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Oliver Hazard Perry

Oliver Hazard Perry

Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819) was the American naval officer in command during the Sept. 10, 1813, victory on Lake Erie, one of the great American naval triumphs of the War of 1812.

Oliver Hazard Perry was born in South Kingston, R.I., on Aug. 20, 1785. He received his elementary education there. In 1799 he served as midshipman with his father, Capt. Christopher Raymond Perry, in the West Indies during the quasi-war with France. He also served in the Mediterranean during the Tripolitan War, performing creditably.

Perry was in command of a flotilla at Newport, Va., when war broke out in 1812, but he was given command of American naval forces on Lake Erie in March 1813. Perry built a small fleet under conditions of extreme difficulty. By August he had 10 ships, the brigs Lawrence and Niagara being the largest. Perry could not get his largest ships across the Erie bar in the presence of the enemy fleet led by Comm. Robert H. Barclay until the latter relaxed his blockade for unknown reasons.

Barclay finished a large new ship, the Detroit. Desperately short of supplies, he challenged the Americans. The fleets met on Sept. 10, 1813. The Americans had superior firepower, but there was little difference in manpower. At 10 A.M. the Lawrence was cleared for action and hoisted its battleflag, "Don't give up the ship." Action lasted from 11:45 A.M. until 3:00 P.M. After all the Lawrence 's guns were disabled, Perry rowed to the Niagara. Fifteen minutes after the Niagara moved into the heavy action, the British fleet surrendered. American casualties numbered 27 killed and 96 wounded, and British losses were 41 killed, 94 wounded. Perry dashed off his famous dispatch following the victory, "We have met the enemy and they are ours."

The victory was of major significance, for America now controlled Lake Erie until the war ended. Also, Gen. William Henry Harrison was enabled to capture much of Upper Canada, and the American peace negotiators were able to assert American claims to the Northwest.

Perry was promoted to captain in September 1813 and shortly thereafter received the thanks of Congress. Following the war he served in the Mediterranean. He died of yellow fever on Aug. 23, 1819, after completing a diplomatic mission to Venezuela and Buenos Aires. His body was interred at Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Further Reading

Charles J. Dutton, Oliver Hazard Perry (1935), is an adequate biography, but minor factual errors abound. The best discussions of the Battle of Lake Erie in terms of strategy and significance can be found in Alfred Thayer Mahan, Sea Power in Its Relation to the War of 1812 (2 vols., 1905). Also useful is Olin H. Lyman, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and the War on the Lakes (1905), and Harry L. Coles, The War of 1812 (1965).

Additional Sources

Dillon, Richard, We have met the enemy: Oliver Hazard Perry, wilderness commodore, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978. □

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Perry, Oliver Hazard

Perry, Oliver Hazard (1785–1819), U.S. naval officer.Born of a naval family, Perry served as a midshipman toward the end of undeclared naval war with France (1789–1800) and as a midshipman and acting lieutenant during the Tripolitan War (1801–05). After being promoted to lieutenant, he helped enforce the embargo, which prohibited American ships and goods from leaving port, and protected the American coast from privateering. During the War of 1812, he directed construction of a small fleet on Lake Erie, and on 10 September 1813, used it decisively to defeat a British squadron at Put‐in‐Bay. The Battle of Lake Erie secured for the United States control over the lake and changed the balance of power in the western theater of operations, but now is best remembered as the occasion of Perry's report to Gen. William Henry Harrison: “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” That same year Perry provided naval support for Winfield Scott's capture of Fort George, and aided Harrison in the reoccupation of Detroit, as well as at the Battle of the Thames. In 1814, he played a minor role in the defense of the Chesapeake Bay area when the British invaded the region. He died of yellow fever in 1819 while on a naval and diplomatic mission in South America. A younger brother, Matthew C. Perry, led the naval expedition that opened Japan in 1853.
[See also Navy, U.S.: 1783–1865.]

Bibliography

Alexander S. Mackenzie , The Life of Commodore Oliver H. Perry, 2 vols., 1840.
Charles J. Dutton , Oliver Hazard Perry, 1935.
David Curtis Skaggs and and Gerard T. Altoff , A Signal Victory: The Lake Erie Campaign, 1812–1813, 1997.

Donald R. Hickey

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"Perry, Oliver Hazard." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Perry, Oliver Hazard." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/perry-oliver-hazard

Perry, Oliver Hazard

Oliver Hazard Perry, 1785–1819, American naval officer, b. South Kingstown, R.I.; brother of Matthew Calbraith Perry. Appointed a midshipman in 1799, he served in the Tripolitan War, was promoted to lieutenant (1807), and from 1807 to 1809 was engaged in building gunboats. In the War of 1812 he was commissioned to build, equip, and crew a fleet at Erie, Pa.

On Sept. 10, 1813, Perry's fleet left Put-in-Bay, Ohio, and met a slightly inferior British force. In the subsequent battle, the battle of Lake Erie, Perry's flagship, the Lawrence, was reduced to ruins, but he transferred his flag to the Niagara and shortly forced the British to surrender. His report of the battle sent to Gen. William H. Harrison— "We have met the enemy and they are ours" —has become famous. The victory, which made Perry a national hero, gave the United States control of Lake Erie and helped pave the way for Harrison's victory in the battle of the Thames, in which Perry participated (see Thames, battle of the).

After the war he served as a captain in the Mediterranean. Later, on a mission to Venezuela, he contracted yellow fever, died, and was buried in Trinidad. His body was later brought to Newport, R.I., where a monument was erected to him. A monument to Perry and international peace memorial at Put-in-Bay, built 1912–15, became a national monument in 1936 and has been a national memorial since 1972.

See biography by C. J. Dutton (1935); C. O. Paullin, ed., The Battle of Lake Erie (1918); C. S. Forester, The Age of Fighting Sail (1956).

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"Perry, Oliver Hazard." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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