A tour of Congressional Cemetery w/ King Crimson's Epitaph
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William Bainbridge, The Shores of Tripoli, and More

COL David Maxwell passes along this tale, from LTC Robert Buckman, USAR.  Colonel Buckman is with the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I, or "Minasticky").

   Just for the hell of it, I engaged in some Googling today to see what historical parallels I could find between the current threat from Somali pirates and the two wars we fought exactly two centuries ago against the Barbary Pirates, from 1801-05 and again in 1815. In both cases, pirates were/are operating out of ports of Muslim African countries and holding Western ships and crews hostage. I learned that the United States had been ignominiously paying enormous sums to bribe the Barbary Pirates before and after we reinstituted the U.S. Navy in 1794. Finally, in 1801, new President Thomas Jefferson, who had unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with the pirates 15 years earlier when he was our ambassador to France, decided enough was enough and sent a flotilla to the Barbary Coast of North Africa to kick some ass. 
  Among the more intriguing stories, the USS Philadelphia, a 44-gun Navy frigate, ran aground off Tripoli in October 1803. The Tripolitans forced the captain and crew to surrender, and they used the Philadelphia for harbor defense against the Americans. On Feb. 16, 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur, using a captured Tripolitan boat, led a contingent of Marines to seize the Philadelphia and burn it. They also briefly captured Tripoli, but they didn’t recover the captain or crew. Decatur became the first military hero since the Revolution and became a commodore, who kicked more ass in the Second Barbary War in 1815. Tripoli was again captured, and the pirates surrendered in 1805. This is why the Marine Hymn has the phrase, “. . .to the shores of Tripoli.” 
  The Senate ratified the peace treaty a year later. Under the terms of the treaty, the pirates repatriated 300 American prisoners, including the captain and crew of the Philadelphia, the U.S. repatriated 100 prisoners, and Jefferson agreed to pay $60,000 for the difference. Some called it a ransom; Jefferson called it a tribute. But that was a lot of money in those days. 
  Ready for the irony? The freed captain of the USS Philadelphia also became a commodore, and was a naval hero of the War of 1812. His name: William Bainbridge, for whom the destroyer used in the rescue of Capt. Phillips is named. As Paul Harvey would have said, now you know the rest of the story. 
  Except there’s more. Bainbridge reportedly bore a great deal of jealousy against the younger Decatur. Nonetheless, in 1820, when Decatur was challenged to a duel by Commodore James Barron, whom Decatur had helped court-martial for unpreparedness 13 years earlier, he asked Bainbridge to serve as his second. An excellent shot, Decatur deliberately wounded Barron in the hip rather than kill him, but Barron inflicted a mortal wound to Decatur’s abdomen; he died two days later. Bainbridge died in 1833. 
  There’s still more. I alluded to Jefferson trying to negotiate with the pirates in 1786, which was during the Articles of Confederation. He and John Adams, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, met in London with Tripoli's envoy to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. The two future presidents asked the Tripolitan why they were picking on U.S. ships, when the United States had done nothing to provoke Tripoli. According to two accounts I read, he replied: “It was written in the Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every Muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.” 
    NOW you know the rest of the story, which is that history, once again, is repeating itself. One of the lessons is we'll have to go ashore to defeat these guys. I have my doubts, though, that “paradise” was where our SEALs sent those three pirates. RTB 
    (Feel free to pass this along, secure in the knowledge that this isn’t some urban legend bullshit; this is the truth.)

Glad to do it, colonel.