On the Morning of This Date in 1805

“…to the shores of Tripoli

…hadn’t made it to the Marines’ Hymn…yet. Courtesy of Lt. Presley Neville O’ Bannon and his galiant company, it did so by mid-afternoon.

…At long last, on April 25, they arrived at Derna. Surely by then, many in this small army must have been happy at the prospect of battle, as opposed to dying a miserable death in the desert. A message was sent to the governor of Derna to surrender. His defiant reply was, “My head or yours.” Shortly after this, the attacking force was bolstered by the arrival of the USS Argus, USS Hornet, and USS Nautilus in the harbor.
It was decided that Hamet and his Mamelukes would attack the governor’s castle, while O’Bannon, with his Americans, along with the Greeks and Turks, would lead an assault on the harbor fort. The naval guns would assist by bombarding the objectives.
As the attack began, the firing from the governor’s castle proved too much for Hamet’s force, and they held back. With enemy reinforcements known to be on the way, the attackers were in dire need of a quick victory. Eaton ordered O’Bannon to lead his men in a frontal assault on the harbor fort. Two hours of desperate fighting ensued, but finally O’Bannon and his men drove the Tripolitans from the fort and captured the guns there before they could be spiked. This would prove to be important.
O’Bannon had carried a U.S. flag with him, and now, for the first time in history, the Stars and Stripes was raised over foreign soil.

It’s a great read.

5 Responses to “On the Morning of This Date in 1805”

  1. Mr. Bingley says:

    Not very nuanced, was it?

  2. Mike Rentner says:

    Hah! I’m just finishing up a book about this very war. I never realized the idiocy of Tobias Lear (I’m not sure of the spelling, I listening on CD) for ordering the abandonment of Derna before he even started negotiating with the Pashaw. And then, even though Eaton and O’Bannon were rolling up the enemy, he still paid a ransom for the American captives and bent over backwards to pay all the enemy for everything he could imagine, including for the gunpowder used in gun salutes to US ships, at more than ten times the cost.
    And then, to start the whole mess, Capt Bainbridge surrendered his ship and crew for no reason at all and was never held accountable. When his ship ran aground, he failed to use his anchors to pull it off the reef, or even wait for high tide to float it again, and repeatedly sent row boats over and BEGGED passing corsairs to take them prisoner. Not a single shot had struck their ship or harmed a man, yet they surrendered. Bainbridge and his officers lived in luxury while his crew was beaten, starved and enslaved. He frequently sent letters begging to be ransomed, even though the purpose of the war was to avoid paying tribute.
    O’Bannon was a hero, but I finally understand why this is kept so low key in our history books. The whole war was an embarrassing collection of moronic acts.

  3. Mr. Bingley says:

    Yeah, it’s true Mike. I can’t help but think that a lot of those moronic acts were the vestiges of the aristocratic honor system that so hampered our military from its founding through the civil war. So many of these guys acted like they were trying to be british lords instead of americans.

  4. Is that the book that just came out, like, last fall Mike? We’ve been trying to remember the name! Perhaps you’d be good enough to post it for us?

  5. Mike Rentner says:

    Because of my frequent long drives lately, I’ve become a fan of books on CD. Much better than constantly searching for radio stations, and hearing the same top 40 crap all day in between areas of static. And music CDs suck because I’ve heard them all too many times.
    This book is “The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, The First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805.” It’s been very enjoyable, and I highly recommend it.

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