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Edward Teach "Blackbeard" - Pirate of the Seas

Updated on July 29, 2017

The Man

Evil beyond evil, Blackbeard was feared by all striking terror into his enemies to the extent that his short reign of two years still lives on in legend today. Blackbeard was huge, over 6 feet tall and had a long black beard, giving rise to the nickname Blackbeard. Lit matches and hemp buried in his beard made him appear fierce in battle, a face like the devil with smoke soaring overhead. Armed with knives, swords and pistols there was no mistaking Blackbeard's fierce demeanor.

Originally known as Edward Teach or Edward Thatch, which is possibly his real name, Blackbeard was most likely born in Bristol, England. Blackbeard turned pirate after serving as a British privateer during Queen Anne's War (War of the Spanish Succession 1701-1713).

Edward Teach "Blackbeard"
Edward Teach "Blackbeard"

Early Career

After the war Teach found himself sailing with pirate Benjamin Horingold as a crewman aboard a Jamaican sloop. Hornigold gave Teach command of a captured ship in 1716 and by mid 1717 the pair was among the most feared pirates of their time.

And here the real story begins. In November of 1717 Blackbeard and Hornigold took a 26-gun French Merchantmen called the Concorde. Thereafter Hornigold accepted the Crown's offer of a pardon and retired, leaving Blackbeard who refused amnesty to make the Concorde his flagship, upping the guns to 40 and renaming her The Queen Anne's Revenge.

Blackbeard's Flag
Blackbeard's Flag

Peak of Success

A short time later the Queen Anne encountered the 10-gun pirate sloop, Revenge, commanded by Stede Bonnet, "The Gentleman Pirate." It did not take long for Blackbeard to put his own pirate in command of the Revenge and bring Bonnet onto the Queen Anne as a "guest," much to the delight of Bonnet's crew. Between 1717 and 1718 the two ships seized many prizes including two more ships Blackbeard decided to keep as part of his fleet.

With four ships and up to 300 pirates Blackbeard was at the peak of his career, sailing to and blockading Charleston, South Carolina. Seizing many merchant ships and halting all other sea traffic, one of the seized ships yielded prominent Charleston citizens including children. Blackbeard's ransom for the hostages was not gold or silver but a chest of medicine. Yet the envoy Blackbeard sent ashore with the ransom chose to carouse for so long that Blackbeard nearly executed the hostages as the deadline passed. Fortunately the message was delivered and the ransom received before Blackbeard's crew could finish preparations for the hanging. Seizing jewelry and clothing from the passengers they were released.

Blackbeard's next target was Beaufort Inlet where he ran aground the Queen Anne and a smaller ship. Marooning most of his crew and leaving his fleet behind, Blackbeard loaded up one sloop with all the treasure and with his most loyal crew members proceeded to sail to Bath, North Carolina where he received a pardon and supposedly retired from piracy. Yet he continued to do some pillaging on the side.

Downfall

Concerned over Blackbeard's close proximity to Virginia, Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia hired two sloops led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard to hunt down and destroy Blackbeard for 100 pounds. Maynard eventually tracked Blackbeard to an inlet on the inner side of OcracokeIsland. With low winds the sloops needed to row to reach Blackbeard but the first sloop to reach him received a surprise broadside knocking it out of commission for the rest of the fight. Blackbeard tried to escape but Maynard's sloop managed to blast their rigging, forcing Blackbeard's ship ashore. Hiding his men in the hold, Maynard pulled up to Blackbeard's sloop and Blackbeard upon seeing the supposedly empty sloop boarded with 10 men. Maynard's men quickly emerged and a fight broke out. It is said that Blackbeard was shot 5 times and stabbed more than 20 times before he was slain in the battle. Maynard was victorious hanging Blackbeard's head from the bowsprit in order to collect his reward.

Though many have searched, including Maynard, for Blackbeard's buried treasure, it has yet to be found. Only he knew the location and now it's lost to time, if it even existed at all.

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    • Jacob Darkley profile image

      Jacob Darkley 7 years ago from California, USA

      Wow, that's awesome. I guess Blackbeard isn't much of a cartoon character like most people suspect....

      Jacob

    • N. Ramius profile image
      Author

      N. Ramius 7 years ago

      Yep. I'm not sure when pirates became romanticized but it is a fun topic to study.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

      I really liked this article. Thanks so much for the informative research and the good writing. The real thing is less romantic and a lot scarier than the movie version, eh?