Baltimore clippers were built to out-run more powerful British naval ships and often used in the role of a blockade-runner. Their gaf-rigged sails and sharp hull gave them a speed over bulk advantage. Baltimore clippers were also used to transport prospectors and settlers from the east- to the west coast during the California gold-rush.
During the war of 1812, Baltimore clippers
were often used as privateers, preying on British merchant shipping.
The most notorious or famous (depending on who's writing history)
of the American privateers was probably captain Thomas Boyle, who sent a
notice to the King of England, George III, that the entire British isles
were under naval blockade by his Baltimore clipper 'Chasseur'.
With the secession of hostilities between the US and Britain came the inevitable demise of the Baltimore clipper, though many sailed on for decades to perform a variety of tasks. They were again used very successfully as blockade-runners during the American civil war.
Some Baltimore clippers, or replicas of the originals, are still sailing today. An example of such a replica would be the Pride of Baltimore.