List of ships captured in the 19th century

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Throughout naval history during times of war the ships involved in battles, blockades and other patrol missions would often result in the capture of enemy ships or those of a neutral country. If a ship proved to be a valuable prize efforts would sometimes be made to capture the vessel with inflicting the least amount of damage as was practically possible. Both military and merchant ships were captured, often renamed and then used in the service of the capturing country's navy, or in some other utility capacity for that country. As an incentive to search far and wide for enemy ships cargoes on board these vessels were often divided up and awarded to the capturing crew members. Throughout the 1800s war prize laws were established to help opposing countries settle claims amicably.[1][2] Private ships were also authorized by various countries at war through a Letter of marque, legally allowing a ship and commander to engage and capture the various ships that were deemed unfriendly to that country.[3]


Legend[edit]

Legend :

  • Dates of capture are listed chronologically and appear in bold [Note 1]
  • Names of commanders are those in command when ships were captured.
  • The symbol '  ' following a commander's name denotes he was killed in action.
  • Name of ship and flag of country listed are those in use at time of ship's capture and will sometimes link to a page with name and flag used after capture.
  • This list does not include ships captured by pirates.

1800–1809[edit]

Quasi-War[edit]

The Quasi-War was an undeclared war fought mostly at sea between the United States and French Republic from 1798 to 1800. France, plagued by massive crop failures and desperately in need of grain and other supplies, commissioned numerous French privateers who both legally and illegally captured cargo from merchant vessels of every flag engaged in foreign trade with Britain. Approximately 300 American ships were captured by the French Navy and privateers under a Letter of marque issued by the government of France.[4] International law mandated that a ship captured during wartime by a belligerent was lost to the owner, and that no compensation was to be made by the country who seized a vessel unless provided for by a treaty that ended that war.[5]

  • Godfrey |  UKGBI | 31 May 1800
    English registered schooner commanded by H. Atkinson, captured by a French privateer and recaptured by American sloop of war USS Merrimack,[Note 2]
  • Berceau |  France | 12 October 1800
    A 24-gun French corvette commanded by Capitain de frégate Senez, captured by USS Boston, commanded by Capt. George Little, unbeknown that the Quasi-War had ended several days earlier. She was towed to the United States, repaired and returned to France September 1801.[11]



First Barbary War[edit]

The First Barbary War (1801–5), was the first of the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War fought between the United States and the North African Berber Muslim states known collectively as the Barbary States. For years the Barbary Corsairs had harassed and captured British, French and American shipping, often capturing vessels seizing cargoes and holding crews for large ransoms or enslaving them.[14] Refusing to pay tribute President Thomas Jefferson sent a fleet of ships to the Mediterranean shores of North Africa to deal with the constant threats to U.S. and other ships.[15][16]


French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars[edit]

The French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against the French Republic and Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1792 to 1815 involving many often large scale naval battles resulting in the capture of numerous ships. Among the most notable of such battles were the Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Copenhagen involving hundreds of ships and many thousands of seamen and officers.

Battle of Copenhagen[edit]

The Battle of Copenhagen was a naval battle involving a large British fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, defeating and capturing many of the Danish-Norwegian fleet anchored just off Copenhagen on 2 April 1801. Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson led the main attack.[27][28]

See also:
List of Danish sail frigates
List of ships of the line of Denmark

Napoleonic Wars (continued i)[edit]

  • HMS Minerve |  Royal Navy | 3 July 1803
    A 40-gun frigate under the command of Captain Jahleel Brenton, (re)captured by the French navy after it ran aground chasing other ships. Originally a French ship, captured by British in 1792.
  • Renard |  French Navy | 25 November 1803
    A 18-gun schooner, captured by the Royal Navy after a chase. Later renamed Crafty, and captured by the Spanish in 1807.

Battle of Trafalgar[edit]

The Battle of Trafalgar was fought on the 21st of October 1805 off the Spanish coast near Cape Trafalgar involving the allied fleets of Spain and France against the Royal Navy of Britain. Britain's answer to Napoleon's threat, it proved to be the turning point of the Napoleonic era and is regarded as the last great sea battle of the period. The battle involved dozens of sailing warships and vessels many of which fell to capture while many were also met with what is considered a worse fate in the storm that followed.[38][39]

  • Algésiras |  French Navy | 21 October 1805
    A 74-gun French ship of the line, present at the Battle of Trafalgar, under Rear Admiral Charles Magon who was killed during the boarding attempt when engaged by HMS Tonnant. Escaped after capture making her way to Cadiz.[46]
  • Intrépide | ( French Navy) | 21 October 1805
    A 74-gun third-rate ship of the line, captured at the Battle of Trafalgar and scuttled by British.
  • Aigle |  French Navy | 21 October 1805
    A 74-gun French ship of the line. took part in the Battle of Trafalgar, captured during the battle. On the following day, her crew rose up turned against her captors and recaptured their ship, however, she was wrecked in the storm of 23 October 1805.
  • Berwick |  Royal Navy |  French Navy | 21 October 1805
    The British HMS Berwick, a 74-gun ship of the line, was captured by the French in 1795. She was recaptured by the British at the Battle of Trafalgar. While in tow her captives cut her cables, she struck a shoal and sank with approximately 200 perishing in the storm.[48][49]
  • Rayo |  Spanish Navy | 21 October 1805
    An 80-gun ship of the line of the Spanish Navy. Present at the Battle of Trafalgar, noted for being the oldest vessel present. Rayo escaped from the battle but was intercepted by HMS Donegal fresh out of Gibraltar and then was wrecked 26 October 1805 in the storm that followed.[42][50]
  • San Ildefonso |  Spanish Navy | 21 October 1805
    A 74-gun ship that saw service in French, British and American waters in the late 18th century. Present at the Battle of Trafalgar, commanded by Captain Don Jose Ramón de Vargas y Varáez; captured by the British HMS Defence and renamed HMS Ildefonso, it was one of the few captured vessels that survived the storm following the battle.[61]
See also: Order of battle at the Battle of Trafalgar

Napoleonic Wars (continued ii)[edit]

  • Le Duguay-Trouin |  French Navy | 4 Nov 1805
    74-gun Le Téméraire class. Captured by British, renamed HMS Implacable; training ship 1805, scuttled 1949[32]
  • Le Mont Blanc |  French Navy | 4 November 1805
    A French Ship of the line, 74 guns, she was used by the British at the Battle of Trafalgar after her capture at the Battle of Cape Ortegal.
  • Néarque |  French Navy | 28 March 1806
    A French brig, 16 guns, she was captured by the British off France.
  • Maida |  French Navy | 74 (1795) 6 Feb 1806
    – ex-French Le Jupiter, captured by British, sold 1814.[32]
  • HMS Crafty |  Royal Navy | 9 March 1807
    A 14-gun schooner, boarded and captured by three Spanish warship north of Tétouan. Formerly a French warship, captured in 1803.
  • Ann Alexander |  US | 1807
    A whaler, she was first captured by a Spanish privateer, then by a British warship, then by another Spanish privateer. Brought to Algiers, then released.

See also:

1810–1819[edit]

Napoleonic Wars (continued)





War of 1812[edit]

The War of 1812 was largely a naval war fought between the United States with its young American navy and Great Britain who had the largest and most formidable navy in the world at the time. The causes of the war were regarded differently between the two countries. The United States was appalled at Britain for seizing U.S. ships and capturing and impressing American citizens into its navy, while Britain maintained that it had the right to search neutral vessels for property or persons of its foes. The ships of the two countries were involved in many engagements along the Atlantic coast, the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies with numerous vessels being destroyed or captured on both sides.[77]

  • Alexander (brig) |  US | Unknown date
    A civilian brig. Taken as a prize by the British
  • USS Nautilus |  United States Navy | 16 July 1812
    Built in 1799 as a merchant vessel it was purchased by the U.S. Navy in 1803 and converted into a 42-gun brig. Commanded by Lieutenant W. Crane, it was captured off the coast of New Jersey by a blockading British fleet: Shannon, Belvidera, Africa, Eolus and Guerriere. Taken into possession for use in the Royal Navy and renamed HMS Emulous.[82][83]
  • USS Caledonia | United States Navy | '8 October 1812
    Caledonia was a brig, formerly HMS Caledonia, captured by the U.S. Navy, during the War of 1812 and taken into American service. Commanded by Lieutenant D. Turner the Brig played an important role with the American squadron on Lake Erie; sold at the end of the war.[85]
  • USS President (sloop) |  United States Navy | 11 September 1814
    A 12-gun sloop and the second US Navy ship to carry the name. Captured by British and renamed Icicle.

See also:


Second Barbary War[edit]


Chilean war of independence[edit]

The Navy of Chile website lists 26 Spanish prizes during the War of Independence. The most famous are probably:

For vessels captured by Chilean Letter of marque ships, see list of prizes

1820–1829[edit]


1830–1839[edit]

West Africa Squadron[edit]

War of the Confederation[edit]

Texas Revolution[edit]

1839[edit]



  • SS Butterfly |  US | 23 September 1839
    Fitted as a slaver, and captured by a British cruiser on the coast of Africa.[139]
  • SS Catharine |  US | October 1839
    Captured on the African coast by a British cruiser, and brought by her to New York.[139]
  • SS Euphrates |  Spain | 1839
    With American papers, seized by British cruisers as Spanish property. Before this she had been boarded fifteen times.[139]
  • SS My Boy |  US | September 1839
    Seized by a British cruiser, and condemned at Sierra Leone.[139]

1840–1849[edit]


Mexican–American War[edit]

At the onset of the war on 12 May 1846, Commodore John D. Sloat was in command of the Pacific fleet. The Pacific war against Mexico lasted only eight months with few casualties. The Pacific fleet consisted mainly of ten ships: two ships of the line, two frigates, two sloops-of-war, and four sloops. As the Mexican navy was very small few vessels were ever captured.


First Schleswig War[edit]

During the First Schleswig War (1848 – 1850) the Royal Danish Navy first supported the Danish Army's advance south against the rebels in Schleswig-Holstein, and later blockaded the German ports.[143]


1850–1859[edit]

1860–1869[edit]

  • SS Erie |  US | 1860
    Erie, transporting 897 Africans from African coast, captured by a United States ship.[149]



American Civil War[edit]

During the American Civil War the Union naval blockade at first proved to be ineffective at keeping ships from entering or leaving southern ports but towards the end of the war it played a significant role in its victory over the Confederate states. By the end of the war the Union Navy had captured many Confederate ships, moreover had also captured more than 1,100 blockade runners while destroying or running aground another 355 vessels, the majority of them being British vessels, as the British had extensive interests throughout the plantations in the south, foremost of which was cotton. Using their specially designed blockade runners the British also provided arms and other needed supplies to the Confederate Army.[153] The Confederacy came into the war with no Navy to speak of but in little time were producing the now famous ironclad vessels in response to the Union blockade, however these were being destroyed or captured as fast as they were being produced and ultimately did little to alleviate the strangle hold the Union blockade had on the Confederacy.[154]

  • Bermuda |  UKGBI ~  CSA | 27 April 1862
    A large iron-hulled screw steamer of 1,238 tons built in 1861 at Stockton-on-Tees, England as a blockade runner for transporting military supplies to the Confederacy, commanded by Charles W. Westendorff. Captured by USS Mercedita, commanded by Henry S. Stellwagen.[166][167]
  • USS Water Witch |  United States Navy | 3 June 1864
    A wooden-hulled, sidewheel gunboat used in Gulf blockading squadron, captured by CSN gunboat fleet in Ossabaw Sound, 1st Lt. Thomas P. Pelot in command.
  • SS Syren |  CSA | 18 February 1865
    The Syren [Note 21] was a sidewheel steamer built at Greenwich, Kent, England in 1863 and designed for outrunning and evading the vessels on Union blockade patrol. Owned by the Charleston Importing and Exporting Company, the Syren made her first run on 5 November 1863, running supplies from Nassau to Wilmington. The Syren completed a record 33 runs through the blockade, the most of any blockade runner. Abandoned and set fire the Union Army captured her in Charleston harbor where she had successfully run in through the blockade the night before.[200][201]
    See also: Wilmington, North Carolina in the American Civil War

See also:

Second Schleswig War[edit]

During the Second Schleswig War in 1864 the Royal Danish Navy blockaded the German ports. While the Danes suffered military defeat on land during the conflict, their navy succeeded in maintaining the blockade throughout the war.[204]



Chincha Islands War[edit]

The Chincha Islands War (1864 – 1866) was a mostly naval conflict between Spain and her former South American colonies Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia.



1870–1879[edit]

Ten Years' War[edit]

The Ten Years' War was fought between Cuban revolutionaries and Spain. Breaking out in 1868, the war was won by Spain by 1878.

  • Virginius | ( United States) | 30 October 1873
    The blockade runner, carrying 103 Cuban soldiers, was captured by the Spanish cruiser Tornado. After initially executing 53 crew members as pirates, the Spanish authorities were pressured by the US and British governments to release the ship and the 91 surviving crew in December 1873.

War of the Pacific[edit]

The War of the Pacific (1879 – 1883) was fought between Peru and Bolivia on one side, with Chile on the other. Chile emerged victorious.

  • Rimac |  Chilean Navy | 23 July 1879
    The troopship was captured by the Peruvian ironclad Huáscar and the Peruvian corvette Union off Antofagasta. The ship was taken into service with the Peruvian Navy.[205]
  • Alay |  Peruvian Navy | 22 December 1879
    captured by Chilean transporter Amazonas between Panama and El Callao.[206]

1880–1889[edit]

(Ship names / Information forthcoming)

1890–1899[edit]

First Sino-Japanese War[edit]

The 1894–95 First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan over dominance of Korea. The war ended in Japanese victory and great Chinese loss of territory and prestige.

  • Tsao-kiang | Beiyang Navy Beiyang Navy | 27 July 1894
    The gunboat was captured by the Japanese cruiser Akitsushima during the Battle of Pungdo. She served in the Japanese Navy and government service under the name Sōkō until 1924. Sold to civilian interests, she sailed as a transport until scrapped in 1964.
  • Pingyuan | Beiyang Navy Beiyang Navy | 17 February 1895
    The armored cruiser was captured by Japanese forces after the 17 February 1895 Battle of Weihaiwei. She served in the Japanese Navy first under the name Ping Yuen Go and later as Heien until mined and sunk west of Port Arthur on 18 September 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War.

Spanish–American War[edit]

The Spanish–American War lasted only ten weeks and was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific theaters. American naval power proved decisive, allowing U.S. expeditionary forces to disembark in Spanish controlled Cuba which was already under constant pressure from frequent insurgent attacks. It is the only American war that was prompted by the fate of a single ship, the USS Maine, then berthed in a Cuban harbor, blown up while its crew lay asleep.

  • Elcano |  Spanish Navy | 1 May 1898
    The gunboad was captured by US naval forces during the Battle of Manila Bay on 1 May 1898. She was officially turned over to the US Navy on 9 November 1898.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  88. ^ a b Roosevelt, 1883 p.283
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  92. ^ Hill, 1905 pp.202–203
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  94. ^ Harrison, 1858 pp.192–193
  95. ^ Harris, 1837 pp.196–197
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  97. ^ Clowes, Markham, Mahan, Wilson, Roosevelt, Laughton, 1901 p.113
  98. ^ James, Chamier, 1859 p.243
  99. ^ Roosevelt, 1883 pp.188–189
  100. ^ Leiner, 2007 p.30
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  103. ^ Roosevelt, 1883 p.206
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  105. ^ Roosevelt, 1883 p.287
  106. ^ James, Chamier, 1859 p.503
  107. ^ Malcomson, 2006 pp.116, 423
  108. ^ Malcomson, 2006 p.423
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  111. ^ Roosevelt, 1883 pp.314, 350
  112. ^ Roosevelt, 1883 pp.316, 350
  113. ^ James, Chamier, 1859 p.504
  114. ^ Roosevelt, 1883 pp.315, 350
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  116. ^ Roosevelt, 1883 pp.293–304
  117. ^ a b Peterson, 1857 p.40
  118. ^ Lewis, 1937 p.43
  119. ^ Roosevelt, 1883 pp.327, 350
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  121. ^ Peterson, 1857 pp.454–455
  122. ^ Heidler, 2004 p.288
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  128. ^ a b Phillips HMS Cyane page article
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  130. ^ Tucker, 2004 p.157
  131. ^ Whipple, 2001 p.278
  132. ^ Du Bois, 1904 p.290
  133. ^ a b Du Bois, 1904 p.291
  134. ^ Friends' View of the African Slave Trade (1824), pp.35–41
  135. ^ Foote, 1854 p.134
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  156. ^ U.S.Navy, DANFS, USMS Merrimack II, page article
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  206. ^ Chilean Navy website, Guacolda (1879)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 1800 is usually considered part of the 18th century; ships captured that year which are listed here have histories and surrounding histories that extend into the 19th century and are included in this list for continuity and context.
  2. ^ Not to be confused with USS Merrimack (1855) commanded by Moses Brown.[9]
  3. ^ Some sources spell it as L'Ambuscade [30]
  4. ^ HMS Victory was Admiral Nelson's flag ship at the Battle of Trafalgar
  5. ^ Not to be confused with James Wallace (Royal Navy officer) who died in 1803.
  6. ^ After his release from capture Captain Lucas was personally awarded the 'Gold Cross of the Legion of Honor' by Napoleon for his courageous effort during the battle.[43]
  7. ^ Redoutable lost more than 80% of her crew: 300 killed, 222 wounded.
  8. ^ Some sources spell name as Santa Anna[51][52]
  9. ^ Accounts vary: 'J.Thiers' claims Monacra was smashed to pieces on the rocks during the storm that followed the battle.[58]
  10. ^ Ship was renamed several times: Viala, Voltaire, Constitution, Jupiter
  11. ^ Néréide was captured three different times: 1st capture by British on 20 December 1797; 2nd capture by French on 23 August 1810; 3rd capture by British 3 December 1810.
  12. ^ Not to be confused with USS Frolic (1813) or USS Frolic (1862)
  13. ^ Mortally wounded and died seven days after the battle.
  14. ^ Not to be confused with a second Pictou brought into the Royal Navy at Halifax after its capture as the French Bonne Foi on 30 July 1814.[108]
  15. ^ Epervier captured a number of ships before her capture: American privateers, Portsmouth Packet, Alfred, Lively, Active[115]
  16. ^ Peterson (1857) claims 'Captain Manners' was in command at time of capture.[117]
  17. ^ Some sources spell the name as 'Siren' .[118]
  18. ^ Many (most?) sources spell the name as Merrimac without the 'k'.
  19. ^ Accounts of capturing ship differ: The Naval History Division,Office of the Chief of Naval Operations claim it was USS Mount Vernon and USS Mystic that captured the Napier.[172]
  20. ^ John Rodgers was the grandson of the famous Commodore John Rodgers born in 1772.
  21. ^ also spelled as Siren

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