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OLIVER HAZARD PERRY

AND THE

BATTLE gr LAKE ERIE



BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR

"OUR INLAND SEAS"

Their Shipping and Coiumerce for Three Centuries

A fascinating story of the development of transporta-
tion on the Great Lakes, with interesting side lights on
history and bizarre talcs of lost treas\ire and lost people, in-
cluding the economic value of lake shipping.

Crown, 8vo., 3S0 pages, 70 ill.
$1.75 Net. Postage 15 cts.

"SEARCHLIGIiTS ON AMERICAN

INDUSTRIES"

A book full of the romance of our leading industries,
yet satisfying, too, the soVjer reyuirements of accuracy. It
traces the growth and development of each industry from
the earliest times to the highly specialized systems of today.

Crown, 8 vo., 300 pages, 48 ill.
$1.50 Net. Postage, 13 cts.




OLIVER HAZARD PERRY



From a pcntiail in llic coUeclion ol llic lali- Jay Cooke,
Oiliralter Islauil, I.aki; Erie



OLIVER HAZARD PERRY

AND THE

BATTLE of LAKE ERIE



BY

y



JAMES COOKE MILLS ^'

AUTHOR OF "OUR INLAND SEAS"
' SEARCHLIGHTS ON AMERICAN INDUSTRIES '



Ii:,I,USTRATED WITH

PICTURES OF BATTLE SCENES FROM RARE

OLD ENGRAVINGS



DETROIT

JOHN PHELPS, Publisher

1913



E'3<S



/ - . , . 3



Copyright, 1913
TOHN PHELPS, DETROIT



All rights reserved



Published June 30, 1913



PRESS OF
SEEMANN & PETERS. SAGINAW. U. S. A •



C;CI.Aa5 0318 ^,1.



n



^

^

K



TO

THE OFFICERS AND MEN OK THE UNITED STATES NAVY,

WHOSE DEEDS OF VALOR, IN PEACE AND

IN WAR, WERE INSPIRED BY THE

NOBLE EXAMPLE OF THE

HERO OF ERIE



PREFACE

A MONG the noblest traditions of the nation is the
A% memory of its great men and heroes of war. For
"*■ "^ who among all true Americans does not cherish
the memory of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Grant,
and Farragut, and of other patriots, whose deeds of
valor and achievements of state have moulded our
national progress? Among these patriots was another
— the immortal Hero of Erie — upon whom was be-
stowed all the attributes that give lustre to valorous
action and chivalrous self-devotion to the cause of his
country ; blended with modesty, kindness, courtesy, and
with lively sympathies for humanity.

To place the deeds and public services of Oliver
Hazard Perry before his countrymen, of the present and
succeeding generations, in a complete and enduring
form, to show his true character, to depict his virtues
without concealing his faults, is the purpose of this
work. It is not intended to be an eulogy upon him, but
a faithful history of the events of his life, so far as
they are deemed of interest or of any importance in
appreciating his character. If, however, some passages
may seem to be unduly laden with praise, it is because
the author has found it impossible, after delving into
old and authenticated records of a century ago, to give
a true account of the short but troubled life of Com-
modore Perry, without indulging in enthusiasm for the
nobility of his character and for the important nature
of his public services.

In narrating, therefore, the events of his active and
useful life, this work becomes much more than a mere
biography of a great man; it is a faithful history of



P II E F A C E

the uaval operaiious on Lake l-^ric in 1S1:>, and of the
subsequent movements of the aniiy midcr tlic ((munaud
of fJeneral William H. narvisoii, in the peninsula nf
Upper Canada. The success of these operations resulted
in the overthrow of British power in the Northwest,
maintained the intep-ity of the United States, and pro-
moted the great material expansion of the vast territory
now known as the Middle West.

In celebrating the centenary of these glorious
events, which added so much lustre to the American
arms, it is not intended to retlect the least feeling of
exultation over a conquered foe, but rather to celebrate
the greatness of our country. It is to commemorate
above all things the one hundred years of uninterrupted
peace with Great Britain, a peace which was made pos-
sible by Perry's decisive victory on Lake Erie. In no
other naval engagement were the consequences to the
whole country of such momentous character. The Hero
of Erie was only twenty-eight years old at the time of
that crowning event in his career, and he was but thirty-
four when he gave up his final command; but his life
was filled with fine things finely done. In his life he
was subject to the respect and admiration of his eountry-
men; in his death to their deepest sorrow. The uni-
versal esteem which was felt for his many virtues was
translated into reverence for his memory, into venera-
tion for bis example. He still lives in the hearts of
his countrymen, clothed in perpetual youth, just as he
stood on the quarter deck of the XicKjara, when he saw
that his efforts were crowned with success, and could
send them this glowing message : ''We have met the
enemy and they are ours."

J. C. M.

Saginaw, Mich.
Februnrv 22nd, 1913.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I

His Ancestry and Boyhood

Edmund Perry, his third great-grandfather, settles in Narra-
gansett — His grandfather, Freeman Perry, marries daughter of
Oliver Hazard — Third son, Christopher, father of Oliver, serves
in revolution — A master of merchantman — Marries — Birth of
Oliver — Anecdotes of boyhood — Early indications of high char-
acter and intellect — Taught navigation — French aggressions on
American commerce — Creation of navy — Oliver's father a post-
captain — Builds the General Greene — Oliver enters the navy.

CHAPTER II

Oliver as a Midshipman

Sails with father in the General Greene to West Indies —
Ordered to San Domingo — Capture of Jaquemel — Incident of
the British 74 — Spirited conduct of Captain Perry — Return to
Newport — Peace with France — Tripolitan war — Oliver sails for
the Mediterranean — Promoted to acting-lieutenancy — Arrives ofif
Tripoli — Boat expedition — Perry returns home — Sails in 1804
with Barron for Mediterranean — Renewed difficulties with Tripoli

— Perry transferred to Gibralter — Character as an officer — Re-
turns in the Essex.

CHAPTER III

Training for War

Builds and commands flotilla of gunboats at Newport — Is
engaged to be married — Sails for New York — Protects the har-
bor — British spoliation of our commerce — Builds more gunboats

— Commands the Revenge — Sails for Charleston — Encounter with
a British sloop — Ordered to Newport — Wreck of Revenge — Crew
saved — Furlough — Married — War with England declared — Ap-
plies for sea service — Appointed to command gunboats at New-
port — Zeal and discipline — Conduct towards Captain Morris —
Loss of Lieutenant Blodgett — Offers services to Commodore
Chauncey — Claims command of the Argus — His delicacy to Allen.

(0



CHAPTER IV
Creating a Naval Force on Lake Erie

Designated to command the naval forces on Lake Erie —
Leaves Newport — Visits his parents — Proceeds to Lake On-
tario — Conditions of warfare on western frontier — Capture of
the Detroit and Caledonia — Leaves for Erie — Origin of the first
vessels of war — Difficulties of construction — Want of arms and
articles of equipment — Rushes work on vessels — Launch of gun-
boats and brigs.

CHAPTER V
Arming and Manning the Lake Erie Fleet

Joins Chauncey in attack of Fort George — Perry's account —
Ordered to Black Rock — Tracks the gunboats to the lake — Sails
for Erie — Pursued by British squadron — Arrival at Erie — Want
of men — Ordered to co-operate with General Harrison — Letters
to Chauncey — Asks him to assume command in person — Re-
ceives small reinforcements — Deficient in officers.

CHAPTER VI
Cruising Up the Lake

Co-operates with General Harrison — Chauncey holds back re-
inforcements — Perry resolves to sail with half-manned fleet —
Difficulties of lifting vessels over bar — British fleet appears —
Gunboats sent out to harass them — The batteries remounted —
Enemy disappears — Letter of Perry to General Harrison — Fleet
sails in pursuit of enemy — Returns to Erie to take on supplies
for army — Reinforcements under Elliott on way — Schooner Ariel
brings them up — Distribution of seamen — Chauncey's letter to
Perry — Considers it insulting and resigns command — Letter to
secretary of navy — Chauncey keeps back marines — Reply of
secretary of the navy — Chauncey urges Perry to remain.

CHAPTER VII
Preparing for Battle with the British Fleet

Sails from Erie — Order of sailing — Arrives off Sandusky
Bay — Meeting with General Harrison — Put-in Bay his ren-
dezvous — Discovers British fleet at Maiden — Sickness in the
fleet — General Harrison sends Kentucky volunteers — Recovers
from fever — Sails for Maiden — Plan of attack — Sails for San-
dusky Bay — Communicates with Harrison — British suffer from
want of provisions — Strength of Barclay's fleet — Effective
strength of Perry's fleet — Exercise of crews in seamanship and
gunnery — Final instructions — Shows battle flag.

(2)



CHAPTER VIII
The Battle of Lake Erie

Barclay sails from Maiden — Perry goes out to meet him —
Wind changes — Enemy hoves to in line of battle — Perry raises
battle flag — Encourages men — Beginning of the conflict — Perry
at disadvantage — The Niagara keeps out of carronade range — The
Queen Charlotte attacks the Lazvrence — Terrible carnage thereon —
Scenes of bravery — The Lazvrence disabled — Bravery of Turner —
Perry transfers flag to Niagara — Flag of Lazvrence lowered —
Perry bears down to cut British line — Broadsides right and left —
Terrible loss on Detroit — Gunboats get into the action — Raking
the enemy — The enemy surrenders — Announcing the victory —
Receives formal surrender on Lawrence — Dead consigned to the
deep — Sidelights on the battle.

CHAPTER IX
Events After the Battle

American losses — Humane efforts of Dr. Parsons — Perry
visits Barclay — His solicitude for wounded officer — Losses to
British — Sails for Put-in Bay — Burial of dead officers — Official
report of battle — Shields Elliott from censure — Transcript from
log of Lawrence — Barclay's official report — Movements of Niagara
condemned — Elliott asks for letter of approbation — Perry gives
it — Proves great error of his life.

CHAPTER X
Following Up the Campaign on Land
Results of Perry's victory — Great rejoicing — Movement of
army to Put-in Bay — Landed on Canadian shore — Maiden evac-
uated and destroyed — Tecumsed opposed to retreating — Pursuit
of the enemy to Sandwich — Reoccupation of Detroit — Indians
make peace — Advance up the Thames — Perry volunteers services
with General Harrison — Enthusiastic reception in the army —
Procter overtaken — Draws up line of battle — Nature of the
ground — Charge of the mounted Kentuckians — Capture of enemy
in front — Shelby saves regiment on left — Indians driven away —
Bravery of Colonel Johnson — Death of Tecumseh — Escape of
Procter — Results of victory.

CHAPTER XI
Reaping the Rewards of Victory

Pert-y sails for Detroit — Joint proclamation — Learns of glory
won — Letter of secretary of the navy — Advanced to rank of
post-captain — Sails for Put-in Bay — Notifies Barclay of parole —

(3)



Reception at Erie — Elliott neglected — Meeting with Elliott —
Sails for Buffalo — Turns over command — Barclay presents sex-
tant to Perry — Continues homeward — Reception at towns on
way — Arrives at Newport — Festivities there — Invitations to at-
tend celebrations — Prize money granted for captured fleet — Perry
goes to Washington — Reception at all cities he visits — Resolu-
tions of state legislatures.

CHAPTER XII
Resuming Command on the Sea

Reception at Boston — Affair of the Ninirod — Commands the
Java — Burning of Washington — Commands battery on the Poto-
mac — Attack on Baltimore — Appointed to flying squadron — Al-
gerine hostilities — Declaration of war — Decatur makes peace —
Perry resumes command of the Java — Sails for New York —
Ordered to the Mediterranean — Boisterous passage — Calls at
Algiers — Threatened hostilities — Perry interviews the Dey —
Pacific termination — Arrival of Commodore Chauncey — Diffi-
culty with Heath — Lieutenant Forrest rescued — New treaty with
Algiers — Java ordered home with it — Treatment of sick sailors —
Arrival at Newport — Tributes of esteem from officers.

CHAPTER XIII
Renewed Difficulties vdth Heath and Elliott

Employed in surveys — Revival of difficulty with Heath —
Assailed by the press — Supported by friends — Complimentary
appointment by the president — Heath takes action — Perry's
letter to Decatur — Heath appears in Rhode Island — Is arrested
and driven from state — Perry goes to New York to meet him —
The duel — Elliott vents his malice — Correspondence between
them — Elliott challenges Perry — Refusal to meet him — Prefers
charges against Elliott — Asks for court martial thereon — Charges
not acted upon. Reasons therefor.

CHAPTER XIV
His Last Cruise
Perry called to Washington — Tendered delicate diplomatic
mission — Instructions from department of state — Boards the John
Adams — Sails for the Orinoco — Discomforts of the journey — Ar-
rival at Angostura — Negotiations — Sickness on the schooner —
Unfavorable feeling — Perry's notes — Succeeds in mission —
Dinner in his honor — Leaves Angostura — Attacked by yellow
fever — Struggle to reach his ship — Dies within sight of it —
Burial at Port of Spain — Deep sorrow throughout United States
— Family provided for — His character by intimate friend.

(4)



CHAPTER XV

Memorials to His Honor

Body removed to Newport — Monument erected there — Mem-
orial at Gibralter Rock on site of his lookout — Monument at
Cleveland dedicated in 1860 — Great celebration — Perry Victory
Centennial in 1913 — History of the movement — Enthusiasm
aroused — Aid of government — Memorial to be erected at Put-in
Bay — Description of — Beauty of design — Celebrations in lake
cities — Naval parades — Restoration of the old Niagara — Activity
of commissioners.

Bibliography



ILLUSTRATIONS



Oliver Hazard Perry, from a rare portrait Frontispiece

Commodore Perry's Birthplace , near South Kingston, R. I . . . . 5
Perry's Lookout, on Gibralter Rock, Lake Erie )

y 119

The Battle Flag, "Don't Give Up the Ship." ^

The Battle of Lake Erie, from a rare engraving 132

Perry Transferring His Flag to the Niagara 141

The Niagara Breaking Through the British Line 146

The Burial Scene of the American and British Officers 156

The Charge of the Mounted Kentuckians, Battle of the Thames. 186

Memorial Erected on Gibralter Rock, Lake Erie )

I 268

The Famous Statute of Commodore Perry, by Walcutt )

The Perry Memorial, Put-in Bay, Lake Erie 276



OLIVER HAZARD PERRY

AND THE

, BATTLE OF LAKE ERIE



CHAPTER I

His Ancestry and Boyhood

ALIj })ersons, while living", i:)()ssess some influence
/-% wliicli extends beyond themselves, and are in
some way useful to others. Certain persons are
so eminently distinguished for talents and good works
that the limit of their influence is extended beyond their
lives, and there are a few wliose usefulness does not cease
with their existence. Their example is consecrated by
death and rendered sacred in its influence, forming a
mantle of inspiration which exalts the mind, elevates
the views, and gives to ambition its prof)er course. But
how rare are the characters who by a single great event,
in which everything seemed to flow from their personal
prowess, have determined the destiny of the nation, and
embossed their names upon the pages of history. In
the deeds of the great American naval commanders,
Jones, Perry, Farragut, and Dewey, the trait of initi-
ative and executive talent, coupled with a high sense of
efficiency, were most conspicuous. To these (qualities
the Hero of Erie added a generous humanity to a con-
quered and suffering foe, and won the lasting admiration
of his countrymen.

A study of the ancestry of Oliver Hazard Perry
leaves no doubt, that he possessed the noblest traits of
character and qualities of a high and commanding



a OLIVER HAZARD PERRY

nature, through the divine law of heredity. His paternal
ancestor in the tifth generation, Edmund Perry, was
born in Devonshire, England, about the year 1630.
Brought up in the environment of high-minded gentle
folk of honest and sturdy stock, he was a gentleman of
education and refinement, and was gifted with con-
siderable literary attainments. He was an influential
member and one of the public speakers of the Society
of Friends, and became an object of persecution which
was so rife during the domination of Cromwell, against
the Quakers. This eventually led to his emigration to
Plymouth, in Massachusetts, about thirty years after
the founding of that colony.

But the persecutions which had driven him from his
native land he found, raged with e(\\m\ fury in the
colony in which he had taken refuge, and, in order to
be able to worship his Creator according to the dictates
of his conscience, he was compelled to flee still farther
from the haunts of civilized man. With others of his
persuasion he at length found a haven in South Kings-
ton, on the waters of Narragansett Bay. On the beauti-
ful promontory, which is almost encircled by the
Atlantic, Long Island Sound, and the bay, they formed
tlieir little settlement founded on the dictates of peace
and good will to all. In this place there were none
but Indians to dispute their rights, and from whom
they amicably acquired their estates by purchase; in
all their intercourse treating them with conciliation and
kindness. The estate of the elder Perry remained in
the possession of the family for succeeding generations,
long after the advent of Oliver Hazard Perry ; and the
descendants of the peaceable Indians continued in the
vicinity in a civilized state. It was a remarkable fact
that one of these, a full-blooded native of the Narra-
gansett tribe, followed Commander Perry to Lake Erie,
and fell in the desperate defense of the Laim-ence in
the naval engagement on that lake.



HIS ANCESTRY AND BOYHOOD 3

In the direct line of descendants, Freeman Perry,
great-grandson of Edmnnd Perry, and grandfather of
the naval hero, was born on the second of February,
1732. At the age of twenty-four he married a daughter
of Oliver Hazard, a gentleman of large property, of
liberal education and cultivated tastes, who was a
descendant of one of the original Quaker settlers of
Narragansett. Society in Rhode Island at the time
resembled that of Virginia, the soil being cultivated
by slaves, and commerce created wealth, with its
luxuries and refinements. Freeman Perry was educated
in the law, in the practice of which profession he attained
distinction, filling various offices of trust; and was a
member of the Colonial Assembly and a judge of the
Court of Common Pleas. He died at the family home-
stead in October, 1813, at the advanced age of eighty-
two, having lived to witness the blaze of glory which
surrounded his able descendant — his grandson — after
his famous victory.

The third son of this sturdy patriot, named Chris-
topher Raymond, and father of Oliver Hazard Perry,
was born on the fourth of December, 1761. Although
still in his youth when the revolution broke out, he
participated in the dangers and hardships of that trying
period, in fighting the battles of his country, both on
land and sea. He first served in a corps of volunteers
from his native town, called tlie Kingston Reds; and
afterward entered before the mast in an American
privateer, commanded by Captain Reed. Later, in the
course of a cruise in the sloop-of-war ]\f}ffJm, in which
he was second in command, he was captured and con-
fined for three months on board the Jersey prison-ship,
where he suffered all the Imrdships and studied barbar-
ities by which the Britons sought to punish the colonists
for cherishing the love of freedom and defending their
liberties. At length he escaped, the emaciated victim
of the contagion which swept through the ship, to



. - ^



4 OLIVER HAZARD PERRY

recomit tlic liorriblo story of British captivity. As soon
as he had recovered his health, with rc^seiitiueut against
England quickened into fresh intensity by his terrible
experience , he entered on board the United States man-
of-war TrumhuV, commanded by Captain Nicholson;
and was in the memorable engagement with the British
ship Wait, of superior force, in which the enemy, having
ninety-two killed and wounded and about to surrender,
escaped by the topmasts of the Tnonhull, which were
badly wounded by their lofty firing, going by the board.
This action was said to have been one of the severest
of the war.

Upon the conclusion of the revolution, in 1783, Chris-
topher continued on the sea, and soon after made a
voyage to Ireland as mate of a merchantman. On the
return voyage to Philadelphia, among the passengers on
board was a lady of Scotch descent, named Sarah Alex-
ander, who was descended in a direct line from William
Wallace. The acquaintance thus begun on the broad
expanse of the ocean, soon developed into the romance
of a strong attachment; and in October, 1784, they
were married in Philadelphia. The sturdy young sailor-
man, though as yet only twenty-three years of age, had
risen to the command of a merchant ship employed in
the East India and other trade; and on this occasion
he took leave from his ship for sufficient time to remove
with his bride to his old home in Narragansett. There
they were joyously received by Perry's extensive family
circle, and the young wife was soon so comfortably
settled in the old homestead as to be most favorably
impressed with the good people among whom her lot
was now cast. The estate of Judge Perry, the captain's
father, consisted of about two hundred acres, and the
house stood at the base of a hill overlooking a wide
extent of country interspersed by pictures(iue lakes, with
the waters of Narragansett separating it from the oppo-
site shore of Newport, and the broad Atlantic stretching




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HIS ANCESTRY AND BOYHOOD 5

far away to the sontliward. A .short distauee from the
house was the okl post road between New York and
Boston, which in colonial days followed the circuitous
line of the coast to be out of reach of Indian depreda-
tions. In the neighboring wood were white stones which
marked the graves of the Quaker, Edmund Perry, and
several generations of his people.

In these pleasant surroundings the young captain
lingered for a brief period of retirement ; but ere long
resumed his voyages to many distant lands. His young-
wife, who was welcomed in his father's household as a
beloved daughter, was exceedingly intelligent and well-
informed as well as beautiful, and to a sweet and happy
disposition she added a degree of force of mind and
energy of character, which were brilliantly reflected in
the eventful life of her first born son. This child,
named after his great grandfather, Oliver Hazard, was
born on the twenty-third of August, 1785. In early life
he gave little promise of physical energy, being slender
and feeble, and his health was extremely delicate. Yet
he was of more than ordinary size, and it was supposed
that his constitutional weakness was due in a great
measure to the rapidity of his growth. His chief char-


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