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Mar 1, 2024

Are they pirates, profiteers or legitimately authorized extensions of George Washington’s almost non-existent American Navy? We’ll find out with guest historian Eric Jay Dolin, author of Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American RevolutIon.

Dolin will underscore an element missing from most maritime histories of the American Revolution: a ragtag fleet of private vessels — from 20-foot whaleboats to 40-cannon men-of-war helped win the war, including some 200 from Connecticut. Armed with cannons, guns, muskets, and pikes, thousands of privateers tormented the British on the Atlantic and in bays and harbors on both sides of the ocean. 


Eric Jay Dolin is the author of sixteen books, including Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America, a topic we look forward to exploring in an upcoming episode of Grating the Nutmeg. Rebels at Sea was awarded the Morison Book Award for Naval Literature, conferred by the Naval Order of the United States, and was a finalist for the New England Society Book Award.  His forthcoming book, to be published in May, 2024, is Left for Dead: Shipwreck, Treachery, and Survival at the Edge of the World. Dolin lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with his family.


Thanks to my guest Eric Jay Dolin. To find out more about his work, go to


Today’s episode is the second in our 2024 series on Connecticut’s maritime history-I hope you’ve had the chance to listen to episode #180 on Colonial Connecticut and the West Indies. If you love these seafaring tales, you’ll find dozens of stories to read on our website at under the Topics button here:


Eric Jay Dolan’s presentation at the New Haven Museum is now available on their YouTube channel was part of New Haven250, an ongoing series of programming developed to complement America250. Culminating with the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the series will highlight inclusive, local, and lesser-known stories, connecting past and present. Follow their Facebook page to find out more about upcoming programs.


Watch the taped presentation by author Eric Jay Dolan on the New Haven Museum’s YouTube channel here:




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This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Mary Donohue and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan at


Join us in two weeks for our next episode of Grating the Nutmeg, the podcast of Connecticut history.