Tuesday, September 10, 2013


September 10, 2013


Put-in-Bay, Ohio (JFK+50) Captain Oliver Hazard Perry* led his American fleet to victory in a key naval battle of the War of 1812 two centuries ago today, September 10, 1813.

At dawn, a lookout on Perry's flagship, Lawrence, spotted six British war ships notrthwest of Put-in-Bay.  The Captain, with nine vessels, sailed forward toward the British fleet under Robert Heriot Barclay**.

*Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819) was born in Rhode Island, educated in Newport and joined the US Navy in 1799.  He served in the quasi war with France, the 1st Barbary War and the War of 1812.

Perry was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and promoted to Captain.  He died of yellow fever at the age of 34.

**Robert Heriot Barclay (1786-1837) was born in Scotland and joined the Royal Navy in 1798 at age 11.  He lost his left arm while leading a boarding attack.  Barclay died in Edinburgh at age 50.

In his 1976 article, "The Battle of Lake Erie," Richard F. Snow wrote...

"Just before the engagement, Captain Perry hoisted his battle flag...(a) large navy blue banner...emblazoned with the...words, 'Don't Give Up The Ship,' the last words of Captain James Lawrence who died on June 1, 1813."

At 12:15 p.m., Lawrence, named in honor of Captain James Lawrence, let loose with broadsides from its 32 pounders, but by 2:30 the American ship was a "floating wreck," having lost every gun on the side of engagement.

Not to be outdone, Captain Perry transferred his flag to Niagara and sailed back into battle.  By this time, the British had considerable damage of its own ships and their commander, Barclay, was severely wounded.

The British fleet then was commanded by junior officers who made some critical mistakes and soon found their ships under heavy cannon fire.

Just after 3 in the afternoon, the 4 largest British ships surrendered and the entire fleet was captured.

Oliver Hazard Perry wrote out one of the most famous messages in American naval history...

"Dear General,

We have met the enemy and they are ours.  2 ships, 2 brigs, 1 schooner and 1 sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,

Oliver Hazard Perry."***

***The message was sent to General William Henry Harrison.

27 American sailors were killed in the battle with 96 more wounded while
the British lost 40 dead and 94 wounded.

The victory secured American control of Lake Erie, forced the British to abandon Fort Malden and retreat up the Thames River.

                  Oliver Hazard Perry
                    Battle of Lake Erie
              by Edward Percy Moran
                  Library of Congress

         Battle of Lake Erie Monument
              Cornerstone Recreation
          Donated by the Free Masons
                          NPS Photo


"The Battle of Lake Erie," by Richard F. Snow, February 1976, American Heritage, Volume 27, Issue 2.


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order 50 years ago today, September 10, 1963,  forcing Governor George C. Wallace to comply with the order of the Federal Court to desegregate public schools in the state of Alabama.

The order "federalized" the Alabama Air National Guard to assist African-American students enrollment in the state's public schools.  

Troops were also be used to prevent protests or assaults on African-American students.*

JFK issued a 2nd executive order on this date which placed married men in a separate category of draftee status, giving unmarried men precedence in the selection process.


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy was briefed 50 years ago today, September 10, 1963, by General Victor Krulak**** of the United States Marine Corps and Joseph Mendenhall***** of the State Department after their return from a "fact-finding" mission to Vietnam.

General Krulak told the President that progress was being made against the communists but Mr. Mendenhall said the Diem regime was near collapse.

The contrast between an extremely optimistic report by Krulak and an extremely pessimistic one by Mendenhall led JFK to ask if "they had visited the same country."

South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem was overthrown in a coup in early November 1963.

****General Victor H. Krulak (1913-2008) USMC served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  He was born in Denver, Colorado and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1934.  Among his many awards are the Navy Cross, the Legion of Merit, and the Purple Heart.

                General Victor Krulak
         United States Marine Corps

*****Joseph Mendenhall was born in 1920.  He continued work in Indochina under LBJ and in 1965 became director of the United States Agency for International Development and from 1972-75 was US ambassador to Madagascar.