Avast! ‘Tis Talk Like a
Pirate Privateer Day! Behold: the “Saucy Jack”
During the War of 1812 a number of American ship owners engaged in what amounted to legalized piracy, known as privateering. It involved the “militia of the sea,” enterprising entrepreneurs and adventure seekers hoping to make their fortune on the open ocean at the expense of the enemy.
Records of their activity, including this commission, or letter of marque, from the aptly named Saucy Jack were uncovered by staff at the National Archives at Atlanta:
One amazing little boat, and perhaps the most prolific southern privateer in the war, bore the perfect name: Saucy Jack. The Jack was the capturing vessel in over a dozen documented cases and by all accounts had an amazingly successful string of luck during the war. Or was it perhaps by the skill of her captain and crew? We might never know. We know tantalizingly little about this boat, but through the records of the Federal Courts and U.S. Customs, some of her deeds as an American privateer vessel live on.
Saucy Jack Commission, Saucy Jack vs Schooner Weazel and Cargo, Mixed Case Files 1790-1860, box 23, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia (Savannah); Records of the District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21, National Archives at Atlanta.
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