“Vext at our fate, we prim‘d a piece, and then
Return‘d the shot, to shew them we were men”

Philip Freneau, The British Prison-Ship

This site is a collection of information about the various aspects of the American War of Independence, the AWI, fought between 1775 and 1783. This conflict is alternately known as the American Revolution, the American Revolutionary War, or, to older folks, simply as the Revolutionary War. The naval operations of this war have been grossly under reported in detail. On the American side it was fought by the Continental Navy, several squadrons operated by the Continental Army, eleven state navies, and some 2200 privateers. Although the intended focus is on the histories of these individual warships, other aspects of this war will be presented. Construction is underway, but, with corrections and new information. will probably never be completely finished.

“this Day 12 Months the United States of America Declar’d Independent which they’ve Supported one year. God send they Ever May –”

Dr. Jonathan Haskins, Mill Prison, England, 4 July 1777

On the British side the naval war was fought by the Royal Navy through it's various stations: North America, Newfoundland, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, Gibralter, and the home fleets. Some assistance was rendered by Provincial Marine units. The British began issuing licenses for letters-of-marque in 1777, adding to the patrol fleet by these privately owned vessels. Not until France entered the war did the Royal Navy's station in India become involved in the war.

The first official salute to the United States flag.


Following the entry of France into the war on the side of the Americans in June 1778, the British were faced with a revamped and rebuilt French Navy, the Marine Royale. With no land allies on the continent of Europe, the British were unable to divert France's attention from the sea and the American rebels. Almost exactly one year later, in 1779, the Spanish entered the war, as allies of France, but not of the United States. In 1781 the Netherlands became involved on the Allied side. The story of these later activities will be covered, as interest, time, and perhaps other contributors, permit.

There will be a bibliography, chronologies, and information on American officers and officials, if time permits. Some interesting narratives and incidents might eventually be presented. An experimental list of American and British prizes is under development. The conventions page describes some of my personal pecularities in assembling this information.

Battle of the Chesapeake Capes.

New Items:
1 August 2017: Added 12-13 privateers to the M list, including all the Mars privareers.

1 April 2017: Added 22 privateers to the M section, including all the Marquis de La Fayettes. Many prizes added to the American and British prize lists.

10 February 2017: Rhode Island Privateer Marlborough added to the M section. The story of an extended raid on the coast of Africa. Two incidents and numerous prizes added.

Revised 6 August 2014 © awiatsea.com