Tuesday, February 12, 2008

To the Shores of Tripoli . . .

How to Beat the Saracen

A Lesson

WHY WAS--AND IS--THE US of AMERICA DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER NATIONS (ESPECIALLY THE EUROPEANS) and why the followers of Mahound have a big surprise coming to them

"Jefferson declared that tribute was "money thrown away" and that the most convincing argument that these outlaws would understand was gunpowder and shot."

"From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of their money," Jefferson . . . in a December 26, 1786, letter to the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, "it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them."

[from Terrorism In Early America
The U.S. Wages War Against The Barbary States To End International Blackmail and Terrorism By Thomas Jewett ]

Does this following sound familiar?

In 1785, the exasperated Jefferson suggested that war was the only solution. His mind was "absolutely suspended between indignation and impotence." Jefferson declared that tribute was "money thrown away" and that the most convincing argument that these outlaws would understand was gunpowder and shot. The future president proposed a multi-national effort between European powers and America that would in effect economically blockade North Africa and ultimately provide for a multi-national military force to combat pirate terrorism. The European powers chose to continue paying tribute to the Barbary States (Irwin, 1970)
By the spring of 1801, Yusuf had heard nothing about his $10,000 [he had demanded]and his impatience with America had grown to a fine rage. The Pasha summoned the American representative to his court, made him kiss his hand and decreed that, as a penalty, tribute would be raised to $225,000, plus $25,000 annually in goods of his choice. If refused, the alternative was war. To make his point, Yusuf had his soldiers chop down the flagpole in front of the American consulate, a significant gesture in a land of no tall trees-and one that meant war (Channing, 1968).

Jefferson decided that a little "showing of the flage" in the Mediterranean was more appropriate than tribute. He ordered the frigates President, Essex, and Philadelphia and the sloop Enterprise to blockade Tripoli and convoy American shipping (Malone, 1970).
This squadron, under Commodore Richard Dale, had to patrol and control a coastline over 1,200 miles in distance, which resulted in a "most desultory blockade." The lone success of the force was the defeat of a larger Tripolitan ship by Enterprise. Since there had been no declaration of war by the United States, the Barbary cruiser could not be taken as a prize. However, the captain of the Enterprise did have all of the corsair's guns thrown overboard before allowing the ship to continue on its way, with sixty casualties to his none (Channing, 1968).

"Since there had been no declaration of war by the United States, the Barbary cruiser could not be taken as a prize."
[sound familiar?]

[the same old crap continued]

"Congress still refused to declare war against Tripoli, but did levy a light war tax and proclaimed "protection of commerce" by the navy"

The Philadelphia Story

Command of the American effort evolved in September 1803 to Captain Edward Preble, who immediately set about on the offensive. He scored a bloodless victory at Tangier by convincing the Sultan of Morocco that it would be to his benefit not to molest American shipping in the future. Preble accomplished this feat by sailing the Constitution into Tangier harbor, opening up the gun ports, running out the cannon, and pointing them at the Sultan's palace. The Sultan hastened to agree, and to seal the bargain, supplied the crew of the ship with provisions (Channing, 1968).

The glow of success was soon tarnished when news reached Preble of the capture of the frigate Philadelphia. The Philadelphia arrived on station in the Mediterranean ahead of the rest of the squadron. Its captain, William Bainbridge, unwisely set about trying to blockade Tripoli alone. On October 31, while pursuing a corsair under full sail, Philadelphia grounded on a sandbar about two miles offshore. Despite five hours of desperate work by her crew, she stuck fast. With her broadsides tilted at crazy angles, her firing was harmless to the pirates' small craft that quickly swarmed about her.

Bainbridge, after jettisoning his useless cannon, and thinking the ship's carpenter had scuttled the ship, surrendered to prevent a massacre. Three hundred and seven Americans were taken prisoner, put in chains, and forced to slave in the building of Tripoli's fortifications (Irwin, 1970).

Preble's hands were tied. Any action by the Americans might result in the Pasha murdering Philadelphia's crewmen in reprisal. So, Preble first offered $50,000 and then $100,000 for their release, but was scornfully refused. Whereupon, Preble released his own seahawk, Stephen Decatur.

and here comes the good part, folks . . .

In December, young Lieutenant Decatur, captain of the Enterprise, had apprehended an enemy ketch, a four-gun vessel of shallow draft, which could be rowed. Decatur planned a raid to destroy the unlucky Philadelphia, whom the pirates had refloated and were rigging for action against the Americans. Decatur's plan called for the use of a native vessel, and the captured ketch filled the bill.

Decatur and his small crew disguised as North Africans sailed the Barbary ketch into Tripoli harbor on the night of February 15, 1804. The tiny craft bumped into the Philadelphia, and Decatur's boarding party flung grappling hooks to lash the rails together. Then yelling and screaming, they leaped onto the deck of the frigate. As a [Mahometan] pirate reported later, the Americans "sent Decatur on a dark night, with a band of Christian dogs fierce and cruel as the tiger, who killed our brothers and burnt our ships before our eyes." Decatur's men wielded tomahawks and killed twenty pirates in as many minutes, chasing the rest over the side. Only one raider was wounded before the Philadelphia was set afire in four places. Then the Americans withdrew (Castor, 1971).

[not bad for embryo Special Forces, Eh?]

The Philadelphia was set afire in four places. Then the Americans withdrew (Castor, 1971).
Decatur's luck held in the even more perilous escape from the harbor. The Pasha's artillery thundered wildly after the brazen Americans, but the little ketch, scarcely scratched, was rowed through the storm, to rejoin the American squadron (Castor, 1971).

When British Admiral Lord Nelson heard of the raid, he called it "the most bold and daring act of the age." Decatur, just twenty-five, won promotion to captain-then the highest rank in the navy-and remains the youngest man ever to be so honored (Bobby-Evans, 2001).

[ . . . but the s.o.s. goes on]

Decatur's act, no matter how bold and daring, did not alter radically the situation in the Mediterranean. Tripoli was defended by 25,000 soldiers and 115 cannon ashore, and 24 warships guarded the harbor. Against them Preble could pit only 1,060 men aboard seven ships, of which only the Constitution was heavy-gunned. Without troops to storm the port, all that Preble and his men could do was to disrupt the Pasha's economy by not allowing the pirates to practice their trade and to keep the pasha on the defensive (Channing, 1968).
On August 3, Preble's squadron sailed into Tripoli harbor to open bombardment of the city. The pirates were sheltered safe behind thick walled defenses, some of which had been constructed by Philadelphia's crew under the lash.

The bombardment caused little damage, but Preble was pleased by the behavior of his crews who had taken on the pirates at their own game. The corsairs were supposed to be invincible at hand-to-hand fighting, but never again would they attempt this, their favorite method of attacking and boarding on an American ship. The "fat ducks" had turned into fierce seahawks. American sailors led by men like Lieutenant John Trippe, outnumbered three to one, killed twenty-one of the pirates and captured fifteen in one engagement alone. Trippe himself took eleven wounds from a Turkish captain before ending the combat with a pike thrust. Three Tripolitan gunboats were captured, and one sunk (Castor, 1971).

Only one American was lost; Decatur's younger brother, James, had been treacherously murdered by the captain of a pirate ship after its surrender. Stephen Decatur avenged his brother by killing the murderer in a savage man-to-man encounter before witnesses (Castor, 1971).

Preble returned five times to harass and bombard Tripoli, but without troops to affect a landing, they were basically ineffectual. His tour of duty over, Preble returned home in modest triumph, to be commended by the President, to receive a gold medal from Congress, and to die of tuberculosis a year later. Pope Pius VII said that under Preble's orders Americans "had done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages" (Castor, 1971).

Preble's successor, Captain Samuel Barron, led the largest flotilla assembled under the American flag up to that time: six frigates, seven brigs, and ten gunboats. Barron had another weapon on his flagship, William Eaton, former Consul of Tunis (Irwin, 1970).

Eaton knew that Tripoli could be taken if ground troops were committed or if the political climate of the city could be altered. Eaton planned to do both. His scheme called for fomenting rebellion to supplant Yusuf with his brother Hamet (Channing, 1968).

To achieve his design Eaton had at his disposal $20,000 in cash, the little brig Argus, and a cadre of nine men. One of the latter was a midshipmen-man by the name of Pascal Paoli Peck, and the other eight were United States Marines led by Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon. This handful of men would share in an incredible adventure little recalled today except in the Marine Corps Hymn (Pike, 2001).

Eaton and the puppet Hamet met at Alexandria, Egypt and agreed to attack Yusuf's port of Derna. In that city Hamet had some support. To avoid an exhausting 500-mile march Eaton wanted to transport the American force by sea, but Hamet insisted that his flighty followers might disappear if the Americans did not march with him.

By promising riches and plunder after victory, "General" Eaton, as Hamet dubbed him, recruited probably the strangest army to march under the stars and stripes. The men were mostly Arabs and Levantine brigands, with some Greeks and other European soldiers of fortune. There were about six hundred in all (Bobby-Evans, 2001).

The expedition would be supplied by sea, and the Argus would pace the marchers just offshore. The Argus' cannon would provide Eaton with minimal naval support, and her eight marines were added to the rabble army.

The motley force moved out of Alexandria on March 8, 1805, along a route now made famous during World War II. Two of Eaton's rest stops were at Tobruk and El Alamein. Eaton's army, like those of the future would suffer from the sandstorms of the khamsin wind, which brings darkness at midday (Castor, 1971).

On the march Eaton's Arab cavalry threatened to mutiny. Eaton outfaced the horde with a show of bayonets from his squad of eight marines. Eventually Eaton's $20,000 was drained, and at times, he had to borrow money from his marines and Greek mercenaries to keep the expedition going (Irwin, 1970).

The Argus lost contact with the march about 90 miles from Derna, just as the land forces' food gave out. Some of the mercenaries vowed to quit, but Eaton coaxed them to eat a pack camel and wait a day or so. Fortunately the Argus reappeared on April 16, followed by the Hornet, with food and munitions. After a few days rest, Eaton resumed his advance, and arrived outside of Derna on April 25 (Irwin, 1970).

To Eaton's demand for surrender, the captain of Derna's defenses replied, "My head or yours!" After two days of maneuvering, Eaton's lone cannon opened on Derna's stonewalls and houses. The noise was impressive, dust flew, and in their excitement the Greek artillerymen burst the cannon by firing it with the rammer still in the tube (Castor, 1971).

At four in the afternoon, Eaton ordered a frontal attack, and with his tiny force of eight marines and fifty Greeks charged the walls. The town was won but at a high cost of fourteen dead, two of them marines. Eaton took a musket ball through the wrist in the assault, which captured the first city in the Old World by Americans (Bobby-Evans, 2001).

The victors were besieged in Derna throughout the month of May, but Hamet's cavalry repulsed the attacks. Eaton begged Commodore Barron to proclaim Hamet the new ruler of Tripoli, and to reinforce his troops for the 700-mile march on the Pasha's capital. Barron refused both requests because Yusuf had reopened negotiations with the American consul for the release of the Philadelphia's crew (Bobby-Evans, 2001).

An agreement was reached. Eaton and Hamet fled from the shores of Tripoli with the marines and Christian mercenaries to escape certain death at the hands of their angry followers, for whom peace would end all prospects of loot. What the fearless Eaton might have accomplished with the one hundred or more marines who were idle aboard Barron's squadron is tantalizing to imagine (Bobby-Evans, 2001).

The negotiated treaty with Yusuf called for the release of all prisoners, an end to slave taking and ship seizure, and a final ransom of $60,000. Yusuf was more than eager to sign. American naval presence had destroyed his normal source of revenue, and he had been alarmed at the success of Eaton's ragtag army (Irwin, 1970).

The Dey of Tunis, seeing what had happened to Tripoli, sent a blooded horse to Jefferson as a sign of peace and the end of tribute. Jefferson, a horseman, refused the gift. The Americans now thought that the Mediterranean was safe for United States' shipping, and brought Barron's squadron home (Castor, 1971).

However, in the fall of 1807, Algiers detained three vessels. Freedom was bought for the ships and crew for a mere $18,000 but it signaled the resumption of two bad habits, pirate terrorism and tribute. The renewal of these would last for many years and cause the American navy to once again sail against Barbary.

The war with England during 1812-14 pushed the Barbary pirates into the back of American concerns. In any event, retaliation against the corsairs would have been impossible, for after 1812 the American navy was swept from the seas by the British.

As soon as the American navy was no longer a threat, the Dey of Algiers announced a "policy to increase the number of my American slaves," whereupon he captured the brig Edwin and its crew in August 1812. This situation lasted until the end of the war with England (Irwin, 1970).
On March 2, 1815, ten weeks after the end of the War of 1812, the United States formally declared hostilities against Algiers. Retribution, long delayed but richly deserved, was dispatched in the form of ten tall ships under the command of the scourge of Barbary, Stephen Decatur (Pike, 2001).

The punitive expedition arrived off Algiers in June. Decatur promptly shot up the flagship of the Dey's fleet, capturing it with 486 prisoners. He then sent an ultimatum to the Dey: Free every slave at once, pay an indemnity of $10,000 to the survivors of the brig Edwin, and cease all demands for tribute forever.

Numbed by Decatur's ferocity, the Dey whined that perhaps there had been a "misunderstanding" which he would like to correct with "the amiable James Madison, the Emperor of America" (Castor, 1971).

Tunis and Tripoli were next on Decatur's list. The Dey of Tunis groomed his beard with a diamond-encrusted comb and complained, "Why do they send wild young men to treat for peace with the old powers?" Still, he paid the Americans $46,000 to go away. In its turn, Tripoli felt Decatur's wrath, paying him a $25,000 indemnity and freeing its slaves (Castor, 1971).

The "old powers" never again molested any American ships. Decatur's swift and firm action impelled the other European powers to follow the American example. The degrading yoke of tribute and the raiding of the Barbary corsairs were over.

America's involvement in the Tripolitan War suppressed pirate terrorism in the Mediterranean only after resolute action. It also saw the development of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps with their proud traditions, and for the first time America made its presence known, not as a "fat duck" but as an eagle in the world of the old empires.


And what do we learn from this about "How to fight the Saracen/ [the Mahometan?]
this nth Lesson: To the Shores of tripoli?

1. It ain't easy; no piece of cake

2. the Saracen [Mahometan] will try to wiggle his way out of a tough [for them] situation with honeyed words and if these don't work by backing off.

3. Things have not changed since then. Our leadership and government do not operate as well-oiled machinery.

4. When you fight 'em, give no quarter. Be fiercer than they could ever imagine a "non-faithful" could be. The more ruthless, the better

5. Do not agonize over our own seemingly foolish (even stupid, at times exasperatingly appeasing) government.

6. Diplomats and soldiers will be at odds at times. Giving rein to the military is always preferable than letting the diplomats give away too much.

7. There will be horrible fuckups, betrayals by diplomats and guys left out to dry, flapping in the wind.

8. Despite all that, when you have a good command, and can engage the enemy, beat the shit outta him, and let the devil take the hindmost!

Bobby-Evans, Alistor. (2001). "The Tripolitan War 1801-1805".
Castor, Henry. (1971). The Tripolitan War 1801-1805. Franklin Watts, In.
New York.
Channing, Edward. (1968). The Jeffersonian System 1801-1811. Cooper Square Publishers, Inc. New York.
Irwin, Ray W. (1970). The Diplomatic Relations of the United States With the Barbary Powers
1776-1816. Russel & Russel. New York.
Malone, Dumas. (1951). Jefferson and the Rights of Man. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.
Malone, Dumas. (1970). Jefferson the President First Term 1801-1805. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.
Pike, John. "Barbary Wars". http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/ops/barbary.htm.
Read it all at


Following the war with the Barbary Pirates in 1805, when Lieutenant P.N. O'Bannon and his small force of Marines participated in the capture of Derna and hoisted the American flag for the first time over a fortress of the Old World, the Colors of the Corps was inscribed with the words: "To the Shores of Tripoli."

Suggested further Reading:
To the Shores of Tripoli: The Birth of the U.S. Navy and Marines
by A. B. C. Whipple

also look at these:


A propos "Tripoli" and the clash of the young US with the Mahometans:

Here's some more good stuff dealing with that:

. . if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."
--Sun Tzu, The Art of War

ok, now that we've got that out of the way, here's some more:

Another excellent account of the Barbary Coast during the early part of the 1800's is the book "Skeletons of the Zarhara." Great read, and chronicles the utter contempt muslims have for Christians. It just drives muslims nuts when they can't convert Christians...they'll never understsand why Christians don't convert because they themselves are so filled with hate and ignorance.
Posted by: never_submit at dhimmiwatch--see URL below


It is a piece by the courageous and superbly insightful Fjordman. you can catch him here and there about cyberspace and in its blogosphere.

BE sure to read the Comments after the Fjordman essay, they will elucidate.

This is part of what's there:

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then serving as American ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met in 1786 in London with the Tripolitan Ambassador to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. These future American presidents were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would spare the United States the ravages of Jihad piracy – murder and enslavement emanating from the so-called Barbary States of North Africa, corresponding to modern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.

Andrew Bostom notes that "an aggressive jihad was already being waged against the United States almost 200 years prior to America becoming a dominant international power in the Middle East." Israel has thus nothing to do with it.

The Barbary Jihad piracy had been going on since the earliest Arab-Islamic expansion in the 7th and 8th centuries. Francisco Gabrieli states that:

"According to present-day concepts of international relations, such activities amounted to piracy, but they correspond perfectly to jihad, an Islamic religious duty. The conquest of Crete, in the east, and a good portion of the corsair warfare along the Provencal and Italian coasts, in the West, are among the most conspicuous instances of such "private initiative" which contributed to Arab domination in the Mediterranean."

A proto-typical Muslim naval razzia occurred in 846 when a fleet of Arab Jihadists arrived at the mouth of the Tiber, made their way to Rome, sacked the city, and carried away from the basilica of St. Peter all of the gold and silver it contained.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, as many Europeans were captured, sold, and enslaved by the Barbary corsairs as were West Africans made captive and shipped for plantation labor in the Americas by European slave traders. Robert Davis' methodical enumeration indicates that between one, and one and one-quarter million white European Christians were enslaved by the Barbary Muslims from 1530 through 1780.
White Gold, Giles Milton's remarkable account of Cornish cabin boy Thomas Pellow, captured by Barbary corsairs in 1716, documents how Jihad razzias had extended to England [p. 13, "By the end of the dreadful summer of 1625, the mayor of Plymouth reckoned that 1,000 skiffs had been destroyed, and a similar number of villagers carried off into slavery"], Wales, southern Ireland [p.16, "In 1631…200 Islamic soldiers…sailed to the village of Baltimore, storming ashore with swords drawn and catching the villagers totally by surprise. (They) carried off 237 men, women, and children and took them to Algiers…The French padre Pierre Dan was in the city (Algiers) at the time…He witnessed the sale of the captives in the slave auction. 'It was a pitiful sight to see them exposed in the market…Women were separated from their husbands and the children from their fathers…on one side a husband was sold; on the other his wife; and her daughter was torn from her arms without the hope that they'd ever see each other again'."], and even Reykjavik, Iceland!

Bostom notes that "By June/July 1815 the ably commanded U.S. naval forces had dealt their Barbary jihadist adversaries a quick series of crushing defeats. This success ignited the imagination of the Old World powers to rise up against the Barbary pirates."

Yet some Arabs seem to miss the good, old days when they could extract Jizya payments from the West. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has stated that he thinks that European nations should pay 10 billion euros ($12.7 billion dollars) a year to Africa to help it stop migrants seeking a better life flooding northwards into Europe. He added without elaborating: "Earth belongs to everybody. Why they (young Africans) emigrated to Europe -- this should be answered by Europeans."

Apart from being a clear-cut example of how migration, or rather population dumping by Third World countries, has become a tool for blackmail in the 21st century, this is a throwback to the age when Tripoli could extract payments from Europe.

Sadly, Americans seem to have forgotten the lessons from this proud chapter in their history, when they refused to pay ransom to Muslims like the Europeans did and instead sent warships to the Mediterranean under the slogan "Millions for defense, not one penny for tribute!" Since WW2, we've had three major conflicts in the Balkans: In Cyprus, in Bosnia and in Kosovo. On all three occasions, the United States have interfered on behalf of Muslims. Yet despite this fact, two of the 9/11 hijackers said that their actions were inspired by an urge to avenge the suffering of Muslims in Bosnia.

Andrew G. Bostom, "America's First War on Terror"

As Efraim Karsh, author of the book Islamic Imperialism: A History points out, America is reviled in the Muslim world not because of its specific policies "but because, as the pre-eminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of a universal Islamic empire (or umma)."


Paul Fregosi has pointed out that "Western colonization of nearby Muslim lands lasted 130 years, from the 1830s to the 1960s. Muslim colonization of nearby European lands lasted 1300 years, from the 600s to the mid-1960s. Yet, strangely, it is the Muslims, the Arabs and the Moors to be precise, who are the most bitter about colonialism and the humiliations to which they have been subjected; and it is the Europeans who harbor the shame and the guilt. It should be the other way around."

Janos (John) Hunyadi, Hungarian warrior and captain-general, is today virtually unknown outside Hungary, but he probably did more than any other individual in stemming the Turkish invasion in the fifteenth century. His actions spanned all the countries of the Balkans, leading international armies, negotiating with kings and popes. Hunyadi died of plague after having destroyed an Ottoman fleet outside Belgrade in1456. His work slowed the Muslim advance, and may thus have saved Western Europe from falling to Islam. By extension, he may have helped save Western civilization in North America and Australia, too. Yet hardly anybody in West knows who he is. Our children don't learn his name, they are only taught about the evils of Western colonialism and the dangers of Islamophobia.

"So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."

[Sun Tzu]

The West has forgotten who our enemies are, but worse, we have also forgotten who we are. We are going to pay a heavy price for this historical amnesia.




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