Put-in-Bay 1813

The hard fighting terminated about three o'clock. As the smoke cleared away the two fleets were found completely mingled, the small vessels astern having come up to the others. The shattered Lawrence lying to the windward was once more able to hoist her flag, which was cheered by a few feeble voices on board, making a melancholy sound compared with the boisterous cheers that preceded the battle.

The proud though painful duty of taking possession of the conquered ships was now performed. The Detroit was nearly dismantled, and the destruction and carnage had been dreadful. The Queen was in a condition little better. The whole number killed in the British fleet was forty-one, and of wounded ninety-four. Every commander and second in command, says Barclay in his official report, was either killed or wounded. In our fleet were twenty-seven killed, and ninety-six wounded; of the twenty-seven killed, twenty-two were on board the Lawrence, and of the ninety-six wounded, sixty-one were on board this same ship, making eighty-three killed and wounded out of one hundred and one reported fit for duty in the Lawrence on the morning of the battle. On board the Niagara were two killed and twenty-three wounded, making twenty-five; and out of these twenty-five, twenty-two were killed or wounded after Perry took command of her.

After four o'clock, a boat was discovered approaching the Lawrence. Soon the Commodore was recognized in her, who was returning to resume the command of his tattered ship, determined that the remnant of her crew should have the satisfaction of witnessing the formal surrender of the British officers. It was a time of conflicting emotions when he stepped upon deck; the battle was won and he was safe, but the deck was slippery with blood, and strewn with the bodies of twenty officers and men, some of whom had set at table with us at our last meal, and the ship resounded everywhere with the groans of the wounded. Those of us who were spared and able to walk, met him at the gangway to welcome him on board, but the salutation was a silent one on both sides; not a word could find utterance.

And now the British officers arrived, one from each vessel, to tender their submission and with it their swords. "When they had approached, picking their way among the wreck and carnage of the deck, they held their swords with the hilts towards Perry, and tendered them to his acceptance. With a dignified and solemn air, the most remote possible from any betrayal of exultation, and in a low tone of voice, he requested them to retain their side-arms, inquired with deep concern for Commodore Barclay and the wounded officers, tendering to them every comfort his ship afforded," and expressing his regret that he had not a spare medical officer to send them, adding that he had only one on duty for the fleet, who had his hands full.

Among the ninety-six wounded there occurred three deaths; a result so favorable was attributable to the plentiful supply of provisions brought off from the Ohio shore, to fresh air, the wounded being ranged under an awning on the deck until we arrived at Erie ten days after the action, and also to the devoted attention of Commodore Perry to every want.

Those who were killed in the battle were committed to the deep at night-fall, the Episcopal service being read over them. On the following morning, the two fleets sailed into Put-in-Bay, where the slain officers were buried on shore. The scene was a solemn one. Equal respect was paid to the slain of the two fleets. Minute-guns were fired from the fleet, a martial band preceded performing a funeral dirge, and the corpses were ranged in alternate order of American and British, and the procession followed in like order to the graves, where the funeral service was read. A striking contrast this to the scene presented two days before, when both the living and the dead now forming this solemn and fraternal train were engaged in fierce and bloody strife, hurling at each other the thunder-bolts of war.


Usher Parsons, surgeon on the flagship Lawrence, as told in 1852
The Great Lakes Reader edited by Walter Havighurst, pages 144-145
The Macmillan Company, New York, 1966.