This September, a fleet of tall ships will reenact the 1813 Battle of Put-in-Bay, Ohio, also known as the Battle of Lake Erie. The reenactment is part of the Great Lakes Tall Ships Challenge which kicks off today in Cleveland, OH through the 7th. The fleet will move to calling at 22 US and Canadian ports through the summer including Bay City, MI (July 11-14), Duluth, Minn. (July 25-28), (August 7-11) and Green Bay, WI (August 16-18). The reenactment of the Battle of Put-in-Bay on is the highlight of the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial. The Challenge wraps up with Tall Ships Erie in Erie, PA (September 6 – 8.)
While the frigate battles of the War of 1812 are often best remembered, the two most important US naval victories in the war of 1812 were in fresh water far from the open ocean. Oliver Hazard Perry’s defeat of the British at the Battle of Put-in-Bay, in 1813, denied the British and Canadians a key supply line and gave the Americans control of Lake Erie for the rest of the war. The victory allowed the Americans to retake Detroit and to break the Indian confederation of Tecumseh.
The battle reeactment is a new challenge for Tall Ships America. “We have never done this before,” says Burt Rogers, executive director of Tall Ships America, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving “tall ships” and teaching sail training. The organization is producing the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial.
“We’re blessed that there are some fine historians in our membership, particularly Capt. Walter Rybka and Capt. Wesley Heerssen of the Brig Niagara in Erie, Pa.. Their mastery of the history of the battle and the period is fundamental to the mission of the ship. They’ve designed the choreography of the battle.”
Thanks to Irwin Bryan for contributing to this post.