Today in History: April 27

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Battle of Derna [Warfare History Network]

 

1805:

The US Marine Corps

Waged a battle* with pirates**

On Tripoli’s shore.

*The Battle of Derna pictured above.  The invasion of this heavily-fortified eastern town on the Mediterranean shore was led by Army First Lieutenant William Eaton and Marine First Lieutenant Presley Neville O’Bannon.  The 500 marines were joined by Arab mercenaries. US warships bombarded the site in support of the marine assault. After a short-lived but furious engagement, a decisive victory  was achieved. O’Bannon gallantly raised the American flag at the vanquished fort.  The flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes would later put its indelible mark on history at Fort McHenry as the Star-Spangled Banner. Derna also was the first U.S. military victory on foreign soil.  The pasha who was sympathetic to  the U.S. cause later awarded O’Bannon for his heroism with a decorated sword that became the official template for the swords given to  Marine officers.

**The Barbary pirates whose name was derived from the Berber people of North Africa. There were four Barbary States: Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. The first of which was an independent country; the others part of the Ottoman Empire.

 

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