The Battle of Lake Erie

Artist/maker unknown, American

Made in United States, North and Central America

c. 1840

Oil on panel

22 3/4 x 35 3/8 inches (57.8 x 89.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Collection of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1973

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One of the most important naval actions of the War of 1812, the battle of Lake Erie took place September 10, 1813, when a squadron of British ships attempted to block the port of Erie, Pennsylvania. In this painting the engagement is still in its early stages, with the British Detroit having severely damaged the American flagship, the USS Lawrence. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and his few surviving crew members transferred to the Niagara (seen at right) and soon after sailed directly into the British battle line, forcing them to surrender. The words "Don't give up the ship" inscribed on the flag atop the sinking Lawrence were a rallying cry inspired by the dying words of American Captain James Lawrence, who had been killed earlier in 1813.