X3 Marines at Tripoli, 1805
The Barbary pirates and the United States Marines; The Tripolitan War.
The Tripolitan war was waged by the United States against Mediterranean pirates (1801-1805) and was a naval conflict. However, the most remarkable engagement was a 600-mile march across the Libyan desert from Alexandria to Derna, Tripoli by a party led by 8 United States Marines and comprising 500 mercenaries (Greek, Arab and Berber).
Under the command of Marine Lieutenant Presley Neville O'Bannon, the small expeditionary party reached the heavily fortified fort at Derna on 25 April 1805. Lieutenant O'Bannon quickly led his men in a series of daring attacks that overcame the enemy and resulted in a favourable peace treaty with the Pasha of Tripoli. After this victory, O'Bannon became the first American officer to raise the Stars and Stripes over a captured fortress in the Old World.
After the battle, the ruler of Tripoli presented O'Bannon with his personal sword to salute the Lieutenants' bravery. Today the same Mameluke sword serves as the pattern for the sword carried by Marine Corps officers. The action is memorialised in a line in the Marine's hymn, "the shores of Tripoli".