Rigged Model, Massachusetts Privateer Rhodes

Although the Salem, Massachusetts privateer Rhodes was less than 98 feet long, it had a crew of 90. Privateers needed large crews not only to intimidate their prey and hopefully make them surrender quickly, but also to overpower their enemies if a battle occurred. After a fight, the winner also needed to put a “prize” crew aboard to sail the captured vessel into port, where the ship and contents could be inventoried and sold. The auction proceeds were then distributed among the owners, the ship officers and the crew.
The three-masted ship Rhodes was sharply built for speed and heavily armed, with 20 cannon. Despite these features, it was captured on a cruise in the West Indies by H.M.S. ship Prothé in February 1782. It was taken back to England, where its hull shape was drawn on paper to document how it might have obtained its speed. The Royal Navy then purchased it and renamed it H.M.S. Barbadoes.
Object Name
ship model
model, rigged
Date made
privateer captured
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
textile (part: lines material)
metal (part: fittings material)
overall: 28 in x 38 in x 14 in; 71.12 cm x 96.52 cm x 35.56 cm
where the privateer was built
United States: Massachusetts, Salem
where the privateer was captured
West Indies
ship taken, purchased, and renamed
United Kingdom: England
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
On the Water exhibit
Revolution and the New Nation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
On the Water exhibit
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL

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