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New Book Details Piracy on the Chesapeake Bay

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

Dr. Jamie Goodall is an expert on the history of pirates. A PhD in History and staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., Goodall has researched, written and lectured extensively on pirates in the Atlantic world, primarily in the Caribbean.

Her new book, Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: From the Colonial Era to the Oyster Wars, chronicles the pirates, privateers and smugglers who once operated in the Chesapeake Bay region beginning in 1630 and ending in 1959. The region encompasses both Maryland and Virginia, with the Chesapeake Bay extending two hundred miles from Havre de Grace, MD in the north to Virginia Beach, VA in the south.

The book covers groups who aided and targeted pirates such as merchants, government officials and local residents. Goodall’s book includes chapters on the involvement of pirates and privateers in a number of major conflicts in American history including the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil War. The book also sheds light on the Oyster Wars, a series of conflicts from 1868 to 1959 between oyster pirates, legal watermen and the Maryland state government appointed-Oyster Navy over the oyster harvesting conflict in the Chesapeake Bay region.


Goodall, a former Assistant Professor of History at Stevenson University in Baltimore County, was inspired to write this book after meeting with an editor from The History Press at a history conference in Baltimore. Recounting her meeting with the editor, Goodall told Patch, “she loved my research focus. So she asked if I’d be interested in working on a book that focused on the Chesapeake Bay region. Since I was living in Maryland I thought it would make the perfect case study of pirates.”

In her book, Goodall tells the story of notable pirates who frequented the Chesapeake Bay region, including Captain Kidd and Blackbeard. She also covers lesser-known figures such as Louis Guittar, a French pirate who amassed a large fortune by attacking merchant vessels laden with valuable goods coming out of Lynnhaven Bay inlet in Virginia. According to Goodall, “Guittar ultimately met a grisly end. The king [of Great Britain] went on a hanging spree. Many of those hanging in the winter and spring of 1701 were the Frenchmen of the La Paix. In a single day, Guittar and 23 of his men were hanged. Clearly the King was feeling less than charitable.”


Goodall’s book was released just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. The virus has posed a number of challenges in promoting the new release to the public, including the cancellation of book signings and talks, such as one scheduled at the Maryland Renaissance Festival this summer. Despite these setbacks, Goodall has been able to participate in a number of digital talks that have helped in building public awareness of her book.

When asked if she has any plans to write another book on pirates, Goodall told Patch, “I’m currently working on a National Geographic bookazine about piracy and shipwrecking in a global context due out in April 2021 and a book on pirates of the mid-Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) through The History Press due out sometime in 2022!”

Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: From the Colonial Era to the Oyster Wars was published by The History Press, and is available through all book sellers, including Amazon, and at your local bookstore via You can learn more about Dr. Jamie Goodall on her website

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