Saturday, July 20, 2019

Stephen Champlin and the Battle of Lake Erie-- Part 13:

"About 12 o'clock the enemy commenced action by throwing a 24 pound shot at the Lawrence.  At this time the Scorpion was hailed and directed to return the fire with her long guns.  The second shot from the Detroit passed through both bulwarks of the Lawrence, and the fire was immediately returned, and kept up in a most gallant style, followed by the Caledonia, under command of Lieutenant Turner, and supported by the Ariel, Lieutenant Packet, and the Scorpion, ahead upon her weatherbow.

""The Queen Charlotte made sail and closed up with the Detroit, shortly after the action commenced, and directed her fire at the Lawrence.  It seemed to be the enemy's plan to destroy the commodore's ship (the Lawrence), and then cut up the fleet in detail..

"For this purpose, their heaviest fire was directed at the Lawrence.  Commodore Perry made every effort to close with the enemy, but the tremendous fire to which he was exposed cut away every brace and bowline, and soon rendered the Lawrence unmanageable."


Friday, July 19, 2019

Stephen Champlin and the Battle of Lake Erie-- Part 12: "Engage As You Come Up"

From John Lisle Commodore Stephen Champlin.

"On the 10th of September, while lying at anchor in Put-In-Bay, the enemy was discovered, at break of day, in the direction of Malden.  The signal was made at once to get under weigh.  At this time, the Niagara was in a situation to clear the islands before the Lawrence.  There was a light breeze from the southwest, and it was with great difficulty that the Lawrence was enabled to clear the islands to windward.

"When the enemy perceived this, he hove to, in a line, with his ships' heads to the westward.    The signal was now made by Commodore Perry:  'Engage as you come up, everyone against his opponent in the line before designated.'  The order for our squadron to close  was passed by trumpet through Captain Elliot.

"The situation of the Niagara should have been abreast of the Queen Charlotte, and of course, as close as she could get, as,  previous to the action, I had always understood, from Commodore Perry, that it was his intention to bring the enemy to close action in case of conflict."


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 11: Going After the British

"We were now reinforced by the arrival of Captain Elliot with several officers and about  ninety men most   of whom he took on board the Niagara, which ship was manned by more experienced, and consequently much better sailors, than the Lawrence.  The crew of the Lawrence was made up principally of ordinary seamen  and volunteers, many of whom were on the sick list.

"On the 12th of August, we sailed for the head of the lake.  On the arrival of the fleet at Sandusky, I was ordered by Commodore Perry to pass up between Sandusky and Put-In-Bay, as a lookout, and if the enemy hove in sight, to make a signal by hoisting an ensign.

"Soon after passing the point, I discovered  a schooner lying at anchor in Put-In-Bay.  I made the signal and gave chase, followed by the whole fleet.  But darkness and a severe gale compelled us to come to an anchor, to prevent going ashore.  The enemy's schooner was driven ashore by the gale."


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 10: The Fleet Underway, But No Battle

"To gain time in this emergency, Commodore Perry ordered the Ariel, Lieutenant Packet, and the Scorpion, commanded by myself, to get under weigh and stand out  toward the enemy, and annoy them at long shot.  We dashed directly at them.  Upon seeing the boldness  with which they were approached,  they changed their course and stood toward Long Point.

"Late in the afternoon we were recalled.  Every officer and man in the fleet was engaged all night in getting the fleet ready for action.  At 3 a.m., the signal was made to get under weigh, and at daylight the whole squadron was in motion.   Although, for three days, neither officers nor men had had any sleep, except such that could be snatched upon deck, the greatest anxiety was manifested to pursue the enemy.

"After a cruise of 24 hours off Long Point, without getting sight of the enemy, the fleet returned to Erie for the purpose of taking in supplies for the Army under General Harrison."

A Near Fight Early On.  --Brock-Perry

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 9: Getting Over the Bar

"At daylight on the 1st of August, the Scorpion, under my command, with some of the  other small vessels by lightering and warping were got over,  The Niagara and one of the small vessels were then placed as near the bar as possible to protect the others while on it.

"A few guns were left upon the Lawrence, to enable her to make some defense in case of an attack.    With all the exertion we could make, we were nearly two days in getting the Lawrence over, and had we then been attacked, the issue must have been most disastrous.

"Indeed, while she was still on the bar, we discovered the enemy standing in  with a leading breeze, but by renewed and most unparalleled exertions, the Lawrence was got into deep water at 8 or 10 a.m. and at 12 m, her guns were aboard, and she was ready for action.


Friday, July 5, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 8: His Account of Oliver Hazard Perry

In 1840, the Rhode Island Historical Society asked Champlin to write about Oliver Hazard Perry's building of his Lake Erie fleet and his victory at the Battle of Lake Erie.  He replied that he could and based his recollections on a journal that he kept at the time.

"Persuant to orders,  I arrived at Erie, Pennsylvania, the station of the United States fleet on Lake Erie, July 24, 1813, with a draft of 70 men and boys of the most ordinary kind and nearly all new hands.  By the almost incredible exertions of the few officers and men upon that station, the vessels composing our little fleet were nearly ready for service.

"Upon my arrival with recruits, Commodore Perry commenced operations for crossing the bar upon which there was  only four feet of water (*).  The enemy's fleet at the same time, lay off the harbor, with the intention to cut off all supplies from our squadron.

"A small battery with two or three 12-pounders was therefore erected so as to command the entrance to the harbor as well as to command the entrance the entrance to the harbor as well as to give protection to the vessels that should first cross the bar."


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Movie Watching on the 4th of July-- Part 2: "Lincoln" and "Red Dawn"

2.  "LINCOLN"  (2012)One of best-known presidents who led the nation through one of its roughest stretched.  Features his humanity as he strives to end the Civil War and slavery.  And, of course, Fort Fisher played a big role in the movie.  My Civil War fort.

3.  "RED DAWN"  (1984)  Midwest high school kids fight back a Soviet Union invasion of the United States.  If you can ignore some really sad acting and hokey lines.  Patrick Swayze and the Wolverines.  Lots of action and feeling good USA!!!

Continued in my Tattooed On Your Soul:  World War II blog.


Movie Watching on the 4th of July-- Part 1: "The Godfather"

From the July 4, 2019, Chicago Tribune "Celebrate Independence Day with 13 all-American movies" by Rex Crum.

Well, if it's too hot or, in our case here in northern Illinois, too rainy you might just want to stay inside and watch some movies.  And not just any movies.

And, if you're going to watch a movie this day, watch one that says "America."

In honor of those 13 colonies that this day took a big step to nationhood, here are 13 movies worth mention.


Loaded with classic lines like "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."  States its first words of dialogue when undertaker Bonasera tells Don Vito Corleone, "I believe in America."

This movie, despite the gangland aspect, tells the American immigrant story


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 7: Fired First and Last Shots at Battle of Lake Erie

Champlin's force marched from Sackets Harbor  that evening.  At Schlosser, he chartered a two masted boat and  went up the river by rowing with barge poles to Buffalo.  There the group took on arms before continuing on to Oliver Hazard Perry at Erie, Pennsylvania, arriving there on July 24, 1813.  This was a full ten days earlier than another group which had left Sackets Harbor two hours before Champlin.

On July 25, he was ordered to fit out and take command of the USS Scorpion.

As second in command to Perry at Erie, Champlin participated in expeditions against Fort George and Fort York (Toronto) aboard the USS Asp.  Later in command of the two gun schooner USS Scorpion, Champlin led the attack on the British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie on September 13, 1813.

He is credited with firing the first shot of the battle which effectively ended British control of the Great Lakes.  And, in capturing the HMS Little Belt he also fired the last shots.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Master Rank in the U.S. Navy-- Part 2: So As Not To Get Confused

From Wikipedia.

Master, originally sailing master, was a historic warrant officer rank in the United States Navy, above that of a midshipman, after 1819, passed midshipman, after 1862 ensign, and below a lieutenant.

Some masters were appointed to command ships, with the rank of master commandant.  In 1837,  sailing master  was renamed master, master commandant was renamed  commander, and some masters were commissioned as officers, formally  "master in line for promotion" to distinguish them from warrant masters who could not be promoted.

I will write more about this rank in my Running the Blockade: Civil War Navy blog later today.

So, That's What a Sailing Master's Rank Was.  --Brock-Perry

What Is a Sailing Master? --Part 1: Now Lieutenant, Junior Grade in US Navy

From Wikipedia.

I have come across this term in both this blog and my Running the Blockade: Civil War Navy blog (often there with the name acting master) and knew this rank was some sort of an officer or commander of a ship, but not sure exactly what the rank was.

In the last post, I mentioned Stephen Champlin being promoted to sailing master in 1812.  As such, he commanded the USS Asp.


The master, or sailing master,  was a historical rank not used anymore.  It was a naval officer trained in the operation of a sailing vessel.  The rank can be equated with that of a professional seaman and specialist in navigation.

In the British Royal Navy, the master was originally a warrant officer who ranked as a lower lieutenant.

When the United States Navy was formed in 1794, the master was listed as one of the warrant officer ranks and ranked between midshipman and  lieutenants.  It was also a commissioned officer rank until 1837 until it was replaced  with the current rank of lieutenant, junior grade in 1883.


Stephen Champlin-- Part 6: At York and Fort George

Stephen Champlin was appointed to the rank of sailing master on May 22, 1812; lieutenant on December 9, 1814; commander on June 22, 1838; captain on August 4, 1840 and commodore on April 4, 1867.

He was sent by Perry to the Great Lakes in 1813, in advance of Perry's main force.  Champlin left with 42 men and 2 officers and traveled by land from Albany, N.Y. to Sacketts Harbor on Lake Erie.  During the winter, he and his men fitted out the schooner Asp in preparation for an attack on Little York (Toronto) during which he was second in command.

After York, he took part in the Battle of Fort George.

After this, Perry ordered Champlin to Boston to try to secure men from the Bainbridge.  Upon return to Sackets Harbor, Chauncey asked him to go to Utica, NY, and collect a $36,000 draft and pay Mr. Van Rensselaer and return with the balance.

Two days after returning to Sackets Harbor, Chauncey ordered him to report to Perry with 3 officers and 71 men at Erie, Pennsylvania.

--Busy Guy.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, July 1, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 5: First Cousin of Oliver Hazard Perry

Upon his return, the ship's owners were so impressed at how well Champlin had performed that they immediately promoted him to captain, despite the fact he was just  22 years old.

Before he could go on another voyage another 90 day embargo  was imposed due to the expectation that war with England was imminent.  During this time, Champlin was offered a warrant as a sailing master in the U.S. Navy. He accepted this pending the declaration of war.

When the war did begin,  he was appointed commander of a gunboat anchored at Norwich.  he fitted her out and joined up with Oliver Hazard Perry's fleet at Newport.  He didn't see any action along the coast and had to settle for delivering messages from Perry to New London.

Oliver Hazard Perry was his first cousin.  Oliver's father and Stephen's mother were siblings.  In addition, Perry's wife was the daughter of  Benjamin Mason and Margaret Champlin- a distant relative.


Friday, June 28, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 4: Rose Rapidly Through the Ranks

His parents moved to Lebanon, Connecticut about 1795 and Stephen worked there until he was about sixteen years old, at which time he ran away from home to go to sea.  He walked 26 miles to New London,. Ct.,  and then went to sea twice where he was impressed by the British and spent a few days aboard a warship.

However, he had a document describing him physically and saying that he was an American citizen with him that got him released.  Afterwards he went on two more voyages and rapidly rose to become second mate.

He returned to Connecticut in 1808 and because of the trade embargo went to work on farms.  In the fall of 1809, when the embargo was lifted he shipped out as a passenger on ship commanded by his uncle, Christopher R. Perry.

During the return voyage, he attained the rank of second mate.  His cousin Matthew Perry was also a crewman on this trip.  At the time, Matthew was a U.S. Navy midshipman, but on leave.

Later in 1810, Stephen shipped out again on the the Latona for Buenos Aires and again was second mate.  In the summer of 1811 he sailed to the West Indies on the brig Dove, but this time as first mate.  The captain of the Dove died of yellow fever and Stephen acted as captain on the return voyage.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 3

In the rear of the Champlin plot are the actual stones for Stephen, Minerva and her parents.   Each lies flat  along the ground and because they are badly weathered in spots, are sometimes difficult to read.  The stones from left to right, are inscribed:

Ralph M. Pomeroy died Jan. 6, 1863 in the 55th year of his age.  (Cemetery records give the date of death as being July 26, 1862 but this  may have been the date when his body was buried  in the Champlin plot.

Lydia P. died  September 1, 1872

M.L.C.  (no other inscription)


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 2: The Champlin Family Burial Plot

Both President Millard Fillmore and the commodore's individual  headstones are small and simple -- each bearing nothing more than their initials.

The centerpiece of the Champlin plot is a large monument bearing detailed descriptions on all four sides.  The front of the monument is adorned with a sculpture of a ship's cannon and ball, and anchor and various  pennants.  The left and right side inscriptions detail the names and date of birth and death of the commodore's son (Oliver Hazard Perry Champlin and wife), and the commodore's grandson (Oliver Hazard Perry Champlin and wife) -- each of whom are buried elsewhere on the plot.

I was unable to find out if the son and grandson followed into U.S.N. service.

The rear of the monument is the following inscription:

Nov. 17, 1789
Feb. 20, 1870

BORN JUNE 28, 1798
JUNE 8, 1859


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Stephen Champlin-- Part 1: Buried Next to Millard Fillmore, 13th President

From the Stedman  Families Research Center, John Lisle.


Born 17 November 1789   South Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island

Death  20 February 1870   Buffalo, Erie County, New York

Buried  Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY

Biography of Stephen Champlin   by Robert Champlin

Stephen Champlin, son of Stephen Champlin and Elizabeth Raymond Perry, was  born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, on November 17, 1789, and died at Buffalo (Erie County) New York on February 20 1870.  he was buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery there.

The Champlin family plot (which contained two dozen stones when I visited in August 1994) is located right next to the Fillmore family plot in which Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States is buried.


Monday, June 24, 2019

Stephen Champlin, USN-- Part 3: Long Service In U.S. Navy

In 1816, as commander of the USS Porcupine, he participated in the mapping of the United States-Canadian boundary under  the Treaty of Ghent.

He continued to serve in the U.S. Navy until 1855, when he retired to its reserves.  In 1862, he was promoted to the rank of commodore.

Throughout the rest of his life he suffered greatly from his 1814 wound.  He married and fathered six children in Buffalo, New York,  where he died 20 February 1870 and was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in that city.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Stephen Champlin, USN-- Part 2: Wounded and Captured on USS Tigress

After the battle, he was placed in command of two captured British vessels, the Queen Charlotte and Detroit.

In 1814, while commanding the USS Tigress, he worked the blockade of the port of Mackinac for several months.  Under attack by a larger British force of 400 sailors and Indians, he was wounded by cannon fire with a shot that passed through one thigh and into the other.

He was captured and suffered while being held by the British for 38 days before he was paroled and returned to Connecticut to recover.


Friday, June 21, 2019

Stephen Champlin, USN-- Part 1: At the Battle of Lake Erie

From GENii Family Tree   Commodore Stephen Champlin.

Stephen Champlin was born 17 November 1789 in South Kingston, Rhode Island,  and lived in Lebanon, Connecticut, on his father's farm until the age of sixteen.  Rejecting a future of farming, he became a seaman and attained the rank of captain in the West Indian trade in six years.

At the beginning o the War of 1812, he was appointed sailing master in the U.S. Navy and given command of a gunboat.  He was later ordered to Lake Erie where he took command of the schooner Scorpion and fought in the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie. He served with a relative, Oliver Hazard Perry.

He is said to have fired the first and last shot of the battle and given credit for capturing the British vessel Little Belt.