A new display titled, “The Cannons that Changed America” — which showcases what U.S. and British naval forces used in The Battle of Lake Erie — has been unveiled at the Harbor View Historical Society Museum and will remain on display through the end of October, said Samuel J. Bonifas, historical society president.
There are two cannons on display which are replicas of a British Long Gun and Carronade cannons. Both reflect the type of cannon used during the time period when The Battle of Lake Erie took place. Additionally, the two cannons have a story all their own.
A new display titled, "The Cannons that Changed America" which showcases what U.S. and British naval forces used in The Battle of Lake Erie, has been unveiled at the Harbor View Historical Society Museum and will remain on display through the end of October. At Left, Navy Warrant Officer Michael Joseph working in the carronade, Top, Navy cannon typical of that time period. (Photo courtesy of Matt Zaleski/AB&B Ergonomics)
“These cannons are on loan from the U.S. Navy through the end of October to help commemorate The Battle of Lake Erie,” said Bonifas. “The display has an official designation from the U.S. Navy — Operation Harbor View, Toledo, Ohio, Commemorating The Battle of Lake Erie Classification. Sailors from the Navy Operations Center in Perrysburg will support the display as part of the navy’s community relations.”
The replicas tell a story of the difference in firepower between the British and U.S. Navy during The Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813.
“The British had the advantage with the long gun. Oliver Hazard Perry’s forces used the Carronade cannon which a was shorter range cannon. As a historian, one has to wonder, with the advantage in firepower, how the British forces lost the battle,” said Bonifas. “We titled this display ‘The Cannons that Changed America’ because that is exactly what they did. If you look back to the map of the United States in 1813, the area around Oregon and Toledo was, in fact, this country’s Northwest Territory. The U.S. Naval victory at The Battle of Lake Erie allowed for expansion westward in the U.S. It was these types of cannons used in that strategic battle that allowed for the expansion to happen and as a result changed America.”
For movie buffs, the display carries an additional meaning. The cannons were constructed in Old Fort, Ohio by Bob Gillmor, for use in the Russell Crowe movie, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.” The movie released in 2003 grossed over $212 million worldwide and received ten Academy Award nominations. It won for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Editing.
“These cannons do work and will fire. In fact, I have been told they have been fired five or six times over the past couple of years,” said Bonifas.
The cannons arrived at the museum in early July. For the past two years they have been used by the U.S. Navy at the Drill Deck at the Naval Operations Center in Perrysburg.
The display is free and open to the public every Saturday until the end of October from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Harbor View Historical Society Museum is located at 2083 Autokee St. in Oregon