Sunday, March 15, 2009
Lt. Richard Somers Portrait?
This portrait, recently offered for sale by someone related to the Barry family, is identified as being that of "Lt. Richard Somers," who was a close, personal friend of Captain John Barry. Somers was one of Barry's first Midshipman aboard the USS United States, and is a witness to Barry's last will and testiment.
But the portrait, according to Somers' family and historians, does not appear to be Somers, whose facial physical features were described as being totally different.
The portait, in fact, resembles Barry himself, as a young man, and could be his nephew or another naval associate, but it is probably not Lt. Richard Somers, Captain of the USS Intrepid when it exploded in Tripoli harbor on September 4, 1804. His remains are still burried on the grounds outside the Old Castle Fort at Tripoli harbor.
This portrait, allegedly of Somers, is being sold along with another protrait, most certainly that of Captain John Barry, arguably the Father of the United States Navy.
The only other bid to the title of Father of the US Navy, John Paul Jones, died in Paris, France, reportedly on a secret mission related to the war with the Barbary pirates, during which Somers gave his life. Barry was burried in an unmarked grave that was paved over by a road, and was only discovered by the persistent inquiry of an American diplomat stationed there. The remains of John Paul Jones were recovered and transported to Annapolis, Maryland, where they were reburried at the church at the US Naval Accademy, where midshipman are trained today.
It appears that the remains of Somers, which have suffered a similar fate in Tripoli, will eventually be recovered and returned home for a proper burrial, like that of John Paul Jones.