The battle would become infamous due to Commodore Perry's transfer from one ship to another under heavy gunfire.
Prelude to the Battle of Lake Erie
When the war broke out, the British quickly took control of Lake Erie. Their navy was small, and with many assets assigned to Europe to fight Napoleon, they were forced to build more ships from the resources that were available in America.
The American Navy was in a similar situation and also had to build a fleet within the Great Lakes.
This resulted in an arms race with both sides trying to see who could build a fleet the quickest.
Meanwhile, the British suffered a defeat at the Battle of York that caused them to lose many of their resources and damage their supply line. This allowed more time for the Americans to build their ships.
In September, Commodore Perry set out towards Put-in-bay to meet the British fleet.
The British were expecting an easy victory. However, they would be surprised at how competent the American Navy had become.
On September 10, 1813, the Battle of Lake Erie took place.
Despite being outnumbered 9 to 6, the British guns proved to be devastating at long range.
The Americans took losses, and the American ship, the Lawrence, was hit badly and made useless for the remainder of the battle.
It was then that Commodore Oliver Perry left the Lawrence and climbed into a rowboat, and sailed to the Niagara. During the paddle over, he was under heavy British fire. Despite being out in the open, Perry made it to the Niagara and took over the ship.
The Niagara had hardly participated in the battle. Once in command, Perry turned broadside and fired at the British, inflicting heavy damage.
He then turned the ship and rammed the British ship. While in close proximity, the sailors used their rifles to lay down heavy fire on the British sailors.
This onslaught continued, and by nightfall, the British had lowered their flag and surrendered.
Every officer in the British navy was killed or wounded, including Captain Barclay, who had already lost his arm previously.
Perry sent a dispatch to General William Henry Harrison, recounting the details of the battle. In the dispatch, he wrote, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours."
With Perry's victory at Lake Erie, the British supply lines were cut off, and they were forced to abandon Detroit. Tecumseh objected but, due to lack of supplies, went with the British on their retreat.
General William Henry Harrison caught up with the British and their allies at the Battle of the Thames.
Perry's victory at the Battle of Lake Erie allowed for the quicker deployment of American troops to reinforce the American Army and was the primary reason for the British retreat.
The Americans controlled Lake Erie for the rest of the war.