Blackbeard met his end aboard the Royal Navy ship HMS Jane. Sent by the governor of Virginia, along with the HMS Ranger, to capture Blackbeard, the ship was the scene of a fierce fight between the notorious pirate and the British Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard. In the course of his final battle, Blackbeard used weapons typically owned by all buccaneers in the golden age of piracy.
The Pirate Known as Blackbeard
Edward Teach -- better known as Blackbeard -- sailed the Caribbean as a pirate in the early 1700s. He started out as privateer for the British government, capturing enemy merchant ships, plundering them and dividing the goods with officials. After the war, Blackbeard turned to piracy. He served under Captain Benjamin Hornigold who gave Blackbeard his own command. Together they stole a French ship called "The Concorde" and renamed it "Queen Anne's Revenge." That ship sank in 1718; later that same year, Blackbeard stole "The Adventure." It was while sailing this ship that he met his end off the coast of North Carolina.
The contents of Blackbeard's flagship the "Queen Anne's Revenge" have been recovered from wreckage near Beaufort, North Carolina; they include cannons, as well as 6-pound balls made of lead mixed with unusual items such as glass, nails and canvas. Double cannon balls -- two balls attached to each other that spin when fired -- were also discovered. "The Adventure" would have been similarly armed. In his final battle, Blackbeard used such cannon to disable the HMS Ranger before turning his full attention to the HMS Jane.
Pistols for Close Range Fights
Pirates favored flintlock and blunderbuss pistols because they worked well at short range. When a flintlock gun's trigger was pulled, the flint sparked, igniting gunpowder and firing a charge that propelled the ball through the barrel. The blunderbuss had a long barrel and could be loaded with whatever was handy, including not only shot, but also glass or nails. When fired, it scattered enough ammunition to kill or injure several people at once. Because the last thing pirates wanted to do in battle was stop and reload, they carried several pistols on a shoulder sling or on their suspenders. Blackbeard carried six, taking them into battle against Lieutenant Maynard.
Blades for the Final Battle
Pirates typically carried a variety of blades, including swords and cutlasses. The typical pirate sword had a long, decorative blade that curved, was lightweight and ideal for slashing. A cutlass was similar to a sword, except the blade was shorter and thicker with a large, heavy brass handle. Blackbeard carried both a sword and a cutlass. When raiding a ship, he would have typically held his sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. In his final battle on the HMS Jane, Blackbeard used his cutlass to gash Lieutenant Maynard's finger. However, his luck changed quickly when his pistol misfired. The infamous pirate fell victim to several sword blows, including one that severed his head.
- University of Chicago: The Pirates of North Carolina by Hugh F. Rankin
- Virginia Tech Magazine: Features: Blackbeard: Fear, Fable, and Fact-finding
- University Libraries: University of North Carolina: This Month in North Carolina History: November 22, 1718 - The Death of Blackbeard
- UPI: Science News: Blackbeard Creative With His Weapons
- The Pirate Museum: St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum: Pirate Weapons
- National Geographic: News: Pictures: Blackbeard's Ship Yields Ornamental Sword
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Flintlock
- U.S. Naval Institute: Blackbeard!
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images