1814, March 19. The $25 for each prisoner captured by private armed vessels of the United States to be $100 hereafter. $200,000 appropriated.
(What cost $100 in 1814 would cost $1025.20 in 2010.)

Now this is interesting, and I found this nugget of information in the Spirit of 76, Volume 6 edition. Did you know that the US Congress authorized a bounty system for British Prisoners during the War of 1812?  Apparently back then, the British had captured a ton of American prisoners during that war. The reason for that was because there were hundreds of American privateers involved in the war that went after the enemy, and many of these privateers were captured during operations.  These privateers were not as experienced and as professionalized as the Royal Navy back then, and suffered the consequence of being ill prepared.

Another problem that popped up in the war was that many of these American privateers had no use for prisoners and often let them go.  So in 1814, that is when Congress decided to appropriate money for bounties for privateers to hang on to prisoners and turn them in to US detention. My guess is that Congress wanted to do prisoner exchanges to get all of these Americans freed from British prisons. So naturally, Congress created an industry out of capturing prisoners to solve the problem. That is on top of the prize capture system implemented by Congress, which was an industry created to destroy enemy logistics and infuse money into the US Treasury.

With that said, privateers did some damage during that war and were a very important part of the overall strategy.  Despite the risks and poor conditions, many guys were driven to join the privateer schooners in the hopes of capturing a prize (or enemy vessel).  I compare it to today’s crab fishermen in Alaska, and a good visual representation of that ‘risk versus reward’ mindset is to watch a show like the ‘Deadliest Catch‘. It is the allure of the hunt and of striking it rich, that drove these men to do what they did back then.  Plus it was the patriotic thing to do at the time, and privateering was very popular.

Another little nugget I found out recently, was the concept of Prize Tickets.  What these were, were contracts between the sailors and the privateer company in which that sailor would get his share of the prize, after all the proceedings of the prize court and after everyone was paid.  The interesting thing here is that guys didn’t know how much they would get for their efforts, and it required patience to wait for the final outcome. What happened with many privateers is that instead of waiting, they would instead sell their prize tickets to brokers who would pay a small fee.  These brokers would stand to make a killing, just because they were rich enough and patient enough to wait for the final outcome of the prize.

The other thing that I thought was interesting is that privateer and letter of marque were two types of vessels/enterprises during that war. Not only was a Letter of Marque a commission/license issued to privateers, but the name Letter of Marque was given to a certain type of enterprise/vessel in this war. A Letter of Marque was a cargo vessel whom was issued a LoM for the possible chance that they might come across an enemy vessel and make a capture. But their primary task was shipping their cargo.  A privateer was a vessel that was primarily a fighting vessel, and prize captures/commerce raiding was is it’s purpose.

For more information on the War of 1812, I highly suggest a new book that came out called the Perilous Fight: America’s Intrepid War With Great Britain On the High Sea’s 1812-1815, By Stephen Budiansky. And I really liked this quote from the product description of this book: “Never again would the great powers challenge the young republic’s sovereignty in the aftermath of the stunning performance of America’s navy and privateersmen in sea battles that ranged across half the globe. Their brilliant hit-and-run tactics against a far mightier foe would pioneer concepts of “asymmetric warfare” that would characterize the insurgency warfare of later centuries.” Pretty cool. –Matt

The Spirit of ’76, Volume 6
1812, Jan. 18. Act declaring war with Great Britain.
1812, June 26. Act concerning letters of marque, prizes and and prize goods. The 17th section says: “That two percentum on the net amount (after deducting all charges and expenditures) of the prize money arising from capture of vessels and cargoes, recaptured by the private armed vessels of the United States, shall be secured and paid over to the collector or other chief officer of the customs at the port or place in the United States at which such captured or recaptured vessels may arrive; or consul or other public agent of the United States residing at the port or place not within the United States, at which such captured or recaptured vessels may arrive. And the moneys arising therefrom shall be held, and is hereby pledged by the government of the United States as a fund for the support and maintenance of the widows and children of such persons as may be slain; and for the support and maintenance of such persons as may be wounded and disabled, on board of thte private armed vessels of the United States, in any engagement with the enemy, to be assigned and distributed in such manner as shall hereafter by law be provided.” )
Jan. 20, 1813. Act of. Recruit was to have an advance of $24 on his pay.
1813, Feb. 13. Section 2. That the Secretary of the Navy be authorized and required to place on the pension list, under the like regulations and restrictions as are used in relation to the Navy of the United States, any officer, seaman or marine, who, on board of any private armed ship or vessel, during a commission or letter of marque, shall have been wounded or otherwise disabled in any engagement with the enemy; allowing to a captain a sum not exceeding $20 per month; to lieutenants and sailing masters a sum not exceeding $12 each per month; to a marine officer, boatswain, gunner, carpenter, master’s mate, and prize master, a sum not exceeding $10 each per month; to all other officers a sum not exceeding $8 per month, for the highest rate of disability, and so in proportion; and to a seaman, or acting as a marine, a sum of $6 per month, for the highest rate of disability, and so in proportion: which several pensions shall be paid, by direction of the Secretary of the Navy, out of the fund above provided, and not from any other.” The fund refers to the two per cent of the prize money.
This bill was debated in the House. January 19. Mr. Burwcll moved to strike out and said that pensions had been refused to at least equally meritorious sufferers in the Revolutionary War. He was in favor of the bill however, and it was recommended for amendment. It passed the House. January 27, without further opposition.
1813, January 20. Act of. “That if any officer of the Navy or Marines shall be killed or die. by reason of a wound received in the line of his duty, leaving a widow, or, if no widow, a child or children, under 16 years of age. such widow, or, if no widow, such child or children, should be entitled to receive half the monthly pay to which the deceased was entitled at the time of his death, which allowance shall continue, for and during the term of five years; but. in case of the death or intermarriage of such widow, before the expiration of the said term of five years, the half pay for the remainder shall go to the child or children of said deceased officer: Provided, that such half pay cease on the death of such child or children: and the money required for this purpose shall be paid out of the Navy Pension Fund, under the direction of the commissioners of that fund.”
January 29. 1813. Act of. repeats terms of bounty and pensions.
March 3. 1813. Appropriations $98,000 for involved pensions; $860 for “sundry pensions.”
July 5, 1813. Extends time for locating military land warrants to March 1, 1816.
July 13, 1813. $25,000 as prize money to the Hornet for destruction of; the Pecesch; $12,000 to others for destruction of the Detroit.
Aug. 3, 1813. Act of, $25 bounty offered for every prisoner captured by the private armed vessels of the United States.
Aug. 2. 1813. Act of. Widows of commissioned officers of the militia or volunteers to receive 5 years half pay. If any non-commissioned officer, musician, or private of the militia or volunteers shall be disabled by known wounds, he shall be pensioned under the law of April 10, 1806, relating to the Revolutionary War.
1814, January 27. Act of, to encourage enlistments. Every man who enlists for five years, in the war, to receive at muster out, in lieu of 3 months’ pay and $16 bounty, $124, $50 at enlistment, $50 at muster in, and $24 at discharge. In case of soldier’s death, the $24 to go to the widow.
1814, March 4. For pensions to men on private armed vessels of the United States.
1814, March 19. Appropriation for bounties and premiums, $2,540,000.
1814, March 19. The $25 for each prisoner captured by private armed vessels of the United States to be $100 hereafter. $200,000 appropriated.
(What cost $100 in 1814 would cost $1025.20 in 2010.)
1814, April 18. Act of, extending to men of the revenue cutters the same pensions as to men in the Navy.
18r5, March 3. About 40 invalid pensioners placed on the list under the act of 1806.
1815, March 3. Act of. Appropriates for advancing 3 months’ pay to the officers deranged and non-commissioned officer and privates discharged. $1,200,000.
1815, Dec. 21. Act of. Appropriates for bounties and premiums, $400,000.
1815, Dec. 20. In the House, Mr. Johnson of Connecticut, reported, from the committee on Military affairs, a bill for the relief of the infirm, disabled, and superannuated officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary war. Read twice. Dec. 29. read a third time, and ordered to be on the table. This was at the first session, at the second session, no record of the bill being taken up or referred to.
1816, Feb. 16, $98,000 tor pensions; $860 for sundry pensions.
1816, March 5. Act granting bounties, etc., to Canadian volunteers. All who had been citizens of the United States before the war, and, at its commencement, were inhabitants of Canada, and who joined the army and were wounded, slain, or served until honorably discharged, were to be entitled to: A colonel, 960 acres of land; a major. 800 acres; a captain. 640 acres; a subaltern. 480 acres; a non-commissioned o.Vcer. musician, or private, to 320 acres: the medical s’aff and other staff in proportion to their pay. To be located within Indian Territory. They were also to have three months’ extra pay.
1816, April 16. $120,000 for pensions: $860 for sundry pensions.
1816, April 16. Time for locating military land warrants extended to March 1, 1818.
1816, April 30. About too invalid pensioners p’aced on the list.
1816, April 24. Act of. “That all persons of the ranks hereinafter named, who are now on the military pension roll of the United States, shall, from and after the passage of this act. be entitled to. and receive, for disabilities, degree, the following sums, in lieu of those to which they arc now entitled, to wit: A first lieutenant. $17: a second lieutenant. $16: a third lieutenant, $14. an ensign, $13; and a non-commissioned officer, musician, or private $8 per month; and for disabilities of a degree less than the highest, a sum proportionably less.” The militia were included.
1816, April 16. Act of. When any officer or soldier of the militia, including rangers, sea fencibles and volunteers, enlisted for the term of one year or T8 months, or any commissioned officer of the regular army, shall have died in the service or while returning to his home, or shall have died at any time thereafter in consequence of wounds, shall have left a widow or ohildren, the widow or children shall be entitled to receive half pay for 5 years, and in case of re-marriage of the widow, the half pay to go to the children Officers and privates of the militia, who shall have been disabled by wounds in the service, shall be placed on the pension list.
This act not to extend to widows and children provided for in the act of Aug. 2, 1813.
Sec. 2. Guardians of children can. within one year from the passage of this act. relinquish the bounty land and receive half pay for 5 years, to be computed from Feb. 17. 1815. This refers to children oi non-commissioned officers, musicians and and privates. 1 1 »l
Sec. 3. All under 18 or over 45, who enlisted and served faithfully, to have 160 or 320 acres of land, the same as if they had been of proper age.
Sec. 4. 2.000.000 acres of land set aside for bounty lands. 1816, April 16. Another act. This law relates to prizes and regulates the manner of paying into the Treasury the part belonging to the United States.
Sec. 7. In cases where the allowance of half the monthly pay to disabled men shall, in the opinion of the commissioners, be inadequate to the necessary subsistence, it may be increased to an amount not exceeding full pay.
1816. April 20. $50,000 to be distributed as prize money to survivors of the Wasp, for capture of the Reindeer and Avon, and, to the representatives of the officers and crew, 12 months’ wages, 1-3 to the widow. 2-3 to the children; if only one child, then 1-2 each: widow or children to have the whole, in case no other claimant: in lack of either, then to parents, then to brothers and sisters: then in lack of either of those not to be distributed.
1817. Jan. 3. In the House, Mr Dickens moved that the Military Committee be instructed to inquire into the expediency of providing by law for the relief of such officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary war, as are now reduced to want and unable to support themselves.
March 3, 1817. Appropriates $200,000 for pensions; $860 for sundry pensions.
March 3, 1817. About 40 persons placed on the list.
1817, March 3. Appropriates $32,000 for bounties and premiums.
1817, Maroh 3. Widows and children of the War of 1812 to be placed on an equality and receive $48. a year and no more. Widows of officers to receive half pay. Children can relinquish their claims for half pay and receive bounty land.
1817, March 3. Act of. Widows and children of men lost on brig Experience to have 6 months’ extra pay, in addition to the pay due the men.
1817, March 3. ITo amend the law giving bounties in land and extra pay to Canadian volunteers. No bounty in land to be given, except where it appears that the man served a full 6 months; but, if the term of service was shorter, by reason of wounds, then the man was to be considered as having served full time. Instead of the bounty given in the act amended, the following rates were established: For a colonel, 480 acres; a major, 480 acres; a captain or subaltern, 320 acres; non-commissioned officer, musician, or private 160 acres; medical staff, in proportion to their pay. This act to continue in force for one year. 1817, March 3. Act of. Provides that the act of March 3, 1815, granting to commissioned officers who were deranged 3 months’ extra pay, shall extend equally to wagon masters, forage masters, barrack masters, and other warrant officers of the staff of the regular army who were deranged. Two years was to be allowed to the guardians of minor children of deceased soldiers to relinquish their bounty lands for 5 years half pay, as per law of April 16, 1816.
Link to publication here.


Book Description For Perilous Fight
In Perilous Fight, Stephen Budiansky tells the rousing story of the underdog coterie of American seamen and their visionary secretary of the navy, who combined bravery and strategic innovation to hold off the legendary Royal Navy.??Budiansky vividly demonstrates that far from an indecisive and unnecessary conflict—as historians have long dismissed the War of 1812—this “forgotten war” had profound consequences that would change the course of naval warfare, America’s place in the world, and the rules of international conflict forever. Never again would the great powers challenge the young republic’s sovereignty in the aftermath of the stunning performance of America’s navy and privateersmen in sea battles that ranged across half the globe. Their brilliant hit-and-run tactics against a far mightier foe would pioneer concepts of “asymmetric warfare” that would characterize the insurgency warfare of later centuries. ??Above all, the War of 1812 would be the making of the United States Navy. Even as the war began, the nation was bitterly divided over whether it should have a navy at all: Jeffersonian Republicans denounced the idea as a dangerous expansion of government power, while Federalists insisted that America could never protect its burgeoning seagoing commerce or command respect without a strong naval force. After the war, Americans would never again doubt that their might, respect, and very survival depended upon a permanent and professional navy.??Drawing extensively on diaries, letters, and personal accounts from both sides, Budiansky re-creates the riveting encounters at sea in bloody clashes of cannonfire and swordplay; the intimate hopes and fears of vainglorious captains and young seamen in search of adventure; and the behind-the-scenes political intrigue and maneuvering in Washington and London. Throughout, Perilous Fight proves itself a gripping and essential work of American naval history.