Blackbeard

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Blackbeard : biography

c. 1680 – November 22, 1718

Meanwhile, Spotswood had obtained from Howard valuable information on Teach’s whereabouts, and he planned to send his forces across the border into North Carolina to capture him. He gained the support of two men keen to discredit North Carolina’s Governor—Edward Moseley and Colonel Maurice Moore. He also wrote to the Lords of Trade , suggesting that the Crown might benefit financially from Teach’s capture. Spotswood personally financed the operation, possibly believing that Teach had fabulous treasures hidden away. He ordered Captains Gordon and Brand of HMS Pearl and HMS Lyme to travel overland to Bath. Lieutenant Robert Maynard of HMS Pearl was given command of two commandeered sloops, to approach the town from the sea. An extra incentive for Teach’s capture was the offer of a reward from the Assembly of Virginia, over and above any that might be received from the Crown.

Maynard took command of the two armed sloops on 17 November. He was given 57 men—33 from HMS Pearl and 24 from HMS Lyme. Maynard and the detachment from HMS Pearl took the larger of the two vessels and named her Jane; the rest took Ranger, commanded by one of Maynard’s officers, a Mister Hyde. Some from the two ships’ civilian crews remained aboard. They sailed from Kecoughtan, along the James River, on 17 November. The two sloops moved slowly, giving Brand’s force time to reach Bath. Brand set out for North Carolina six days later, arriving within three miles of Bath on 23 November. Included in Brand’s force were a number of North Carolinians, including Colonel Moore and Captain Jeremiah Vail, sent to put down any local objection to the presence of foreign soldiers. Moore went into the town to see if Teach was there, reporting back that he was not, but that the pirate was expected at "every minute." Brand then went to Governor Eden’s home and informed him of his purpose. The next day, Brand sent two canoes down Pamlico River to Ocracoke Inlet, to see if Teach could be seen. They returned two days later and reported on what eventually transpired.

Last battle

Maynard found the pirates anchored on the inner side of Ocracoke Island, on the evening of 21 November. He had ascertained their position from ships he had stopped along his journey, but unfamiliar with the local channels and shoals he decided to wait until the following morning to make his attack. He stopped all traffic from entering the inlet—preventing any warning of his presence—and posted a lookout on both sloops to ensure that Teach could not escape to sea. On the other side of the island, Teach was busy entertaining guests and had not set a lookout. With Israel Hands ashore in Bath with about 24 of Adventures sailors, he also had a much-reduced crew. Johnson (1724) reported that the pirate had "no more than twenty-five men on board" and that he "gave out to all the vessels that he spoke with that he had forty". "Thirteen white and six Negroes", was the number later reported by Brand to the Admiralty.

At daybreak, preceded by a small boat taking soundings, Maynard’s two sloops entered the channel. The small craft was quickly spotted by Adventure and fired at as soon as it was within range of her guns. While the boat made a quick retreat to the Jane, Teach cut the Adventures anchor cable. His crew hoisted the sails and the Adventure manoeuvred to point her starboard guns toward Maynard’s sloops, which were slowly closing the gap. Hyde moved Ranger to the port side of Jane and the Union flag was unfurled on each ship. Adventure then turned toward the beach of Ocracoke Island, heading for a narrow channel. What happened next is uncertain. Johnson claimed that there was an exchange of small-arms fire following which Adventure ran aground on a sandbar, while Maynard anchored and then lightened his ship to pass over the obstacle. Another version claimed that Jane and Ranger ran aground, although Maynard made no mention of this in his log.