American Privateers of the Revolutionary War

American Privateers of the Revolutionary War

American Privateers of the Revolutionary War

American Privateers of the Revolutionary War


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This title explores the ships and history of the enterprising American patriots who fought the Royal Navy as privateers, and played a major part in winning the Revolutionary War at sea.

During the American War of Independence (1775–83), Congress issued almost 800 letters of marque as a way of combating Britain's overwhelming naval and mercantile superiority. At first, it was only fishermen and the skippers of small merchant ships who turned to privateering, with mixed results. Eventually though, American shipyards began to turn out specially-converted ships, while later still, the first purpose-built privateers entered the fray.

These American privateers seized more than 600 British merchant ships over the course of the war, capturing thousands of British seamen. Indeed, Jeremiah O'Brien's privateer Unity successfully fought the first sea engagement of the Revolutionary War in the Battle of Machias of 1775. With just 40 men, their guns, axes, and pitchforks and the words “Surrender to America”, he managed to capture a British armed schooner. By the end of the war, some of the largest American privateers could venture as far as the British Isles, and were more powerful than most contemporary warships in the fledgling US Navy. A small number of Loyalist privateers also put to sea during the war, and preyed on the shipping of their rebel countrymen.

Packed with fascinating insights into the age of privateers, this book traces the development of these remarkable ships, and explains how they made such a significant contribution to the American Revolutionary War.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781472836342
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 02/18/2020
Series: New Vanguard , #279
Pages: 48
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Angus Konstam hails from the Orkney Islands, and is the author of over 100 history books, 60 of which are published by Osprey. This acclaimed author has written widely on naval history, from Sovereigns of the Seas and Jutland 1916: Twelve Hours to Win the War to popular recent titles including The Pirate World and Hunt the Bismarck. A former naval officer and museum professional, he worked as the Curator in both the Royal Armouries, Tower of London, and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. He now works as a full-time author and historian, and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Table of Contents

Introduction /Design & Development /The Privateering Role /Armament /Life on Board /Privateers in Action
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