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fair, but fast declining, and Lieutenant Decatur apprehended that, should he wait for the Syren's boats to come up, it might be too late to make the attack that night. Such delay might be fatal to the enterprise, as they could not remain longer on the coast, their provisions being nearly exhausted. For these reasons he determined to adventure into the harbour alone, which he did about 8 o'clock.
Au idea may be formed of the extreme hazard of this enterprise, from the situation of the frigate. She was moored within half gun shot of the bashaw's castle, and of the principal battery. Two of the enemy's cruisers lay within two cables' length, on the starboard quarter, and their gun-boats within half gun shot, on the starboard bow. All the guns of the frigate were mounted and loaded. Such were the immediate perils that our hero ventured to encounter with a single ketch, beside the other dangers that abound in a strongly fortified harbour.
Although from the entrance to the place where the frigate lay was only three miles, yet, in consequence of the lightness of the wind, they did not get within hail of her until eleven o'clock..... When they had approached within two hundred yards, they were hailed and ordered to anchor, or they would be fired into. Lieut. Decatur ordered a Maltese pilot, who was on board the ketch, to answer that they bad lost their anchors in -a gale of wind on the coast, and therefore could not comply with their request. By this time it had become perfectly calm, and they were about fifty yards from the frigate. Lieutenant Decatur ordered a small boat that was alongside of the ketch, to take a rope and make it fast to the frigate's fore chains. This being done they began to warp the ketch alongside. It was not until this moment that the ene. my suspected the character of their visitof, and great confusion immediately ensued. This enabled our adventurers to get alongside of the frigate, when Decatur immediately sprang aboard, followed by Mr. Charles Morris,* midshipman.
These two were nearly a minute on the deck, before their companions could suc: ceed in mounting the side. Fortunately, the Turks had not sufficiently recovered from their surprise to take advantage of this delay.
They were crowded together on the quarter deck, perfectly astonished and aghast, without making any attempt to oppose the assailing party. As soon as a sufficient number of our men had gained the deck, to form a front equal to that of the enemy, they rushed in upon them. The Turks stood the assault but a short time, and were completely overpowered. About twenty were killed on the spot, many jumped overboard, and the rest fed to the main deck, whither they were pursued and driven to the bold.
Natt Captain Morris, late of the Adams.
After entire possession had been gained of the ship, and every thing prepared to set fire to her, a number of launches were seen rowing about the harbour. This determined Lieutenant Decatur to remain in the frigate, from whence a better defence could be made than from on board the ketch. The enemy had already commenced firing upon them from their batteries and castle, and from two corsairs that were laying near. Perceiving that the launches did not attempt to approach, he ordered that the ship should be set on fire, which was done, at the same time, in different parts. As soon as this was completely effected they left her, and such was the rapidity of the flames, that it was with the utmost difficulty they preserved the ketch. At this critical moment a most propitious breeze sprang up, blowing directly out of the harbour, which, in a few minutes, carried them beyond the reach of the enemy's guns, and they made good their retreat without the loss of a single man, and with but four wounded.
For this gallant and romantic achievement, Lieutenant Decatur was promoted to the rank of post captain, there being at that time no intermediate grade. This promotion was particularly gratifying to him, inasmuch as it was done with the consent of the officers over whose heads he was raised.
In the ensuing spring, it being determined to make an attack upon Tripoli, Commodore Preble obtained from the king of Naples the loan of six gun-boats and two bombards, which he formed into two divisions, and gave the command of one of them to Captain Decatur, the other to Lieutenant Somers.
The squad ron sailed from Syracuse, consisting of the frigate Constitution, the brig Syren, the schooners Nautilus and Vixen, and the gunboats.
Having arrived on the coast of Barbary, they were for some days prevented from making the attack, by adverse wind and weather ; at length, on the morning of the 3d of August, the weather being favourable, the signal was made from the commodore's ship, to prepare for action, the light vessels towing the gun-boats to windward. At 9 o'clock the signal was made for bombarding the town and the enemy's vessels. The gun-boats were cast off, and advanced in a line ahead, led on by Captain Decatur, and covered by the frigate Constitution, and the brigs and schooners. The enemy's gun-boats were moored along the mouth of the harbour under the batteries, and within musket shot.
Their sails had been taken from them, and they were or. dered to sink, rather than abandon their position. They were aided and covered likewise by a brig of sixteen, and a schooner
of ten guns.
Before entering into close action, Captaia Decatur went along. side each of his boats, and ordered them to unship their bowsprits and follow him, as it was his intention to board the enemy's boats.