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Second Barbary War

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Title: Second Barbary War  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: History of Algeria, First Barbary War, John Yarnall, Josiah Tattnall, HMS Leander (1813)
Collection: 1815 in Africa, Barbary Wars, Conflicts in 1815
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Second Barbary War

Second Barbary War
Part of the Barbary Wars

Decatur's Squadron off Algiers.
Date June 17- June 19, 1815
Location Mediterranean sea, Barbary states
Result American victory
 United States Regency of Algiers
Commanders and leaders
James Madison
Stephen Decatur, Jr.
William Bainbridge
James C. George
Mohamed Kharnadji
Omar Agha
10 warships 1 brig and 1 frigate engaged, possibly others
Casualties and losses
4 killed
10 wounded
53 killed
486 captured

The Second Barbary War (1815), also known as the Algerine or Algerian War, was the second of two wars fought between the United States and the Ottoman Empire's North African regencies of Tripoli, Tunis, and Algeria, known collectively as the Barbary states. The war between the Barbary states and the U.S. ended in 1815; the international dispute would effectively be ended the following year by Great Britain and the Netherlands.

After the end of the war, the United States and European nations stopped their practice of paying tribute to the pirate states to forestall attacks on their shipping. It helped mark the beginning of the end of piracy in that region, which had been rampant in the days of Ottoman domination (16th–18th centuries). Within decades, European powers built ever more sophisticated and expensive ships which the Barbary pirates could not match in numbers or technology.[1]


  • Background 1
  • United States' response 2
  • Negotiations 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • See also 5
  • Further reading 6
  • References 7
  • Sources 8
  • External links 9


After the First Barbary War (1801–1805), the U.S. found its attention diverted to its worsening relationship with Great Britain over trade with France, which culminated in the War of 1812. The Barbary pirate states took this opportunity to return to their practice of attacking American and European merchant vessels in the Mediterranean Sea and holding their crews and officers for ransom.

At the same time, the major European powers were still involved in the Napoleonic Wars, which did not fully end until 1815.

United States' response

At the conclusion of the War of 1812, however, the United States returned to the problem of Barbary piracy. On 3 March 1815, the

  • Barbary Warfare
  • Treaties with The Barbary Powers: 1786–1836
  • Text of the treaty signed in Algiers 30 June And 3 July 1815
  • The Barbary Wars at the Clements Library: An online exhibit on the Barbary Wars with images and transcriptions of primary documents from the period.
  • Victory in Tripoli: Lessons for the War on Terrorism
  • Tripoli: The United States’ First War on Terror
  • Victory In Tripoli
  • When Europeans Were Slaves

External links

  • Adams, Henry. History of the United States of America During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson. Originally published 1891; Library of America edition 1986. ISBN 0-940450-34-8
  • Lambert, Frank The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World New York: Hill and Wang, 2005
  • London, Joshua E.Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005
  • Oren, Michael B. Power, Faith, and Fantasy: The United States in the Middle East, 1776 to 2006. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2007. ISBN 978-0-393-33030-4


  1. ^ Leiner, Frederic C. (2007). The End of Barbary Terror, America's 1815 War against the Pirates of North Africa. Oxford University Press, 2007. pp. 39–50.  
  2. ^ Allen, Gardner Weld (1905). Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs. Boston, New York and Chicago: Houghton Mifflin & Co. p. 281. 
  3. ^ Allen, Gardner Weld (1905). Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs. Boston, New York and Chicago: Houghton Mifflin & Co. p. 281. 
  4. ^ "the United States according to the usages of civilized nations requiring no ransom for the excess of prisoners in their favor." Article3.
  5. ^ "It is distinctly understood between the Contracting parties, that no tribute either as biennial presents, or under any other form or name whatever, shall ever be required by the Dey and Regency of Algiers from the United States of America on any pretext whatever." Article 2.
  6. ^ Appelbaum, Yoni (21 March 2011). "The Third Barbary War". The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 


  • Toll, Ian W. (March 17, 2008). Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. W. W. Norton & Company.  

Further reading

See also

In 1911, taking advantage of the power vacuum left by the fading Ottoman Empire, Italy assumed control of Tripoli. Europeans remained in control of colonial governments in eastern North Africa until the mid-20th century. By then the iron-clad warships of the late 19th century and dreadnoughts of the early 20th century ensured European dominance of the Mediterranean sea.

After the First Barbary War, the European nations had been engaged in warfare with one another (and the U.S. with the British). However, in the years immediately following the Second Barbary War, there was no general European war. This allowed the Europeans to build up their resources and challenge Barbary power in the Mediterranean without distraction. Over the following century, Algiers and Tunis were colonized by France in 1830 and 1881, respectively. In 1835, Tripoli returned to the control of the Ottoman Empire.

A treaty was signed on 24 September 1816. The British Consul and 1,083 other Christian slaves were freed, and the U.S. ransom money repaid.

As a result, Exmouth was ordered to sea again to complete the job and punish the Algerians. He gathered a squadron of five ships of the line, reinforced by a number of frigates, later reinforced by a flotilla of six Dutch ships. On 27 August 1816, following a round of failed negotiations, the fleet delivered a punishing nine-hour bombardment of Algiers. The attack immobilized many of the Dey's corsairs and shore batteries, forcing him to accept a peace offer of the same terms as he had rejected the day before. Exmouth warned that if these terms were not accepted, he would continue the action. The Dey accepted the terms, but Exmouth had been bluffing; his fleet had already spent all its ammunition.

In early 1816, Britain undertook a diplomatic mission, backed by a small squadron of ships of the line, to Tunis, Tripoli, and Algiers to convince the Deys to stop their piracy and free enslaved European Christians. The Beys of Tunis and Tripoli agreed without any resistance, but the Dey of Algiers was more recalcitrant, and the negotiations were stormy. The leader of the diplomatic mission, Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth, believed that he had negotiated a treaty to stop the slavery of Christians and returned to England. However, due to confused orders, just after the treaty was signed, Algerian troops massacred 200 Corsican, Sicilian and Sardinian fishermen who had been classified as under British protection. This caused outrage in Britain and Europe, and Exmouth's negotiations were seen as a failure.


Shortly after departing Gibraltar en route to Algiers, Decatur's squadron encountered the Algerian flagship Meshuda, and, in the Battle off Cape Gata, captured it. Not long afterward, the American squadron likewise captured the Algerian brig Estedio off Cape Palos. By the final week of June, the squadron had reached Algiers and had initiated negotiations with the Dey. After the United States made persistent demands for compensation, mingled with threats of destruction, the Dey capitulated. By terms of the treaty signed aboard the Guerriere in the Bay of Algiers, 3 July 1815, Decatur agreed to return the captured Meshuda and Estedio. The Algerians returned all American captives, estimated to be about 10, and a significant number of European captives were exchanged for about 500 subjects of the Dey.[4] Algeria also paid $10,000 for seized shipping. The treaty guaranteed no further tributes by the United States[5] and granted the United States full shipping rights in the Mediterranean Sea.


Bainbridge's command was still assembling, and did not depart until 1 July, missing the actions.[3]


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