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This Month in Naval History
Lawrence brig

Lawrence I
(Brig: t. 493; 1. 109'9", b. 13'3"; dph. 4'8", cpl. 134, a.
2 long 12-pdrs., 18 short 32-pdr. cars. )

The first Lawrence, a brig built at Presque Isle (Erie), Pa., by Adam and Noah Brown under the supervision of Sailing Master Daniel Dobbins and Capt. Oliver H. Perry, was launched 24 May 1813.

Lawrence and the other ships of Perry's squadron were held at Erie both by British blockade and lack of crews, until 1 August, when the British squadron retired. Taken over Erie's protective bar by ingenious use of ``camels" Lawrence reached deep water 4 August, and 5 days later Capt. Jesse D. Elliott arrived with some- 100 officers and men to help man the little fleet. The squadron sailed in search of the British 12 August, located it in the mouth of the Detroit River, and waited for its sortie.

Battle came 10 September, Perry in Lawrence leading the attack, and drawing concentrated fire from the British until Lawrence became an unmanageable wreck. He then transferred to the Niagara who had been unable to close the enemy in the earlier stages of the action. From her deck he regrouped his squadron and came down through the enemy line, Niagara pouring broadsides into the British ships until victory was secured, and with it control of Lake Erie, freeing the upper lakes from the threat of invasion.

Lawrence was ordered sunk for preservation in Misery Bay in July 1815. The property of Erie Station was disposed of by auction in 1826 and Lawrence was purchased by Benjamin H. Brown of Rochester, X.Y. She was resold to Capt. George Miles of Elrie. He raised her in 1836 but allowed her to sink again when she was found so badly riddled that she would require docking and thorough repair. She lay in the depth of Misery Bay until 1876, then was raised, cut in half, and transported on flatcars of a railway to the Centennial grounds at Philadelphia. She was exhibited outside the grounds in a small building and completely destroyed there by fire.


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