The United States declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812. For two and a half years, until the Treaty of Ghent on 24th December 1814, the two countries fought several battles. However, not all battles were waged by regular armies and navies. Much of the fighting on both sides was conducted by privateers: private individuals or ships authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. In today's words, we might call them "mercenaries."
Michael Dun noted that much has been published on the American privateers but much less has been written about those who set out from the ports of Great Britain or from Canada. He decided to do something about the disparity by creating a web site entitled, "War of 1812: Privateers."
Dun has listed all the known privateers that sailed from the United States, Great Britain, and what is now called Canada. (Technically, the Canadian privateers were considered to be British. Dun categorized them by home ports, not by nationalities.) Each list provides information about each ship's name, the commanding officer, and a history of each ship's successes and failures. In a few cases, the names of all crew members who shared the prizes also were listed.
The British ships often have images of their letters of marque included on the web site.
The War of 1812: Privateers web site is full of information, including such things as lists of prisoners of war, official records from both sides, an explanation of prize law, and an extensive bibliography. One section, called "ADM26" is especially valuable for genealogists. It is a list of payments made to relatives by the Royal Navy. These records identify the vessel a man, in very rare cases a woman, was serving on and the home address of the relative.
Michael Dun's great resource, the "War of 1812: Privateers," may be found at http://www.1812privateers.org.
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