She was commanded by William Bainbridge and on 31 October, 1803, due to a major error on his part, was captured by the corsairs in Tripoli harbor; she had run aground and essentially the Tripolitan gunboats took her without her firing a shot; actually, she couldn't as Bainbridge had ordered her guns heaved overboard to lighten the ship in hopes of refloating her. Not so much! He also ordered her foremast chopped down, obviously thinking that would do the trick. It did not.
|Stranded and attacked by gunboats of Tripoli|
Needless to say, Preble found nothing amusing about the situation and sent in a volunteer crew in a captured Tripolitan xebec (that's pronounced "zee-bek" in case you wondered).
|a contemporary image of the event|
They made good their escape in the xebec (renamed Intepid,) and put themselves, or rather their commander, Stephen Decatur, permanently into the record books as heroes. In fact, Decatur, a lieutenant at the time of his raid, was jump promoted to captain as a reward.
|Marine Artist Paul Garnett's masterful rendition|
Should any of you have an interest in learning more about this brilliant event in our Navy's history, check out The Greater the Honor by yours truly. It's on Amazon.com in digital and paper. (that's a "clickable" link) Some have even declared it a good read.
By the way, some of you astute readers out there may have heard that Admiral Nelson referred to the raid by Decatur as the "most daring act of the age." Not so. It was created out of the head of one of Decatur's biographers back in 1844. Of course, Nelson and Decatur were both dead, so it could not be refuted!
Until next time,