Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Discussions on other historical eras.
User avatar
Alpini Arditi
Member
Posts: 48
Joined: 03 Jan 2022 23:15
Location: North Wales

Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by Alpini Arditi » 14 Feb 2022 19:01

Here's a list of the Privateer captures by the principal enemies of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, taken from various sources. To combat the nation which ruled the seas, a guerilla-style approach to naval warfare was needed, and Privateers fulfilled this requisite to varying degrees. Though not completely destroying British commercial trade, these auxiliary ships made such a dent in Britannia's merchant fleets, that insurance rates sky-rocketed during 1803-1815. The Americans, in particular, badly damaged British mercantile shipping. Figures include Royal Navy vessels captured.
United States (June 1812 - April 1815) 1,432 [42.1 captures per month]
France (May 1803 - April 1814) 5,314 [40.5 captures per month]
Denmark (August 1807 - January 1814) 335 [4.3 captures per month]
Spain (January 1805 - June 1808) 150 which were not subsequently recaptured [3.6 captures per month]
pirateship.gif
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 1541
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by daveshoup2MD » 15 Feb 2022 05:41

Alpini Arditi wrote:
14 Feb 2022 19:01
Here's a list of the Privateer captures by the principal enemies of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, taken from various sources. To combat the nation which ruled the seas, a guerilla-style approach to naval warfare was needed, and Privateers fulfilled this requisite to varying degrees. Though not completely destroying British commercial trade, these auxiliary ships made such a dent in Britannia's merchant fleets, that insurance rates sky-rocketed during 1803-1815. The Americans, in particular, badly damaged British mercantile shipping. Figures include Royal Navy vessels captured.
United States (June 1812 - April 1815) 1,432 [42.1 captures per month]
France (May 1803 - April 1814) 5,314 [40.5 captures per month]
Denmark (August 1807 - January 1814) 335 [4.3 captures per month]
Spain (January 1805 - June 1808) 150 which were not subsequently recaptured [3.6 captures per month]
pirateship.gif
Won't argue with your figures absent sourcing, but seems reasonable. The problem with being a island nation dependent on maritime trade and building an empire is once you have it, you have to defend it. The British and the Japanese both had to learn that lesson the hard way; the British survived it, even though they had to learn it a couple of times. Only took the Japanese once. ;)

User avatar
Alpini Arditi
Member
Posts: 48
Joined: 03 Jan 2022 23:15
Location: North Wales

Re: Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by Alpini Arditi » 15 Feb 2022 16:45

The sources are mainly from Lloyds List, and Navies of the Napoleonic Era by Otto von Pivka. The Japanese, like the Germans, bit off more than they could chew, and it was inevitable once the Americans got in the war, that the Allies would win.

User avatar
Alpini Arditi
Member
Posts: 48
Joined: 03 Jan 2022 23:15
Location: North Wales

Re: Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by Alpini Arditi » 15 Feb 2022 20:47

The problem with the Axis was that they didn't have a united strategic plan, unlike the Allies. They prosecuted the war individually, with their own goals. For instance, Japan's war in China cost them immensely in men and material, and arguably led to their defeat. China was just too vast to be conquered, like the Soviet Union was to the Germans. These two campaigns cost the Axis dearly, because they were driven by their ideological views, rather than sound strategical planning. Individually, the Axis had the best armies the world had ever seen since Napoleon's Grand Armee, and their early victories proved it, even Italy was successful until November 1940, fulfilling Mussolini's original plan of a short war lasting a couple of months. However, a prolonged war of attrition, as what happened, was always going to drain the Axis of men and material.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

OpanaPointer
Member
Posts: 4994
Joined: 16 May 2010 14:12
Location: United States of America

Re: Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by OpanaPointer » 15 Feb 2022 20:56

The American State Papers include documents/statements to support claims from privateers.
Come visit our sites:
hyperwarHyperwar
World War II Resources

Bellum se ipsum alet, mostly Doritos.

User avatar
Alpini Arditi
Member
Posts: 48
Joined: 03 Jan 2022 23:15
Location: North Wales

Re: Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by Alpini Arditi » 15 Feb 2022 21:59

Thanks. Here's a copy of a Lettres de Marque issued by the US Government in 1812.
War-of-1812-American-Privateer-Commissioning-Form_1639447324_3134.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 1541
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Feb 2022 00:33

Alpini Arditi wrote:
15 Feb 2022 20:47
The problem with the Axis was that they didn't have a united strategic plan, unlike the Allies. They prosecuted the war individually, with their own goals. For instance, Japan's war in China cost them immensely in men and material, and arguably led to their defeat. China was just too vast to be conquered, like the Soviet Union was to the Germans. These two campaigns cost the Axis dearly, because they were driven by their ideological views, rather than sound strategical planning. Individually, the Axis had the best armies the world had ever seen since Napoleon's Grand Armee, and their early victories proved it, even Italy was successful until November 1940, fulfilling Mussolini's original plan of a short war lasting a couple of months. However, a prolonged war of attrition, as what happened, was always going to drain the Axis of men and material.
"Best armies the world had ever seen since Napoleon" seems ... open to question.

The only campaign by the German army against a peer competitor in 1939-41 that actually ended in success was that against France in 1940, and even that ended in an armistice, as opposed to the complete destruction of the French forces in the field; Poland, Norway, and Yugoslavia/Greece were hardly peer competitors, and the German campaigns in the USSR were impressive but essentially stalemated by 1941. The same in North Africa, not that it really compares.

The Japanese Army had beaten what - on paper at least - was a peer competitor in the British force in Malaya in 1941-42, but with air and sea superiority-to-supremacy, they would have been hard-pressed not to; same in Burma against the British. The Chinese never compared, and the Soviets had beaten the Japanese quite convincingly in 1939. The less said about the Italians, against the French or Greeks in 1940, the better.

From Napoleon's final departure from power in 1815 to the preliminaries to WW II in the late 1930s was roughly 120 years, which saw major peer-to-peer conflicts in Europe, the Americas, and Eastern Asia. In several of these, the "winning" army quite clearly outperformed the Axis armies, even at their high tides, given the correlation of forces in the post-1815/pre-1939 conflicts.

User avatar
Alpini Arditi
Member
Posts: 48
Joined: 03 Jan 2022 23:15
Location: North Wales

Re: Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by Alpini Arditi » 17 Feb 2022 11:12

I suppose the Axis were always going to be beaten in the end. However, it's on record that the Soviet defeats to Germany in 1941, were the most catastrophic in military history. Ironic, too, how Italy brought Germany down. The Italian surrender in 1943, coinciding with the failure of the July Kursk Offensive, saw the end of Nazi Germany.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 1541
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Privateer Captures in the Napoleonic Wars

Post by daveshoup2MD » 18 Feb 2022 03:30

Alpini Arditi wrote:
17 Feb 2022 11:12
I suppose the Axis were always going to be beaten in the end. However, it's on record that the Soviet defeats to Germany in 1941, were the most catastrophic in military history. Ironic, too, how Italy brought Germany down. The Italian surrender in 1943, coinciding with the failure of the July Kursk Offensive, saw the end of Nazi Germany.
If by catastrophic one means by number of POWs, probably; of course, if one means by the end result - the whole "politics by any other means" element - the destruction of the Confederate States of America as a political entity would suggest a certain finality of result the Germans never approximated when it came to the USSR in 1941, wouldn't it?

Trying to think of other peer to peer conflicts after 1815 and before 1939-41 where one of the combatants - on the strategic defensive, no less - was utterly destroyed by the other combatant. Even Paraguay, after what amounted to utter defeat in the Triple Alliance War, remained a nation state, and it's a stretch whether the Paraguayans can be seen as a peer to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Hanover, maybe, after 1866? What other nation states got erased from the map after 1815 because of a conflict with a peer?

Return to “Other eras”