|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||War with Tripoli
polacre-ship, of 14 guns (probably 4-pounders, and it is doubtful if some were not swivels) and 80 men, commanded by Rais-Mahomet Sous. An action immediately commenced within pistol-shot, and continued for nearly two hours, when the Tripolitan colours were either shot away or struck. Elated with their victory, the American crew gave three cheers, and quitted their guns. In an instant the corsair rehoisted her flag, and renewed the action with redoubled vigour, the Tripolitans brandishing their sabres, and seeming desirous to board the Enterprise. The crew of the latter, however, having flown back to their guns, poured into their opponent so destructive a fire, that the barbarians unequivocally hauled down their colours. Lieutenant Sterrett now ordered the corsair under his lee quarter, and kept his men at their guns. But the Tripolitan vessel, the instant she got to the station to which she had been ordered, poured another broadside into the Enterprise, and, hoisting the red or bloody flag, made an attempt to board. The Americans were now most justly incensed against the Mahomedans ; and the Enterprise, obtaining a raking position, brought down the corsair's mizenmast, and well riddled her hull. Seeing what was now likely to be his fate, the Tripolitan captain implored for quarter ; and bending in a supplicating manner over the waist-barricade of his vessel, threw his colours into the sea, as the surest indication of his sincerity. The Enterprise immediately ceased her fire; and thus ended an action which had lasted just three hours.
As a proof no less of the utter incompetency of the Tripolitans as men-of-war's men, as of the skill to which the Americans had already arrived in the use of their guns, the Enterprise did not have a man hurt, and received very little damage in hull or rigging; while the corsair was greatly shattered in her hull and two remaining masts, and sustained, out of her 80 men in crew, a loss of 20 killed and 30 wounded, including among the latter her captain and first lieutenant.
Agreeably to the instructions he had received, Lieutenant Sterrett ordered the guns, swords, pistols, and ammunition of his prize, to be thrown overboard, and both her masts to be cut away by the board. A spar was then raised to serve for a mast, and an old tattered sail hung to it as a flag. In this condition the corsair was sent to Tripoli ; and it is related that, on her arrival there, the bashaw marked his indignation by ordering the wounded captain to be paraded through the streets mounted upon an ass, and then to receive 500 bastinadoes. This was a fine reward, certainly, for having held out, against a very superior antagonist, until nearly two-thirds of his crew were killed or disabled.
On the 21st of August Commodore Dale put to sea from Malta with his squadron, and on the 30th captured a Greek ship from Smyrna bound to Tripoli, having on board one officer and 20 soldiers, 14 merchants, and some women and children, all
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