Waging War Across the Ocean

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Seth C. Warburton (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site: http://www.ecu.edu/lib/
Michael A. Palmer

Abstract: The Barbary Wars fought against Tripoli from 1801-05 and Algiers in 1815 were among the first overseas operations for the young United States Navy. Historians have explored the combat that took place and chronicled the daring deeds of some of America's first military heroes. Also heavily explored are the impact of these conflicts on both the navy and the nation's place in the world. Inadequate attention however has been paid to how the wars were managed and won and that is the focus of this study.  Commanders' decisions outside combat proved far more important than any heroics they displayed in battle. The commodores had a wide range of duties and significant latitude in the direction of their squadrons. The lack of previous naval operations in the Mediterranean and the long time required for cross ocean communications necessitated this. In a war with few actual engagements commanders made their most important decisions away from the battlefield. Each year of the conflict a new commodore relieved the old. Comparing the success of each with that of his predecessor and successor allows an evaluation of each commodore. From the miserable tenure of Richard Morris to the brilliant victory of Stephen Decatur Jr. each commodore demonstrated that good decision-making in areas such as supply fleet disposition and negotiation outweighed the importance of heroics in battle. 

Additional Information

Date: 2011
American history, Algiers (Algeria), Barbary Wars, Tripoli (Libya), United States Navy
United States--History--Tripolitan War, 1801-1805
United States--History--War with Algeria, 1815
United States. Navy--History--19th century
Dale, Richard, 1756-1826
Morris, Richard V. (Richard Valentine), 1768-1815
Preble, Edward, 1761-1807
Barron, Samuel, d. 1810
Decatur, Stephen, 1779-1820

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