A Picture from History: The End of Blackbeard By: Aden Tate

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It had been two years since the notorious pirate Blackbeard started ravaging the American coast. In addition to his regular acts of piracy against ships, Blackbeard laid siege to American cities. 

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Blackbeard, AKA Edward Teach

In May 1718, he successfully laid siege to Charles Town (now Charleston), South Carolina, capturing eight ships in the process. He wasn’t driven off by force either but instead left of his own volition

But Blackbeard’s days of chaos were numbered…

To Catch a Pirate

Furious about the happenings below them and anxious that pirate shenanigans may spread, Virginia sent a collection of sailors led by Robert Maynard to end the pirate menace.

Blackbeard hadn’t been very secretive about where he lived…and uninvited houseguests were on their way. 


Maynard planned to stuff two shallow draft ships with as many men as he could manage. The vessels were too light to carry cannons, but that was alright by Maynard.

He didn’t want to fight from a distance. Perhaps he even wondered if he could win a battle against Blackbeard’s cannon. 

Blackbeard at attention with rifle
Blackbeard at attention with a rifle.

No, this fight would have to be up close and personal.

Armed with all the accouterments of close-quarters combat of the time, Maynard’s men set sail for Ocracoke Island to take Blackbeard by surprise.

Ocracoke is now a lovely town and tourist destination, complete with an idyllic lighthouse

But there was a problem…

Despite both crafts being built for shallow water, even the ocean seemed to be on Blackbeard’s side. The little ships were grounded. 

It didn’t take long for Blackbeard to see two ships approaching his home, dead in the water.  

Blackbeard's flag
Blackbeard’s flag

The Assault of Queen Anne’s Revenge

He brought up his ship The Queen Anne’s Revenge within range, then sent a volley of cannonballs smashing into both tiny vessels.

The commander of one of Maynard’s ships was killed, and the men of the other vessel frantically ran for whatever cover they could find. 

Maynard knew that unless he did something — and fast — he and his men were doomed. And so he resorted to using Blackbeard’s character as a weapon.

The Queen Anne's Revenge
The Queen Anne’s Revenge

If pirates are pirates due to greed, and they would much prefer an easy prize to a dangerous one, why not give them a prize?

This was precisely what Maynard resolved, and he quickly ordered the bulk of his men below deck.

Only two sailors were left above deck, and from what Blackbeard could tell, this was going to be easy pickings.

Who knew what wealth lie within the bowels of those ships?

A model of the Queen Anne's Revenge in the NC Museum of History
A model of the Queen Anne’s Revenge in the NC Museum of History

And so, as Blackbeard sailed closer, his heart was set on only one thing — bringing in treasure — unaware of what waited for him.

Though the bulk of Blackbeard’s pirates had been ashore this entire time, the pirate was confident that he was more than enough to take these two little ships piloted by stupid men who couldn’t read the water.

As he and his crew board one of the ships, he quickly learned how wrong he was. 

Blackbeard Boarding Maynard's Ships by George Edmund Varian
Blackbeard Boarding Maynard’s Ships by George Edmund Varian

Maynard and his men swarmed out from below deck, outnumbering the pirates as swords flew through the air and pistol shots rang out. 

The fighting was intense. Blood and gore spilled across the deck as the battle raged. Blackbeard was shot five times, but he continued to fight. He’d been stabbed or cut at least 20 times by this point as well.

But the man’s tenacity was as strong as his legend, and he had no intentions of dying today.

But in war, the enemy always has a vote. 

Illustrator Howard Pyle's depiction of Blackbeard's Last Fight
Illustrator Howard Pyle’s depiction of Blackbeard’s Last Fight

Time for a Shave

As Maynard and Blackbeard sparred one-on-one, Maynard got a bit of assistance from a fellow sailor who slashed at Blackbeard’s neck.

The wound was serious, but Blackbeard would never live to see it heal. In the next instant, yet another sword fell upon his neck, severing his head from his body. 

The Capture of the Pirate Blackbeard 1718 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
The Capture of the Pirate Blackbeard 1718 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Blackbeard’s men continued to fight but in the end, Maynard proved victorious.

The remaining pirates were either executed or pardoned.

Maynard had to bring back Blackbeard’s head as proof of the kill. So, tied to the bow spirit of Maynard’s ship it served as a celebratory token for the Americans.

The pirate Blackbeard's head hanging from the bowsprit
The pirate Blackbeard’s head hanging from the bowsprit

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.