SULLY, Thomas and Francis Kearny
The Battle on Lake Erie. Fought Sept. 10th 1813 - First View
Philadelphia: Original published by William Smith, c. 1950. Hand-coloured engraving, engraved by Murray, Draper, Fairman & Co. Beautifully printed in the mid 20th-century from the original 19th-century copper plate, with wide margins, on hand-made paper. Sheet size: 26 1/8 x 32 1/8 inches.
The Battle of Lake Erie was the first naval engagement of the War of 1812.
The British had gained control of the lake in August 1812, when General Hull surrendered at Detroit. Among those captured was a master ship-builder from Erie, Pa., named David Dobbins. After his release from custody, Dobbins went to Washington and persuaded the U.S. Government to literally build a naval fleet on Lake Erie, in order to challenge the British for its control. Dobbins then went immediately to Erie and rapidly constructed six ships.
Meanwhile, five more ships were sailed to Erie, making a fleet of eleven. In September 1813, Oliver Hazard Perry took command of nine of these ships, and set off to engage the British fleet, which was captured after three hours of fierce battle; whereupon Perry sent his historic message: "We have met the enemy and they are ours."
In May 1814, Commander Perry wrote approvingly to the publishers about the accuracy of this print: "I have no hesitation in pronouncing them a correct representation of the engagement at those particular moments."
Stauffer, American Engravers Upon Copper and Steel , 2288; Grolier, The United States Navy 1776-1815 , 121; Olds, Bits and Pieces of American History , 241.