|c. 1680 – 22 November 1718|
|Place of birth:||(presumed) Bristol, England|
|Place of death:||Ocracoke, Province of North Carolina|
|Base of operations:||Atlantic|
|Commands:||Queen Anne's Revenge, Adventure|
Edward Teach or Edward Thatch (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies during the early 18th century.
Teach was most likely born in Bristol. Little is known about his early life, but in 1716 he joined the crew of Benjamin Hornigold, a pirate who operated from the Caribbean island of New Providence. He quickly acquired his own ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, and from 1717 to 1718 became a feared pirate. His cognomen was derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance; he was reported to have tied lit fuses under his hat to frighten his enemies.
After separating from Hornigold, Teach formed an alliance of pirates, and with his cohorts blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina. After successfully ransoming the port's inhabitants, he ran his ship aground and then accepted a royal pardon. He was soon back at sea, and attracted the attention of the Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood. Spotswood arranged for a party of soldiers and sailors to find and capture the pirate, which they did on 22 November 1718. During a ferocious battle, Teach was killed by a small force of sailors led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.
A shrewd and calculating leader, Teach used his fearsome image instead of force to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. Contrary to the modern-day image of the traditional tyrannical pirate, he commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews, and there are no known accounts of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive. He was romanticised after his death, and became the inspiration for a number of pirate-themed works of fiction across a range of genres.
Little is known about Blackbeard's early life. It is commonly believed that at the time of his death he was between 35 and 40, and thus born in about 1680. In contemporary records his name is most often given as Blackbeard, Edward Thatch, or Edward Teach, and it is the latter which today is most often used, but several spellings of his surname exist—Thatch, Thach, Thache, Thack, Tack, Thatche, and Theach. One early claim was that his surname was Drummond, but the lack of any supporting documentation makes this unlikely. It was the custom of pirates to use fictitious surnames while engaging in the business of piracy, so as not to tarnish the family name, and Teach's real name will likely never be known.
The 17th-century rise of England's American colonies and the rapid 18th-century expansion of the Atlantic slave trade had made Bristol an important international sea port, and Teach was most likely raised in what was the second-largest city in England. Teach could almost certainly read and write; he communicated with merchants, and on his death had in his possession a letter addressed to him by the Chief Justice and Secretary of the Province of Carolina, Tobias Knight. The author Robert Lee speculated that Teach may therefore have been born into a respectable, wealthy family. Teach may have arrived in the Caribbean in the last years of the 17th century, on a merchant vessel (possibly a slave ship). The 18th-century author Charles Johnson claimed that Teach was for some time a sailor operating from Jamaica on privateer ships during Queen Anne's War, and that "he had often distinguished himself for his uncommon boldness and personal courage". At what point during the war Teach joined the fighting is, like most of his life before he became a pirate, unknown.
With its history of colonialism, trade, and piracy, the West Indies was the setting for a great many maritime incidents during the 17th and 18th centuries. The privateer-turned-pirate Henry Jennings and his followers had early in the 18th century decided to use the then empty island of New Providence as a base for their operations; the island was within easy reach of the Florida Strait and its busy shipping lanes filled with European vessels going to and from Europe. New Providence's harbour could easily accommodate hundreds of ships, and was too shallow for the Royal Navy's larger vessels to navigate. The island then was not the popular tourist destination it later became; the author George Woodbury described it as "no city of homes; it was a place of temporary sojourn and refreshment for a literally floating population," continuing, "The only permanent residents were the piratical camp followers, the traders, and the hangers-on; all others were transient." Law and order were unheard of; in New Providence the pirates found a welcome respite.
Teach was one of those who came to enjoy the island's benefits. Probably shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht he moved there from Jamaica, and along with most of those who had been privateers during the war became involved in piracy. Possibly about 1716, Teach joined the crew of Captain Benjamin Hornigold, a renowned pirate who operated from New Providence's safe waters. In 1716, Hornigold placed Teach in charge of a sloop he had taken as a prize. In early 1717, Hornigold and Teach, each captaining a sloop, set out for the mainland. They captured a boat from Havana which carried 120 barrels of flour, and shortly thereafter took 100 barrels of wine from a sloop from Bermuda. A few days later they stopped a vessel sailing from Madeira to Charleston, South Carolina. Teach and his quartermaster, William Howard, may at this time have been struggling to control their crews. By now they had probably developed a taste for Madeira wine, and on 29 September near Cape Charles all they took from the Betty of Virginia was her cargo of Madeira, before they scuttled her with the remaining cargo.
It was during this cruise with Hornigold that the earliest known report of Teach was made—recorded as a pirate in his own right, and in command of a large crew. In a report made by a Captain Mathew Munthe on an anti-piracy patrol for North Carolina, "Thatch" was described as operating "a sloop 6 gunns [sic] and about 70 men". In September Teach and Hornigold encountered Stede Bonnet. A landowner and military officer from a wealthy family, he had turned to piracy earlier that year but his crew of about 70 were reportedly dissatisfied with his command. With Bonnet's permission, Teach took control of his ship Revenge. The pirate flotilla now consisted of three ships; Teach on Revenge, accompanied by his old sloop, and Hornigold's Ranger. By October, another vessel had been captured and added to the small fleet. The sloops Robert of Philadelphia and Good Intent of Dublin were stopped on 22 October 1717, and their cargo holds emptied.
As a former British privateer, Hornigold attacked only his former enemies. For his crew, the sight of British vessels filled with valuable cargo passing by unharmed became too much, and at some point toward the end of 1717 Hornigold was demoted. Whether Teach had any involvement in this decision is unknown, but Hornigold soon retired from piracy. Hornigold took with him Ranger and one of the sloops, leaving Teach with Revenge and the remaining sloop. The two pirates never met again, and along with many of the other occupants of New Providence, Hornigold accepted the King's pardon from Woodes Rogers in June the following year.
On 28 November Teach's two ships attacked a French merchant vessel off the coast of Saint Vincent. They each fired a broadside across its bulwarks, killing several of its crew, and forcing its captain to surrender. The ship turned out to be La Concorde of Saint-Malo, a large French guineaman carrying a cargo of slaves. Teach and his crews sailed the vessel south along Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to Bequia, where they disembarked her crew and cargo, and converted the ship for their own use. The smaller of Teach's two sloops was left for the crew of La Concorde, who renamed her Mauvaise Recontre (Bad Meeting) and sailed for Martinique. Teach may have recruited some of the slaves, but the remainder were left on the island and were later recaptured by the returning crew of Mauvaise Recontre.
Blackbeard, as pictured by Benjamin Cole in the second edition of Charles Johnson's General HistorieTeach immediately renamed La Concorde as Queen Anne's Revenge, and equipped her with 40 guns. In late November he attacked the Great Allen, near Saint Vincent. Teach forced the large and well-armed merchant ship to surrender after a lengthy engagement. He ordered the Great Allen to move closer to the shore, disembarked her crew, and emptied her cargo holds. The ship was then burned and sunk. The incident was chronicled in the Boston News Letter, which described Teach as in command of a "French ship of 32 Guns, a Briganteen of 10 guns and a Sloop of 12 guns." When or where Teach collected the ten gun Briganteen is unknown, but by this time it is estimated he was in command of at least 150 men, split between three vessels.
On 5 December 1717 Teach stopped the merchant sloop Margaret off the coast of Crab Island, near Anguilla. Captain Henry Bostock and his crew remained Teach's prisoners for about eight hours, and were forced to watch as their sloop was ransacked. Bostock, who had been held unharmed aboard Queen Anne's Revenge, was returned to Margaret, and was allowed to leave with his crew. He returned to his base of operations on Saint Christopher Island, and reported the matter to Governor Walter Hamilton, who requested that he sign an affidavit explaining the encounter. Bostock's deposition details Teach's command of two vessels: a sloop, and a large French guineaman, Dutch-built, with 36 cannon and a crew of 300 men. The captain believed that the larger ship carried valuable gold dust, silver plate, and "a very fine cup" supposedly taken from the commander of Great Allen. Teach's crew informed Bostock that they had destroyed several other vessels, and that they intended to sail to Hispaniola and lie in wait for an expected Spanish armada, supposedly laden with money to pay the garrisons. Teach questioned Bostock about the movements of local ships, but seemed unsurprised when Bostock told him of an expected royal pardon from London for all pirates. So our Heroe, Captain Teach, assumed the Cognomen of Black-beard, from that large Quantity of Hair, which, like a frightful Meteor, covered his whole Face, and frightened America more than any Comet that has appeared there a long Time. This Beard was black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant Length; as to Breadth, it came up to his Eyes; he was accustomed to twist it with Ribbons, in small Tails, after the Manner of our Ramilies Wiggs, and turn them about his Ears “”Charles JohnsonBostock's deposition describes Teach as a "tall spare man with a very black beard which he wore very long". This provides the first recorded account of Teach's appearance, and is the source of his cognomen, Blackbeard Later descriptions mention that his thick black beard was braided into pigtails, and sometimes tied in with small coloured ribbons. Johnson (1724) described Teach as "such a figure that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury from hell to look more frightful." Whether Johnson's description of Teach was entirely truthful or embellished is unclear, but it seems likely that Teach understood the value of appearances; better to strike fear into the heart of one's enemies, than rely on bluster alone. Teach was tall, with broad shoulders. He wore knee-length boots and dark clothing, topped with a wide hat, and sometimes a long coat of brightly-coloured silk or velvet. Johnson also described Teach in times of battle as wearing "a sling over his shoulders, with three brace of pistols, hanging in holsters, like bandoliers; and struck lighted matches under his hat", the latter apparently to emphasise the fearsome appearance he wished to present to his enemies. Despite his ferocious reputation, there are no verified accounts of his ever having murdered or harmed those he held captive. Teach may also have used other aliases; on 30 November, the Monserrat Merchant encountered two ships and a sloop, commanded by a Captain Kentish and Captain Edwards (the latter a known alias of Stede Bonnet).
Enlargement of Teach's fleetEdit
Teach's movements from late 1717 to early 1718 are a mystery. He and Bonnet were probably responsible for an attack off Sint Eustatius in December 1717. Henry Bostock claimed to have heard the pirates say they would head toward the Spanish-controlled Samaná Bay in Hispaniola, but a cursory search revealed no pirate activity. Captain Hume of HMS Scarborough reported on 6 February that a "Pyrate Ship of 36 Guns and 250 men, and a Sloop of 10 Guns and 100 men were Said to be Cruizing amongst the Leeward Islands". Hume reinforced his crew with musket-armed soldiers and joined up with HMS Seaford to track the two ships, to no avail. They did however discern that the two ships had sunk a French vessel off St Christopher Island, and reported also that they had last been seen "gone down the North side of Hispaniola". Although no confirmation exists that these two ships were controlled by Teach and Bonnet, author Angus Konstam believes it very likely they were.
In March 1718, while taking on water at Turneffe Island east of Belize, both ships spotted Adventure (a sloop from Jamaica) making for the harbour. The sloop was quickly stopped and its captain, David Harriot, invited to join the pirates. Harriot and his crew agreed, and Teach sent over a crew to run Adventure. They sailed for the Bay of Honduras, where they added another ship and four sloops to their flotilla. On 9 April Teach's enlarged fleet of ships looted and burnt Protestant Caesar. His fleet then sailed to Grand Cayman where they captured a "small turtler". Teach probably sailed toward Havana, where he may have captured a small Spanish vessel that had left the Cuban port. They then sailed to the wrecks of the 1715 Spanish fleet, off the western coast of Florida. There he disembarked the crew of the captured Spanish sloop, before proceeding north to the port of Charleston, South Carolina, attacking three vessels along the way.
Blockade of CharlestonEdit
Toward the end of May 1718, Teach's flotilla of ships blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina. By now he had awarded himself the rank of Commodore, and was at the height of his power. All vessels entering or leaving the port were stopped. Charleston (known then as Charles Town) had no Guard ship, and its pilot boat was the first to be captured. Over the next five or six days, about nine vessels were stopped and ransacked as they attempted to sail past Charleston Bar, where Teach's fleet was anchored. One of these, headed for London with a group of prominent Charleston citizens which included Samuel Wragg (a member of the Council of the Province of Carolina), was the Crowley. Its passengers were questioned about the vessels still in port, before being locked below decks for about half a day. Teach informed the prisoners that his fleet required medical supplies from the colonial government of South Carolina, and that if none were forthcoming all the prisoners would be executed, their heads sent to the Governor, and that all captured ships would be burnt.
Wragg agreed to Teach's demands. A Mr. Marks and two pirates were given two days to collect the drugs, and Teach moved his fleet, and the captured ships, about five or six leagues from land. After three days, a messenger, sent by Marks, returned to the fleet; Marks's boat had capsized and delayed their arrival in Charleston. Teach granted a reprieve of two days, but still the party did not return. Teach called a meeting of his fellow sailors, and eight ships were moved into the harbour. General panic within the town ensued, before Marks's small boat finally approached the fleet. Marks had presented the pirates' demands to the Governor, and the drugs were quickly gathered. Marks's escort had not been so easy to find; they had been busy drinking with friends and were finally discovered, drunk.
Teach kept to his side of the bargain, and released the captured ships and his prisoners—albeit relieved of their valuables, including the fine clothing worn by some of them.
Whilst at Charleston, Teach had learnt that Woodes Rogers had left England with several men-of-war, with orders to purge the West Indies of pirates. Teach's flotilla of ships sailed northward along the Atlantic coast, and into Topsail Inlet (commonly known as Beaufort Inlet), on the coast of North Carolina, to careen the ships for the purpose of scraping their hulls. Queen Anne's Revenge ran aground on a sandbar, cracking her main-mast and severely damaging many of her timbers. Teach then ordered several sloops to throw ropes across the flagship in an attempt to free her from the obstruction. One of the sloops, commanded by Israel Hands of Adventure, also ran aground; both vessels appeared to be damaged beyond repair,leaving only Revenge and the captured Spanish sloop.
Teach had at some stage learnt of the offer of a royal pardon, and probably confided in Bonnet that he intended to accept it. The pardon was open to all pirates who surrendered on or before 5 September 1718, but contained a caveat which stipulated that immunity was offered only against crimes committed before 5 January. Although in theory this left Bonnet and Teach at risk of hanging for their actions at Charleston Bar, most authorities could waive such conditions. Teach thought that Governor Charles Eden was a man he could trust, but to make sure he waited to see what would happen to another captain. Bonnet left immediately for Bath Town on a small sailing boat where he surrendered to Governor Eden and received his pardon. He then travelled back to Beaufort Inlet to collect the Revenge and the remainder of his crew, intending to sail to Saint Thomas Island where he would receive his commission. Unfortunately for him, Teach had stripped the vessel of all its valuables and provisions, and marooned its crew; Bonnet set out for revenge, but was unable to find him. He and his crew returned to piracy, and were captured on 27 September 1718 at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. All but four of those caught were later tried and hanged in Charleston. The captured Revenge was later included in a fleet of ships commanded by the Governor of South Carolina, which made a ferocious attack on a group of pirates near the entrance to Charleston Harbour, resulting in the execution of 49 pirates inside a month. Their bodies were hung in gibbets near White Point.
The author Robert Lee surmised that Teach and Hands ran both ships aground on purpose, to reduce the crew compliment of the fleet and therefore increase their share of the spoils. During the trial of Bonnet's crew Revenge's boatswain Ignatius Pell testified that "the ship was run ashore and lost, which Thatch [Teach] caused to be done." Lee also considers it plausible that Teach let Bonnet in on his plan, which was to accept a pardon from Governor Eden. He suggested Bonnet do the same, and consider taking a privateer's commission from England in prospect of a threatened war between the Quadruple Alliance of 1718 and Spain. Teach offered Bonnet the return of his ship, Revenge.Konstam (2007) proposes a similar idea, explaining that Teach began to see Queen Anne's Revenge as something of a liability; while anchored, news of a pirate fleet would be sent to neighbouring towns and colonies, and any vessels nearby would delay sailing. It was prudent therefore for Teach not to linger for too long, although wrecking the ship was a somewhat extreme measure.
A map of the area around Ocracoke Inlet, 1775Before sailing northward on his remaining sloop to Ocracoke Inlet, Teach marooned about 25 men (presumably they had guessed their captain's plans, and had protested; they were rescued two days later by Bonnet) on a small sandy island about a league from the mainland. He continued on to Bath, where in June 1718—only days after Bonnet had departed with his pardon—he and his much-reduced crew received their pardon from Governor Eden.
Teach settled in Bath, on the eastern side of Bath Creek at Plum Point, near the home of Eden. During July and August he travelled between his base in the town and his sloop off Ocracoke. Johnson's account stated that he married the daughter of a local plantation owner, although his is the only known evidence for this. Eden gave Teach permission to sail to St Thomas to seek a commission as a privateer (a useful way of removing bored and troublesome pirates from the small settlement), and Teach was given official title to his remaining sloop, which he renamed Adventure. By the end of August, Teach had returned to piracy, and in the same month the Governor of Pennsylvania issued a warrant for his arrest, but by this time Teach was probably operating in Delaware Bay, some distance from the colony. Teach then took two French ships leaving the Caribbean, moved one crew across to the other, and took the remaining ship back to Ocracoke. In September 1718 he told Eden that he had found the French ship at sea, deserted. A Vice Admiralty Court was quickly convened, presided over by Tobias Knight and the Collector of Customs. The ship was judged as a derelict found at sea, 20 hogsheads of sugar were awarded to Knight, and sixty to Eden; Teach and his crew were given the rest of the boat's cargo.
Ocracoke Inlet was Teach's favourite anchorage. It was a perfect location from which to view ships travelling between the settlements of northeast Carolina, and it was from this vantage point that Teach first spotted the approaching ship of another English pirate, Charles Vane. Vane had rejected the pardon brought by Woodes Rogers, and escaped the men-of-war the English Captain brought with him to Nassau, on 26 July 1718. He had also been pursued by Benjamin Hornigold (Teach's old commander, now turned pirate-hunter). The two captains spent several nights on the southern tip of Ocracoke Island, accompanied by such notorious figures as Israel Hands, Robert Deal, and Calico Jack.
News of Teach and Vane's impromptu party spread throughout the neighbouring colonies, worrying the Governor of Pennsylvania enough to send out two sloops to capture the pirates. They were unsuccessful, but Governor of Virginia Alexander Spotswood was also concerned that the supposedly retired freebooter and his crew were living in nearby North Carolina. Some of Teach's former crew had already moved to several Virginian seaport towns, and on 10 July 1718 Spotswood had issued a proclamation requiring all former pirates to make themselves known to the authorities, to give up their arms, and to not travel in groups larger than three. As head of a Crown colony, Spotswood viewed the proprietary colony of North Carolina with contempt; he had little faith in the ability of the Carolinans to control the pirates, who he suspected would be back to their old ways, disrupting Virginian commerce, as soon as their money ran out.
Spotswood learnt that the former quartermaster of Queen Anne's Revenge, William Howard, was in the area, and believing that he might know of Teach's whereabouts, had the pirate and his two slaves arrested. However, Spotswood had no legal authority to have pirates tried, and Howard's attorney, John Holloway, brought charges against Captain Brand of HMS Lyme (where Howard was imprisoned). He also sued on Howard's behalf for damages of £500, claiming wrongful arrest.
Spotswood's council claimed that Teach's presence was a crisis, and thus under a statute of William III the governor was entitled to try Howard without a jury present. The charges referred to several acts of piracy supposedly committed after the cut-off date of the pardon, in "a sloop belonging to ye subjects of the King of Spain", but ignored the fact that they took place outside Spotswood's jurisdiction, and in a vessel now legally owned. Another charge cited two attacks, one of which was the capture of a slave ship off Charleston Bar from which one of Howard's slaves was presumed to have come. Howard was sent to await trial before a Court of Vice-Admiralty on the charge of piracy, but Captain Brand and his colleague, Captain Gordon (of HMS Pearl) refused to serve with Holloway present. Incensed, Holloway had no option but to stand down, and was replaced by the Attorney General of Virginia, John Clayton, who Spotswood described as "an honester man [than Holloway]". Howard was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, but was however saved by a commission from London which directed Spotswood to pardon all acts of piracy committed by surrendering pirates before 23 July 1718.
Meanwhile, Spotswood had obtained from Howard valuable information on Teach's whereabouts and planned to send his forces across the border into North Carolina to capture him. Spotswood gained the support of two men keen to discredit North Carolina's Governor—Edward Moseley and Colonel Maurice Moore. He also wrote to the Lords of Trade, suggesting that the Crown might benefit financially from Teach's capture. Spotswood personally financed the operation, possibly believing that Teach had fabulous treasures hidden away. He ordered Captains Gordon and Brand of HMS Pearl and HMS Lyme to travel overland to Bath. Robert Maynard of HMS Pearl would take charge of two commandeered sloops, and approach the town from the sea.Extra incentive for Teach's capture was given by the offer of a reward from the Assembly of Virginia, over and above any that might be received from the Crown.
Lieutenant Maynard took command of the two armed sloops on 17 November. He was given 57 men—33 from HMS Pearl and 24 from HMS Lyme. Maynard and the detachment from HMS Pearl took the larger of the two vessels and named her Jane; the rest took Ranger, commanded by one of Maynard's officers, a Mister Hyde. Some of the civilian crews of the two ships remained aboard. They sailed out from Kecoughtan, along the James River, on 17 November. The two sloops moved slowly, to allow Brand's force time to reach Bath. Brand set out for North Carolina six days later, arriving within three miles of Bath on 23 November. They had with them Colonel Moore and Captain Jeremiah Vail, along with a number of other North Carolinians, to dissuade the locals from objecting to the presence of foreign soldiers. Moore went into the town to see if Teach was there, and reported back that he was not, but was expected at "every minute." Brand then went to Governor Eden's home, and informed him of his purpose. The next day, Brand sent two canoes down Pamlico River to Ocracoke Inlet, to see if Teach could be seen. They returned two days later, and reported on what had transpired.
Lieutenant Maynard found the pirates anchored on the inner side of Ocracoke Island, on the evening of 21 November. He had ascertained their position from ships he had stopped along his journey, but unfamiliar with the local channels and shoals he decided to wait until the following morning to make his attack. He stopped all traffic from entering the inlet, preventing any warning of his presence, and posted a lookout on both sloops to ensure that Teach could not escape out to sea. Teach, on the other side of the island, was busy entertaining guests, and had not set a lookout. With Israel Hands ashore in Bath with about 24 of Adventure's sailers, he now had a much-reduced crew. Johnson (1724) reported that the pirate had "no more than twenty-five men on board", and that he "gave out to all the vessels that he spoke with that he had forty". "Thirteen white and six Negroes", was the number later reported by Brand to the Admiralty.
At daybreak Maynard's two sloops entered the channel, just behind a small boat taking soundings for the two larger vessels. It was quickly spotted by Adventure, and fired upon as soon as it was within range of her guns. The boat made a quick retreat to the Jane, while Teach cut the Adventures anchor cable. As his crew hoisted the sails, the Adventure manoeuvred to point her starboard guns toward Maynard's sloops, which were now slowly closing the gap Hyde moved Ranger to the port side of Jane, and the Union flag was unfurled on each ship. Adventure then turned toward the beach of Ocracoke Island, heading for a narrow channel. What happened next is uncertain. Johnson claimed that there was an exchange of small-arms fire before Adventure ran aground, while Maynard anchored and then lightened his ship to pass over the sandbar. Another version claimed that Jane and Ranger ran aground, but Maynard made no mention of this in his log. Damn you for Villains, who are you? And, from whence came you? The Lieutenant made him Answer, You may see by our Colours we are no Pyrates. Black-beard bid him send his Boat on Board, that he might see who he was; but Mr. Maynard reply'd thus; I cannot spare my Boat, but I will come aboard of you as soon as I can, with my Sloop. Upon this, Black-beard took a Glass of Liquor, and drank to him with these Words: Damnation seize my Soul if I give you Quarters, or take any from you. In Answer to which, Mr. Maynard told him, That he expected no Quarters from him, nor should he give him any. “”Reported exchange of views between Teach and MaynardWhat is certain though is that Adventure turned her guns on the two ships, and fired. The broadside was devastating; in an instant, Maynard had lost as much as a third of his forces. About 20 on Jane were either wounded or killed, and 9 on Ranger. Hyde was dead, and his second and third officers were either dead or seriously injured. His sloop was so badly damaged that it played no further role in the attack. Again, contemporary accounts of what happened next are confused, but small-arms fire from Jane may have cut Adventures jib sheet, causing her to lose control and run onto the sandbar. In the aftermath of Teach's overwhelming attack, Jane and Ranger may also have been grounded; the battle thenceforth would have become a race to see who could float their ship first.
The lieutenant had kept many of his men below deck, and in anticipation of being boarded told them to prepare for close fighting. Teach watched as the gap between the vessels closed, and ordered his men to be ready. The two vessels contacted one another as the Adventures grappling hooks hit their target, and several grenades, made from powder and shot-filled bottles and ignited by fuses, broke across the sloop's deck. As the smoke cleared, Teach led his men aboard, buoyant at the sight of Maynard's apparently empty ship, his men firing at the small group formed by Maynard and his men, at the stern. Capture of the Pirate, Blackbeard, 1718, Jean Leon Gerome FerrisThe rest of Maynard's men then burst from the hold, shouting and firing. The plan to surprise Teach and his crew worked; the pirates were apparently taken aback at his assault. Teach rallied his men and the two groups fought across the deck, which was already slick with blood from those killed or injured by Teach's broadside. Maynard and Teach fired their flintlocks at each other, before throwing them away. Teach drew his cutlass, and managed to break Maynard's sword. Against superior training and a slight advantage in numbers, the pirates were pushed back toward the bow, leaving Teach and Maynard isolated, and allowing the Janes crew to surround them. As Maynard drew back to fire once again, Teach moved in to attack him, but was slashed across the neck by one of Maynard's men. Badly wounded, Teach was then attacked by several more of Maynard's crew, and killed. The remaining pirates quickly surrendered. Those left on the Adventure were captured by the crew of Ranger, including one who planned to set fire to the powder room, and blow up the ship. Varying accounts exist of the battle's list of casualties; Maynard reported that 8 of his men and 12 pirates were killed. Captain Brand reported that 10 pirates and 11 of Maynard's men were killed. Spotswood claimed ten pirates dead, and ten of the King's men. Edward Teach's severed head hangs from Maynard's bowsprit, as pictured in Charles Elles's The Pirates Own Book (1837)Maynard later examined Teach's body, and noted that he had been shot no fewer than five times, and had about twenty severe cuts on his body. He also found several items of correspondence, including a letter to the pirate from Tobias Knight. His decapitated corpse was then thrown into the inlet, and his head suspended from the bowsprit of Maynard's sloop (to enable the reward to be collected).