Perry's "Don't Give Up The Ship" Flag
U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland
Content Description: Originally made in 1813 to inspire American sailors going into battle, this historic flag and its motto have, for two hundred years, continued to inspire all who serve their country, especially those in the U.S. Navy. That summer, British troops had occupied Detroit and depended on supplies shipped across Lake Erie. Robert Heriot Barclay, a veteran officer in the Royal Navy, was given the mission of protecting the shipping. American Oliver Hazard Perry was ordered to stop it. On September 9, 1813, the opposing fleets battled for two grueling hours. Perry's flagship, Lawrence, fought largely alone. With the brig nearly a wreck, Perry shifted his flag to Niagara. A fresh ship with a fresh crew turned the battle; eventually every British ship was forced to surrender, and the Crown had lost a decisive battle. Perry had created his battle flag in memory of his friend Capt. James Lawrence, who had spoken the famous words "Don't Give Up the Ship!" as he lay dying in the single-ship action of USS Chesapeake against HMS Shannon on June 4, 1813.