Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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CHAMPLIN, Stephen, naval officer, born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, 17 November, 1789 ; died in Buffalo, New York, 20 February, 1870. He was a cousin of Coin. Perry. When he was five years old his parents removed to Lebanon, Connecticut, where he was employed on his father's farm, and received a common-school education. At the age of sixteen he ran away from home to become a sailor, and at twenty-two was captain of a fine brig in the West India trade. He was appointed a sailing-master in the United States navy, 22 May, 1812, placed in command of a gun-boat under Cont. Perry at Newport, and soon after ordered to Sackett's Harbor, New York, where he soon attracted the attention of his superior officers by his remarkable promptness. On 18 July, 1813, he was ordered to take charge of seventy-four officers and men and report to Com. Perry at Erie, Pennsylvania, going by way of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and marching across the country from Niagara to Buffalo. He made the entire distance, using only set- ting-poles and oars for propulsion, in five days. He was ordered, on 25 July, to take command of the " Scorpion," and engaged with that vessel in the battle of Lake Erie, 10 September, 1813, being at that time under twenty-four years of age. The " Scorpion" fired the first shot on the American side, and was fought with great bravery, keeping its place near the Lawrence throughout the engagement. At ten o'clock in the evening of 13 September Champlin captured the " Little Belt," and in so doing fired the last shot in the battle. He was afterward placed in command of two of the captured prize-ships, the "Queen Charlotte" and the " Detroit." in the spring of 1814 he commanded the " Tigress," and blockaded, with Capt. Turner in the " Scorpion," the port of Mackinac. They cruised for some months in the service, cutting off the supplies of the British garrison; but both vessels were surprised and captured at nine o'clock on the evening of 3 September by a superior force of Indians and British, sent from Mackinac in five boats to raise the blockade. Every American officer was severely wounded, and Champlin was crippled for life by a canister-shot, which passed through the fleshy part of the right thigh and embedded itself in the left thigh, shattering the bone and remaining lodged in the limb for eighteen days. He was taken prisoner and carried to Mackinac, where he lay suffering for thirty-eight days, and was then paroled and sent to Erie, and then, by easy stages. to Connecticut, arriving there in March, 1815. He was prevented by his wounds from seeing much active service after this. He had been made lieutenant on 9 December, 1814, and in 1815 was attached to Perry's flag-ship, the "Java." He commanded the schooner "Porcupine" from 1816 till 1818, and was employed during 1816 in surveying the Canada boundary-line. He then retired to Connecticut, still suffering from his wound, and undergoing several operations without relief, He lived here, with the exception of a short service on the receiving-ship Fulton, from 1828 till 1834, when he removed to Buffalo, and remained there till his death. He was promoted to commander, 22 June, 1838, put in charge of the rendezvous at Buffalo in 1842, and commanded the "Michigan" from 1845 till 1848. He was made captain, 4 August, 1850, and placed on the retired list in 1855. He was raised to the rank of commodore, 16 July, 1862, and was the last survivor of the battle of Lake Erie.
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