STEPHEN DECATUR (1779-1820), American naval commander, was born at Sinnepuxent, Maryland, on the 5th of January 1779, and entered the United States navy as a midshipman in 1798. He was promoted lieutenant a year later, and in that rank saw some service in the short war with France. In 1803 he was in command of the "Enterprise," which formed part of Commodore Preble's squadron in the Mediterranean, and in February 1804 led a daring expedition into the harbour of Tripoli for the purpose of burning the U.S. frigate "Philadelphia" which had fallen into Tripolitan hands. He succeeded in his purpose and made his escape under the fire of the batteries with a loss of only one man wounded. This brilliant exploit earned him his captain's commission and a sword of honour from Congress. Decatur was subsequently engaged in all the attacks on Tripoli between 1804 and 1805. In the War of 1812 his ship the "United States" captured H.M.S. "Macedonian" after a desperate fight, and in 1813 he was appointed commodore to command a squadron in New York harbour, which was soon blockaded by the British. In an attempt to break out in February 1815 Decatur's flagship the "President" was cut off and after a spirited fight forced to surrender to a superior force. Subsequently he commanded in the Mediterranean against the corsairs of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli with great success. On his return he was made a navy commissioner (November 1815), an office which he held until his death, which took place in a duel with Commodore James Barron at Bladensburg, Md., on the 22nd of March 1820.
See Mackenzie, Life of Decatur (Boston, 1846).
- Please bookmark this page (add it to your favorites)
- If you wish to link to this page, you can do so by referring to the URL address below.
This page was last modified 29-SEP-18
Copyright © 2018 ITA all rights reserved.