Return to Naval Historical
Center home page. Return to Battle
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
Operations Against West Indian Pirates 1822-1830s
By the second decade of the 19th Century, pirates increasingly
infested the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, and by the early 1820's
nearly 3,000 attacks had been made on merchant ships. Financial
loss was great; murder and torture were common.
Under the leadership of Commodores James Biddle, David Porter
and Lewis Warrington, the U.S. Navy's West India Squadron, created
in 1822, crushed the pirates. The outlaws were relentlessly ferreted
out from uncharted bays and lagoons by sailors manning open boats
for extended periods through storm and intense heat. To the danger
of close-quarter combat was added the constant exposure to yellow
fever and malaria in the arduous tropical duty.
The Navy's persistent and aggressive assault against the freebooters
achieved the desired results. Within 10 years, Caribbean piracy
was all but extinguished, and an invaluable service had been rendered
to humanity and the shipping interests of all nations.
15 July 1996