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The Intrepid 13


Master Commandant Richard Somers, Jr.
Commander, USS Nautilus, Commander, USS Intrepid
Hailed from New Jersey
Born in Great Egg Harbor, N.J., now Somers Point, on Sept. 15, 1778, Somers was among the rising stars of the U.S. Navy in 1804. He entered the Navy May 8, 1798 as a midshipman and served on the frigate United States along with childhood friends Stephen Decatur Jr., and Charles Stewart; Promoted to lieutenant in May, 1799, continued to serve on United States, rising to Second Lieutenant of the frigate by fall of 1800; Transferred to the frigate Boston in 1801 and served in the first campaign against the Tripoli pirates through 1802; Ordered to oversee overhaul and command of schooner USS Nautilus May 5, 1803; Left for Mediterranean as part of Commodore Edward Preble's squadron June 30, 1803, arrived in Gibraltar July 28, the first ship of the squadron to arrive on station; Served on blockade duty through fall and winter; captured first prize on Feb. 16, 1804, the same day Decatur destroyed the Philadelphia, using the USS Intrepid to sneak into Tripoli harbor; Continued on blockade duty until forced to report to Messina, Sicily for repairs; Placed in command of gun boats borrowed from Kingdom of Naples May 28, 1804; Commanded Gun Boat Division 1 in battles around Tripoli Aug 2, Aug 7 and Aug. 27-28; Volunteered to command Intrepid Aug. 28, led mission to destroy pirate flotilla; Died with rest of crew Sept. 4, 1804 when ship exploded.
Acting Lieutenant (Midshipman) Henry Wadsworth
USS Constitution, First Lieutenant, USS Intrepid
Hailed from Massachusetts (Maine)
Born in Falmouth, Mass., now Portland, Maine, on June 21, 1785; Entered Navy as a midshipman Aug. 28, 1799; Served on frigate Congress during Quasi-War; Transferred to Chesapeake and New York, serving in first two expeditions against Tripoli, 1801-02; Transferred to USS Constitution in August, 1803; Served on Constitution until April, 1804; Received battlefield promotion to Lieutenant April 9, 1804 and was assigned to prize brig Scourge as first officer; Served on Scourge until Aug. 28, 1804 when he received orders to return to Constitution; Volunteered for mission on Intrepid, joining the ship Sept. 3; died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.
Acting Lieutenant (Midshipman) Midshipman Joseph Israel
USS Constitution, Third Officer, USS Intrepid
Hailed from Maryland
Born in 1786 in or near Annapolis, Md.; Entered Navy Jan. 15, 1801, served on frigate Maryland under John Rodgers; Transferred to Chesapeake, then New York, serving on first two expeditions against Tripoli, 1801-02; Transferred to Constitution October, 1803; Served on Constitution throughout 1803-04; given field promotion to lieutenant Aug. 20, 1804 and put in command of prize ketch Intrepid; Volunteered for mission on Intrepid but refused permission - he went anyway; Died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.
Quartermaster James Harris
USS Nautilus
Hailed from Maryland
Enlisted in 1801 in Baltimore to serve on frigate Maryland; Sailed on Maryland to France, mustered out in 18021; Enlisted for service on Nautilus in August 1803 in Annapolis2; Served on Nautilus until August 1804 when he joined Somers on Gunboat No. 1; Fought in actions against pirate gunboats on August 2, August 7 and August 28-Sept. 3; Volunteered for mission on Intrepid, died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.3
Gunner's Mate James Simms
USS Nautilus
Hailed from Maryland
No record of military service prior to 1803, but high rating suggests naval experience; Enlisted in 1803 for service on Nautilus, most likely in Annapolis, Md.4; Served on Nautilus from August 1803 to August 1804 when he joined Somers on Gunboat No. 1; Fought in actions against pirate gunboats on August 3, August 7 and August 28-Sept. 3; Volunteered for mission on Intrepid, died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.5
Boatswain's Mate William Keith
USS Nautilus
Hailed from Maryland
No record of military service prior to 1803, but high rating suggests naval experience; Enlisted in 1803 for service on Nautilus, most likely in Annapolis;6 Served on Nautilus from August 1803 to August 1804 when he joined Somers on Gunboat No. 1; Fought in actions against pirate gunboats on August 3, August 7 and August 28-Sept. 3; Volunteered for mission on Intrepid, died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.7
Able Seaman Isaac W. Downs
USS Constitution
Hailed from New York
Enlisted July 16, 1803, in New York, reported for duty July 20;8 Served on frigate in Mediterranean throughout 1803-04; Volunteered for duty on USS Intrepid on Aug. 28;9 employed in preparing ketch for operations; died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.10
Able Seaman Thomas Tompline
USS Nautilus
Hailed from Maryland
No record of military service prior to 1803, but high rating suggests naval experience; Enlisted in 1803, either in Annapolis, Md., or Norfolk, Va.;11 Served on Nautilus from August 1803 to August 1804 when he joined Somers on Gunboat No. 1; Fought in actions against pirate gunboats on August 3, August 7 and August 28-Sept. 3.12 Volunteered for mission on Intrepid, died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.13
Able Seaman Hugh McCormick
USS Constitution
Hailed from New York
Enlisted July 11, 1803, in New York, reported for duty July 20; No. 143 on the muster roll;14 Most likely a deserter from Royal Navy;15 Ran afoul of Commodore Edward Preble on Oct. 4, 1804, receiving 12 lashes for neglect of duty16; Attempted to desert from Constitution on Oct. 20, 1803, was caught and confined in irons until Dec. 9 when Preble restored him to duty;17 Apparently served without incident throughout spring and summer campaign against Tripoli, taking part in bombardment of Tripoli Aug. 3, Aug. 7, Aug. 24, Aug, 27 and Aug. 28-Sept. 3; Volunteered for mission on Intrepid Sept. 3; died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.18
Seaman Robert Clark
USS Constitution
Hailed from New York
Enlisted July 21, 1803, in New York, reported for duty July 25, No. 274 in muster roll;19 Served on frigate in Mediterranean throughout 1803-04; Volunteered for duty on USS Intrepid on Aug. 28; employed in preparing ketch for operations;20 died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.21
Seaman William Harrison
USS Constitution
Hailed from Massachusetts
Enlisted Aug. 6, 1803, in Boston, reported for duty the same day;22 Served on frigate in Mediterranean throughout 1803-04; Volunteered for duty on USS Intrepid on Aug. 28; employed in preparing ketch for operations;23 died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.24
Seaman Peter Penner
USS Constitution
Hailed from New York
Enlisted July 19, 1803, in New York, reported for duty July 24;25 Served on frigate in Mediterranean throughout 1803-04; Volunteered for duty on USS Intrepid on Sept. 3;26 died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.27
Seaman Jacob Williams
USS Constitution
Hailed from New York
Enlisted July 19, 1803, in New York, reported for duty July 24;28 Served on frigate in Mediterranean throughout 1803-04; Volunteered for duty on USS Intrepid on Aug. 28; employed in preparing ketch for operations;29 died Sept. 4, 1804 with the rest of the crew when the ship exploded.30





1 Papers of John Rodgers, Muster roll of USS Maryland, Library of Congress Manuscript Division.
2 Papers of Richard Somers, Muster roll of USS Nautilus, (Nautilus roll)
3 Edward Preble Report to Congress, Feb. 5 1805, Edward Preble Papers (EPP), Library of Congress Manuscript Division. (Preble Report)
4 Nautilus roll.
5 Preble Report
6 Nautilus roll.
7 Preble Report.
8 Muster roll of USS Constitution, Edward Preble Papers. (Constitution muster)
9 Ibid.
10 Preble Report.
11 Nautilus roll.
12 Ibid.
13 Preble Report.
14 Constitution Muster,
15 According to a letter from recruiting officer Lt. John Robinson to Captain Edward Preble, July 23, 1803, most of the men enlisting in New York were deserters from the Royal Navy or from British merchant boats. Letter in EPP.
16 Log book of USS Constitution, Edward Preble Papers, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Oct. 4, 1803, EPP.
17 Ibid., Oct 20, 1803 and Dec. 9, 1803.
18 Preble Report.
19 Constitution muster.
20 Ibid.
21 Preble Report.
22 Constitution muster.
23 Ibid.
24 Preble Report.
25 Constitution muster.