email a friend iconprinter friendly iconBlackbeard's Shipwreck
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"Up until then, he's just another little rogue," says Mike Daniel, the former treasure hunter who discovered the wreck. "Charleston Harbor, that's like the twin towers. You don't do something like that without the whole world taking notice."

And Blackbeard, according to Johnson, was someone who liked to be noticed. A huge man with fiery eyes and a booming voice, he was fond of a scarlet cloak, and went into battle with lighted, slow-burning cannon fuses tucked into his hair, and six pistols slung across his chest. Some said he was fond of pouring gunpowder into his rum and setting it ablaze before downing it. In a famous Blackbeard tale, while drinking in his cabin one evening with a few of his crew, he suddenly blew out the candle, drew two pistols, and fired them randomly beneath the table, wounding his sailing master Israel Hands in the knee. If he didn't kill one of them now and then, he said, "they would forget who he was."

Few ever forgot or forgave him. Days after the Charleston blockade, Blackbeard ran Queen Anne's Revenge aground—some say intentionally—entering what is now Beaufort Inlet. He ordered another pirate vessel, Adventure, to pull him off, and soon both vessels grounded and were lost.

The time for treachery was at hand. Blackbeard convinced Stede Bonnet to take some of his men and sail to Bath, where North Carolina's governor had a plantation, to accept the King's pardon, which had just been extended. While he was gone, Blackbeard gathered 40 loyal pirates and 60 captured slaves and stripped Adventure and Queen Anne's Revenge of anything of value—cheating his fellow brigands of their share of the booty. When David Herriot, Adventure's captain, demanded restitution, Blackbeard marooned him and 16 others on a barrier island "a league from the main." He then sailed to Bath to take the pardon for himself.

North Carolina was a perfect hideout. Wracked by Indian wars, yellow fever, and political upheaval, the poor colony could barely muster a weak militia and had no jails. Its shallow sounds and barrier islands were ideal for light pirate craft to prey on merchant ships from its wealthier neighbors.

Teach's retirement was short. He was soon back to his old ways, plundering local vessels in the rivers and sounds, and seizing a French sugar ship off Bermuda. At one point he even rendezvoused with pirate Charles Vane at Teach's favorite honey-hole on North Carolina's remote barrier island of Ocracoke. Some say as many as 200 pirates partied for a week before Vane sailed off.

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