The mission that Thomas Jefferson sent him on was way beyond foolhardy...

He would have to find a weak-willed prince named Hamet wandering somewhere in war torn Egypt and convince him to try to seek his rightful throne. He would then have to mount a civil war in Tripoli to overthrow the current ruler and free the 307 U.S. sailors and marines held hostage there.





And he would have to do so without almost any supplies, troops, money or weapons because at the last minute President Jefferson grew wary of  "intermeddling" in the internal affairs of a foreign nation.

   But William Eaton refused to abandon his mission. He despised Barbary Pirates--those turban-wearing, scimitar-wielding predators--and was outraged that they dared to enslave freeborn American citizens.

    Eaton, a 5'8" bulldog of a man from Massachusetts, was an unlikely choice for secret agent; he was a disgraced diplomat, a court-martialed Army captain, a man deeply in debt to the U.S. government over expenses in Tunis. At age 40, he was on the verge of personal and professional ruin, but he knew the region and he was a passionate patriot and he had volunteered. 

While commodores and the president and secretary of state waffled and wavered over plans, Eaton found Hamet and rounded up 75 European mercenaries, the dregs of Alexandria and hundreds of Bedouin fighters and borrowed eight marines--just eight--and led them on a god-forsaken march across 500 miles of Libyan desert to surprise attack the eastern region of Tripoli.

He would come close to dying of thirst; he would be betrayed time and again but he persevered and achieved a remarkable victory over the armies of this Moslem nation sponsoring terrorists, the Barbary Pirates of Tripoli. His mission "to the shores of Tripoli" would be commemorated in the Marines' Hymn but few people know the surprising true story behind it.

    In the end, it turned out to be a not-so-covert op by a rogue agent who dared to defy the president.