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The War of 1812
"We Have Met the Enemy" Oliver Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie

"We Have Met the Enemy" Oliver Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.36

     challenging words:    brig, carronades, old-style, prying, uninjured, barred, triumphant, bearing, commodore, flotilla, smashers, unscathed, squadron, factor, newly, flagship
     content words:    Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, Lake Erie, James Lawrence, Major General William Henry Harrison, Great Lakes, Commodore Perry, Robert Barclay

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"We Have Met the Enemy" Oliver Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     "Sails to the northwest!" the lookout shouted. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry leaped into action. Orders flew. Sailors ran to and fro on the deck of the Lawrence, preparing for battle. The ship and its fleet of eight more vessels sailed out onto Lake Erie. As his ship raced toward the enemy, Perry ordered his battle flag raised. The words "DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP" fluttered in the breeze on the dark blue banner.
2     Perry's flagship Lawrence was named for a fallen friend. James Lawrence, captain of the Chesapeake, had died in battle. Captain Lawrence's last words had been a command to his crew: "Don't give up the ship!" Perry had made the brave statement his slogan. The Lawrence and its sister, the Niagara, were both 20-gun brigs, two-masted ships with square sails. Seven smaller vessels completed the U.S. fleet, newly built at Erie, Pennsylvania.
3     Perry had sailed his shiny new fleet west to meet with Major General William Henry Harrison in upper Ohio. The two commanders talked strategy. The early loss of Detroit had left the whole Great Lakes area in British hands. Now, the enemy's own fleet cruised Lake Erie. Enemy control of the lake barred Harrison's troops from prying Detroit out of British hands. The two officers agreed that U.S. forces had to take Lake Erie. The island of Put-in-Bay seemed the best place to base the American fleet. Immediately, the flotilla set up camp there. Perry and his squadron worked hard. Night and day the men trained at their posts. The movements of the enemy fleet were watched closely.

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