Blackbeard: A Pirate Who Reigned Terror at Sea
In the years between 1716 and 1718 was the rise and fall of Blackbeard; one of history's most famous pirates.
- The early years
- Blackbeard acquires his flagship
- The blockade of Charleston, South Carolina
- Blackbeard double-crosses his crew
- The death of the infamous pirate
The early years
Born Edward Teach or Thatch, Tache (it is unclear on how to spell his last name) was believed to be born in Bristol, England around 1680 though there are some who believe that he came from an important family in Jamaica or the Carolinas.
Blackbeard had a flair for dramatics, challenging his opponents’ psychological defenses by opting for a scarlet cloak; his thick black beard braided into pig tails tide with black or red ribbons and according to Capt. Charles Johnson (who was believed to be Daniel Defoe) when going into battle, would light slow-burning cannon fuses and place them beneath his hat. Armed with bandoleers strapped across his chest holstering numerous pistols and knives Teach would set out on his plundering.
Teach entered the pirating scene in charge of a sloop in late 1716 stolen by Capt. Benjamin Hornigold a successful free-booters of the time who became his mentor. Soon Teach joined ranks with Maj. Stede Bonnet, a wealthy landowner from Barbados who had turned to piracy whether from boredom or to escape a shrewish wife is unclear. Blackbeard invited Stede Bonnet's sloop the Revenge to sail along with him. Despite Bonnet's educated background, Blackbeard noted his poor leadership skills and soon took over, calling the shots and appointing his second-in-command to take charge of the Revenge.
Blackbeard acquires his flagship
In November 1717 near the island of St. Vincent, Blackbeard captured a French slave-ship called La Concorde housing a crew stricken by dysentery and scurvy. After discarding most of the crew and slaves on the island of Bequia with a sloop and several tons of beans, Blackbeard decided to make La Concorde his flagship. Refitted from 14 cannons to 40, Blackbeard renamed La Concorde to Queen Anne's Revenge.
The blockade of Charleston, South Carolina
By the spring of 1718 Blackbeard was in command of four ships and as many as 400 pirates. After success in the Caribbean, Blackbeard sailed along the American Coast with his flotilla and reached Charleston, South Carolina; there he established a week-long blockade of the town, taking hostages, one being a member of the governor's ruling council. Despite the fact that the town was at his mercy, Blackbeard's only demand was a chest of medicine. The governor grudgingly granted his request. Teach kept his word, releasing the hostages and ships that were trapped in the harbor--however both were stripped of their valuables.
Blackbeard double-crosses his crew
Several days later, Blackbeard ran Queen Anne's Revenge aground at Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. With his orders the smaller sloop Adventure tried to pull the flagship free which resulted in the loss of both ships. Some believe it was intentional so Teach wouldn't have to divide the newly acquired spoils. With his plans laid, Blackbeard convinced Stede Bonnet to leave for Bath to accept the King's pardon.
In Bonnet's absents, Blackbeard stripped Queen Anne's Revenge and Adventure of its booty and sailed away with 40 pirates and 60 slaves. When the captain of the Adventure demanded compensation, Blackbeard marooned David Harriot along with 16 other pirates on a deserted sandbar. From there he sailed to Bath and acquired a pardon for himself from Governor Eden.
Retirement didn't set well with Blackbeard and soon he was back to pirating, plundering local ships and a French sugar ship off of Bermuda. Teach met up with pirate Charles Vane and some say as nearly as 200 pirates partied at Blackbeard's favorite spot Carolina's remote barrier island of Ocracoke.
Rumors reached Virginia's Governor Alexander Spotswood that pirates were building a fort at Ocracoke. Spotswood had enough and sent out an expedition to hunt down Blackbeard.
The death of the infamous pirate
On November 22, 1718 Lt. Robert Maynard attacked Blackbeard at Ocracoke Inlet. The battle was fierce and in the end Blackbeard was shot five times and received as many as 20 lacerations before dying.
Maynard severed Blackbeard's head and hung it on his bowsprit, dumping the decapitated corpse overboard. The head was later brought back to his Hampton base where it was stuck on a pike.
Although dead, Blackbeard's legacy lives on in the whispers of the waters he sailed and a time that would forever be his.