Blackbeard (Edward Teach)
He began his life on the sea at an early age, but did not become a true pirate until around 1713 when he was a pirate under the captain Benjamin Hornigold. After a few years, proving his loyalty to captain Hornigold, he was put in charge of a small sloop and crew and sailed alongside his captain. Together, they captured a fairly large British ship that would become one of Blackbeard’s most famous ships, Queen Anne’s Revenge. Shortly after the capture of this vessel Hornigold was offered amnesty by the British government and retired to live in Britain. Teach decided to continue pirating in the seas and capturing vessels.
Blackbeard was exceptionally good at this because he was a ruthless killer and a fearless captain when it came to battle. He would carry numerous weapons including knives, swords, and pistols on his war belt. During battle he would weave hemp into his large beard and light it on fire creating a cloud of black smoke around him. This is how he acquired the infamous nickname “Blackbeard”. He was such a fearful man that many of his enemies would surrender before battle. He struck fear into the hearts of those who knew him, (his crew thought him to be the devil). In one account he was said to take his crew beneath deck and light barrels of chemicals and light them on fire to “create a hell of their own”. (Charles Johnston, 1998)
Blackbeard was extremely successful in his pirating career. In his peak, he was in charge of four ships and over three hundred pirates. He had headquarters in the Bahamas and North Carolina, and lived in Nassau when he was not on the sea. He had great connections with the governments of these places. The governor of North Carolina was bribed by Blackbeard so he would pardon him from his pirating crimes. Although he was pardoned, he did not cease to capture and terrorize ships.
Other government officials found out about Blackbeard being pardoned for his crimes unjustly and sent a fleet of naval ships commanded by a man named Maynard to capture his vessel. Maynard approached the vessel cautiously trying to trick Blackbeard to come aboard and try to capture the vessel. His plan worked and Blackbeard, assuming that he could easily override the vessel, came aboard with ten other crew members. Once Blackbeard came aboard their ship, Maynard’s men came from below deck to surprise the pirates. After a long and hard-fought battle, Maynard’s men came out victorious. Edward Teach was killed with five shots in the chest and over 25 stab wounds. He was decapitated and his head was taken back to England for proof that he was put to death.
Throughout his surprisingly short pirate life of only a few years, Blackbeard captured a total of over forty ships and caused the death of a countless number of people. He built a fantastic reputation that is still living today. He was probably the greatest pirate of his time.