Friday, February 25, 2011
March to Tripoli - Then and Now 1804 - 2011
Entrance to Green Square, Tripoli
MARCH ON TRIPOLI - THEN AND NOW
1804 - 2011
As Libyans arm themselves and begin moving closer to liberate Tripoli and put an end to the Ghaddafi regime, it might be fitting to review a previous march on Tripoli in 1804 that began with the capture of Derna.
The Bey of Tripoli at the time, Yusuf ibn Ali Karamandi, had 300 American sailors from the captured frigate Philadelphia in the castle dungeons, bargaining chips that the Americans wouldn't bargain for.
The American navy was blockading the harbor and firing cannon shells into the city, while in Egypt, William Eaton, the American counsel, along with Sgt. Presley O'Bannon and a detachment of eight US Marines, 200 Greek Christian mercinaries and 2,000 arab calvary, advanced over 500 miles across the desert to attack Derna from the rear.
With the port city's cannons facing the sea, they captured the town and raised the Stars & Stripes above the ramparts, the first time the American flag was flown on foreign soil.
Eaton and O'Bannon were supporting Yusuf Karamandi's brother, the deposed ruler, and the capture of Derna, and resupply by the US Navy, together with local tribesmen, they prepared to march on Tripoli.
Except the Bey of Tripoli began to feel the heat, and called for a truce, and shortly after negotiations began, he agreed to free the prisoners from the Philadelphia in exchange for a ransom, and no tribute would be paid.
With this treaty, Eaton and O'Bannon were informed, their march to Tripoli was off, and with Karamandi, they escaped in the dead of night to an American ship offshore, and left the arab tribesmen at Derna to face the wrath of the Karamandi who remained on the throne at Tripoli.
The Karamandi supported by the US understood however, and knew that Eaton and O'Bannon were sincere in their efforts, and he gave O'Bannon a sword, copies of which are now known as the US Marine dress sword. Karamandi went into exile in Italy, and his brother remained the Bey of Tripoli.
One hundred and fifty years later, in 1949, when the USS Spokane put into port in Tripoli, they conducted an official ceremony at the graves of five of the men from the USS Intrepid who had died in the explosion in Tripoli harbor on September 4, 1804.
The local representative at the time who participated in the ceremony was named Karamandi, the same family that fought the USA in the early battles of Tripoli.
Today, as they march towards Tripoli to liberate the city, they will set their sites on Green Square, which has been occupied by troops and militia supportive of the Ghadafi regime.
Tripoli, and Libya won't be free until Green Square is free, and that is where they will gather, like they gathered at Tennamenn Square in China, Potsdam Platz in Berlin, Tahrir Square in Cairo and Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain.
Green Square will be Ground Zero in the next Battle of Tripoli.