Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Do you wonder what skeletons lie in your closet? Have you studied your family history, or looked into genealogy to trace your roots? When William T. Packwood started looking into his family’s past, he was surprised to find his ancestors hailed from New London, Connecticut and he was a direct descendent of two prominent American Revolutionary privateers, brothers William and Joseph Packwood. The discovery led William T. Packwood and his wife, Virginia M. Packwood, on an exciting journey of discovery as they traced the history of these revolutionary patriots. It became a family project that included picnics in cemeteries where they searched for answers on old gravestones, and days spent in libraries and archives, plowing through old records. The journey opened a wealth of previously unknown family stories and two historic figures of a bygone era in American history.
The end result of all this research is William T. Packwood’s and Virginia M. Packwood’s book, Two Revolutionary War Privateers: William and Joseph Packwood of Connecticut. This is a thorough look, not only at two prominent figures of the American Revolution but also at an era of unrest and revolution, an era when the fledgling nation of what we now know as the United States of America didn’t even have a navy to fight the battles at sea. In come the privateers, the unsung heroes of these traumatic years of unrest. The book is a well-documented, thorough investigation of the lives of two of these privateers. As a historian, I appreciate all the work that goes into this type of research and I marvel at the way this book is laid out, chronologically and with considerable reproductions of letters, maps, illustrations, and important documents. This is a comprehensive study of the beginnings of the U.S. Navy, as well as U.S. trade and commerce. As one would expect with any well-documented historical account, the authors provide a concise and thorough list of sources and references. I can’t help but marvel at the intense thought, care, and research that has gone into this project. This is a marvelous contribution to the historical archives of America’s beginnings.