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Battle of Lake Erie

Battle of Lake Erie
Part of the War of 1812

Battle of Lake Erie by William Henry Powell, painted 1865, shows Oliver Hazard Perry transferring from Lawrence to Niagara[upper-alpha 1]
Date 10 September 1813
Location Lake Erie, near Put-in-Bay, Ohio
Result Decisive American victory
 United States United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Oliver Hazard Perry
Jesse Elliot
Robert Heriot Barclay
Robert Finnis
  • 5 schooners
  • 3 brigs
  • 1 sloop
Casualties and losses
  • 27 killed
  • 96 wounded
  • 1 brig severely damaged
  • 41 killed
  • 93 wounded
  • 306 captured
  • entire squadron captured

The Battle of Lake Erie, sometimes called the Battle of Put-in-Bay, was fought on 10 September 1813, in Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio during the War of 1812. Nine vessels of the United States Navy defeated and captured six vessels of British Royal Navy. This ensured American control of the lake for the rest of the war, which in turn allowed the Americans to recover Detroit and win the Battle of the Thames to break the Indian confederation of Tecumseh. It was one of the biggest naval battles of the War of 1812.


  • Background 1
    • 1812 1.1
    • 1813 1.2
    • Blockades of Presque Isle and Amherstburg 1.3
  • Battle 2
  • Casualties 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • Reconstructions and memorials 5
  • Reasons for the American victory 6
  • Order of Battle 7
  • Footnotes 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12



When the war broke out, the British immediately seized control of Lake Erie. They already had a small force of warships there: the sloop-of-war Queen Charlotte and the brig General Hunter. The schooner Lady Prevost was under construction and was put into service a few weeks after the outbreak of war. These vessels were controlled by the Provincial Marine, which was a military transport service and not a naval service. Nevertheless, the Americans lacked any counter to the British armed vessels. The only American warship on Lake Erie, the brig USS Adams, was not ready for service at the start of the war, and when the American army of Brigadier General William Hull abandoned its invasion of Canada, Adams was pinned down in Detroit by the British batteries at Sandwich on the Canadian side of the Detroit River. The British Major-General Isaac Brock used his control of the lake to defeat Hull's army at the Siege of Detroit, by cutting the American supply lines and rapidly transferring himself and some reinforcements to Amherstburg from where they launched a successful landing on the American side of the Detroit River.

The British took Adams when Detroit was surrendered, renaming her Detroit. Together with the brig Caledonia, which had been commandeered from the Canadian North West Company, she was boarded and captured near Fort Erie on 9 October, by American sailors and soldiers led by Lieutenant Jesse Elliot. Detroit ran aground on an island in the middle of the Niagara River and was set on fire to prevent her being recaptured. Caledonia was taken to the navy yard at Black Rock and commissioned into the United States Navy.[3] Also present at Black Rock were the schooners Somers and Ohio and the sloop-rigged Trippe, which had all been purchased by the United States Navy and were being converted into gunboats.[4] While the British held Fort Erie and the nearby batteries which dominated the Niagara River, all these vessels were pinned down and unable to leave Black Rock.

Late in 1812, Paul Hamilton, the United States Secretary of the Navy had received long-time American lake mariner Daniel Dobbins, who had escaped capture at Detroit and brought information on the British forces on Lake Erie. Dobbins recommended the bay of Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania as a naval base on the lake. ("Presqu'isle" is French for "peninsula", literally "almost an island"). Dobbins was dispatched to build four gunboats there, although Lieutenant Elliot objected to the lack of facilities.[5] Commodore Isaac Chauncey had been appointed to command of the United States naval forces on the Great Lakes in September 1812. He made one brief visit to Erie on 1 January 1813[6] where he approved Dobbins's actions and recommended collecting materials for a larger vessel, but then returned to Lake Ontario where he afterwards concentrated his energies.


In January 1813,

  • "Log of the Battle of Lake Erie" by Sailing Master William Taylor
  • NiagaraUS Brig
  • Barclay's court martial records and correspondence
  • Battle of Lake Erie Historical Sources
  • Animated history of the Battle of Lake Erie
  •  "Erie, Lake, Battle of".  

External links

  • Axelrod, Alen; Phillips, Charles. The MacMillan Dictionary of Military Biography (New York: MacMillan, 1998.) p. 343.]
  • American Library Association.
  • (microform) (1898) New York: D. AppletonThe hero of Erie (Oliver Hazard Perry)Barnes, James, 1866–1936 (1898) and here for other formats.
  • Burges, Tristam (1770–1853) (Providence,Battle of Lake Erie, with notices of Commodore Elliot's conduct in that engagement(1839) Brown & Cady) at Internet Archive.
  • (Albany, J. B. Lyon Company, Printers).The Perrys victory centenary. Report of the Perry’s victory centennial commission, state of New YorkConners, William James, 1857–; Emerson, George Douglas. (1916)
  • Cooper, James Fenimore (1846) Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers Google Books and here for American Library Association.
  • Jesse D. Elliot, Address of Com. Jesse D. Elliot, U.S.N., Delivered in Washington County, Maryland, to His Early Companions at Their Request, on 24 November 1843 (Philadelphia: G. B. Zeiber & co., 1844).
  • Galbreath, Charles Burleigh (1858-1934): The Battle of Lake Erie in Ballad and History, Ohio Archæological and Historical Society Publications: Volume 20 [1911], pp. 415–456.
  • Hickey, Donald R. (1990) The War of 1812: The Forgotten Conflict Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. National Historical Society Book Prize and American Military Institute Best Book Award. ISBN 0-252-06059-8; ISBN 978-0-252-06059-5.
  • Hickey, Donald R. (2006) .Don't Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press) ISBN 0-252-03179-2.
  • Downloadable resources regarding Oliver Hazard Perry, American Library Association.
  • Langguth, A. J. (2006). Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence. New York: Simon & Schuster.  
  • (Akron, Ohio: Superior Printing Co.)Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry : famous American naval hero, victor of the battle of Lake Erie, his life and achievementsMackenzie, Alexander Slidell, 1803–1848. (1915)
  • (New York, Harper) Volume 1The life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.Mackenzie, Alexander Slidell, 1803–1848 (1840) , Volume 2.
  • The Life of Oliver Hazard Perry.Niles, John Milton (Bedford, Mass.: Applewood Books, 1830)
  • (Erie, Pennsylvania: Journal publishing company).Perry at Erie:how Captain Dobbins, Benjamin Fleming and others assisted him.Reid, George. (1913)
  • Oliver Hazard Perry: honor, courage, and patriotism in the early U.S. Navy.Skaggs, David Curtis. (October 2006) Annapolis, Maryland:Naval Institute Press, 302 pp. ISBN 978-1-59114-792-3; ISBN 1-59114-792-1.
  • (April 2009 Volume 23, Number 2)Perry TriumphantSkaggs, David Curtis. Naval History Magazine United States Naval Institute.
  • James T. White (1895) p. 288. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography.

Further reading

  • Altoff, Gerard T. (1999). Oliver Hazard Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie. Put-in-Bay, OH: The Perry Group.  
  • Copes, Jan M. (Fall 1994). "The Perry Family: A Newport Naval Dynasty of the Early Republic". Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society (Newport, RI: Newport Historical Society). 66, Part 2 (227): 49–77. 
  • "The Dobbins Papers." Severance, Frank H. ed. Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society v. 3 (Buffalo, New York: Buffalo Historical Society, 1905)
  • Elting, John R. (1995). Amateurs to Arms: A military history of the War of 1812. New York: Da Capo.  
  • Emerson, George D. (Compiled by) (1912). The Perry's Victory Centenary – Report of The Perry's Victory Centennial Commission, State of New York. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company. 
  • ; Forester was a famous novelist but this is his history book  
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer (1840–1914)(1905) (2 vols.)Sea Power in Its Relation to the War of 1812 (Boston: Little Brown) American Library Association.
  • Malcomson, Robert (1998). Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario 1812–1814. Toronto: Robin Brass Studio.  
  • Miller, Arthur P.; Miller, Marjorie L. (2000). Pennsylvania Battlefields and Military Landmarks. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.  
  • Skaggs, David; Atloff, Gerard (1997). A Signal Victory: The Lake Erie Campaign, 1812–13. Naval Institute Press.  
  • Symonds, Craig (2005). Decision at Sea. Oxford University Press.  
  • Zaslow, Morris (ed). (1964). The Defended Border: Upper Canada and the War of 1812. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada.  


  1. ^ Copes 1994, p. 63.
  2. ^ a b c Roosevelt 2004, pp. 260–261.
  3. ^ Elliott to Hamiliton, Oct. 9th, 1812 in Dudley (ed.), William S. The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History 1. pp. 327–331. 
  4. ^ a b Roosevelt 2004, p. 141.
  5. ^ a b Elting 1995, p. 90.
  6. ^ Malcomson 1998, p. 74.
  7. ^ Forester 2005, p. 136.
  8. ^ Forester 2005, p. 143.
  9. ^ Forester 2005, p. 137.
  10. ^ Hitsman 1999, p. 166.
  11. ^ Ernest A. Cruikshank, The Contest for Command of Lake Erie in 1812–13, in Zaslow 1964, p. 93.
  12. ^ Ernest A. Cruikshank, The Contest for Command of Lake Erie, 1812–13, in Zaslow 1964, p. 90.
  13. ^ C.P.Stacey, Another look at the Battle of Lake Erie, in Zaslow 1964, p. 108.
  14. ^ Hitsman 1999, pp. 167–168.
  15. ^ Forester 2005, p. 140.
  16. ^, "Ironsides on the Lake".
  17. ^ Elting 1995, p. 96.
  18. ^ Hitsman 1999, p. 170.
  19. ^ a b Roosevelt 2004, p. 147.
  20. ^ Archaic Medical Terms English List L.
  21. ^ a b Forester 2005, p. 146.
  22. ^ Ernest A. Cruikshank, The Contest for Command of Lake Erie, 1812–13, in Zaslow 1964, p. 100.
  23. ^ Forester 2005, p. 147.
  24. ^ Earnest A. Cruickshank, The contest for the command of Lake Erie in 1812–1813 in Zaslow 1964, p. 102.
  25. ^ Roosevelt 2004, p. 148.
  26. ^ Roosevelt 2004, pp. 148–149.
  27. ^ Benjamin J. Lossing (1869). "Field Book of the War of 1812". Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  28. ^ Altoff (1999) Note 129, p. 97.
  29. ^ Symonds, Craig L.; Clipson, William J. (2001). The Naval Institute historical atlas of the U.S. Navy. Naval Institute Press. p. 48.  
  30. ^ Hickey, Donald R. Don't Give Up The Ship, p. 355.
  31. ^ Roosevelt 2004, p. 152.
  32. ^ William James The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by Trace in 1793, to the Accession of George IV. Volume 6 Richard Bentley 1847 Page 252


  1. ^ Perry's younger brother James Alexander Perry is the seated figure waving the hat. Hannibal Collins, a freed slave, is one of the oarsman.[1]
  2. ^ The British order of battle was actually two ships, one brig, two schooners and one sloop.[2] "Perry's message was inaccurate." [28]


Navy Name Rig Tonnage Crew Armament Notes
 Royal Navy Chippeway Schooner 70 tons     15 1 × 9-pounder long gun captured
Detroit Ship 490 tons   150 1 × 18-pounder (on swivel)
2 × 24-pounder long guns
6 × 12-pounder long guns
8 × 9-pounder long guns
1 × 24-pounder carronade
1 × 18-pounder carronade
Barclay's flagship; captured
Hunter Brig 180 tons     45 4 × 6-pounder long guns
2 × 4-pounder long guns
2 × 2-pounder long guns
2 × 12-pounder carronades
Commanded by Lieutenant George Bignall
Queen Charlotte Ship 400 tons   126 1 × 12-pounder long gun
2 × 9-pounder long guns
12 × 24-pounder carronades
Commanded by Robert Finnis; captured
Lady Prevost Schooner[2] 230 tons     86 1 × 9-pounder long gun
2 × 6-pounder long guns
10 × 12-pounder carronades
captured (lost rudder)
Little Belt Sloop 90 tons     18 1 × 12-pounder long gun
2 × 6-pounder long guns
Total 6 warships 1,460 tons   450 330 lb shot from long guns
474 lb shot from carronades
 United States Navy Scorpion Schooner 86 tons     35 1 × 32-pounder long gun
1 × 32-pounder carronade
Long gun dismounted (overcharged)
commanded by Sailing Master Stephen Champlin
Ariel Schooner 112 tons     36 4 × 12-pounder long guns One gun exploded (overcharged)
Lawrence Brig 480 tons   136 2 × 12-pounder long guns
18 × 32-pounder carronades
Perry's flagship; surrendered but recaptured
Caledonia Brig 180 tons     53 2 × 24-pounder long guns
1 × 32-pounder carronade
captured from British 9 October 1812
commanded by Lieutenant Daniel Turner
Niagara Brig 480 tons   155 2 × 12-pounder long guns
18 × 32-pounder carronades
Commanded by Jesse Elliott
Somers Schooner 94 tons     30 1 × 24-pounder long gun
1 × 32-pounder carronade
Porcupine Schooner 83 tons     25 1 × 32-pounder long gun
Tigress Schooner 82 tons     35 1 × 32-pounder long gun
Trippe Sloop 60 tons     35 1 × 24-pounder long gun
Total 9 warships 1,657 tons   540 288 lb shot from long guns
1,248 lb shot from carronades

Listed in order of sailing:

Order of Battle

The court-martial of Captain Barclay and his surviving officers determined that the Captain, his officers and men had "conducted themselves in the most gallant manner" and found that the defeat was the result of American superiority, an insufficient number of able seamen and the early fall of superior officers in the action.[32]

On the British side, William Bell served as constructor and built Detroit, which was the best-built ship on the lake. However, Detroit was built slowly, in part due to Bell's perfectionism, and indeed it was the only purpose-built British warship constructed on Lake Erie during the war. The guns intended for Detroit were seized by the Americans at the time of their raid on Fort York the year before. This building imbalance, given the fact that six American ships were built in the same time frame, was another important cause of the American victory (although it might be argued that, even if Barclay had possessed more hulls, he would have been unable to obtain armament and crews for them).

Most historians attribute the American victory to what Theodore Roosevelt described as, "Superior heavy metal".[31] Perry's leadership, particularly in the latter stages of the action, is also mentioned as a factor. The British historian C.S. Forester commented, " was as fortunate for the Americans that the Lawrence still possessed a boat that would float, as it was that Perry was not hit."[21]

Reasons for the American victory

Another 101-foot (31 m) high Perry Monument is located at the eastern end of Presque Isle in Erie Pennsylvania. It stands next to Presque Isle Bay, where Niagara and Lawrence were built, stationed along with the rest of the American Squadron, and then scuttled after the war.

The 352-foot (107 m) high Perry Monument within Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial now stands at Put-in-Bay, commemorating the men who fought in the battle.

In 1820 Lawrence and Niagara were intentionally sunk near Misery Bay in Lake Erie, as they had "went to rot."[30] In 1875, Lawrence was raised and moved to Philadelphia, where she was displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. Later that year, the ship burned when the pavilion that housed it caught fire. Although Niagara was raised and restored in 1913, she subsequently fell into disrepair. She was eventually disassembled, and portions of her were used in a reconstructed Niagara, which is now on view in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Reconstructions and memorials

After the war, there was a bitter quarrel between Perry and Elliot over their respective parts in the action, mostly fought at second hand in the press. On the British side, Barclay was exonerated of any blame by a court-martial but was too badly injured to see service again for several years.

However, an expedition in 1814 to recover Mackinac Island on Lake Huron failed, and the Americans lost eight of their smaller vessels and prizes. (Four were destroyed when the British captured Black Rock, where they were laid up, following the Battle of Buffalo at the end of 1813, and four were boarded and captured in separate incidents on Lake Erie and Lake Huron.)

The victory on Lake Erie had disproportionate strategic import.[29] The Americans controlled Lake Erie for the remainder of the war. This accounted for much of the Americans' successes on the Niagara peninsula in 1814 and also removed the threat of a British attack on Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Western New York.

Once his usable vessels and prizes were patched up, Perry ferried 2,500 American soldiers to Amherstburg, which was captured without opposition on 27 September. Meanwhile, 1,000 mounted troops led by Richard Mentor Johnson moved by land to Detroit, which also was recaptured without fighting on or about the same day. The British army under Procter had made preparations to abandon its positions even before Procter knew the result of the battle. In spite of exhortations from Tecumseh, who led the confederation of Native tribes allied to Britain, Procter had already abandoned Amherstburg and Detroit and began to retreat up the Thames River on 27 September. Lacking supplies, Tecumseh's natives had no option but to accompany him. Harrison caught up with Procter's retreating force and defeated them on 5 October at the Battle of the Thames, where Tecumseh was killed, as was his second-in command and most experienced warrior, Wyandot Chief Roundhead.

Brig Niagara, off the Western Sister,
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,
O. H. Perry

Perry next sent the following message to the Secretary of the Navy, William Jones:

Dear General:

We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,
O.H. Perry[upper-alpha 2]

Perry's vessels and prizes were anchored and hasty repairs were underway near West Sister Island when Perry composed his now famous message to Harrison. Scrawled in pencil on the back of an old envelope, Perry wrote:


Of the vessels involved, the three most battered (the American brig Lawrence and the British ships Detroit and Queen Charlotte) were converted into hospital ships. A gale swept the lake on 13 September and dismasted Detroit and Queen Charlotte, further shattering the already battered ships. Once the wounded had been ferried to Erie, Lawrence was restored to service for 1814, but the two British ships were effectively reduced to hulks.[27]

The British lost 41 killed and 94 wounded. The surviving crews, including the wounded, numbered 306. Captain Barclay, who had previously lost his left arm in 1809, lost a leg and part of his thigh in the action while his remaining arm was rendered "permanently motionless". The Americans lost 27 killed and 96 wounded, of whom 2 later died.[26]


Although Perry won the battle on Niagara, he received the British surrender on the deck of the recaptured Lawrence to allow the British to see the terrible price his men had paid.

Niagara broke through the British line ahead of Detroit and Queen Charlotte and luffed up to fire raking broadsides from ahead of them, while Caledonia and the American gunboats fired from astern. Although the crews of Detroit and Queen Charlotte managed to untangle the two ships[24] they could no longer offer any effective resistance. Both ships surrendered at about 3:00 pm. The smaller British vessels tried to flee but were overtaken and also surrendered.[25]

When Lawrence surrendered, firing died away briefly.[21] Detroit collided with Queen Charlotte, both ships being almost unmanageable with damaged rigging and almost every officer killed or severely wounded. Barclay was severely wounded and his first lieutenant was killed, leaving Lieutenant Inglis in command. Most of the smaller British vessels were also disabled and drifting to leeward.[22] The British nevertheless expected Niagara to lead the American schooners away in retreat.[23] Instead, once aboard Niagara, Perry dispatched Elliot to bring the schooners into closer action, while he steered Niagara at Barclay's damaged ships, helped by the strengthening wind.

Although the American gunboats at the rear of the American line of battle steadily pounded the British ships in the centre of the action with raking shots from their long guns from a distance, Lawrence was reduced by the two British ships to a wreck. Four-fifths of Lawrence‍ '​s crew were killed or wounded. Both of the fleet's surgeons were sick with lake fever,[20] so the wounded were taken care of by the assistant, Usher Parsons. When the last gun on Lawrence became unusable, Perry decided to transfer his flag. He was rowed a half mile (1 km) through heavy gunfire to Niagara while Lawrence was surrendered. (It was later alleged that he left Lawrence after the surrender, but Perry had actually taken down only his personal pennant, in blue bearing the motto, "Don't give up the ship".)

Astern of Lawrence, Niagara, under Elliot, was slow to come into action and remained far out of effective carronade range. It is possible that Elliott was under orders to engage his opposite number, Queen Charlotte, and that Niagara was obstructed by Caledonia, but Elliot's actions would become a matter of dispute between him and Perry for many years. Aboard Queen Charlotte, the British ship opposed to Niagara, the commander (Robert Finnis) and First Lieutenant were both killed. The next most senior officer, Lieutenant Irvine of the Provincial Marine, found that both Niagara and the American gunboats were far out of range, and passed the brig General Hunter to engage Lawrence at close range.[19]

On the morning of 10 September, the Americans saw Barclay's vessels heading for them, and got under way from their anchorage at Put-in-Bay. The wind was light. Barclay initially held the weather gauge, but the wind shifted and allowed Perry to close and attack. Both squadrons were in line of battle, with their heaviest vessels near the centre of the line. Perry hoped to get his two largest brigs, his flagship Lawrence and Niagara, into carronade range quickly, but in the light wind his vessels were making very little speed and Lawrence was battered by the assortment of long guns mounted in Detroit for at least 20 minutes before being able to reply effectively. When Lawrence was finally within carronade range at 12:45, her fire was not as effective as Perry hoped, her gunners apparently having overloaded the carronades with shot.[19]

Movements of the squadrons of Perry and Barclay on the morning of 10 September


In the days preceding the battle, Perry told his friend, Purser Samuel Hambleton, that he wanted a signal flag, or battle flag, to signal to his fleet when to engage the enemy. Hambleton suggested using the dying words of Perry's friend Captain James Lawrence of the frigate USS Chesapeake, "Don't Give up the Ship". Hambleton had the flag sewn by women of Erie, and presented it to Perry the day before the battle. The flag would become an icon in American naval history.

His vessels first proceeded to Sandusky, where they received further contingents of volunteers from Major General William Henry Harrison's Army of the Northwest.[17] After twice appearing off Amherstburg, Perry established an anchorage at Put-in-Bay, Ohio. For the next five weeks, Barclay was effectively blockaded and unable to move supplies to Amherstburg. His sailors, Procter's troops, and the very large numbers of Indian warriors and their families there quickly ran out of supplies. After receiving a last-minute reinforcement of two naval officers, three warrant officers and 36 sailors transferred from a transport temporarily laid up in Quebec[18] under Lieutenant George Bignall, Barclay had no choice but to put out again and seek battle with Perry.

Chauncey had dispatched 130 extra sailors under Lieutenant Jesse Elliot to Presque Isle.[15] Although Perry described some of them as "wretched", at least 50 of them were experienced sailors drafted from USS Constitution, then undergoing a refit in Boston.[16] Perry also had a few volunteers from the Pennsylvania militia.

By mid-July, the American squadron was almost complete, although not yet fully manned (Perry claimed to have only 120 men fit for duty). The British squadron maintained a blockade of Presque Isle for ten days from 20 July to 29 July. The harbour had a sandbar across its mouth, with only 5 feet (1.5 m) of water over it, which prevented Barclay sailing in to attack the American ships (although Barclay briefly skirmished with the defending batteries on 21 July), but also prevented the Americans leaving in fighting order. Barclay had to lift the blockade on 29 July because of shortage of supplies and bad weather. It has also been suggested that Barclay left to attend a banquet in his honour, or that he wished the Americans to cross the bar and hoped to find them in disarray when he returned.[5] Perry immediately began to move his vessels across the sandbar. This was an exhausting task. The guns had to be removed from all the boats, and the largest of them had to be raised between "camels" (barges or lighters which were then emptied of ballast). When Barclay returned four days later, he found that Perry had nearly completed the task. Perry's two largest brigs were not ready for action, but the gunboats and smaller brigs formed a line so confidently that Barclay withdrew to await the completion of Detroit.

Blockades of Presque Isle and Amherstburg

Barclay repeatedly requested men and supplies from Commodore James Lucas Yeo, commanding on Lake Ontario, but received very little. The commander of the British troops on the Detroit frontier, Major-General Henry Procter, was similarly starved of soldiers and munitions by his superiors. He declined to make an attack on Presque Isle unless he was reinforced, and instead he incurred heavy losses in an unsuccessful attack on Fort Stephenson, which he mounted at the urgings of some of his Indian warriors.[14]

During July and August, Barclay received two small vessels, the schooner Chippeway and the sloop Little Belt, which had been reconstructed at Chatham[12] on the Thames River and attempted to complete the ship-rigged corvette HMS Detroit at Amherstburg. Because the Americans controlled Lake Ontario and occupied the Niagara Peninsula in early 1813, supplies for Barclay had to be carried overland from York. The American victory earlier in the year at the Battle of York resulted in the guns (24-pounder carronades) intended for Detroit falling into American hands.[13] Detroit had to be completed with a miscellany of guns from the fortifications of Amherstburg. Barclay claimed at his court martial that these guns lacked flintlock firing mechanisms and matches, and that they could be fired only by snapping flintlock pistols over powder piled in the vent holes.

Meanwhile, Commander Robert Heriot Barclay was appointed to command the British squadron on Lake Erie. Another British officer had already endangered his career by refusing the appointment as success appeared unlikely.[9] Barclay missed a rendezvous with Queen Charlotte at Point Abino and was forced to make the tedious journey to Amherstburg overland, arriving on 10 June. He brought with him only a handful of officers and seamen. When he took command of his squadron, the crews of his vessels numbered only seven British seamen, 108 officers and men of the Provincial Marine (whose quality Barclay disparaged), 54 men of the Royal Newfoundland Fencibles and 106 soldiers, effectively landsmen, from the 41st Foot.[10] Nevertheless, he immediately set out in Queen Charlotte and Lady Prevost. He first reconnoitred Perry's base at Presque Isle and determined that it was defended by 2,000 Pennsylvania militia, with batteries and redoubts. He then cruised the eastern end of Lake Erie, hoping to intercept the American vessels from Black Rock. The weather was hazy, and he missed them.[11]


, which was expanding as a manufacturing center, and smaller guns were borrowed from the Army. Pittsburgh) However, the Americans could get other materials and fittings from [7]

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