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Error in a Recent Article

From: Sean B. Palmer <sean@miscoranda.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 10:44:01 +0100
Message-ID: <b6bb4d890909300244j1ab06820va00cf7f353a60a9c@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>
[Copy of a message sent to Le Monde diplomatique today via the form
here — <http://mondediplo.com/_contact-us_>]

Dear LMD,

In Their martyrs, our heroes by John Feffer (LMD, 6 Sep 2009), the
story is told of Lieutenant Richard Sommers, commander of the USS
Intrepid, addressing his crew to blow up the vessel with the loss of
all hands.

This address is said to have been recorded by a midshipman, and yet
the ship was also said to have been blown to smithereens and the loss
of all hands to have been carried out. In this case, how could the
address survived?

I have not checked this in detail, but a quick look at Wikipedia seems
to support the contention that this address is a later fabrication:

“Commodore Preble later concluded that Tripoline defenders must have
boarded Intrepid, prompting her valiant men to blow her up giving
their lives to prevent the ship's valuable cargo of powder from
falling into the hands of the enemy. All on board were lost.”

— http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Intrepid_(1798)

The contention here is that it is not known for sure that a command
was given, nor even that the action was deliberate, but this was the
conclusion of Commodore Preble who gave the order. It was a brave
action all the same, but the details as given appear to be erroneous.

This story may therefore deserve an erratum.

Yours faithfully,

Sean B. Palmer

Sean B. Palmer, http://inamidst.com/sbp/
Received on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 09:44:34 UTC

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