A Feud Begins

Following his dramatic victory on Lake Erie, Oliver Hazard Perry submitted his after-action report to the Secretary of the Navy. This report would spark a decade long feud with a querulous subordinate. These events ultimately led to the Naval hero’s death.


Perry observed, “At half past two, the wind springing up, Capt. Elliott was enabled to bring his vessel, the Niagara, gallantly into close action...Of Capt. Elliott, already so well known to the Government, it would almost be superfluous to speak. In this action he evinced his characteristic bravery and judgment; and, since the close of the action, has given me the most able and essential assistance.”

Captain Jesse Elliott took offense at the word “enabled.” Did Perry imply that Elliott was not solely responsible for the maneuver? The fear was a charge of cowardice would be levied through such an implication. Elliott resented the praise being lavished on his superior. In his eyes, Perry’s report was disrespect.

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