Preble, Edward (prĕbˈəl) [key], 1761–1807, American naval officer, b. Falmouth (now Portland), Maine. In the American Revolution he ran away from home to serve on a privateer, entered (1779) the Massachusetts state marine as a midshipman, and saw service aboard the Protector, which was captured in 1781. After his release he joined the Winthrop and, when the Revolution was over, was engaged in the merchant service. Commissioned lieutenant in the U.S. navy in 1798, he was promoted (1799) to captain and given command of the Essex, which sailed to China and convoyed 14 merchant vessels to New York. In 1803, Preble was transferred to the Constitution and set out in command of a squadron for the Mediterranean, where he took a leading part in the Tripolitan War. After the Philadelphia of his squadron had been captured and held in the harbor of Tripoli, Preble blockaded that port and made a number of attacks, but he failed to capture the strongly fortified town. He was relieved of his command on the arrival of Commodore Samuel Barron. Many of those who served under Preble, such as David Porter and Stephen Decatur, rendered distinguished service in the War of 1812.
See biography by C. McKee (1972).
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