more from the KQED Forum podcast on 'jefferson', the book by christopher hitchens.
it appears that the barbary pirates were arab slavers from libya, algeria, morocco, tunisia, etc. who operated around the straits of gibraltar, the mediterranean, and out in the atlantic. they not only took the ships, but they took the ships' crew as well: they had enslaved 1,500,000 white people, and this is what led to the jeffersonian war.
'with great ruthlessness and dispatch' jefferson put them down.
whence of course the 'shores of tripoli' stuff in the us marine hymn.
i wonder whether you could say this forgotten battle foreshadows america's role in the arab world these days: once again responding to an arab assault on their nation.
it seems the us navy then had a much easier time of it than the us infantry in today's barbary wars. although jefferson opposed having a standing army or navy, he was quite happy to use them when he became president.
i have never paid any attention to the barbary wars, maybe it's time i did some wikipedia searching.