NC officials definitively ID Blackbeard’s ship
After a decade and a half of indecision regarding the identify of a shipwreck off the North Carolina coast, state officials have determined that the vessel resting just off Fort Macon is that of Blackbeard the pirate’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
“We have now changed our position, and we are quite categorically saying that it’s the Queen Anne’s Revenge,” said Jeffrey Crow, deputy secretary for the Office of Archives and History of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, which oversees the efforts to recover and display the remains of the ship.
It took years of research and the recovery and analysis of tens of thousands of artifacts to make the confirmation, Crow told McClatchy Newspapers.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge, a 300-ton vessel, was a man-of-war built in England in 1710. Originally named the Concord, she was captured by the French in 1711 and modified to hold more cargo, including slaves, and renamed La Concorde de Nantes.
Sailing as a slave ship, she was captured by the pirate Captain Benjamin Hornigold in November 1717, near the island of Martinique. Hornigold turned her over to one of his men – Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard - and made him her captain.
Teach renamed the ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge and it served as part of a four-vessel pirate flotilla when it ran aground in 1718 beside the inlet leading to Beaufort and was abandoned.
The wreck was found a little more than a mile off the beach in 1996 by a private salvage company.
The location precisely matched historical accounts of the grounding, and the ship appeared to be the right vintage and size. It was also armed to an unusual degree, according to the McClatchy report.
And from the first, the artifacts brought up fit the origins of the ship, the crew and the places it was known to have visited.
“Many of the state and university researchers studying the wreckage and helping bring it ashore have privately been convinced for more than a decade that they had the right ship.
“But without direct proof, such as an artifact with the name of the ship, and no compelling reason to rush judgment, state officials insisted that official mentions of the project use the delicate and slightly awkward qualifier ‘he ship believed to be’ before ‘the Queen Anne’s Revenge.’”
Project researchers continued recovering and analyzing artifacts, thousands of them, and eventually the evidence was compelling enough, said Mark Wilde-Ramsing, a deputy state archaeologist and head of the Queen Anne’s Revenge project.
Finally tipping the scales, he said, was the acceptance of a paper flatly declaring the identity of the wreck by the respected scholarly journal “Historical Archaeology.”
The paper, written by Wilde-Ramsing and Charles Ewen of the anthropology faculty at East Carolina University, is expected to be published later this year or early in 2012.
It cited key facts such as the location, historical accounts, dates on various artifacts and dates and places of origin that can be extrapolated from others with known makers or periods of manufacture, according to McClatchy.
Teach was known to have joined the crew of Hornigold, a pirate who operated from the Caribbean island of New Providence, in 1716.
A short time later, he acquired the Queen Anne’s Revenge and approximately a year marauding along the Southeastern coast.
According to Wikipedia, Teach formed an alliance of pirates and with his cohort blockaded the port of Charleston, ”successfully ransomed its inhabitants” and then soon after, ran his ship aground on a sandbar near Beaufort.
Teach accepted a royal pardon but was soon back at sea, where he attracted the attention of the Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood.
Spotswood arranged for a party of soldiers and sailors to find and capture the pirate, which they did in November 1718. Teach was killed in the ensuing battle.
Teach was considered a shrewd and calculating leader, and avoided the use of force, relying instead on his fearsome image to get what he wanted.
It is believed that he commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews and there are no known accounts of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive.