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The Battle Of Lake Erie
"With half the western world at stake, See Perry on the middle lake.” —Nineteenth-century ballad
February 1976 | Volume 27, Issue 2
But despite all the creaky rationale formulated by Elliott’s friends, the day was Perry’s and Perry’s alone. Through his own desperate initiative he had, at the very last moment, come through the smoke to win a lost battle. Henry Adams summed it up at the end of his description of the action: “No process of argument … could deprive Perry of the fame justly given him by the public, or detract from the splendor of his reputation as the hero of the war. More than any other battle of the time, the victory on Lake Erie was won by the courage and obstinacy of a single man.”
As for Daniel Dobbins, he spent the rest of his life on the Lakes, navigating them for forty years and never, he liked to boast, losing so much as a spar. When the President awarded a sword to each midshipman and sailing master who served well on Lake Erie, Dobbins wrote saying that he would like one too. But he was told that since he had not been in the battle, he was not eligible, and he never got his sword.