Armed for the Cause, early 1800s

The last thing any privateer wanted to do was fight. Battles risked injury to sailors, damage to ships, and lost profits. But privateers had to demonstrate that they were willing to attack and even board an enemy vessel. Officers commonly brought along their personal swords and firearms. Crewmen were issued weapons. Most seamen preferred short-barreled pistols, muskets, and shotguns, which were easier to handle in shipboard fights.

Combination saber and pistol, French

Bequest of C. B. H. Jackson


Naval small sword, French 1782

Bequest of C. B. H. Jackson

Naval cutlass

Gift of the Peabody Museum


English short musket, 1799

Bequest of C. B. H. Jackson


Double-barreled shotgun with spring bayonet, late 1700s

Gift of Ralph G. Packard


Musketoon, 1700s

Bequest of C. B. H. Jackson


English pistols, late 1700s

Gift of Dr. Richard Rathbun