Blackbeard: Terror of the High Seas

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Part 2: Fame and Defeat

Blackbeard made a name for himself in the British American colonies as well, harassing crews and seizing cargo from ships off the coast of the colonies of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He had by this time moved his base to Ocracoke Inlet, off the Outer Banks of what is now the state of North Carolina.

One man who had finally had enough of Blackbeard was Alexander Spotswood, the governor of Virginia. In 1718, the governor issued a proclamation that all pirates give themselves up to British authorities. Teach, naturally, refused, and Spotswood sent a group of ships to seize the feared Blackbeard.

Under the command of Lt. Robert Maynard, an expedition set out for Ocracoke Inlet, revealed as Blackbeard's hideout by one of his former men. On the night of November 21, Maynard's ships arrived and discovered that Teach and his fellow pirates were engaged in a spectacular party, unaware that they were being watched. The next morning, battle ensued.

After an exchange of gunfire, Teach's and Maynard's ships closed to within boarding range. Teach's firepower had the better time of it, with grenades blowing up large bits of the other ship's deck. Maynard ordered his men, most of whom had survived the blasts, below deck. Sensing what he thought was victory, Teach ordered his men to board.

The pirates were soon surprised at the arrival on top deck of Maynard's men. A fierce battle ensued, and Teach and Maynard ended up fighting each other. They exchanged shots from their guns (both missed), then fought with swords. Teach broke Maynard's sword, and the navy captain stepped back from the fray in an attempt to reload his gun. At that moment, one of Maynard's men broke free from his own furious struggle and slashed Teach across the neck.

Blackbeard was dead. Not long after, the fighting ceased. Maynard's men captured what remained of Teach's crew and examined their leader's body. They found five gunshot wounds and 20 severe cuts on his body.

In his life as a pirate, Edward Teach captured more than 50 ships and untold amounts of wealth. He is said to have buried a mound of treasure at an undisclosed location (although the only pirate known to have buried treasure rather than keep it with him was Captain Kidd). Blackbeard's story (such as the facts are) has been told in numerous books and films. His ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, was found in 1997, and objects rescued from it are now on display at the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

First page > A Legend Springs Up > Page 1, 2

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David White