During the War of 1812, British Navy and commercial shipping were not seriously dented by American privateers, but privateers did take their toll on the cost of doing business. Alarmed by presence of American privateers and ships with letters-of-marque operating even in the British home waters, insurance companies jacked up rates. British shipowners and insurance companies suffered heavy losses, and British vessels paid high insurance rates just to cross the Irish Channel after American privateers began operating in British waters. This led wealthy merchants to complain loudly to Westminster demanding they to do something about the problem.
This may have led to the demise of Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren’s career; the British Naval leader in the West Atlantic theater complained about how privateers with their speed and mischief had made his job all but impossible. Finding his job impossible got him sacked after his final demand for more help against the privateers. This may explain why his replacement, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane chose to assault Baltimore. The city was the privateering capital of America, dubbed “a nest of pirates” by the British, perhaps setting up that memorable confrontation that launched the American anthem.
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