Wednesday, April 27, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1932


Derna, Tripoli (JFK+50) Two hundred and eleven years ago today, April 27, 1805, American agent William Eaton* led a small force of United States Marines to the Tripolitan port city of Derna in an attempt to depose the ruling pasha, Yusuf Karamanli**.

Supported by the USS Argus and USS Hornet, the mission was accomplished. Marine commander, Lt. Presley O'Bannon***, would be presented a sword (Marmeluke Sword) by the former pro-American pasha which would serve as a pattern for the swords carried by Marine officers today.

Lt. O'Bannon raised the American Flag over Derna marking the first time the US Flag flew over a conquered foreign city.

The phrase in the Marines Hymn, "to the shores of Tripoli" comes from this mission.

*William Eaton (1764-1811) was born in Woodstock, Connecticut.  He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1792 & became a captain in the Legion of the United States.  WE was appointed Consul at Tunis.  WE was also a principal witness in the trial of Aaron Burr.

**Yusuf Karamanli (1766-1838) was born in Tripoli.  As pasha, he demanded a payment of $225,000 in tribute from the United States which resulted in President Thomas Jefferson sending the US Navy to blockade Tripoli.  YK signed a treaty which ended the War with the Barbary Pirates in 1805.

***Lt. Presley O'Bannon (1776-1850) was born in Virginia.  His father served as a captain in the Continental Army.  PO joined the USMC in 1801 and served until 1807.  After his military service, PO was elected to the Kentucky State Legislature & then the Kentucky State Senate.

USMC Marmeluke Sword