Horrors of Slavery, or, The American Tars in Tripoli

By William Ray; Hester Blum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
Commodore Preble’s
Engagement with
the Tripolitans

No more of TRUXTON:1 PREBLE all outbraves—
A greater hero never rode the waves:
’Round the drear coast his squadron’s wings are spread,
And hungry billows crave the future dead.

AUGUST 3.—The wind east, pleasant weather, and the squadron stood in towards Tripoli. About 12 o’clock, the squadron was within two or three miles of the batteries. Some of our men, who had been at work on the fortifications, came running in, and informed us that the whole coast was lined with our shipping. The whole town was in an uproar, every Turk had his musket and other weapons, and wild disorder rang through every arch. We were all locked into the prison, and a formidable guard set over us. Their batteries were all manned, and several of their gun-boats and gallies had advanced in two divisions without the rocks. The commodore, observing this, was resolved to take advantage of their temerity. At half past 12 o’clock the commodore bore off, and made a signal to come within hail, when he communicated to each of the commanders his intention of attacking the enemy’s shipping and batteries. The gun and mortar boats were immediately manned and prepared to cast off. The gun-boats in two divisions of three each. The first division commanded by Captain Somers, in No. 1; Lieutenant Decatur, in No. 2; and Lieutenant Blake, in No. 3. The second division by Captain Decatur, in No. 4; Lieutenant Bainbridge, in No. 5; and Lieutenant Tripp, in No. 6. The two bombards were commanded by Lieutenant-commandant Dent, and Mr. Robinson, first lieutenant of the Constitution. At half past one o’clock, having made the necessary arrangements for the attack, the commodore wore ship, and stood towards the batteries. At two, signals were made to cast off the boats; at a quarter past two signal for the bombs and gun-boats to advance and attack the enemy; at half past two general signal for battle; at three quarters past two the boats commenced the action by throwing shells into the town. In an instant the enemy’s

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