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Stephen Decatur Burns the USS Philadelphia:
February 16, 1804

Stephen Decatur short bio
On February 16, 1804, American naval lieutenant Stephen Decatur led a covert mission to burn the USS Philadelphia, an American ship that had fallen into Tripolitan hands, during the First Barbary War.

At the time, the Barbary states—Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli—made money through state-sponsored piracy in the Mediterranean, raiding merchant ships unless their governments paid huge sums to the Barbary leaders. In 1801, Tripoli had declared war on the United States, and President Thomas Jefferson sent the American Navy as a show of force against Tripoli (in present-day Libya).

Unfortunately, one of the two big American frigates that had been sent, the USS Philadelphia, ran aground on a reef off the shore of Tripoli in October 1803. The captain of the Philadelphia tried to dislodge the ship but was unable to do so before Tripolitan sailors arrived and captured the ship’s officers and crew and took them prisoner. Despite the Americans’ attempts to scuttle their ship, the Tripolitans were able to refloat it during a storm and move the Philadelphia to their harbor.

When the commodore of the American forces heard about the Philadelphia, a plan was formed wherein a group of Americans would sneak into the harbor at Tripoli and burn the Philadelphia so it couldn’t be used against them. Chosen to lead the mission was Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, a well-liked and respected officer.

Together with a crew of 84 men, Decatur sailed into the harbor aboard a previously captured Tripolitan boat, pretending to be a Maltese vessel that had lost its anchor. The Tripolitans aboard the Philadelphia agreed to let the “Maltese” boat tie up next to them for the night, but when the boat drew close enough, Decatur and his men stormed the Philadelphia and quickly dispatched the Tripolitan crew. Then the Americans set the ship ablaze and returned to their own boat and fled, barely escaping being caught in the flames themselves.

Decatur’s exploits made him an instant hero, and he was promoted to captain at the young age of 25. He would later go on to become one of America’s great naval heroes during the War of 1812 and the Second Barbary War.

Do you have any ancestors who fought in the Barbary Wars? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the conflicts by searching on Fold3.


  1. Chris Dickon says:

    After the storming of the Philadelphia, Decatur and his small ship, the Intrepid, sailed to Syracuse, but the Intrepid was brought back to Tripoli harbor in August and put under the command of Richard Somers. He and his 13 crew were to convert the Intrepid into a fireship and sail it into the midst of gathered Tripolitan warships to set them ablaze. The Intrepid was lost in the venture, however, and the bodies of all its crew eventually washed up on the beaches of Tripoli. All 14 are named, and they are still buried in known and speculated upon burial places in Tripoli. In the 21st century, the people of Somers Point, NJ are still trying to effect the return of the body of Richard Somers to a burial and memorial place that awaits him there. Also see

  2. marcelino thibodaux says:

    Informative piece , I loved the facts . Does anyone know where I could grab a fillable CBP 823F version to work with ?

  3. Sharon says:

    I have a question, probably unanswerable at this late date:

    Why didn’t Decatur and his crew just sail away on the PHILADELPHIA, instead of burning her???? Seems to me the loss of the former Tripolitan ship would have been the lesser of the two…. Just saying’

    • Bev says:

      My thoughts exactly!!

    • Linda Reno says:

      From my notes: In September, 1803 the Philadelphia was accidentally run aground while pursuing a Tripolitan war vessel. 307 officers and crewmen were taken as prisoners and the ship was seized before it could be successfully scuttled.

      Lt. Stephen Decatur, Jr. (son of Captain Stephen Decatur, Sr.) was sent by Commadore Preble to destroy the Philadelphia on February 16, 1804. He used a Tripolitan ketch had he had previously captured and which had been renamed the USS Intrepid. His crew was hidden below decks while Decatur and his pilot disguised themselves to gain access to the harbor. The Siren was to accompany the Intrepid and to stand by in case the mission ran into trouble, but not to go in otherwise. The mission was successful with 20 of the enemy being killed and the Philadelphia successfully destroyed. There were no American casualties.

      Stephen Decatur, Jr. was just 25 years old at this time. As a result of his successful mission to destroy the Philadelphia, he was promoted to Captain, the youngest ever appointed in the U.S. Navy. He would serve with distinction in a number of other major naval battles and would be hailed as a true naval hero. His actions in destroying the Philadelphia even received high praise from Lord Byron Nelson who said “it was the most bold and daring act of the age”. I’m sure that many of you have heard the phrase “my country, right or wrong”. That phrase was coined by Stephen Decatur, Jr. but the full phrase is “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!”.

    • Cliff says:

      Linda, Thanks for your contribution, especially for mentioning the role of CDR Preble. In my 38 years of working for the Navy I had the pleasure of meeting a co-worker and descendant of CDR Preble. He was probably a 3 or 4g-grandson of the Commodore. Last I heard, that descendant, another CDR John Preble (Ret.), was running in southern IN as a state representative. My work also supported the USS Preble (DDG-88), one of many AEGIS destroyers.

    • Rick Barber says:

      They simply didn’t have enough crew along to man the Philadelphia and get her underway – their own ship could move under oars. An excellent book covering all in great detail is found in ‘Six Frigates’, which tells the stories of all the earliest ships in the fledgling US Navy.

    • Charles says:

      Go to Google Earth and look at the harbor, the old is easily discernible from the new. Moving a frigate out under wind would be nearly impossible without port assistance and that wasn’t going to happen. The normal crew complement was 340 men and officers. Decatur had 25. Was the Philadelphia derigged or made non-operational by being stripped of sails or guns? Was win and tide favorable. All unanswerable questions until he got to her. “Cutting out operations” we’re rare because of the extreme danger of going into the lions den while he is still in it. Hope this helps.

    • Wanda Guinn says:

      If it had run aground, it may have been damaged.

    • Bob O'Neal says:

      Because the Philadelphia was being repaired including new masts, so was not seaworthy. The plan was to burn her before the repairs could be completed and she could put to sea

    • Bill Hayden says:

      The Philadelphia had been substantially disabled and would have required repair to be moved. It was in the harbor of Tripoli and under the guns of the Barbary fort.

      There is a recent book on that several years’ war. Forgot the name but you could probably find it on Amazon.

      Bill Hayden

    • Paul Reich says:

      Do you remember in Pirates of the Caribbean with Johnny Depp? He “tries” to steal an outfit with just two people whereas the British get underway with a full compliment of sailors. Point is, you need more than 13 or 25 crew to get a large ship like the Philadelphia underway let alone sail her. Hollywood sailing…SMH

  4. Cliff says:

    Sharon – Good Q. I suspect the answer would have something to do with the amount of time it took to prepare the ship to depart, assuming it was ready to deploy. Issues like hoisting sails, cutting or casting off lines, and tides come into play. In short, the activity associated with getting under way was quite likely to arouse the harbor defenses which might have included efforts to block the harbor exit or target the ship with cannon fire, which would have led to the loss of the ship anyway.

    • Chris Dickon says:

      The ship had been run aground, immovable, the reason for the whole episode in the first place.

    • Kay Brown says:

      Yes Chris, but it had already been re floated and moved into the harbor, thus leading us to believe it was able to sail. I agree that the activity associated with actually moving a vessel that size would have most likely drawn too much attention to be a viable choice of action.

    • Allen says:

      I recently finished reading “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates” by Brian Kilmeade. Not to give away the story ( it’s a very good read) it had to do with what you mentioned as well as the canons overlooking the harbor. The commodore made the decision to burn the Philadelphia. I highly recommend Kilmeades book

    • Jerry Laws says:

      The original mission was to rescue the Americans who were being held hostage for ransom!!!!!!!!! When they boarded the Frigate Philadelphia it was discovered the hostages were moved to land!!!! It was then it was decided to scuttle the Frigate Philadelphia where she was moored!!! As the Intrepid sailed out of Tripoli Harbor they blew up several shore batteries. There was 0 American lives lost in that raid!!!An ancestor Alexander Laws was on that mission as a Midshipman ( no Naval Academy yet) earned a battlefield advancement to Luetenant!!!
      During WWII a Destroyer was named after Lt. Alexander Laws and it splashed many Jap Zeroes!!!!!!!

  5. Cliff says:

    “Despite the Americans’ attempts to scuttle their ship, the Tripolitans were able to refloat it during a storm and move the Philadelphia to their harbor.”

    This is heading in the wrong direction…

    • Chris Dickon says:

      Sorry. You are correct. Should have referred to my own book.

    • Cliff says:

      No problem.
      I can’t imagine the effort it must have taken to compile a book like that. Congratulations!

    • Tom says:

      I learned all about this in high school. I grew up in Snow Hill, Maryland, and about 20 minutes away is Berlin, Maryland, the birth place of Stephen Decatur. Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin is named after him. He has always been considered a hero in that area.f

  6. Linda Reno says:

    11/7/1831: Died on the 29th ult. at “Susquehanna”, his late res. in St. Mary’s County [MD], Capt. Michael B. Carroll, aged about 63 years, late of the U.S. Navy. He entered the naval service early in life, in consequence of the great depredations committed by the Barbary Powers on the commerce of our country, it became necessary to send a fleet into the Mediterranean, Capt. Carroll, then a Midshipman, was ordered to that station, where he was selected as one of that gallant, daring band, under Decatur, to destroy the frigate “Philadelphia”, under the frowning battlements of Tripoli. Capt. C. retired from service to a more domestic life, universally esteemed by all who knew him. He has left a disconsolate widow and an only child to mourn their irreparable loss. (National Intelligencer Newspaper Abstracts, 1830-1831).
    “Susquehanna” is now a part of the Patuxent Naval Air Station.

  7. Betty Breithaupt says:

    Does anyone know if there is a list of officers and men who fought in the Barbary Wars?

  8. Howard Sharpell says:

    A search via Ancestry might answer some questions….

  9. KIM says:


  10. Nancy J Badal says:

    I was wondering about the original crew. I think someone said it was 25 sailors, captured. Where the rescued or did the perish in the fight or in prison.
    This is some awesome history, by the way. I am very respectful of these heroes form the early days of our country. Thanks for sharing all.

  11. Anyone know more specifics about the role that the U.S.S. Constitution had during these battles? I am about halfway through building a very detailed 41 inch long model of the U.S.S. Constitution and find this history fascinating. Rigging follows which should take me the rest of 2016 to finish. Thanks for all the good poop.

    • Rick Barber says:

      I believe that the USS Constitution was the flagship of the American squadron off Tripoli at the time

  12. Barbc says:

    Why is there not a movie made about this event? This is our history and it should be better known.
    Considering most of the junk coming out of the entertainment industry this would / could be a great movie. Mel Gibson knows how to make epic movies.

  13. Charles Demetrious McBitter says:

    You all are right. Congrats

  14. Sam Sweet says:

    Thank all of you for your post. I have heard of Stephen Decatur but did not realize what his role was in Naval history. In GA we have one of the many Cities named after Decatur. I am some what of a history buff. Great article!

  15. Margaret O'Connor says:

    There is an excellent book out by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. The book is a new release and is titled “Jefferson and The Tripoli Pirates”.

  16. Wally Rogers says:

    The Philadelphia of this story is not the first in our Navy with that name. In 1776 the Philadelphia, a 54 foot gunboat was sunk by British forces in Lake Champlain. For further information see

  17. Mark Humphrey says:

    Three things: Lord Byron was a poet. Horatio Lord Nelson was the British Admiral who commented on the burning of the Philadelphia. Decatur and crew burned the ship because it would have been impossible to prepare her to sail on short notice under the guns of Tripoli’s heavily fortified harbor. Having run aground, her rigging was compromised. The sails would have been unbent and much of the rigging and upper spars sent down for repairs. Additionally, its not unlikely that her lowers masts were sprung. And yes, there is a list of officers who served during the Barbary Wars. See: Register of Officer Personnel: United States Navy and Marine Corps and ships data, 1801-1807, It is available on line through the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

  18. Mark Humphrey says:

    Forgot: Additionally, there are at least some complete crew lists for US navy ships of that period collected in the naval documents related to the Barbary Wars, also available through Hathi Trust Digital Library. There is a lot of information available in these records. Also, until relatively recently, Philadelphia’s great guns survived in Tripoli. I don’t know if they’re still there, however.

  19. William A. Campion, Sr. says:

    I live in the town of Berlin, MD. Notated for the fact that it was the home of Stephen Decatur”Naval War Hero” ? Now I have to ask, was Cap. Decatur a Hero or was it only Lt. Decatur that was called a hero. Here in town we only say “Stephen Decatur War Hero” So I would like to now witch Decatur lived here !!!!!!!
    Can anyone help with this ???
    Thank You ?
    [email protected]

    • Martha Keys says:

      Lt. Stephen Decatur, Jr. (son of Captain Stephen Decatur, Sr.) …

      Stephen Decatur, Jr. was just 25 years old at this time. As a result of his successful mission to destroy the Philadelphia, he was promoted to Captain, the youngest ever appointed in the U.S. Navy.

      Please see Comment from Linda Reno, Feb 12.

  20. Rick Barber says:

    Well, he went on to become the best and best known Captain during the War of 1812, although at the very end of the war, he was Captain of the USS President, which was the ‘best’ of the frigates (faster than the Constitution) when it ran aground trying to escape New York (IIRC) and was captured by the British. Like the Battle of New Orleans, I believe this happened after the actual Peace Treaty, but the Brits kept her anyway – she hogged badly after that grounding, and never performed well for her new owners.

    Lord Nelson had another famous quote regarding Americans, when he predicted ‘bad things coming from those Big Black Frigates across the Atlantic.’

  21. Terry B says:

    The painting at the top of this article hangs in the US Naval Academy Museum, in Annapolis. The colors are vivid and with the lighting on the painting, it almost appears to be on fire. It is an eye catching piece of work, and for years I owned a print of it, but with all my military moves, it eventually was lost.

  22. USMC Patriot says:

    Obama left that story out of the contributions Muslims made to America! I’m never amazed how he distorts our history. Maybe the USMC should send him a copy of their history and the role the Muslim pirates of the Barbary coast made, or the Muslims control of the African slave trade to the Caribe and America, Bet he failed history! They must have had common core in Hawaii and Indonesia!

  23. Nick says:

    It brings current poisonous politics into a discussion of military history and is inappropriate

  24. Bonnie says:

    It also paints a whole religion with a wide, nasty brush. It’s like blaming all the Catholics for the Inquisition; or blaming all the Jews for the death of Christ (which some people still do). It has no place in this discussion of history.


    The Barbary pirates (State sponsored blackmail & extortion ransoms) also gave us the slogan,
    “Millions for defense, not one penny for tribute”. Jefferson had to fund these naval operations by going around Congressional leaders who advocated doing nothing to stir up the situation. (Sounds familiar in 2016??)

    Private sources did however, ransom some Americans from captivity, after their whereabouts had been confirmed by various channels.
    The US consulates in North Africa also defended foreign born residents of the US who had not yet been naturalized, but had applied for the first stages. This set the precedent that the US laws protect all residents, not just citizens.

    Proud daughter of a US Naval Veteran

  26. Mark Humphrey says:

    Its also true that Morocco is literally our oldest ally. It was the first foreign country to recognize the independent United States and Moroccan corsairs sometimes sailed against the British with American privateers. They are known to have taken part in at least one naval battle and never sailed against us. Our oldest treaty still in force is with Morocco and dates from the 1790’s. And our longest held overseas property is the old consulate in Casablanca. That treaty is among the now notorious documents (among a certain portion of the population) which states flatly that the United States is not a Christian country. That language was neither a mistake nor was it put into the treaty as a mere sop for the Moslems as some would have it. David Humphreys, who wrote the North African treaties, President Washington’s agent in Europe and consul to Portugal and Spain, could not have been more serious. He was a confirmed Deist.

  27. Shelley McFadden says:

    I would like to know where I can find the names of the 25 or more sailors who were volunteers with Stephen Decatur. I believe many later came forward to assist Decatur’s widow when she needed financial assistance. She tried to request for a military pension. Captain Stephen Decatur was a forgotten hero by then.

    • Mark Humphrey says:

      Try “Naval Documents Related to Wars with the Barbary Powers” This is part of a collection of papers published by the government in the 1930’s. Quite comprehensive. Several volumes. Available through Hathi Trust Digital Library

  28. Chris Dickon says:

    See page 227

    Or Google Jas Fenimore Cooper’s History of the Navy Chapter 11.

  29. Jeff Fisher says:

    If the Europeans of modern times act as they usually do, we (i.e., the US) probably isn’t given any credit for our roles in these conflicts. It seems to my regret since ancestors of my own fought in both World Wars for UK, France, etc., that the US is detested, hated, and spat upon by most English/Scots, French, and so forth. While not directly related to the subject at-hand, this seems a place to mention this. W/O our help, it would have been interesting if not pleasant to see what would have happened to the above during the 20th century.

    • Robert Swain says:

      Having spent years of my life traveling over most of the world , I did not find that we were Hated, Detested and Spat upon by the English Scots, Irish, French, Spanish, German, Austrian, Portuguese, and so forth. I worked for U.S. and international organizations that negotiated and worked with people from all of the mentioned countries and found them to be intelligent, hard working , friendly, kind and considerate colleagues; that I would be ashamed to introduce you to. They were certainly more pleasant to know and work with than you seem to be. The Belgians have within the last two years built an entire presentation honoring the Americans who fought at Bastogne. You are so wrong!

    • Cliff says:


  30. Chris Dickon says:

    Most Americans aren’t aware of how much we are appreciated, esp. for the two world wars, in the rest of the world, and it always helps to get out of the country and look at things through the experience of others. I would have liked the commenter to have been with me on Memorial Days over the last few years at the ABMC cemeteries in Belgium and the Netherlands.

    The attendance and ceremony, laying of wreaths, singing of the American national anthem, etc. far surpassed anything I’ve known in Memorial days here. In Belgium, there are still older folks who are brought to tears with their own or handed-down memories of the Americans in WW II, and the annual Memorial Day ceremony at WW I Flanders Field is a major event there and in the nearby town of Waregem. At the Margraten cemetery in the NL, every one of the 8300 graves and 1700 names of the missing are adopted by regional families, and there is a waiting list (as is mostly the case will all European ABMC cemeteries). Some of the adoptions have been carried by the same Dutch families since the war. There are current NL-based projects underway to find photographs of each of the buried, and to bring special attention to about 170 African Americans buried there, and to find their American families if possible.

    Here’s an example of how nations historically appreciate each other in these matters:

    In the Revolutionary War, France and esp. the Marquis de Lafayette were probably decisive in our victory over the British. Lafayette became known as G. Washington’s French son, and New York City nearly closed down to celebrate a return visit from him in 1824.

    When Germany invaded France in 1914, and before the American declaration of war in 1917, more than 35,000 American men and women went to foreign forces and ambulance / nursing services to fight for France and the allies, often with the stated goal of repaying the debt owed to Lafayette. When Pershing finally arrived in Paris officially in 1917, he went immediately to Lafayette’s grave where an aide made the famous proclamation “Lafayette, nous voici!” – we have returned.

    In return, during and after the war, annual ceremonies in honor of the Americans were held in Paris. A memorial to Americans was dedicated in the American Cathedral there, still in place, in 1923. In 1927, Canada asked and was allowed to construct a large Cross of Sacrifice in Arlington Cemetery in honor of the Americans who had fought with its own Canadian/British/Commonwealth forces in WW I. It was rededicated in 1939 with a wreath laid by King George VI.

    Similar examples exist for WW II. Ironically, in my (slightly political) opinion, whatever current feelings there are in this country that we are disrespected by people we have won wars with in the past is in the same mindset as the anger at France when it would not ally with us in the Iraq war. Whatever opinion one might have about France’s wisdom in that event (freedom fries anyone?), my reading of history for purposes of writing books about it is that the US-French relationship in this regard is, arguably, the most fruitful and enduring. And like any good relationship sometimes surly and argumentative.

  31. Myra says:

    Enjoyed article and comments. May have to re-think unsubscribing to fold3. Thanks to all of you for the, mostly, thoughtful comments.

  32. Jeff Fisher says:

    I’m unsure of who Chris Dickson and Robert Swain have dealt with all-together far as the Brits go, or others in Europe. I certainly don’t need any lectures on history lessons, fellows (while acknowledging everyone’s right to their opinion). My Great X 4 Grandfather was present at Yorktown (and was wounded in action during the war also) and his son fought the “limeys” if you will, in the War of 1812. I have had ancestors in nearly all of our nations wars who served with distinction for the record, including my dad who was wounded in the So. Pacific in WW 2. Yes, I’m well aware of the help we received from France also early on, and even Spain for that matter. But as far as present times go,, I have been accused of being a fascist as well as by English/Scots who clearly need to be taught some manners, to say the least. Very big, tough guys as long as an ocean separates them from people they are insulting, all right. That is among the things I can repeat, people, btw.

    In an event, I see no burning reason we should continue too defend Europe as we essentially have done since the end of WW 2; we have received little from that worth having in my eyes. Indeed, it seems the Brits and French both only have very much use for we Americans when they badly need us to come and save their… nations, let us say, to remain civil. Far as I’m concerned NATO can be led by the UK or whoever, and if they have to deal with Mr. Putin someday on their own, well, our debts to France were long since repaid twice. The results of such a NATO minus the US could be interesting, if not pleasant for our ‘allies”in Europe. I’m well-aware of how Churchill schemed to bring the US into WW 2 as well – there are books and online data one can find easily enough if this is doubted, folks.

    I will end by saying some of these characters in the UK really need to get in some US Navy Seal’s face and repeat some of the remarks made to me of-late. It’s good they have such a great health care system over there…

    • William A. Campion, Sr. says:

      WELL SAID SIR.( And my genealogy is from England, France as well as Canada.)

    • Robert Swain says:

      Jeff, Did you ever wonder why they insult YOU? In 25 years of direct dealings,often confrontational, I have never been insulted once.
      Just food for thought as i will no longer continue this confrontation with an angry American.

  33. Ronald F. Townsend says:

    Commodore Edmund Preble, the commander over DeCatur, was my Uncle and I have familiarity with the events. One thing that is never brought out is the conflict was negotiated to a solution not by the aggressive action of the fledgling American Navy. Tripoli is part of Libya today and the Corsairs have been replaced by other Arab radicals but the same situation exists. The Arabs, as Edmund Gibbons pointed out, made there prosperity by out and out thievery from other countries whether it be shipping the Spice Routes or oil. Thus the Arab economy was fueled by thievery and tribute. The result of the Barbary War is we payed the Arabs tribute just like every other country. Thomas Jefferson, along with his Alien and Sedition acts, did not have a very good foreign policy.

  34. ED VILIM says:

    I served in Korea in 1951,and saw the devestation of that country. Many nations served with the US forces there.I saw no problem between these different cultures; we were interested in saving South Korea and our own ass ! THat WAR has been forgotten in this Country (if it was ever remembered ) . I returned to South Korea 50 years later and found the people there grateful ,thankful and very welcoming to US Veterans.I realised then that I had not wasted a part of my life. It was great experience.

  35. Richard H. Russell says:

    Another good recounting of these events.

  36. Jeff Fisher says:

    Robert, I am not “an angry American” per- se, more a disappointed one in most respects, perhaps I presume that you are English or Scot yourself, then? In any case, my own dealing with folks from England (or the UK if you prefer) has been generally not very positive – and the majority of this has been anger hurled my way w/o cause, my friend. Some in the UK seem to somehow blame the US for the loss of the Empire — something which seems to gnaw away at a great many in the UK like a kidney stone, perhaps, which refuses to dissolve or be passed. I have heard it suggested that giving up the Empire was the main price for our entry into the European War, as obviously, we had out hands full in the Pacific. If so, the UK attempted to renege on such an agreement, although the sun was setting every 24 hours on said Empire by the 1950’s (credit to Stephen King for that I believe in DANSE MACABRE, 1979/1981). Many of the those in the UK who are in middle age sometimes come off as punks, really, who need somebody to teach them some respect. I would ask anybody at all here if they honestly believe the Allies would have won w/o the US assistance? My father’s three brothers also served during the war, two of them in Europe; all survived with my father injured the worst, I am sorry to say.

    Thank you for your compliment, Mr. Campion. My OWN ancestry happens to hail from England for the record; it’s believed some of my distant ancestors served with the Royal Navy. I do sometimes wonder why it took until the 1770s for us to break-away from Britain.

    Mr. Vilm, I appreciate your comments as well, and I’m sure many in South Korea
    ARE grateful to the US – unfortunately, that story may not end happily til yet considering North Korea’s progress with nuclear weaponry and missiles to carry them. I don’t think China would automatically side with the North in a resumption of the war ( as it is still a cease-fire, not a formal peace, remember). In any event, my last surviving uncle served in Korea as well, sir, and he has related some highly unpleasant accounts of battles he took part in there. Some other now-deceased relatives served in that war as well. Still, you perhaps recall there have been occasional protests and riots against the US presence in South Korea by those I can only assume have little gratitude for us all the same.

    Regarding some of the remarks made to me (by SOME in the UK, then?), I hardly think anybody could blame me honestly for being rather upset by it, words I won’t repeat on this site. We are considered, apparently, by a number in the English Isles as not much better than the Nazis we helped defeat for whatever this is worth. Very little, I believe most would agree. I’m sure this attitude is much-less common among those old enough to actually recall the war personally.

    If memory serves, we asked for nothing in return in WW 1, and later, Mr. Churchhill tried to demand ALL South Pacific UK possessions returned despite the fact that they quickly surrendered to the Empire of Japan (the UK forces, I mean). I do give credit to the Australians and New Zealanders for fighting hard against the Japanese alongside our forces – then again, they knew what would be their lot shortly if they didn’t. There are still some WW 2 veterans in my area, and they generally say the English who didn’t surrender quickly fell all over themselves trying to get to a friendly port. It would seem they wanted nothing to do with the Japanese Imperial Marines. If this is harsh, I am only repeating what I was told by my father, and some others who were actually there. Still, I hardly think we Americans deserve as much anger as if often sent our way regardless as, if anything, we perhaps were overly-generous to Europe at war’s end. It would have been well within our rights to have demanded a good deal of territory from both the UK and France had we so chosen.

    If nothing else, I suppose it could be arranged for the Queen to have” The Star-Spangled Banner” as her morning wake-up music (if I may be permitted a bit of dry humor…)

    • Barbc says:

      It is reported that when Churchill was told Japan attacked the US he said “now they have to fight with us”. He did not ask any specifics.
      There is book written by an Englishman and an Australian.

      My dad was in the US Navy submarine. He talked with a radioman who was in the navy prior to Pearl Harbor. They were transmitting the radio signals between Tokyo and DC. The servicemen somehow, decoded the message. Being at the front they could match ship movement to the messages. Our guys are smart!

      They knew an attack was coming just were not sure of the date. The movie TORO TORO has scenes of various military knowing the attack was coming.

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  38. d. nulik says:

    Yes, and I fought in the cold war off of murmanski, watching Russian pirate’s .

  39. Mark Humphrey says:

    It should be pointed out that the Barbary Wars were to a large extent proxy wars incited by the British against the United States and to a lesser extent by the French as well. As much as the U.S. Navy sometimes worked with the Royal Navy against the French during the “Quasi War”, elements within the British government harbored ambitions of forcing the new United States to fail and in so doing, bring the “rebel colonies” back under crown rule. To that end, they incited all sort of trouble for years after officially recognizing our independence. The British paid certain Barbary states large sums of money, ostensively for the “protection” of British merchant shipping, but it was understood that a part of that protection lay in harassing their American rivals. Likewise, the French wanted to discourage American trade competition in the Med. This was part of an early Cold War which, in the end, benefitted no one.

    • Steve Adams says:

      Just wondering are you related to General Humphrey?

    • Richard H. Russell says:

      This may be an oversimplification and modern reworking of historical events that likely have little basis in fact. The Barbary pirates had been pillaging the Mediterranean and taking slaves for at least two centuries. European nations had for years been paying “tribute” to the Barbary countries of Tunis, Morocco, Algiers and Tripoli (cheaper, in the long term, than keeping warships off the African Coast). This tribute had been going on long before England had its troubles with the infant United States. The US was also paying tribute, in 1800 it has been estimated to have been as much as 20% of the government’s annual expenditure. Jefferson slowly put an end to this tribute.
      Also,when the USS Philadelphia ran aground and was captured, its crew of 300+ wasn’t just taken prisoner. They were taken as slaves to be sold in the slave markets of Tripoli.

  40. Jeff Fisher says:

    Hi, Barbc and everyone. I have heard various reports over the years that our forces at Pearl Harbor detected the Japanese attack group approaching , but that their reports were dismissed for one reason or another. Radar was very new at the time, and possibly this was one reason the incoming Japanese warplanes weren’t taken seriously. The notion that the attack was allowed to happen intentionally has been suggested as well, (possibly) by John Toland in his book AT DAWN WE SLEPT, although this seems unlikely overall.

    I’m sure that Churchill wasn’t disappointed to hear of the attack as you indicate. He seems like a man who would have done just about anything to save the Empire, and Britain itself.

    What many seem to forget about the war in Europe, though, is that if Hitler had been stable enough to have left his military leaders and his scientists alone to do their work, they would have had jet-fighters and much-better missiles well before they actually deployed them. It seems quite probable that their jets would have destroyed the Allies’ air squadrons in fairly-short order had they been developed soon enough to make a difference.

    I hadn’t really thought of your observations, Mr. Humphrey – very well put, though, and no doubt very close to a bull’s eye on the subject.

  41. Jeff Fisher says:

    I would add this in looking over Chris Dickon’s post – I am aware of most of what you mentioned, sir, and never would disagree with most of it. I am a progressive politically myself for the record, and I know that the Iraq war is used as essentially an excuse which the French ( and the English sometimes as well, and no doubt others) to heap abuse upon the US. We could use, for example, Margaret Thatcher as a reason to level ire at the UK – that victory over Argentina was, indeed, an impressive accomplishment for those forlorn rocks in the So. Atlantic.
    And to the best of my knowledge, that is the only war the UK has won in the last century or so w/o US forces fighting alongside them, providing material support, and so forth. Of course, there have been instances of the US facing less than stellar-quality opponents, so I would ask no one to bring THAT up, please, as I’m quite aware of the facts.

    I would add finally that I’m unsure what our continued leadership of NATO results in for ourselves(i.e., the US, of course) even if this sounds like arrogance on my part somehow. It is perhaps not even certain the EU would put up much of a fight against a serious foe w/o the US present. Let’s face facts, the entire EU is badly outmatched by the Russian Federation and I have little doubt that Mr. Putin badly wants to re-absorb the former Warsaw Pact nations, and the Baltic states as well. If either the UK or France (or Germany?) wants to take over leadership of NATO, well, I would have no problem with them doing so, and with our withdrawing all US forces, missile defenses, and so on from Europe or wherever else in that general region, and allowing the chips to fall where they may. Again, our debt to France has been well re-paid, my friends, in both blood and treasure.

  42. Jeff Fisher says:

    Just briefly, Chris, I appreciate authors, historians and such a great deal. I actually think we are agreeing on more subjects than we disagree on. The notion that one cannot be a progressive type AND a patriot is a fallacy I think you will agree. Seems to have been something started by genuine far-right types. I simply feel it cannot be justified that we continue to provide so much backbone for our European friends who are in many cases, hardly impoverished nations.

    Mr. Swain, I hope you will take another look at my opinions and maybe reconsider some things. You do not seem very interested in an exchange of honest disagreements, that’s for sure — and perhaps are not a terribly nice person YOURSELF.

    As for some of my own regrettable experiences with some Europeans, indeed, it’s easy to be a wise-guy if one is hiding behind some assumed name (as most of those UK clowns were doing) – and also have an ocean separating them from the people they are hurling vulgarities at. You should have heard some of the terms used to describe US Navy Seas, for instance,by some Scot who appears to be on the slightly-unhinged end of matters, terms which can’t be repeated here. That fellow sounded a great deal like those who threw trash and spat at returning troops from Vietnam, so my getting upset in that instance was very understandable. So would most others, I suspect. A number or relations, both living and deceased, served there as well for the record.

    I think THIS site draws a higher-quality of person to it, though, by far and away people!

  43. Richard H. Russell says:

    Another good read: The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805, by Richard Zacks, 2005. Includes an extensive bibliography and is well indexed.

  44. Mark Humphrey says:

    It’s absolutely true that we tend to view thee past as though it was a less complicated and dangerous time than our own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Piracy is perhaps the third oldest profession and was recorded in the Mediterranean since ancient times. By the time of the Barbary Wars it tended among the North African States to be a protection racket. And yes, we promised tribute as did other countries. The difference is that we rarely followed through and never in full. With the Algerians, considered the most dangerous, we supplied four ships and marine supplies along with certain gee-gaws for the Bey but little coin. We just didn’t have it. There wasn’t much left over for the other Barbary States and this was always just a holding action until an effective navy could be established (which, incidentally, Jefferson promptly dismantled upon becoming president, along with his refusal to pay tribute). The fact that the Barbary States already sponsored piracy doesn’t mean that our enemies didn’t take full advantage of the situation. That’s how cold wars work. Find weakness in your enemy and exploit it, often using aggrieved third parties to do the dirty work. In the wake of the disastrous debacle of the Revolution, Great Britain wasn’t about to say all’s forgiven and all’s forgotten. Only in a Monty Python satire would that be possible. Some of our early Indian wars were similarly incited. Our enemies of that time tended to present as much if not more danger to us in real terms as our enemies of today. The various collections of documents on this subject, some of which, notably the Humphreys papers, were published two hundred years ago make fascinating reading. And no, we’re not to my knowledge related, although we both share a regrettable penchant for writing terrible poetry!

  45. Jeff Fisher says:

    Some good points there, Mark. Well done on your part.

    I would add, Richard, that even if Great Britain didn’t go “all out” to encourage piracy by the Barbary states, it’s a safe assumption they did not DISCOURAGE it either, especially in regard to the U..S. After all, they goaded the US into war in 1812 what with impressing sailors from our ships who had English-birth and the like, among other things. As I assume many here know, the English strategy in the Revolution and the War/1812 was to try and divide the US in-half, which fortunately for we Americans, failed both times. I have no great love for President Jackson given many of his later actions, but his victory at New Orleans disgraced the English rather thoroughly. He also was able to secure Florida from being used as another route of invasion from the south.

    There’s an old song from about 1960 called “The Battle of New Orleans” by, I think, Johnny Horton – it is very apropos for our English cousins, many of whom, I’m afraid, need to soak their heads awhile in some buckets of ice water. I would tend to think by his time, they would be well-used to defeat and disgrace, and humiliation, but apparently, this isn’t the case. The days of their Empire are over, and they surely need to come to terms with that fact. The English Isles could be set down in-total within a good many US states for the record, even if one includes Northern Ireland which is a somewhat dubious claim, at best.

    • Richard H. Russell says:

      The song, “The Battle of New Orleans”, was actually written and first performed by James Corbitt Morris (Jimmy Driftwood) a folk singer who wrote songs based on historical events to help his students learn history. He also wrote “Tennessee Stud” and more than 6000 songs. Over 300 were recorded by other artists.

  46. Jeff Fisher says:

    While not directly-related to the Barbary War(s) a more-distant relation of mine received the Croix de Guerre in WW 1, although I don’t believe this was ever officially recorded by the US government which generally does not keep account of foreign military decorations that US veterans receive. Exceptions are people like Audie Muprhy, of course, and others with fame to some extent or another.

    It would also seem, for those interested, that Mr. Churchill had a direct hand in leading the RMS Lusitania to its fateful encounter with that German submarine – I thought I would mention this as well. It is acknowledged that she was carrying at least some munitions for the UK now, and given how quickly she sank from a single torpedo strike, may well have had much more aboard which was not recorded on any cargo manifest. It is known that the Royal Navy has bombarded the wreck at least as far back as the 1950’s as recent explorations have filmed un-exploded depth charges in and around the wreck. Unless one was trying to destroy evidence, why else would a famous wreck be used for target practice? Many documents from the Royal Navy remain secret even today more than a century after she was sent to the bottom. There are books available on the Lusitania by Robert D. Ballard, Patrick Beesly and others for those who want to research this. It seems the US was dragged into the this conflict due in large measure to Mr. Churchill’s efforts.

    I’m sure this opinion isn’t popular due to Churchill’s elevation to godhood in the years since WW 2, but the facts would seem to speak for themselves.

    • Barbc says:

      Churchill was the master mind for the attack at Anzio, Italy. The British generals argued against the attack. Churchill spent a week wearing the generals down. The generals were finally strong armed and planned one of the worst battles.

      WW One there had been an unwritten agreement between countries. The first shot fired would be across the ship’s bow. The War Office quietly ordered British vessels to make the first shot to sink the ship fired upon. The Germans captured a British vessel and found the message. Countless civilian lives were lost not knowing the British had changed the rules of war.

  47. Mark Humphrey says:

    Actually, if you’re writing about the beginning of WWII, you’ve got it wrong. Within hours of the British declaration of war against Germany at 11am, Sunday, Sept. 3rd, 1939, a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the British liner Athenia (about 7pm). The attack was without warning and no attempt of any kind, before or after, was made by the U-boat to either contact or ensure the safety of the survivors. A hundred and twenty-odd people including many women and children were killed, about a quarter of them Americans. The Athenia was a pleasure liner taking vacationers to Canada and had no military value. Its questionable whether the U-boat commander was even officially aware at that point of the declaration of war. Any sink on sight order regarding U-boats has to keep that context in mind.

    If you’re talking about WW I, Churchill wasn’t in a position at the beginning of the war to give such an order and events indicate no such order was given at that time.

    The failures at Anzio were likewise not on Churchill’s shoulders. I’ve known several people who were at Anzio and the fault there lay with an overly cautious American General whose name I don’t remember and don’t feel like looking up right now. At the time of the landing, the road to Rome was open and several groups of Rangers and others over several days made the trip and reported the all clear back (I knew one of them, personally) The commanding General was afraid of his supply line being cut and wasted the opportunity.

    • Barbc says:

      Lusitania was sunk in 1915 it lays the accreditation on those who are responsible including Eisenhower .

    • Richard H. Russell says:

      I think you’re referring to US Army Major General John P. Lucas. Several other generals were involved, but Lucas was the one who decided that his forces should stay entrenched against a possible counterattack.

  48. Jeff Fisher says:

    Thanks for the information on the song “The Battle of New Orleans,” Mr. Russell. I wasn’t sure exactly how old the song was, although the Horton version is one I am most familiar with. Believe he did “North to Alaska”as well which was very popular, made into a movie also, I believe (rather loosely).

    The Lusitania was indeed sunk in 1915, that’s quite right. There were a hundred twenty-something Americans aboard, and this helped stir up opinion against Germany leading in time to the US being brought into the conflict. As I imagine most know, President Wilson tried to both stay neutral for the most part, and made some efforts at peace as well. It’s regrettable that both the UK and France made out like bandits after war’s end rather than agree to a more even-handed treatment of the Central Powers. The eventual results was the collapse of the German economy and the rise of the Nazis who fed off of the resentment left-over from WW 1. So, the seeds for Hitler were planted in large measure by the English and French themselves, and it’s hard to argue effectively against this, I would think. I do believe that the break-up of the Austrian-Hungary Empire was President Wilson’s idea largely in the hopes of keeping the continent more stable, but in the end, this made little difference as we know.

    It perhaps should be mentioned that Germany in WW 1 did place advertisements with US papers warning that liners such as the Lusitania would be in danger prior to the ship’s sinking. So, what happened shouldn’t have been a complete surprise there, while not defending the incident on Germany’s part, either, please note.

    • Mark Humphrey says:

      You’re right, of course, about the roots of World War II being in the Treaty of Versailles. This discussion is getting way off track from the Philadelphia incident but in a way, it’s also coming full circle. The consequences of British and French colonialism, not only perpetuated but expanded in that treaty, and ongoing petro-colonialism (Anglo-American, BP, Gulf and others with semi-official backing from various governments) have as much to do, if not more so, with our present crisis in the middle east as the existence of and our support for Israel in itself.

  49. Jeff Fisher says:

    I agree with you, Mark, about many of today’s problems in the Middle East,(and elsewhere) having their root in British/French colonialism around the period of WW 1, and later , of course. And others as well, naturally. The carving out of Kuwait from Iraq as the UK’s own oil reserve is a good case in point, I believe.

    One other point on Churchill in the WW 1 days; he was the First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915, I understand, and so would no doubt have had his hands involved in any scheming involving shipping to help bring the US into the conflict on the side of the Allies. He lasted in that position until the failed Gallipoli campaign forced him to give up the post. I think my point about him being a rather devious man stands as quite valid, if more obvious, maybe in the lead-up to the US entry into WW 2.

  50. Mark Humphrey says:

    Jeff, we agree on a lot of things but I’m afraid I can’t see Churchill as a villain. He had his faults and weaknesses like other men but he also knew how to play the Great Game, as did Roosevelt, as did Hitler and Stalin. Had Chamberlain remained Prime Minister or one of his cronies taken over, Britain would have never lasted until the U.S got into the war. If Britain had lost, how would our own history be different? The 1930’s weren’t the best of times for us. The German-American Bund – a NAZI front organization – was extraordinarily powerful and Hitler’s popularity in the U.S. was high. We could have very easily fallen into fascism in a big way. As it is, we’re still feeling the affects of what went on before the war and few people even have a clew as to what they are or how it affects us. This isn’t the particular forum to air that in but perhaps one in the future. Suffice it to say that, whatever one thinks of the New Deal, Roosevelt’s reforms were benign in comparison to the path we would almost certainly otherwise have taken. Churchill wasn’t to thank for that but there were far more villainous characters on the scene and still are. Between Britain and the United States, we didn’t get it near perfect but we also didn’t do half bad.

  51. Jeff Fisher says:

    This opinion won’t be popular, I know, but if the UK HAD fallen, we quite likely would have continued much as we did, Mark. Perhaps due to my own family history, I see things differently than you do; my older siblings, and my mother, had a very rough life for a good many years due to the problems my father had, He eventually recovered a great deal late in his life, but it’s true to say he didn’t have a very happy life due to injuries received in the war. Where is it written, anyway, Mark, that it is somehow our duty to protect the UK/Europe from threats whether it be the Nazis in the 1940’s or possibly a resurgent Russia in the next decade or so? Nowhere as best I can tell. I realize this is harsh, but we did break away from England to go our own path, after all. My father and his brothers were in the old Civilian Conservation Corps as well prior to the war- FDR is a hero to me in a great many ways, be sure. My mother came from an extremely poor family (as were most in this area in that period, really) and if not for FDR’s programs, well, many starved to death literally in those days., both here, and around the US before Hoover’s damage could be reversed. I’m going to guess your own family history was more fortunate in that period, but it does not change my opinion of Churchill as a rather bad man who did anything he had to to save his own nation/empire, and the US be damned afterwards. After WW 1, we basically received nothing but some insincere thanks (from the UK especially), and an invitation to get back across the Atlantic as quickly as possibly — save those left buried in European soil, of course. Just because the media goes wild over the “Royals” hardly means all that many Americans think much of William, and Kate, let alone the Queen. Given England’s several centuries of using most of the world as their private dumping ground makes me think even yet that haven’t quite paid the full price they deserve to pay.

    I would even go so far as to say it wouldn’t be such a bad an idea to eject the UK, and France with whatever other European powers are left holding on t minor possessions in the “New World” back to the old one. We could do it easily enough if anybody in D.C. ever decides that would be the correct thing to do. I realize this sounds somewhat imperialistic of me. Then again, I doubt anybody had actual plans to be”king of the hill” once the dust settled for the Second World War, after all; history simply worked out that way. If this is hard to take, my apologies, but the US owes Europe nothing any longer. Money spent on NATO, etc., could go for much more urgent needs easily enough. It seems to be the “old way” of doing things are so set-in place that old policies continue after there is little real justification for them, and that really needs to change even if some of the policies would be tough for the Old World in particular to swallow. The Russian flag waving over London, Paris, and so forth isn’t necessarily any skin off of an American’s nose, if the clich’e will be pardoned.

    • Mark Humphrey says:

      I disagree but, as I said before, a forum on the burning of the Philadelphia isn’t the place to go further with this. I’ll be happy to debate it with you if a more relevant forum presents itself. Two of my uncles were wounded in Europe, one rather badly, so don’t think that your father had it alone. And my father was the beach captain’s radioman at Salerno, among the first on the beach in the bloodiest landing of the war. There was – and still is – much more going on than simply pulling the fat out of the fire for the Brits and the French. (Talk about that, Viet Nam was pulling the fat out of the fire for the French) There’s a lot that still hasn’t been resolved. But, as I say, we can go into that when a more appropriate forum presents itself.

  52. Jeff Fisher says:

    Well, apparently the site won’t post my actual reply to Mark here, but let’s simply say a look into Churchill’s past pretty well proves my point about the fellow, I think. That picture isn’t nearly as nice to see as what his popular image is, or what is “politically correct,” either, it appears.

    I would simply add that neither France or the UK is able to win any major conflict without major help from the US, at least not for the past century or so. No real arguing with THAT, I believe. I’m sure the US congress would consider admission to the Union of either if they wish to petition for statehood – I would have no problem with providing their backbone in the case of their joining the US officially.

  53. Jeff Fisher says:

    Yes, agreed on this much at least, this isn’t really the best place for such discussions. I do hope your father fared better, Mark, overall, than my own did in the aftermath of it all – he stayed in a coma after his injury over a month before he finally woke up just for the record. One hardly needed to be at one of the more famous battle sites, obviously.

    And yes, the French helped – a lot – to get us into the Vietnam War, I know many veterans from there also, as well as having had relations who served there.
    That was as much a diplomatic defeat as anything else, according to just about everyone who was actually there, but we can discuss this another time, and place also. None of this takes away from my comments, I think, unpopular as they no doubt are with a great many.

    • Mark Humphrey says:

      Jeff, My father did alright after the war, although like many veterans he had a problem with alcohol. He got over it. I’m sorry your father didn’t fare so well. We could probably compare wounds and deaths in both of our families in wars going back past the Revolution. There’ve been enough, I know, in mine. I don’t want to play that game. Sherman didn’t say war is hell, he said it was PURE Hell, and so it is, no matter the conflict, no matter the right or wrong.

      Personally, I don’t think you’ve proven anything about Churchill and whether or not your opinion is popular has nothing to do with it . I’m not a fan of the British in a lot of ways but isolationism by the beginning of WWII wasn’t working, Churchill or not. For the record, Germany declared war on us, not the other way around and in support of the Japanese, not because of our support for Britain. Our conflict with Japan had to do with Japanese imperialism, not the British. It’s doubtful that American would have been better off not fighting it. Bottom line: Hitler, Hirohito and yes, Stalin were a lot scarier than Churchill.

      As for Viet Nam being a political rather than a military defeat, that’s been the whine of the losing generals since time of the Rome Empire. After both WWI and WWII the German military blamed defeat on a lack of backbone in their civilian population. They even blamed Marlene Dietrich. Sound familiar? The fact is, somebody has to put their name on the paper ending a war. That’s usually not the generals and that leaves them all the room in the world to pass the buck.

      The real question for the politicians in any war should always be: why are we involved there in the first place? You’ve asked that question of WWII, but I think you’ve reached the wrong conclusion.

    • Barbc says:

      The North Vietnam government, General Giap, could not understand why the US military did not follow through with campaigns. The presidents; LBJ, Nixon; issued orders for all military actions to stay in Vietnam, officially. Unofficially there was a lot of military actions in Laos and Cambodia. Still the Ho Chi Ming trail was never put out of commission.
      Our military won all of their battles. Politically the US did not win the war. It is amazing how our men did win their battles considering the rules for engagement tied their hands behind their back. I.E. they could not fire until fired on by the enemy first. Major stupid! ! !

  54. Mark Humphrey says:

    “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell, the Army’s foremost expert of China warned that when the French tried to take back control of Indochina after World War II, all hell would break loose and that under no circumstances should the United States military become involved. He was unequivocal about it. General McAuliffe, the guy who said “nuts” to the Germans at Bastogne, said much the same thing when he commanded our army group that would eventually fight there. I was told personally, as a teenager, when I had the chance to speak with about twenty of the military’s leading experts,(including my father’s old boss, Admiral Byrd, Chief of Naval Communications), only a few of the Chiefs of Department of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines who warned the President and Congress, in writing, that a war in Viet Nam was unwinnable for a whole lot of reasons and that we should not become involved. These were the guys who won WWII. They, including McAuliffe, were accused of being communist sympathizers and forced into retirement, the result of telling truth to power. Stillwell was already dead. It was the yes men, afraid of McCarthy and his ilk, who signed off on Viet Nam.

    The fact is that Viet Nam was lost before the first American Soldier put his boot on the ground there — and yes, I knew him as well — one of the first advisors. He was shot by a small, naked man, waiting in a tree, armed with a crossbow and poisoned arrows.

    Soldiers win battles but Generals loose wars and our guys were led by the B-team. The same guys who, out of fear or self service told the politicos exactly what they wanted to hear — for over ten years.

    I’m not in any way disparaging our troops in saying this. They fought hard, they fought well and they did win battles. But winning all the battles doesn’t necessarily win a war. They and the American people have been told a lot of things about who is to blame for the loss of that war. Things they want to believe because it dampens the inevitable but misplaced guilt of loosing. Things intended to cover the sorry backsides of the politicians and generals who got us into that mess in the first place.

    • Barbc says:

      Fletcher Prouty’s books are revealing in how behind the scene the politics brought the Vietnam war to its conclusion.
      His book JFK starts with his time as pilot during WWII till his retirement. He documents his time. He happened to be in the right place and time. His continued service connects a historical time line no one else had.

    • Barbc says:

      Is there a source that details the information you have stated? Some of this I suspected did not know for sure?

  55. Mark Humphrey says:

    Stillwell and McAuliffe were public figures and their opinions on this have been published. They can be found on line. The others? Who knows? It was pure happenstance that at age 18 I was in the right place, at the right time, under the right circumstances and that these mostly elderly gentlemen were gracious enough to indulge me. We were in each other’s company for a week. A lot I don’t remember. It was 45 years ago.

    I remember Byrd’s name because of his association with my father – although I doubt they ever met – and the fact that he joked about not being THAT Admiral Byrd but the other one. The one who, as a freshly minted lieutenant in 1910, bought the Virgin Islands from the Danes in order to build a radio station.

    I remember what they said about their opposition to the war and that they didn’t think much of General Westmoreland

    They also joked about being tailed by the FBI because Hoover was convinced that they were a bunch of communists and he wanted to catch them contacting some Soviet spy. The sad part about that is that they really were being tailed. Even if they hadn’t pointed their watchers out and waved to them, it was obvious. I think the tail was more about intimidation than anything else.

  56. Mark Humphrey says:

    Excuse me, it was 1917 that we bought the Virgin islands from the Danes. Don’t know why I910 stuck in my head.