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The Vessels and Their Prizes as Recorded in Niles’ Weekly Register

American Privateers in the War of 1812

  • During the War of 1812, the U.S. Navy numbered several dozen ships and captured fewer than 200 British vessels. American privateers, on the other hand, commanded more than 200 vessels and captured more than 1,000 British ships. The privateers proved the only American force that consistently threatened Britain throughout the Atlantic, especially along the coasts of the British Isles. Although privateers had a far greater impact on the British merchant marine and the economy of Great Britain than the U.S. Navy, they have received relatively little scholarly attention. This reference work addresses this shortcoming by providing an accounting of all 248 American privateers during the war and a comprehensive list of all captures made by American forces--including privateers, Navy, and others--during that conflict.

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