story & photo
by Jon Persson
A blustery Wednesday in late September, and the American privateer Lynx races up the Thames River under a press of canvas. Her crew stands ready as the topsail schooner closes on New London’s freshly completed City Pier. Drawing even with the pier, her crew fires first one, then a second, shot from her deck cannons. The sound echoes momentarily across the water, and the ship rounds up into the wind to bunt and furl her sails. Lynx has announced her grand entrance, and makes ready to dock for six days of education and sailing trips.
Lynx is a modern interpretation of an 1812 privateer of the same name, the original launched with a letter of marque to raid the British merchant fleet for profit and strategic gain. America then was in debt and needed ships to inflict damage on the unassailable British Navy and merchant marines, and privateers were a recognized and effective way of using profit motive to further hard edged military objectives. It was a desperate moment for the young nation, a call to defend its still-young independence against an England not yet ready to concede her colonial hold on America.
The Lynx Educational Foundation is dedicated to teaching of the struggle to maintain America’s independence. Programming is available to teach fifth through eighth graders of the rigors of life on a privateer ship, even without the British Navy in hot pursuit. The British carried out many actions against privateers and their builders, most notably the 1814 raid on Essex, Connecticut, which saw 27ships burned, many of them privateers. Lynx is on a mission to keep the sacrifice, heroism, and entrepreneurship in active view of a new generation.
Lynx carries the message of privateers in the War of 1812 onto Mystic, Connecticut, then on to Newburgh, New York.
story & photo