Naval officer; born in Sinnepuxent, Md., Jan. 5, 1779; died near Washington, D. C.
, March 22, 1820; entered the United States navy as a midshipman April 30, 1798, and rose to
captain in 1804.
His first notable exploit was the destruction of the Philadelphia
in the harbor of Tripoli
, in the Preble Expedition
, for which Congress gave him thanks, a sword, and promotion.
had chased a Tripolitan ship into the harbor in front of that town, and struck upon a rock not laid down on the charts.
Fast bound, she was captured by the Tripolitans, and Captain Bainbridge
and his officers were made prisoners of war, and the crew were made slaves.
caught a Tripolitan ketch laden with maidens, whom the Bashaw was sending to the Sultan at Constantinople
as a present.
The captured ketch was taken into the United States
service and renamed the Intrepid
In her Decatur
and seventy-four brave young men sailed for Tripoli
, accompanied by the Siren
, under Lieutenant
On a bright moonlit evening they sailed boldly into the harbor, warped alongside the Philadelphia
, sprang on board, and after a fierce struggle all the Tripolitans were killed or driven into the sea, the Philadelphia
was set on fire, and the Intrepid
was towed out of the harbor by the boats of the Siren
The Bashaw was greatly alarmed by this display of American energy and boldness, and acted with more caution in the future.
commanded a division of gunboats in the attack on Tripoli
, Aug. 3, 1804.
In this action Decatur
commanded a gunboat, which he laid alongside of a large Tripolitan war-ship, which he captured after a brief struggle.
Immediately boarding another vessel, Decatur
had a desperate personal struggle with the commander.
The fight was brief but deadly.
slew his antagonist, and the vessel was captured.
withdrew, but four days later renewed the conflict, which was indecisive, but on Aug. 24 and 28, and Sept. 3, Preble
repeated the attack, and on the night of Sept. 4 the Intrepid
, under Captain Somers
as a fire-ship, was lost in the attack, with all on board.
In command of the frigate United States
captured the frigate Macedonian
, Oct. 25, 1812, for which Congress gave him a gold medal.
was a new ship, rated at thirty-six, but carrying forty-nine guns.
She was badly cut in the fight, and Decatur
thought best to order his prize to Newport
, while he returned in the United States
to New London.
Both vessels sailed into New York harbor on New Year's Day, 1813.
The Corporation gave Decatur
the “freedom of the city,” and requested his portrait for the picture-gallery in the City Hall, where it still hangs.
In January, 1815, after a running fight, the President
, his flagship, was captured by a British squadron;
and a few months later he was sent to the Mediterranean, and compelled the government of Algiers
to relinquish its barbarous conduct towards other powers and to pay for American property destroyed (see Algiers
). He was appointed a navy commissioner in November, 1815, and made his residence in the fine mansion of Kalorama
, about a mile from Georgetown
, built by Joel Barlow
had opposed the reinstatement of Barron
to his former position in the navy, and a duel was the consequence.
They fought at the famous duelling-ground near Bladensburg
, when Decatur
was mortally wounded, and was taken to Washington
Gen. Solomon Van Rensselaer
wrote to his wife from that city, on March 20, 1820, as follows: “I have only time, after
writing to several, to say that an affair of honor took place this morning between Commodores Decatur
, in which both fell at the first fire.
The ball entered Decatur
's body two inches above the hip and lodged against the opposite side.
I just came from his house.
He yet lives, but will never see another sun. Barron
's wound is severe, but not dangerous.
ball struck the upper part of his hip and turned to the rear.
He is ruined in public estimation.
The excitement is very great.”
died March 22, and his remains were taken from the house in Washington
by the following officers: Commodores Tingey
, and Porter
, Captains Cassin
, and Chauncey
, Generals Brown
, and Lieutenant McPherson
The funeral was attended by nearly all the public functionaries in Washington
, American and foreign, and a great number of citizens.
While the procession was moving minute-guns were fired at the navyyard.
His remains were deposited in Joel Barlow
's vault at Kalorama
, where they remained until 1846, when they were taken to Philadelphia
and reinterred, with appropriate ceremonies, in St. Peter's cemetery.
Over them a beautiful monument, delineated in the accompanying engraving, was erected.