Oliver Hazard Perry and the battle of lake erie

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Early in the War of 1812, the U.S. lost Fort Detroit and Lake Erie to British and Indian attacks.  Securing American territory in the northwest and retaking Detroit depended upon controlling Lake Erie where the Americans had no ships.

Oliver Hazard Perry was ordered to Presque Isle (Erie), Pennsylvania to build a squadron of ships in what was then very much a wilderness. Once built, he was given command of the ships and ordered to seize control of the Lake.  Perry met and captured the entire British squadron on September 10, 1813 after a tumultuous and bloody engagement that became known as the Battle of Lake Erie.

The victory on Lake Erie enabled an American army under General William Henry Harrison to invade Canada and defeat the British and Indian Chief Tecumseh’s forces at the Battle of Thames thereby preserving the American northwest territories.  Oliver Hazard Perry’s heroic actions in building a squadron of ships in a remote, wild region and then leading that squadron to victory was a major turning point in the war.  Perry's triumph inspired the country and enabled the U.S. to eventually negotiate a satisfactory and long-lasting peace.

"To the battle must also be added the almost hopeless challenge of building the fleet in the wilderness and the subsequent land actions in the Thames River area of Western Ontario. Taken together, they constitute a triumph of the human spirit seldom equaled in man's relentless struggles for freedom.  These achievments will stand for so long as perseverance, patriotism, and valor are honored among men." -RADM Denys W. Knoll, USN