An American warship attacks Libyan pirates… circa 1801.

(US Naval History and Heritage Command) Exactly 210 years ago today, during the First Barbary War, the schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant Andrew Sterett, encountered the Barbary corsair Tripoli west of Malta and prepared for engagement. After a three-hour battle and false surrenders by Tripoli’s commander, Admiral Rais Mahomet Rous, Enterprise broadsided the vessel. Admitting defeat, Rous surrendered and threw the Tripolitan flag into water.

Text extracted from¬†Dudley Knox‘s “A History of the United States Navy,” page. 62. Sterrett reported that,¬†“The carnage on onboard the Tripolitan was dreadful, she having twenty men killed and thirty wounded…Her mizzen-mast went over the side…We had not a man wounded and sustained no material damage in our hull or rigging.”

USS Enterprise Tripolitan Corsair Tripoli barbary war painting
USS Entrerprise vs. Tripolitan Corsair Tripoli, 1 August 1801. Lieutenant Andrew Sterrett leaving USS Enterprise to board the Tripoli after the corsair’s surrender. Artwork by Orlando Lagman after Claudus, 1965. Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, NH 54386-KN (Color).

USS Enterprise Tripoli G.A. Traver naval history
The fight between USS Enterprise and the Barbary Corsair, Tripoli, 1 August 1801.

Photograph of a painting by G. A. Traver. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 56709.

USS Enterprise Captain Andrew Sterrett Tripoli
USS Enterprise, Captain Andrew Sterrett, paying tribute to Tripoli, 1 August 1801. Photograph of line engraving by M. Corne. Lieutenant Sterrett, Commanding the schooner Enterprise, captured the polacca Tripoli after a three-hour battle. From the publication, “The Navy Temple,” NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 56706.