Today in 1820 Commodore Steven Decatur was mortally wounded in a duel with another officer. He was 41.
Decatur had become famous in 1804 for fighting Barbary Pirates. During the war with Tripoli he led 74 volunteers into the harbour and burnt the captured American Frigate, Philadelphia.
Nelson called it: “the most daring act of the age”. He was 25 and was promoted Captain.
None years later, as a Commodore, he led 9 ships against the Pirates again, capturing the Meshouda, killing the Admiral and capturing 400 prisoners. After this victory, the US never again paid tribute to the pirate states.
In 1808 James Barron was expelled from the Navy for five years and Decatur was on the court martial board. From then on the two men’s relationship got steadily worse until in 1820 Barron challenged Decatur to a duel.
It took place five miles from Washington at Blade s urg Duelling Field. Decatur had decided to shoot Barron in the hip, which he did. Unfortunately, he was hit in the stomach and died a painful death. They were reconciled on the field.
His funeral was attended by 10000,including most of the Cabinet.
Eleven cities are named after him and five warships have had feb name USS Decatur.