Wednesday, February 16, 2011


On February 16, 1804, US Lieutenant Stephen Decatur retook the USS Philadelphia from Barbary Coast pirates burning the ship to render it useless to pirate or anyone.  This event was part of the First Barbary Coast War. 

The Barbary Coast has long been a rough one and Sir Walter Scott includes this anecdote in "The Monastery":

'Thomas Stukely, another distinguished gallant of the time, was bred a merchant, being the son of a rich clothier in the west. He wedded the daughter and heiress of a wealthy alderman of London, named Curtis, after whose death he squandered the riches he thus acquired in all manner of extravagance. His wife, whose fortune supplied his waste, represented to him that he ought to make more of her. Stukely replied, "I will make as much of thee. believe me, as it is possible for any to do ." and he kept his word in one sense, having stripped her even of her wearing apparel, before he finally ran away from her.
Having fled to Italy, he contrived to impose upon the Pope, with a plan of invading Ireland, for which he levied soldiers and made some preparations: but ended by engaging himself and his troops in the service of King Sebastian of Portugal. He sailed with that prince on his fatal voyage to Barbary, and fellwith him at the battle of Alcazar.'

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