Rebel Privateers: The Winners of American Independence (American Revolution)
This book is a quantitative analysis of rebel privateers commissioned by the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. Their documented contributions, primarily from primary sources, are compared to those of the Continental Navy. By developing an "average" privateer and Continental Navy vessel, the study conducts a cost analysis of these warships to Congress, as well as the number and dollar value of their individual prizes to the American war effort. The effect of privateers on the British economy as a whole and their impact on British naval, domestic, and diplomatic policy is also examined. This study concludes that privateering was the most cost-effective of the naval options available to Congress. More importantly, due to the infinite demands which privateers placed on the Royal Navy, while extracting a staggering cumulative toll on British commerce, privateers met nearly all the preconditions required for American victory. The study further concludes that previous works, particularly Mahan's, seriously underestimated the relative contributions of the American privateer. The quantifiable material available today indicates that privateers, not the French Navy, provided the decisive element of American rebel strategy.