On the Shores of Tripoli

William Eaton's Journey from Alexandria to Derna, March - April 1805

As the United States' war with Tripoli moved into its fourth year, the prevailing strategy of starving the bashaw out by blockading the port did not seem to be working. William Eaton, sometimes consul and sometimes special agent to the Barbary regencies, was given permission to implement a new strategy: restoring the deposed ruler, Hamet Caramanli, who was in exile in Egypt. Eaton went to Alexandria to meet Hamet and make plans for the campaign. The indefatigable Eaton then accumulated a motley crew made up of American marines, Bedouins, Greek mercenaries, and some of Hamet's followers, and marched with them across the Libyan desert. Their destination was the city of Derna, where they hoped they could gain a foothold and force the reigning bashaw, Jusuf Caramanli, to treat with the Americans.

Eaton recorded his experiences in his journal, including frequent mutinies, food and water shortages, and observations about the societies he encountered (past and present). This journal was reproduced almost entirely in the U.S. government's publication of collected papers about the Barbary Wars. Along with these journal entries, the collection also included a map of Eaton's journey. Using this map as a reference, I plotted Eaton's journey along with his journal entries.

Source: U.S. Office of Naval Records and Library. Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1939, vol. 5.