Tomorrow, September 10, marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, a pivotal battle in the War of 1812 that produced American naval hero Oliver Hazard Perry. We’re commemorating the event with a new Forever® stamp, which will be issued tomorrow at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.
The Battle of Lake Erie stamp commemorates one of the most important engagements of the War of 1812. If the British had gained control of the Great Lakes, they could have moved men and materials from Canada into the United States, to devastating effect.
Here are some other key facts to know about the battle:
- Its hero, Oliver Hazard Perry, was only 27 years old when he was assigned the task of building a fleet at Presque Isle Bay, off the coast of Erie, Pennsylvania. Perry had to procure material from as far away as Washington, D.C., to fill out the fleet, which included the two 500-ton ships, Lawrence and Niagara.
- For most of the battle the Lawrence, Perry’s flagship, fought the two largest British vessels, Detroit and Queen Charlotte, unaided.
- In the fierce exchange of fire, Perry was one of the few unwounded American survivors. Rather than strike his colors—the signal for surrender—he and several sailors boarded a small boat and managed to make their way to the Niagara and then pursue the British vessels.
- The battle gave us two familiar sayings, “Don’t give up the ship” and “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” The first were the words Perry had emblazoned on his private flag in honor of his good friend Captain James Lawrence, who had uttered them only a few months earlier as he lay mortally wounded in a naval battle with the British. The second came from Perry’s succinct after-action report to General William Henry Harrison.
The American victory at the Battle of Lake Erie allowed the United States to take back territory lost to British forces earlier in the war. Also, less than a month after Perry’s triumph, Harrison was able to pursue retreating British forces into Upper Canada and win the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813.
Will you be in the Put-in-Bay area tomorrow? The stamp dedication ceremony is free and open to the public. Here’s your official invitation: