz<d bylaw ucrt biult, vqui!>- 
ped, and in actual scrvic, full manned ; suj.pobe a state of actual war, iu \v!)ich 
state alone would the y all be employed ; what would the whole annual e.xpense of 
oiu- navy be ? the followins: will shew." 

10 gun boats and galleys, 62,430.00 

y oe I- tlie following 
12ships of the line ^3,274,355,68 

14 large 44s. 
3 36s. 
6 sloops, 
2 brigs, 

5 large schooners, 
5 small do. 

875,794,62"' 4 steam batteries 




Block Ship, 
Receiving Ship, 

Total expense of the 
navy iu service. S 





" To man these ships and Vessels of war, and battcties, would rcquir..- 2i, 670 ner^ 
sons, including officers, seamen, ordinary seamen, marines and boys wliich nial;( s our 
ships, m commission, and actual seivice cost %Z50 per man per annum, a cost at 
which surely nj one will complain." 

N. B. The vessel on the lakes arc not consiaered, in the foregoing statement-. 




Shewing the places ofbirth, andmhnber of the different grades 
of officers in the navy. 














Where born. 

































































































































































































District of Colura. 














































Not stated. 


























There are six navy yards occupied hy the United,States, viz. : No. 
1, at Portsmohtli, N. II. of 58 acres cost §40,000 Charles Morris, 
Capt. Commandant. — No. 2, at Qharlestown, Mass. of 34 aci-es (exclu- 
sive of extensive flats) cost §39,214, Isaac Hull, capt. commandant — 
No. 3, atNew-York,of40 acres cost §40,000, Samufl Evans, capt. com- 
mandant. — No. 4, at Philadelphia, of 11 acres cost §37,000, Alexander 
Murray, capt commandant.— «No. 5, at Washington, D. C. i7 acx-es 
cost §4,000, 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. commandant. 

There are now building 4 ships of 74 guns each ; one at Portsmouth, 
Boston, Philadelphia, a-id Norfolk. Also 2 frigates of 44 guns each, 
one at New -York, and Boston. 



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