Two Shackles Bill created the topic: Blackbeard's Reign of Terror
TALL TALES & TRUE by Two Shackles Bill
“Blackbeards Reign of Terror”
Captain Ben Hornigold had always known that Blackbeard was far more intelligent than your average Pirate Ship Captain. Blackbeard used to his advantage all the tricks that Captain Ben Hornigold had taught him, plus he added a few of his own. Blackbeard like Captain Ben tended to avoid major fighting if he could & preferred to use his fearsome reputation to intimidate other ship captains.
One of Blackbeard’s new tricks was to put lengths of slow burning fuse in his beard & hair, this gave him a demonic look during battle. Being a big man 6’ 2’’with his full length beard & dressed in his black pirate hat, his long black sea coat, full length black leather boots with a 6 pistol gun belt draped over his torso & waving his large cutlass, Blackbeard would have appeared a larger than life opponent in any fight. No person that witnessed him in action ever forgot it.
Most certainly Blackbeard had an air of the supernatural about him, making him an early version of Darth Vader. After Hornigold was banished in 1717 Blackbeard set oot in his new ship Queen Anne’s Revenge with a few other small ships in his fleet to raid Spanish galleons off the Mexican & Central America Coast.
Reports out of Veracruz back to Spain referred to a “Great Sea Devil” terrorizing their shipping lanes. After 9 months of terroriz’in the Spanish Blackbeard headed back to the pirate haven of Nassau with several captured French & Spanish ships full of cargo, gold & valuables as prizes. Blackbeard after his South American conquests had close to 700 seamen under his command. After splitting up the plunder with all his men back in the pirate safe haven of Nassau, Blackbeard gave his crews time off to celebrate their new found wealth in the dockside taverns of Nassau.
As the weeks past Blackbeard realized he could use his growing infamy & reputation for greater gains & even more wealth. In early 1718 he sailed Queen Anne’s Revenge with 2 other ships in company to Charleston Virginia which was a thriving British Colony. He had his ship’s drop anchor right outside Charleston Harbour, thus blockading the port
Blackbeard with his canon fuse smouldering in his beard & his most feared flag
Blackbeard captured any ships trying to enter or leave. During this period of blockading the port many important passengers were detained, these luminaries were exchanged for gold ransom & a large sea-chest of medical supplies for his crews. Finally after a week Blackbeard had enough & headed south with his new fleet looking for more ships to plunder. By late 1718 Blackbeard had amassed an amazing fortune for himself & his subordinates so much so that they headed once again back to the pirate port of Nassau.
Blackbeard was smart enough to realize that he couldn’t be a pirate forever & keep rolling the dice & winning, plus there was also the fact that he did have his former best mate & old tutor Captain Ben Hornigold on his wake in HMS RANGER looking for his sails. So Blackbeard gave thought to retirement, he called together 20 of his closest pirate brethren for a parlay. At the meeting Blackbeard told them of the Governor of North Carolina & that the Governor wasn’t averse to handing out pardons for the right price. So the crew voted to head north to North Carolina in a slightly smaller ship than Queen Anne’s Revenge named the “Adventure”.
The meeting with Charles Eden the Governor of North Carolina went as thought, with Eden granting pardons to Teach & his crew mates for a fee. But, Eden was a crook as well & wanted Blackbeard to continue on as a privateer, so there was an agreement made that saw Eden as Governor of North Carolina grant Blackbeard a Privateer’s Licence & they would go 50/50 split on any captured cargo & treasure.
Blackbeard & his closest crew mates set up their new homes on a small isle just off the coast of North Carolina called Ocracoke, from here it was very easy to sail forth & attack numerous passing ships. Blackbeard now had it all, an official pardon, a new found life, wealth beyond anyone’s dreams, whilst his crew all enjoyed a lesser but similar lifestyle. Blackbeard even got himself a new wife by marrying the local tavern owner’s teenage daughter.
On one of their passing ship raids, Blackbeard set upon a French ship loaded with cocoa & sugar. The rich spoils from this raid were as usual split with Governor Eden of North Carolina & his top advisors, but this was to be the last straw for many merchants & business men of nearby Virginia. Merchants & business men fed up with Blackbeard’s constant raids on their Cargo Ship’s complained that much to Virginia Governor Spotswood that Spotswood had to ask the British Government to intervene. Spotswood had his own personal dislike for the North Carolina Governor Eden over an old unpaid poker game debt.
The British Government sent out from Plymouth England two heavily armed & fully crewed British Navy Sloops accompanied by 40 Royal Marines. A youthful British Naval Officer Lieutenant Robert Maynard was the man given the task of seeking out Blackbeard & his pirate crew. Maynard’s orders were simple, “go forth & find Blackbeard & his henchmen & kill them”.
On the 22nd November 1720 Maynard came upon Blackbeard anchored in Ocracoke Harbour. Many of Blackbeard’s henchmen were ashore in their homes at the time when the 2 Navy sloops opened fire on Adventure. However Blackbeard was aboard & on receiving the first broadside from the circling sloops, Blackbeard ordered “return fire!!” from his crew that was still aboard. One of the British Sloops pulled alongside & the navy crew supported by the Royal Marines boarded the Adventure.
Blackbeard & Lieutenant Maynard go hammer & tongs at each other aboard Adventure
The crews of the two entwined ships went hammer & tongs at each other. Maynard & Blackbeard after sighting each other went straight into one on one combat, Maynard put 2 pistol shots into Blackbeard while advancing towards him, but that only made Blackbeard angry & fight more intense. Blackbeard being a big man soon over powered Maynard & as Maynard lay on the deck waiting for Blackbeard’s cutlass to finish him; a young marine ran forward & swung his sword at Blackbeard’s head. The resultant swipe cut Blackbeard across the throat; Blackbeard stepped back from Maynard & looked at the young marine before raising his cutlass again above Maynard’s head, the young marine re-acted swiftly, swinging his sword again only this time the force of the sword swipe severed Blackbeard’s head. Blackbeard’s crew on see’in thar legend pirate Captain slain soon surrendered.
The Butcher’s Bill fer the engagement was Blackbeard & 10 of his pirates killed as well as 10 British navy sailors & 2 Royal Marines. In Lieutenant Maynard’s official report of the engagement, it stated that after the fierce encounter Blackbeard’s body was examined by the British Ships Surgeon who recorded that, “Blackbeard had been shot 5 times & received 20 serious sword cut wounds that would have put down any normal man”. After the Surgeon had finished his duties Maynard sailed back to Virginia with Blackbeard’s head mounted on the bowsprit of the Adventure. Lieutenant Maynard received a hero’s welcome when he returned to Virginia & he was soon promoted to the rank of Captain Maynard. Captain Maynard from hence on became forever known as “the man who killed Blackbeard”, even though he really didn’t do it himself.
Blackbeard’s fame lingered on long after his death because he was seen as a larger than life supernatural figure & as the infamous pirate’s stories were passed down & enhanced over time, Blackbeard’s legend grew. One of the most popular became, “when the Royal Marines threw Blackbeard’s decapitated body over the side of Blackbeard’s ship Adventure, the headless corpse swam around the ship 3 times trying to find a way back onboard, Royal Marines & sailors had to stamp on the corpses fingers to stop it cumm’in bach aboard. As they sailed away the headless corpse was seen swim’in after the ships”.
Queen Anne’s Revenge Blackbeard’s Flagship, seen here delivering a pirate’s calling card.
So thar yer go me’hearties the tales of 2 of the great Pirate Kings of Caribbean, one had a false name so history will never know his true identity, the other became a Pirate Legend that to this very day is still very much revered. So til next we meet, make sure yer be , “keep’in a weather eye ter the horizon fer me sails”.