Tea Party Winners: Debra E. Marvin's winner is: Kathleen, Jennifer Hudson Taylor's winner of her MacGregor Legacy series is Chris Granville and second winner is Britney Adams for the plaque and For Love or Country novel:, Angela K. Couch's winner is: , Carrie Fancett Pagels's winner per random.org is Beverly Duell-Moore for a copy of BCB and second winner for colonial goodies is: Carrie Moore Gould, Denise Weimer's winner: Janet Marie Dowell, Shannon McNear's winner is: Adriann Harris, Pegg Thomas's winner is: Susan C

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pirates fighting in the American Revolution?

When you hear about the American Revolution, you might hear stories like the Boston Tea Party, Washington Crossing the Delaware, Benedict Arnold, The Surrender at Yorktown etc… you might hear how a tiny group of colonies with a ragtag army managed to overthrow the greatest military might in the world. But did you know that without American Privateers, the United States may not have won  the war? The role of privateers and pirates cannot be underestimated. In fact, from the years 1776 to 1782, the total number of privateering ships outnumbered the ships of the Continental Navy by a factor of eleven to one.  

Below is the proclamation issued by The Continental Congress authorizing large-scale privateering against English ships.
You may, by Force of arms, attack, subdue, and take all Ships and other Vessels belonging to Subjects of the King of Great-Britain, on the High Seas, or between High-water and Low-water Marks, except… Friends to the American Cause, which you shall suffer to pass unmolested, the Commanders thereof permitting a peaceable Search, and giving satisfactory information of the Contents of Ladings, and Definitions of the Voyages.

Comparison of Navy vs. Privateers in Revolutionary War

 Continental Navy
Total ships
Total guns on ships
Enemy ships captured
Ships captured by enemy

To give you an idea of how important these pirates/privateers were, the total number of men in George Washington’s army in 1777 was 11,000. During that same year there were 11,000 privateers operating at sea to intercept British shipping across the Atlantic.  

Although the documentation is incomplete, about 1,700 Letters of Marque, issued on a per-voyage basis, were granted during the American Revolution. Nearly 800 vessels were commissioned as privateers and are credited with capturing or destroying 600 British ships.
In addition the Continental Navy and privateers together captured over 16,000 British prisoners from vessels, compared to the 15,000 taken by the entire army on land before the surrender at Yorktown.
So why didn’t these pirates turned privateers simply join the Continental Navy? Surely it would have been more prestigious and dignified.  Yet these men were typically not the type to join much of anything. For one thing many of them resisted the restricted life of serving in the military. They relished the freedom they had to sail where they wanted and command their own ship.  But I think the real reason was the profit! The crew of the privateers were well paid for their hazardous work, earning as much as $1,000 for one voyage, while average pay at the time was $9 per month.
Advertisement in Boston newspaper recruiting crew for privateer Deane
An Invitation to all brave Seamen and Marines,
who have an inclination to serve their Country and make their Fortunes.
The grand Privateer ship DEANE,
commanded by ELISHA HINMAN, Esq; and prov'd to be a very capitol Sailor, will Sail on a Cruise against the Enemies of the United States of America, by the 20th instant. The DEANE mounts thirty Carriage Guns, and is excellently well calculated for Attacks, Defense and Pursuit --- This therefore is to invite all those Jolly Fellows, who love their country, and want to make their fortunes at one Stroke, to repair immediately to the Rendezvous at the Head of His Excellency Governor Hancock's Wharf, where they will be received with a hearty Welcome by a Number of Brave Fellows there assembled, and treated with that excellent Liquor call'd GROG which is allow'd by all true Seamen, to be the LIQUOR OF LIFE.

Not only was Privateering highly effective, but fortunes destined to finance the new republic were made. It is believed that the total damage to British shipping by American privateers was about $18 million by the end of the war, or just over $302 million in today's dollars!!!


  1. Loved this, MaryLu! Go privateers! Those statistics are amazing!
    Thanks for sharing, me Cap'n! See ye back on the Redemption! God bless.

  2. That is pretty amazing, MaryLu! Those stats are wild! Love the ad by Deane, lol! I will make sure my son reads this post because he was commenting that the British also used pirates/privateers. This was one of his discussion points this weekend.Blessings!

  3. Great information here, nice article.


  4. Hi Ladies! Thanks for coming by! I was so swamped yesterday I forgot to drop in. I'm so glad you enjoyed the article!!! Fascinating stuff, eh?

  5. MaryLu! WOW! Loved this! And I LOVE that picture you included--its amazing and really brings things to life. Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Tues March 12th,
    Thanks so much for sharing all of this info, details and statistics with us MaryLu .... interesting and thought-provoking for sure ! Did not know any of this.
    Let's see now: $9.00 a month, or ... $1,000.00 per voyage .... what a toss-up (NOT) !

  7. Great article on privateers during the American Revolution.

    That's an awesome picture too!

  8. Wow, I had no idea! Thanks for sharing with us MaryLu! As you know I am partial to pirates/privateers/buccaneers ;)

  9. Amanda O'MalleyMarch 13, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Wow this is so cool!!!!! I love this time period and of course the pirates!!! They amazes me the most.

  10. That was fascinating, MaryLu. thanks for providing the statistics.

  11. MaryLu I love this info about Pirates . You also have some great pictures too. The word is WOW, you did another great article. We be a bit liking to pirates,anyway . Thanks for sharing with us.

  12. Mary, very interesting. Thank you for sharing.


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