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, by William Henry Powell, 1865

Battle of Lake Erie, by William Henry Powell, 1865

The frame of this monumental painting is made from 20- and 30-foot long pieces of wood. The painting itself commemorates the moment when Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry transferred his flag from his damaged flagship at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. The frame bears the immortal words of Perry's report to General William Henry Harrison: "We have met the enemy and they are ours. . . . Oliver H. Perry"


The Rumor

The frame is decorated with ornate carvings.

The frame is decorated with ornate carvings.

Many people seem to believe that the frame of this painting is made out of wood taken from Oliver Hazard Perry's flagship.

The Truth!

Although there are no records that describe the origin of the frame, a number of historical sources reveal that it could not have been made from Perry's ships.

How Do We Know the Truth?


Myths: Did you know?
The enormous size of the frame, its natural wood tone and nautically-themed decorative details cause many people to think erroneously that it was made from the woodwork of a sailing ship.

Myths: Did you know?
Perry used two different ships during the battle. He started the day in the 20-gun U.S. Brig Lawrence, but transferred to an identical sister ship, the U.S. Brig Niagara, after British gunfire disabled the Lawrence.
Less than 15 minutes after changing ships, Perry sailed the Niagara straight through the British fleet and began bombarding them from behind, prompting a quick end to the battle. Perry transferred back to the Lawrence to receive the British surrender.

Myths: Did you know?

The painting is prominently located in one of the Capitol's grand stairwells