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Naval Orientation - Military manual for administrative purposes
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Preble and "His Boys"
134.6 Figure 2-4.-“Take care of your men.” Captain Truxtun insisted on justice and consideration for enlisted men. the  mainmast  was  tottering  and  that  he  should come down before he was killed, Jarvis replied, “If the mast goes, we go with it. Our post is here.” The next roll of the ship sent the mast crashing and splintering over the side, throwing Jarvis far out into the black water to his death. In tribute to this boy’s courage and discipline, Congress passed the  following  resolution:  “The  conduct  of  James Jarvis,  a  midshipman  of  the  Constellation,  who gloriously     preferred     certain     death     to     the abandoning   of   his   post,   deserves   the   highest praise; and the loss of so promising an officer is a subject of national regret.” Good   leadership   produces   good   followership. The  leadership  Truxtun  displayed  through  con- cern  for  his  men  in  turn  produced  good  follower- ship in those under his command. WAR WITH TRIPOLI The terms of a treaty with Tripoli required the United   States   to   pay   small   tributes   to   that country.  Dissatisfied  with  the  amount  of  tribute paid   and   lured   by   the   unprotected   American commerce, the Bashaw of Tripoli declared war on the United States in 1801. In    answer    to    this    challenge,    Commodore Edward  Preble,  in  his  flagship,  the  Constitution, was  sent  to  the  Mediterranean  in  command  of  a squadron. One of the men under his command was a young  lieutenant  named  Stephen  Decatur  who, inspired by Preble, helped to establish a different type of naval tradition. STEPHEN DECATUR During the United States’ war with the pirates in   the   Mediterranean,   a   dramatic   incident   in- fluenced the  molding  of  our  Navy  traditions.  The frigate  Philadelphia  had  fallen  into  the  hands  of Tripolitans  and  become  an  important  addition  to their harbor defenses.  A  young  lieutenant  named Stephen Decatur, who was under the command of Commodore  Preble,  volunteered  to  destroy  this captive frigate. The Philadelphia had been built in Decatur’s home city and was originally commanded by his father. Decatur,  with  74  comrades,  including  Charles Morris,   James    Lawrence,    and    Thomas    Mac- Donough,  sneaked  into  the  harbor  at  night  in  a small   ketch.   They   were   guided   by   Salvadore Catalano, a Sicilian pilot who knew the harbor of Tripoli  and  could  speak  Arabic.  Within  minutes they  captured  the  ship,  the  foe  having  been  cut down  or  driven  into  the  sea.  Combustibles  were passed  aboard,  and  soon  the  ship  was  burning fiercely. Several  minutes  later  the  boarders,  with only one man wounded, were back in their ketch. Under   fire   from   shore   batteries,   they   left   the illuminated   harbor.   Three   of   today’s   modern warships honor these makers of naval tradition by carrying  the  names  USS  Morris,  Lawrence,  and MacDonough. Perhaps  no  act  in  the  first  half  of  the  19th century thrilled Americans more than the destruc- tion  of  the  Philadelphia.  That  spectacular  feat made Decatur the most striking figure of the time and  prompted  Lord  Nelson  to  call  it  “the  most daring  act  of  the  age.”  Spectacular  exploits  were commonplace  in  Decatur’s  career,  but  they  were not  the  feats  of  a  reckless  warrior.  He  was  a thoughtful  strategist  and  an  expert  tactician.  He was,  as  well,  an  adept  diplomat  and  a  skilled administrator. Like Paul Jones (who could turn an excellent phrase) and Truxtun (who wrote a book on    navigation),    Decatur    was    not    one-sided. Versatility, too, is a Navy tradition. 2-7

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