The British pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, was killed during a battle with British sailors under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

Details of Teach’s early life are so sparse that historians are not even certain of his real name. He only begins to reliably appear in the historical record in September 1717 when he was described in a report by an anti-piracy patrol off the coast of North Carolina as being in charge of “a sloop of 6 gunns [sic] and about 70 men.” By the end of November 1717, Teach had captured the French slave ship La Concorde, which he renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge. He cruised the Caribbean throughout the winter, during which time the captain of a raided ship gave the first physical description of the pirate that included reference to his “very black beard which he wore very long.”

Teach was at the height of his power when he lost Queen Anne’s Revenge after she ran aground on a sandbar. He later sailed to Bath, the capital of North Carolina, to receive a royal pardon that had been offered to any pirate who surrendered on or before 5 September 1718. He and his crew received the pardon from Governor Charles Eden in June, but returned to piracy soon afterwards.

News of this soon reached the Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, who personally financed an operation to capture Teach. Lieutenant Robert Maynard was put in charge, and he attacked the pirates at Ocracoke Island on 22 November 1718.

Having hidden many of his men below decks in anticipation of being boarded by Teach’s crew, Maynard was able to take the pirates by surprise. Amidst vicious fighting, Teach is said to have taken 5 musket balls and as many as twenty sword cuts before he died. His head was later severed and hung from the bowsprit of Maynard’s ship.

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