Oliver Hazard Perry
United States Naval Officer
- I leave it to your discretion to strike or not, but the American colors must not be pulled down over my head today.
- We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.
- Dispatch to General William Henry Harrison after the Battle of Lake Erie, (10 September 1813)
- I made sail, and directed the other vessels to follow, for the purpose of closing with the enemy. Every brace and bowline being soon shot away, she became unmanageable, notwithstanding the great exertions of the sailing master. In this situation, she sustained the action upwards of two hours within canister distance, until every gun was rendered useless, and the greater part of her crew either killed or wounded. Finding she could no longer annoy the enemy, I left her in charge of lieutenant Yarnall, who, I was convinced, from the bravery already displayed by him, would do what would comport with the honour of the flag. At half past two, the wind springing up, captain Elliot was enabled to bring his vessel, the NIAGARA, gallantly into close action. I immediately went on board of her, when he anticipated my wish by volunteering to bring the schooner which had been kept astern by the lightness of the wind, into close action. It was with unspeakable pain that I saw, soon after I got on board the NIAGARA, the flag of the LAWRENCE come down, although I was perfectly sensible that she had been defended to the last, and that to have continued to make a show of resistance would have been a wanton sacrifice of the remains of her brave crew. But the enemy was not able to take possession of her, and circumstances soon permitted her flag again to be hoisted.
- Report on the Battle of Lake Erie, from the US Schooner Ariel, Put-In-Bay, (13 September 1813)
- Those officers and men who were immediately under my observation, evinced the greatest gallantry, and I have no doubt that all others conducted themselves as became American officers and seamen. Lieutenant Yarnall, first of the LAWRENCE, although several times wounded, refused to quit the deck. Midshipman Forrest (doing duty as lieutenant) and sailing master Taylor, were of great assistance to me.
- Report on the Battle of Lake Erie (13 September 1813)
- Of Captain Elliot, already so well known to the government, it would be almost superfluous to speak; in this action, he evinced his characteristic bravery and judgment; and, since the close of the action, has given me the most able and essential assistance.
- Report on the Battle of Lake Erie (13 September 1813); Years later Perry would declare he had sought to minimize what he perceived to be a lack of valor on the part of Elliot, and requested a court-martial against him, for this and other matters.
Quotes about PerryEdit
- The personal conduct of Perry throughout the 10th of September was perfect. His keenly sensitive nature never interfered with his sweetness of manner, his fortitude, the soundness of his judgment, the promptitude of his decision. In a state of impassioned activity, his plans were wisely framed, were instantly modified as circumstances changed, and were executed with entire coolness and self-possession. The mastery of the lakes, the recovery of Detroit and the far West, the capture of the British army in the peninsula of Upper Canada, were the immediate fruits of his success. The imagination of the American people was taken captive by the singular incidents of a battle in which everything seemed to have flowed from the personal prowess of one man; and wherever he came the multitude went out to bid him welcome.
- George Bancroft, in "Oliver Hazard Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie" published in Battle of Lake Erie (1854) edited by Usher Parsons, p. 123
- The personal deportment of Captain Perry, throughout the day, was worthy of all praise. He did not quit his own vessel when she became useless, to retire from the battle, but to gain it; an end that was fully obtained, and an effort which resulted in triumph.
- He absolutely refused to admit, much less accept, defeat when he was literally beaten on Lake Erie. He was that rara avis in our history, the true hero-patriot.
- Richard Dillon, in We Have Met the Enemy (1978)
- Against a tenacious enemy, this young commodore bequeathed a legacy of combat leadership to future generations of naval officers.
- David Curtis Skaggs and Gerald T. Altoff, in A Signal Victory (1997)
- Nothing could intimidate, nothing dishearten, Perry. Depending on the native energies of his mind he was prepared for those difficulties, and he was also prepared to resist them.
- Sailing Master William V. Taylor, of the Lawrence, as quoted in Oliver Hazard Perry : Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the early U.S. Navy (2006) by David Curtis Skaggs, p. 63