Aftermath of Victory: The Perry-Elliott Controversy

By David Curtis Skaggs

The inexperience of the U.S. Navy in squadron operations soon became apparent; neither Perry nor Elliott had been in ship-to-ship combat nor had they commanded or experienced the movement of several vessels in a fleet engagement. Elliott’s service as Chauncey’s flag captain gave him some practice in command-and-control at the squadron level, but these duties were the consequence of the commodore’s orders and not his own decisions. The Americans knew that the British, because of their logistical requirements, would have to sail out of their anchorage at Amherstburg on the Canadian side of the Detroit River and engage the U.S. force on Lake Erie in order to open their line of communications with the British on the Niagara Peninsula. The Americans anchored at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, not far from the mouth of the Detroit River, and awaited the Royal Navy.

In meeting with his commanders, Perry emphasized preserving the line of battle during combat (a provision that seemingly forbade breaking the line and engaging in a “pell-mell battle”). Most navies of the day stressed line-of-battle cohesion, and Perry’s decision underscored the fact that his officers were inexperienced and that mélée tactics reduced the squadron commander’s span of operational control. But at the same time, he gave each vessel a designated opponent that each commander was to engage in “close action.” Several of Perry’s subordinates interpreted the first instruction as limiting their discretion to deviate from their line-of-battle position. On the other hand, the second order to engage the designated foe implied an obligation to meet one’s opponent whether or not he changed position in the battle line. Hampering Perry’s span of control was his fighting the Royal Navy flagship at the head of the battle line, thereby limiting his ability to witness the whole engagement and to signal the trailing vessels what he desired them to do.

During the 10 September 1813 battle, Perry plunged into close action with HMS Detroit , which had greater long-range firepower than his flagship, while Elliott kept his vessel in line of battle even after his designated opponent, HMS Queen Charlotte , moved forward to join the attack on the Lawrence . Finally, after receiving no signal from the Lawrence for more than 90 minutes, Elliott assumed Perry was either dead or wounded, and he moved the Niagara toward the head of the battle line. Meanwhile, Perry with more than half of his crew either dead or wounded, resolved to transfer to the Niagara , where he took command while sending Elliott to bring up the trailing schooners that had contributed little to the battle at this point. Within a few minutes the Niagara crossed in front of the Detroit , and soon she and the schooners forced the entire Royal Navy squadron to surrender.

Perry’s triumphant message to Major General William Henry Harrison that “We have met the enemy and they are ours” and his battle flag emblazoned with “Dont Give Up the Ship” soon were immortalized in American naval history. This rare surrender of an entire British squadron was welcome news to a nation where military ineptitude, surrender, and defeat had characterized much of the war effort.

A Fateful After-Action Report

How to describe Elliott’s performance in the battle posed an immense problem for Perry. He knew the positive reputation his second enjoyed at the Navy Department, and yet his crew soon began spreading rumors about the Niagara ’s failure to close with the Queen Charlotte among the soldiers in Harrison’s army. Three days after the battle Perry composed “the most important particulars of the Action” in a report to the secretary of the Navy. Most of the narrative concentrates on the Lawrence , and conspicuous by its absence, no mention is made of the Niagara during the first 2½ hours of battle. Finally, he wrote, “At half past two, the wind springing up, Capt. Elliott was enabled to bring his vessel, the Niagara , gallantly into close action.” As we shall see, the key word in this account is “enabled.”

Perry subsequently lists those meritorious officers in the action (mostly from the Lawrence ) and he finally mentions his second in command: “Of Capt. 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.” 1 Perry knew it was not in the best interests of the Navy to criticize Elliott publicly; instead he damned him with faint and ambiguous praise. Elliott understood the equivocations in the report. The wording outraged him; he felt he had been slighted and that his judgment to come forward was portrayed as a consequence of the “wind springing up,” not because he made a decisive command decision that brought the Niagara into position to play a pivotal role in the battle’s outcome.

Since being mentioned in dispatches was critical to one’s future assignments and promotions, Elliott requested Perry laud Humphrey Magrath, the Niagara ’s purser, for his service. This Perry did, but as we shall see, there was more to this request than meets the eye. Magrath was a former Navy lieutenant, and he may have seen this mention as an opportunity for a possible return to line service. But it would be another 30 years before Elliott admitted Magrath’s most important role in the battle.

At first Perry sought to curtail criticism of Elliott’s battle performance. He urged his officers to remain “silent on Capt. Elliott’s conduct” and sought to stifle rumors of cowardice circulating among General Harrison’s ground forces. Nonetheless, an anti-Elliott letter by John Yarnall, first lieutenant of the Lawrence , was published in an Ohio newspaper and quickly circulated in others. The lieutenant questioned how Elliott “would account for his conduct for not bringing his vessel to close action when ordered.”

Prudence would suggest Elliott should have ignored this criticism and let matters gradually be forgotten, but he was not a prudent individual. He knew that, in the small U.S. Navy of his time, derogatory comments about his conduct on Lake Erie would circulate widely, besmirching his reputation and adversely affecting his promotion and future coveted assignment opportunities. Besides, he had expected a laudatory report from Perry for bringing the Niagara forward and that he, like Perry, would be promoted to captain as a consequence of the illustrious victory he helped to win. Instead, he would not be promoted for another five years.

Until Perry’s death in 1819, the two men maneuvered, the one to redeem his name, the other to impugn the character of his former subordinate. Elliott’s ingratitude and lack of perspective contributed to the final break. Perry’s sense of honor would not allow him to go further than he did. Elliott’s feeling of being dishonored never abated.

The Controversy Intensifies

During the winter of 1812–13 Elliott commanded the Lake Erie squadron after Perry went home to his wife and family in Newport, Rhode Island. En route the “Hero of Lake Erie” found himself feted and given lavish gifts while Elliott shivered in Erie, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, antagonisms arose in Erie between rival Perry and Elliott partisans—duels broke out, and many Lawrence officers found themselves sent to isolated and frozen Put-in-Bay. After reading the recently published critical letter, Elliott had Lieutenant Yarnall arrested. Elliott could not bring him to trial, because to do so would bring all the criticism into the open. Eventually Perry secured a transfer for Yarnall to a saltwater billet. There can be no doubt that as word of the mistreatment of his favorites reached Newport, Perry’s toleration of Elliott turned to bitterness. Still, for the next several years Perry remained publicly silent.

When testimony at a British court of inquiry into the Lake Erie battle suggested that the Niagara was “making away” from the fight and thereby allowed the Queen Charlotte to come forward, Elliott requested a tribunal to inquire into the validity of the statement. A board convened in New York in 1815 found no evidence that the Niagara was making away and concluded any suggestion that Elliott had her “withdraw from the battle, is malicious and unfounded.” On the other hand, the board acknowledged there was a “diversity of opinion respecting the events” of the battle. Elliott’s description of this decision as “an honorable acquittal” providing “the highest eulogium” regarding his conduct on that fatal day is a gross exaggeration. 2

One can only imagine the conversations at the scuttlebutts and the officers’ messes during those years. Now promoted to captain although five years Perry’s junior, Elliott renewed the controversy in 1818 by writing letters to Perry charging him with making “ base, false, and malicious reports ” defaming Elliott’s character. He provided statements from two former Marine officers to validate his accusations. In a mocking tone, Perry replied that the expressions reported in the Marines’ affidavits “were probably the most lenient I have for a long time employed when called upon to express my opinion of you.” He concluded with a self-criticism regarding his restrained commentaries after the battle: “I shall never cease to criminate myself for having deviated from the path of strict propriety, for the sake of skreening you from public contempt and indignation.” 3 (Such literary talents remind us why he could compose “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”)

Elliott tried to goad Perry into a duel by accusing him of “a masterly production of Epistolary blackguardism.” 4 Perry refused the challenge; to his mind Elliott’s ungentlemanly misconduct did not deserve the honor of a duel. Instead he sought an opportunity to bring the issue outside the narrow confines of the Navy and into public view.

‘Conduct Unbecoming an Officer’

In August 1818 Perry referred to Secretary of the Navy Benjamin W. Crowninshield six court-martial charges against Elliott. The first alleged Elliott had engaged in “conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman, by . . . entering upon and pursuing a series of intrigues designed to repair his own reputation at the expense and sacrifice of his commanding officer.” Second, Elliott allegedly manifested “disregard for the honor of the American flag” by arguing the crew of the Lawrence did not deserve prize money because they (whose ship lay helpless in the water) surrendered after Perry left her. Third, Elliott oppressed officers and men under his command that would not support his version of the battle. Fourth, Elliott failed to obey the directions of his commander to come into close action with the Queen Charlotte . The fifth charge held that through “cowardice, negligence, or disaffection” Elliott failed to encounter his designated opponent. Finally, through “cowardice, negligence, or disaffection,” Elliott avoided doing “his utmost . . . to afford relief to the United States brig.” Accompanying each charge were specifications detailing Elliott’s misdeeds. 5

These were quite serious accusations involving two of the Navy’s most senior officers. Previously Congress directed they both receive gold medals for their exploits on 10 September 1813. Secretary Crowninshield and President James Monroe found themselves cornered; a public airing of the controversy would not redound to the credit of the Navy or the federal government. The Navy Department dallied with the charges for two months, and Elliott went to Washington trying to redeem his reputation. Finally, in October the department acknowledged that they were in the president’s office. The president and secretary desired a solution short of a court-martial. Monroe sought to mediate the differences between the two, but Commodore Stephen Decatur assured the president that no reconciliation was possible. However, the president knew something Perry desired that might entice him withdraw the charges. Even though most of his friends and the general public called him “commodore,” Perry was not entitled to fly the broad pendant because on Lake Erie he had been subordinate to the Great Lakes commodore, Isaac Chauncey, stationed on Lake Ontario.

We do not absolutely know what transpired. Strangely, the charges are not found in Navy Department files. The supposition is that the new secretary of the Navy, Smith Thompson, went to New York in early 1819 carrying the charges with him. In exchange for Perry’s taking back the charges, the secretary offered him the coveted broad pendant as commodore of a small squadron being sent to South America on a diplomatic mission. By doing so, Perry officially received the courtesy title already popularly bestowed on him following the Battle of Lake Erie.

One should not assume that Perry took the assignment merely to fly a piece of cloth from his masthead. Instead, the commodore posting confirmed a diplomatic reputation he received in North Africa following the War of 1812. It authenticated his status in the Navy and enhanced his professional reputation. Unfortunately, following successful negotiations with the Venezuelan government, Perry contracted yellow fever and died on 23 August 1819, his thirty-fourth birthday. The crew buried his remains at Port of Spain, Trinidad (although they were subsequently exhumed and reburied in Newport).

However, the Perry-Elliott controversy was not over. Before leaving the United States Perry had given the court-martial charges and supporting documentation to his friend Commodore Decatur. On 22 March 1820 Decatur met Captain James Barron in a duel largely arranged by, you guessed it, Jesse Duncan Elliott. Decatur died from the wound he received, and his embittered widow took her revenge out on Elliott by publishing the court-martial charges in Documents in Relation to the Differences which Subsisted between the Late Commodore O. H. Perry and Captain J. D. Elliott . Now the Perry-Elliott controversy was in the public domain. In the introduction, Susan Decatur wrote that Perry had given her husband these documents “to keep Captain Elliott in check during his absence; and, if any accident happened to him . . . that they might be published, as the most effectual means which would then be left, of guarding his character against the baseness and falsehood of Captain Elliott.” 6 For more than 20 years thereafter, Perry’s many partisans and Elliott and his few champions engaged in a bitter and voluminous confrontation concerning the disputed performance of Jesse Duncan Elliott on Lake Erie.

A Feud Perpetuated

Immediately following the famous duel, Elliott began collecting testimony on his behalf from a number of the battle’s survivors. Perhaps the most telling of these was the affidavit from Midshipman John B. Montgomery that the Niagara had engaged with the Queen Charlotte and two smaller vessels before Perry boarded her. Most important was a very circumspect statement from General Lewis Cass that after the battle, while Perry was disappointed with Elliott’s performance, he sought to screen his second from public criticism. Cass wrote Elliott that his remarks were not for publication and that he was sending a copy of his letter to the Perry family. 7 Needless to say, Elliott never published the letter.

On the other side, the commodore’s younger brother, Lieutenant Matthew Calbraith Perry, solicited testimony from General Harrison. The former Army commander during the 1813 campaign begged off making a formal statement out of respect for Elliott’s father, who had been killed during the Fallen Timbers campaign of 1794 while Harrison had been Major General Anthony Wayne’s aide-de-camp. Nonetheless, Harrison did authorize the younger Perry to say that he had “from good authority” that the British commander at Lake Erie said that “the Niagara was not in action until after Perry boarded her.” In addition, Harrison gave his correspondent the names of others who could verify the commodore’s dissatisfaction with Elliott.

Shortly after this exchange, John Niles published a laudatory biography of the commodore. It concluded that whenever the U.S. Navy eventually took its rightful place among the great navies of the world, Perry’s laurels, “instead of having faded by the waste of time, [will] assume a brighter luster” and his exploits would “inspire thousands of the future naval heroes of his country to deeds of patriotic heroism and immortal renown.” 8 Certainly that is how his family thought the nation should remember him.

In an age when military officers became increasingly apolitical, Elliott hitched his star to the rising career of Andrew Jackson. As commodore of the South Atlantic Squadron, Elliott sailed into Charleston Harbor in 1833 and lent support to the city’s nationalists, allowing federal customs officers to perform their duties during the Nullification Crisis. This was probably the most important service Elliott ever rendered the United States. He subsequently tarnished his reputation when he installed an image of Jackson as the figurehead of the U.S. frigate Constitution . Anti-Jackson Bostonians sought revenge by severing the figurehead and supposedly holding “Bacchanalian orgies” over it.

As a consequence of both these episodes, the local presses revived the Perry-Elliott controversy by republishing the court-martial charges. Elliott responded by securing the services of journalist Russell Jarvis to compose a 480-page biography titled A Biographical Notice of Com. Jesse D. Elliott . In it for the first time Elliott defended his conduct at the Battle of Lake Erie with a fivefold explanation. His argument was: Perry’s orders compelled him to maintain the line-of-battle arrangement; Elliott on his own initiative brought the Niagara forward in violation of Perry’s orders; the Niagara engaged the Queen Charlotte before Perry boarded her; Elliott’s firm resolve revived the discouraged Perry after he boarded; and Elliott’s actions with the trailing vessels contributed significantly to the battle’s outcome. 9

Nowhere did the Perry clique express its outrage at this book more than in an anonymous review found in the Commodore John Rodgers papers. According to the reviewer the book was “a partisan argument to prove from partially correct premises the totally false conclusion” that Elliott “is a brave man. . . . On the whole, it is a contemptible book on a contemptible subject.” 10

New Actors Enter the Lists

In 1839 the controversy entered a new phase and became a no-holds-barred polemical exchange in which each side sought to demean the other. Former Rhode Island Congressman Tristam Burges fired the opening salvo with the publication of an address attacking the Jarvis biography, in which he claimed the journalist merely retailored Elliott’s prose. The central critique involved Elliott’s failure to close with and to follow the Queen Charlotte . More important, he opened the argument that in the after-action report Perry sought to save Elliott through “ benevolent ambiguity .” By saying Elliott was “enabled” to bring the Niagara into close action, Perry subtly avoided saying that he did so. According to Burges, this wording allowed Perry to avoid censuring Elliott, but left open the implication of condemnation. Burges concluded that Elliott understood the ambiguity in this report, and this was why he sought to have it modified. 11

Almost simultaneous with Burges’ pamphlet was the publication of James Fenimore Cooper’s two-volume History of the Navy of the United States of America . Most of Cooper’s History is an excellent treatment of the early Navy and its exploits, and it remains in print more than a century and a half after its initial publication. Central to the controversy over the book was its “purified” treatment of Elliott’s performance during the battle, a version based on Perry’s initial reports and avoiding the use of any subsequent information. While there is a laudable evaluation of Perry’s performance, Cooper concludes with: “Captain Perry received a gold medal from Congress. Captain Elliott also received a gold medal.” The statement implied an equality of leadership that day, which the Perry faction would not accept.

By eschewing controversy, Cooper created disputation. It is somewhat ironic that he defended Elliott by relying on Perry’s report to the secretary of the Navy, a document that in 1813 Elliott sought to have amended in his favor. Before the History ’s publication M. C. Perry, by then a Navy captain, inquired if Cooper would speak of Elliott “with respect.” The historian replied, “’most assuredly.’” The infuriated naval officer reportedly retorted, “Then your book will be attacked.” 12 This encounter allegedly led to the hostile reviews of Cooper’s History by Perry’s brother-in-law, Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, and the latter’s uncle, William Duer.

Duer, the president of Columbia College, wondered why Cooper, “so insensible to his obligations and responsibility as a historian and so reckless of his character as a public candidate for literary distinction and immortal fame,” would elevate Elliott to equality with Perry in the battle. Elliott, he argued, was “a political partisan—an official sycophant” who owed “his continuance in the service, after” the Battle of Lake Erie “solely to the forbearance and magnanimity of his superior, which he subsequently requited with ingratitude and perfidy.” 13

But it was Mackenzie’s review that struck Cooper the hardest. Commander Mackenzie devoted a third of his 35-page commentary to the Lake Erie encounter. This naval officer was a well-known author who was writing the commodore’s biography based largely on the Perry family papers. Following the other critics, Mackenzie concentrated on Elliott’s failure to closely engage the Queen Charlotte . Had Elliott carried out Perry’s explicit prebattle instructions “to which Mr. Cooper nowhere adverts” to follow Lord Nelson’s classic command, “If you lay your enemy alongside, you cannot be out of your place,” then the battle would have been concluded earlier, with much less loss of life on both sides. 14

But this was just the first volley in a war of words that would continue for years. When his biography appeared in 1840, Mackenzie followed Burges and saw the “enabled” phrase as an equivocation, an example of Perry’s tortured “ingenuity to keep honestly out of view the palpable misconduct of Captain Elliott.” Central to his case was an ad hominem attack on Elliott as someone who “appears to have arrived on Lake Erie with a feeling of jealously towards Captain Perry.” Mackenzie averred, “the mind of Captain Elliott was possessed by notions of fancied wrongs from Perry” and by “disappointed hopes for fame and venomous efforts to disparage the too generous chief who had rescued him from reprobation.” 15

Cooper the novelist-turned-historian had expected the History to become “the best hit I have made.” 16 When it did not become the financial success he had anticipated, he turned with venom against his critics. In the heightened political animosities of the day, he saw every attack as a partisan one. He was a devoted Jacksonian Democrat, and so was Elliott. The Whig press disparaged his novels and now his History . Why he wasted so much time, money, and energy in these arguments causes one to wonder about his sense of proportion. After repeated exchanges with Mackenzie in newspapers and journals, Cooper finally published in 1843 a 118-page booklet titled The Battle of Lake Erie: Or Answers to Messrs. Burges, Duer, and Mackenzie . 17

Cooper argued two basic issues pertaining to the battle. First was that the Niagara was in close action with the Queen Charlotte after the American brig passed the Caledonia , the ship directly ahead of her in the battle line, and before Perry boarded her. Here he contended that the “enabled” phrase indicated she was engaged and the subterfuge of the Burges-Mackenzie argument was a falsehood. Perry, argued Cooper, was not that subtle or devious.

Second, he claimed that had Perry wanted the Niagara to violate the line-of-battle order, he should have communicated the change to Elliott. This, of course, gets at the main criticism of Perry—that he was a better captain of the Lawrence than a squadron commodore. Which order was the more important—to maintain the line or to engage one’s designated foe? Perry’s proponents argued the latter; Elliott’s emphasized the former. 18 In the fifth edition of the Perry biography, published in 1843, Mackenzie replied to “Mr. Cooper’s vituperation” in a 57-page appendix that largely answered the novelist’s ad hominem arguments with those of his own. That there was a fifth edition of the biography says much about whose book had the greater sales.

Elliott's Last Salvo

Late in 1843 Commodore Elliott journeyed to his hometown of Hagerstown, Maryland, where he made a final defense of his conduct in the Battle of Lake Erie along with an unexpected confession. The manner of the Niagara ’s approach to the head of the line was not Elliott’s idea, but rather suggested by his purser, Humphrey Magrath. It was Magrath, the former Navy lieutenant, who was, said Elliott, “as good a seaman perhaps as our Navy ever had in it,” who counseled his commander to sail to the windward of the British line in order to maintain the weather gage. This maneuver made it possible for Perry to cross in front of the Detroit and win the battle. That Elliott confessed that the purser, not himself, made this suggestion, says much about the Niagara captain’s seamanship. No wonder Elliott insisted Magrath receive special mention in Perry’s after-action report. 19 Among those contemporaneous with the Battle of Lake Erie, this last verbal salvo ended the Perry-Elliott controversy.

In the final analysis, great subordinates in naval engagements show initiative and follow the commander’s intent, if not his explicit instructions, when the changing circumstances of battle warrant it. Elliott did not do so until the battle was almost lost. On the other hand, Cooper correctly noted Perry’s focus on fighting his own ship rather than directing the whole squadron. Perry’s advocates never acknowledged any weakness in their hero’s performance, much in the same way as Cooper failed to criticize Elliott. “Perry’s clique,” as Cooper called them, would not accept that Perry could have signaled Elliott to come forward and that he did not even try. They also would not credit Elliott with making the decision to break the line, however tardy he was in acting. Cooper failed to comprehend that the Niagara ’s commander had an obligation to assist Perry in every way possible, not wait for more than an hour before finally deciding to aid the flagship that was helpless because of Elliott’s delinquency in performing a subordinate’s obligation. The failure of each side to acknowledge deficiencies in their protagonist’s conduct on 10 September 1813 disappoints anyone reviewing their publications and trying to sift through both their trivial and substantive arguments searching for the truth. At its core, their disputations revolve around whether or not Elliott was an honorable man in an age when the code of honor was central to a gentleman’s sense of worth and reputation.

History little remembers Jesse Duncan Elliott; he’s one of the few commodores of the early U.S. Navy never to have a ship named in his honor. Oliver Hazard Perry received the accolades of history; he’s had several naval vessels and even a whole class of fast frigates named after him. But besides Cooper, there have always been those who believed Perry’s ineffective command-and-control over his squadron during the first two hours of the battle deserves wider recognition than is generally given. 20 Yet it is Perry’s battle flag that hangs in honor at the U.S. Naval Academy, and his “Don’t Give Up the Ship” message echoes in the mind of all who take the oath of office as they enter the Navy. It is obvious who emerged from this controversy with his reputation enhanced.

1. Perry to Jones, 13 September 1813, in William S. Dudley, ed., The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History (Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center, 1985), vol. 2, 557–59.

2. [Jesse Duncan Elliott], A Review of a Pamphlet. . . . (Boston: H. B. and J. Brewster, 1834), 28–39.

3. Elliott to Perry, 14 May 1818, Perry to Elliott, 18 June 1818, Perry Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

4. Elliott to Perry, 7 July 1818, Perry Papers.

5. [Susan Decatur], Documents in Relation to the Differences which Subsisted between the Late Commodore O. H. Perry and Captain J. D. Elliott (Washington, DC: 1821).

6. [Decatur], Documents , 3. See also W. M. P. Dunne, “Pistols and Honor: The James Barron–Stephen Decatur Conflict, 1798–1807,” American Neptune , 50 (Fall 1990), 245–59, and Robert J. Allison, Stephen Decatur: American Naval Hero, 1779–1820 (Amherst & Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005), 200–15.

7. A Citizen of Massachusetts [probably J. D. Elliott], A Review of a Pamphlet Purporting to be Documents in Relation to the Differences which Subsisted between the Late Commodore Oliver H. Perry, and Captain Jesse D. Elliott (Boston: H. B. & J. Brewster, 1834). Cass to Elliott, 10 November 1822, Perry Papers, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence.

8. Harrison to M. C. Perry, 16 April 1821, Rodgers Papers, Library of Congress. John M. Niles, The Life of Oliver Hazard Perry , 2nd ed. (Hartford, CT: Oliver D. Cooke, 1821), 305–6.

9. [Russell Jarvis], A Biographical Notice of Com. Jesse D. Elliott . By a Citizen of New-York (Philadelphia: 1835).

10. Scrapbook, Newspaper Clippings, 19 October 1835, vol. 4, Rodgers Family Collection, Library of Congress.

11. Tristam Burges, Battle of Lake Erie with Notices of Commodore Elliot[t]’s Conduct in That Engagement (Philadelphia: Wm. Marshall, 1839), 31, 37, 40.

12. Jesse Duncan Elliott, Speech of Com. Jesse Duncan Elliott, U.S.N. Delivered in Hagerstown, Md., on the 14th of November, 1843 (Philadelphia: G. B. Zieber, 1844), 14n.

13. New York Commercial Advertiser , 8 June 1839.

14. North American Review 49 (October 1839), 438–50.

15. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (Chicago: Elliott-Madison, 1916, orig. published 1840), 213.

16. James Fenimore Cooper to D. D. Barnard, 22 May 1839, in James Franklin Beard, ed., The Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper (Cambridge, MA.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1960–68), vol. 3, 378. Cooper’s frustrations at the failure of the income from the History are in vol. 3, 387–90, and vol. 4, 370, 427, 431, 437.

17. These essays are reprinted in Beard, ed., Cooper , vol. 3, 399–417, vol. 4, 44–50, 55–59, 126–40, 178–81, 297–300, 355–57, 393–97.

18. James Fenimore Cooper, The Battle of Lake Erie: Or Answers to Messrs. Burges, Duer, and Mackenzie (Cooperstown, NY: H. & E. Phinney, 1843).

19. Elliott, Speech , 6–7.

20. See, for instance, J. Giles Eaton, “Perry’s Victory on Lake Erie,” Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts 11 (1901), 3–18, and Michael A. Palmer, “A Failure of Command, Control and Communications: Oliver Hazard Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie,” Journal of Erie Studies 17 (Fall 1988), 7–26.



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