Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 9, 2013

We Have Met The Enemy

September 10, 1813.



U. S. Brig Niagara, off the Western Sister,
Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813, 4 P.M.

Dear General,

We have met the enemy; and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,


Gen. W.H. Harrison.

Battle of Lake Erie.


IN the Flag Room at Annapolis, whose high ceiling and walls are ablaze with captured trophies, the place of honor is assigned to the “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” flag; its message and its story are woven through the threadbare strands of every flag in the collection. This battle flag of the squadron under Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry, and his signal for going into action, was flown successively on his flagships the “Lawrence” and the “Niagara,” at the battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813. Made at Erie by Perry’s order, at the suggestion of Purser Samuel Hambleton, it bears on a dark blue field, in white letters rudely fashioned by the hands of jack tars, the dying words of Captain James Lawrence, mortally wounded in the action between the United States frigate “Chesapeake” and the British frigate “Shannon.” When the British squadron came in sight of Perry’s men, their commander jumped on a gun-slide, and addressed the crew of the flagship: “My brave lads, this flag bears the words of Captain Lawrence. Shall I hoist it?” Wild cheers from their bared throats were echoed from the other ships of the squadron as the bunting was run up to the main-royal masthead. The men took their places at the guns. In the battle that ensued. Perry saved the Great West, and won a complete victory, which enabled him to send his famous message to General Harrison: “We have met the enemy and they are ours—two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.” The flags of all these vessels are In the Navy Collection, but the commanding position is assigned to this battle flag, with its message: “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP!”

—Albert A. Hopkins, Our Country and Its Resources (1917).