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Blackbeard the Pirate operated in littoral waters with shallow-bottomed ships; it was difficult for ships of the line to engage him in battle. As such, two smaller hired sloops were therefore put under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard , with instructions from Spotswood to hunt down and destroy Blackbeard, offering a reward of £100 ($189.40 USD), and smaller sums for the lesser crew members. Maynard sailed from James River on November 17, 1718, in command of thirty men from HMS Pearl , and twenty-five men and a midshipman of the HMS Lyme , and in command of the hired sloops, the Ranger and Jane (temporarily commissioned as His Majesty's Ships to avoid accusations of piracy themselves), and found the pirates in a North Carolina inlet anchored on the inner side of Ocracoke Island , on the evening of November 21. Maynard and his men decided to wait until the following morning because the tide would be more favourable. Blackbeard's Adventure had a crew of only nineteen, "Thirteen white and six Negroes", as reported to the Admiralty.
A small boat was sent ahead at daybreak, was fired upon, and quickly retreated. Blackbeard's superior knowledge of the inlet was of much help, although he and his crew had been drinking in his cabin the night prior. Throughout the night Blackbeard waited for Maynard to make his move. Blackbeard was asked by one of his crew, "If ye die on the morrow, does your wife, Mary, know where ye buried the treasure?" Blackbeard reputedly laughed and replied, "Damn ye, my friend, nobody but me and the Devil knows where it's hid — and the longest liver will get it all." Blackbeard cut his anchor cable and quickly attempted to move towards a narrow channel. Maynard made chase; however his sloops ran aground, and there was a shouted exchange between captains.
Maynard's account says, "At our first salutation, he drank Damnation to me and my Men, whom he stil'd Cowardly Puppies, saying, He would neither give nor take Quarter", although many different versions of the dialogue exist. Eventually, Maynard's sloops were able to float freely again, and he began to row towards Blackbeard, since the wind was not strong enough at the time for setting sail. When they came upon Blackbeard's Adventure , they were hit with a devastating broadside attack. Midshipman Hyde, captain of the smaller HMS Jane , was killed along with six other men. Ten men were also wounded in the surprise attack. The sloop fell astern and was little help in the following action. Maynard continued his pursuit in HMS Ranger , managing to blast the Adventure' s rigging, forcing it ashore. Maynard ordered many of his crew into the holds and readied to be boarded. As his ship approached, Blackbeard saw the mostly empty decks, assumed it was safe to board, and did so with ten men.
Maynard's men emerged, and the battle began. The most complete account of the following events comes from the Boston News Letter
Despite the best efforts of the pirates (including a desperate plan to blow up the Adventure ), Teach was killed, and the battle ended. Teach was reportedly shot five times and stabbed more than twenty times before he died and was decapitated. Such was the mythical status of the man, legends about his death immediately sprung up, including the oft-repeated claim that Teach's headless body, after being thrown overboard, swam 3 times around the Adventure before sinking. Teach's head was placed as a trophy on the bowsprit of the ship (it was also required by Maynard to claim his prize when he returned home).
History has romanticised Blackbeard. Many popular contemporary engravings show him with the smoking lit ends of his pigtails and the pistols stuck in his bandoliers , and he has been the subject of books, movies, and documentaries. There is a Blackbeard Festival in Hampton, Virginia every year and the crew of the modern day British warship HMS Ranger commemorate his defeat at the annual Sussex University Royal Naval Unit Blackbeard Night mess dinner in November.
Teach never actually acquired a large fortune, and when his ship and all of its cargo was sold, the earnings were a mere £2,500 ($4,735 USD). There is also no significant evidence supporting the claims that Teach was prone to burying treasure. In times as desperate and difficult as the American Revolution , it was common for the ignorant, credulous, and desperate to dig along these banks in search of hidden treasures; impostors found an ample basis in these rumours for schemes of delusion.
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|¤ Blackbeard died a painful death. His legacy lives on today as he is still very popular.
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