Michigan and the Great Lakes

Guardian of the Great Lakes

The U.S. Paddle Frigate Michigan
Bradley A. Rodgers
Details the history of the iron-hulled war steamer USS "Michigan"


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.

Bradley A. Rodgers is Assistant Professor, Program in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology, East Carolina University.

Praise / Awards

  • "It should find its way . . . to the shelves of those who study the transition from sail to steam, for Rodgers has made a valuable contribution to the literature of this period. As well, no collection dealing with Great Lakes history will be complete without this version of the Michigan story."
    American Neptune
  • "Rodgers's appealing and informative book sheds light on subjects largely forgotten, in a region that was not as peaceful and orderly as it is envisioned today, and in which one naval vessel shepherded the interests of the nation."
  • "This book covers the entire history of MICHIGAN from launching in the early iron age, through the Civil War and into the 20th century. Rare photographs illustrations [sic] also present an excellent look at this longstanding but little known vessel. A good look is also given at life on the Great Lakes during the ship's history."
    Model Ship Builder

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 248pp.
  • photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1996
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06607-0

Add to Cart
  • $22.95 U.S.