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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Barbary Wars 1801-1805, 1815

The Barbary States of North Africa had plundered seaborne commerce for centuries. They demanded tribute money, seized ships, and held crews for ransom or sold them into slavery. To combat these outrages, the United States sent naval squadrons into the Mediterranean. Under the leadership of Commodores Richard Dale and Edward Preble, the Navy blockaded the enemy coast, bombarded his shore fortresses, and engaged in close, bitterly contested gunboat actions.

Lieutenant Stephen Decatur's exploit in destroying the captured frigate USS Philadelphia, and Captain Richard Somers attempt with the fire-ship USS Intrepid to blow up enemy vessels in Tripoli harbor, set valorous examples for the young naval service. Gradual withdrawal of the U.S. Navy led the Barbary powers to renew their age-old piratical practices. Following the War of 1812 two naval squadrons under Commodores Decatur and Bainbridge returned to the Mediterranean. Diplomacy backed by resolute force soon brought the rulers of Barbary to terms and gained wide spread respect for the new American nation.

4 Bronze Stars

1. Actions in Tripoli harbor
2. Blockade of Tripolitan coast
3. Destruction of the captured USS Philadelphia (16 February 1804)
4. Operations against Algiers (1815)


13 August 2003