Blackbeard


Despite a fierce reputation that has survived nearly three centuries, Blackbeard wouldn't be called a successful pirate. For he never took a prize of any great value as some of his contemporarys. But Blackbeard certainly was notorious. He was born Edward Drummond around 1680 in Bristol, England, according to history books. He assumed the surname Teach, also spelled Thatch, Tache or Tatch, as a pirate. His more well-known nickname came from his dark, bushy whiskers. He served the crown on Jamaican ships raiding the French and Spanish ships during the War of Spanish Succession (1702- 1713 ).

He enlisted with Benjamin Hornigold in 1716 at New Providence Island. On one excursion, Teach was given command of a captured sloop. Hornigold and Teach plundered several ships off the American coast and in the Caribbean in 1717. Toward the end of the year, they seized a large well built ship that had been trading between Africa and Martinique. After dividing their plunder, Hornigold and Teach went their own ways. Teach keeping the prize and renaming her "Queen Anne's Revenge".

Teach armed her with 40 cannon then captured and burned a large British merchantman near Saint Vincent. He then took several sloops off Crab Island and Saint Kitts with a crew of around 300. Teach was very charismatic, a natural born leader. His crew was highly disciplined and Teach was shown the utmost respect as were his officers. He was a skilled navigator, literate, and physically impressive. In January 1718, Teach arrived at Bath, North Carolina. He was given a pardon by Governor Charles Eden after he swore an oath to give up piracy. At Bath Teach found a new window of opportunity. He sold pirate loot, finding that the locals would pay a higher price for the goods than the fences he was accustomed to using.

In March, 1718 Teach sailed for the Bay of Honduras. He met Stede Bonnet along the way. Teach took Bonnet's ship the "Revenge" and made Bonnet his guest against Bonnet's will. A member of Teach's crew by the name of Richards was given command of Bonnet's ship. Not long after Bonnet's impressment, Teach captured the sloop "Adventure" putting Israel Hands in charge of the "Adventure". Captain David Herriot had been in charge of the "Adventure" and decided to join Teach's crew after losing his ship. Teach would soon add another sloop, the name not known. This brought his fleet to 4 sloops. With this he looted several ships in the Bay of Honduras. He then struck north where he would take several more prizes.

In May, 1718 Teach blockaded Charleston, South Carolina and plundered around 9 ships. One of the prizes carried several high-ranking citizens of Charleston as well as 1,500 in coinage. Teach informed the governor that ransom was demanded for the prisoners. He demanded a medicine chest and certain drugs ( Venereal disease was a common affliction among pirates ) worth less than 400. His demands were met and all the prisoners released unharmed.

Teach next made his way to North Carolina going by way of the Topsail Inlet ( Beaufort Inlet ). Teach ran his ships "Adventure" and "Queen Anne's Revenge" aground striking a sandbar. It is speculated that he ran his ships aground to avoid splitting their booty. Some of the crew were upset at Teach's tactics and voiced their opinion. The riotous men were marooned on the sandbar. Teach gave the ship "Revenge" back to Bonnet. Teach then took about 40 men and the loot and made off in the fourth unnamed sloop.

He arrived back at Bath where he was welcomed as an important member of the community. Teach received a second pardon from Governor Eden. The sloop which he had stolen from British merchants was certified to Teach by the Vice-Admiralty court. At Bath, He purchased a house across from the governor's house and anchored his ship at Ocracoke Island. He then married Mary Ormond the 16 year old daughter of a wealthy plantation owner.(Blackbeard was said to have had many wives.) At the celebration Teach was wined and dined by the local gentry. He would show his appreciation by lavishly entertaining them in return. Teach would stay at Bath for several months.

He then went to Philadelphia where a warrant was issued for his arrest. He left Philadelphia, sailing for Bermuda where he seized 2 French ships. One of the ships was loaded with coca and sugar, the other ship empty. Teach released the French crew giving them the empty ship. He took his prize back to Bath, arriving there in September. At Bath, Governor Eden and Tobias Knight, the colony's chief justice declared the French ship a derelict. Teach was allowed to keep the cargo after burning the ship. For their fee, Governor Eden received 60 barrels of sugar, Tobias Knight received 20. In October 1718, Teach was visited at Ocracoke by Charles Vane. The two enjoyed a drunken feast.

The governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood had become wary of the pirates settled to his south. During the trial of William Howard ( Teach's former quartermaster ), Howard testified to Teach's crimes. Governor Spotswood coveting Teach's supposed riches seized the opportunity to dispatch 2 sloops to attack Ocracoke. He further sent forces overland to attack in tandem with the two sloops commanded by Robert Maynard. On December 2, 1718, Maynard arrived at Ocracoke with about 60 men. They attacked Teach's force of about 20 the following morning. Maynard's force tried to board Teach's vessel as they had no cannon. Supposedly Teach raised a glass and toasted Maynard with the oath:

"Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you."

Maynard trying to close in ran both his ships aground on a sandbar. Teach fired a broadside, disabling one of Maynard's sloops and killing about 20 of Maynard's men. Maynard tried to close again after hiding his men below deck. Teach's men threw grenades when Maynard's ship closed, but they were ineffective as only Maynard's pilot and helmsman were on deck. Teach grappled and boarded with about 12 others. Maynard's force swarmed on deck and commenced to fight hand to hand. Teach and Maynard met in personal combat. Teach was shot by Maynard but the ball had no visible effect. Maynard's cutlass stopping a powerful blow from Teach snapped at the hilt. When Teach moved in to finish Maynard a British seaman attacked him from behind wounding Teach in the throat and neck. Teach continued to swing his cutlass as blood was spurting from his neck. Teach was then encircled by Maynard's men. He received five pistol shots and 20 severe sword wounds before finally succumbing.

Maynard decapitated Teach displaying his head on the prow of his ship. Spotswood's dreams of riches were unfulfilled as only about 2,238 of booty was collected from Teach's haven. Many have sought in vain for supposed buried treasure only to find nothing. It is doubtful that Blackbeard ever had any treasure to bury as he never took a prize of much value and that which he took was more than likely spent on his lavish lifestyle.







Reference Sources

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