By Bill Federer, staff writer
”We have met the enemy and they are ours,” wrote Navy Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, who died AUGUST 23, 1819.
Captain Perry was renowned for his victory during the War of 1812 over 6 British warships in the Battle of Lake Erie.
On September 10, 1813, Perry’s vessels, with many sailors being free blacks, were anchored at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, blocking the supply route to Fort Malden.
The British squadron, consisting of two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop, approached, commanded by the one-armed Commodore Robert Barclay, who helped defeat Napoleon’s fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar.
Strong winds prevented Perry from getting in a safe position and with no long range firepower his flagship was crippled and most of his crew killed by British cannons.
In a courageous move, the 28-year-old Perry switched to the ship “Niagara” and sailed directly across the British line, firing broadside.
He won the battle in 15 minutes and forced Barclay to surrender.
This pivotal victory secured the Northwest Territory for the United States, opened supply lines and lifted the nation’s morale.
To the sailors on deck Captain Oliver Hazard Perry remarked:
“The prayers of my wife are answered.”
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