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How Our Torpedo Boats Got Their Names: New York Evening World, May 8, 1918, page 16

How Our Torpedo Boats Got Their Names

By Henry Collins Brown

The Perry

One of the best known names in American naval history is unquestionably that of Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the Battle of Lake Erie, and renowned as the author of that laconic message, "We have met the enemy and they are ours."

The famous battle of Lake Erie began at sunrise on Sept. 10, 1813, when the British were discovered coming out of Malden. The wind at first was in favor of the British, but shifted and favored the Americans at the beginning of the action.

In the course of the battle Perry's flagship, the Lawrence, was severely punished. Perry himself, assisted by the purser and Chaplain, fired the last effective shot. Four-fifths of his crew were either dead or wounded. It was at this critical moment that Perry made his passage from the flagship to the Niagara, which was still fresh. This was one of the most daring acts in all naval warfare and had a large share in securing the final victory to the American fleet.

Skilful seamanship and unheard of bravery brought the engagement to a successful conclusion after four hours of desperate fighting, during which the British lost six vessels. When the issue was no longer in doubt, Perry transferred his flag back to the deck of his battered flagship, the Lawrence, and there received the swords of his vanquished opponents.

The results of the victory on Lake Erie were most important and far-reaching. Detroit and Michigan fell back into our hands and Tecumseh, the great Indian leader, was slain in the battle of the Thames, a direct result of Perry's victory; and thus the Indians left the British and ceased to be a terror to American settlements in the Northwest.

Other important plans of the British—that of creating a buffer State inhabited by Indians under the protection of Great Britain—was rendered futile by the victory of Lake Erie and in other directions the plans of the enemy assumed a wholly different complexion.

Commodore Perry saw further important service in the suppression of piracy in the West Indies. He commanded an expedition sent to the Caribbean and opened negotiations with Venezuela regarding letters of marque issued by that country. While there he fell ill with yellow fever and died on the way to Trinidad. Take him all in all, Oliver Hazard Perry fairly earned the distinction of having one of our torpedo boats named in his honor.

[Public Domain mark] Copyright/Licence: This work was published in 1922 or earlier. It has therefore entered the public domain in the United States.
[Public Domain mark] Copyright/Licence: The author or authors of this work died in 1964 or earlier, and this work was first published no later than 1964. Therefore, this work is in the public domain in Canada per sections 6 and 7 of the Copyright Act.