The Derna Plaque

Since our focus is on Libya, thought I’d post a reminder of the first time the US got involved over there.

USMC Museum 15 Jan 11 021

The plaque recalls one of the actions in the Barbary Wars.  The plaque reads:

This plaque marks the site of a fort captured on April 27, 1805 with the aid of units of the United States fleet, by a military force comprised of Arabs and United States Marines led by William Eaton after overcoming the dangers and obstacles confronting it during its six-week’s advance overland and from Alexandria to Derna.

The force consisted of about 500 Arab, Greek, and Berber mercenaries along with nine US Marines and one Navy midshipman.  Eaton, a former Army captain* and diplomatic council, delegated command of the marines to Lt. Presley O’Bannon (born in Fauquier County, Virginia by the way). And anyone listening to the Marine Hymn knows how this action went down.

The plaque dates to World War II (or at least just after).  The British placed the plaque in the fort at Derna in honor of the Marines’ victory.  In 1989, someone found the plaque in the former US embassy residence in Tripoli.

Sometimes history just keeps rolling back around.

– Craig.

* Eaton had served in the Continental Army, attaining the rank of captain and was still in the army as late as 1799.  Sources vary as to the status of his Army commission.  Later during the Arron Burr trial, there is indication he still held the title.  The Navy named Fletcher-class destroyer the USS William Eaton (DD-510) after him, indicating Eaton’s service rank as “general.”

2 thoughts on “The Derna Plaque”

  1. Sir. I enjoy your site. Aim interested in the Derna plaque. Do you know the source of the info re fact that the Brits had the plaque put up at the fort at Derna. Also. Who knows the most about the plaque Many thanks. Bobj ps. Former Army infantry/ASa and retired State dip sec. Keep up the good work.

    1. Bob, I’m not sure, but a quick google search shows several sites saying the same thing. Maybe next time Craig pops in, he’ll be able to shed some light on the matter.

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