During the War of 1812, Oliver Hazard Perry earned the designation "Hero of Lake Erie." Appointed a midshipman in 1799, he served aboard the General Greene, which was commanded by his father, during the Quasi-War with France. During the Tripolitan War, he made two cruises to the Mediterranean.
At his request, Perry was given command of the U.S. naval forces on Lake Erie in 1813. During the spring and summer he drilled his men in artillery fire and built a small fleet. On September 10 he set out from Put-in-Bay, OH, to meet an attacking British squadron. Perry's forces held out during the long and bloody battle until the British commander surrendered.
Perry reported, "We have met the enemy and they are ours," in describing the first time in history that an entire British naval squadron surrendered. The victory not only made the Ohio Valley safe from British attacks, it also opened part of Upper Canada to American invasion. That naval battle was the only significant fleet engagement of the war.