Blackbeard History on the Coast

Blackbeard History on the Coast

North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort

Blackbeard’s tale begins when he was known as Edward Teach. Serving as a sailor on a privateer – a government contracted warship – he earned a reputation for being bold and fearless in battle. In 1716, after the war, Teach, like so many other privateers, turned to piracy.

By 1717, the first reports of Blackbeard – a fearless pirate captain who twisted and tied his long black beard into tails, stuffed lit cannon fuses into his beard and under his hat and had supposedly made a pact with the devil – appeared. As his pirate fleet grew, so did his reputation, but in late 1717 he captured a French slave ship, armed it with 40 guns, renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge and began a yearlong reign of terror across the Caribbean and along the North Carolina coast.

During 1718, word of a pardon reached Blackbeard and he headed to Bath to investigate. Along the way, the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground in the Beaufort Inlet, so he divided his loot, crew and ships, and settled briefly in Bath after accepting his pardon. By mid-summer, he accepted a commission as a privateer, but honest life didn’t last long and he returned to piracy aboard a new sloop.

This return to piracy was his last, and in November 1718, he met his fate at the hands of the crew of Robert Maynard. Reportedly, Blackbeard was shot five times, stabbed more than 20 and nearly beheaded before he succumbed to his wounds. Maynard finished the job and mounted Blackbeard’s head on the bowsprit of his ship before heading home to collect his reward for killing the pirate.

Today, visitors can see the remnants of the Queen Anne’s Revenge at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, where one-third of the exhibit space is dedicated to the pirate who also called Beaufort home for a time. On display are relics from the wrecked ship, including plates, hull fragments, cannon, cannonballs, assorted weapons, a complete wine bottle, glass beads and other items. More artifacts, including the ship’s 3,000-pound anchor, are undergoing conservation efforts at the QAR Conservation Lab at East Carolina University in Greenville.

In Beaufort, you can also see the home he had there, the Hammock House, and learn more about his exploits in the area on the Beaufort Ghost Walk Tour.

On Ocracoke Island, take a look at Teach’s Hole, the inlet where Blackbeard met his fate, then visit the pirate-centric gift shop by the same name. Teach’s Hole has a life-size display of Blackbeard as well as scale models of Queen Anne’s Revenge and impressive exhibits detailing Blackbeard’s life and the lives of other notable pirates.

Visit Bath and look for the ghost of Blackbeard near his old home site at Teach’s Point, better known as Plum Point. Rumor has it, the ruins of a structure there are the remnants of Blackbeard’s house. Across the bay lived Governor Charles Eden, who pardoned Blackbeard, and many people have reported seeing a ball of fire sail back and forth across the bay. Many say it’s the ghost of Blackbeard searching for his head.

Jason Frye

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