Lt. Henry Wadsworth was born 21 June 1785 in Falmouth, Cumberland County, Maine, United States to Peleg Wadsworth (1748-1829) and Elizabeth Bartlett (1753-1825) and died 4 September 1804 Battle of Tripoli of Fire Ketch Explosion. William I of England (1027-1087), Hugh Capet (c940-996), Alfred the Great (849-899)/s, Charlemagne (747-814)/s, Henry II of England (1133-1189)/s, Hugh Capet (c940-996)/s, William I of England (1027-1087)/s, Rollo of Normandy (860-932)/s.


Lt Henry Wadsworth was the son of American Revolutionary War General Peleg Wadsworth (1748-1829).

Cruise of the USS Enterprise

USS Constitution, First Lieutenant, USS Intrepid

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.

Death on the Fire Ketch Intrepid

Burning of the USS Philadelphia on 16 Feb 1804 with the Intrepid in the foreground.

By age 20 he had joined the fledging US Navy and was in action against the Barbary Pirates. On 04 Sept 1804 he was one of 12 sailors aboard a captured pirate ship renamed the USS Intrepid that had been outfitted as a fire ketch to sail into Tripoli Harbor to sink as much as possible of the Corsair pirate fleet. The ship was loaded with 100 barrels of powder and some 150 cannon shells.

While sailing in that night, they were prematurely discovered and in the ensuing battle, their ship probably detonated prematurely killing all onboard. The next day their bodies washed ashore and were buried in a grave in Tripoli Cemetery.


Tripoli Monument at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis MD

  • The Tripoli Monument is the oldest military monument in the United States. It honors heroes of the First Barbary War: Master Commandant Richard Somers, Lieutenant James Caldwell, James Decatur (brother of Stephen Decatur), Henry Wadsworth, Joseph Israel, and John Dorsey. It was carved in Livorno, Italy in 1806 and brought to the United States on board the USS Constitution. From its original installation in the Washington Navy Yard in 1808 it was moved to the west terrace of the United States Capitol in 1831, and finally to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1860.
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), the famous American poet, was named for his uncle.

Memorial Marker

Memorial Marker for Lt Henry Wadsworth at Eastern Cemetery in Portland ME.

Memorial Marker for Lt Wadsworth at Eastern Cemetery in Portland, Maine.

Inscription: (South side) In memory of Henry Wadsworth, son of Peleg Wadsworth, Esq., Lieut. in U.S. Navy, who fell before the walls of Tripoli, on the evening of the 4th Sep. 1804, in the 20th year of his age, by the explosion of a Fireship, which he with others gallantly conducted against the enemy; determined at once they prefer death and destruction of the enemy, to captivity and torturing slavery. -- (Com. Preble's Letter)

Inscription: (West side) Capt. Richard Somers, Lieut. Henry Wadsworth, Lieut. Joseph Israel and ten brave seamen volunteers, were the devoted band.

Inscription: (East side) An honor to his country, and an example to all excellent youth. (Resolve of Congress)

Inscription: (North side) My country calls! This world adieu! I have one life. That life I give to you.


Offspring of Peleg Wadsworth (1748-1829) and Elizabeth Bartlett (1753-1825)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Charles Lee Wadsworth (1776-1848)
Zilpah Wadsworth (1778-1851) 6 January 1778 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 12 March 1851 Portland, Cumberland County, Maine Stephen Longfellow (1776-1849)
John Wadsworth (1781-1860)
Henry Wadsworth (1785-1804) 21 June 1785 Falmouth, Cumberland County, Maine, United States 4 September 1804 Tripoli Harbor, Tripoli, Torabulus, Libya
Alexander Scammel Wadsworth (1790-1851) 1790 Portland, Cumberland County, Maine 5 April 1851 Washington
Samuel Bartlett Wadsworth (1791-1874)
Peleg Wadsworth (1793-1875)


  • USS Intrepid - Wikipedia history of Wadsworth ship and firebomb attack in Tripoli Harbor
  • Tripoli Monument - Wikipedia - Washington DC shrine that honors Lt Wadsworth and his fellow sailors.
  • London, Joshua E., Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
  • Lt Henry Wadsworth at Find A Grave
  • Story of the Intrepid - SomersPoint History.


Footnotes (including sources)