Thursday, September 10, 2009

Battle of Lake Erie, 196 Years Ago on This Day

196 years ago today, the small U.S. fleet under Commodore O.H. Perry defeated the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry's flagship, the Lawrence, was so badly damaged during the battle that he transferred his command (via rowboat, in the midst of flying shot and splinters) to the brig Niagara. Perry's fleet had powerful guns, but they had to tack under long-range (and highly accurate) British guns to get close enough to fire them. That took big brass balls.

A live fire demonstration of a reconstructed gun deck section shows the hellish punishment Perry's men would have taken as the inched their way towards the British. Watch carefully. Flying splinters can be seen striking the "human" targets, doing more damage than the shot itself. Scary.

UPDATE: The above link is no longer working. Here is the same video on YouTube:

N.B. to P. O'B. fans: Here is the Niagara underway, wearing around, with some nifty animation demonsrtating the process of coming around on the other tack:

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