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Christians or Moors. Certain circumstances led the officers of the American fleet to conjecture that the Intrepid was prematurely discovered and boarded by the enemy—perhaps from the gunboats lying near the harbor's mouth—and that Somers fired the train, and sent all to destruction together.' But the mystery never has been in the least cleared up, and now never can be until that day when all mysteries shall be cleared up.
The season and the condition of the American squadron made it necessary to suspend active operations; and leaving a sufficient detachment to enforce the blockade, Commodore Preble sailed for Syracuse in the island of Sicily. On the 10th of September, the President—the flag-ship of Commodore Barron, thenceforth the senior captain in command—and the Constellation arrived. Preble returned home in the John Adams to receive the hearty applause of the Government and people of his country. Congress voted him thanks and a gold medal.
We will here take occasion to remark that one of the recommendations of this fine officer to his Government, as the result of his Mediterranean experience, was to provide bomb-ketches
and gunboats for the assault of such places as Tripoli. He had
not discovered, like a good many landsmen in and out of Congress, that this economical species of marine force was wholly inefficient. His fierce combats with the gunboats which defended the harbor of Tripoli, had impressed a very different conviction on his mind.
The force left in the Mediterranean under the orders of Barron consisted of the President, 44; Constitution, 44; Congress, 38; Constellation, 38; Essex, 32; Siren, 16; Argus, 16; Vixen, 12; Enterprise, 12; Nautilus, 12. The John Adams, 28, and Hornet, 12, were afterwards added to the squadron; and as soon as they could be prepared, two bomb-ketches, the Vengeance, and Spitfire, and ten gunboats (seven of two guns and three of one gun) were sent out. This did not look very much like a disposition on the part of our Government to leave the national vessels “rotting out of commission,” when there was an occasion for their services. It did not look much like meeting actual enemies with “moral philosophy and commercial restrictions, with dry-docks and gunboats, with non-intercourse and embar
1 This was Commodore Preble's impression; but Mr. Cooper takes a different view of the probabilities.
goes, till the American nation were told that they could not be kicked into a war.”” The spring of 1805 opened with an adventure in our Barbary war bordering on the romantic. The reigning bashaw of Tripoli, Jussuf Caramalli, was a usurper, having driven his older brother, Hamet, from the throne. The latter had taken refuge among the Mamelukes of Egypt. It had been suggested to the American officers that the name and services of the exiled prince might be advantageously used in this war. Captain Eaton, our consul at Tunis, formed a project of this kind, and returned home to obtain permission to carry it into execution. He so far obtained this, that Commodore Barron was instructed to aid the execution of his plans to such extent as he should deem prudent. The commodore sent Eaton to Alexandria in the Argus. He arrived late in November (1804), and proceeded to Cairo, where he was received favorably by the Viceroy of Egypt, and Hamet Caramalli entered at once into his views. They assembled a force of about five hundred men, composed, it was said, of twelve different nations, and then advanced across the Lybian Desert in the direction of Derne. The distance, six hundred miles, was accomplished in fifty days, and on the 26th of April (1805) they encamped in the rear of that town, the capital of one of the Tripolitan provinces. The city contained about fifteen thousand inhabitants, and was defended by some military works and a garrison. The Argus, Captain Hull, the Hornet, Lieutenant-Commandant Evans, and the Nautilus, Lieutenant-Commandant Dent, which had been on the look-out for Eaton and his forces, arrived at the same time before the town. Some marines, and arms for Eaton's troops, (now swelled to a considerable body by the accession of Arabs) were landed; and on the 27th of April, this motley force rushed to the assault, the vessels firing on the batteries of the town at such short range that the Hornet was anchored within pistolshot of one of the latter. The defence was spirited, but the city was captured in less than two hours. An army sent by
1 This sentence is from John Quincy Adams's eulogy on Madison, 1836. The remark, indeed, was intended to specially apply to a later period and state of things; but he leads to the inference that the kinds of preparation he names were the only ones Mr. Jefferson ever approved of or made for war. And we think, while indulging in this strain of o he forgot to make any reference to the Tripolitan war. We may to: occasion hereafter to call attention to Mr. J. Q. Adams's consistency on this subject.
Jussuf was defeated on the 13th of May, and more effectually so on the 10th of June. Eaton's hopes now soared high that with proper supplies and reinforcements from Commodore Barron, Tripoli itself would soon be at his feet. To his applications, however, the commodore made answer, that Hamet was now in possession of the second province of the regency, and that if he had the influence to which he laid claim, he ought to be able to effect his purpose by the ordinary coöperation of the fleet. Barron (wasted to great debility by illness) possibly had not too much confidence in the discretion of Eaton, and none whatever in that of Hamet Caramalli, who, he wrote Colonel Lear, had neither energy, military talents, nor resources of any kind. He believed that a powerful impression had been produced on the mind of the reigning bashaw, and that then was the time to treat favorably with him and recover Commodore Bainbridge and the crew of the Philadelphia' “from the bondage of a bigoted and unfeeling tyrant.” The Danish consul, Nissen, communicated overtures from the bashaw's prime minister—evidently supposing that a peace would be desirable, under the circumstances, to the United States. Bainbridge himself wrote Barron from his captivity:
“I have not the least doubt that was a person to come here to negotiate before an attack is made, that peace would be effected for one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, and if the attack should not prove very successful, it is very probable that such a sum would not release us from captivity, at least for some time. Apprehension is often worse than realization. I sincerely hope that a person will come, because I think it the most favorable moment.”
Acting under the advice of Barron, Colonel Lear opened a communication with the bashaw. The latter demanded $200,000 dollars for peace and ransom. Lear rejected the proposition at once, and proposed as his ultimatum that a mutual delivery of prisoners should take place, and as the bashaw had more than two hundred the most, he offered to “give him $60,000 for them, but not a cent for peace.” These terms were agreed upon.
Both Barron's and Lear's conduct on this occasion has been often criticised. A life of Eaton has appeared, in which Lear
m This consisted of about three hundred men, including twenty-two quarter-deck oncers.
is loaded with accusations for arresting by a dishonorable peace the splendid career of the former to a great national conquest. And when a son of Hamet Caramalli was recently in the United States, soliciting compensation for the injustice done to his father, several romantic tales on the subject appeared in our periodical publications. Commodore Rodgers, who succeeded to Barron in the command before the treaty was concluded, and who certainly was never accused of preferring other arguments where powder and ball were the best ones, decidedly approved of his predecessor's measures and of the treaty. He wrote the Secretary of the Navy to that effect (June 8th) and then sailed to Tunis, and under the muzzles of his cannon, dictated a peace to its Bey. Eaton's light-armed force had done well against a town whose principal batteries could be engaged on equal terms by two or three little vessels close in upon land. Tripoli was quite another affair. It had more than once repulsed our entire squadron. It had a wall and strong landward defences, against which a riffraff of two or three thousand Arabs (about as good soldiers as American Indians, and indeed very similar ones) could effect no more than a swarm of hornets. It would not have been in the power of a much better trained and more systematic soldier than Eaton to suddenly convert such materials into proper ones for conducting siege-trains and regular approaches. A perusal of not only the earlier but the subsequent history of the Barbary States will serve to dispel many fanciful impressions on this subject. It is probable that if we had attempted dynasty-founding and protectorates in Africa, we should have been compelled to engage in a land war with all the Barbary States. The degree of material necessary for such an enterprise has since been shown by the experience of the French in Algeria. But what would have been the special objects (so long as we attained the general ones of the war) of capturing Tripoli ? The ones alleged are that we should have thus avoided the degradation of paying $60,000, and that we should have discharged an obligation to Hamet. It was not a very sore disgrace for a transatlantic power to
1 Barron resigned on account of ill health, and was succeeded by Rodgers, May 22d.
pay that sum for the greater number of prisoners, when the oldest and strongest nations of Europe continued not only to pay ransom for prisoners, but large sums avowedly for peace. When all the ends of equity and convenience are answered, the point of ceremonial honor does not rise very high in treating with barbarians. But the other question, it must be admitted, was an important one. If we lured Hamet Caramalli from a distant retreat—if we took his contribution to our force, though it should amount to no more than five hungry Arabs, whose services were not worth their rations—and if we stipulated, in consideration of his force, his name, or on any other ground, to do our best before concluding any peace to place him on the throne which perhaps his father usurped—then Lear, and Barron, and Rogers voluntarily tarnished the good faith of their country. They could not pretend they had made all reasonable effort to redeem such a stipulation till at least a bloody assault by sea and land on Tripoli had left them victors, or sent them (as it probably would) shattered and broken from the onset. And, under the same supposition, the President disgraced himself by approving of the treachery of his instruments; the Senate disgraced itself by approving the treaty; and the House of Representatives (admitting it had some option in legislating to execute treaties) disgraced itself by making any provisions for its execution. Moreover, the American Congress and people lately doubly disgraced themselves (for now neither poverty nor ignorance of facts could be properly pleaded) by turning a deaf ear to the application of the son of a martyr to their forefathers' treachery. But this entire hypothesis, fortunately, rests on the imagination of tale writers. Eaton was deeply chagrined at a result which he believed arrested him on the high road to victory and renown. But he never was able to show that Hamet had been, to the least degree, deceived by our Government. He wrote Commodore Rodgers (June 30th) that “our peace with Tripoli was certainly more favorable, and, considered separately, more honorable, than any peace obtained by any Christian nation with a Barbary regency, at any period within a hundred years.” In fact, Eaton was never vested with power to pledge our Government, if such had been his own wish, to an agreement to effect the restoration of Hamet. Barron, in supreme com.