Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XXV - The Battle of Lake Erie.






Perry’s Antagonist in Sight. – Preparations for Battle. – Rendezvous at Put-in-Bay. – Perry’s Battle-flag. – His final Instructions. – The British Fleet in Sight. – Perry’s Determination to fight. – Names and Character of the opposing Vessels. – Signal for Battle. – Perry’s Care for his Men. – Change in the Order of Battle. – Biographical Sketch of Perry. – Relative Position of the two Squadrons. – Opening of the Battle. – Choice of Antagonists. – The first Shot fired by the Americans. – Sailing-master Champlin. – First Position of the Vessels in the Fight. – Perry closes upon Barclay. – Progress of the Fight. – Scenes on board the Lawrence. – Death of Lieutenant Brooks. – Terrible Scenes on board the Lawrence. – Strange Conduct of Captain Elliott. – The Niagara’s Treatment of the Lawrence. – Condition of the Lawrence. – Perry abandons her. – Perry’s Voyage from the Lawrence to the Niagara. – Its Perils and its Success. – A British Survivor of the Battle. – Meeting of Perry and Elliott. – Surrender of the helpless Lawrence. – Perry strikes the British Line. – Perry breaks the British Line. – British Vessels attempt to escape. – Perry’s Victory complete. – Perry’s Triumph a remarkable one. – His famous Dispatch to Harrison. – His Dispatch to his Government. – Perry returns to the Lawrence. – Surrender of the British Officers. – Burial of the Dead in the Lake. – Burial of Officers on the Shore. – Sad Effects of the Battle. – "Ill luck" of the British. – Importance of Perry’s Victory. – Its Effects. – How his Cannon were afterward used. – Exultation of the Americans. – Public Celebrations. – Songs and Caricatures. – Honors awarded to Perry. – Congress presents a Gold Medal to both Perry and Elliott. – Effect of the Victory on the British. – A Plea for a British-Indian Alliance. – Washington Irving’s Predictions. – Journey to Cleveland. – Historic Places at Erie. – Night Travel. – The Pilot of the Ariel. – Crowds fill Cleveland. – "Camp Perry" on Sunday. – Surviving Soldiers of the War of 1812. – Inauguration of the Statue of Perry. – Preliminary Proceedings. – The Statue unveiled. – Orations by Bancroft and Parsons. – A remarkable Dinner Party. – Sham Battle on Lake Erie. – Visit to early Residents of Cleveland. – Captain Stanton Sholes. – Perry and his Captives. – Terrible Storm on Lake Erie. – Fate of the chief Vessels in the Battle. – Perry and Harrison at Erie. – Their Reception. – Incidents at Erie. – Execution of Bird.


"September the tenth, full well I ween,
In eighteen hundred and thirteen,
The weather mild, the sky serene,

Commanded by bold Perry,
Our saucy fleet at anchor lay
In safety, moor’d at Put-in-Bay;
’Twixt sunrise and the break of day,
The British fleet
We chanced to meet;
Our admiral thought he would them greet
With a welcome on Lake Erie." – OLD SONG.


"Sail ho!" were the stirring words that rang out loud and clear from the mast-head of the Lawrence on the warm and pleasant morning of the 10th of September, 1813. That herald’s proclamation was not unexpected to Perry. Five days before he had received direct and positive information from Malden that Proctor’s army were so short of provisions that Barclay was preparing to go out upon the lake, at all hazards, to open a communication with Long Point, the chief deposit of supplies for the enemy on the banks of the Detroit River. Perry had made preparations accordingly; and, day after day, from the rocky heights of Gibraltar Island, now known as "Perry’s Look-out," he had pointed his glass anxiously in the direction of Malden. 1


On the evening of the 9th he called around him the officers of his squadron, and gave instructions to each in writing, for he was determined to attack the enemy at his anchorage the next day if he did not come out. His plan was to bring on a close action at once, so as not to lose the advantage of his short carronades. To each vessel its antagonist on the British side was assigned, the size and character of them having been communicated to him by Captain Brevoort, 3 whose family lived in Detroit. The Lawrence was assigned to the Detroit; the Niagara to the Queen Charlotte, and so on; and to each officer he said, in substance, Engage your antagonist in close action, keeping on the line at half-cable length from the vessel of our squadron ahead of you.

It was about ten o’clock when the conference ended. The moon was at its full, and it was a splendid autumn night. Just before they parted, Perry brought out a large square battle-flag, which, at his request, Mr. Hambleton, 4 the purser, had caused to be privately prepared at Erie.


It was blue, and bore, in large letters, made of white muslin, the alleged dying words of the gallant commander of the Chesapeake, "DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP!" "When this flag shall be hoisted to the main-royal mast-head," said the commodore, "it shall be your signal for going into action." As the officers were leaving, he said, "Gentlemen, remember your instructions. Nelson has expressed my idea in the words, ‘If you lay your enemy close alongside, you can not be out of your place.’ Good-night."

The cry of "Sail ho!" was soon followed by signals to the fleet of "Enemy in sight;" "Get underweigh;" and the voices of the boatswains sounding through the squadron and echoing from the shores the command, "All hands up anchor, ahoy!" At sunrise the British vessels were all seen upon the northwestern horizon –

"Six barques trained for battle, the red flag displaying,

By Barclay commanded, their wings wide outspread,
Forsake their strong-hold, on broad Erie essaying
To meet with that foe they so lately did dread." – OLD BALLAD.

A light wind was blowing from the southwest. Clouds came upon it from over the Ohio wilderness, and in passing dropped a light shower of rain. Soon the sky became serene, and before ten o’clock, when, by the aid of the gentle breeze in beating and strong arms with oars, the squadron had passed out from the labyrinth of islands into the open lake, within five or six miles of the enemy, not a cloud was hanging in the firmament, nor a fleck of mist was upon the waters. It was a splendid September day.

Perry was yet weak from illness when the cry of "Sail ho!" was repeated to him by Lieutenant Dulaney Forrest. That announcement gave him strength, and the excitement of the hour was a tonic of rare virtue. The wind was variable, and he tried in vain to gain the weather-gage of the enemy by beating around to the windward of some of the islands. He was too impatient to fight to long brook the waste of precious time in securing an advantage so small with a wind so light. "Run to the leeward of the islands," he said to Taylor, his sailing-master. 6 "Then you will have to engage the enemy to leeward," said that officer, in a slightly remonstrant manner. "I don’t care," quickly responded Perry; "to windward or to leeward, they shall fight to-day." The signal to wear ship followed immediately, when the wind shifted suddenly to the southeast, and enabled the squadron to clear the islands, and to keep the weather-gage. Perceiving this, Barclay hove to, in close order, and awaited Perry’s attack. His vessels, newly painted and with colors flying, made an imposing appearance. They were six in number, 7 and bore sixty-three carriage-guns, one on a pivot, two swivels, and four howitzers. Perry’s squadron numbered nine vessels, and bore fifty-four carriage-guns and two swivels. 8 Barclay had thirty-five long guns to Perry’s fifteen, and possessed greatly the advantage in action at a distance. In close action, the weight of metal was with the Americans, and for that reason Perry had resolved to close upon the enemy at once. The British commander had one hundred and fifty men from the royal navy, eighty Canadian sailors, two hundred and forty soldiers, mostly regulars, and some Indians. His whole force, officers and men, was a little more than five hundred. The American commander had upon his muster-roll four hundred and ninety names. Of these the bearers of one hundred and sixteen were sick, and most of them too weak to go upon deck. About one fourth of Perry’s crew were from Rhode Island; one fourth were regular seamen, American and foreign; about one fourth were raw volunteers, chiefly from Kentucky; and about another fourth were negroes.

At a little past ten o’clock Perry’s line was formed according to the plan arranged the previous evening, the Niagara in the van. The Lawrence was cleared for action, and the battle-flag, bearing the words "DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP," in letters large enough, as we have observed, to be seen by the whole squadron, was brought out and displayed. The commodore then addressed his officers and crew a few stirring words, and concluded by saying, "My brave lads! this flag contains the last words of Captain Lawrence. Shall I hoist it?" "Ay, ay, sir!" they all shouted, as with one voice, and in a moment it was run up to the main-royal mast-head of the flagship, amid cheer after cheer, not only from the Lawrence, but the whole squadron. It was the signal for battle.


As the dinner-hour would occur at the probable time of action, the thoughtful Perry ordered refreshments to be distributed. The decks were then wetted and sprinkled with sand so that feet should not slip when blood should begin to flow. Then every man was placed in proper position. As the squadron moved slowly and silently toward the enemy, with a gentle breeze, at the rate of less than three knots, the Niagara, Captain Elliott, leading the van, it was discovered that Barclay had made a disposition of his force that required a change in Perry’s prescribed order of battle. It was instantly made, and the American squadron moved to the attack in the order best calculated to cope with the enemy. Barclay’s vessels were near together. The flag-ship Detroit, 19, was in the van supported by the schooner Chippewa, with one long 18 on a pivot, and two swivels. Next was the brig Hunter, 10; then the Queen Charlotte, 17, commanded by Finnis. The latter was flanked by the schooner Lady Prevost, 13, and the Little Belt, 3. Perry, in the brig Lawrence, 20, moved forward, flanked on the left by the schooner Scorpion, under Champlin, bearing two long guns (32 and 12), and the schooner Ariel, Lieutenant Packet, which carried four short 12’s. On the right of the Lawrence was the brig Caledonia, Captain Turner, with three long 24’s. These were intended to encounter the Chippewa, Detroit, and Hunter. Captain Elliott, in the fine brig Niagara, 20, followed, with instructions to fight the Queen Charlotte; while Almy, in the Somers, with two long 32’s and two swivels, Senat, in the Porcupine, with one long 32, Conklin, in the Tigress, with one long 24, and Holdup, in the Trippe, one long 32, were left in the rear to engage the Lady Prevost and Little Belt.


The above diagram shows the position of the two squadrons when the American was approaching that of the British in battle order. A is the British squadron, and its vessels are designated by Roman numerals. I., Chippewa; II., Detroit; IlI., Hunter; IV., Queen Charlotte; V., Lady Prevost; VI., Little Belt. B is the American squadron, and the vessels are designated by Arabic numerals. 1, Scorpion; 2, Ariel; 3, Lawrence; 4, Caledonia; 5, Niagara; 6, Somers; 7, Porcupine; 8, Tigress; 9. Trippe. I have been furnished with these diagrams by Commodore Stephen Champlin, of the U. S. Navy, the commander of the Scorpion in the battle.

The sun was within fifteen minutes of meridian when a bugle sounded on board the Detroit as a signal for action, and the bands of the British squadron struck up "Rule Britannia." A shout went up from that little squadron, and a 24-pound shot from the enemy’s flag-ship was sent booming over the water toward the Lawrence, then a mile and a half distant. It was evident that Barclay appreciated the advantage of his long guns, and wished to fight at a distance, while Perry resolved to press to close quarters before opening his fire.

That first shot from the enemy fell short. Another, five minutes later, went crashing through the bulwarks of the Lawrence. It stirred the blood of her gallant men, but, at the command of Perry, she remained silent. "Steady, boys! steady!" he said, while his dark eye flashed with the excitement of the moment – an excitement which was half smothered by his judgment. Slowly the American line, with the light wind abeam, moved toward that of the enemy, the two forming an acute angle of about fifteen degrees.

"Sublime the pause, when down the gleaming tide
The virgin galleys to the conflict glide;
The very wind, as if in awe or grief,
Scarce makes a ripple or disturbs a leaf." – H. T. TUCKERMAN.

Signals were given for each vessel to engage its prescribed antagonist. At five minutes before twelve the Lawrence had reached only the third one in the enemy’s line, and was almost as near the Queen Charlotte as the Detroit, with the Caledonia half-cable length behind, and the Niagara abaft the beam of the Charlotte and opposite the Lady Prevost.

The battle now began on the part of the Americans. The gallant young Champlin, then less than twenty-four years of age, who still (1867) lives to enjoy a well-earned reputation, 10 had already fired the first (as he did the last) shot of the battle from the guns of the Scorpion.

"But see that silver wreath of curling smoke –
’Tis Barclay’s gun! The silence now is broke.
Champlin, with rapid move and steady eye,
Sends back in thunder-tones a bold reply."

This was followed by a cannonade from Packet, 11 of the Ariel; and then the Lawrence, which had begun to suffer considerably from the enemy’s missiles, opened fire upon the Detroit with her long bow-gun, a twelve-pounder. The action soon became general. The smaller, slow-sailing vessels had fallen in the rear, and when the battle began the Trippe was more than two miles from the enemy.


This diagram shows the position of the vessels at the beginning of the action. The British vessels, A, are indicated by Roman numerals, and the American vessels, B, by Arabic. I., Chippewa; II., Detroit; III., Hunter; IV., Queen Charlotte; V., Lady Prevost; VI., Little Belt. 1, Scorpion; 2, Ariel; 3, Lawrence; 4, Caledonia; 5, Niagara; 6, Somers; 7, Porcupine; 8, Tigress; 9, Trippe.

The Scorpion and Ariel, both without bulwarks, fought bravely, and kept their places with the Lawrence throughout the entire action. They did not suffer much, for the enemy concentrated his destructive energies upon the Lawrence and neglected the others. From the Detroit, the Hunter, the Queen Charlotte, and even from the Lady Prevost, shots were hurled upon the American flag-ship, with the determination to destroy her and her gallant commander, and then to cut up the squadron in detail. No less than thirty-four heavy guns were brought to bear upon her. The Caledonia, with her long guns, was enabled to do good execution from the beginning, but the shot of the carronades from the Niagara fell short of her antagonist. Of her twenty guns, only a long 12 was serviceable for a while. Shifting another, Elliott brought two to bear with effect, and these were served so vigorously that nearly all of the shot of that calibre were exhausted. The smaller vessels meanwhile were too far astern to be of much service.

Perry soon perceived that he was yet too far distant to damage the enemy materially, so he ordered word to be sent from vessel to vessel by trumpet for all to make sail, bear down upon Barclay, and engage in close combat. The order was transmitted by Captain Elliott, who was the second in command, but he failed to obey it himself. 12 His vessel was a fast sailer, and his men were the best in the squadron, but he kept at a distance from the enemy, and continued firing his long guns. Perry meanwhile pressed on with the Lawrence, accompanied by the Scorpion, Ariel, and Caledonia, and at meridian exactly, when he supposed he was near enough for execution with his carronades, he opened the first division of his battery on the starboard side on the Detroit. His balls fell short, while his antagonist and her consorts poured upon the Lawrence a heavy storm of round shot from their long guns, still leaving the Scorpion and Ariel almost unnoticed. The Caledonia meanwhile engaged with the Hunter, but the Niagara kept a respectful distance from the Queen Charlotte, and gave that vessel an opportunity to go to the assistance of the Detroit. She passed the Hunter, and, placing herself astern of the Detroit, opened heavily upon the Lawrence, now, at a quarter past twelve, only musket-shot distance from her chief antagonist. For two hours the gallant Perry and his devoted ship bore the brunt of the battle with twice his force, aided only by the schooners on his weather-bow and some feeble shots from the distant Caledonia when she could spare them from her adversary the Hunter. During that tempest of war his vessel was terribly shattered. Her rigging was nearly all shot away; her sails were torn into shreds; her spars were battered into splinters; her guns were dismounted; and, like the Guerriere when disabled by the Constitution, she lay upon the waters almost a helpless wreck. The carnage on her deck had been terrible. Out of one hundred and three sound men that composed her officers and crew when she went into action, twenty-two were slain and sixty-one were wounded. Perry’s little brother had been struck down by a splinter at his side, but soon recovered. 13 Yarnall, 14 his first lieutenant, had come to him bleeding, his nose swelled to an enormous size, it having been perforated by a splinter, and his whole appearance the impersonation of carnage and ill luck, and said, "All the officers in my division are cut down; can I have others?" They were sent; but Yarnall soon returned, again wounded and bleeding profusely, with the same sad story. "I have no more officers to furnish you," replied Perry; "you must endeavor to make out by yourself." The brave lieutenant did so. Thrice wounded, he kept the deck, and directed every shot from his battery in person. Forest, the second lieutenant, fell stunned at Perry’s feet; 15 and the gallant Brooks, so remarkable for his personal beauty, 16 a son of an honored soldier of the old war for independence, and once governor of Massachusetts, was carried in a dying state to the cockpit, where balls were crashing through, his mind more exercised about his beloved commander and the fortunes of the day than himself. When the good surgeon, Parsons, who had hastened to the deck on hearing a shout of victory, returned to cheer the youth with the glorious tidings, the young hero’s ears were closed – the doors of the earthly dwelling of his spirit were shut forever. 17

While the Lawrence was being thus terribly smitten, officers and crew were anxiously wondering why the Niagara – the swift, stanch, well-manned Niagara – kept aloof; not only from her prescribed antagonist the Queen Charlotte, now battling the Lawrence, but the other assailants of the flag-ship. Her commander himself had passed the order for close conflict, yet he kept far away; and when afterward censured, he pleaded in justification of his course his perfect obedience to the original order to keep at "half-cable length behind the Caledonia on the line." It may be said that his orders to fight the Queen Charlotte, who had left her line and gone into the thickest of the fight with the Lawrence and her supporting schooners, were quite as imperative, and that it was his duty to follow. This he did not do until the guns of the Lawrence became silent, and no signals were displayed by, nor special orders came from Perry. These significant tokens of dissolution doubtless made Elliott believe that the commodore was slain, and himself had become the chief commander of the squadron. He then hailed the Caledonia, and ordered Lieutenant Turner 18 to leave the line and bear down upon the Hunter for close conflict, giving the Niagara a chance to pass for the relief of the Lawrence. The gallant Turner instantly obeyed, and the Caledonia fought her adversary nobly. The Niagara spread her canvas before a freshening breeze that had just sprung up, but, instead of going to the relief of the Lawrence, thus silently pleading for protection, she bore away toward the head of the enemy’s squadron, passing the American flag-ship to the windward, and leaving her exposed to the still galling fire of the enemy, because, as was alleged in extenuation of this apparent violation of the rules of naval warfare and the claims of humanity, both squadrons had caught the breeze and moved forward, and left the crippled vessel floating astern. Elliott seemed to notice her only by sending a boat to bring round shot from her to replenish his own scanty store.


This shows the relative position of the two squadrons at the time when the Niagara bore down upon the head of the British line, the change of her course after Perry took command of her, and the penetration of that line by her. One dotted line, from 4 to 4, shows the attack of the Caledonia on the Hunter, and the other, from 5 to 5, the course of the Niagara as described on this and the next page. The vessels of the British squadron, A, are designated by Roman numerals, thus: I., Chippewa; II., Detroit; III., Hunter; IV., Queen Charlotte; V., Lady Prevost; VI., Little Belt. Those of the American squadron, B, are designated by Arabic numerals, thus: 1, Scorpion; 2, Ariel; 3, Lawrence; 4, Caledonia; 5, Niagara; 6, Somers; 7, Porcupine; 8, Tigress; 9, Trippe.

As the Niagara bore down she was assailed by shots from the Queen Charlotte, Lady Prevost, and Hunter, and returned them with spirit. It was while she was abreast of the Lawrence’s larboard beam, and nearly half a mile distant, that Perry performed the gallant feat of transferring his broad pennant from one vessel to the other. He had fought as long as possible. More than two hours had worn away in the conflict. His vessel lay helpless and silent upon the almost unruffled bosom of the lake, utterly incapable of farther defense. His last effective heavy gun had been fired by himself; assisted by his purser and chaplain. Only fourteen unhurt persons remained on his deck, and only nine of these were seamen. A less hopeful man would have pulled down his flag in despair; but Perry’s spirit was too lofty to be touched by common misfortunes. From his mast-head floated the admonition, as if audibly spoken by the gallant Lawrence, DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP. In the dash of the Caledonia and the approach of the long-lagging Niagara he felt the inspiration of hope; and when he saw the latter, like the priest or the Levite, about to "pass by on the other side," unmindful of his wounds, resolutions like swift intuitions filled his mind, and were as quickly acted upon. The Niagara was stanch, swift, and apparently unhurt, for she had kept far away from great danger. He determined to fly to her deck, spread all needful sail to catch the stiffening breeze, bear down swiftly upon the crippled enemy, break his line, and make a bold stroke for victory.

With the calmness of perfect assurance, Perry laid aside his blue nankeen sailor’s jacket which he had worn all day, and put on the uniform of his rank, as if conscious that he should secure a victory, and have occasion to receive as guests the conquered commander and officers of the British squadron. 19 "Yarnall," he said, "I leave the Lawrence in your charge, with discretionary powers. You may hold out or surrender, as your judgment and the circumstances shall dictate." He had already ordered his boat to be lowered, his broad pennant, and the banner with its glorious words, to be taken down, 20 but leaving the Stars and Stripes floating defiantly over the battered hulk. With these, his little brother, and four stout seamen for the oars, 21 he started upon his perilous voyage, anxiously watched by Yarnall and his companions.

"A soul like his no danger fears;
His pendant from the mast he tears,
And in his gallant bosom bears,

To grace the bold Niagara.
See! he quits the Lawrence’s side,
And trusts him to the foaming tide,
Where thundering navies round him ride,
And flash their red artillery." – OLD SONG.

He stood upright in his boat, the pennant and the banner half folded around him, a mark for the anxious eyes of his own men and for the guns of the enemy. 22 The latter discovered the movement. Barclay, who was badly wounded, and whose flagship was almost dismantled, well knew that if Perry, who had fought the Lawrence so gallantly, should tread the quarter-deck of the fresh Niagara as commander, his squadron would be in great danger of defeat. He therefore ordered great and little guns to be brought to bear upon the frail but richly-laden vessel – laden with a hero of purest mould. Cannon-balls, grape, canister, and musket-shot were hurled in showers toward the little boat during the fifteen minutes that it was making its way from the Lawrence to the Niagara. 23 The oars were splintered, bullets traversed the boat, and the crew were covered with spray caused by the falling of heavy round and grape-shot in the water near. Perry stood erect, unmindful of danger. His men entreated him to be seated, for his life at that critical moment seemed too precious to be needlessly exposed to peril. It was not foolhardiness nor thoughtlessness, but the innately brave spirit of the man, that kept him on his feet. At length, when his oarsmen threatened to cease labor if he did not sit down, he consented to do so. A few minutes later they were all climbing to the deck of the Niagara, entirely unharmed, and greeted with the loud cheers of the Americans, who had watched the movement with breathless anxiety. Perry was met at the gangway by the astonished Elliott. There stood the hero of the fight, blackened with the smoke of battle, but unharmed in person and unflinching in his determination to win victory – he whom the commander of the Niagara thought to be dead. There were hurried questions and answers. "How goes the day?" asked Elliott. "Bad enough," responded Perry; "why are the gun-boats so far astern?" "I’ll bring them up," said Elliott. "Do so," responded Perry. Such is the reported substance of the brief conversation of the two commanders, 24 at the close of which Elliott pushed off in a small boat to hurry up the lagging vessels. Having given his orders to each to use sails and oars with the greatest vigor, he went on board the Somers, and behaved gallantly until the close of the action.

At a glance Perry comprehended the condition and capabilities of the Niagara. There had been few casualties on board of her, and she was in perfect order for conflict. He immediately ran up his pennant, displayed the blue banner, hoisted the signal for close action, and received quick responses and cheers from the whole squadron; hove to, altered the course of the vessel, set the proper sails, and bore down upon the British line, which lay half a mile distant. Meanwhile the gallant Yarnall, after consulting Lieutenant Forrest and Sailing-master Taylor, had struck the flag of the Lawrence, for she was utterly helpless, and humanity required that firing upon her should cease. As the starry flag trailed to the deck a triumphant shout went up from the British. It was heard by the wounded on the Lawrence. When informed of the cause, their hearts grew almost still, and in the anguish of chagrin they refused to be attended by the surgeon, and cried out, "Sink the ship! sink the ship! Let us all sink together!" 25 Noble fellows! they were worthy of their commander. In less than thirty minutes after they had offered themselves a willing sacrifice for the honor of their country’s flag, they were made joyful by hearing the step and voice of their beloved commander again upon the deck of the Lawrence.

Perry’s movement against the British line was successful. He broke it; passed at half pistol-shot distance between the Lady Prevost 26 and Chippewa on his larboard, and the Detroit, Queen Charlotte, and Hunter on his starboard, and poured in tremendous broadsides right and left from double-shotted guns. Ranging ahead of the vessels on his starboard, he rounded to and raked the Detroit and Queen Charlotte, which had got foul of each other. 27 Close and deadly was his fire upon them with great guns and musketry. Meanwhile, the Lawrence having drifted out of her place in the line, her position against the Detroit was taken by the Caledonia, Captain Turner; the latter’s place in line, as opposed to the Hunter, was occupied by the Trippe, commanded by Lieutenant Holdup. 28 These gallant young officers had exchanged signals to board the Detroit, when they saw the Niagara with the commodore’s pennant bearing down to break the British line. Turner followed her closely with the Caledonia; and the freshened breeze having brought up the Somers, Mr. Almy, 29 the Tigress, Lieutenant Concklin, 30 and the Porcupine, Acting Master Senat, 31 the whole American squadron except the Lawrence was, for the first time, engaged in the conflict. The fight was terrible for a few minutes, and the combatants were completely enveloped in smoke.


In this, as in the preceding diagrams, furnished by Commodore Champlin, the British vessels are designated by Roman numerals, and the American vessels by Arabic numerals. This diagram shows the relative position of the vessels of the two squadrons at the close of the battle. The respective numbers indicate the same vessels as in the other diagrams.

Eight minutes after Perry dashed through the British line the colors of the Detroit were struck, and her example was speedily followed by all the other vessels of Barclay’s squadron, excepting the Little Belt and Chippewa (I. and IV. in the annexed diagram), which attempted to escape to leeward. Champlin with the Scorpion, and Holdup with the Trippe, made chase after the fugitives, and both were overtaken and brought back to grace the triumph of the victor, the Little Belt by the former, and the Chippewa by the latter. It was in this chase that Champlin fired the last gun in that memorable battle. "So near were they to making their escape," says Champlin in a letter to the author, "that it was 10 o’clock in the evening before I came to an anchor under the stern of the Lawrence with the Little Belt in tow."

It was three o’clock in the afternoon when the flag of the Detroit was lowered. The roar of cannon ceased; and as the blue vapor of battle was borne away by the breeze, it was discovered that the two squadrons were intermingled. 32 The victory was complete. The flag of the Lawrence had indeed been struck to the enemy, but she had not been taken possession of. She was yet free, and, with a feeble shout that floated not far over the waters, her exhausted crew flung out the flag of their country from her mast-head. 33

This triumph was a remarkable one in American and British history. Never before had an American fleet or squadron encountered an enemy in regular line of battle, and never before, since England created a navy, and boasted that

"Britannia rules the wave,"

had a whole British fleet or squadron been captured. It was a proud moment for Perry and his companions.

"As lifts the smoke, what tongue can fitly tell
The transports which those manly bosoms swell,
When Britain’s ensign down the reeling mast
Sinks to proclaim the desperate struggle past!
Electric cheers along the shattered fleet,
With rapturous hail, her youthful hero greet;
Meek in his triumph, as in danger calm,
With reverent hands he takes the victor’s palm;
His wreath of conquest on Faith’s altar lays,
To his brave comrades yields the meed of praise." – H. T. TUCKERMAN.

When Perry’s eye perceived at a glance that victory was secure, he wrote, in pencil, on the back of an old letter, resting it upon his navy cap, that remarkable dispatch to General Harrison whose first clause has been so often quoted –

"We have met the enemy, and they are ours: two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop. Yours, with great respect and esteem,



A few minutes afterward, when, as Bancroft says, "a religious awe seemed to come over him at his wonderful preservation in the midst of great and long-continued danger," 35 he wrote to the Secretary of the Navy as follows:


"U. S. Brig Niagara, off the Western Sister, 36 Head of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813, 4 P.M.

"SIR, – It has pleased the Almighty to give to the arms of the United States a signal victory over their enemies on this lake. The British squadron, consisting of two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop, have this moment surrendered to the force under my command after a sharp conflict.

"I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


"Honorable William Jones, Secretary of the Navy."


These hurried but admirably-worded dispatches were sent by the same express to both Harrison and the Secretary of the Navy. 37 Then the ceremony of taking possession of the conquered vessels, and receiving the formal submission of the vanquished, was performed. Perry gave the signal to anchor, and started for his battered flag-ship, determined, on her deck, and in the presence of her surviving officers and crew, to receive the commanders of the captured squadron. "It was a time of conflicting emotions," says Dr. Parsons, "when he stepped upon deck. The battle was won and he was safe, but the deck was slippery with blood, and strewn with the bodies of twenty officers and men, seven of whom had sat at table with us at our last meal, and the ship resounded every where with the groans of the wounded. Those of us who were spared and able to walk met him at the gangway to welcome him on board, but the salutation was a silent one on both sides; not a word could find utterance." 38

The next movement in the solemn drama was the reception of the British officers, one from each of the captured vessels. Perry stood on the after-part of the deck, and his sad visitors were compelled to pick their way to him among the slain. He received them with solemn dignity and unaffected kindness. As they presented their swords, with the hilts toward the victor, he spoke in a low but firm tone, without the betrayal of the least exultation, and requested them to retain their weapons. He inquired, with real concern, about Commodore Barclay and his fellow-sufferers from severe wounds; and he made every captive feel, at that sad and solemn moment, the thrill of pleasure excited by the conduct of a Christian gentleman in the moment of the adversity of the recipient of his kindness.

"A chastened rapture, Perry, fills thy breast;

Thy sacred tear embalms the heroes slain;
The gem of pity shines in glory’s crest
More brilliant than the diamond wreath of fame."

When this sad ceremony was over, the conqueror, exhausted by the day’s work upon which he had entered with fever-enfeebled body, lay down upon the deck in the midst of his dead companions, and, surrounded by prisoners, and with his hands folded over his breast, and his drawn sword held in one of them, he slept as sweetly as a wearied child. 39

There was yet another sad service to be performed. The dead of the two squadrons were yet unburied. When twilight – the rich, glowing twilight at the end of a gorgeous September day – lay upon the bosom of the lake like a luminous, deepening mist, the bodies of all the slain, excepting those of the officers, wrapped in rude shrouds, and with a cannon-ball at the feet of each, were dropped, one by one, into the bosom of the clear lake, at the close of the beautiful and impressive burial service of the Anglican Church.

"Neath the dark waves of Erie now slumber the brave,

In the bed of its waters forever they rest;
The flag of their glory floats over their grave;
The souls of the heroes in memory are blessed." – W. B. TAPPAN.

The moon soon spread her silver sheen over their common grave, and all but the suffering wounded slumbered until the dawn [September 11, 1813.].


The two squadrons weighed anchor at nine o’clock and sailed into Put-in-Bay Harbor, and there, twenty-four hours afterward, on the margin of South Bass Island, from which, on the right, may be seen the channel leading out toward Canada, and on the left the open way toward Detroit, where now willow, hickory, and maple-trees cast a pleasant shade in summer, three American and three British officers 40 were buried [September 12, 1813.] with the same solemn funeral rites, in the presence of their respective countrymen. 41 The light of the morning of the 11th revealed sad sights to the eyes of the belligerents. Vessels of both squadrons were dreadfully shattered, especially the two flag-ships. Sixty-eight persons had been killed and one hundred and ninety wounded during the three hours that the battle lasted. Of these, the Americans lost one hundred and twenty-three, twenty-seven of whom were killed; the British lost one hundred and thirty-five, forty-one of whom were killed. 42 Barclay, of the Detroit (the British commander), who had lost an arm at Trafalgar, was first wounded in the thigh, and then so severely injured in the shoulder as to deprive him of the use of the other arm. Finnis, of the Queen Charlotte, the second in command, was mortally wounded, and died that evening. Both were gallant men; and justice to all demands the acknowledgment that the Americans and British carried on that terrible conflict with the greatest courage, fortitude, and skill. It is also just to say that the British experienced what is called "ill luck" from the beginning. First, the wind suddenly turned in favor of the Americans at the commencement of the action, giving them the weather-gage; then the two principal British commanders were struck down early in the action; then the rudder of the Lady Prevost was disabled, which caused her to drift out of the line; the entanglement of the Detroit and Queen Charlotte gave the Niagara, under Perry, an opportunity to rake them severely; and, lastly, the men of the British squadron had not, with the exception of those from the Royal Navy, received the training with guns that most of the Americans had just experienced, for they came out of port the morning of the battle. 43

Perry’s victory proved to be one of the most important events of the war. At that moment two armies, one on the north and the other on the south of the warring squadrons, were waiting for the result most anxiously. Should the victory remain with the British, Proctor and Tecumtha were ready at Malden, with their motley army five thousand strong, to rush forward and lay waste the entire frontier. Should the victory rest with the Americans, Harrison, with his army in the vicinity of Sandusky Bay, was prepared to press forward by land or water for the seizure of Malden and Detroit, the recovery of Michigan, and the invasion of Canada. All along the borders of the lake within sound of the cannon in the battle (and they were heard from Cleveland to Malden 44), women with terrified children, and decrepit old men, sat listening with the deepest anxiety; for they knew not but with the setting sun they would be compelled to flee to the interior, to escape the fangs of the red blood-hounds who were ready to be let loose upon helpless innocency by the approved servants of a government that boasted of its civilization and Christianity. Happily for America – happily for the fair fame of Great Britain – happily for the cause of humanity – the victory was left with the Americans, and the savage allies of the British were not allowed to repeat the tragedies in which they had already been permitted to engage. Joy spread over the northwestern frontier as the glad tidings went from lip to lip. That whole region was instantly relieved of the most gloomy forebodings of coming evil. That victory led to the destruction of the Indian confederacy, and wiped out the stigma of the surrender at Detroit thirteen months before. It opened the way for Harrison’s army to repossess the territory then surrendered, and to penetrate Canada. It was speedily followed by the overthrow of British power in the Canadian peninsula and the country bordering on the upper lakes, and the absolute security forever of the whole northwestern frontier from British invasion and Indian depredations. From that moment no one doubted the ability of the Americans to maintain the mastery of our great inland seas, and the faith of the people in this ability was well expressed by a poet of the time, who concluded an epic with the following lines:

"And though Britons may brag of their ruling the ocean,
And that sort of thing – by the Lord I’ve a notion –
I’ll bet all I’m worth – who takes it? – who takes? –
Though they’re lords of the sea, we’ll be lords of the lakes"

The effect of this victory upon the whole country was electric and amazingly inspiriting. There had been a prevailing apprehension that the failures of 1812 were to be repeated in 1813. This victory dissipated those forebodings, and kindled hope and joy all over the land.

"O’er the mountains the sun of our fame was declining,

And on Thetis’ billowy breast
The cold orb had reposed, all his splendor resigning,
Bedimmed by the mists of the West.
The prospect that rose to the patriot’s sight
Was cheerless, and hopeless, and dreary;
But a bolt burst the cloud, and illumined the night
That enveloped the waters of Erie." – OLD SONG.

It is difficult at this time to imagine the exultation then felt and exhibited every where. Illuminations, 46 bonfires, salvos of artillery, public dinners, orations, and songs were the visible indications of the popular satisfaction in almost every city, village, and hamlet within the bounds of the republic. The newspapers teemed with eulogies of the victor and his companions, and the pulpit and rostrum were resonant with words of thanksgiving and praise. The lyre 47 and the pencil 48 made many contributions to the popular demonstrations of joy, and public bodies testified their gratitude by appropriate acts. The Legislature of Pennsylvania voted thanks and a gold medal to Perry; also thanks and a silver medal to every man engaged in the battle. 49


The corporate authorities of New York ordered the illumination of the City Hall in honor of the victory; 50 and the National Congress voted thanks and a gold medal to both Perry and Elliott, to be adorned with appropriate devices, 51 and silver ones, with the same emblems, to the nearest male relatives of Brooks, Lamb, Clarke, and Claxton, who were slain.


Three months’ extra pay was also voted for each of the commissioned officers of the navy and army who served in the battle, and a sword to each of the midshipmen and sailing-masters "who so nobly distinguished themselves on that memorable occasion." 52 In after years, when the dead body of Perry was buried in the soil of his native state, her Legislature caused a monument to be erected to his memory, 53 for she claimed, with much justice, a large share of the glory of the battle of Lake Erie for her sons. 54

The effect of this victory was deeply impressive on the British mind, and the newspapers in the provinces and the mother country indulged in lamentations over the want of vigor in the prosecution of the war manifested by the ministry. "We have been conquered on Lake Erie," said a Halifax paper [October, 1813.], "and so we shall be on every other lake, if we take as little care to protect them. Their success is less owing to their prowess than to our neglect." A London paper consoled the people by saying [November.], "It may, however, serve to diminish our vexation at the occurrence to learn that the flotilla in question was not any branch of the British Navy. . . . . It was not the Royal Navy, but a local force – a kind of mercantile military." Others, conscious of the inability of the British force in Canada to cope with the Americans, urged the necessity of extending the alliance with the Indians. "We dare assert," said a writer in one of the leading British Reviews, 55 "and recent events have gone far in establishing the truth of the proposition, that the Canadas can not be effectually and durably defended without the friendship of the Indians, and command of the lakes and the River St. Lawrence," He urged his countrymen to consider the interests of the Indians as their own; "for men," he said, "whose very name is so very formidable to an American, and whose friendship has recently been shown to be of such great importance to us, we can not do too much." The name of Perry is cherished with increasing reverence by successive generations; and the vast population that now swarm along the southern borders of Lake Erie regard the battle that has made its name immortal in history as a classical possession of rare value. Only a few weeks after the victory, Washington Irving, in a chaste biographical sketch of Commodore Perry, 56 said: "The last roar of cannon that died along her shores was the expiring note of British domination. Those vast internal seas will perhaps never again be the separating space between contending nations, but will be embosomed within a mighty empire; 57 and this victory, which decided their fate, will stand unrivaled and alone, deriving lustre and perpetuity from its singleness. In future times, when the shores of Erie shall hum with busy population; when towns and cities shall brighten where now extend the dark and tangled forests; when ports shall spread their arms, and lofty barks shall ride where now the canoe is fastened to the stake; when the present age shall have grown into venerable antiquity, and the mists of fable begin to gather round its history, then will the inhabitants look back to this battle we record as one of the romantic achievements of the days of yore. It will stand first on the page of their local legends and in the marvelous tales of the borders."

This prophecy of the beloved Irving has been fulfilled. The archipelago that embraces Put-in-Bay has become a classic region. At Erie, and Cleveland, and Sandusky, and Toledo, where the Indian then "fastened his canoe to a stake," "ports spread their arms;" and every year the anniversary of the battle is somewhere celebrated with appropriate ceremonies. Already the corner-stone of a monumental shaft in commemoration of the battle has been laid upon Perry’s Look-out on Gibraltar Island; 58 and in the beautiful city of Cleveland – an insignificant hamlet on the bleak lake shore in 1813, now [1867] a mart of commerce with about fifty thousand inhabitants – a noble statue of Perry, wrought of the purest Parian marble by a resident artist, has been erected by the city authorities. 59

I was present, as an invited guest, at the inauguration of that statue of Perry on the 10th of September, 1860. Never will the impressive spectacles of that day, and the influence of the associations connected with them, be effaced from memory. The journey thither, the mementoes of history seen on the way, and the meeting of scores of veterans of the War of 1812 at the great gathering, made a deep impression on the mind. I left my home on the Hudson, with my family, on the morning of the 6th [September, 1860.], with the intention of stopping at Erie (where a portion of Perry’s squadron was built) on my way to Cleveland. It was a day like one in midsummer – sultry and showery; yet in the railway carriage, whose steeds never grow weary, and wherein shelter from sun and rain are ever afforded, we traversed during the day, with very little fatigue or inconvenience, more than the entire length of the State of New York, through the Hudson and Mohawk valleys and the great levels westward, to Buffalo, a distance of three hundred and seventy miles. There I left my family in charge of the veteran Captain Champlin, one of the heroes of the fight, to accompany him by water to Cleveland; and early the next morning [September 7.] I pushed on by railway to Erie, where I had the good fortune to meet Captain W. W. Dobbins, son of the gallant officer of that name already mentioned. He kindly accompanied me to the places of interest about Erie – the site of Fort Presqu’ Isle’ 60 – of Wayne’s block-house – of Fort Wayne, on Garrison Hill, by the light-house 61 – of the navy yard at the mouth of Cascade Creek, 62 and the old tavern where Perry made his head-quarters before and after the battle. When, at the close of the day, we returned to the village, heavy black clouds were brooding over the lake in the direction of the great conflict, and the deep bellowing of the distant thunder gave a vivid idea of the tumult of the battle heard from that very spot almost half a century before. I had completed my sketches and observations, and I spent the evening pleasantly and profitably with Captain Dobbins and his venerable mother, to whom I am indebted for kind courtesies and valuable information. 63 At almost two o’clock in the morning [September 8.] I left Erie in the railway cars for Cleveland, just after a heavy thunder-shower had passed over that region, making the night intensely dark, and drenching the country.

We arrived at Cleveland at six o’clock in the morning. Heavy mists were scurrying over the lake upon the wings of fitful gusts, and dashes of rain came down frequently like sudden shower-baths. For almost three hours I waited at the wharf where the passengers on the boat from Buffalo were to land. She was The Western Metropolis – a magnificent vessel – one of the finest ever built on the lakes. All night long she had battled with the storm, yet she was so stanch that her passengers had slept securely and soundly. A fine state-room had been assigned to Captain Champlin.

Among the survivors of the war who accompanied him was Captain Asel Wilkinson, of Colden, Erie County, New York, who was the pilot of the Ariel – a tall, slender man, seventy-two years of age. He stood at the helm of his vessel all through the battle of the 10th of September. His cartridge-box was shot from his side by a cannon-ball, and the thunder of the great guns brought the blood from his ears and nose, and permanently impaired his hearing. I received many reminiscences of the fight from his lips during a brief hour that I spent with him. His vigor of mind and body gave promise of years of future usefulness, but his days were nearly numbered. On the 4th of July, 1861, he was in Buffalo with his wife to participate in the celebration of the day. When they were passing the corner of Pearl and Mohawk Streets he suddenly fell to the pavement and expired.

In the midst of a furious thunder-storm we rode to the residence of a gentleman on Euclid Street, to the hospitalities of which we had been invited, and there we found a pleasant home during our brief sojourn in Cleveland. It was the last day of the week. On Monday the appointed ceremonies were to be performed, and visitors were pouring into the "Forest City" by thousands from every direction. That evening the hotels and large numbers of private houses were filled with guests. Mr. Bancroft (the historian), who was one of the chosen orators for the occasion, had arrived; also a large delegation from Rhode Island, including Governor Sprague, Mr. Bartlett, the Secretary of State, Dr. Parsons, Bishop Clarke, and Captain Thomas Brownell, who was the acting sailing-master of the Ariel in the battle. Members of the Perry family and scores of the survivors of the war were also there, and the bright and beautiful Sabbath found Cleveland full of strangers.

It was indeed a bright and beautiful Sabbath, The storm-clouds were gone, and the first cool breath of autumn came from the lake and gave warning of the approaching season of hoar-frost. At an early hour Euclid Street – magnificent Euclid Street – was full of animation. Crowds were making their way to "Camp Perry," on the county fair-grounds, the head-quarters of the military, who were under the command of Brigadier General J. W. Fitch.


In the spacious marquee of that officer we met, just before the hour for morning religious services (in which Bishop Clarke led), most of the Rhode Island delegation, Governor Dennison, of Ohio, and his staff, and Benjamin Fleming, of Erie, a lively little man, then seventy-eight years of age, who was a maintopman in the Niagara during the battle. He was yet living in 1863, and was one of three survivors of the battle who are residents of Erie. 64 Fleming was a native of Delaware. 65 He was dressed in full sailor’s costume, and on his right breast, in the form of a shield, on which was inscribed his name and the occasion, was the silver medal presented by the State of Pennsylvania. 66 There we also met Dr. Nathan Eastman, of Medina, Ohio, who, as volunteer surgeon, assisted in dressing the wounds of those injured in the battle who were taken to the marine hospital at Erie. He was afterward appointed assistant surgeon, and spent the dreary winter of 1813-14 in that capacity on board the prize-ships Detroit and Queen Charlotte, for some soldiers were on those vessels and upon Put-in-Bay Island. There was also Hosea Sargent, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a survivor of the Lawrence, who handed Perry his flag as he was leaving his vessel for the Niagara.


A mute relic of the battle was also on the ground. It was Perry’s signal lantern, and belonged to Lieutenant Selden, of the "Wayne Guards" of Erie, who were present. It was made of tin, with windows of scraped horn, and had a venerable appearance.

Monday dawned gloomily. The sky was lowering with heavy clouds, the temperature was chilling, and as the time approached for the commencement of the public ceremonies there were indications of early rain. But these hindered nothing. At an early hour I went to the City Hall, the head-quarters of the "soldiers of 1812," and assisted in the interesting task of making a register of the names and ages of those who were present, about three hundred in number. 67 The air was full of martial music, the streets and buildings were gay with banners, and as the appointed time for uncovering the statue drew near, the public square of ten acres, in the centre of which it stood, began to fill with people. I had made my way with difficulty through the crowd from the old soldiers’ head-quarters to the stage erected for the conductors of the pageant and invited guests. Mr. Bancroft soon arrived, alone, but was followed almost immediately by the mayor of the city, the committee of arrangements, Dr. Parsons (the associate orator), the Perry family, and other invited guests. Very soon the immense military and civic procession came filing into the square in gay and sombre costumes, accompanied by a miniature brig Lawrence, on wheels, drawn by four horses. The inclosure was filled with the living sea, and broad Ontario and Superior Streets were crowded with people as far as the eye could reach. "All Cleveland is out!" exclaimed a gentleman at my elbow. "All creation, you had better say," responded another. It was estimated that fifty thousand strangers were present.


The ceremonies before the statue were opened by prayer from the lips of the Reverend Dr. Perry, of Natchez, Mississippi. Then Mr. Walcutt, the sculptor, unveiled the statue. There it stood, upon a green mound, surrounded by an iron railing, imposing, beautiful, and remarkable because of its extreme whiteness. 68 Tens of thousands of voices sent up loud cheers as that chaste work of art was clearly revealed, for, just as the covering was removed, rays of sunlight, that had struggled through the clouds, fell full upon it. Mr. Walcutt made a brief address, which was responded to by Mayor Senter. Then followed Mr. Bancroft’s oration, 69 and an historical discourse by Dr. Parsons. 70 Oliver Hazard Perry, the only surviving son of the commodore, addressed the people briefly, when the masonic ceremonies of dedication were performed. The proceedings closed with a song, written by E. G. Knowlton, of Cleveland, and sung by Ossian E. Dodge.

I had been invited to dine with the veterans of 1812, and when the ceremonies before the statue were ended, I hastened from the crowded city to the old soldiers’ banquet-hall in the railway buildings on the margin of the lake. The scene was a most interesting and remarkable one. Almost three hundred survivors of the war, who had been participants in its military events, were seated at the table, with their commander for the day (General J. M. Hughes), and Deacon Benjamin Rouse, the president of the Old Soldiers’ Association, at their head. There were very few among them of feeble step. Upon every head not disfigured by a wig lay the snows that never melt. It was a dinner-party, I venture to say, that has no parallel in history. The ages of the guests (excepting a few younger men, like myself; who were permitted by courtesy to be present) ranged from fifty-seven to ninety years. 71 The average was about seventy years; and the aggregate age of the company was about twenty thousand years!

When I left the banquet-hall a spectacle of rare beauty met the eye. The high banks of the lake in front of the city were covered with men, women, and children, thousands in number, who had come out to be witnesses of a promised sham-fight on the lake, in nearly exact imitation of the real one forty-seven years before. I climbed the steep bank, up a long flight of stairs at the foot of Warren Street, to a good position for observation, and found myself by the side of Mr. Fleming, the jolly little maintop-man of the Niagara, with his sailor’s dress and silver medal. The clouds had dispersed, and the afternoon was almost as bright and serene as when the old battle was waged. One by one the vessels representing the belligerent squadrons of Perry and Barclay went out from the mouth of the Cuyahoga, not "with a light breeze" alone, but by the more certain power of steam-tugs. Captain Champlin commanded the mock-American squadron, and Mr. Chapman 72 that of the mock-British. A singular coincidence occurred. As in the real battle, so in this, there was a light breeze at first, which freshened before the close. It was an exciting scene, and little Fleming fairly danced with exhilaration as he observed the flashes – the booming of great guns – the fleet enveloped in smoke – Champlin, like Perry, leaving the Lawrence and going to the Niagara, and the latter sweeping down, breaking the Chapman-Barclay’s line and winning victory. With this extraordinary pageant closed the public ceremonies of the day. 73

On the following day, accompanied by the Rev. T. B. Fairchild, of Hudson, Ohio, I visited several persons and places in Cleveland connected with its history. Among the former were Judge Barr, to whose kind courtesy, through the medium of letters, I was under many obligations, and the widow of Dr. David Long, a daughter of John Wadsworth, one of the earliest settlers in that region. She was a resident of Cleveland at the time of the battle. 74 When I visited her [September, 1860.] she and Levi Johnson and his wife were the only survivors of the inhabitants of that place in 1813. At the time of Hull’s surrender there was great alarm at Cleveland, and Mrs. Long was the only woman who remained. Her husband would not desert the sick there, and she would not desert her husband. At that time they had no military protection, but in the spring of 1813 Major Jesup was stationed there with two companies of Ohio militia.

These were joined in May by Captain Stanton Sholes, now [1867] a resident of Columbus, Ohio, 75 with a company of United States Artillery from Pennsylvania. He was cordially welcomed by Governor Meigs, and made his quarters at Major Carter’s tavern. He immediately set about felling the timber on the site of the present city of Cleveland, with which to build a small stockade fort. This was erected near the present lighthouse, about fifty yards from the lake. He also erected a comfortable hospital. During that summer he was on active duty there, but two days before the battle on the lake he received orders from General Harrison to break up his encampment, and, with his company and all the government boats at Cleveland, move on to the mouth of the Maumee, preparatory to a speedy invasion of Canada.

I left Cleveland on the morning of the 12th of September [1860.] for Southern Ohio, and the residence and tomb of General Harrison. Of the incidents of that journey I shall hereafter write. Let us occupy a few moments in considering the farther movements of the lake squadron so lately in battle. We left them in Put-in-Bay on the morning of the 12th [September, 1813.], after the sad task of burying the slain officers had been performed.

In the course of the day after the battle Perry visited the wounded Barclay on board the battered Detroit. They met there for the first time face to face, and it was the beginning of a lasting personal friendship. His kindness to Barclay and his men on this occasion elicited the praises of that officer in his official dispatch. Every thing that friend could do for friend was performed by the victor toward the captive. 76

Perry now prepared for the transportation of Harrison’s army to Canada. For that purpose he placed all the wounded Americans on board the Lawrence, and the wounded British on board the Detroit and Queen Charlotte, 77 and arranged the Niagara and the lighter vessels of both squadrons as transports. He made the Niagara his flag-ship; and on board of her, on the 13th, while a furious gale from the southwest was sweeping over the lake, he wrote a detailed account of the battle for the Secretary of the Navy. 78 The shattered British vessels were made to suffer by that storm. It drove heavy swells into the harbor, which so shook the Detroit that her masts fell upon her decks with a terrible crash, wrecking every thing near them. The main and mizzen masts of the Queen Charlotte also fell; and there lay the three vessels helpless hulks. They were converted into hospital ships. The crippled Lawrence, devoted to the same uses, sailed sluggishly for Erie on the 21st [September.], and was soon followed by the Detroit and Queen Charlotte. 79 She arrived at Erie on the 23d, and was greeted by a salute of seventeen guns on shore. A month later [October 22, 1813.], when Canada had been successfully invaded by Harrison, and Perry, as his volunteer aid, had shared in the honors of victory, the Ariel sailed into Erie with these commanders, who were accompanied by Commodore Barclay, then admitted to his parole, and Colonel E. P. Gaines.


These officers took lodgings at Duncan’s, Perry’s old headquarters, yet standing (glorious because of its associations, though in ruins), on the corner of Third and French Streets. 80 They were received with the booming of cannon, the shouts of the people, and the kindly greeting of every loyal heart.


The town was illuminated in the evening, and the streets were enlivened by a torch-light procession, bearing transparencies, made at the suggestion and under the direction of the accomplished Lieutenant Thomas Holdup. 81 On one of these were the words "Commodore Perry, 10th of September, 1813;" on another, "General Harrison, 5th of October, 1813;" on another, "Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights;" and on a fourth, "Erie." The Niagara arrived the same afternoon, and other vessels soon followed. 82

The succeeding winter was passed in much anxiety by the inhabitants of Erie on account of an expected attack by the British and Indians, who, it was reported, were preparing to cross the lake on the ice from the Canada shore. False alarms were frequent, and midnight packings of valuables preparatory to an exodus were quite common. The summer brought guaranties of repose, and during the last half of the year 1814 only a company of volunteers were stationed there, most of them at the block-house at Cascade Creek. 83



1 Perry also kept two of the smaller vessels as look-outs in the vicinity of the Sisters Islands.

2 This little picture is from a painting made on the spot by Miss C. L. Ransom, who kindly permitted me to copy it (see page 505). "Perry’s Look-out" is on the left, and is composed of limestone piled about fifty feet above the water. In front is a natural arch. On the summit is a representation of a monument proposed to be erected there, of which the corner-stone was laid several years ago with imposing ceremonies. On the left are seen the graves of some sailors who died of cholera. In the middle is seen Rattlesnake Island. On the right, in the extreme distance, is North Bass Island, and between the two is the passage toward Detroit. The Middle Bass is also seen on the right. This is a faithful copy of Miss Ransom’s picture, with the exception of time. It has been made a moonlight scene, for effect, instead of a daylight one.

Near the site of the proposed monument, Jay Cooke, an eminent banker, has a fine dwelling, and on the foundations prepared for that monument he caused to be erected, in 1866, a small one, composed of yellowish limestone. It is about ten feet in height, and surmounted by a bronze vase for flowers. On its sides are naval devices of the same metal.

3 Henry Brevoort, of New York, was commissioned Second Lieutenant in Third Infantry in 1801. He commanded transports on Lake Erie, and in May, 1811, was promoted to captain. He distinguished himself in the battle of Maguaga (see page 279), and also as commander of marines in the Niagara in the battle of Lake Erie. He received a silver medal for his gallantry there. He was promoted to major in 1814, and was disbanded in 1815. In 1822 he was made United States Indian Agent at Green Bay. – Gardner’s Dictionary of the Army.

4 Samuel Hambleton was a native of Talbot County, Maryland, where he was born in 1777. He was first a merchant, then a clerk in the Navy Department, and in 1806 was appointed purser in the navy. After the battle of Lake Erie, the officers and crews of the American squadron appointed him prize agent, and more than $200,000 passed through his hands. He left the lake in 1814, and performed good service afloat and ashore for many years. He died at his residence in Maryland, near St. Michael’s, called "Perry’s Cabin," January 17, 1851.

5 This is a picture of the flag as seen in the Trophy Room of the Sanitary Fair in the City of New York in the month of April, 1864. It is between eight and nine feet square. The form of the letters is preserved in the engraving. They are about a foot in length, and might be seen at a considerable distance.

The following lines, in allusion to this flag, are from a fine poem on The Hero of Lake Erie, by Henry T. Tuckerman, Esq.:

"Behold the chieftain’s glad, prophetic smile,
As a new banner he unrolls the while;
Hear the gay shout of his elated crew
When the dear watchword hovers to their view,
And Lawrence, silent in the arms of death,
Bequeaths defiance with his latest breath!"

6 William Vigeron Taylor was of French descent. He was a captain in the merchant service, and entered that of the navy under Perry as sailing-master. Perry esteemed him highly, and made him sailing-master of his flag-ship on Lake Erie. He rendered efficient service in the fitting out of the squadron. In the battle on the 10th of September he received a wound in the thigh, but kept the deck until the close. On the return of the Lawrence to Erie, Mr. Taylor was sent with dispatches to Chauncey. In 1814 he was commissioned a lieutenant in the navy. He was promoted to commander in 1821, and to post captain in 1841. He commanded the sloops Warren and Erie in the Gulf of Mexico. After his promotion to post captain he was placed in command of the ship-of-the-line Ohio, and took her around Cape Horn to the Pacific. He was then sixty-eight years of age. On the 11th of February, 1851, he died of apoplexy, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.

It is proper here to mention that most of the biographical sketches of the officers of Perry’s squadron contained in this chapter are compiled from a paper on the subject from the pen of Dr. Usher Parsons, published in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for January, 1863.

7 These were as follows: Ship Detroit, 19 guns, 1 in pivot, and 2 howitzers; ship Queen Charlotte, 17, and 1 howitzer; schooner Lady Prevost, 13, and 1 howitzer; brig Hunter, 10; sloop Little Belt, 3; and schooner Chippewa, 1, and 2 swivels.

8 These were as follows: Brig Lawrence, 20 guns; brig Niagara, 20; brig Caledonia, 3; schooner Ariel, 4; schooner Scorpion, 2, and 2 swivels; sloop Trippe, 1; schooner Tigress, 1; and schooner Porcupine, 1. The Ohio, Captain Dobbins, had gone to Erie for supplies, and was not in the action.


9 Oliver Hazard Perry was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, on the 23d of August, 1785. His father was then in the naval service of the United States. He entered the navy as midshipman at the age of fifteen years, on board the sloop-of-war General Greene, when war with France seemed inevitable. He first saw active service before Tripoli, in the squadron of Commodore Preble. He was commissioned a lieutenant in 1810, and placed in command of the schooner Revenge, attached to Commodore Rodgers’s squadron in Long Island Sound. She was wrecked, but his conduct in saving public property was highly applauded. Early in 1812 he was placed in command of a flotilla of gun-boats in Newport Harbor. After his victorious battle on Lake Erie in 1813, he was promoted to post-captain, and at the close of the war he was placed in command of the Java ,44, a first-class frigate, and sailed with Decatur for the Mediterranean Sea. On his return, while his vessel was lying in Newport Harbor, in mid-winter, a fearful storm arose. He heard of the wreck of a merchant vessel upon a reef six miles distant. He immediately manned his barge and said to his crew, "Come, my boys, we are going to the relief of shipwrecked seamen; pull away!" He rescued eleven almost exhausted seamen from death.

On account of piracies in the West Indies, the United States government determined to send a little squadron there for the protection of American commerce. Perry was assigned to the command of it, and in 1819 he sailed in the John Adams, accompanied by the Nonsuch. In August he was attacked by the yellow fever, and on his birthday (August 23d) he expired, at the age of thirty-four years. He was buried at Port Spain, Trinidad, with military honors. His death produced a most profound sensation throughout the United States, for it was regarded as a great public calamity. Tributes of national grief were displayed, and the Congress of the United States made a liberal provision for his family, and his mother, who was dependent on him for support. In 1826 his remains were conveyed from Trinidad to Newport in the sloop-of-war Lexington, and landed on the 27th of November.


On Monday (December 4th) following he was interred with funeral honors due to his rank. His coffin rested in a sort of catafalco, the lower part being in the form of a boat. The canopy was decorated with stars and trimmed with black curtains, and at each corner were black plumes.


The State of Rhode Island afterward caused to be erected a substantial granite monument to his memory. It stands upon a grassy mound on the west side of the Island Cemetery, and at the base rest the remains of the commodore and the deceased of his family. The monument bears the following inscriptions. East side: "OLIVER HAZARD PERRY. At the age of 27 years he achieved the victory of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813." North side: "Born in South Kingston, R. I., August 23, 1785. Died at Port Spain, Trinidad, August 23, 1819, aged 34 years." West side: "His remains were conveyed to his native land in a ship-of-war, according to a resolution of Congress, and were here interred December 4, 1826." South side: "Erected by the State of Rhode Island."

In person Commodore Perry was tall and well-proportioned, of exquisite symmetry, and graceful in every movement. He was every inch a man. He possessed splendid talents was prudent and brave in the highest degree. In private life he was gentle, and his conjugal love and faithfulness were perfect. His respect for his wife amounted to reverence, and he was ever ready to acknowledge her salutary influence. Doctor Parsons relates that his first remark on regaining the Lawrence, after the battle, was addressed to his friend Hambleton, the purser. He said, "The prayers of my wife have prevailed in saving me."

10 Stephen Champlin was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, on the 17th of November, 1789. His father was a volunteer soldier in the Revolution. His mother was a sister of Commodore Perry’s father, making the two commanders first cousins. He went to sea as a sailor at the age of sixteen years, and at the age of twenty-two, having passed through all grades, he was captain of a ship that sailed from Norwich, Connecticut. On the 22d of May, 1812, he was appointed sailing-master in the navy, and commanded a gun-boat, under Perry, at Newport. As we have seen, he was sent to Lake Erie. On his arrival he was appointed to the command of the Scorpion, which he gallantly managed throughout the battle. Subsequently to the battle he was placed in command of the Queen Charlotte and Detroit, two prize-ships taken from the enemy. In the spring of 1814 he was placed in command of the Tigress, under Commander Sinclair, and, with Captain Turner, he blockaded the port of Mackinaw. His services on the Upper Lake will be noticed in the future text. Suffice it to say here that he was severely wounded in the thigh while in that service by canister-shot, and taken prisoner. That wound has been troublesome to him until this hour. In 1816 he was appointed to the command of the Porcupine, and conveyed a party of topographical engineers to the Upper Lakes, who were to consider the boundary-line between the United States and Great Britain. His wound prevented his doing much active service. He was ordered to the steam-ship Fulton at New York, and had left her but a short time when she blew up. In 1842 he was placed in command of the naval rendezvous at Buffalo, and was successful in shipping apprentices for the service. In 1845 he was ordered to the command of the Michigan at Erie, and continued there about four years and a half. A few years ago he was placed on the reserve list, with full pay, and remains so. He now bears the title of commodore. He resides at Buffalo, and, with the exception of the sufferings caused by his wound, he is in the enjoyment of fair health, at the age of seventy-eight years. He is a stout, thick-set man, of middle size. He is the last survivor of the nine commanders in Perry’s squadron in the great battle in 1813.

11 John H. Packet was a native of Virginia. He received his warrant as midshipman in 1809, and was commissioned a lieutenant a few days before this battle. He was with Bainbridge when the Constitution captured the Java. He served at Erie some years after the battle, and died there of fever.

The acting sailing-master of the Ariel in the battle, Thomas Brownell, was from Rhode Island, and went to Erie as master’s-mate, where he was promoted. He was commissioned a lieutenant in 1843, when he was placed on the retired list. He now (1867) resides at Newport, Rhode Island. He was always an active and esteemed officer.

12 Dr. Usher Parsons’s Discourse on the Battle of Lake Erie, delivered before the Rhode Island Historical Society, February 16, 1852, page 10.

13 Two musket-balls had already passed through his hat, and his clothes had been torn by splinters.

14 John J. Yarnall was a native of Pennsylvania, and was commissioned a lieutenant in July, 1813, having been in the service as midshipman since 1809. Ten days after the battle on Lake Erie he was sent to Erie with the Lawrence, and soon afterward was ordered to the John Adams. He was appointed commander of the Epervier in 1815. She was lost at sea with all on board. The State of Virginia presented Lieutenant Yarnall with a sword soon after the battle of Lake Erie. It was exhibited at the head-quarters of the Old Soldiers at Cleveland, on the occasion of the dedication of the statue of Perry in that city in September, 1860. I copied the following inscription from the blade:

"In testimony of the undaunted gallantry of Lieutenant John J. Yarnall, of the United States ship Lawrence, under Commodore Perry, in the capture of the whole English fleet on Lake Erie, September 10, 1813, the State of Virginia bestows this sword." It was brought from Wheeling to Cleveland by Mr. Fleming, of the former place.

15 He was struck in the breast by a spent grape-shot. Perry raised him up, assured him that he was not hurt, as there were no signs of a wound, and, thus encouraged, he soon recovered from the shock. The ball had lodged in his clothes. "I am not hurt, sir," he said to the commander, "but this is my shot," and coolly put it in his pocket.

16 John Brooks was a native of Massachusetts. He studied medicine with his father. Having a military taste, he obtained the appointment of lieutenant of marines, and was stationed at Washington when the war broke out. He was sent to Lake Erie under Perry; and at Erie, while the squadron was a-building, he was engaged in recruiting for the service. There he raised a company of marines for the squadron. He was an excellent drill officer, and gave great promise of future distinction. So intense was his agony when he fell, his hip having been shattered by a cannon-ball, that he begged Perry to shoot him. He died in the course of an hour. "Mr. Brooks," says Doctor Parsons, "was probably surpassed by no officer in the navy for manly beauty, polished manners, and elegant personal appearance."

17 The scenes on board the Lawrence, as described to me by Doctor Parsons, must have been extremely terrible. The vessel was shallow, and the ward-room; used as a cockpit, to which the wounded were taken, was mostly above water, and exposed to the shots of the enemy; while nothing but the deck-planks separated it from the terrible tumult above, caused by the groans and shrieks of the wounded and dying, the deep rumbling of the gun-carriages, the awful explosions of the cannon, the crash of round-shot as they splintered spars, stove the bulwarks, dismounted the heavy ordnance, and cut the rigging, while through the seams of the deck blood streamed into the surgeon’s room in many a crimson rill. When the battle had raged half an hour, and the crew of the Lawrence were falling one by one, the commodore called from the small skylight for the doctor to send up one of his six assistants. In five minutes the call was repeated and obeyed, and again repeated and obeyed, until Parsons was left alone. "Can any of the wounded pull a rope?" inquired Perry. The question was answered by two or three crawling upon deck to lend a feeble hand in pulling at the last guns in position.

Midshipman Lamb had his arm badly shattered. While moving forward to lie down, after the doctor had dressed the wound, a round-shot came crashing through the side of the vessel, struck the young man in the side, dashed him across the room, and killed him instantly. Pohig, a Narraganset Indian, badly wounded, was released from his sufferings in the same way by another ball that passed through the cockpit. No less than six round-shot entered the surgeon’s room during the action.

Some of the incidents witnessed by the doctor were not so painful. A cannon-ball passed through a closet containing all the brig’s crockery, dashing a greater portion of it in pieces. It was an illustration – that ball from John Bull – of "a bull in a china-shop." The commodore’s dog had secreted himself in that closet when the war of battle commenced, and when the destructive intruder came he set up a furious barking – "a protest," said the doctor, "against the right of such an invasion of his chosen retirement."

We have observed that Lieutenant Yarnall was wounded, yet kept the deck. He had his scalp badly torn, and "came below," said the doctor, "with the blood streaming over his face." Some lint was applied to the wound and confined by a handkerchief, and the lieutenant was then directed to come for better dressing after the battle, as he insisted upon returning to the deck. It was not long before he again made his appearance, having received a second wound. On the deck were stowed some hammocks stuffed with reed-tops, or "cat-tails," as they are popularly called. These filled the air like down, and had settled like snow upon the blood-wet head and face of Yarnall. When he made his appearance below, his visage was ludicrous beyond description; his head appeared like that of a huge owl. The wounded roared with laughter, and cried out, "The devil has come among us!"

18 Daniel Turner was a native of New York. He was appointed a midshipman in 1808, and in 1813 was commissioned a lieutenant. He was efficient in getting the little lake squadron ready for service. In its first cruise across the lake, young Turner, less than twenty-one years of age, commanded the Niagara. On the arrival of Captain Elliott, he was ordered to the third ship, the Caledonia, and managed her gallantly during the action. He continued in the lake service the following year, and was made a prisoner and sent to Montreal. He was exchanged, and accompanied Perry in the Java to the Mediterranean. For his services in the battle of Lake Erie his native state presented him with an elegant sword. He was at one time commander of the naval station at Portsmouth; at another of the Pacific squadron, and always performed his duties with the greatest promptness. He was temperate, brave, generous, and genial. He was made master commander in 1825, and post-captain in 1835. He died on the 4th of February, 1850, leaving a widow and one daughter, who still survive him.

19 Letter of Rev. Francis Vinton, D. D., son-in-law of Commodore Perry, to the Author.

20 This was rolled up and cast to him, after he had entered his barge, by Hosea Sargent, now (1867) living at Cambridge, Massachusetts.

21 One of these was Thomas Penny, who died in the Naval Asylum, near Philadelphia, in 1863, at the age of eighty-one years.

22 Perry’s portrait belonging to the city of New York, and hanging in the Governor’s Room, from which ours on page 521 was copied, is what artists call a kit-kat, or three-quarters length. It was painted by John Wesley Jarvis, and represents Perry standing, with the banner floating like a huge scarf from his shoulders.

23 Among the survivors of the Battle of Lake Erie whom I have met was John Chapman, a resident of Hudson, Ohio, a small, energetic man, who related his past experience in an attractive, dramatic style. He was in the British fleet as gunner, maintop-man, and boarder in the Queen Charlotte, and claimed the distinction of having fired the first shot at the Lawrence from a 24-pounder. He also said that he aimed shot at Commodore Perry when making his perilous passage from the Lawrence to the Niagara. Mr. Chapman was a native of England. He came from there in the transport Bostwick early in 1812, and landed at Quebec. From that city he went up the St. Lawrence in May, and took post in Fort George, on the Niagara River. He afterward went up to assist in the erection of Fort Erie. He was present at the surrender of Hull, and participated in the battle of Queenston Heights. In the summer of 1813 he was placed on board the schooner Lady Prevost, at Long Point, and arrived at Malden about three weeks before the battle of Lake Erie. He was with Proctor at the attack on Fort Stephenson. He was one of the survivors in the fatal ditch (see page 503), and escaped to the woods under cover of the darkness. On the return of Proctor to Malden he went on board the Queen Charlotte, and was with her in the battle. He was sent to Ohio with other prisoners, and was one of those who were held as hostages for the safety of the Irishmen under Scott who were sent to England, as mentioned on page 408. He was released on the 20th of October, at Cleveland. He went immediately to Hudson, a few miles distant, where he resided until his death In 1865. I am indebted to the Rev. T. B. Fairchild, of Hudson, for the substance of the above brief sketch of the public career of Mr. Chapman, and to the soldier himself for his likeness, taken in the spring of 1862.

24 Mr. Hambleton, the purser of the Lawrence, has left on record an account of this interview between Perry and Elliott. "As Perry reached the deck of the Niagara," he says, "he was met at the gangway by Captain Elliott, who inquired how the day was going. Captain Perry replied, Badly; that he had lost almost all of his men, and that his ship was a wreck, and asked what the gun-boats were doing so far astern, captain Elliott offered to go and bring them up; and, Captain Perry consenting, he sprang into the boat and went off on that duty. – Hambleton’s Journal, cited by M‘Kenzie.

25 Oration by George H. Calvert, at Newport, Rhode Island, on the 10th of September, 1853, on the occasion of the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie.

26 Lieutenant Buchan, the commander of the Lady Prevost, was shot through the face by a musket-ball from Perry’s marines. Perry saw him standing alone, leaning on the companion-way, his face resting on his hand, and looking with fixed gaze toward the Niagara. His companions, unable to endure the terrible fire, had all fled below. Perry immediately silenced the marines on the quarter-deck. He afterward learned that the strange conduct of Buchan was owing to sudden derangement caused by his wound. Poor fellow! he was a brave officer, and had distinguished himself under Nelson.

27 The position of the Detroit and Queen Charlotte at this time may be seen by reference to II. and IV. in the diagram on page 526. In the same diagram, the course of the Niagara in breaking the British line may be seen along the dotted line from 5 to 5.

28 Thomas Holdup was a native of South Carolina, and was an inmate and pupil of the Orphan Asylum in Charleston. He became a protegé of General Stevens, of that city, who obtained a midshipman’s warrant for him in 1809. He was on board the John Adams, at Brooklyn, in 1812, and, with others, volunteered for the lake service. He performed gallant service near Buffalo toward the close of the year, and was commissioned a lieutenant. In April, 1813, he went to Erie with men, and assisted in fitting out the squadron there. He fought his vessel bravely in the action of the 10th of September, and he and Champlin pursued the two fugitives of the British squadron. He was in service on the upper lakes the following year, and there was invited to the Java by Perry. He had married, and declined the offer of a good post on that vessel. He subsequently commanded several different vessels, and was promoted to master commandant in 1825. He was commissioned post-captain in 1836. He died suddenly while in command of the Washington Navy Yard, in January, 1841. His widow, who was a Miss Sage, died soon afterward. By act of the Legislature of South Carolina he assumed the name of his benefactor, with a promise that he should inherit his fortune. From that time [1815] he is known as Thomas Holdup Stevens. He was possessed of a high order of literary ability, and was beloved by all. His son, Thomas Holdup Stevens, behaved gallantly in the naval action off Hilton Head in the late civil war.

29 Thomas C. Almy was a native of Rhode Island, of Quaker parentage. He became a sailor in early life, and at the age of twenty-one years be was commander of a ship. He was in the flotilla at Newport, went to Lake Erie, and was efficient, useful, and brave there. He died at Erie in December, 1813, only three months after the battle that has made his name immortal. His disease was pneumonia.


The annexed engraving is a picture of the hilt of the sword awarded to Almy, and which was given to his next of kin. On one side of the blade are the words "THOMAS C. ALMY, Sailing-master commanding, Lake Erie, 10th September, 1813." On the other side the words "ALTIUS IBUNT QUI AD SUMMA NITUNTER," with a little view of ships-of-war.

30 Augustus H. M. Concklin was a native of Virginia. He was appointed midshipman in 1809, and lieutenant in 1813. He followed Elliott to Erie. On a dark night in 1814 his vessel was captured by a party in boats off Fort Erie. He left the service in 1820, while stationed at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

31 George Senat was a native of New Orleans, of French extraction. He commenced active life as a sailor, but of his career previous to his joining the squadron at Erie nothing appears on record. He served on the upper lakes in 1814. On his return to Erie he became involved in a quarrel with Sailing-master M‘Donald. A duel ensued, and young Senat was killed. They fought at what is now the corner of Third and Sassafras Streets, Erie.

32 See the above diagram and note of explanation.

33 "The shattered Lawrence," says Dr. Parsons, "lying to the windward, was once more able to hoist her flag, which was cheered by a few feeble voices on board, making a melancholy sound compared with the boisterous cheering that preceded the battle." – Discourse, page 13,

34 See Perry’s Dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy, printed above.

35 New York Ledger.

36 This is the most southwardly of three islands near the western end of Lake Erie, named respectively Eastern Sister, Middle Sister, and Western Sister, lying in a line from the southwest to the northeast. It was a little westward of the island named in the dispatch that the battle occurred.

37 The gallant Lieutenant Dulaney Forrest was Perry’s chosen courier. He was a native of the District of Columbia, and had been in the service since 1809, when he was appointed midshipman. He was with Bainbridge when the Constitution captured the Java. He was acting lieutenant on board Perry’s flag-ship, and was chief signal officer. His conduct was brave, and he was greatly beloved by his companions. He bore to Washington not only the dispatches of his commander, but the flags captured from the British. Forrest also took with him the blue banner with the words of Lawrence, mentioned on page 520. Forrest accompanied Perry to the Mediterranean in the Java. He was commissioned a lieutenant at that time. He died of fever in 1825.

Colonel Peter Force, of Washington City, has a piece of every flag captured in this battle, and of nearly every trophy-flag of the war. They were all taken to Washington, where, in course of time, through neglect, they fell into decay. The pieces in the possession of Mr. Force are carefully preserved in a scrap-book, with the place and date of their capture recorded, and make an interesting collection of bits of bunting.

The intelligence of the victory on Lake Erie was carried to Pennsylvania from Detroit by Samuel Doclue, Samuel Burnett, and Cyrus Bosworth. The first was a mail-carrier from Detroit to Cleveland; the second from Cleveland to Warren, Ohio, and the third from Warren to Pittsburg. They were all three living at the time of the inauguration of Perry’s statue at Cleveland in September, 1860. Mr. Bosworth participated in that celebration.

38 Discourse, page 14.

39 Calvert’s Oration, page 21.

40 These were Lieutenant Brooks and Midshipmen Lunt and Clarke, of the American service, and Captain Finnis and Lieutenants Stokoe and Garland, of the British service. The view here given of the burial-place of these officers I copied, by permission, from one of the paintings of Miss C. L. Ransom, already mentioned.

41 Samuel R. Brown, who arrived at Put-In-Bay Island on the evening of the 9th, and from the head of it was a witness of the battle at about ten miles distant, was present at the burial. "An opening on the margin of the bay," he says, "was selected for the interment of the bodies. The crews of both fleets attended. The weather was fine; the elements seemed to participate in the solemnities of the day, for every breeze was hushed, and not a wave ruffled the surface of the water. The procession of boats – the neat appearance of the officers and men – the music – the slow and regulated motion of the oars, striking in exact time with the notes of the solemn dirge – the mournful waving of the flags – the sound of the minute-guns from the different ships In the harbor – the wild and solitary aspect of the place – the stillness of nature – gave to the scene an air of melancholy grandeur better felt than described. All acknowledged its influence, all were sensibly affected." – Views on Lake Erie, printed in Albany in 1814.

42 The American loss was distributed as follows: On the Lawrence, 83; Niagara, 27; Caledonia, 3; Somers, 2; Ariel, 4; Trippe and Scorpion, 2 each. Besides the officers mentioned in Note 1, above, the British lost in wounded Midshipman Foster, of the Queen Charlotte; Lieutenant Commanding Buchan and First Lieutenant Roulette, of the Lady Prevost; Lieutenant Commandant Brignall and Master’s Mate Gateshill, of the Hunter; Master’s Mate Campbell, commanding the Chippewa; and Purser Hoffmeister, of the Detroit.

Doctor Horseley, the surgeon of the squadron, being ill, the duties devolved wholly upon his young assistant, Doctor Usher Parsons, then only twenty-five years of age. During the action he removed six legs, which were nearly divided by cannon-balls. On the morning of the 11th he went on board the Niagara to attend to her wounded, and then those of the other vessels requiring surgical attention were sent to the Lawrence. The skill of Doctor Parsons is attested by the fact that of the whole ninety-six wounded only three died. He modestly attributed the result to fresh air, good spirits caused by the victory, and the "devoted attention of the commodore."

43 The great guns used by Perry, and those captured by him from the British, remained in the United States Naval Depót at Erie until the autumn of 1825, when they were transferred to the Naval Station at Brooklyn. They were about to be removed through the agency of Dows, Cary, and Meech, who had prepared a line of boats for the just completed Erie Canal. The happy thought occurred to some one that these cannon might be used for telegraphic purposes in connection with the celebration or the first opening of the canal. They were accordingly placed at intervals of about ten miles along the whole line of the canal. When the first fleet of boats left Buffalo on that occasion, the fact was announced to the citizens of New York in one hour and twenty minutes by the serial discharges of these cannon. This announcement, literally conveyed in "thunder-tones" from the lake to the sea-board, was responded to in like manner and in the same space of time. – Statement of Orlando Allen to the Buffalo Historical Society, April, 1863.

The authorities consulted in the preparation of the foregoing account of the Battle of Lake Erie are the official dispatches of Perry and Barclay; Niles’s Register; The War; Port Folio; Analectic Magazine; Political Register; M‘Kenzie’s Life of Perry; Life of Elliott, by a citizen of New York; Cooper’s Naval History; Discourses by Parsons, Burgess, and Calvert; oral and written statements communicated to the author by the survivors; Brown’s Views on Lake Erie, and Log-book of the Lawrence, kept by Sailing-master Taylor.

44 I was informed by Captain Levi Johnson, whom I met at Cleveland in the autumn of 1860, that he and others were engaged in the last work upon the new court-house, which stood in front of the present First Presbyterian Church, on the day of the battle. They thought they heard thunder, but, seeing no clouds, concluded that the two squadrons had met. He and several others went down to the lake bank, near the present residence of Mr. Whittaker, on Water Street. Nearly all the villagers assembled there, numbering about thirty. They waited until the firing ceased. Although the distance in a straight line was full seventy miles, they could easily distinguish the sounds of the heavier and lighter guns. The last five reports were from the heavy guns. Knowing that the Americans had the heaviest ordnance, they concluded that victory remained with them, and with that conviction they gave three cheers for Perry. Miss Reynolds, sister of the venerable Robert Reynolds, of the British army, whom I also visited in the autumn of 1860, told me that she listened to the firing during the whole battle. The distance was less than forty miles.

A letter dated at Erie, September 24, 1813, says that a gentleman from the New York state line heard at his house the cannonading on the lake one hundred and sixty miles distant! It was heard at Erie, and at first was supposed to be distant thunder.

45 Analectic Magazine, iii., 84.

46 The City Hall and other buildings in New York were splendidly illuminated on the evening of Saturday, October 23, 1813. There was a band of music in the gallery of the portico, and transparencies were exhibited showing naval battles; also the words of Lawrence, "DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP," and those of Perry’s dispatch, "WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY, AND THEY ARE OURS." The last-named transparency was exhibited at the theatre, with a picture of the fight between the Hornet and Peacock.

47 Many songs were written and sung in commemoration of Perry’s victory, One of the most popular of these was American Perry, which commences thus:

"Bold Barclay one day to Proctor did say,

I’m tired of Jamaica and Cherry;
So let us go down to that new floating town,
And get some American Perry. *
Oh, cheap American Perry!
Most pleasant American Perry!
We need only all bear down, knock, and call,
And we’ll have the American Perry."

* See the next note on this page.

48 Among the caricatures of the day was one by Charles, of Philadelphia, representing John Bull, in the person of the king, seated, with his hand pressed upon his stomach, indicating pain, which the fresh juice of the pear, called perry, will produce. Queen Charlotte, the king’s wife (a fair likeness of whom is given), enters with a bottle labeled PERRY, out of which the cork has flown, and in the foam is seen the names of the vessels composing the American squadron, She says, "Johnny, won’t you have some more Perry!" John Bull replies, while writhing in pain produced by perry, "Oh! Perry!!! Curse that Perry! One disaster after another – I have not half recovered of the bloody nose I got at the Boxing-match." This last expression refers to the capture of the Boxer by the American schooner Enterprise. This caricature is entitled "Queen Charlotte and Johnny Bull got their dose of Perry." This will be better perceived by remembering that one of the principal vessels of the British squadron was named the Queen Charlotte, in honor of the royal consort. In a ballad of the day occurs the following lines:

"On Erie’s wave, while Barclay brave,

With Charlotte making merry,
He chanced to take the belly-ache,
We drenched him so with Perry."

49 The War, page 127.

50 See note 1, page 534.

51 On one side of Perry’s medal is a bust of the commodore, surrounded by the following words: "OLIVERUS H. PERRY, PRINCEPS STAGNO ERIENSE. CLASSAM TOTAM CONTUDIT." On the reverse a squadron of vessels closely engaged, and the legend "VIAM INVENIT VIRTUS AUT FACIT." Exergue: "INTER CLASS. AMERI. ET BRIT. DIE X. SEP. MDCCCXIII."

On one side of Elliott’s medal is a bust of the commander, and the words "JESSE D. ELLIOTT. NIL ACTUM REPUTANS SI QUID. SUPRESSET AGENDUM." On the reverse a squadron engaged, and the legend "VIAM INVENIT VIRTUS AUT FACIT." The exergue the same as on Perry’s.

52 We have observed in Note 2, page 519, that Mr. Hambleton, purser of the Lawrence, was chosen prize agent. A board of officers from Lake Ontario, assisted by Henry Eckford, naval constructor, prized the captured squadron at $225,000. Commodore Chauncey, the commander-in-chief on the lakes, received one twentieth of the whole sum, or $12,750. Perry and Elliott each drew $7140. The Congress voted Perry $5000 in addition. Each commander of a gun-boat, sailing-master, lieutenant, and captain of marines, received $2295; each midshipman, $811; each petty officer, $447; and each marine and sailor, $209. – Miss Laura G. Sanford’s History of Erie, page 273.

53 See page 521.

54 Perry took with him from Rhode Island, as we have seen (page 509), a large number of men and officers. It was by them chiefly that the vessels built at Erie were constructed. The commodore and three of his commanders – Champlin, Almy, and Turner, and five other officers – Taylor, Brownell, Breese, Dunham, and Alexander Perry, were from Rhode Island. In the fight forty-seven of the fifty-five guns of the squadron were commanded by Rhode Islanders.

55 New Quarterly Review and British Colonial Register, No. 4; S. M. Richardson, Cornhill, London.

56 Analectic Magazine, December, 1813.

57 He had just heard of Harrison’s victorious invasion of Canada, and it was believed at that time that the upper province would assuredly become a portion of the United States.

58 See picture on page 518. On the 4th of July, 1852, the national anniversary was celebrated on Put-in-Bay Island by five companies of Ohio volunteer militia, Their encampment was the first ever seen there since Harrison left it with his troops in the autumn of 1813. At that time it was agreed to take measures for erecting a monument in commemoration of the victory, and The Battle of Lake Erie Monument Association was formed. A Constitution was adopted, and General Lewis Cass, of Detroit, was appointed president of the association. J. G. Camp, E. Cooke, E. Bill, A. P. Edwards, and J. A. Harris, were appointed a provisional executive committee.

59 The project of erecting a statue of Perry at Cleveland originated with the Hon. Harvey Rice, of that city, who, as member of the Common Council, brought the subject before that body in June, 1857, in a series of resolutions. A committee was appointed to take the matter in hand, composed of Harvey Rice, O. M. Oviatt, J. M. Coffinberry, J. Kirkpatrick, and C. D. Williams. They contracted with T. Jones and Sons, of Cleveland, to erect a monument surmounted by a statue of Perry, for the sum of eight thousand dollars. The designs of monument and statue were made by William Walcutt, the sculptor, of Cleveland, and the figures were executed by him.

60 See page 511.

61 See note 1, page 510.

62 See page 511.

63 Mrs. Dobbins is of English and Irish extraction, and was married to Mr. Dobbins at Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania, early in the year 1800, by whom she had ten children.

64 The other two were John Murray, a marine from Pennsylvania, aged about seventy-three, and Jesse Wall, a colored man, aged about seventy-four years, who was a fifer on board the Niagara.

65 Benjamin Fleming was born in Lewiston, Delaware, on the 20th of July, 1782. He entered the naval service on board the frigate Essex in 1811, and at New York volunteered for the lake service. He was with Elliott at the capture of the Caledonia and Adams. See list of names in Note 5, page 385. He had lived in Erie ever since the war. Two of his sons were in a Pennsylvania regiment during the late Civil War, and both were wounded in the battles before Richmond.

66 See page 535.

67 Among these were Benjamin La Reaux, aged seventy-seven years. He was from La Salle City, Illinois. He was a small, lively, sparkling-faced man, and was dressed in the same military suit of gray in which, as orderly sergeant, he fought under General Scott in the battle of Niagara, or Lundy’s Lane, He was in Jesup’s command. A history of that gray uniform will be given hereafter. Mr. La Reaux’s father was a Frenchman, and served as captain under Lafayette.

68 The monument and statue, represented on the following page, present to the eye one of the most chaste memorials of greatness to be found in the country. Indeed, it is believed that nothing equals it. The pedestal is of Rhode Island granite, twelve feet in height, on one side of which is sculptured, in low relief, the scene of Perry’s passage from the Lawrence to the Niagara. On one side of it is a small statue of a Sailor-boy, bareheaded, and on the other one of a Midshipman, with his cap on, in the attitude of listening. The statue is of Parian marble, and remarkable for its purity. It is eight feet in height, but at the altitude of the top of the pedestal or monument it appears life-size. The entire height of the monument, including the base, is twenty-five feet.

69 Immediately after the conclusion of Mr. Bancroft’s address, he was presented with a cane, made of the timber of the Lawrence, by the "Wayne Guards," of Erie. The head is of gold, and the ferule a spike from the Lawrence.

70 During the delivery of Dr. Parsons’s discourse, an intelligent old man, named Quinn, from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, came upon the stand, and reported himself as the man who made the cordage used in rigging the vessels of Perry’s squadron. He had with him, in a box, the identical tools that were used in that service.

71 The oldest man among them was a colored soldier named Abraham Chase. He was ninety. Two of them (S. F. Whitney and Richard M‘Cready) were only fifty-seven. They were boys in the service.

72 See page 527.

73 At the close of the public proceedings the members of the Masonic Order who were present dined together at the Weddell House, H. L. Hosmer, Deputy Grand Master of Ohio, presided. The banqueters were enlivened by toasts and speeches, and the festivities closed with a song written for the occasion by William Ross Wallace, and sung by Ossian E. Dodge – a song of three stanzas, of which the following stirring one is the conclusion:

"Roll, roll, ye waves! eternal roll!

For ye are holy from his might:
Oh, Banner, that his valor wreathed,
Forever keep thy victor-light!
And if upon this sacred lake
Should ever come invading powers,
Like him may we exulting cry,

74 Dr. Long’s dwelling was on the site of the present light-house at Cleveland. It still exists, but at some distance from the place where it was built. It now stands on the north side of Frankfort Street, between Bank and Water Streets. It is a small building, one story, about 20 by 26 feet square.

75 Mr. Sholes is a native of Connecticut, born before the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, and is now [1867] about ninety-six years of age. His father was a British soldier at the capture of Quebec from the French, and served four years in our old war for independence. In early life Captain Sholes engaged in the business of a sailor, and visited many parts of the world. He quit the ocean in 1803, and settled in the State of New York. After a few years he took up his abode on the banks of the Ohio River, about twenty miles below Pittsburg. In May, 1812, he received from President Madison a captain’s commission in the second division United States Artillery, with orders to recruit a company of one hundred men for five years. This he accomplished, and in May, 1813, arrived with them at Cleveland, as we have observed. He served faithfully in the Northwest, during the hostilities in that region, under Harrison. I am indebted to Captain Sholes for much valuable information concerning operations there. He is an honored hero of two wars, for before the close of the Revolution he ran away from home, and entered the service of his country as a boy-soldier.

Captain Sholes is the subject of an extraordinary physiological change. For fifty years he was bald and wore a wig. Then he was afflicted with severe headache, for the relief of which cloths dipped in warm water and wrung out were applied. The pain ceased and a new growth of hair commenced. In the summer of 1864, as I was informed by his pastor, Rev. Mr. Byers, his head was thickly covered with glossy, snowy-white hair, so long that it was combed back from the forehead and tied with a ribbon at his neck, His face, also, which was formerly much wrinkled, had become smooth, "with much of the restored fairness of youth."

76 While Perry was on the Detroit, two savages, who had been concealed in the hold of the vessel, were brought to him. They were Indian chiefs, and had been taken on board clothed in sailors’ suits, and, with others, were placed in the tops as sharp-shooters. The noise of great guns and the dangers of the fight unnerved them, and they had fled to the hold in terror. When brought before Perry they expected torture or scalping. Their astonishment was great when he spoke kindly to them, directed them to be fed, and sent them on shore with assurances of protection from the Indians friendly to the Americans.

77 The prisoners conveyed to Erie were sent to Pittsburg, in the interior, for greater security. The wounded were well cared for.

78 In this dispatch Perry spoke in terms of praise of all his officers who were conspicuous in the battle. Captain Elliott received a bountiful share, contrary to the judgment and wishes of many of Perry’s officers. They expressed their opinions freely in disparagement of Elliott. A quarrel between the two commanders and their friends ensued. The controversy was revived in after years by Mr. Cooper, the historian of the United States Navy, and old animosities were awakened to unwonted vigor. They have now slept for many years, and I do not choose to disturb them by any remarks here. The public verdict has determined the relative position of the two commanders in the history of the country. So let it be.

79 The Lawrence, Detroit, and Queen Charlotte were afterward sunk in Little Bay (see map on page 514), on the northerly side of the harbor of Erie. The Niagara was kept at Erie as a receiving ship for a long time. She was finally abandoned, and also sunk in Little Bay. Here her bottom, partly covered by sand, may still be seen. In 1837 the Detroit and Queen Charlotte were purchased of the government, and raised by Captain George Miles, of Erie, They were converted into merchant ships, but in the course of five or six years they became useless, The Detroit lay at Buffalo some time, when she was purchased by the hotel-keepers at Niagara Falls, with which to make a spectacle for the visitors there in the summer. They placed a live bear and other animals on board of her, and sent her adrift above the Falls, in the presence of a great crowd of people, who expected to see her plunge over the great cataract. But she lodged in the rapids above, and there went to pieces. Such was the end of Commander Barclay’s flag-ship Detroit.

Pieces of the Lawrence have been sought for as relics by the curious, and many canes and other articles have been made of the wood. Captain Champlin and Dr. Parsons, survivors of the battle, both have chairs made from the oak wood of the flag-ship. Our little engraving on the opposite page shows the form of Champlin’s chair. I saw the stern-post of the Lawrence in possession of Captain W. W. Dobbins, at Erie.

80 This is known as the "Erie Hotel." The above picture shows its appearance when I sketched it in September, 1860. The most distant window of the second story, seen in the gable of the main building, and boarded up, was pointed out to me as the one that lighted the room occupied by Perry.

81 See Note 5, page 528.

82 Doctor Parsons’s Diary. Miss Laura G. Sanford’s History of Erie.

83 Three men were executed at Erie for desertion in the autumn of 1814. One of them was a young man of some standing, named Bird, who had fought gallantly on the Niagara in the battle on Lake Erie. His offense could not be overlooked, and he was shot. It was thought by some that his pardon, under the circumstances, might not have been detrimental to the public good. A doleful ballad, called The mournful Tragedy of James Bird, was written, and became very popular throughout the country, drawing tears from unrefined and sensitive listeners. Older readers will doubtless remember with what pathos the singers would chant the following, which was the last of the eleven verses of the ballad:

"See, he kneels upon his coffin! sure his death can do no good.
Spare him! Hark! Oh God! they’ve shot him; his bosom streams with blood.
Farewell, Bird! farewell forever! Friends and home he’ll see no more!
But his mangled corpse lies buried on Lake Erie’s distant shore."



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