Billowing smoke enveloped the battling ships, obscuring the results from the spectators standing on shore only a few miles away. Samuel Brown, one witness, later remarked, “The spectacle was truly grand and awful. The firing was incessant for the space of three hours ...” On September 10, 1813, the American navy under command of Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British at the Battle of Lake Erie. This victory was an important part of the War of 1812 because it allowed America to gain control of Lake Erie, preventing the British from penetrating the middle of the United States. Before this triumph, American troops had suffered multiple defeats at the hands of the British and, as a result, their morale was diminishing.