Blackbeard Quick Fact #7: The sinking of the Queen Anne’s Revenge

In the days leading up to the release of Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure (April 28,2016 – Franklin/Kerr Press), I will give my readers–or anyone with interest in the legendary pirate–some notes I took as part of my research for the novel.

These notes will lay the background for Blackbeard, many of which did not make it into the novel. For the items that did make it into the novel, don’t worry, there will be no spoilers. You can read all of the facts here. 

In Blackbeard Quick Fact #6, I told you where and how Blackbeard gained his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge.  In Fact #7, I will let one character in Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure tell you about that ship’s demise:

Riddick twisted the cap off another beer. Lucas peered out over the water and saw a flock of seagulls making their way out to the Outer Banks. He asked, “Why did he wreck it? The Queen Anne’s Revenge?”

“He wanted to seek a pardon from Governor Eden,” Riddick answered. “If he didn’t have the Revenge that would have shown the world he truly wanted out of pirating. There were only a few of his crew who knew this, including fellow pirate captain Stede Bonnet. He was past the date the king had given pirates in which to surrender or be hanged. Blackbeard, as it turned out, felt he had the means to persuade Eden to let him and his crew live, although they had not met at that point. Blackbeard had just laid siege to Charleston, and the Royal Navy wanted him dead.

“In June of 1718, I believe, Blackbeard and his flotilla of four ships entered the area around Beaufort, North Carolina. Three sloops and the Revenge. They all sailed into the narrow Topsail Inlet. It wasn’t much wider than a couple football fields across and not very deep either. They carried more sail than they needed to, meaning they were going too fast for that stretch of water. The helmsman, without warning, turned the ship sharply to starboard and hit a sandbar.”

“Did that sink it?” Darwin asked.

“No, it could have probably been salvaged at that point.”

“What happened?”

“Blackbeard hailed Israel Hands, who captained the Adventure, one of the other sloops, and had him toss over a tow rope.”

“So, Hands tried to pull the ship off the sandbar?”

Riddick shook his head. “Nope. The opposite in fact. The Adventure managed to drag the Revenge further onto the sandbar, damaging the keel and lower hull. This was after the main mast was broken during the initial crash. By then, the Revenge was dead. The Adventure ran on shore in the maneuver, crashing it beyond repair.”

“What happened to the other two ships?”

“Blackbeard sent Stede Bonnet, to Bath Town in a longboat to meet with (Governor) Eden and ask for pardon. Blackbeard intended to use the failed pirate captain as a guinea pig of sorts. Eden did pardon Bonnet and his crew, although that took about a week. At the time, it took about three days to sail from the crash site to Bath. A six-day round-trip. He ended up being gone about two weeks before returning.

“While Bonnet was gone, Blackbeard and his men set up camp on a small island away from civilization, and had all of the remaining plunder transferred to the smaller of the two ships. He had promised the other sloop, the Revenge, to go back to Bonnet upon his return. Blackbeard had that ship stripped of anything useful: guns, ammo, plunder—you name it—while Bonnet was gone. He chose about forty men to crew the small sloop. They set sail, abandoning two-hundred or so pirates.”

Lucas and Darwin shared a surprised look. “Just left them there? On an island?”

“That he did,” Riddick said. “Look, he was a cunning, vicious, intelligent pirate. If he had to sacrifice two hundred or two thousand men to see to it that his plans came to fruition, he wouldn’t have batted an eyelash before giving the order. I mean, if he really wanted everyone dead, he could have blasted the camp with cannon fire. At least he wasn’t that brutal.”

The ship sunk in 1718. Its wreckage wasn’t discovered until 1996 when divers found the remains of a ship within two hundred yards off a major shipping lane near Beaufort Inlet, NC.

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