Authors to sign books about Battle of Lake Erie

By RON LEONARDI, Erie Times-News

U.S. Brig Niagara Senior Capt. Walter Rybka and Mercyhurst University visiting professor David Frew have recently published books on the War of 1812.


Rybka’s 126-page book, which sells for $19.99, is titled “The Lake Erie Campaign of 1813: I Shall Fight Them This Day.”


Frew has written 10 books on Great Lakes maritime history. His latest work — at 190 pages and priced at $19.95 — is titled “Perry’s Lake Erie Fleet: After The Glory.”


Both books are published by The History Press, of Charleston, S.C.


Rybka and Frew are scheduled to appear at a book signing today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Erie Maritime Museum, 150 E. Front St.


Frew, 69, said his book begins at the end of the Battle of Lake Erie.


“What do you do after the battle? What happens? Real life sets in,” he said. “I talk about what it was like at Misery Bay, the campaign in 1814, the raising of the Niagara in 1913 and what happens to it after that.”


Rybka’s book is his first aimed at a general market.


“Over the years, I’ve written various articles and contributed chapters to other people’s books,” said Rybka, 61, a Brooklyn native who has served as captain of the Niagara since 1991. “To do a book of my own and to put it all together was something I thought of several years ago.”


His book provides an overview of the War of 1812 and outlines the building of Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet in Erie, the Battle of Lake Erie, and the aftermath and consequences of the battle.


“My hope is that this book will give people enough information to give them a basic understanding and appreciation of the story,” Rybka said. “The thing I always hope for when anybody visits the museum and comes out on the Niagara, and reads a short book like this, is that they get interested enough to read some more because there is such a rich fabric to the whole history.”


Rybka began work on his book about three years ago. He said he received input from William Garvey, president of the Jefferson Educational Society, the nonprofit that is organizing the Perry 200 Commemoration’s two-year celebration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812.


Rybka said his goals were to publish a smaller book that would have wide accessibility and could be distributed in time for the bicentennial commemoration.


“I wanted to make it accessible to just about anybody to give them an overview of the whole war, how does this fit into the context of the overall war, and to give them a pretty direct narrative of the building of the fleet and the battle from the perspective of somebody who sailed the ship,” Rybka said.


The public may purchase both books at the Erie Maritime Museum’s gift shop, the Erie Book Store and Barnes & Noble.

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