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13th Congress.]

No. 106.

[2d Session.

CAPTURE OF THE BRITISH FLEET ON LAKE ERIE AND BRIG BOXER.

COMMUNICATED TO THE SENATE, DECEMBER 31, 1813.

Navy Department, December 27th, 1813.

Sir:

Agreeably to your request, I have the honor to transmit copies of the official letter and documents narrating the splendid and decisive victory gained on the 10th of September, on Lake Erie, by the United States' squadron under the command of Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, over a British squadron of superior force, commanded by a distinguished veteran officer.

The effects of this victory are no less important to the national interest and security, than the unrivalled splendor of the achievement and generous sympathy of the victors is honorable to the national character.

While the heroic commander of the American squadron justly merits the highest honors which the expression of the national councils can bestow, the second in command on that eventful day appears to merit particular distinction, for the important and decisive share he had in that glorious event; and it is grateful in the highest degree to reflect that every officer and man, on that trying occasion, discharged his duty to the nation with zeal, fidelity, and honor.

I have the honor also to enclose copies of the official accounts of the action between the United States' brig Enterprise and the British sloop of war Boxer, which terminated in a victory, which, for brilliancy and decision, it is believed, has never been surpassed in single action. The force of the enemy, in this case, was, if not actually superior, at least equal to that of the Enterprise; but the comparative effect of the skill and fire of each proves that, had the enemy been greatly superior in force, the result must have been the same. In this action, the gallant commander of the Enterprise displayed the highest degree of skill and intrepidity, and died in the arms of victory; but being mortally wounded early in the action, was most ably succeeded by Lieutenant McCall, whose conduct on that occasion it is impossible to appreciate too highly.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. JONES.

Hon. John Gaillard, Chairman of Committee of the Senate on Naval Affairs.

U. S. brig Niagara, (off the Western Sister, head of Lake Erie) September 10th, 1813, 4 P. M.

Sir;

It has pleased the Almighty to give to the arms of the United States a signal victory over their enemies on this lake.

The British squadron, consisting of two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop, have this moment surrendered to the force under my command, after a sharp conflict.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

O. H. PERRY.

The Hon. William Jones, Secretary of the Navy.

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Sir:

U. S. schooner Ariel, Put-in-Bay, September 13th, 1813.

In my last I informed you that we had captured the enemy's fleet on this lake. I have now the honor to give you the most important particulars of the action.

On the morning of the 10th instant, at sunrise, they were discovered from Put-in-Bay, where I lay at anchor with the squadron under my command. We got under way, the wind light at S. W., and stood for them. At ten A. M. the wind hauled to S. E. and brought us to windward; formed the line, and bore up. At fifteen minutes before twelve, the enemy commenced firing; at five minutes before twelve, the action commenced on our part. Finding their fire very destructive, owing to their long guns, and its being mostly directed at the Lawrence, I made sail, and directed the other vessels to follow, for the purpose of closing with the enemy. Every brace and bowline being soon shot away, she became unmanageable, notwithstanding the great exertions of the sailing master. In this situation, she sustained the action upwards of two hours, within canister distance, until every gun was rendered useless, and the greater part of her crew either killed or wounded. Finding she could no longer annoy the enemy, I left her in charge of Lieutenant Yarnall, who, I was convinced, from the bravery already displayed by him, would do what would comport with the honor of the flag. At half past two, the wind springing up, Captain Elliott was enabled to bring his vessel, the Niagara, gallantly into close action. I immediately went on board of her, when he anticipated my wishes, by volunteering to bring the schooners, which had been kept astern by the lightness of the wind, into closer action. It was with unspeakable pain that I saw, soon after I got on board the Niagara, the flag of the Lawrence come down; although I was perfectly sensible that she had been defended to the last, and that, to have continued to make a show of resistance would have been a wanton sacrifice of the remains of her brave crew. But the enemy was not able to take possession of her, and circumstances soon permitted her flag again to be hoisted. At forty-five minutes past two the signal was made for "closer action." The Niagara being very little injured, I determined to pass through the enemy's line; bore up, and passed ahead of their two ships and a brig, saving a raking fire to them, from the starboard guns, and to a large schooner and sloop from the larboard side, at half pistol shot distance. The smaller vessels, at this time, having got within grape and canister distance, under the direction of Captain Elliott, and keeping up a well directed fire, the two ships, a brig, and schooner, surrendered, a schooner and sloop making a vain attempt to escape.

Those officers and men who were immediately under my observation, evinced the greatest gallantry; and I have no doubt that all others conducted themselves as became American officers and seamen.

Lieutenant Yarnall, first of the Lawrence, although several times wounded, refused to quit the deck. Midshipman Forrest, (doing duty as lieutenant) and Sailing Master Taylor, were of great assistance to me. I have great pain in stating to you the death of Lieutenant Brooks of the marines, and Midshipman Laub, both of the Lawrence, and Midshipman John Clark, of the Scorpion; they were valuable and promising officers.

Mr. Hambleton, purser, who volunteered his services on deck, was severely wounded, late in the action; Midshipmen Claxton and Swartwout, of the Lawrence, were severely wounded.

On board the Niagara, Lieutenants Smith and Edwards, and Midshipman Webster, (doing duty as sailing master) behaved in a very handsome manner.

Captain Brevoost, of the army, who acted as a volunteer, in the capacity of a marine officer, on board that vessel, is an excellent and brave officer, and with, his musketry did great execution.

Lieutenant Turner, commanding the Caledonia, brought that vessel into action in the most able manner, and is an officer that, in all situations, may be relied on.

The Ariel, Lieutenant Packet, and Scorpion, Sailing Master Champlin, were enabled to get early into action, and were of great service.

Captain Elliott speaks in the highest terms of Mr. Magrath, purser, who had been despatched in a boat on service, previous to my getting on board the Niagara; and being a seaman, since the action has rendered essential service in taking charge of one of the prizes.

Of Captain Elliott, already so well known to the Government, it would almost be superfluous to speak. In this action he evinced his characteristic bravery and judgment; and, since the close of the action, has given me the most able and essential assistance.

I have the honor to enclose you a return of the killed and wounded, together with a statement of the relative force of the squadrons. The captain and first lieutenant of the Queen Charlotte, and first lieutenant of the Detroit, were killed; Captain Barclay, senior officer, and the commander of the Lady Prevost, severely wounded. The commanders of the Hunter and Chippeway, slightly wounded.

Their loss in killed and wounded I have not yet been able to ascertain; it must, however, have been very great.

Very respectfully, I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,

O. H. PERRY.

The Hon. William Jones, Secretary of the Navy.

List of killed and wounded onboard the United States' squadron,
under command of O. H. Perry, Esq. in the action of 10th September,
1813; viz.

On board the Lawrence, killed.

John Brooks, lieutenant marines.

Nelson Peters, ditto.

Henry Laub, midshipman.

James Jones, ditto.

Christopher Mayhew, quarter master.

John Rose, ditto.

James W. Allen, seaman.

James Carty, sailmaker's mate.

Joseph Kennedy, ditto.

Thomas Butler, seaman.

John C. Kelly, private in the regiment.

Wilson Mays, carpenter's mate.

John Smith, seaman.

James Brown, seaman.

William Cranston, ordinary seaman.

Ethelred Sykes, landsman.

Andrew Michael, seaman.

Philip Sharbley, corporal of marines.

John Hoffman, ordinary seaman.

Jesse Harland, private.

Charles Pohig, seaman.

Abner Williams, ditto.

 

On board the Lawrence, wounded.

John J. Yarnall, 1st lieutenant, slightly.

Henry Schroeder, ordinary seaman, severely.

Dulaney Forrest, 2d ditto, slightly.

Benoni Price, seaman, severely.

William N. Taylor, sailing master, slightly.

Thomas Robinson, ditto, severely.

Samuel Hambleton, purser, severely.

Peter Kinsley, ditto, severely.

Thomas Claxton, midshipman, severely.

Nathan Chapman, ditto, severely.

Augustus Swartwout, midshipman, severely.

Thomas Hill, ordinary seaman, severely.

Jonas Stone, carpenter, slightly.

Barney M'Cain, ditto, severely.

William C. Keen, master at arms, slightly.

William Dawson, seaman, severely.

Francis Mason, quarter master, severely.

Westerly Johnson, ordinary seaman, severely.

John Newen, ditto, severely. ,

Samuel Spywood, ditto, severely.

Joseph Lewis, ditto, slightly.

Robert Hill, seaman, slightly.

Ezekiel Fowler, ditto, slightly.

Francis Cummings, ordinary seaman, severely,

John E. Brown, quarter gunner, severely

Thomas Reed, ditto, severely.

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William Johnson, boatswain's mate, severely.

Charles Vandyke, ordinary seaman, severely.

James Heian, ditto, slightly.

William Simpson, ditto, severely.

George Cornell, carpenter's mate, slightly.

Jesse Williams, ditto, slightly.

Thomas Hammond, armorer, slightly.

James Hadley, ditto, slightly.

William Thompson, seaman, severely.

James Bird, marine, severely.

George Varnum, ditto, severely.

William Burnett, ditto, severely.

James Moses, ditto, severely.

William Baggs, ditto, severely.

William Roe, ditto, severely.

David Christie, ditto, severely.

Joseph Denning, ditto, severely.

Henry Vanpoole, ditto, severely.

William Daring, ditto, severely.

Thomas Tuff, landsman, severely.

John Clay, ditto, severely.

Elijah Barlin, ditto, severely.

Stephen Fairfield, ditto, severely.

John Adams, ditto, slightly.

George Williams, ditto, severely.

Charles Harrington, ditto, slightly.

Lannon Huse, ditto, severely.

William B. Perkins, ditto, slightly.

James Waddington, ditto, severely.

Nathaniel Wade, boy, severely.

John Burnham, ditto, severely.

Newport Hazard, ditto, slightly.

John Burdeen, ditto, severely.

On the morning of the action, the sick
list of the Lawrence contained thirty-one unfit for duty.

Andrew Mattison, ditto, severely.

Jeremiah Easterbrook, ordinary seaman, severely.

 

On board the Niagara, killed.

Peter Morell, seaman.

Isaac Hardy, ordinary seaman.

 

On board the Niagara, wounded.

John J. Edwards, lieutenant.

Charles Davidson, seaman.

John L. Cummings, midshipman.

Daniel Bennet, ditto.

Edward Martin, seaman, (since dead.)

John Felton, boatswain's mate.

William Davis, ordinary seaman, (since dead.)

Sergeant Mason, marine.

Joshua Trapnel, marine, (since dead.)

Corporal Scott, ditto.

Ronvell Hall, ordinary seaman.

Thomas Miller, ditto.

George Platt, seaman.

John Rumas, ditto.

Elias Wiley, ordinary seaman.

George McManomy, ditto.

Henry Davidson, seaman.

George Scoffield, ditto.

John M. Strebeck, ordinary seaman.

Samuel Cochran, ditto.

John Freeman, ditto.

James Sansford, seaman.

On the morning of the action, the sick list of the
Niagara contained twenty-eight unfit for duty.

Thomas Wilson, ditto.

 

On board the Caledonia, wounded.

James Artus, slightly.

Isaac Perkins, slightly.

James Philips, slightly.

On board the Somers, wounded.

Charles Ordun.

Godfrey Bowman.

On board the Ariel, killed.

John White, boatswain's mate.

Wounded.

William Sloss, ordinary seaman, slightly.

Robert Wilson, seaman, slightly.

John Lucas, landsman, slightly.

On board the Trippe, wounded.

Isaac Green, soldier, 26th regiment, badly.

John Nailes, soldier, 17th regiment, slightly.

On board the Porcupine.

None killed or wounded.

On board the Scorpion, killed.

John Clark, midshipman.

John Sylhamamer, landsman.

On board the Tigress.

None killed or wounded.

Two days previous to the action, the sick lists of the small vessels contained the names of fifty-seven men unfit for service.

 

Recapitulation.

Killed.

Wounded.

Total.

Lawrence,

22

61

83

Niagara,

2

25

27

Caledonia,

0

3

3

Somers,

0

2

2

Ariel

1

3

4

Trippe,

0

2

2

Porcupine,

0

0

0

Scorpion,

2

0

2

Tigress

0

0

0

27

96

123

S. HAMBLETON, Purser.

O. H. PERRY, Captain and Senior Officer.

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Statement of the force of the British squadron.

Detroit, ship,

19 guns, one on pivot, and two howitzers.

Queen Charlotte, ship,

17 do. do.

Lady Prevost, schooner,

13 do. do.

Hunter, brig,

10 do.

Little Belt, sloop,

3 do.

Chippewa, schooner,

1 do. and two swivels.

63 guns.

Note.-The Detroit is a new ship, very strongly built, and mounts long twenty-fours, eighteens, and twelves.

Statement of the force of the United States' squadron.

Lawrence, brig,

20 guns.

Niagara, brig,

20 do.

Caledonia, brig,

3 do.

Ariel, schooner,

4 do. (one burst early in action.)

Scorpion, schooner,

2 do.

Somers, schooner,

2 do.

Trippe, sloop,

1 do.

Tigress, schooner,

1 do.

Porcupine, schooner,

1 do.

54 guns.

The exact number of the enemy's force has not been ascertained, but I have good reason to believe that it exceeded ours by nearly one hundred men.

Boston, 7th September, 1813.

Sir:

The enclosed letters will give you the information of a brilliant victory gained by the United States' brig Enterprise over His Britannic Majesty's brig Boxer, of considerable superiority of force. Nothing that I can say would add to the lustre of the gallant action, which so decidedly speaks for itself. But I cannot restrain my deep regret for the loss of so valuable an officer as the brave Lieutenant Burrows.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant,

WM. BAINBRIDGE.

Honorable William Jones, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

Portland, 7th September, 1813.

Sir:

I had the honor last evening to forward you by express, through the hands of Commodore Bainbridge, a letter received from Samuel Storer, Esq. Navy Agent at this place, detailing an account of the capture of the British brig Boxer by the United States' brig Enterprise.

I now have to inform you that I left Portsmouth this morning, and have this moment arrived here, and as the mail is closing, I have only time to enclose you the report of Lieutenant McCall of the Enterprise, and to assure you that a statement of the two vessels, as to the damage they have received, &c. shall be forwarded as soon as surveys can be made; the Boxer has received much damage in her hull, masts, and sails; indeed it was with difficulty that she could be kept afloat to get her in. The Enterprise is only injured in her masts and sails.

1 have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant,

ISAAC HULL.

The Honorable William Jones, Secretary of the Navy.

United States brig Enterprise, Portland, 7th September, 1813.

Sir:

In consequence of the unfortunate death of Lieutenant Commandant William Burrows, late commander of this vessel, it devolves on me to acquaint you with the result of our cruise.

After sailing from Portsmouth on the 1st instant, we steered to the eastward, and on the morning of the 3d, off Wood Island, discovered a schooner, which we chased into this harbor, where we anchored.

On the morning of the 4th, weighed anchor, and swept out and continued our course to the eastward. Having received information of several privateers being off Monhegan, we stood for that place; and on the following morning, in the bay near Pemequid Point, discovered a brig getting under way, which appeared, to be a vessel of war, and to which we immediately gave chase. She fired several guns and stood for us, having four ensigns hoisted. After reconnoitring and discovering her force, and the nation to which she belonged, we hauled upon a wind to stand out of the bay, and at 3 o'clock shortened sail, tacked, and ran down with an intention to bring her to close action.

At twenty minutes after 3, P. M. when within half pistol shot, the firing commenced from both, and after being warmly kept up, and with some manoeuvring, the enemy hailed, and said they had surrendered, about 4 P. M. Their colors being nailed to the masts could not be hauled down. She proved to be His Britannic Majesty's late brig Boxer, of fourteen guns, Samuel Blythe, Esq. commander, who fell in the early part of the engagement, having received a cannon shot through the body. And I am sorry to add that Lieutenant Burrows, who had gallantly led us to action, fell also about the same time, by a musket ball which terminated his existence in eight hours.

The Enterprise suffered much in spars and rigging, and the Boxer, both in spars, rigging, and hull, having many shot between wind and water.

It would be doing injustice to the merit of Mr. Tillinghast, second Lieutenant, were I not to mention the able assistance I received from him during the remainder of the engagement, by his strict attention to his own division and other departments. And the officers and crew, generally, I am happy to add, from their cool and determined conduct, have my warmest approbation and applause.

As no muster roll that can be fully relied on has come into my possession, I cannot exactly state the number killed on board the Boxer; but from information received from the officers of that vessel, it appears there were between twenty and thirty-five killed, and fourteen wounded. Enclosed is a list of the killed and wounded on board the Enterprise.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant,

EDWARD R. McCALL, Senior Officer.

Isaac Hull, Esq. Commanding Naval Officer on the Eastern station, Portland.

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List of the killed and wounded on board the United States' brig Enterprise,
in the engagement with the British brig
Boxer, on the 5th September, 1813.

Killed.

Nathaniel Garren, Ordinary seaman.

Wounded.

William Burrows, commander, since dead.

Scuiler Bradley, seaman.

Kerwin Waters, midshipman, mortally.

James Snow, seaman.

Elisha Blossom, carpenter's mate, since dead.

Snow Jones, seaman.

David Horton, quartermaster.

Peter Barnard, ordinary seaman.

Russell Coates, quartermaster.

William Thomas, 2d, seaman.

Thomas Orrings, quartermaster.

John Pitzmen, marine.

Benjamin Gannon, boatswain's mate.

EDWARD R. McCALL, Senior Officer.