Pirate Name) Blackbeard did exist and is reputed to have been the fiercest pirate
who ever lived. His real name is reported to be Edward Teach, though some
documents of the period suggest the pirate's true surname was Thatch. It
is widely believed that Blackbeard was born in England around 1680. Other
than that, even the most basic information about Blackbeard before he
launched his pirating career is either vague or unsubstantiated.
most renowned Blackbeard biographer was Captain Charles Johnson, who
described the pirate as having an extravagantly long black beard that came
up to his eyes. Johnson reported that Blackbeard would twist the beard
into tails, tie the tails with ribbons and then turn the tails toward his
ears. Johnson further states that when engaged in battle, Blackbeard wore
"a sling over his Shoulders; with three brace of Pistols, hanging in
Holsters like Bandoliers." Johnson was perhaps the first person to
describe the practice Blackbeard had of putting lit matches (lengths of
hemp cord dipped in lime and saltpeter) under his hat to give his face and
eyes an unnaturally fierce glow.
Blackbeard apparently used this hat trick along with many other
machinations to project an terrifying image. Biographers are unsure which
atrocities rumored to have been committed by Blackbeard are true and which
were merely circulated to enhance the pirate's notorious reputation.
Blackbeard began his nefarious career sometime after 1713 as a crewman
aboard a Jamaican sloop commanded by
Pirate Name) Benjamin Hornigold. In 1716,
Hornigold appointed Blackbeard to command a captured vessel, and the two
pirates formed an allegiance. Blackbeard went on to captain the flagship
(Pirate Ship) Queen Anne's Revenge. Using this ship, he and his crew terrorized
the coast from Trinidad to Maine. Though Blackbeard's solo career as a
pirate lasted only twenty-seven months (from 1716 to 1718), he is believed
to have amassed a great fortune and as many as fourteen wives.
In 1718, the governor of Virginia sent a naval expedition to attack
Blackbeard at his favorite hideout on Ocracoke Island, just south of Cape
Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. "Teach's Hole"
was a six-mile long trench between a sandbar and the Ocracoke Island. From
the "hole," Blackbeard could escape attack coming in from either
side by going toward the nearby inlet or evading capture by way of Pamlico
Sound. What Blackbeard had failed to count on was the possibility of two
attacking ships, and by using two ships, the navy caught
surprise. Cornered, the pirate and his crew fought mightily. Captain
Johnson reports that it took twenty-five wounds to
including five pistol balls, before he was dead. As King George I of
England had offered a reward for Blackbeard dead or alive, Lieutenant
Maynard (head of the naval expedition) cut off
Blackbeard's head and
anchored it on the bow of the ship--proof that the mighty
Blackbeard had been slain. His headless body was tossed overboard.