On this day…in 1718

Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard the Pirate, was killed on this day off North Carolina during a bloody battle with the British Navy.

Blackbeard, from England, began pirating in 1713. He was a crewman and was under the command of pirate Benjamin Horngold in 1717. Horngold was ofered amnesty by Britain…so he retird as a pirate. In this time, Teach captured and took over a French merchant ship, increased its armaments, and renamed it ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’.

Edward Teach was called Blackbeard bevause of his blackbeard – but he did tend to tie lighted sticks to his beard to intimidate his enemies.

Blackbeard terrorised the Caribean and North America, and pirates under his command were known for their terrible cruelty.

blackbeard-the-pirate

In May 1718, the Queen Anne’s Revenge and another vessel were shipwrecked, forcing Blackbeard to desert a third ship and most of his men because of a lack of supplies. With the single remaining ship, Blackbeard sailed to Bath in North Carolina and met with Governor Charles Eden. Eden agreed to pardon Blackbeard in exchange for a share of his sizable booty.

At the request of North Carolina planters, Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia dispatched a British naval force under Lieutenant Robert Maynard to North Carolina to deal with Blackbeard. On November 22, Blackbeard’s forces were defeated and he was killed in a bloody battle of Ocracoke Island.

Maynard surpised Teach and his crew – the pirates were apparently taken aback at the assault. Teach rallied his men and the two groups fought across the deck, which was already slick with blood from those killed or injured by Teach’s broadside. Maynard and Teach fired their flintlocks at each other, then threw them away. Teach drew his cutlass and managed to break Maynard’s sword. Against superior training and a slight advantage in numbers, the pirates were pushed back toward the bow, surrounding Maynard and Teach, who was by then completely isolated. As Maynard drew back to fire once again, Teach moved in to attack him, but was slashed across the neck by one of Maynard’s men. Badly wounded, he was then attacked and killed by several more of Maynard’s crew. The remaining pirates quickly surrendered.

Maynard later examined Teach’s body, noting that it had been shot no fewer than five times and cut about twenty. He also found several items of correspondence, including a letter to the pirate from Tobias Knight. Teach’s corpse was thrown into the inlet while his head was suspended from the bowsprit of Maynard’s sloop so that the reward could be collected.

Legend has it that Blackbeard captured more than 30 ships in his brief pirating career.

by Professor P.T. Brown

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