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Guardian of the Great Lakes is the saga of the USS Michigan, an archetype iron-hulled war steamer launched in 1843. Its mission was to patrol the ofttimes volatile Great Lakes region, quelling port town civil disturbances, while at the same time rescuing both Canadian and American ships in distress.
The Michigan found itself unavoidably attracted to calamity, leaving in its wake a collection of eyewitness accounts to these momentous yet largely forgotten occurences. Incidents such as the timber rebellion of the 1850s, which occurred in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan, are documented for the first time. Other episodes such as the assassination of "king" Strang on Beaver Island and the destruction of the community there are studied under the light of newly discovered sources. Still other chapters reveal the chaos created by the Civil War on the lakes, the destructive mining strikes of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and the tragic, bloody, Fenian invasion of Canada.
Between major calamities lay the vagaries of maritime life on the Great Lakes detailed in the records of the Michigan's crew. From their social and community life in Erie, Pennsylvania to storms, shipwrecks, and sickness, the records kept by the men and officers of the USS Michigan have helped to produce in this book an accurate and detailed narrative of naval and maritime life on the Great Lakes during this important period.