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Book Review: Two Revolutionary War Privateers

18 Nov 2020 8:33 PM | Anonymous

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Two Revolutionary War Privateers. (St. Paul, Minn.: Two Trees Roots.) 2019. 412 pages.

Here is the Revolutionary War as experienced by two brothers, Ship Captains William and Joseph Packwood, patriots who commandeered their sailing ships across trade routes running out from the American Colonies to the centers of commerce on the Caribbean Islands. Their ships carried goods including arms and gunpowder, war materiel that was distributed into the armies of George Washington in support of the cause of rebellion.

The authors accessed and read an extensive archive of original letters written by the Packwood captains that give account of their businesses, daily activities, events of the day, and their families. The authors transcribed the letters in their original style, then wrote transliterations. There are numerous maps, illustrations, and photos accompanying the texts, and a glossary and index.

The book begins with background information about the American Revolution and the private citizens whose pirating naval activities, as commissioned and authorized by the Second Continental Congress, harassed the British Navy in aid to the patriotic cause. As British commercial shipping was effectively disrupted, the privateers recovered fortunes that helped finance the revolution.

The Packwood brothers lived and sailed out of New London, Connecticut, a deep-water port situated near enough to New York City to attack British headquarters. Beginning chapters outline the genealogies of Captains William and Joseph Packwood, and offer brief biographies of key individuals.

The authors intersperse the letter examples with descriptions of contemporary events making it easy to understand the Packwood events within the broader picture of New England history.

It’s an interesting, well-written book, flawless in its documentation, and certainly of interest to a New England history buff.

And especially of interest to the Packwoods, to hear the voices of their ancestors coming through the letters.

Two Revolutionary War Privateers may be purchased from the authors at

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