September 10, 1813 - Master Commandant Oliver H. Perry (right) defeats the British at the Battle of Lake Erie. Through the first half of 1813, American and British forces conducted a naval arms race in order to gain control of Lake Erie. In September, the American commander, Master Commandant Oliver H. Perry, engaged his British counterpart, Commander Robert Barclay near Put-in-Bay, OH. Consisting of the brigs USS Lawrence (20 guns) and USS Niagara (20), as well as seven smaller vessels, Perry made use the weather gauge and moved to attack. Flying his flag from Lawrence, his plan called for the brig to engage HMS Detroit (19) while Lieutenant Jesse Elliot led Niagara against HMS Queen Charlotte (17). Perry's smaller vessels were to attack the remaining four British ships. As the battle commenced, Lawrence opened fire on the enemy. As the firing began, Elliot delayed in moving up to join the battle. This allowed the British to concentrate fire on Perry's ship. Over several minutes, Lawrence was battered into a hulk, though it was able to inflict substantial damage on the enemy before dropping out of the battle. In a desperate move, Perry transferred to Niagara. Bringing the undamaged brig into the battle, he was able to defeat Detroit and Queen Charlotte after the two British ships collided. When the smoke settled, Perry had captured the entire British squadron and had seized control of the lake.
Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval Historical Center