Infamous Pirates > Blockade of Nassau

Blockade of Nassau

Chapter Decoration

Background

For years during the Post Spanish Succession Period the pirate haven of Nassau was home to a fledgling Republic of Pirates which was composed of group of pirates known as the Flying Gang. The Flying Gang featured pirates commonly known in popular culture like Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach's, 'Calico' Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny, Mary Read and many others. The pirate haven paid no loyalty to the crown and were interrupting not only the lucrative slave trade but also threatening to halt commerce in the West Indies.

Nassau - Nassau Map (18th Century)

Nassau Map (18th Century)

Therefore this pirate haven had to be stomped out at all costs. The British dispatched Woodes Rogers who was fresh off dealing with the pirates in Madagascar. Arriving in Nassau with three British Man-o-War he blockaded the harbor and ordered every pirate submit to the royal authority and accept the 1718 Kings Pardon that was being offered to the pirates.

For the next few days the pirates deliberated as Rogers and the British Royal Navy blockaded the only way in our out of the port. However, a few pirates had different ideas about pardons and led by Charles Vane they crafted a fireship from one of Vane's prizes and loaded it full of gunpowder and other flammables. Vane and the pirates launched the ship at the blockade which saw the vast approaching ship but was unable to do anything about it.

Charles Vane - Fireship (Willem van de Velde 1672-1707)

Fireship - Willem van de Velde (1672-1707)

When the ship burst into flames and smashed into the Man-o-War they were instantly caught in the conflagration and were forced to break the blockade. In the chaos many of the pirates escaped into the open sea of the West Indies to continue their last infamous cruise in history. It is even rumored that Charles Vane was able to fire his muskets directly at the irked Rogers as he stood on the deck of his ship helpless to do anything against the guerrilla assault the pirates had launched against him.

Legacy

Following the Blockade of Nassau the British really clamped down on their colonial holdings in the West Indies and heavily enforced the Kings Pardon of 1718. Many pirates such as Benjamin Hornigold, Henry Jennings and others took the pardon and became pirate hunters instead. In this fashion they chose to hunt down their former colleagues and friends in exchange for immunity and a privateering commission along with being welcomed back into the good graces of the Crown.

Nassau - Woodes Rogers With Nassau Deed (William Hogarth - 1728)

Rogers with Nassau Deed - William Hogarth (1728)

Others would continue their reign of pirating throughout the 1720's and go onto have some of the most famous exploits that we know today. Overall the Blockade of Nassau represented a great turning point in the history of piracy in the West Indies. By abolishing the last major pirate haven along with increasing the presence of the Royal Navy proved the death blows to piracy in the New World. However, this does not mean pockets of piracy did not occur throughout history such as the famous Jean Lafitte and even into the modern day. But following this event there was a significant decline in the power and prominence of the Flying Gang.

Pirate Battles

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