Schooners were often "privateers".
With the arrival of PRIDE II in Bermuda this morning we were reminded of a lesser known side of 1812 history.
That is that a rakish Baltimore style privateer would not have been an uncommon sight in the British held blue waters of Bermuda during the War of 1812. In fact, the British & Canadians had their own privateers & they were quite good (that is actually an understatement). In reality, the British privateers were a menace to American shipping. Because of its location, Bermuda was a strategically important base in the Atlantic & was where British privateers would often taken their captured prizes. In particular, the "privateers of Nova Scotia played an integral role in closing American ports during the War of 1812,” says The Canadian Encyclopedia. “They were a valuable source of intelligence for the Royal Navy on American strength & ship movements.
One of the most formidable British privateers was the Baltimore-built schooner LIVERPOOL PACKET (American-built vessels were often coveted by the British for their speed & sailing qualities). During the war, she captured some 50 prizes valued at between $264,000 & $1,000,000. A former slaver captured by the Royal Navy, she carried a crew of 40 men & 5 carriage guns. In the first year of the war, LIVERPOOL PACKET captured around 30 American vessels & would prey on ships off Cape Cod.
Another extremely successful British (well, Canadian) privateer during the war was SIR JOHN SHERBROOK, formerly the American brig RATTLESNAKE. The ship had 18 guns & was crewed by 150 men. Regarded as one of the largest & fastest British privateers, she sailed for one year, in which she captured around 18 prizes. When HMS SHANNON engaged & defeated the USS CHESAPEAKE, SIR JOHN SHERBROOKE supplied the British ship with much-needed reinforcements.
Image: LIVERPOOL PACKET painted by Thomas Hayhurst, Queens County Museum