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At the same time, individuals, recognizing an opportunity for profit, sought and received commissions from the government to sail in private vessels with the purpose of taking enemy ships — merchants, not warships. With increasing numbers of these privateers roaming the seas in search of opportunities for profit, British shippers insisted on a Royal Navy escort for their convoys and took sorely needed elements of the Royal Navy away from other duties fighting American warships, blockading our coast, and escorting troop transports.

Freedom and independence won. The ships best suited for the privateering business were fore and aft rigged vessels called schooners. Built on the model of the Baltimore pilot schooner, they were fast, maneuverable, and could easily out sail the blockading ships of the Royal Navy. Many — in fact most — were built in or near Fells Point now part of Baltimore Maryland.

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Her commission was dated less than a month after the declaration war, on July 14th Built by Thomas Kemp to attack enemy merchant ships, she carried six pounders and a crew of forty men. Unfortunately, she was captured at the mouth of the Rappahannock River by the British the following spring and was put into service for the Royal Navy. But her name would continue to serve the American ideal; her lines were modified and a new LYNX was built by the American Navy at the Washington Navy yard the following year.

She had more ordinance than did the private vessel, but her sleek hull and rakish masts ensured that the navy schooner LYNX would be as fast and handy as her inspiration. The nearly completed schooner was still on the stocks in the Washington Navy Yard when the British marched unopposed into our capital and burned most of the public buildings. The Navy yard,rope walk, and ammunition magazines were destroyed by our own men to preclude their falling into the hands of the enemy. And she continued to inspire.

History of the American Privateers

The Lynx is an interpretation of the Lynx. They are considered by many to be the American thoroughbred of the fore and aft rigged vessels of the period. Because of their inherent speed, sea-worthiness, and ease of handling, these ships were used extensively as. As early as the navies of the world engaged in combat, privateers crossed oceans in search of prey. This practice became widely accepted during the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. These vessels, because of their need to man captured ships, often carried very large crews, far beyond the needs of their own ship. The owner of this ship was engaged primarily in, as the name implies, trading in cargo.

The ship was loaded with a cargo bound for, say, Europe, and the captain had the responsibility of selling it for the best price, which often meant visiting several different ports before he would unload. Then he had to buy a cargo for the return voyage. The ship was armed but generally for its own defense. His instructions usually included cautions about risking his cargo. Two factors set the trader apart from the privateer: the trader carried enough crew to man his own ship he generally did not need to make up prize crews , and his sailors and officers were paid a regular wage.

They were given a bonus should they capture a fair prize, but they were not dependant on success in that direction for their livelihood. It stands to reason that a vessel used in either pursuit would need to be fast, agile, and easily handled. The Baltimore schooners filled the bill perfectly; their speed was impressive, derived from the preponderance of sail they carried and their narrow design which made them especially agile and fast. Once the British blockaded the eastern seaboard, the only ships to slip through were these schooners; they regularly out sailed the ponderous 3rd and 4th rate British ships assigned to the blockade.

And they came and went — especially from the Chesapeake Bay — with regularity that quite vexed the British. The American schooner privateers created such havoc among the merchant ships of England that insurance rates more than doubled and the owners of the merchants demanded — and got — Royal Navy escorts for their convoys. This, of course, took those warships away from fighting American warships and from the blockade.

But still the American privateers were able to account for the loss of English merchant ships. With the winds against him, Pimienta changed plans and made for the main New Westminster harbor and launched his attack on 24 May. He held back his large ships to avoid damage, and used the pinnaces to attack the forts. The Spanish troops quickly gained control, and once the forts saw the Spanish flag flying over the governor's house, they began negotiations for surrender. On 25 May , Pimienta formally took possession and celebrated mass in the church. The Spanish took sixty guns, and captured the settlers who remained on the island — others had escaped to the Mosquito coast.

They took the prisoners to Cartagena. The Spanish found gold, indigo, cochineal and six hundred black slaves on the island, worth a total of , ducats, some of the accumulated booty from the English raids. He found the Spanish in occupation. When Spain issued a decree blocking foreign countries from trading, selling or buying merchandise in its Caribbean colonies, the entire region became engulfed in a power struggle among the naval superpowers. His fleet was composed of approx. One of the most famous privateers from mainland Spain was Amaro Pargo. Corsairs French: corsaire were privateers, authorized to conduct raids on shipping of a nation at war with France, on behalf of the French Crown.

Seized vessels and cargo were sold at auction, with the corsair captain entitled to a portion of the proceeds. Although not French Navy personnel, corsairs were considered legitimate combatants in France and allied nations , provided the commanding officer of the vessel was in possession of a valid Letter of Marque fr. Lettre de Marque or Lettre de Course , and the officers and crew conducted themselves according to contemporary admiralty law. By acting on behalf of the French Crown, if captured by the enemy, they could claim treatment as prisoners of war , instead of being considered pirates.

Because corsairs gained a swashbuckling reputation, the word "corsair" is also used generically as a more romantic or flamboyant way of referring to privateers, or even to pirates. Corsairing Italian : corso was an important aspect of Malta's economy when the island was ruled by the Order of St. John , although the practice had begun earlier. Corsairs sailed on privately owned ships on behalf of the Grand Master of the Order, and were authorized to attack Muslim ships, usually merchant ships from the Ottoman Empire.

The corsairs included knights of the Order, native Maltese people, as well as foreigners. When they captured a ship, the goods were sold and the crew and passengers were ransomed or enslaved, and the Order took a percentage of the value of the booty. During the American Revolutionary War , the Continental Congress , and some state governments on their own initiative , issued privateering licenses, authorizing "legal piracy", to merchant captains in an effort to take prizes from the British Navy and Tory Loyalist privateers.

This was done due to the relatively small number of commissioned American naval vessels and the pressing need for prisoner exchange.

Lynx - America's Privateer Trailer HD

About 55, American seamen served aboard the privateers. Long Island Sound became a hornets' nest of privateering activity during the American Revolution — , as most transports to and from New York went through the Sound. New London, Connecticut was a chief privateering port for the American colonies, leading to the British Navy blockading it in — In the months before the British raid on New London and Groton, a New London privateer took Hannah in what is regarded as the largest prize taken by any American privateer during the war.

Retribution was likely part of Gov. Clinton's NY motivation for Arnold's Raid , as the Hannah had carried many of his most cherished items. American privateers are thought to have seized up to British ships during the war. The British ship Jack was captured and turned into an American privateer, only to be captured again by the British in the naval battle off Halifax , Nova Scotia.

American privateers not only fought naval battles but also raided numerous communities in British colonies, such as the Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia The United States Constitution authorized the U. Congress to grant letters of marque and reprisal. During the War of , both the British and the American governments used privateers, and the established system was very similar. Congress declared. President Madison issued letters of marque authorizing privateers. Overall some of the ships took prizes.

Captain Thomas Boyle was one of the famous and successful American privateers. He commanded the Baltimore schooner Comet and then later in the war the Baltimore clipper Chasseur. He captured over 50 British merchant ships during the war. One source [57] estimated a total damage to the Royal Navy from Chasseur 's activities at one and a half million dollars.

On April 8, , the British attacked Essex, Connecticut, and burned the ships in the harbor , due to the construction there of a number of privateers. This was the greatest financial loss of the entire War of suffered by the Americans. However, the private fleet of James De Wolf , which sailed under the flag of the American government in , was most likely a key factor in the naval campaign of the war. De Wolf's ship, the Yankee , was possibly the most financially successful ship of the war.

Privateers proved to be far more successful than their US Navy counterparts, claiming three-quarters of the British merchant ships taken during the war although a third of these were recaptured prior to making landfall.


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One of the more successful of these ships was the Prince de Neufchatel , which once captured nine British prizes in swift succession in the English Channel. However, many of the ships captured by the Americans were recaptured by the Royal Navy. British convoy systems honed during the Napoleonic Wars limited losses to singleton ships, and the effective blockade of American and continental ports prevented captured ships being taken in for sale. This ultimately led to orders forbidding US privateers from attempting to bring their prizes in to port, with captured ships instead having to be burnt.

Over American privateer ships were captured by the Royal Navy, many of which were turned on their former owners and used by the British blockading forces. The US was not one of the initial signatories of the Declaration of Paris which outlawed privateering, and the Confederate Constitution authorized use of privateers.

History of the American Privateers - George Coggeshall - Google книги

However, the US did offer to adopt the terms of the Declaration during the American Civil War , when the Confederates sent several privateers to sea before putting their main effort in the more effective commissioned raiders. During the Civil War Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued letters of marque to anyone who would employ their ship to either attack Union shipping or bring badly needed supplies through the Union blockade into southern ports.

Many of the supplies brought into the Confederacy were carried aboard privately owned vessels. When word came about that the Confederacy was willing to pay almost any price for military supplies, various interested parties designed and built specially designed light weight seagoing steamers, blockade runners specifically designed and built to outrun Union ships on blockade patrol.


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No letter of marque has been legitimately issued by the United States since the 19th century. The status of submarine hunting Goodyear airships in the early days of World War II has created significant confusion. Since neither the Congress nor the President appears to have authorized a privateer during the war, the Navy would not have had the authority to do so by itself.

Warships were recruited by the insurgent governments during Spanish American wars of independence to destroy Spanish trade, and capture Spanish Merchant vessels. The private armed vessels came largely from the United States. Seamen from Britain, United States and France often manned these ships. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Privateer disambiguation. Main article: Prize law. Main article: Spanish capture of Providencia. Main article: French corsairs. Main article: Insurgent Privateer.

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New York: Appleton. Retrieved 31 January Pirates of the Americas. Retrieved 12 September Uttered in a brief discourse, occasioned, by a tragical spectacle, in a number of miserables under a sentence of death for piracy. At Boston in N. M Over time, United States sentiment towards Spanish America cooled particularly in fear of the areas ties to Catholicism and its views toward slavery. The geographical and political nature of New Orleans made smuggling and privateering attractive business ventures. Of particular note were the Laffite brothers who established a dominant business at Barataria for auctioning and transporting smuggled goods into Louisiana, and helping supply and man privateers.

Like New Orleans, Baltimore was active in South American privateering, with investors taking shares in the fitting out of ships. Given its location, Baltimore sent out larger ships on longer cruises to further locations including near Spain itself. Head does a nice job of reviewing the mechanics of how Baltimore privateers obtained their commissions, made it out to sea, and disposed of their prizes. Unlike privateering out of New Orleans and Baltimore, the operations on Galveston and Amelia Island skirted around the issue of neutrality and sovereign status.

At both locations, filibusters set up operations they declared to be either independent states, or part of the Mexican republic such as handing out commissions, and adjudicating prizes. Head also reviews government reaction to privateering in the different locations, particularly how legal loop holes and questions of neutrality towards belligerents hindered efforts of local authorities out of United States ports. Over time, changes in legislation and official policy impacted the profitability of those involved in privateering.