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 James Bruce Decatur

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James Bruce Decatur

Birth
Maryland, USA
Death 5 Aug 1804 (aged 21–22)
Tripoli, Ṭarābulus, Libya
Burial Body buried at sea, Specifically: USS Constitution
Memorial ID 157218357 · View Source
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Kill during the Barbary War August 1804.

James Decatur was in command of a gunboat and was mortally wounded by a Tripolitan captain during the boarding of a vessel feigning surrender.

His brother Stephen Decatur had just captured his first Tripolitan vessel and upon receiving the news of his brother, turned command of his captured prize over to Lieutenant Jonathan Thorn, and immediately set out to avenge his brother's treacherous death. After catching up with and pulling alongside the Tripolitan ship, Stephen Decatur was the first to board the enemy vessel with Midshipman Macdonough at his heels along with nine volunteer crew members.

Decatur and his crew were outnumbered 5 to 1 but were organized and kept their form, fighting furiously side by side. Decatur had little trouble singling out the corsair captain, the man responsible for James' death, and immediately engaged the man. He was a large and formidable man in Muslim garb, and armed with a boarding pike he thrust his weapon at Decatur's chest. Armed with a cutlass Decatur deflected the lunge, breaking his own weapon at the hilt.

During the fight Stephen was almost killed by another Muslim barbarian crew member, but his life was spared by the already wounded Daniel Frazier, a crewman who threw himself over Decatur just in time, receiving a blow intended for Stephen to his own head. The struggle continued, with the Tripolitan captain, being larger and stronger than Decatur, gaining the upper hand. Armed with a dagger the Tripolitan attempted to stab Decatur in the heart, but while wresting the arm of his adversary, Decatur managed to take hold of his pistol and fired a shot point-blank, immediately killing his formidable foe. When the fighting was over, 21 Tripolitans were dead with only three taken alive.

James was taken aboard the USS Constitution and die the following day. He was buried at sea.


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