Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Post-Spanish Succession Period > Blockade of Charles Town

Blockade of Charles Town

Background

A Plan of the Town & Harbour of Charles-Town - Edward Crisp (1711)

In May of 1718 at the height of his power and calling himself Commodore, Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach along with fellow pirate Stede Bonnet managed to blockade the British settlement of Charles Town in the Province of South Carolina and demand for medicine for his crew. For the next week the pirates looted and plundered all ships that attempted to enter or leave the port. On one of the ships was several prominent citizens from the city that Blackbeard kidnapped and proceeded to ransom back to the South Carolina governor for a chest of medicine.

Blackbeard told the governor if he did not comply with the ransom he would send him the citizens heads and burn all of the ships in the port and a veiled threat of possibly the town itself. The governor agreed to Blackbeard's demands and two pirates went ashore to pick up the chest of medicine. However, the pirates were not heard from for three days until suddenly a note came that said the two pirates had capsized their boat and they would be delayed.

Blackbeard resolved to give them a few more days to return back to the ship with the chest of medicine. Still the pirates did not return so Blackbeard moved his pirate fleet of eight ships closer into the harbor and began to mobilize to siege the city. The citizens of Charles Town saw this and chaos ensued. When the drugs finally arrived on the ship it was found out the two pirates that went ashore abandoned the mission and went and got drunk. As agreed for the medicine Blackbeard released his captives albeit kept their valuables and ceased the blockade of the city.

Aftermath

This event would gain him notoriety throughout the world as no pirate had really blockaded a city since the days of the Buccaneering Era and would only happen a few more times such as with Bartholomew Roberts who blockaded both Newfoundland and the port of Ouidah. For this Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach was moved up to public enemy number one and the other colonial governors responded to this blockade with pirate hunters.

View of Charles Town - Thomas Mellish (1768)

View of Charles Town - Thomas Mellish (1768)

During the blockade Blackbeard realized this was his last chance to really cement his reputation as the baddest pirate of the Post Spanish Succession Period as he knew full well about the Kings Pardon (1718) and the arrival of Woodes Rogers in the West Indies to put an end to the pirate haven of Nassau.

Blackbeard was hedging his bets on taking one of the pardons and had already arranged deals with governor Charles Eden of the Province of North Carolina and planned to most likely retire after this exploit.

Following the blockade Blackbeard ran his flagship the Queen Anne's Revenge aground on a sandbar and abandoned most of his crew. He ventured to his hideout on Ocracoke Inlet where he awaited the status of his pardon. The legality of it was unsure because the pardon only covered acts of piracy committed before 5 January of 1718 and the blockade was in May. But this could be overlooked by colonial governors who had a lot of authority and independence during the Golden Age of Piracy.

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

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