Article on Black Beard From The Mirror, August 11, 1827
There are few persons who reside on the Atlantic ocean and rivers of North America who are not familiar with the name of Black Beard, whom traditionary history represents as a pirate, who acquired immense wealth in his predatory voyages, and was accustomed to bury his treasures in the banks of creeks and rivers. For a period as low down as the American revolution, it was common for the ignorant and credulous to dig along these banks in search of hidden treasures; and impostors found an ample basis in these current rumours for schemes of delusion. Black Beard, though tradition says a great deal more of him than is true, was yet a real person, who acquired no small fame by his maritime exploits during the first part of the eighteenth century. Among many authentic and recorded particulars concerning him, the following account of his death may gratify curiosity:-
From the nature of Black Beard's position in a sloop of little draught of water, on a coast abounding with creeks, and remarkable for the number and intricacy of its shoals, with which he had made himself intimately acquainted, it was deemed impossible to approach him in vessels of any force.
Two hired sloops were therefore manned from the Pearl and Lime frigates, in the Chesapeake, and put under the command of Lieutenant Maynard, with instructions to hunt down and destroy this pirate wherever he should be found.
On the 17th of November, in the year 1718, this force sailed from James River, and in the evening of the 21st came to an inlet in North Carolina, where Black Beard was discovered at a distance, lying in wait for his prey.
The sudden appearance of an enemy, preparing to attack him, occasioned some surprise; but his sloop mounting several guns, and being manned with twenty-five of his desperate followers, he determined to make a resolute defence; and, having prepared his vessel over night for action, sat down to his bottle, stimulating his spirits to that pitch of frenzy by which only he could rescue himself in a contest for his life.
The navigation of the inlet was so difficult, that Maynard's sloops were repeatedly grounded in their approach, and the pirate, with his experience of the soundings, possessed considerable advantage in manoeuvring, which enabled him for some time to maintain a running fight.
His vessel, however, in her turn, having at length grounded, and the close engagement becoming now inevitable, he reserved her guns to pour in a destructive fire on the sloops as they advanced to board him. This he so successfully executed, that twenty-nine men of Maynard's small number were either killed or wounded by the first broadside, and one of the sloops for a time disabled. But notwithstanding this severe loss, the lieutenant persevered in his resolution to grapple with his enemy, or perish in the attempt.
Observing that his own sloop, which was still fit for action, drew more water than the pirate's, he ordered all her ballast to be thrown out, and, directing his men to conceal themselves between decks, took the helm in person, and steered directly aboard of his antagonist, who continued inextricably fixed on the shoal.
This desperate wretch, previously aware of his danger, and determined never to expiate his crimes in the hands of justice, had posted one of his banditti, with a lighted match, over his powder-magazine, to blow up his vessel in the last extremity. Luckily in this design he was disappointed by his own ardour and want of circumspection; for, as Maynard approached, having begun the encounter at close quarters, by throwing upon his antagonist a number of hand-grenadoes of his own composition, which produced only a thick smoke, and conceiving that, from their destructive agency, the sloop's deck had, been completely cleared, he leaped over her bows, followed by twelve of his men, and advanced upon the lieutenant, who was the only person then in view; but the men instantly springing up to the relief of their commander, who was now furiously beset, and in imminent danger of his life, a violent contest ensued.