Outraged by the seizure of American vessels and other humiliations by the so-called Barbary pirates, in 1801 President Thomas Jefferson sent a squadron of ships to the Mediterranean. He hoped to coerce the Sultan of Morocco, the Dey of Algiers, the Bey of Tunis, and the Bashaw of Triploi to cease such practices. The appearance of three frigates and a schooner had the desired effect on the others, but the Bashaw was a different story. Having declared war on the United States, the Tripolitan took advantage of his tactically secure fortress-like city and remained intransigent. American Commodore Richard Dale, unsure of how far he was to go with offensive actions, opted for a rather ineffectual blockade of Tripoli. This first U.S. Navy deployment to the Mediterranean would have been a desultory disappointment were it not for a fiery young lieutenant then commanding the schooner Enterprise.
A Timely Victory
By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)