Captain Oliver Hazard Perry Wins the Battle of Lake Erie
On September 10, 1813, Captain Oliver Hazard Perry defeated a squadron of six British warships at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. At the time, Perry’s fleet of nine American ships was the first military force in history to defeat a British naval squadron. Captain Perry’s victory forced the British to abandon Detroit and ensured U.S. control over Lake Erie.
This video from We Are The Mighty provides a quick recap of the Battle of Lake Erie.
At the beginning of the War of 1812, Perry was sent to command U.S. forces on Lake Erie. He commissioned several carpenters to build a fleet of ships capable of defending the area. Within a year, Perry had nine ships. Ohio History Central writes that only two of his vessels, “the Lawrence and the Niagara, were fit for battle.”
Oliver Hazard Perry. (Photo: en.wikipedia.org)
When the Battle of Lake Erie began on September 10, 1813, British warships caused heavy damage to the American fleet. Perry’s flagship Lawrence “was reduced to a defenseless wreck.” With his ship close to its end, Perry and his remaining men boarded a longboat and rowed while under fire to the Niagara. Before leaving, Perry grabbed his battle flag from the Lawrence. It was emblazoned with the words, "Don’t Give Up The Ship.”
Perry's original battle flag is preserved and on display at the United States Naval Academy's museum in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo: United States Naval Academy)
The Niagara was able to turn the tide against the British.
According to Ohio History Central, “The Niagara rammed the British lead ship while the sailors fired rifles at the British seamen. By nightfall, the British had lowered their flag and surrendered to Perry." Captain Perry’s victory came at the price of 27 Americans killed and 96 wounded. The British suffered 40 dead and 94 wounded.
After the battle was over, Captain Perry sent a dispatch to General William Henry Harrison. Perry's message famously read, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”