Once a small crowd of tourists has gathered, the guide begins the talk:
We’re very proud to have the Legend here. It was discovered off the coast of North Carolina three years ago, dismantled underwater, and rebuilt in dry-dock. The North Carolina Nautical Museum has graciously lent the ship to us for this exhibit.
As you can see, it’s a three-masted sloop, rigged fore and aft with a gaff mainsail, a gaff topsail, and two headsails. She may not look impressive now, but at the time, she was state of the art.
Blackbeard had been raiding the Caribbean and Atlantic seaboard for about five years when the Governor of Virginia decided to end his reign of terror. The Governor sent two ships under the command of Robert Maynard to Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, where Blackbeard had anchored.
Maynard’s ships arrived on the night of December 2, 1718. Disobeying orders, Maynard’s second-in-command decided to attack Blackbeard before dawn. But Blackbeard was ready and broadsided the ship, nearly crippling it. James Freer, the captain, had no cannons and attempted to board the pirate ship. In the dim light and uncertain grappling, Blackbeard’s ship was run aground.
But Freer and his men were no match in battle for the bloodthirsty, seasoned cutthroats. Blackbeard and the pirates killed Freer and all his crew. Realizing that other troops were near and that his own ship was no longer seaworthy, Blackbeard commandeered Freer’s ship and tried to escape in the Legend.
Maynard was still waiting, however, and guessed what had happened. Since the Legend lacked cannons, Blackbeard had no choice but to grapple with Maynard’s ship.
One story says that as he was being boarded, Blackbeard raised a glass and toasted Maynard with the oath: “Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarter, or take any from you.”
In the fierce hand-to-hand fighting that ensued, Blackbeard and Maynard met face to face. The pirate captain was shot by Maynard, but the ball had no visible effect. Then Maynard’s cutlass snapped at the hilt when he parried a powerful blow. Blackbeard moved in for the kill, but a British seaman attacked him from behind, wounding him in the throat and neck. Blackbeard continued to swing his cutlass as blood spurted from his neck and Maynard’s men circled around him. Five more pistol shots and 20 severe sword wounds later, he finally succumbed. Maynard decapitated the pirate and displayed his head on the prow of his ship. The Legend—though it was a pirate ship for less than five hours—was scuttled and left to rot for nearly 300 years.
Quite a story, isn’t it? Does anybody have any questions?
If you do, submit your question to the docent.
If not, perhaps you’d like to
- wander around the “Legend”
- check out Blackbeard’s Log
- visit Armand Ballpeen
- do some research on Blackbeard
- go somewhere else—email proposed destinations to <public at etgdesign.com>