Battle of Derna (Tripoli)
The Battle of Derna (Tripoli) occurred during the First Barbary War (1801-1805) between the U.S. and the Barbary States. It was the first expedition by the U.S. military to the “Old World” and on foreign soil after the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). It was the decisive action that ended the war.
In April 1805, the U.S. executed the Derna campaign undertaken by a small contingent of Americans and 400 foreign mercenaries in North Africa. On 8 March 1805, U.S. Navy Lt William Eaton, assisted by Navy Lieutenant John H. Dent assembled his force with190 camels and their drivers, a small force of Arab cavalry, and eight US Marines commanded by First Lieutenant Presley Neville O’Bannon began a 521 mile foot-march through Egypt. After six weeks of mutiny, hunger, thirst, Arab intransigence and religious tension Eaton’s force arrived at Derna on 25 April. Despite the garrison being defended by more than 2,000 soldiers, Eaton called on Governor Mustapha Bey to surrender, a summons he rejected. Supported by gunfire from the brig Argus, sloop Hornet and schooner Nautilus, Eaton assaulted and captured the garrison and Derna on 27 April and deposed of the Barbary leader, Yusuf Karamanli.
In early 1805 the US Navy Agent for the Barbary Regencies, Lt William Eaton combine diplomacy with military force to pressure Barbary leader Yususf Karamanli. When the opportunity arose from internal Barbery disagreements between Yusuf’s and his exiled brother Hamet, Eaton proposal for an alliance between the U.S. and Hamet in return for assistance in a land expedition against Tripoli. Hamet did so and compensated the U.S. for its expenses in the war with a further promised not to make no future demands for tribute.