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upon this almost miraculous event. They heard the roar of cannon in their gloomy dungeon, and saw the gleaming light of the flames; but knew not the cause. Upon learning the cheering tidings, joy converted their chains and cords to silken threads. It was a presage of their deliverance, and foretold to them a glorious jubilee. The highest reward a gallant and aspiring officer can receive is Promotion; and to promote, is the most difficult duty of our government. If by a successful enterprise like that just described, a junior officer attracts the attention of his government, and excites the admiration of his countrymen, the first naturally expects promotion, and the last, so far as they can, seem to demand it. Senior officers, not having had an opportunity to signalize themselves, feel the very excess of mortification at seeing a junior carried over their heads for any reason whatever. It was this that all but drove the gallant and lamented Lawrence to a resignation. It would be a digression to detail the particulars; they are familiar with every critical reader of our naval history. At the time of Decatur’s first, and in the estimation of some, his greatest achievement, there was no intermediate grade between a first Lieutenant and that of Post-Captain, to which he was promotcd for the destruction of the Philadelphia. The most convincing evidence I can furnish of the very high estimation in which Decatur, thus early in life, was holden by his brother officers, who were his seniors, is, that they voluntarily consented, that he
happy consequences to these gallant heroes. After the conflagration commenced, Decatur and his associates entered the Ketch, as it increased, and for some time were in imminent danger of being blown up with her. As if heaven smiled upon the conclusion of this enterprise, as it seemed to frown upon its beginning, a favourable breeze at this moment arose, which blew the Intrepid directly out of the reach of the enemy’s cannon, and enabled Decatur, his officers, and seamen, to behold, at a secure distance, the furious flames and rolling columns of smoke, which issued from the Philadelphia. As the flames heated the loaded cannon in the frigate, they were discharged, one after the other—those pointing into the harbour, without any injury, and those pointing into the city of Tripoli, to the great damage and consternation of the barbarous wretches who had loaded them to destroy our countrymen.
It is wholly impossible for these unaccustomed to scenes like this, to form a conception of the feelings of Decatur and his comrades upon this occasion. Their safe retreat was next to a resurrection from the dead. Not an American was slain in the desperate rencontre, and but four were wounded. Commodore Preble might well exclaim to Lieut. Decatur upon joining his squadron, as an ancient Baron to his favourite Knight—
“Welcome to my arms; thou art twice a conqueror, For thou bringest home full numbers.” Equally impossible is it to imagine the feelings of Capt. Bainbridge and his companions in bondage *.