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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Master and Commander

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Master and Commander

Postby researchingreg » February 3rd, 2017, 12:58 pm

I have been re-watching the film Master and Commander which is set in 1805 with a 28 gun 18 pounder British Navy Frigate battling with a 44 gun American built Frigate (I assume being like the later USS Constition) being used as a French Privateer which out gunned and out classed the older slower british ship.

I know the above is fiction, but did the French Privateers ever use specially built or captured American built 44 gun Frigates during the Napoleonic wars?

I have looked on line but have not found any information suggesting the French Navy, or French Privateers did use these ships.
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Re: Master and Commander

Postby charnock » February 3rd, 2017, 3:45 pm

Since privateer voyages were essentially money-making enterprises, they chose ships that would be fast enough to overhaul a merchant ship, and big enough to capture it, hopefully without actually having to fight. This meant that most French ocean-going privateers were fast, weatherly vessels of 200-500 tons. Their job was not to fight enemy ships of war—this happened only when the privateer could not escape, or very occasionally if the privateer encountered a smaller enemy warship. To my knowledge, no privateer even approached the size of American 24-pdr frigates (1500 tons), and since there were only three of these, there is no way the Americans would transfer one to the French. The French had a few 24-pdr frigates in their navy, but again none became privateers.
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Re: Master and Commander

Postby Josh&Historyland » February 3rd, 2017, 4:20 pm

To all intents and purposes the ship in the movie is an American navy frigate. The book had her as an American heavy frigate but the director felt he'd never get the movie off the ground if the "bad guy" was from the American camp, so he made it French... But it's really American as the French as has been said didn't really have privateers of that calibre.

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