Infamous Pirates > Battle of Ocracoke Inlet

Battle of Ocracoke Inlet

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

The Battle of Ocracoke Inlet was the decisive battle between Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach and the pirate hunter named Robert Maynard. Maynard had previously been dispatched by Governor Alexander Spotswood of the Colony and Dominion of Virgina.

Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach - Blackbeard vs. Maynard

Blackbeard vs. Maynard - Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1920)

After searching for the pirates by stopping other ships, Maynard eventually found Blackbeard's crew resting at Ocracoke Island, his popular hideout on November 21st, 1718. Trying not to run his ships aground on the unfamiliar shoals and sandbars, Maynard decided to wait to attack until morning. Maynard carefully set up and stopped all ships as to not alert Blackbeard of his presence, however this was unlikely needed.

Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach - Ocracoke Inlet Map (1775)

Ocracoke Inlet Map (1775)

Blackbeard and his crew were busy having a party and were not paying any attention whatsoever. Also with a reduced crew, as some were ashore, Blackbeard had no more than twenty five men on board. According to the English who later captured them there was thirteen white men and six black men. When morning broke, Maynard and his ships entered the channel and initiated the Battle of Ocracoke Inlet. They were spotted right away by the pirates and Blackbeard opened fire. Next there was a small exchange of small arms fire according to Charles Johnson, where the Adventure ran aground on a sandbar and Maynard moved in closer for his attack.

Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach - Blackbeard Boarding Maynards Ship

Blackbeard Boarding Maynard's Ship - George Edmund Varian (1903)

Next Blackbeard opened fire with the Adventure and blew nearly a third of Maynard's forces away with a devastating broadside attack. At least 20 soldiers were killed on Jane and 9 soldiers on Ranger. During this engagement Blackbeard was rumored to have said;

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.

- A History of Pyrates (1724), pg. 82

In anticipation of a prolonged boarding engagement, Robert Maynard kept a majority of his men below deck in order to hide his true numbers from Blackbeard. As Maynard began approaching Blackbeard's group, the pirate crews began readying their assault. When the two vessels made contact, Blackbeard's crew threw over grappling hooks and grenades and as the smoke cleared Blackbeard led his crews to board.

Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach - Death of Blackbeard

Death of Blackbeard - The Pioneers and Patriots of America (1876)

Blackbeard was surprised to only encounter Robert Maynard and a few of his men, however he was more than surprised when they came bursting out of the hold, and the pirates were taken back by the assault. Blackbeard rallied his men and fought on, causing the ships deck to be soaked with blood from the broadside and the ravaging battle. As Maynard and Blackbeard squared off for their final dual, they both shot their flintlocks and moved into sword combat. After breaking Maynard's sword and going in for the kill Blackbeard was seriously wounded by a slash to the back of the neck.

Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach - Blackbeards Head

Blackbeard's Head - The Pirates Own Book (1837)

After Blackbeard's death most of the crew surrendered and Maynard remained at Ocracoke for several more days before heading back to Virginia. Maynard and his men began repairing the damage from the ships and burying the dead from the battle. After examining the dead pirates body, Maynard noted that Blackbeard had been shot no less than five times and cut no less than twenty. His body was searched and several correspondences were found before his head was chopped off and his body thrown in the water. His head was displayed on Maynard's bow and later taken to South Carolina to collect the reward.

Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach - Blackbeard's Final Fight

Blackbeard's Final Fight - The Pirates Own Book (1837)

Aboard Blackbeard's ship Maynard discovered Blackbeard's loot. It was not the pirate coins and golden treasure you would expect. Instead it was much more mundane. It was trade goods such as cocoa, indigo and cotton that they had captured from ships sailing out of the colonies in British North America. Blackbeard did not really raid too many Spanish galleons, he was more content to raid England solely which cements his most possibly early life story as being an out of work or disgruntled sailor during the War of the Spanish Succession.

Pirate Battles

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources