An Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce
Wrecked on the Western Coast of Africa, in the Month of August, 1815
by Captain James Riley
This book may be found in online bookstores, like Amazon.com, using the ISBNs below:
About the Book
The incredible true story of an American ship’s crew taken into slavery by the Muslim slave traders of North Western Africa after being wrecked on that continent’s west coast, has riveted, fascinated, and horrified readers since its first publication two hundred years ago. Captain Riley’s ship, the Commerce, was sailing from Gibraltar to the Cape Verde Islands when it was lost in fog and wrecked on the west Moroccan coast. There, the crew were seized by passing Berbers, who, after taking their food and pouring out their drinking water, carried off the white men deep into the Sahara desert. The book tells in shocking detail the events before and after their capture by marauding Sahrawi natives, and their mistreatment, which included beatings, heat exposure, and starvation (to the point where they were forced to drink their own urine just to stay alive). Eventually, the abused, underfed, and overworked captives were on the point of death when their masters sold them to yet another Arab slave trader. He had purchased the white men upon Riley’s promise of cash ransom and a gun. Riley promised his new owner that he had a friend on the coast at the town of Mogador (nowadays known as Essaouira) in Morocco, who would pay the ransom—something that was completely untrue. Incredibly, an Englishman—and total stranger—came to Riley’s aid in Mogador, and paid the ransom, allowing the survivors to escape captivity and return to America. Captain Riley’s detailed and horrifying descriptions of his experiences at the hands of the slave-trading Muslims of North Africa, typified the treatment suffered by more than a million Europeans who were captured by the Barbary pirates. This valuable account bears witness to a part of history that is now largely suppressed or ignored.