Commodore Porter & The Mosquito Fleet
The spread of
piracy in the Caribbean angered the American government, and as
the losses of American ships increased, both ship owners and the
American public demanded action be taken.
In 1821, President Monroe authorized the establishment of
an anti-pirate squadron. On
December 20, 1822, Secretary of the Navy, Smith Thompson,
appointed Captain David Porter, “to command the vessels-of-war
of the United States on the West India station...for the
suppression of piracy”. They
appropriated $500,000 for Porter to outfit an expedition to
eradicate the West Indian pirates.
personally organized his command and set out for Key West. The ships were referred to as the “Mosquito Fleet” due to
the small and shallow drafted vessels used. It allowed them to
easily maneuver over the shallow areas and reefs in the Keys.
He arrived here in April 1823 with steam ships,
schooners, a transport ship, barges and sloops-of-war, and even
a decoy merchant ship armed with hidden guns, as well as 1100
men. He scoured the
Caribbean, the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico, hitting hard at
pirate bases, capturing pirate ships and escorting American
ships to safety.
Porter’s greatest successes was the defeat of the notorious
Cuban pirate Diabolito (Little Devil) and his band in April
1823. Porter was so
successful that Spanish authorities complained to him that his
efforts drove many former pirates to leave the sea and become
brigands on land. Eventually,
with hundreds of pirates captured, safe maritime trade was
restored, and by 1825, piracy had virtually ceased to exist in
American and Caribbean waters.
Porter and the Mosquito Fleet
the Slave Trade