In 1811 then Captain Oliver Hazard Perry was in command of USS Revenge off the coast of Rhode Island when the ship wrecked and went down. Though Perry and his crew managed to survive, the young U.S. Navy was not at all happy about losing one of her frigates in that tense time before the War of 1812. Finding Perry at fault, the Naval Board assigned him to the Great Lakes command where he was essentially squirreled away in a forgotten backwater while his contemporaries, like Stephen Decatur and David Porter, sailed the high seas to fame and glory.
Of course Perry showed what he was made of in 1813 at the Battle of Lake Erie where he became the first American naval officer to defeat a British squadron. Perry would thenceforth be known as “the Hero of Lake Erie” and his signature flag, which read “Don’t give up the ship”, would become a motto for the U.S. Navy.
Becoming a national hero is a great way to get the pesky media – and your peers – to forget your mistakes but, according to this article over at Yahoo! News, not everyone misremembered the wreck of the Revenge. And, for history’s sake, that’s something to be thankful for as it appears that three men have found Perry’s lost command right where the Commodore left it.
Mike Fournier, Charles Buffum and Craig Harger (who, as an aside, has a day job I didn’t even know existed: carbon dioxide salesman) have located what they believe is Revenge. In a series of dives begun in 2005 the three men have found various metal articles that could be from a ship of the early 19th century. The article mentions:
… four… 42-inch-long cannons, an anchor, canister shot, and other metal objects that they say they’re 99 percent sure were from the Revenge.
While the area in question is appropriate to where Revenge went down 200 years ago, it appears that no actual dating of the site has occurred and the dives have not yet located a ship’s bell, which was usually engraved with the name of its ship, or cannon that bear similar engraving.
If the ship is indeed Revenge, the Navy would have first right of salvage. Either way, the find could certainly yield new information not only about the wreck of Revenge but, to my mind more importantly, about the daily goings on aboard a U.S. naval vessel of the era.
Click over and check out the article and the fascinating related pictures, and keep a weather eye out for more information as this story develops. It will be interesting to see if these three dedicated guys from Connecticut actually have their Revenge just as, we can reasonably say, Commodore Perry eventually did.
Header: Oliver Hazard Perry by John Wesley Jarvis