Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Blackbeard's Ghost


The Ghost of Edward Teach.

Written for
 “Talk like a Pirate Day” 2012
Allen Tiller

It is recorded that Pirates have sailed the seven seas since the 14th century B.C. When the Lukka Sea Raiders plundered the coasts of Asia Minor.
Many a vessel and many a pirate have plundered, pillaged and died since those times, and still pirates operate off the coasts of Africa in modern times.
Through the centuries, many Kings, Queens and Governments have fought to fight the scourge of the sea pirate, a group of outlaw men not unlike today’s Motorcycle clubs, having their own code of conduct, their own vessels and their own Captain.
Many Pirates have become famous in their time, Laurens de Graff, Black Bart, Captain Spriggs,The Barbossa Brothers and the aptly named Benjamin Hornigold, but no name struck more fear of the American coast than the name “Blackbeard

“Blackbeard” a ferocious pirate, who many a sailor thought was the devil incarnate, was a tall, fierce looking individual. He burnt lengths of twisted hemp attached to his beard and his hat when he went into battle, enveloping his face in a cloud of black smoke.
He wore a long black cloak, had pistols attached to him in a sling, pistols and daggers in his belt and in his scabbard a shiny silver cutless.
Blackbeards standard (flag) had pictures of the devil, or a horned skeleton holding a spear, an hourglass and a bleeding heart. His standard was feared, possiblly more so than the standard pirate flag, “The Jolly Roger”.
Blackbeards Standard

Who was “Blackbeard”?

Circa 1680, the man, later to become known as “Blackbeard” was born "Edward Teach"  in Bristol England. It is speculated that in his early years he may have sailed upon privateer ships in the period of Queen Anne's War, or the “War of the Spanish Succession” as it is sometimes known, which waged from 1702 to 1713 off the coasts of North America – this war was a battle of the “Superpowers” of the time, it involved The Spanish, The French, The English, The Dutch, The Portuguese and the Indians.
Edward came to settle at some point on the Caribbean island of New Providence sometime around 1716. It was here that Teach met his employer, Captain Benjamin Hornigold, who put Edward in charge of his own sloop, and led him out to sea to begin his life as a pirate.

The two engaged in numerous violent acts of piracy, plundering and pillaging in the Caribbean seas. Soon their flotilla took in two more ships, one Captained by Stede Bonnet.
The mens ships plundered the seas until the end of 1717, when Captain Hornigold retired from Piracy, taking two ships with him, and was pardoned by the new Governor in the Caribbean, who instated him as a “Pirate Hunter”.
Teach continued to sail as a pirate, and caught a French merchant vessel, which he renamed “Queen Anne’s Revenge”. He fitted the ship with 40 cannon and began to light hemp fuses in his beard and hat when he fought, and thus a legend was born...

Pirate Captain Stede Bonnet
Teach formed an alliance with other pirates in the area and blockaded the Port of Charleston in South Carolina, he successfully plundered and held to ransom the town, then set sail. His men desperately needed medicines so Teach kidnapped a councilman and his son and held them for ransom until a chest of medicine was delivered too him.

He parted company with Bonnet around this time, and settled for some time in Bath Town, Beaufort County, North Carolina, where he was pardoned for his crimes.
But, you cant keep a good...or bad...pirate down, and soon Teach was again sailing the seas in his pirate clothes, this time attracting the attention of the Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood.
Spotswood set about to capture Blackbeard and bring him to justice, on the 22 of November 1718 a party of soldiers and sailors set forth under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard.
Maynard’s crew were successful in their capture of Blackbeard and crew and killed the pirate and his men.
Blackbeard is remembered as a ferocious and blood-thristy pirate, but it seems these accounts may indeed be wrong.
Lieutenant Robert Maynard
Recent documentation suggests Blackbeard was purely a pirate for the money, and wasnt interested in murdering anyone.
It is said, that he was a cool and calculated man, who worked out his fearsome image would be enough to make most men surrender their belongings to him easily, without a fight. In the Pirate seas reputation was everything!

It is also said he only Captained his ships with the permission of his crew and that there is no known account of him ever harming or murdering any of his captives.
Blackbeard, it is claimed, was a lover not a fighter and is thought to have had more than a dozen wives. A “Casanova” of his time and region, he made each one feel special, as if she was his first and only love, until he spotted the next one.

The Battle.

Blackbeards ship was well armed, a frightening sight to many at sea, but in Maynard he found a cunning foe.
Maynard, upon spotting and setting sail towards Blackbeards ship, ordered the majority of his men below deck, and readied them for in close hand to hand combat.
As was expected by Maynard, when Blackbeard was close enough, he and his men boarded Maynards vessel, it was at this time that Maynards men burst out of their hiding place, guns firing, swords swinging and surprised Blackbeard and his men.
 The two crews fought across the deck of the ship, a deck covered already in blood from Blackbeards guns, killing men as he came up alongside on his ship.
The two Captains, Blackbeard and Maynard, fired their guns at each other, before throwing them to the side, both drew their swords and started to fight, but Maynards sword was weak, and Blackbeard's cutlass broke it in one easy swing.
As Maynard pulled back to fire another gun, Blackbeard moved in to strike him down with his Cutlass, but, one of Maynards men struck Blackbeard across the neck with his own sword, mortally wounding the pirate.

Blackbeards Skull
Blackbeard was stabbed 20 times, and shot 5 times before collapsing in his own blood upon the deck of the “Jane”, Maynard's Vessel.
The remaining pirates surrendered with the death of their Captain.
Blackbeard was decapitated, his corpse thrown into the sea and his head suspended from the bowsprit of the Maynards Sloop

The Curse of Blackbeard

Pirate tradition, according to legend, states that when a pirate buries his treasure, one of the crew must be buried with it to guard the treasure from looters and plunderers. Blackbeard's booty was buried in Burlington New Jersey, under a black walnut tree, and with it, the body a Spaniard and a dog.
It has long been said, that when people dig for Blackbeard's bounty, and are near the treasure, a spectre of a man, with glowing glaring eyes, and a dark dog beside him, appear to scare them away and protect their Captains horde.
Another of Blackbeard's treasure chests is alleged to sit off the coast of Maryland, protected by a curse placed upon it, that only he who sunk it, may rise it again, it is alleged that many have died at sea trying to salvage the treasure..

The Ghost of Edward “Blackbeard” Teach

Blackbeards death, as we read earlier, was a brutal and bloody affair, and of which many legends have been told.
The soldiers who killed Blackbeard were said to tell stories of how, once he had been decapitated and his body thrown into the sea, that the body swam three times around the ship before sinking into the depths, and all the while, his head screamed like a Banshee.
Over the years since his death his glowing phosphorescent body has been seen swimming amongst the waves by many a local fisherman, around in circles he goes, perhaps marking the spot of his defeat.
A Cannon from "Queen Annes Revenge" Blackbeards Ship
 Many a fisherman has reported seeing Blackbeards headless body walking out of the ocean, holding a glowing lamp walking onto the shore, searching for his body, the animated corpse leaves behind him no footprints and no trace.
Blackbeard is also said to haunt North Carolina's beaches and the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays wetlands, where it is rumoured some of his treasure may lay awaiting his return.
The Anchor from "Queen Anne's Revenge"
It is said Blackbeard will never rest, that he will always guard his treasure, and appear whenever someone gets too close to finding it, and frightening them off, thus, forever protecting his loot from other pirates!
Blackbeard has also been spotted in a cove at Ocracoke Island, locally known as “Blackbeards Hole”, is there possibly a treasure hidden somewhere in the cove?
The locals sometimes refer to Blackbeard's Ghost, as “Teachs Light” a reference made to his real name and the burning lantern he holds whilst searching for his missing head....

Even now, Blackbeards voice can be heard floating on the coastal winds, "Thar be plunderin an lootin to do ya scurvy dogs"

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