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" Far away o'er the billow," his virtues and gallantry are commemorated by a monument in his native town, the voluntary tribute of his admiring friends to his inestimable worth.
While the American squa Iron was achieving such unparalleled deeds in the Mediterranean, the American government, yet unadvised of its splendid success, dispatched an additional squadron to that sea. From the state of the naval register, and the rank of the Post-Captains, the new squadron could not be supplied with officers without designating one who was senior to Com. Preble. This devolved upon Com. Barron, who arrived upon the 9th of September, 1804.
To an aspiring hero just entering the path of fame, and anxious to reach its temple, a sudden check to his progress
is like the stroke of death. It was not so with Com. Preble when he was superseded by Coin. Barron. His work was 56 done and well done;" and he surrendered the squadron to his senior as Gen. Jackson did his army to Gen Pinckney, when there was nothing to do but to enjoy the fruits of victory.
He immediately gave the command of his favourite frigate the Constitution, to his favourite officer Capt. Decatur, and obtained leave to return to America.
The parting scene, as described by one who wit. nesssed and who felt it, was one of the most interesting that the mind can conceive. For more than a year the Commodore and his gallant comrades had
been absent from their beloved country-a year which may be denominatedan age in the calendar of our then infant navy-a period of splendid and “ successful experiment" with our ships, and of naval instruction and experience to our officers and seamen. Their attachment had become cemented by common toils, common dangers and common victories. worn and veteran Preble gave the parting hand to his officers as a father to his children, and the sig. nal of departure to his seamen as to a numerous group of admiring domestics. The first manifested a dignified regret, mingled with conscious pride the last gazed with noble grief, upon the last visible piece of canvas that wafted their beloved commander in chief from their view,
Fully persuaded that the reader may be gratified with a very brief sketch of the life of Capt. Decatur's favourite comruander, and his immediate predecessor in the command of the frigate Constitution, it will here be attempted, however imperfectly it may be executed.
EDWARD PREBLE was born in the town of Portland, State of Maine, upon the 15th August, 1761. His daring and adventurous spirit in early life, could not be better gratified by his friends, than by procuring for him the birth of a Midshipman in the little naval force suddenly created in the war 'of the Revolution. In this capacity he entered the ship “ Protector,” Capt. Williams, in 1779, the year of Decatur's birth. The Protector mounted twentysix guns-upon her first cruise, engaged the Admin
ral Duff of thirty-six guns-compelled her to strike her flag-and was prevented from conducting her triumphantly into an American port, by the explosion of the prize, immediately after her capture. The humane crew of the Protector picked up about forty of the Admiral Duff's crew, and every other soul on board perished. Thus early did our naval heroes show that genuine humanity is ever blended with true courage.
He next entered the sloop of war Winthrop as first Lieutenant, under Capt. Little. Finding a British Brig of superior force, lying in the harbour of Penobscot, Lieut. Preble conceived the daring project of taking her by surprise. Capt. Little concluded to make the hazardous attempt. Preble was placed at the head of forty seamen; and all were clad in white frocks. Upon the night in which the design was to be executed or defeated, as the fortune of naval warfare should determine, Capt. Little ran the Winthrop along side the armed Brig, which lay
a considerable battery of cannon on shore. He was hailed by the enemy most vociferously, who exclaimed__ You will run aboard." Lieut. Preble coolly answered—“ Aye aye, Sir, we are COMING aboard,”—and instantly jumped into the Brig, fol. lowed by only fourteen men, as the rest could not gain her by the violent motion of the vessel. While the Lieutenant was preparing for a desperate contest, the anxious Capt. Little hailed him, and asked him-“Will you not have more men?”—The gallant Lieutenant, finding but little time to answer interro
gatories particularly, exclaimed with a stentorian voice, “ No, Sir, we have more than we want; we stand in each others' way.". The white frocks of the Americans, enabled them to distinguish each other, even in darkness. That part of the crew who had gained the deck jumped over-board, and swam ashore, which was within pistol-shot. Many below followed their example and leaped out of the cabinwindow. The Lieutenant, deliberately entered the cabin, where he found the officers either in bed or dressing. He sternly demanded a surrender of the Brig, assuring them that resistance was vain; and might, to them, prove disastrous. The astonished British officers could in vain call their men to quarters, for they had made a passage through the waves to the shore. They surrendered as gracefully as they could; and as Preble was conducting his prize out of port, the batteries opened upon it, and the infantry poured a harmless shower of musketry. This was amongst the most gallant deeds of the na. val force in the Revolutionary war; and placed Preble upon an eminence, upon which he ever stood to the day of his death.
As the prototype of the gallant Decatur, he was by no means satisfied with one noble achievement as the foundation of his fame. He continued in the sloop of war Winthrop, in the assiduous discharge of duty, until the British crown acknowledged the independence of the American Republic.
Then literally ended the small beginning of the American Navy. But the scintillations of naval glo
ry were not extinguished-they were only smother. ed-they were to be revived again into a blaze by the cheering breezes of national prosperity..
It is not known to the writer that Lieut. Preble took any part in the naval warfare with France in the administration of Adams. The conclusion may fairly be made, that he did not; as he certainly would have been “ heard from” if he had. But this is all conjecture.
In 1801, he was appointed to the command of the well known frigate Essex, as Post-Captain, and pro. cecded to the East Indies to afford protection and convoy to the American trade in those seas. Not long after his return, he was designated by government to take command of thai squadron in which he, Capt. Decalur, and the brilliant list of American ocean-warriors associated with them, were to give weight and character to American nayal prowess, amongst distant nations, who before knew Americans only as a nation of merchants, and upon whose commerce, and citizens, some of them had preyed with impunity.
In tracing the life of Capt. Decatur from the time Com. Prehle took the command of the American squadron in the Mediterranean, until he retired from it, the writer was under the unavoidable necessity of blending with it that of the Commodore. Il need not be here repeated.
At the time he left the Mediterranean it had become the theatre of his fame. His glory was fami.