Commodore Perry, 1865

Dec. 9, 2020

Commodore Perry, 1865

Oliver Hazard Perry was born 3 August 1785 in South Kingston, R.I., and entered the Navy as a midshipman in 1799. After distinguished service in the Quasi-War with France and the Barbary Wars, Perry commanded American forces on Lake Erie in the War of 1812. There he won a decisive victory over the British on 10 September 1813 which gave control of the lakes to the United States. He died on board John Adams lying off Port of Spain, Trinidad, 23 August 1819.

Matthew Calbraith Perry, his brother, was born in Newport, R.I., on 10 April 1794, and became a midshipman in the Navy in 1809. Perry commanded the Gulf Squadron during the latter stages of the Mexican War, and in 1853-54, while commanding the East India Squadron, negotiated the historic treaty which opened Japan to American commerce. He died 4 March 1858 in New York City.

Built: Wright and Whitaker, Buffalo, NY

Cost:  Unknown

Machinery: 4 high-pressure cyl., 18" diameter x 22" stroke, 2 Scotch boilers, side propellers

Length: 166'

Beam: 23' 6"

Draft: 6' 6"

Displacement: 404 tons

Keel Laid: Unknown

Launched: Unknown

Obtained:  Accepted on 20 March 1865

Decommissioned: 3 October 1883

Complement: 7 officers, 31 enlisted

Armament: 3 guns

Cutter History:

Commodore Perry was powered by high-pressure cylinders, two per side, and operating "side propellers" of 13.5 feet in diameter. These side propellers were significantly smaller than the usual paddle wheels and apparently quite different in construction from normal side wheels. The builders claimed she would reach 52 mph and be more economical than conventional vessels. In the end she achieved 10 mph and was "condemned utterly" by a board of survey in 1869. Despite this she served on the Great Lakes, usually out of Erie, PA until turned over to the Union Drydock Company on 3 October 1883. She was the "rebuilt" with a new iron hull and engines. Named Periwinkle, she burned at Toledo, OH in 1897.


Donald Canney. U.S. Coast Guard and Revenue Cutters, 1790-1935.  Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995.