It's an honor to be here with you all today.
George Washington's decision to ask John Barry to serve as senior officer of the United States Navy in 1794 was an easy one for the president to make. Washington had known Barry for 18 years, and was well aware of the Irishman's skills as a sailor and courage as a warrior. During the dark days of December, 1776, Barry led his crew into the Continental Army where they saw action at the Battle of Princeton.
Captain and General corresponded with each other throughout the war, the most memorable dispatch being one of Barry's to Washington during the Valley Forge winter. After Barry captured three British ships off Reedy Island in the Delaware, he sent Washington a list of the engineering tools and other goods taken from the ship's hold, sending his letter by courier along with two other items of plunder: a large cheese and a "jar of Pickled oysters which crave the general's acceptance."
After Barry agreed to serve as first among the navy's captains he spent three long years overseeing the construction of the first frigates, including his flagship, the United States, a twin sister of the Constitution. Once she was launched, the commodore required junior officers.
For two of these positions he didn't have to look far, enlisting his friend Stephen Decatur's son, Stephen Junior, and that youngster's best friend from Episcopal Academy, Richard Somers, who also happened to be related to Barry's wife, Sarah.
Sadly, the John Barry of 1798 was no longer the dashing hero of the American Revolution. He was plagued with chronic asthma and also suffered from the gout. But he made sure that the United States was both a tight and happy ship. She was, in fact, a floating naval academy. Under Barry's watchful eye, young Somers and Decatur, along with James Barron, Charles Stewart, and others, learned navigation, mathematics, and gunnery skills. And he set for them a visible example of how a commanding officer carried himself and treated his men. More officers were promoted up the ranks from the United States than from any other ship during the Quasi-War, the naval conflict fought between America and France under the administration of John Adams.
Below decks, "Barry's boys" were obsessed with the code duello - the practice of fighting duels over the slightest offense. Most of you are familiar with the story of how Somers and Decatur engaged in playful banter while Decatur was dressing for shore leave. With three other midshipmen present, Somers kidded Decatur over his foppish dress, while Decatur called Somers a fool. Afterwards, when Somers asked his colleagues to partake in a bottle of wine, they refused. In letting Decatur call him a fool, Somers was in their eyes a coward, and they refused his wine. Upon returning to ship, Decatur called their accusation ridiculous, but only an apology to Somers would mollify them. Somers might be Decatur's best friend, but he wasn't about to lose face - or honor - by apologizing. Accordingly, Somers challenged all three to a duel, just like D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers - except their weapons would be pistols, not rapiers. Of course, Decatur served as his second.
The next morning they were rowed ashore, where Somers faced each boy at twenty paces. The first, shot him in the arm; the second, wounded him so severely in the hip that he could not stand to face his third accuser. Instead, Decatur knelt beside him, holding Somers' right arm steady enough to graze his last opponent. His courage more than proven, they were rowed back to ship. Hopefully they drank that wine.
I mention this affair because Barry had to know about it, either before or afterwards. Barry's wife, Sarah - a remarkable woman in her own right - was devoted to both her husband and her extended family. Her letters to John, while always loving, are at times an 18th century version of "you never write, you never call…" One can only imagine the letter Barry would have received from her if her relative had been more seriously hurt.
Over the next three years Somers sailed aboard the United States. She flew the broad blue pennant Barry's rank entitled him to as senior commander. Richard Somers saw more than his share of action, as the United States captured a fistful of French ships, and sailed through several severe storms. On one diplomatic visit to Portugal, the officers hiked up a high hill to enjoy the splendid view the crest provided, only to watch in horror as Barry was stricken with a debilitating asthma attack that left them all wondering if he was dying.
Somers participated in two incidents with his captain during the Quasi-War that he later wrote of in detail. While the United States was being refitted in Philadelphia, word reached Barry from Newcastle that several sailors were confined in irons after being accused of mutiny. He sent Lieutenant Somers downriver to investigate. Somers, convinced of their innocence, went back to Barry and wisely suggested that he personally obtain their release. The commodore accompanied Somers back to Newcastle where, as Somers reported, Barry "ordered them out of Irons, who had been confined for 6 weeks, the poor fellows on their being relieved and seeing the Commodore gave him three Cheers."
At the end of the Quasi-War, Barry was ordered to sail the United States to Washington with a skeleton crew. She was to be "laid up." He took Somers as his senior officer. Once docked, Barry made his report to the Secretary of the Navy, Samuel Smith, who informed Barry he could return to Philadelphia "whenever it was agreeable." The United States could be placed in Somers' capable hands. Tired and careworn, that very hour was agreeable to Barry. He returned to his cabin, packed his belongings, and came on deck. Somers had the bosun pipe all hands and then ordered Barry's pennant lowered for the last time. Barry never went to sea again.
For the last two years of the commodore's life it was mainly Richard Somers who kept Barry informed on naval affairs. When a second-in-command position became available upon the frigate Boston, Barry happily recommended Somers for the post to her captain, his old friend Daniel MacNeill, who gratefully told Barry that, as Somers "has served under your command & to your satisfaction" the position was his.
Somers was in Philadelphia in early 1803 when a terminally ill Barry declined the offer to command the American squadron fighting the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean. He was one of the witnesses to Barry's last will and testament. Later that year, while serving aboard the Boston, his brother-in-law, William Jonas Keen, wrote Somers that Barry was "now thought to be on his last tack." Barry died on September 13, 1803, leaving behind an exemplary record of service and accomplishment. Tragically, Somers died less than a year later, his death at so young an age presaging the countless other American heroes who to this day are taken from home and family far too young in life for us to ever fully comprehend.
What we can do is what we are doing here today: remembering a true hero and patriot, and taking time each day to say a prayer that those servicemen and women who chose to follow Richard Somers' example come home to us safe and sound in heart and mind, body and soul. Thank you.
Somers Monument at New York Avenue School, Somers Point, NJ
Walter Gregory 10/2005(uncorrected)
In memory of Richard Somers
Son of Richard & Sophia Somers
Master Commandant In the Navy of the United States
Born 15th Sep 1779
He perished in the 25th year of His Age in the Ketch Intrepid in the Memorable attempt to destroy The Turkish flotilla in the Harbour Of Tripoli on this night Of the 4th of Sep 1804
Distinguished for his energy courage And manly sense of honour “pro patria non timidos mort.”
Here lies buried Sarah Keen
The daughter of Capt Jonas Keen Of Philadelphia
Daughter of Richard + Sophia Somers
Born Dec 31st 1772 Died Jan 21st 1850
Estimable for many virtues
In memory of Constant Somers JunR
Son of Constant and Sarah Somers
Born 3rdd Jan 1794 Died at Constadt, Russia 29th Aug 1811
Life in an instant took its flight
And vingest its very laxeatins above
There to rejoice in endless light
THE SIGN OUTSIDE OF THE FENCED AREA
Burial ground of Col. Richards 1737-1794 And his immediate family. Grandson of John Somers, first settler, 1693. Member of 3rd Regiment, Gloucester County Militia. Monument erected 1850 In memory of his son Master Commandant Richard Somers USN 1778-1804. Site restored 1981 SP Board of Ed. Marker presented by SP Rotary
And praise his God with songs of love
AT THE GRAVE Of RICHARD SOMERS by William Kelly – firstname.lastname@example.org
200 years and thousands of miles away, Richard Somers is now closer to home than ever before.
Richard is not buried in the Somers family grave adjacent to Greate Bay Golf Club in Somers Point, New Jersey, where his father, grandfather, sister and cousins are entombed. Instead, the remains of Lt. Richard Somers and the 12 man crew of the USS Intrepid are buried in a small park near Tripoli harbor where they died on September 4, 1804.
The location of the graves is no secret, and only a mystery to the Libyans, who recently told a visiting Congressional delegation that they assembled a team of students who conducted a “very expensive” search, yet they failed to find Somers’ grave. The record is very clear and the location of the graves is well known, as Americans have visited the it on many occasions, most recently on March 6th, 2004 when a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer located the small park, overgrown with weeds and in a state of disrepair. The Libyans refused to permit him to take a photo.
Beginning with accounts of the time, according to the journal from September, 1804 of a seaman in the squadron, “….the Ketch Intrepid got under way and was sent into Tripoli as a fire ship. Commanded by Capt. Somers, he had our green cutter to make their escape from her. At ? past 9 she blew up in which unfortunately perished Capt. Somers, Mr. Wadsworth, Mr. Israel, Midshipman and 10 Men. It is supposed that she took fire in the magazine sooner than was intended or that they were attempted to be boarded by the Tripolitians and blew her up sooner than suffer her and themselves to fall into the hands of the Tripoleens, as she had 100 barrels of powder on board…The loss of those brave officers and men are much to be regretted by their country and friends. Capt. Somers was as brave and enterprising an officer as ever stepped the Deck of a ship possessing every Virtue that the human heart is susceptible of…”
According to Garden W. Allen (in Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs [Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, & Co. p. 209-210], “…All of the thirteen bodies were recovered, two days later, by the Tripolitians. Two were found in the bottom of the ketch, which grounded on the rocks at the north side of the western entrance, one was in the six-oared boat, which drifted ashore to the westward, four were floating in the harbor, and six were picked up on the beach southeast of town…..Dr. Cowdery (of the captured USS Philadelphia), distinctly states in his journal that he ….was able to pick out three of them as officers, although of course it was not known in Tripoli how many officers were in the party, or how many in all. His opinion was based on the softness of their hands and a few fragments of clothing…The bodies were buried south of the town, the three supposed officers by themselves.”
Another report states, “(Captain) Bainbridge (of the Philadelphia) and his men buried them on the beach and erected…a fieldstone above them….to protect against the ravages of wild dogs that took the place of scavengers and street cleaners in Tripoli. The little wooden crosses they set up were knocked down by the populace as abhorment to their faith.”
James Fenimore Cooper, in Graham’s Magazine (Vol. XXI, No. 4) wrote a profile of Richard Somers in which he authoritatively reported, “…The ten seamen were buried on the beach outside the town near the walls; while the three officers were interred in the same grave, on the plain beyond, or cable’s length [200 yards] to the southward and eastward of the earth. Small stones were placed at the four corners of the last grave, to mark its site; but they were shortly after removed by the Turks, who refused to let what they conceived to be a Christian monument, disfigure their land.”
“Here, then, lie the remains of Somers, and his two gallant friends; and it might be well to instruct the commander of some national cruiser to search for their bones, that they might be finally incorporated with the dust of their native land. Their identity would at once be established by the number of the skeletons ,and the friends of the deceased might find a melancholy consolation in being permitted to drop a tear over the spot in which they would be finally entombed.”
In her excellent biography of the Naval career of Master Commandant Richard Somers, Glory at Last, Barbara Koedel wrote, “In 1949, as a result of research by Mustafa Burchis, harbor master of Tripoli, and the United States Counsul Orray Taft, Jr., the graves of five men killed from the explosion of the Intrepid on 4 September 1804 were found in the Protestant Cemetery there. On April 2, 199, the U.S.S. Spokane put in at Tripoli. In a short address, Rear Admiral Cruzen spoke of the exploits in the Barbary War; Captain W. J. Marshall narrated the Intrepid mission; and Consul Taft told of the research to identify the graves and unveiled a plaque: “In honored memory of five unknown American seamen buried here who died in the explosion of the USS Intrepid, Tripoli Harbor, 1804.’ Captain Lt. E. J. Sheridan read a short paper; an honor guard of Marines fired several volleys over the graves and played taps.” A photo of the graves, with U.S. Counsel Orray Taft, Jr., Rear Admiral Richard Cruzen, Capt. W. J. Marshall and Prince Taher Bay Karamanli standing above it is posted on the internet http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-s/cl120-m.htm and available from the Navy Archives.
In the 1960s, Major Jack Templeton of San Diego, visited the graves while stationed at Wheeler Air Force base. He wrote that, “As a USAF pilot stationed in Libya for three years, living in Tripoli, I can attest to a simple grave site in the center of town (100 yards from the shore) with the names of five U.S. Marine who lost their lives there, ‘On the shores of Tripoli.’”
The marker is incorrect as to the number of men buried there, though it is most certainly the site of the graves of the men of the Intrepid. Besides Lt. Somers, the Captain of the Intrepid, and the two midshipmen Henry Wadsworth (uncle of Longfellow) and Joseph Israel, there were six men from the USS Constitution – William Harrison, Robert Clark, Hugh McCormick, Jacob Williams, Peter Renner and Issac Downes, and four from the USS Nautilus – James Simms, Thomas Tompline, James Harris and William Keith. Five were said to be sailors and five marines.
More recently, sometime in the 1980s, two tourists from New Jersey, Patricia Dougherty, a member of the Leonia Borough Council, and her friend, Melba Edmunds, “…discovered the cemetery, all but hidden in weeds, while vacationing,…They found markers placed on the graves in Tripoli and commemorated by the Navy in ceremonies in 1949.” There article about the graves in American Legion magazine sparked another attempt to repatriate them, though an act of Congress was passed to make room for the return of the men for reburial at Arlington. Most recently, while in Tripoli covering the recent visit of a Congressional delegation led by Philadelphia Congressman Rep. Curt Weldon, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sudarsan Krafrica easily found the grave site and reported [in an email], “…I visited the cemetery, but the Libyans wouldn’t let me take a picture. I’m trying to change their minds…” He later said that the cemetery is in a sad state and not surprisingly, hasn’t been cared for at all.
In a report to Rep. Curt Weldon (Rep. Pa.) and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (Rep. N.J. 2nd), the Libyans responded that a group of students were unable to locate the graves after an “expensive” search, and then it was said that the Italians, who occupied Libya until 1951, moved the graves, though that is generally believed to be an attempt by the Libyans to disclaim responsibility for them.
The location and state of the graves is well known to anyone interested, and maybe it’s best the Libyans leave it alone. These men should be treated like any other US military servicemen who die behind the lines in enemy territory, and honorably repatriated. Unlike the Koreans, who delivered the remains of 50 US servicemen in a single box of bones, there is a proper procedure for securing the remains, and a Department of Defense unit that specializes in this type of operation.
The remains of Lt. Richard Somers and the crew of the Intrepid will soon be returned home, and they should be treated with the same respect of those who sacrifice their lives today. The U.S. Military has a very good detachment that is responsible for the retrieval of the remains of American military killed in any foreign country, forensic pathologist who can and will properly remove the remains of all the Americans buried there and return them via Dover AFB, where all the dead are processed before being buried with full military honors due them.
Then, as J.F. Cooper so aptly put it over 150 years ago, “…It would be well to instruct the commander of some national cruiser to search for the bones, that they might be finally incorporated with the dust of their native land.”
CHRONOLOGY – Richard Somers
1778 - September 15 – Richard Somers, Jr. is born during the American Revolution at the home of his father, Col. Richard Somers, Sr., which still stands today as the Somers Manor office building at the corner of Shore and Bethel Roads, Somers Point.
1783 – March – Algiers pirates seize two American merchant ships en route from Marseille to Gibraltar.
1784 – October 11 – Morocco pirate corsair seize American brig Betsey.
1785 – February. Reports of the Algerian Barbary state pirates seizure of two U.S. vessels, demand tribute, and Betsey reach President Thomas Jefferson, who deploys gunboats to the Mediterranean. “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.” 1785 – USA opens diplomatic relations with Barbary States of Morroco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli.
1787 – May 14 – State delegates convene a Federal Convention in Philadelphia, meet throughout the summer.
1787 – Enoch Stillwell (brother of Richard’s mother) dies, orphans Anna, Sophia and Savage Stillwell, move in with Somers family. 1788 – June 21 – New Constitution adopted. 1789 – Jan. to Sept. 1796 – John Barry teaches at boys Academy 3rd st. in Philadelpha.
1789 – March 4 – New government begins with first presidential election.
1789 – April 30 – George Washington sworn in. John Adams VP.
1790 – May 31 – George Washington signs first copyright act in Philadelphia.
1790 – June 6 - John Barry – teacher at Academy, publishes “Philadelphia Spelling Book – Arranged Upon A Plan Entirely New,” 1st US copyrighted publication.
1791 – April 11 – Sultan Sidi Muhammad of Morocco dies, son al-Yazid assumes power. Thomas Barclay appointed first counsel to Morocco.
1791 – Richard Somers attends Hunter School, Woodbury, N.J.
1792 – Somers takes classes in navigation. 1792 – August 8 – See Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette.
1793 – 15 year old Richard Somers, first mate on family schooner trading in West Indies, takes command upon the death of the captain and returns safely home.
1794-? – Richard Somers attends private academy where he is ‘schoolmates with Charles Stewart and Steven Decatur, Jr., son of U.S. Navy Commodore Steven Decatur, Sr.
1794 – March 27 – an act of Congress passed to create a naval force for the US by building six new frigates, under the supervision of John Barry.
1794 – June 14 – Washington sends John Barry “to form and train a class of midshipmen who would then be commissioned as Ensigns, and form the nucleus of a new American navy.” Barry commissioned #1 Captain, United States Navy.
1794 – October 22 - Richard Somers, Sr. dies (54 years old). 1796 – September 1796 – John Barry ends teaching career at Philadelphia Academy. 1796 – Gheretti/Mastico, a French built Ketch launched (later to become USS Intrepid).
1797 – February 3 – Richard’s mother Sophia dies. 1797 – February 22 – Congressional Action on Navy. 1797 – John Adams becomes president.
1797 – June 7 - Treaty of Tripoli – Approved by Senate. [See: NARA Treaty Series #358 – American State Papers – Foreign Relations - #18-19.
1797 – June 10 – Treaty of Tripoli – Signed by President Adams 1797 – June 17 – Notice of Treaty of Tripoli published in Philadelphia/Pennsylvania Gazzette.
1797 – June 23 – President Adams message to Congress re: Algiers/Barbary States. 1797 – July 10 – Built in Philadelphia by Joshua Humphreys, the frigate United States is launched to a crowd of 30,000 people. John Barry Captain.
1797 – 350 applications for 59 commissions in new U.S. Navy. 1798 – January 26 – US counsel Richard O’Brian arrives in Algiers.
1798 - March 9 – Charles Stewart commissioned Lieutenant, predates Navy.
1798 – April 30 – Congress establishes Department of Navy, directed by secretary of cabinet rank, Benjamin Stoddert, Maryland merchant.
1798 – April 30 - Midshipman’s warrants issued to Richard Somers and Steven Decatur, sent to sea on the shakedown cruse of the USS United States under Commodore John Barry.
1798 – May 7 – President John Adams appears in Philadelphia at rally. Somers there.
1798 – May 8 – Richard Somers takes oath of allegiance. 1798 – May 15 – Algiers Dey Hassan Pasha dies of natural causes, succeeded by Bobba Mustafa
1798 – May 30 – Richard Somers returns to Egg Harbor to get his affairs in order
1798 – June 8 - Sloop Delaware (20 guns) under Commander Stephen Decatur, Sr., takes a French prize, Le Croyable off Egg Harbor.
1798 – July 7 – USS Untied States gets underway under Capt. John Barry with Decatur, Jr., Charles Stewart and Somers as Midshipmen, headed south for the West Indies in search of French ships.
1798 – October 8 – USS US ordered off Newport, RI.
1799 – January 20 - Richard Somers given commission as Lieutenant.
1799 – June 2 – Richard Somers writes will. 1799 – June 22 – Richard’s brother Constant dies in Russia in boating accident. Schooner Nautilus built as merchant vessel on Maryland’s East Shore.
1800 – January 10 – To Be Rented – Great Egg harbor Residence of Col. Richard Somers, Apply to Wm. Jones Kean , Front St. Phila.
1801 – Somers appointed first lieutenant to the Boston, a 28 gun, 250 man sloop sent to deliver Chancellor Livingston to France, and patrol the Mediterranean. – Treaty of Tripoli violated by Yusuf Qaramanli, pasha of Tripoli. – USS Boston sails to France with new ambassador and family. – December 22 – Boston at Gibraltar. – January 21 – Boston off Tripoli. Somers gets first view of Tripoli. – May 22 – Captain Richard Dale takes command of Med. Squadron. – June – Eaton makes first contact with Ahmad Qaramanli, deposed pasha of Tripoli, and older brother of Yusuf. – July – USS Enterprise, Lt. Andrew Sterrett, takes on Tripoli (14) and leaves it destroyed.
1802 – Congress orders the construction of four schooners, the Siren (16 guns), the Argus (16), Nautilus (12) and Vixen (12), with Somers, age 24, being given command of the Nautilus. – February 2 – US fleet off Tripoli to blockade harbor. – February 6 – Congress recognizes Tripoli has declared war against USA. – September – Boston returns home.
1803 – February 28 – Congress passes Act to pay for ships. – April 11 – Richard at Somers Plantation, launches new schooner, Goard Blosom at Mays Landing, Egg Harbor. – May 13 – Richard Somers ordered to oversee the refurbishing of Nautilus. – May 21 – Captain Edward Preble given command of the Mediterranean squadron, with flagship frigate USS Constitution (44). – June 24 - Somers and Nautilus ordered to join the Mediterranean squadron under command of Captain Edward Preble. 1803 – September 13 – Commodore John Barry dies. Barry, former Captain of the USS UNITED STATES, was offered command of the Mediterranean Squadron, but declined because of his health. 1803 – September 14 – Somers and Nautilus reach Gibraltar. 1803 – Preble makes successful demonstration in Tangier against the emperor of Morocco. 1803 – October 31 – USS Philadelphia, Captain Bainbridge in command, runs aground off Tripoli, surrenders with full compliment of crew. 1803 – November 7 – The Argus, under Stephen Decatur, joins Nautilus and Constitution in Gibraltar.
1804 – February 16 – Decatur leads mission aboard Intrepid into Tripoli Harbor and successfully scuttles the captured frigate USS Philadelphia, which England’s Lord Admiral Nelson calls “The most bold and daring act of the age.” . 1804 – June 2 – USS Constitution, Enterprise, and Intrepid, converted to a floating hospital, anchored off Syracuse. Siren, Agrus, Vixen and Scourage (a pirate prize) blockade off Tripoli. 1804 – July – Mediterranean squadron heads for Tripoli, lead by Preble’s flagship, the frigate Constitution, four brigs, the Argus, Siran, Vixen and Scourge, two schooners, Nautilus (Somers) and Enterprise (Decatur) and eight gunboats (156 guns in all). 1804 – July 25 – August 28 – Battle of Tripoli. 1804 – August 3 – 4 - Somers and Decatur lead flotillas of gunboats against Tripoli fleet, win decisively, though Decatur’s younger brother is killed. 1804 – August 7 – Attack made against Tripoli fleet. 1804 – September 3 – Attack made against Tripoli fleet. 1804, September 4 – Somers leads the Intrepid back into Tripoli harbor rearmed as a fire ship, which explodes prematurely, killing three officers and ten seaman. 1804 – September 6 – Captain Bainbridge, skipper of the scuttled USS Philadelphia, and ship’s doctor Dr. Cowdery and a detachment of prisoners find 13 bodies washed ashore Tripoli harbor, three identified as officers, which are buried 100 yards south of the harbor near the castle. 1804 – September 9 – William Eaton arrives and reports to Med Squad. Commodore Barron replaces Captain Preble as commander of U.S. naval forces in the Mediterranean. 1804 – September 13 – Commodore Samuel Barron issues secret – verbal orders – to Isaac Hull of the ARGUS, to facilitate Easton’s plans to support Ahmad Qaramanli. 1804 – November 28 – Plans instituted to convince Ahmad Qaramanli to retake Tripoli throne.
1805 – February 25 – Captain Preble arrives in New York, unexpectedly finds himself a hero. 53 Preble boys sign letter. 1805 –March 5 – Congress of US passes resolution: “RESOLVED, that the President of the US be also requested to communicate to the parents, or other near relatives, of Captain Richard Somers, Lts. Henry Wadsworth,..” 1805 – March 19 – President Jefferson receives Commodore Preble’s dispatch, learns of the loss of USS Philadelphia and 307 captured prisoners. 1805 – March 6 - US diplomat warrior William Eaton and US Marine Corps Sgt. Presley O’Bannon, eight marines, 200 Greek mercinaries begin attacks across the desert from Egypt to Derna, and capture the port city east of Tripoli. 1805 – April 28 – With support from the Argus, Hornet and Nautilus, Eaton and company attack Derna, city falls in 2 hours, Stars & Stripes raised on conquered foreign soil for first time. 1805 – June 3 – Treaty settled with Yusuf Qaramanli, who accepts $60,000 ransom for prisoners, no tribute. 1805 – June 11 – Captain Hugh Campbell & USS Constellation anchors off Derna. Eaton learns of peace treaty, escapes with Ahmad Qaramanli, O’Bannon’s squad and other Christians, abandoning Derna. 1805 – November – Eaton returns to USA, a hero. 1805 – December 11 – Tripoli treaty submitted to Senate for ratification, paying $60,000 to Pasha Yusuf Qaramanli ransom for USS Philadelphia prisoners, no tribute.
1806 – April 17 – Tripoli treaty ratified by Congress. 1806 – May 27 – John Rogers confers command of the USS Constitution and U.S. squadron to Hugh G. Campbell and returns aboard ESEX. 1806 – Nautilus arrives back in USA. Somers’ brother-in-law, William Jonas Keen pays prize money to officers and men for the capture of Brig Nomenato Crucifisso. 1806 – March 17 – Report published backing Eaton’s account. 1806 – April 12 – Senate ratified peace treaty with Tripoli (21-8), Congress votes to pay Ahmad Qaramanli $2,400 and $200 a month pension. 1807 – Eaton reimbursed $12, 636, 60. 1807 – January 1 – Monument to the men who died off Tripoli set at the US Navy yard, Washington, D.C.
1807n – A. Burr stands trial for treason.
1808 – James Madison becomes president.
1811 – June 1 – William Eaton (47) dies at Brimfield, Maine, relatively unnoticed. 1811 – August 29 – Constant, Jr. dies at sea in Cronstadt, Russia. 1812 – July – U.S. counsel Tobias Lear leaves Algiers with wife and son three Americans
1812 – August 25 – Brig Edwin of Salem taken enroute from Malta to Gibraltar. Captain George C. Smith and ten man crew taken, with American passenger Mr. Pollard. Imprisoned in Algiers. 1813 – New U.S. counsel Mordecai Manuel Noah appointed to Tunis. 1814 – British capture Washington, burn Tripoli monument. It is repaired and moved to front of Capitol. 1813-1814 – Schooner USS Somers deployed.
1814 – Bey Hammuda dies of natural causes, succeeded by his brother Uthman. 1814 – December 21 – Bey Uthman assassinated by cousin Mahmud.
1815 – March 2 – Congress declares war on Algiers, granting the president authority to take whatever measures he deems necessary. 1815 – May 20 – Commadore Decatur’s squadron puts to sea. 1815 – December 21 – Peace treaty ratified, signed by President Madison on Dec. 26. 1815 – Decatur and Bainbridge return to Tripoli to secure truce. 1815 – August 2 – Commodore Decatur arrives off Tripoli. 1815 – August 5 – Decatur obtains treaty with Pasha Yusuf Qaramanli (also spelled Karamanli ) “I trust that the successful result of our small expedition, so honorable to our country, will induce other nations to follow the example; in which case the Barbary states will be compelled to abandon their piratical system.” – Decatur.
1816 – August, British under Lord Exmouth and Dutch bombard Algiers to secure truce.
1820 – March 22 – Stephen Decatur killed in a duel with Commodore James Barron.
1830 – May 26 – French invade Algiers. City falls July 5. 1842 – James F. Cooper writes biography of Richard Somers. 1842 – US Brig Somers deployed. Becomes involved in “mutiny” that inspires Herman Melville to write “Billy Budd”. 1846 – December 8 – USS Somers sinks in gale storm off Veracruz, Mexico.
1850 – January – Richard’s sister Sally dies.
1851- Monument erected at Somers’ family burial ground at Somers Point “In memory of Richard Somers…perished in the 25th year of his age in the ketch Intrepid in the memorable attempt to destroy the Turkish flotilla in the harbor of Tripoli…. 1850 – January - Sarah Somers dies.
1860 – Tripoli monument moved from Capitol to Annapolis.
1898-1919 – Torpedo Boat USS Somers deployed. 1903 – President Roosevelt orders the remains of John Paul Jones to be repatriated from Paris, France to Annapolis, Md., where he is reburied with honors.
1920-1930 – USS Somers DD-301 deployed. 1930s – Sometime in the 1930s, during the Italian occupation, the Italian Army uncovers the remains of five bodies from park during the construction of a new road. The five are reburied at the Old Protestant Cemetery.
1937-1947 – USS Somers DD-381 deployed.
1938 – In response to an inquiry form the American embassy in Rome concerning the fate of the men of the USS Intrepid, Mr. Mustafa Burchis, harbormaster of Tripoli, undertakes a meticulous examination of the old Jewish records, private Arab collections of letters, papers and diaries, and interviews innumerable descendants of residents of Tripoli at the time of the disaster, and completes a report of the matter that is transmitted to the US Embassy Rome. The report is said to have been lost in the chaos of WWII.
1949 – April 2 - US Navy conducts ceremony at gravesite and places permanent marker. 1950 – April - Intrepid graves reported found by Navy publication (US NIP) by Lt. Miller. “The bodies of five American Naval heroes of the Barbary Wars which have been lying unmarked, untouched, and unclaimed for nearly a century and a half have been discovered in Tripoli, North Africa.”
1959 – USS Somers DDG-34 deployed.
1969 – Col. Quadaffi seizes power in Libyan coup d’etat. 1971 – Quadaffi’s son Seif al-Islam (Sword of Islam) born.
1976 – Americans Frank Terpil and Joseph McElroy deliver 50 revolvers to Libya.
1976-7 – Former CIA official Ed Wilson sells tons of C4 explosives to Libya, along with experts to teach covert operations.
1977 – May – American Legion Magazine publishes reports of Patricia Dougherty ( of Leonia Borough Council, NJ) and her writer friend Melba Edmunds, who visit cemetery in Tripoli, finding it overgrown with weeds.
1979 – Libyans attack US Embassy in Tripoli. 1982 – Ed Wilson is lured out of hiding in Libya and brought to New York for arrest and trial.
1983 – Wilson introduces sworn statement from CIA that Wilson didn’t do anything for the CIA after his retirement in 1971, is convicted, sentenced to 25 years and is incarcerated at federal penitentiary at Marion, Illinois. 1984 – Spring – C4 explosives explode at homes of anti-Quaddafi Libyans in Manchester England, sparking demonstrations and the shooting murder of female British constable at Libyan embassy at St. James Square. Diplomatic relations between England and Libya broken, Libyans escorted out of the country. They leave behind some of the U.S. revolvers. .
1986 – May – USS Somers discovered in 107 feet of water off Veracruz, Mexico. Salvage Expedition underway.
1988 – December 21 – Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland. 1993 – al-Islam graduates from Tripoli’s al-Fateh University where he studied urban engineering; chairs the National Anti-drug Association of Libya.
1994 – Historic Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) notifies the FBI that items from its collection are missing, (including the Somers ring). 1995 – September 8 – Senator D’Amato introduces what would become ILSA – the Iran Foreign Oil Sanctions Act of 1995. 1995 – December 20 – Senate passes ILSA, with an amendment sponsored by Senator Kennedy, that applies all provisions to Libya as well as Iran (ILSA) because of efforts of the families of the victims of the Dec. 21, 1988 downing of Pan Am 103.
1997 – December 23 – FBI question George Csizmazia in theft of Somers ring. 2001- January 31 – Libyan suspect Abd al-Baset al-Magrahi convicted of the bombing of Pan Am 103. 2003 – May 1, Thursday – Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam told the AP that the family of each of the 270 Lockerbie/Pan Am victims would receive $10 million in three installments. First $4 million, UN sanctions against Libya would be lifted, second $4 U.S. sanctions would go, and after final installment, U.S. would remove Libya from list of states sponsoring terrorism. Shalqam said his government will “bear the civil responsibility for the actions of its employees,” and “Libya will work hard to draw an end to that issue during the coming period.”
2003 – October – Container ship episode on high seas. German ship BBC China interdicted by USA, German, Italy, and uranium enrichment materials found. 2003, October 30 – Federal Judge in Houston, Texas throws out the conviction of former CIA operative Edwin P. Wilson, who has spent 20 years in prison for selling arms to Libya. 2003 – December 19 – Libya agrees to destroy all of its chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, allow for immediate inspections and monitoring and permits the US military to remove all WMD it has on hand. 2004 - January 26 – US congressional delegation arrives in Libya, the first since Col. Muammar Gaddafi took power. 2004 – January 27 – The Guardian of UK reports “US may pay for Libya to dismantle weapons.” Congressman Curt Weldon said “We would be interested in a similar program in Libya (as the US funding of ‘threat reduction’ in USSR), with American dollars to help you dismantle your weapons program.”
2004 – March 6 – Sudarsan, (of Krafricabureau) reporting on Weldon’s trip to Libya for Philadelphia Inquirer, visits the cemetery but reports via email “the Libyans wouldn’t let me take a picture. I’m trying to change their minds.” Sudarsan never heard from again. 2004- February 23 – Assemblymen John C. Gibson and Jeff Van Drew introduce AR – resolution No. 91 – Permanently establishing September 4th as Richard Somers Day in the State of New Jersey and AR No. 121 – requesting the federal government negotiate with Libya for the repatriation of Richard Somers and the crew of the USS Intrepid. 2004 – March 14 – Press of AC reports: “Libya cannot locate Richard Somers Grave.” 2004 – April 20 – Press of AC reports: “Fight to bring soldier home/ Richard Somers remains are missing after 200 years.” 2004 – June – Libya frees 28 detainees. 2004 – June 23 – Press of AC : “Bill Urges Return of Somers Body.” 2004 – September – Somers Point Mayor Dan Reilly and members of the Somers family (See: Dean Somers) send letters to the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations [El Fatah Towers, 5th Floor No. 57, P.O. Box 1101, Tripoli, Libya ].
“As the Mayor of Somers Point, New Jersey, I send you greetings from the United States. Our small city has two centuries of common history with Libya – a son of our founding family was buried on the shores of Tripoli in September 1804. Richard Somers and twelve of his US Navy shipmates died in a naval battle and still lie buried in Tripoli today, near the old castle fort and Old Protestant Cemetery.”
2004 – September 9 – Paul V. Kelly, Asst. Sec. Legislative Affairs DOS wrote to Rep. Frank LoBiondo, “We have been in contact with members of that DoD mission (DoDPOW/MP) to discuss Captain Somers’ case and have been advised that the next step is to bring DoD intot he process. Ken Terry is the point of contact at the Department of Navy…Mayor Dan Reilly should contact Mr. Terry directly to pursue a discussion on repatriation of Captain Somers’ remains.”
2005 – January – Somers Point officials send letter to Congressman LoBiondo, cc Sec. Navy Gordon R. England; Navy Historical Center. 2005 – February – Michael Caputo begins private, independent negotiations with the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations. 2005 – July – 6 – David Talley, American Embassy Riyadh, reports from Tripoli: “I found your website as I was researching the cemetery of the five American sailors in Tripoli. I am currently in Tripoli and have visited the site of the cemetery and am going back this Friday with a team to clean it up. I will post photos and email them to you…” [See: Photos of American cemetery in Tripoli]. 2005- September 4 – Attorney Seth Grossman organizes an assembly at the grounds of the Atlantic County Historical Society (ACHS), where the consensus is the location where Somers remains should be reburied once returned. 2005 – September 20 – SP Mayor Dan Reilly writes letter to Gaddafi IFCA. 2005 – September 27 – Dean Somers writes to Gadaffi IFCA. 2005 – October – Michael Caputo uses letters from Reilly and Somers to begin backchannel negotiations with Libyans. He obtains $100,000 from an individual backer and hires a Libyan lawyer as a lobbyist and begins negotiations with Quadafi’s son and Charity Foundation. December 9 – 2005 – DOD POW/MP office identifies remains from 1968 Laos. 2005 – December 26 – The Libyan Supreme Court overturns death sentence against five Belgan nurses and a Palestinian doctor, accused of purposely inflicting children with AIDS, sparking hundreds of family members to riot at Green Square, Tripoli. 2006 – January 15 – Pierre Welch, Global Real Estate Advisor, USDS, sends photo of the park gravesite.
2006 – January – Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Hawaii expresses interest. 2006 – January – Caputo says that Libyans excavated sections of park gravesite and found bones and buttons in mass grave. 2006 – January 18 – M. Caputo writes to Kelly re: contacts with LoBiondo and DOD. . 2006 – February 18 – 10 die in Libya demonstrations against Italy for caricature t-shirts. 2006 – Larry Greer of the DOD POW/MP office in DC says, “In regards to Lt. Somers and the burial of his remains and others in Libya, we’ve also got word of that rumor that the Libyans had disinterred (the graves) – from an-on-the-scene look at the cemetery from a person who is in the US interests section, or US embassy, whatever it’s called, they say, not true. In any event, the issue of whether or not Lt. Somers’ remains will be moved, now or in the future, is a Navy issue, and the Navy has told us last time we went around on this, the Navy has told us they are NOT in any way interested in moving the remains. It’s not a POW/MP issue, because these men are not missing. But whatever happens to the remains of those men is entirely in the hands of the Navy…” 2006 – May 13 – David A. Winters, ExVP Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund offers assistance in Repatriation of original Intrepid crew from Libya, possible venue for official repatriation ceremony. 2006 – May 15 – U.S. to Renew Diplomatic Relations with Libya – AP George Gedda 2006 – May 16 – Article by Judith Miller, NYT “How Ghadafi Lost His Grove – The Complex Surrender of Libya’s WMD.” 2006 – May 21 – Libyan journalist Daif al Ghazhl kidnapped from car in Tripoli. 2006 – June 1 – “BBC China, CIA, MI6” Article by Dr. Ludwing DeBracckeleer published. 2006 – June 2 – Body of Libyan journalist Daif al Ghazhl found tortured and murdered. 2006 – August – Tuesday – Press of Atlantic City reports on City Council balking at backing Seth Grossman’s Richard Somers Day event. Sally Hastings of SPHS saves the day. 2006 – September 2 – Saturday – Press of Atlantic City reports on backchannel negotiations [see: Group confident 1804 naval hero will be brought home By Michael Clark]. 2006- September 4 – Attorney Seth Grossman organizes an assembly at the grounds of Somers Mansion, where people gather to commemorate Richard Somers and ensure that the anniversary is acknowledged with a civic ceremony. 2006 – September 22 – Mohamed Eljahmi – A Libyan democracy activist in Boston writes op-ed: “Engaging Gadhafi hurts war on terror – By making the tyrant a test for nuclear diplomacy, the White House abandoned Libyan democrats.” 2006 – September 24 – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets privately with her Libyan counterpart, Foreign Minister Abdurahman Shalgam in New York, emphasizing “what the United States sees as a need to resolve outstanding legal issues related to the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103.” 2006 – October 6 – Libya issues oil contracts.