In April 1713 the War of the Spanish Succession came to an end. During the conflict hundreds of privateers - licenced pirates - preyed on enemy shipping throughout the Caribbean. These privateers now found themselves out of a job, and many turned to piracy. One of theme was Edward Teach - more popularly known as "Blackbeard."
He joined the pirates in New Providence (now Nassau) in the Bahamas, and by early 1717 he had become a pirate captain. From then on he caused havoc off the North American seaboard, in the West Indies and off Honduras, before appearing off Charleston, South Carolina in May 1718. He blockaded this major port for a week, an act that made Blackbeard the most notorious pirate of his day.
He then "downsized" - deliberately running his flagship aground near Beaufort, North Carolina, before sailing north in a small sloop to seek a pardon from the colony's governor, Charles Eden. For late June onwards, Blackbeard lived in the colony's tiny capital of Bath Town, and pretended to have turned his changed his ways. However, he also established a den on nearby Ocracoke Island in North Carolina's outer banks, and used this as a base for pirate forays into the waters of the Virginia and Delaware. He then used Bath Town as a clearing house for his plunder.
In the neighbouring colony of Virginia, Governor Alexander Spotswood decided to take action. Two British warships were anchored in Virginia's James River, and he and their captains began planning a raid - an attack designed to deal with Blackbeard once and all.
In November 1718 Lieutenant Maynard was sent south down the coast with two hired sloops, and orders to seek out and destroy Blackbeard's sloop, the Adventure. At the same time a land expedition was mounted, led by Captain Brandt of the Royal Navy. His men "invaded" North Carolina, and marched on Bath Town, hoping to corner the pirates and capture their stockpile of plunder.
On Friday 22nd November the sloops Ranger and Jane rounded Ocracoke Island, and attacked the Adventure. In the small but hard-fought action that followed Blackbeard's vessel was boarded, and the pirate captain was slain. While Maynard sailed home to Virginia with Blackbeard's severed head hanging from his bowsprit, Captain Brandt seized Bath Town, captured what pirates still remained at large, and then headed back in triumph to Williamsburg with his prisoners. Most of them would be hanged before the year was out. The attack on Blackbeard's lair was the largest anti-piracy operation of the "Golden Age of Piracy," and a textbook example of how to deal with the scourge of piracy.
About the Author
ANGUS KONSTAM is a widely published and respected military and naval historian, with numerous books to his credit. A former Royal Naval officer, maritime archaeologist and museum curator, he holds degrees from three universities, including a Masters degree from St. Andrews. Before that he studied Scottish Medieval history in Aberdeen University. He is the author of several major books, including Historical Atlas of the Medieval World, Historical Atlas of the Crusades, books about pirates, Renaissance ships and the Scottish soldier. He has given numerous public lectures in Britain, as well as in Europe and North America, and his work has been translated into several languages.He is frequently interviewed by the press in his capacity as a maritime historian, and has appeared live on both television and radio. He also made frequent appearances in television documentaries screened by the BBC and ITV, as well as the History and Discovery Channels.1.
Mark Stacey and Angela Gonzalez-Hevia have now retired from a lifetime of teaching Spanish to adults at all levels and divide their time between the United Kingdom and Spain.