Brigantine. The brigantine was the second most popular type of ship built in the American colonies before 1775. (The most popular ship type was a “sloop.”) A brigantine is a vessel swifter and more easily maneuvered than a sloop or schooner, and hence employed for purposes of piracy, espionage, and reconnoitering, and as an outlying attendant upon larger ships for protecting the larger ship, or for supply or landing purposes in a fleet of ships.
The brigantine was generally larger than a sloop or schooner. However, the brigantine was a vessel that could be of various sizes, ranging from 30 to 150 tons burden.
Generally, in the 1700’s a brigantine was a two masted sailing ship, having on the main mast both (1) a fore-and-aft main sail ( a triangular type of sail) and also (2) a square main topsail. The fore-and-aft main sail has an advantage over a square sail of being able to be better maneuvered and to allow better sailing of the ship.) But after 1720 the main [square] topsail was omitted in most brigantines in favor of a large main sail.