USS Lawrence vs HMS Detroit - The War of 1812 on the Great Lakes

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Mark Lardas; Illustrated by Paul Wright
ebook formats available
Other Publication Information
Paperback, 9.75 x 7.25 inch, glossy color cover and back, 80 glossy pages
Product / Stock #
DUE 79
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Cover of book

Thank you to Osprey Publishing for providing a review copy of their new release, USS Lawrence vs. HMS Detroit, The War of 1812 on the Great Lakes, number 79 in the Duel Series. As always, I appreciate all those in the IPMS Reviewer Corps, whose work is critical to sharing new and exciting modeling products with the world.


The War of 1812 is often characterized by the epic and decisive battles between the USS Constitution and the HMS Java and Guerriere, resulting in the establishment of the upstart nascent US Navy as a dominant naval force. Yet while these battles were critically important to the outcome of the war, there are many smaller engagements that may arguably have had more influence on that outcome. The famous and well-known expressions “We have met the enemy and they are ours,” and “Don’t give up the ship,” are attributed to the American Master Commandant, Oliver Hazard Perry, as the battle on the Great Lakes progressed.

Author Lardas provides an excellent, in-depth and readable narrative, not only to the battle, but the background factors of all aspects of the engagement. Illustrator Wright includes detailed renditions of life and battle aboard, ship design diagrams, and many other relevant illustrations, including Admiralty-style ship model photographs. Battle progress plans and timelines make the two-phase character of the battle understood, defined by when MC Perry transferred his command from the Lawrence to the Niagra.

Content Coverage

A brief introduction and chronology set the stage for the entire book. The chronology orders events in both American and British contexts. The unique designs of the lake ships are supported with respective development histories. Good descriptions of the rigging complexities, nuances and British and American design philosophies give understanding to advantages and detriments of each. I like the use of Admiralty and other ship model images to show rigging, hull design, and important layouts.

Three chapters covering the strategic situation of the Great Lakes, the technical specifications of each side and the combatants themselves sets the stage for the following meat of the book, the actual battle. The mixture and interplay of ships, armament, sailing skill, and weather condition was fascinating to me. A very nice summary pulls together all of the components, leading the reader to a good understanding of events.

I am not a subject matter expert in the War of 1812, more of an enthusiast, but I found no historical inconsistencies or anything that seemed out-of-place. Author Lardas describes his research methods well, provides a bibliography, and freely suggests other works for the reader to follow-up with. I appreciate this level of scholarship, and especially such scholarship communicated in a very enjoyable and engaging style.

Overall Recommendation

I absolutely recommend this volume, from both the scale-model and historical perspectives. I found Duel 79 be very well-worth the reading time, allowing me a more thorough understanding of a pivotal but little-known battle in early American naval history.

Thanks again to Osprey Publishing, your work helps keep history alive. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen.


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