\pɹˌa͡ɪvətˈi͡əz], \pɹˌaɪvətˈiəz], \p_ɹ_ˌaɪ_v_ə_t_ˈiə_z]\
Definitions of PRIVATEERS
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In the colonial wars Great Britain derived great advantage from the colonial privateers. Upward of 400 privateers, which were fitted out in the ports of the British colonies, did great damage to French property, ravaging the West India Islands belonging to France, and making numerous captures along the coast of France herself. After the breaking out of the Revolution, the Continental Congress decided in March, 1776, that permission be accorded to citizens to fit out privateers against the British. Privateers were therefore fitted out at Salem, Cape Ann, Newburyport, Bristol and other seaport towns, and greatly aided by their ravagings the revolutionary cause. During the year 1776 American privateers captured 342 British vessels, and these privateer adventures became so lucrative that the sailors could scarcely be induced to enter the national service. January 28, 1778, an American privateer assailed in the night the British fort of New Providence, in the Bahamas, capturing the fort and a sixteen-gun man-of-war. Hardly had the War of 1812 been declared when privateers began to be fitted out, small vessels most of them, which chiefly infested the West Indies, capturing British craft of every description. The privateers were usually schooners or brigs of 200 or 300 tons, carrying from 80 to 100 men. Twenty-six were fitted out in New York in the summer of 1812. The list of all private armed vessels during the entire War of 1812 numbers more than 500. In 1813, of 400 British vessels captured, four-fifths were taken by privateers. The "Reindeer," "Avon" and "Blakeley," built near Boston in 1814 in an incredibly short time, were fair samples of the privateers of the later years of the war. They were larger and better equipped than the earlier privateers. They did not confine their captures to merchant vessels, but boldly attacked and often defeated British war ships. They hung about the coasts of the West Indies and the Canary Islands and even of Great Britain and Ireland, doing immense damage to the British cause.
By John Franklin Jameson
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