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Subject: The Battle of Lake Erie and a chance encounter with history. rss

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Cracky McCracken
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I thought wargamers might get a kick out of these pics. Earlier in the summer, my family and I went out to Put-In-Bay Ohio on Lake Erie and and checked out the War of 1812 monument and museum there. The Battle of Lake Erie was fought there on Sept 10 1813 between a squadron of US warships and a squadron of British warships. It was a brutal and decisive naval skirmish that was highlighted by the US Brig Niagara sailing into the British line and winning the battle. The battle denied the British control of the Great Lakes. "Don't Give Up The Ship!" was it's most famous line, sewn onto US Adm Perrys' flag

This diagram from "Oliver Hazard Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie" by Gerard T. Altoff shows The positions of the squads after hours of pounding away on each other. Two of the British ships have becomed entangled.

More recently, our travels took us to Erie Pa. We noticed on the map that there is some kind of maritime museum for the USS Niagara there. But, when we got there, we ended up parking out on a gigantic pier with a tower on end of it.






It was an overcast and windy day. Labor Day Weekend had come and gone and there were no ships or boats on the water except for one. An 18th or 19th century sailing ship could be seen all by itself way out in the harbor. We decided to ride the elevator to the top of the tower to get a better look at the ship. It looked great out there without any modern boats around.

Better still, she was coming our way! I couldn't help think that that's probably what the USS Niagara looked like out there, 200 years ago. Erie PA served as the shipyard the US brigs of the Battle of Lake Erie were built. It is protected by a remarkable pennisula called Presq Isle.
























A gentleman working at the top of the tower was kind enough to point out that the ship was indeed the USS Niagara (a 20 year old rebuild), and that she was going to dock at the pier we were on. What a fortunate coincidence!

This pic to the right is my favorite. I use it as my desktop background. Niagara is getting closer...





















The Niagara is preparing to dock in this pic. It was amazing to have a gulls eye view of the process.
























Then we went down to the bottom of the tower and got to check out the ship up close. We ended up having lunch right there on the pier with the crew. It was certainly much more interesting than a standard museum experience. It's great how much history there is to discover once you go out looking for it. Thanks for reading!!!
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Robert Wesley
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arrrh These are wondrous to behold, as I even espied our "Lady Washington" and the "Hawaiian Chieftain" just yesterday in 'harbor' here then! cool
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Jeb
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The OP made my day. It was sort of like reexperiencing my love of sailing from about 15 years ago through the eyes of another person.

I use to own a sail boat (much smaller than what your looking at here of course) but sold my boat (happiest day of a boat owner's life) about 15 years ago.

Makes me want to get out there and ... sail someone elses boat
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Michael Novak
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Lake Erie was the key for holding Detroit. As soon as it was lost, the Brits boogied out of there with there Native American allies.

It was an amazing battle from many perspectives: engineering, strategical and tactical. That is cool that you got a chance to visit!
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Cracky McCracken
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Quote:
Lake Erie was the key for holding Detroit. As soon as it was lost, the Brits boogied out of there with there Native American allies.


Yup, Ohioans might be interested to learn that the warchief Tecumseh and his fighters had sided with the British at this point. As the British forces retreated overland from the lakes, they were overrun by US forces at the Battle of the Thames (Ontario) in Oct 1813.

Tecumseh had convinced the British soldiers to adopt an open formation style of fighting simular to the Native American style. It turned out to be a huge mistake as the British were mowed down by US Cav and Tecumseh himself was killed. The strategically vital Great Lakes were solidly in American hands and the US military had delivered her nation some important victories against the British.

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Sean Burns
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What wonderful pics! How lucky were you guys? The Maritime Museum in Erie is very well done with a lot of interesting historical items and artifacts, especially the Niagara. Were you allowed to go aboard and tour?

I was in Erie in 2008 and visited the museum at a time when the crew of the Niagara was working on laying the brig up in ordinary for the winter. They let me join their crew for a bit to help them haul down a few of the crossjacks. It's a wonderful brig and the folks who work there are just great.

One little quibble with your post, though: "Don't Give Up The Ship" was indeed Perry's battle flag, but the quote is a tribute to the last words of Capt. Lawrence of the Chesapeake during his famous duel with Capt. Broke of the HMS Shannon outside Boston on June 1.
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John Kovacs
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Unfortunately Perry's Monument on Put-In-Bay is currently closed for repairs but is scheduled to re-open in time for the bicentennial celebrations.

As for "Don't Give up the Ship", Captain Lawrence was a friend of Perry's and Perry named his own vessel Lawrence in tribute to his friend.
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Cracky McCracken
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DerMahler wrote:
What wonderful pics! How lucky were you guys? The Maritime Museum in Erie is very well done with a lot of interesting historical items and artifacts, especially the Niagara. Were you allowed to go aboard and tour?


Turns out we were very lucky. We had no idea Niagara would be out there (or even existed). She was docked at the pier to accomadate a wedding later in the day, and than she was bound for Canada.

We did not try to board. A group of college students was deboarding and than the crew ate lunch, so this is as close as we got.





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Ron Glass
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One of my favorite naval battles and a fascinating war. Congrats on having a great experience.
Ron
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Joshua from Ohio
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We go to Pyrate Fest every year on Put-in-Bay (island), Ohio. And we usually take a stack of arrrh themed board games. If you have kids, it is worth going.
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