"The hero of whom we are writing was thoroughly accomplished in his way, and some of his frolics of wickedness were as extravagant as if he aimed at making his men believe he was a devil incarnate... Black Beard!"
A native of Bristol (England), Edward Teach, - set upon going to Jamaica and sailed out of that port as part of many privateer crews during the French war. Bold and courageous, he proved himself worthy of a command in the eyes of one Captain Benjamin Hornigold, who, in his favor, gave Teach command of a prize during this period of the early 1700s.
Teach named his prize, "The Queen Anne's Revenge." Teach and his crew plundered about, at a time joining up with one Major Bonnet, and "these two men co-operated for some time." They weighed from Turniff, "where they remained during a week, and sailing to the bay, they found there a ship and four sloops. Teach hoisted his flag, and began to fire at them, upon which the captain and his men left their ship and fled to shore. Teach burned two of these sloops, and let the other three depart."
Afterwards, they sailed about, taking on two small vessels, and fell upon Charleston (SC) harbor for a few days. Here they pestered the trading ships traveling in and out of the harbor - capturing and seizing 5 ships. "The audacity of these transactions, performed in sight of the town, struck the inhabitants with terror, as they had been lately visited by some other notorious pirates... The trade of this place was totally interrupted, and the inhabitants were abandoned to despair. Their calamity was greatly augmented from this circumstance, that a long and desperate war with the natives had just terminated, when they began to be infested by these robbers."
Edward Teach was a man "shocking to all decency..."
Teach and his mates pillaged the ships of gold and provisions, muscled and conned the governor to give him medicines, and then sailed for North Carolina. His avarice now set in the thoughts of his mind, Edward reflected as to how he could secure the spoils of their plunder and sharing it with only a select group of his favorite mates.
He invented the following scheme - "Accordingly, under pretense of cleaning. he ran his vessel on shore, and grounded; then ordered the men in Hands' sloop (one of the two added ships) to come to his assistance, which they endeavoring to do, also ran aground, and so they were both lost. Then Teach went into the tender with forty hands, and upon a sandy island, about a league from shore, where there was neither bird nor beast, nor herb for their subsistence, he left seventeen of his crew, who must inevitably have perished, had not Major Bonnet received intelligence of their miserable situation, and sent a long-boat for them. After this barbarous deed, Teach, with the remainder of his crew, went and surrendered to the governor of North Carolina, retaining all the property which had been acquired by his fleet."
And from hence forth, it is said, that Captain Edward Teach was now called BLACK BEARD! "He derived this name from his long black beard, which, like a frightful meteor, covered his whole face, and terrified all America more than any comet that had ever appeared. He was accustomed to twist it with a ribbon in small quantities, and turn them about his ears... He stuck lighted matches under his hat, which appeared on both sides of his face and eyes, naturally fierce and wild, made him such a figure that the human imagination cannot form a conception of a fury more terrible and alarming... his actions corresponded with that character."
And this temporary suspension of depredations did not reform this man, quite the contrary, it prepared and groomed him for future exploits and allied him with the governor of North Carolina. This governor, no doubt acting not from a love or position of "civil service," but in fact possessed with a bit of "self service," and advantageously seeing profit through Black Beard's daring efforts, went as far as legally granting all rights to the "The Queen Anne's Revenge" to Black Beard... Thus, "By order of the governor, a court of vice-admiralty was held at Bath-town, and that vessel was condemned as a lawful prize which he (Black Beard) had taken from the Spaniards, though it was a well-known fact that she belonged to English merchants."
Black Beard sails for the Bermudas...
His first voyage as the now infamous, brutal, and wicked Black Beard, set a course for the Bermuda Islands. Here, He plundered and emptied two or three English vessels and two French vessels, returning quickly with one of the French vessels ladened with the booty to North Carolina to show off and share the prizes with the governor. Black Beard wanting this vessel, conspired with the governor to legally obtain her in a court, of which was duly called, and she was thus condemned, and legally handed over to Black Beard. As a payoff the governor received sixty hogsheads of sugar, his secretary twenty, and the other pirates the remainder.
Black Beard settles in Friendship...
Now being in the province of Friendship and in the river, he acquainted himself with the local planters and began trade with vessels traveling about the river. Naturally beset with an "entrepreneurial" mind, Black Beard would engage in lawful trade as long as terms met his fancy, appearing to be a gentleman of lawful commerce. But when terms did not suit his needs or humor, that piratical spirit would emerge, and he would rob at pleasure, and leave the merchants to seek redress from that honest governor. This scheme could only last so long before honest men of capital and trade tire from such activities, and seeing that any redress to the governor of North Carolina futile, the planters and merchants voiced their displeasure instead to the governor of Virginia.
Black Beard's time is drawing near...
Having an armed force of men-of-war lying in port, the Governor of Virginia consulted with it's captains. "It was resolved that the governor should hire two small vessels, which could pursue Black Beard into all the inlets and creeks: that they should be manned from the men-of-war, and the command given to Lieutenant Maynard, an experienced and resolute officer."
Black Beard was forewarned of this plot; however, Black Beard, not being convinced of this plot, was less attentive to the information, until...
And as such, the die was cast and it was put into action on or about November 17, 1717, Maynard would leave the James River in Virginia and on the eve of the 21st come in sight of Black Beard and his crew. With only twenty men aboard his vessel, Black Beard prepared to do battle! Not being able to logistically do battle at night in the vicinity of where Black Beard put down, Maynard set anchor and rested his men for the morning engagement.
Black Beard and his men however, being the hardened and insolent lot they were, spent the night drinking and "such was a desperate wickedness of this villain, that, it is reported, during the carousals of that night, one of his men asked him, 'In case anything should happen to him during the engagement with the two sloops which were waiting to attack him in the morning, whether his wife knew where he had buried his money?' when he impiously replied, 'That nobody but himself and the devil knew where it was, and the longest liver should take all.'"
"In the morning Maynard weighed, and sent his boat to sound, which coming near the pirate, received her fire."
Maynard hoisted the Royal colors and set upon directly towards Black Beard with every sail and oar! Black Beard hailed him rudely, "DAMN you for villains, who are you, and whence come you?" Maynard replied, "You may see from our colors we are no pirates." In response to Maynard's official claim, "Black Beard bade him send his boat on board, that he might see who he was. But Maynard replied, 'I cannot spare my boat, but I will come on board of you as soon as I can with my sloop.'
"I'll GIVE NO QUARTER NOR TAKE ANY FROM YOU!"...
Defiantly as ever, and as usual, Black Beard raised a glass of liquor and drank to Maynard, saying, "I'll GIVE NO QUARTER NOR TAKE ANY FROM YOU!" Maynard in agreement replied, "He expected no quarter from him, nor should he give him any."
"During this dialogue the pirate's ship floated, and the sloops were rowing with all expedition towards him. As she came near, the pirate fired a broadside, charged with all manner of small shot, which killed or wounded twenty men. Black Beard's ship in a little fell broadside to the shore; one of the sloops called the Ranger, also fell astern. But Maynard finding his own sloop had way, and would soon be on board of Teach, ordered all his men down, while himself and the man at the helm, who he commanded to lie concealed, were the only persons who remained on deck. He at the same time desired them to take their pistols, cutlasses, and swords, and be ready for action upon his call, and, for greater expedition, two ladders were placed in the hatchway. When the king's sloop boarded, the pirate's case-boxes, filled with powder, small shot, slugs, and pieces of lead and iron, with a quick-match in the mouth of them, were thrown into Maynard's sloop. Fortunately, however, the men being in the hold, they did small injury on the present occasion, though they are usually very destructive. Black Beard seeing few or no hands upon deck, cried to his men that they were all knocked on the head except three or four; 'and therefore,' said he, 'let us jump on board, and cut to pieces those that are alive.'"
"Maynard with twelve men, and Black Beard with fourteen... the sea was dyed with blood all around the vessel, and uncommon bravery was displayed upon both sides."...
The signal to Maynard's men was given upon the boarding of the sloop by Black Beard and his mates. Maynard and Black Beard exchanged shots. Maynard hit his mark and the pirate was wounded, but not deterred, and they engaged in a fierce sword fight. Maynard's sword broke, and as God's providence shined down upon him, and as the devil himself, Black Beard, set in for the kill, one of Maynard's men gave Black Beard a devastating blow to the neck and throat. Black Beard still persisted in the fight, being wounded by that first shot of Maynard and receiving twenty cuts or shots, fought on with valor... "but at length, when in the act of cocking his pistol, fell down dead." The devil was done. The remaining pirates, upon seeing this, quickly called out for quarter, and it was granted.
Maynard severed Black Beard's head from his body as a trophy for his victory, suspended it upon his bow-spirit-end, and sailed to Bath-town for provisions and medicine, and then on to the colony of Virginia...all the while the devil's head dangling in the breeze for all to gaze upon.
Excerpts in quotes where taken from "The Pirates Own Book - Authentic Narratives of the Most celebrated Sea Robbers" by Charles Ellms, originally published 1837.