14th Congress.] 

No. 135. 

[1st Session.



Mr. Tait, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, communicated the following documents, relative to the operation of the squadron under the command of Commodore Decatur against the Barbary Powers:

U.S. Ship Guerriere, off Carthagena, June 19, 815. Sir:

I have the honor to inform you that on the 17th instant, off Cape de Gat, the squadron fell in with and captured an Algerine frigate of forty-six suns, and between four and five hundred men, commanded by Rais Hammida, who bore the title of Admiral. She struck her flag after a running fight of twenty-five minutes. The admiral was killed at the commencement of the action. After the Guerriere (who from her favorable position was enabled to bring the enemy to close action) had fired two broadsides, they, with the exception of a few musketeers, ran below. The Guerriere had four men wounded by musket shot, which is the only injury done by the enemy in this affair. It is with pain I have to communicate to you that one of our main deck guns burst in the first discharge, by which accident five men were killed and thirty badly wounded and burnt. This gun was only doubly shotted; and permit me to state, that, unless some more effectual mode is adopted in proving our guns, I fear the frequency of such accidents will be injurious to the service, beyond the loss of men occasioned thereby. The steadiness of our men adjoining the bursting gun was worthy admiration. Although many of them were much burnt and wounded, it did not occasion a pause in their fire. We have four hundred and six prisoners, including the wounded. The prisoners state about thirty were killed and thrown overboard.

Their squadron is said to be cruising in our vicinity; five days ago they were off this place. Unless I obtain some further intelligence of them by to-morrow, I shall proceed to the port of Algiers in the hope of intercepting their return. For the present I have determined to send the prize into Carthagena.

The enclosed is a return of the wounded by the enemy, as also those who were killed and wounded by the bursting of the gun.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. B. W. Crowninshield, Secretary of the Navy.

U. S. Ship Guerriere, off Cape Palos, June 20, 1815.

I have the honor to inform you that, on the 19th instant, off Cape Palos, the squadron under my command captured an Algerine brig of twenty-two guns and one hundred and eighty men. After a chase of three hours, she run into shoal water, where I did not think it advisable to follow with our large ships, but despatched the Epervier, Spark, Torch, and Spitfire, to whom she surrendered after a short resistance. Twenty-three men were found dead on board. We received from her eighty prisoners, the residue of her crew having left her in boats; many of them must have been killed by the fire of our vessels, and one of the boats was sunk. None of our vessels sustained any damage, nor was there a man killed or wounded. This brig is larger than the Epervier, was built in Algiers five years ago by a Spanish constructer, the same who built the frigate captured on the 17th instant, and is perfectly sound.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. B. W. Crowninshield, Secretary of the Navy.

U. S. Ship Guerriere, Bay of Algiers, July 5, 1815.


I have the honor to inform you of the proceedings of this squadron subsequent to the date of my letter of the 20th ultimo. Having put the greater part of our prisoners on board the captured brig, I sent her into Carthagena, and made sail for Algiers, where we arrived on the 28th. Finding the Algerine squadron to be still out, and knowing that they had been at sea a longer period than usual, and that a despatch boat had been sent to Algiers to inform them of our arrival in the Mediterranean, I thought it probable that they would seek shelter in some neutral port. It seemed, therefore, a favorable moment to deliver a letter from the President to the Dey, pursuant to instructions from the Department of State, which would afford them an opportunity to open a negotiation, if they thought fit. A negotiation was accordingly opened, and a treaty of peace was dictated by us, and finally concluded in twenty-four hours, in the manner related in the despatch of Mr. Shaler and myself to the Secretary of State.

This treaty, possessing all the favorable features of those which have been concluded with the most favored nations, and other advantages conceded to us only, I flatter myself will be considered honorable to the United States, particularly when we compare the small force employed on this occasion with the formidable expeditions which have often, and without success, been sent against Algiers. It has been dictated at the mouth of the cannon, has been conceded to the losses which Algiers has sustained, and to the dread of still greater evils apprehended; and I beg leave to express to you my opinion, that the presence of a respectable naval force in this sea will be the only certain guarantee for its observance.

Having concluded the treaty, I have, in conformity with your instructions to dispose of such vessels we might capture as would be unsafe to send home in such manner as would seem to me most expedient, restored them, in their present state, to the Dey of Algiers. This was earnestly requested by the Dey, as it would satisfy his people with the conditions of the peace; and it was determined by Mr. Shaler and myself, that, considering the state of those vessels, the great expense which would be incurred by fitting them for a voyage to the United States, and the little probability of selling them in that part of the world, it would be expedient to grant the request.

I have appointed Captain Downes, of the Epervier, to the Guerriere, and Lieutenant Shubrick, first of the Guerriere, to the Epervier, which brig I have determined to send home with the despatches, These arrangements, I trust, will meet the approbation of the Government. The ten American prisoners who were confined in Algiers have been delivered up, and I have given them a passage in the despatch vessel.

I shall now proceed with the squadron to Tunis, and from thence to Tripoli. At the latter place, I understand, there exists some difficulty between our consul and the regency; of what nature I am not particularly informed.

I have charged Captain Lewis with the delivery of the despatches to the Government, and the flags taken from the Algerine admiral and brig. He is an officer of great merit, and whom I beg leave strongly to recommend to the notice of Government.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Hon. Benjamin W. Crowninshield, Secretary of the Navy.


United States' Ship Guerriere, Bay of Tunis, July 31, 1815.


I have the honor to. inform you that, upon my arrival, at this anchorage, I was made acquainted with the following transactions, which had taken place here during our late war with Great Britain: Two prizes, which had been taken by the Abellino privateer, and sent into this port, were taken possession of by a British vessel of war, while lying within the protection of the Bey of Tunis.

The consul having communicated to me information of this violation of our treaty with Tunis, I demanded satisfaction from the Bey. After some hesitation, and proposing a delay of payment for one year, my demand was acceded to, and the money, amounting to forty-six thousand, dollars, was paid into the hands of the consul, Mr. Noah, agent for the privateer.

Of the papers I have the honor to transmit herewith, No. 1 is a copy of the consul's letter to me, No. 2 is a copy of my letter to the prime minister of the Bey, and No. 3 is a copy of the consul's acknowledgment of the receipt of the money.

I shall proceed immediately for Tripoli, and will give you early information of the further proceedings of this squadron. The Bey of Tunis has now lying in this harbor, nearly ready for sea, three frigates and several smaller vessels of war.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. B. W. Crowninshield, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 1.

U. S. Consulate, Tunis, July 25, 1815.


On or about the 21st of February, two American prizes, while at anchor and within the immediate protection of His Excellency the Bey of Tunis, were forcibly seized and taken possession of by the boats of His Britannic Majesty's brig Lyra, Dowell O'Reily, Esquire, commander, and sent to Malta. In order to afford the just and necessary protection to American property, to cause our rights and the existing treaty to be respected, I have deemed it my duty to claim of the Bey of Tunis the value of said prizes.

His excellency, though sensible of the violation of the neutrality of his port, and of the loss sustained in the illegal capture of American property when within his waters, still waves the settlement of this claim, and is desirous to procrastinate the arrangement to a length of time which will deprive the owners of the benefit of their labor and danger. Under these circumstances, I do myself the honor to solicit from you such co-operation, in enforcing the respect due to our rights arid treaties, as you may deem proper to afford.

With great respect, &c.


Com. S. Decatur, Commanding the American squadron in the bay of Tunis.

P. S. In the disposal of the cargo of one of the English prizes, an intrigue was set on foot and prosecuted by a company of merchants under the sanction and protection of the Prince Sidi Mustapha, by which the owners have been defrauded of a considerable sum of money. For the satisfactory adjustment of this claim, some interference appears equally necessary.


No. 2.

U. S. Ship Guerriere, Bay of Tunis, July 26, 1815.


I have the honor to enclose to your excellency a despatch from the Department of State of the United States, by which you will perceive the friendly disposition of my Government towards the Bey and regency of Tunis. When that despatch was written, it was believed that an equally friendly disposition existed on the part of Tunis. With surprise I understood, on my arrival in the Mediterranean, that the treaty existing between the two countries had been violated on the part of Tunis: first, by permitting two vessels, which had been captured by an American vessel, to be taken out of the port of Tunis by a British cruiser; and secondly, by sanctioning a company of Jew merchants, subjects of Tunis, in taking the property of an American citizen at their own price, and much below its real value.

In consequence of this information, as soon as we had obtained justice from Algiers for their aggressions, I hastened to this port, with the power and disposition to exact from this regency an observance of our treaty. I now require immediate restitution of the property or of its value. Your excellency will perceive the necessity of the earliest attention to this communication, and of making known to me the decision of His Excellency the Bey with the least possible delay.

I have the honor to be, with great consideration, your excellency's most obedient servant,


Commander-in-chief of the U. S. naval forces in the Mediterranean.

To His Excellency the Prime Minister

of His Excellency the Bey of Tunis.

No. 3.

Consulate of the United States of America, at Tunis.

To all whom it may concern: 

Whereas, on the 17th and 21st days of February, 1815, the English schooner Dunster Castle, and the English brig Charlotte, the former laden with oil and fish, the latter with currants and fustic, were sent into the harbor of Tunis, having been captured by the American private-armed brig Abellino, William F. Wyer, commander; the said prizes, when within the waters and under the immediate protection of His Excellency the Bey of Tunis, were taken possession of and sent to Malta, by His Britannic Majesty's brig Lyra, Dowell O'Reily, Esq. commander, then at anchor in the said harbor of Tunis. That application was made to His Excellency the Bey of Tunis for payment for said vessels, amounting to forty-six thousand Spanish dollars, according to their just and regular valuation. His Excellency the Bey of Tunis having ascertained fully and satisfactorily, that the before-mentioned vessels being American property, were within his waters illegally and forcibly carried away, and being sensible of the necessity of causing his rights to be respected, did order that payment should be made for said vessels according to their valuation.

Now, therefore, I, the undersigned, consul of the United States of America for the city and kingdom of Tunis, and agent for the concerned, do hereby make known and certify, that the payment for said vessels according to their valuation, say forty-six thousand Spanish dollars, has been received from His Excellency the Bey of Tunis; who, by these presents, is acquitted from all claim against him on account of said prizes. 

Given under my hand and seal of office, at Tunis, this 30th day of July, 1815, and in the fortieth year of the American independence.

[L. S.]


I do hereby certify, that the sum of forty-six thousand Spanish dollars has been paid for the two prizes as above stated, to the American consul; and that the United States has no further claim on His Excellency the Bey of Tunis for these vessels.

STEPHEN DECATUR, Commander, &c.


U. S. Ship Guerriere, Messina, August 31, 1815.


I have the honor to inform you that, immediately after the date of my last communication, I proceeded to Tripoli. Upon my arrival off that place, I received from our consul a letter, a copy of which (No. 1) is herewith transmitted. In consequence of the information contained in this letter, I deemed it necessary to demand justice from the Bashaw. The enclosure (No. 2) is a copy of my note to the Prime Minister of Tripoli. On the next day the Governor of the city of Tripoli came on board the Guerriere to treat in behalf of the Bashaw. He objected to the amount claimed by us, but finally agreed to our demands. The money, amounting to the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars, has been paid into the hands of the consul, who is agent for the privateer. The Bashaw also delivered up to me ten captives two of them Danes, and the others Neapolitans.

I have the honor to enclose the letter of the consul, informing me of the conclusion of this affair. During the progress of our negotiations with the States of Barbary, now brought to a conclusion, there has appeared a disposition, on the part of each of them, to grant as far as we were disposed to demand. Any attempt to conciliate them, except through the influence of their fears, I should expect to be vain. It is only by the display of naval power that their depredations can be restrained. I trust that the successful result of our small expedition, so honorable to our country, will induce other nations to follow the example; in which case, the Barbary States will be compelled to abandon their piratical system. I shall now proceed with the squadron to Carthagena, at which place I hope to find the relief squadron from America.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. Benjamin W. Crowninshield, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 1

 U. S. Consulate at Tripoli, in Barbary, August 6, 1815.


I have the pleasure of now laying before you all the documents relative to the unlawfully seizing, in the port of Tripoli, and under the guns of the forts, two American prizes, captured by the Abellino, and taken out by the English brig Paulina. I have fully addressed the United States' Government on this affair, and hope you have come fully prepared to demand and obtain ample satisfaction.

It is a case attended with such a flagrant violation of the United States' treaty with this regency, and our neutral rights, that it calls for the most prompt and energetic conduct on the part of the United States, which will not only convince this Power, but all others, that our rights' and privileges cannot be invaded with impunity. If, however, the Bashaw, contrary, to my opinion, should refuse us that satisfaction we are justly entitled to, it is my determination to leave the regency by this occasion.

I shall have the pleasure of seeing you, and will detail more fully the events as they have taken place. In the interim,

I have the honor to be, &c.


Commodore Stephen Decatur,

Onboard the United States frigate Guerriere, off Tripoli.

No. 2

U. S. Ship Guerriere, off Tripoli, August 6, 1815.


I have been officially informed that the Bashaw of Tripoli has permitted a British sloop of war, pending hostilities between that nation and the United States, to take from out of his harbor, and from under the guns of his castle, two American prizes, and refused protection to an American cruiser lying within his waters, in direct violation of the treaty which existed between our two nations. As soon as I had settled with Algiers for her aggressions, and with Tunis for a similar outrage to the one now complained of, I hastened to this place with a part of the squadron under my command.

With ample power to take satisfaction for the violation of our treaty above stated, I only follow the invariable rule of my Government, in first making a demand of justice. I have, therefore, to inform your excellency that I require that immediate restitution be made of the value of the vessels taken from the harbor of Tripoli as before stated, and also compensation for the loss occasioned by the detention of the American cruiser, in violation of the treaty. Your excellency will perceive the necessity of making known to me the determination of His Excellency the Bashaw, in relation to the above demands, with the least possible delay.

I have the honor to be, with great consideration, your excellency's most obedient servant,


His Excellency the Prime Minister of His Excellency the Bashaw of Tripoli.

Tripoli, August 9, 1815.


Permit me to congratulate you on the honorable adjustment of all differences which have existed between the United States and this regency. This arrangement may not only be considered as just and honorable for the United States, but also as highly advantageous to the interest of our citizens. I have no doubt this lesson will long serve to keep in the remembrance of the Bashaw the power, justice, and humanity of the United States. To your dignified, firm, and manly conduct throughout this affair, the United States are indebted for the standing we now have; and as the representative of our country here, permit me to offer the sincere homages of respect, esteem, and regard, with which I have the honor to be, &c.


Commodore Stephen Decatur,

Commander-in-chief of the American squadron, off Tripoli.

United States' ship Guerriere, Naples, September 8, 1815.


I have the honor to inform your excellency that in my late negotiation with the Bashaw of Tripoli, I demanded and obtained the release of eight Neapolitan captives, subjects of His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies. These I have landed at Messina. It affords me great pleasure to have had it in my power, by this small service, to evince to His Majesty the grateful sense entertained by my Government of the aid formerly rendered to us by His Majesty during our war with Tripoli.

With great respect and consideration, I have the honor to be, &c.


His Excellency the Marquis Circello, Secretary of State.


Naples, September 12, 1815.


Having laid before the King my master the papers which you have directed me, dated the eighth instant, in which you were pleased to acquaint me that, in your last negotiation with the Bey of Tripoli, you had freed from the slavery of that regency eight subjects of His Majesty, whom you had also set on shore at Messina. His Majesty has ordered me to acknowledge this peculiar favor, as the act of your generosity, which you have been pleased to call a return for the trifling assistance which the squadron of your nation formerly received from his Royal Government during the war with Tripoli.

In doing myself the pleasure of manifesting this sentiment of my King, and of assuring you, in his name, that the brave American nation will always find in His Majesty's ports the best reception, I beg you will receive the assurance of my most distinguished consideration.


Secretary of State, &c. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Com. Decatur, Commander of the squadron of the United States of America.