Blackbeard

Blackbeard from Blane Peruns TheSea.Org
Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Edward Teach, known later worldwide as the famous pirate Blackbeard, was a pirate in the waters of the West Indies during the early 18th century. Modern historians do not know details of his life prior to piracy, but his activities between the years of 1716 and 1718 are well documented, in large part due to Blackbeard’s use of reputation and mythic imagery to achieve the results he desired without the use of bloodshed. He was almost certainly an educated man, with contemporary accounts demonstrating his reading and writing abilities, shrewd leadership and capably navigation skills.

Edward Teach’s first reported acts of piracy came as the second-in-command of the famous pirate Benjamin Hornigold’s fleet. During this time, he was the commander of the second largest ship of the fleet and Hornigold’s main confidant. Once Hornigold was ousted from his position so that the pirates could freely attack the British ships that were previously forbidden to them, he took on the name of Blackbeard and began to construct a vicious image and reputation that allowed him to take ships at will, often without bloodshed, out of simple fear for his prowess and abilities.

Once in control of his own fleet of three ships and nearly 150 pirates, Blackbeard began expanding his area of influence and raiding ships at will. By 1718, he had gained numerous guns, and extra ship and increased his crew to 250 men. He became the most famous pirate of the day, with descriptions of his formidable prowess and braided black beard making it into most news publications of the time. He was even stated to light his beard on fire when raiding vessels in order to increase the factor of intimidation for his enemies, often leading to bloodless encounters where opposing ships would simply surrender.

Blackbeard’s fearsome reputation, in a way, led to his downfall. Rumors of Blackbeard’s presence in the waters surrounding Ocracoke Island off the shore of North Carolina led to a contingent of ships being dispatched for his capture. A ruse and clever ambush was set up and Blackbeard’s pirates were surprised by an attack of overwhelming force that stemmed from what they thought was a routine vessel capture. Blackbeard was killed in the ensuing battle and his pirate crew surrendered immediately after he fell. His legend, however, kept on living, making the charm of pirate tales to this day.

Blackbeard Captured 40 Ships During His Career

Blackbeard Captured 40 Ships During His Career, Pirates
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Many of us find pirates, these outlaws of the sea, exciting and heroic. Pirates are often portrayed as fearless, living a fascinating life, often accumulating impressive wealth and always going as close as possible to danger. The image is not different in the case of Blackbeard, one of the most feared and most powerful pirates of the 18th century, so let’s have a look at this mighty pirate captain and his doings!

Blackbeard was born around 1680 as Edward Teach or Edward Thatch. He was most probably raised in Bristol, an important center of slave trade of the time. He is thought to have worked on a slave ship when he arrived in the Caribbean and he joined Queen Ann’s War sometime during the first years of the 18th century, later on settling on the island of New Providence, the infamous pirate paradise in the Atlantic Ocean. Around 1716, he joined one of the most well-known pirates of the age, Benjamin Hornigold, who made Teach the captain of one of his sloops. He soon became a pirate in his own right, he owned three ships and his flotilla was rapidly growing.

The first record of Teach’s appearance dates from 1717, as it was recounted by Henry Bostock, the captain of a ship captured by the pirate. Teach was described as a tall man sporting a very long, thick black beard that he often wore braided or tied, making his large figure threatening and scary.

Blackbeard captured 40 ships during his career, the captures including merchant ships and battle ships alike, loaded with riches and guns. What started as a fleet of only one ship was enlarged by a second one when, in 1717, Blackbeard joined forces with Stede Bonnet, a wealthy landowner turned pirate. He soon captured two more British vessels, and then, in November the same year, he turned against two French vessels. However, it was not only by violent means that Teach acquired new ships. In March 1718, Blackbeard stopped a British sloop, inviting her captain and crew to join his fleet – which they did. Blackbeard and his fleet plundered the waters of the sea from Belize to Honduras, from the Grand Cayman to the shores of South Carolina, sometimes being able to add four more ships to his fleet in one go. At the height of his glory, in May 1718, he even blockaded the port of Charleston.

In 1718, Blackbeard decided to surrender and obtain pardon from Charles Eden, the governor of North Carolina. He settled in Bath. According to some, he even got married and was allowed to undertake commissions as a privateer. However, he decided to resume his pirating activity and, soon, there was an arrest warrant on him. The hunt for Blackbeard started – hunt that ended in November, 1718 with a last, ferocious and bloody battle at Ocracoke Island between Teach’s last ship, the Adventure, and HMS Pearl, with Lieutenant Robert Maynard in command.

Blackbeard History

Blackbeard History, Pirates
Credit: United States Library of Congress

When it comes to Blackbeard, history books and documents don’t have nearly enough information to to account for and explain all the various rumors and legends attributed to the well-known pirate. His murderous nature, the fact that he allegedly had fourteen wives, and his famous actions at the blockade of Charleston are only a few of the numerous uncommon and striking historical facts that remain about him. His infamy and his many successes go hand in hand, despite Blackbeard’s treasure being estimated as much smaller than that of other famous pirates from the early 1700s.

Also known as Edward Teach, or Edward Thatch according to some sources, Blackbeard was a notorious English pirate and captain of Queen Anne’s Revenge. Some historical sources place him as a sailor serving aboard privateer ships during Queen Anne’s War. In 1716, he began his notorious streak of piracy acts with the help of Captain Benjamin Hornigold who placed Teach in command of a sloop. After acquiring his own ship, Blackbeard became known as a feared pirate with a distinctive look. He became known for boasting a large black beard and tying lit fuses under his hat, as well as carrying an assortment of guns and blades to frighten his enemies. Blackbeard teamed together with other pirates such as Stede Bonnet, and later formed an entire alliance of pirates whose greatest achievement was a blockade of the port of Charleston, North Carolina.

Accounting for the rise to power of the infamous pirate known as Blackbeard, documents from the early 18th century show him attaining the rank of Commodore in May 1718, only two years after he began his career as a pirate. This is when Teach was at the height of his power and commanded a fleet of pirate ships that proceeded to stop and ransack any vessels that exited the port of Charleston and attempted to sail past the Charleston Bar. After capturing the crew of several ships, Teach’s ransom demands of medical supplies were met by the governor after a considerable show of force displayed by the pirates.

Edward Teach is rumored to have had 14 wives, the last of which being a young 16 year old girl he married in South Carolina. His main acts of piracy involved the seizing and plundering of merchant vessels, and some colorful legends emerged about the pirate’s cruelty. One of them still vivid in popular culture displays Blackbeard shooting one of his crewmen in the knee and uttering the famous phrase “If I didn’t shoot one or two [crewmen] every now and then, they’d forget who I was.” With regard to the death of Blackbeard, history accounts are vague at best, claiming he was killed at the order of Governor Alexander Spotswood, despite having received a pardon.

Blackbeard’s Island

Blackbeard’s Island, Pirates
Credit: Zimmerman Agency

While it used to be a refuge for one of the most notorious and cruel pirates of all time, Blackbeard’s island is now a 5,000-acre wildlife sanctuary that was established to preserve important wildlife and tree species for conservation purposes. The island has a long past, fraught with legends of pirates burying their treasure. Later documented accounts of the island have it being used as a yellow fever quarantine station by the US Marine Hospital Service. Yellow fever epidemics were frequent in the late 1700s and 1800s. Even though the island was used mainly as a source of live timber for the purpose of building ships, it’s colorful past and the famous legends associated with Blackbeard still live on to this day.

Blackbeard’s Island was named after Edward Teach, commonly known as Blackbeard and one of the cruelest pirates in history. Blackbeard was the notorious captain of Queen Anne’s Revenge and sailed the seven seas in the early 1700s, a period known as the Golden Age of Piracy. Although he has not gathered nearly as many spoils from his travels as pirates like Bartholomew Roberts, Blackbeard reportedly stole a significant amount of gold and was said to have used the island for “banking purposes.” Teach remains one of the most iconic figures in history and remains a source of inspiration for the image of 18th-century pirates as they are viewed today.

According to some accounts, Teach’s island supposedly holds a sizable treasure buried there by Blackbeard before his demise at Ocracoke. However, to this day, the treasure eluded travelers and treasure hunters who traveled to the island for the purpose of finding it. No proof remains that the treasure even existed, and nothing has been found on the island to suggest otherwise. The last treasure-hunting expedition to the island was in 1880.

The island is situated in Macintosh County, Georgia, and now bears the name Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge. It consists of interconnecting dunes that are covered by oak and palmetto vegetation, and it is only accessible by boat. The main objective of the refuge is to offer a winter habitat and sanctuary to a variety of rare bird species and to help preserve endangered tree and wildlife species such as the bald eagle, loggerhead sea turtle and piping plover. While visitors to Blackbeard’s island are still allowed today, treasure hunting has been strictly banned, so there is little hope that Teach’s treasure could be found there any time soon.

Blackbeard’s Mightiest Pirate Ship

Blackbeard’s Mightiest Pirate Ship, Pirates
Credit: NC Dept. of Cultural Resources

The most famous pirates in history probably owe their “success” to a combination of skills, means and circumstances. Pirate captains were not only experienced seamen who, in most cases, started low and worked their way up the ladder to become captains, but they were also fearless warriors and skilled leaders, able to manage crews of hundreds of men. However, even with these skills, they could not have earned fame and wealth, had it not been for the extraordinary ships they sailed in. History knows about numerous great and powerful ships, but perhaps none of them as special as Blackbeard’s famous flagship: Queen Anne’s Revenge.

At the end of November 1717, Blackbeard attacked a French ship called La Concorde at the island of Saint Vincent, a volcanic island in the Caribbean. The French did not surrender up front, they fought, firing back at Blackbeard’s ships and killing many of the pirates. However, the losses of the French were serious and they were forced to surrender, handing over La Concorde to Blackbeard. Blackbeard took over the ship – a huge guineaman that transported slaves at the time it had been captured. He renamed it immediately as Queen Anne’s Revenge and started to make transformations on it to make it his flagship.

Slave ships were usually large vessels, built to be able to carry a huge weight, but also capable of acquiring high speeds, making them perfect for pirates. There was another security feature that made slave ships desirable for pirates: they usually featured a special partition in the middle to protect the crew of the ship in case of a mutiny or a slave uprising. The rooms in the partition were excellent for offering protection to the pirates in case of attacks or other dangers. Next, there was another feature that pirate ships needed and that was gun power. The Concorde was equipped with 14 guns when it was captured and Blackbeard not only renamed it, but also started to enhance its performance as a battleship by adding another 26 guns. With its 40 guns, Queen Anne’s Revenge was one of the fiercest pirate ships that had ever sailed the Atlantic Ocean!

Queen Anne’s Revenge ran on a sand bank and suffered irreparable damage in May 1718. According to many historians, Blackbeard knew the area too well to make the mistake of running the ship aground, so he probably destroyed the ship on purpose, intent on killing some of his crew to get more of the fortune for himself.

The wreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge was discovered off the coast of North Carolina, in 1997. It has been found so packed with treasure that the exploration of the ship is far from over and marine archeologists are still bringing up its priceless load!

Blackbeard’s Ship Queen Anne’s Revenge

Blackbeard’s Ship Queen Anne’s Revenge, Pirates
Credit: Blue Wave Group

There are many accounts of the famous vessel that belonged to Blackbeard. Pirate ship enthusiasts from around the world see Queen Anne’s Revenge as one of the most notorious frigates in history. Instilling fear in the hearts of freight ship sailors, the frigate was in the famous pirate’s possession for a little over a year starting in 1717. That year, however, saw Edward Teach rise to his highest glory and use the ship to carry out numerous acts of piracy including theft and destruction.

Documented facts about the Blackbeard and Queen Anne’s Revenge are hard to find. The name came as a direct result of Edward Teach’s involvement in Queen Anne’s war. The ship was initially named La Concorde de Nantes and it was a French slave ship. It was launched in 1711 by the English Navy, only to be captured by the French a short time later. Blackbeard captured the ship in 1717 and it became his flagship, fitting it with 40 guns and leading it to victory in many attacks throughout the Caribbean, including the infamous Charleston Blockade.

Queen Anne’s Revenge was the most prized possession of Blackbeard. Pirate ship stories speak a lot about the pirate’s adventures on board the frigate. Although he had a reputation as a cruel and violent pirate, many of Blackbeard’s ship captures, including that of La Concorde and the merchant sloop Margret, had the captain and crew spared and returned to safety. In time, Teach captured a number of other ships and formed his own fleet while the reputation of Queen Anne’s Revenge continued to grow. The campaign culminated with the Charleston Blockade during which Teach captured an additional nine vessels about six leagues away from shore and left with their spoils.

The career of the Queen Anne’s Revenge as a pirate ship was short-lived. The ship was ran aground at Beauford Inlet, off the coast of North Carolina, where the vessel was abandoned and the crew, their spoils and most of their belongings were taken aboard two other small vessels. Queen Anne’s Revenge remained at Beauford Inlet for almost 300 years, until divers found its remains in 1996, scientists later confirming the ship’s identity. While historians cannot fully agree on all details regarding to the ship that belonged to Blackbeard, pirate ship tales, rumors and legends of old confirm most of the aforementioned claims.

Blackbeard’s Treasure

Blackbeard’s Treasure, Pirates
Credit: National Geographic

Blackbeard’s treasure has captured the imagination of fiction writers, sailors and treasure hunters since before the notorious pirate’s death. Although rumors and tales exist about pirates burying their treasure on secret islands, hoarding them to undisclosed locations, or killing prisoners on the spot where they buried their treasures, there are very few historical accounts of pirates who have actually buried their stash. There are none of Blackbeard himself. The whereabouts of his treasure is still a mystery to this day and the only remnants of his spoils have been found aboard a sunk vessel claimed to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Edward Teach, nicknamed Blackbeard due to his large, coal-colored beard, is depicted in folk tales as a cruel, vicious pirate who did not hesitate to wound or kill even his own crew at his fancy. His infamy, however, was not followed by large exploits as in the case of Henry Every and Bartholomew Roberts, the latter estimated to have gathered five times more gold, silver and jewels than Teach. Black Beard’s treasure is still considered to be quite large and only a small amount is claimed to have been found. The larger bulk of Teach’s treasure is still out there, and it is estimated to be worth millions in today’s money.

In 1996, a historic discovery off the coast of North Carolina found a ship that could well be Blackbeard’s infamous frigate, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, that terrorized the port of Charleston in 1718. Although the wreck was difficult to explore and no mention or sign was initially found that it had belonged to Blackbeard, hundreds of thousands of artifacts were recovered, some of which were later used to identify the ship. It was only in August 2011 that the National Geographic Society officially confirmed that the wreak was the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Nevertheless, the artifacts that were discovered were only a fraction of the estimated size of Blackbeard’s treasure.

There are many possible locations for Blackbeard’s treasure, including Blackbeard Island. According to the pirate himself, however, only the “Devil and him” knew the exact whereabouts. After his pardon, it was estimated that Teach hid a large portion of his treasure at Plum Point, a place that has steadily drawn treasure hunters for the past two centuries. Other possible locations include Archbell Point and Teach’s “Kettle” – an oven-like brick structure that some claim was used by Blackbeard as a hidden stash near Plum Point. To this day, however, Black Beard’s treasure remains an elusive mystery that even the most brilliant archaeologists have failed to solve.

Edward Teach Quotes

Edward Teach Quotes, Pirates
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Three Edward Teach Quotes That Reveal the True Character of the Fierce Man Known as Blackbeard

When it comes to tracking the past of men such as Edward Teach, historically documented facts and detailed records are scarce at best. However, the pirate who lived more than 300 years ago left behind the legacy of a life that would make any old sea dog jealous of his determination and resilience. The three quotes depicted here show Teach’s character and demeanor and put a great deal of emphasis on his image as a pirate and that of all pirates.

Edward Teach’s Legendary Cruelty

One of the most famous Edward Teach quotes is, “if I didn’t shoot one or two now and then, they’d forget who I was.” The quote resounds in the history of piracy as a sentence defining one of the cruelest and most vicious characters who laid the basis of the Golden Age of piracy. Blackbeard was said to have uttered those words in some instances when he shot one of his own crew members in the dark, injuring him for no reason whatsoever. In one instance, right before his death, he shot one of his most trusted crew members in the knee. This act is said to have contributed to Teach’s overall easy capture and murder.

Edward Teach Quotes – His Stance Toward His Enemies

Another one of the most iconic Blackbeard quotes still remembered is, “Let’s jump on board and cut them to pieces.” This straightforward quote appeared in the writings of 18th-century author Charles Johnson and further depicts the vicious nature of Blackbeard, as he never hesitated to use force when he felt it was necessary for winning his battles. In most instances, he was willing to show leniency and even let the entire crew go once he plundered their vessels. Teach is estimated to have successfully taken over more than 45 ships during his career as a pirate. an impressive feat considering that he only captained the Queen Anne’s Revenge for less than two years.

Edward Teach and His Drink Before Death

Before dying at the hands of Lieutenant Maynard’s men, Blackbeard is known to have shouted the following words back to him, as he drank to him: “Damnation seize my Soul if I give you Quarters, or take any from you.” The phrase essentially meant that Teach was willing to risk death and damnation, rather than be captured by Maynard. This is one of the most powerful and genuine Edward Teach quotes ever recorded, and it shows the pirate’s resolute and resilient character in his pursuit of freedom.

Was Blackbeard Real

Was Blackbeard Real, Pirates
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

There are still many questions about the famous pirate Edward Teach and his many pursuits in the West Indies and the Caribbean, but was Blackbeard real? And if yes, who was the real man behind the image of that cruel and powerful pirate? Historical accounts and evidence about Blackbeard’s life place him as an Englishman who lived between circa 1680 and 1722. Despite the fact that he died relatively young, his life influenced history in a significant way. Teach defined the image of piracy and playing a major role during the Golden Age of piracy throughout the early 1700s.

Many historians are still not convinced. Was Blackbeard real and were all his exploits equally genuine? Or were they just stories made up by people who wanted to remember him as more than he was? Documented historical finds seem to confirm the image of Edward Teach as a skilled sailor who began his piracy years in 1716 and 1717 alongside Benjamin Hornigold and Stede Bonnet. He later conquered a French vessel that he symbolically renamed the Queen Anne’s Revenge and went on to embark on numerous piracy ventures. Before settling in Bath Town and receiving his pardon, Blackbeard was a cold and calculated leader who timed his attacks and did not hesitate to use force when necessary. He also used his opponents’ fears against them by adopting the popular image of a bearded, feared pirate that made his enemies tremble. Teach’s intelligence and crude demeanor earned him successes against well-armed merchant vessels such as the Great Allen, becoming one of the most famous pirates in history.

What do we know about Blackbeards real background, family and past? While part of his past was documented, very little is known of Teach’s actual background. It is believed that he was born sometime around 1680 and records show several versions of his name including Thach, Tack, Thack, Thache, Teach and Thatch. One early source even claims his name was Drummond. Some speculations seem to show that Teach arrived in the Caribbean on a merchant ship at the end of the 17th century. He is also believed to have served in Jamaica on privateer ships during the Queen Anne War.

Many of the accounts about Blackbeard’s life are vague at best, and a few are only stated in the writings of authors like Robert Lee and Charles Johnson, but were never backed up by genuine historical accounts or records. Records of Edward Teach’s massive pirate fleet, his attack on Charleston Port, his pardon and his exploits during the later years of his life are, however, well-documented. Nevertheless, many historians still wonder, was Blackbeard real actually, or were most of the facts about his life distorted or downright invented over time?

Where Did Blackbeard Live

Where Did Blackbeard Live, Pirates
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Where did Blackbeard live during the various periods of his life? Did the famous pirate have a special hideout where he stashed his treasure? These questions have been asked by historians for years and most still remain unanswered to this day. There are a few certainties about Blackbeard’s life, such as the fact that he was raised in England and had spent a great deal of time in the Caribbean during the early 18th century, but many details are still unknown. There are many discrepancies as to whether he lived in London or Bristol and it is still not known when the famous pirate actually came to be a pirate under the command of Captain Benjamin Hornigold.

There are few reliable accounts as to Edward Teach’s earlier years. Sucha as where did he live in his youth? Young Edward is thought to have been born in Bristol. Very little is known about his childhood and teenage years, but there are records that he left England aboard the HMS Windsor in 1706 after his family relocated to Jamaica. Teach served as a sailor on privateer ships during the Queen Anne War, and then settled in New Providence on the island of Bahamian. This was the base of Captain Benjamin Hornigold whose crew the by then experienced Teach joined in 1716.

During 1717 and 1718, Blackbeard spent most of his time aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge. But where did Blackbeard live and re-supply his ship during these times? Local lore speaks of a large tower in the US Virgin Islands now known as Blackbeard’s Castle or Blackbeard’s Tower. Legend said the pirate used it as a hideout and residence, although the exact time frame for this is still unclear. There are also claims about his use of an island known as Blackbeard Island, which was believed to have been the place Teach stashed away most of his treasure. Teach also spent a great deal of time in various locations in Port Royal, Jamaica, New Providence, as well as the North Carolina coastline. He is even said to have gone as far north as New England.

After parting company from his trusted partner, Bonnet, Edward Teach soon settled down in Bath Town (in the Beauford County of North Carolina) and received a royal pardon that allowed him to start a new life away from piracy. However, as he was soon at sea again, he attracted the attention of the Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, who soon issued a warrant for his capture. At the time of his death, Teach left behind many mysteries, so, to this day, no one knows all the details about his whereabouts. The questions “where did Blackbeard live?” and “Where is the huge treasure he amassed during his many travels?” may remain without a clear answer forever.

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