October 1, 2016

Queen Anne's Revenge

Edward Teach (Wikimedia Commons)
It's a beautiful day at sea. The sun is warm and the breeze whips through the canvas sails. You hear the spotter's cry and look over your shoulder. Fear slams you in the gut like a cannonball. The ship is being followed, and the menacing phantom behind you is flying no quarter.

This is no imaginary story. Over two hundred years ago, a two hundred ton wooden ship called Queen Anne’s Revenge did just that; and her captain was the elusive Edward Teach. Pirates roamed the Caribbean and eastern seaboard of America during the Golden Age of Piracy, and the most famous of them all, Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, has returned.

In 1996, Governor James Hunt of North Carolina announced that Blackbeard's flagship had been discovered. A research firm searching Beaufort’s Inlet off the coast of North Carolina came across the heavily armed remains of a frigate in the presumed location of the Queen Anne. State underwater archeologists were called out, and more than a decade later, the booty from Blackbeard's most notorious prize has risen from the murky depths.

The Queen Anne was originally a French slave ship known as La Concorde. Easily captured by Blackbeard and his wily sloops off the coast of Martinique in 1717, the re-christened frigate became the flagship for the swelling party of pirates. They spent several months pillaging the Caribbean before turning toward the Carolinas. There, Blackbeard attempted to lay siege to the city of Charleston, and after a rather successful week, accepted a medicine chest in exchange for his prisoners.

Weeks later, around the 10th of June, 1818, Queen Anne’s Revenge and her party ran aground attempting to enter Beaufort’s Inlet. Blackbeard and his crew had plenty of time to remove their valuables, and he escaped with a few of his faithful crew to Ocracoke Island along the outer banks. After the Queen Anne settled into her watery grave, her captain escaped death for almost six more months. Robert Maynard, a Royal Navy lieutenant, tracked him down, and the officer and pirate dueled to the death aboard the naval sloop, Jane. Blackbeard was beheaded, and his head hung from the Jane's bowsprit in celebration. A fitting end to a fearless and troublesome buccaneer.

So what has the Queen Anne revealed? State archeologists working with the North Carolina Maritime Museum have spent years carefully dredging, sifting, cleaning, and cataloguing artifacts. Because of the wreck’s location, it is agreed that it will eventually disappear due to storms and currents, thus the careful resurfacing of the precious cargo. The list is impressive. Items range from glass bottles, pewter dinnerware, parts of small firearms, cannons, an anchor, and ballast. Clues such as syringes hint that the men were treating themselves, probably for syphilis, a common companion. Evidence of cattle, fish, and pig bones speak of a varied diet aboard ship at the time of her demise.

What is it about pirates that fill us with excitement? Tropical islands? Buried treasure? Even before Robert Louis Stevenson penned Treasure Island in 1883, man has always dreamed of adventure at sea. Disney’s 2003 film, Pirates of the Caribbean, renewed public interest and affection for those scallywags, but the truth is, some of them were very dangerous men.

It’s believed that Blackbeard was a part of the Queen Anne’s War (1701) where he served as a privateer. This evidence shows that not all pirates started out as criminals. Many were drafted into the lifestyle by the point of the sword, having no choice when their ships were captured. It was these men, and those small boys, that often paid for piracy with their lives.

Cool Pics!

You can find out more about The Queen Anne’s recovery at http://www.qaronline.org/default.htm.

You can view astounding footage documented by Nautilus Productions at http://www.nautilusproductions.com/new_site/QAR_footage.html.


After browsing Queen Anne online, dive into a good book such as my pirate ship treasure hunt romance, By Heart and Compass, or The Privateer, available at Amazon.com and other bookstores. You may just find the kind of pirates you’ve been looking for.

~Danielle Thorne

1 comment:

Mark Noce said...

The Queen Anne's Revenge was definitely one of the most intriguing ships to sail during the Golden Age of piracy. Very cool!