Queen Anne's Revenge
Or: D'arrr, Mateys. D'arrr.
The Queen Anne's Revenge was the flagship captained by the notorious pirate Blackbeard, whom history has recorded variously as Edward Teach, Thatch, or Thache, hailing from Bristol, London, or even Philadelphia. Captain Charles Johnson, in his General History of the Pyrates, describes him thusly:
Captain Thatch assumed the Cognomen of Black-beard, from that large Quantity of Hair, which like a frightful Meteor, covered his whole Face, and frightn'd America, more than any Comet that has appear'd there a long Time. This Beard was black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant Length; as to Breadth, it came up to his Eyes; he was accustomed to twist it with Ribbon, in small Tails, after the Manner of our Remellies Wigs, and turn them about his Ears...his Eyes naturally looking Fierce and Wild, made him altogether such a Figure, that Imagination cannot form an dea of a Fury, from Hell, to look more frightful.
But on the other hand, he had a tremendous singing voice. Now then. What about this dinghy of his?
Same Ship, Different Names
Queen Anne's Revenge was first launched as a British vessel during the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1710. Queen Anne, reigning monarch of Britain at the time, managed to get the war named after her as far as inhabitants of the Americas were concerned--but the ship didn't leave port with that christening. It sailed out as the Concord--right into the hands of French privateers.
Within a year, the ship was reopened under new management. The French reconfigured it at great cost to appear as though it were of Dutch construction, and to complete the disguise, they cleverly added an 'e' to the end of its original name--Concorde.
Hello, I'm Guy Incognito.
Now operating as a 14 gun slave ship in the Caribbean, the Concorde was under Captain Pierre Dosset and lieutenant Francois Ernaut in 1717 when it encountered two sloops of 20 cannon and 150 men, collectively. Leader of the pack was Ben Hornigold, piratical captain who had among his crew one Edward Teach. The ship was escorted to the island of Bequia, South of St. Vincent, where the pirates did to it what pirates do.
Relieved of their gold and jewelry, the Frenchmen were transferred to a small sloop and sent (with their slaves) on their merry way to Martinique. Blackbeard transferred his flag to the Concorde, added twenty cannon, and now had himself one of the most heavily armed pirate ships afloat. The ship was rechristened Queen Anne's Revenge (QAR).
Hmm...What to Do, What to Do...
Well, best start a' plunderin'. QAR served as Blackbeard's flagship for six months, during which time he gained several prizes and a great deal of infamy. A story perocolated up about his staving of a 30-gun British warship, the Scarborough, though according to the latter ship's logbook, the engagment was solely a visual one. Two ships that pass in the night, as it were.
Regardless of what actually happened, Blackbeard earned from the story a repuation that helped him to capture the following:
- the Adventure, an 80-ton sloop under David Harriot (added to Blackbeard's flotilla)
- the Protestant Caesar, a large merchant vessel (burned in revenge for a previous encounter)
- A small turtler in the Cayman Islands
- Several unidentified Spanish sloops
He was a very busy man. But then, once word's got out that a pirate's gone soft, it's nothing but work, work, work, all the time.
The Big Time
The biggest action of Blackbeard's career came in May 1718
. He arrived with his flotilla just off Charleston
, South Carolina
, and immediately made with the havoc-wreaking.
After spending a week or two picking off anything that came near the port--including the pilot boat--Blackbeard sent a ransom note to the Governor, Robert Johnson. He demanded a chest of medicine, and after a few days' time, received it.
Essentially, he held an entire city hostage--from the water, no less--and took from it between £1000 and £1500. That's about £150,000, or $240,000, in today's money. Governmental chump-change now, but no small treasure at the time.
Grog on the Rocks
Sadly, where you wanted a dramatic battle between the Pirate-King and Her Majesty's Government, with plank-walking, keel-hauling, and the occasional battening down of hatches, you
get poor navigation.
After sailing from Charleston, Blackbeard and his flotilla entered the Topsail Inlet, now called the Beauford Inlet. It was there that the ship ran aground, and was wrecked. Blackbeard transferred himself and his belongings to another small sloop, marooned a portion of his own men, and sailed off with the rest, leaving Queen Anne's Revenge to buckle and sink, which it did in short order.
A Couple Hundred Years Later
, the Underwater Archaeology Unit
of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
was notified of a shipwreck
discovered near Beauford Inlet by Intersal, Inc.
It is the oldest discovered to date in state waters, and after three investigations of the site, 1000 hours on the ocean
, and the contributions of numerous historians
, archaelogists, and scientists, the wreck has been put forth as most likely being that of Queen Anne's Revenge.
Early 18th Century artifacts on the site are plentiful: over 2000 have been recovered so far, inlcuding arms, medical equipment, navigational equipment, and personal effects. Many more await removal from concretion.
Though the identity of the ship has not been confirmed, the QAR Project continues.
It has as of yet yielded no sunken treasure. Or at least, none they're telling anyone about.
Pieces of Eight to: