cast iron cannon from Blackbeard's ship, Queen Anne's Revenge. Photo by
Robert Clark, National Geographic.
Teach (Thatch) or Blackbeard, captured a French slave ship known as La Concorde,
and renamed her Queen Anne's Revenge, a reference to the Spanish
War of Succession. He then equipped her with 40 guns, and crewed her with over 300 men.
He formed an alliance of pirates and blockaded the port of Charles Town, South Carolina, ransoming the port's inhabitants.
On hearing that the British had dispatched ships to capture him and his band
of cutthroats, he ran Queen Anne's Revenge aground on a sandbar near Beaufort, North
Carolina, where the ship suffered irreparable damage.
Queen Anne's Revenge was an early-18th-century ship, most famously used as a flagship by Edward Teach, better known by his nickname Blackbeard. Although the date and place of the ship's construction are uncertain, it was originally believed she was built for merchant service in Bristol, England in 1710 and named Concord, later captured by French privateers and renamed La Concorde. After several years' service by French sailors (both as a naval frigate and as a merchant vessel – much of the time as a slave trading ship), she was captured by Blackbeard in 1717. Blackbeard used the ship for less than a year, but captured numerous prizes using her as his flagship.
In May 1718, Blackbeard ran the ship aground at Topsail Inlet, now known as Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, United States, in the present-day Carteret County. After the grounding, her crew and supplies were transferred to smaller ships. In 1996, Intersal Inc., a private firm, discovered the remains of a vessel that was later determined to be Queen Anne's Revenge, which was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The ship that would be known as Queen Anne's Revenge was a 200-ton vessel believed to have been built in 1710. She was handed over to René Duguay-Trouin and employed in his service for some time before being converted into a slave ship, then operated by the leading slave trader René Montaudin of Nantes, until sold in 1713 in Peru or Chile. She was briefly re-acquired by the French Navy in November 1716, but was sold by them for commerce five months later in France, again for use as a slaver. She was captured by Blackbeard and his pirates on 28 November 1717, near the island of Saint Vincent in the West Indies.
After selling her cargo of slaves at Martinique, Blackbeard made the vessel into his flagship, adding more heavy cannon and renaming her Queen Anne's Revenge. The name may come from the War of the Spanish Succession, known in the Americas as Queen Anne's War, in which Blackbeard had served in the Royal Navy, or possibly from sympathy for the Jacobite cause (Queen Anne being the last Stuart monarch). Blackbeard sailed this ship from the west coast of Africa to the
Caribbean, attacking British, Dutch, and Portuguese merchant ships along the way.
Shortly after blockading Charleston harbor in May 1718, and refusing to accept the Governor's offer of the King's Pardon, Blackbeard ran Queen Anne's Revenge aground while entering Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina on 10 June 1718. A deposition given by David Herriot, the former captain of the
Adventure, states "Thatch's [Teach's] ship Queen Anne's Revenge run a-ground off of the Bar of Topsail-Inlet." He also states that Adventure "run a-ground likewise about Gun-shot from the said Thatch" in an attempt to kedge Queen Anne's Revenge off the bar. Blackbeard then disbanded his flotilla and escaped by transferring supplies onto the smaller Adventure. He stranded several crew members on a small island nearby, where they were later rescued by Captain Stede Bonnet. Some suggest Blackbeard deliberately grounded the ship as an excuse to disperse the
crew, perhaps to do another run to Skeleton
Island, to deposit yet more buried
treasure. Shortly afterward, he surrendered and accepted the King's Pardon for himself and his remaining crewmen from Governor Charles Eden at Bath, North Carolina. However, Blackbeard returned to piracy later that year and was killed in combat in November 1718.
RE-DISCOVERY AND EXCAVATION
Intersal Inc., a private research firm, discovered the wreck believed to be Queen Anne’s Revenge on November 21, 1996. It was located by Intersal's director of operations, Mike Daniel, who used historical research provided by the company's president, Phil Masters and maritime archaeologist David Moore. The shipwreck lies in 28 feet (8.5 m) of water about one mile (1.6 km) offshore of Fort Macon State Park (34°41′44″N 76°41′20″W),
Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. On 3 March 1997, the governor of North Carolina, James B. Hunt held a press conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. He stated: "The state of North Carolina is working to protect the site and will do everything we can to that end. We look forward to the day when all North Carolinians can see these exciting artifacts for themselves." Thirty-one cannons have been identified to date and more than 300,000 artifacts have been recovered. The cannons are of different origins including Sweden, England and possibly France, and of different sizes as would be expected with a colonial pirate crew.
Recognizing the significance of Queen Anne's Revenge, the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR), Intersal, and Maritime Research Institute (MRI) entered into a memorandum of agreement in 1998. Intersal agreed to forgo entitlement to any coins and precious metals recovered from the wreck site in order that all artifacts remain as one intact collection, and in order for NCDNCR to determine the ultimate disposition of the artifacts. In return, Intersal was granted media, replica, and other rights related to an entity known as Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge Shipwreck Project; MRI was granted joint artifact touring rights with NCDNCR. NCDNCR, Intersal, and Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions signed a settlement agreement on October 24, 2013, connected to commercial, replica, and promotional opportunities for the benefit of Queen Anne's Revenge. The State of North Carolina owns the wreck since it lies in state waters (within the three-mile limit).
For one week in 2000 and 2001, live underwater video of the project was webcast to the Internet as a part of the QAR DiveLive educational program that reached thousands of children around the world. Created and co-produced by Nautilus Productions and Marine Grafics, this project enabled students to talk to scientists and learn about methods and technologies utilized by the underwater archaeology team.
In November 2006 and 2007, more artifacts were discovered at the site and brought to the surface. The additional artifacts appear to support the claim that the wreck is that of Queen Anne's Revenge. Among evidence to support this theory is that the cannons were found loaded. In addition, there were more cannons than would be expected for a ship of this size, and the cannons were of different makes. Depth markings on the part of the stern that was recovered point to it having been made according to the French foot measurements.
By the end of 2007, approximately one third of the wreck was fully excavated. Part of the hull of the ship, including much of the keel and part of the stern post, has survived. The 1,500-pound (680 kg) stern post was recovered in November 2007. The NCDNCR set up the website Queen Anne's Revenge to build on intense public interest in the finds. Artifacts recovered in 2008 include loose ceramic and pewter fragments, lead strainer fragments, a nesting weight, cannon apron, ballast stones, a sword guard and a coin.
Goals during the 2010 field season included staging of one of the ship's largest main deck cannons to the large artifact holding area on site, taking corrosion readings from anchors and cannon undergoing in situ corrosion treatment, attaching aluminum-alloy anodes to the remaining anchors and cannons so as to begin their in situ corrosion treatment and continuing site excavations.
In 2011 the 1.4-tonne (3,100 lb) anchor from the ship was brought to the surface, along with a range of makeshift weaponry including langrage or canister shot.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
On August 29, 2011, the National Geographic Society reported that the State of North Carolina had confirmed the shipwreck as Queen Anne's Revenge, reversing a conclusion previously maintained because of a lack of conclusive evidence. Specific artifacts that support this conclusion include a brass coin weight bearing the bust of Queen Anne of England, cast during her reign (1702–1714); the stem of a wine glass decorated with diamonds and tiny embossed crowns, made to commemorate the 1714 coronation of Queen Anne's successor, King George I; the remains of a French hunting sword featuring a bust that closely resembles King Louis XV, who claimed the French throne in 1715; and a urethral syringe for treating venereal diseases with a control mark indicating manufacture between 1707 and 1715 in Paris, France.
On June 21, 2013, the National Geographic Society reported recovery of two cannons from Queen Anne's Revenge. Several months later, on October 28, archaeologists recovered five more cannons from the wreck. Three of these have been identified as iron 6-pounders manufactured at Ehrendals works in Södermanland, Sweden, in 1713. Thomas Roth, the head of Sweden's Armament Museum Research Department, derived the origin of the iron cannons by a mark on their tubes.
The 23rd of 31 cannons identified at the wreck site was recovered on October 24, 2014. The gun is approximately 56 inches (140 cm) long, weighs over 300 pounds (140 kg) and may be a sister to a Swedish gun that was previously recovered. Nine cannonballs, bar shot halves, an iron bolt and a grenado were also recovered during the 2014 field season.
The struggle for Blackbeard's legacy is continuing 300 years after history's most infamous pirate was killed in the coastal waters of North Carolina.
The state of North Carolina is defending itself against two lawsuits brought by private interests in the excavation of the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the flagship of Blackbeard’s small fleet of pirate ships. The Queen Anne’s Revenge went aground in 1718 just offshore from Beaufort. A few months after the grounding, Blackbeard was killed in a battle with British naval forces in the Pamlico Sound.
The wreck was found in 1996 by Intersal Inc., private salvagers based in Palm Bay, Florida. The state and Intersal made an agreement in 1998 that gave Intersal rights to make copyrighted photos and videos of the wreck. Meanwhile, divers from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources began excavating the wreck.
Disputes about intellectual property rights emerged, however. Those disagreements were resolved in 2013 with a new arrangement involving the state and Intersal and Nautilus Productions of Fayetteville, North Carolina, which had made videos and photos of the site and artifacts that had been recovered.
But in 2015, the North Carolina State Legislature passed a law declaring that all images related to the Queen Anne’s Revenge excavation were automatically the property of the state and thus are public records not subject to copyright protection.
Intersal and Nautilus Productions have filed suit, and the legal actions are working their ways through courts in North Carolina. Meanwhile, no excavation work has been done at the Queen Anne’s Revenge wreck site since 2015.
Attorneys for the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources did not respond to a request for comment on the legal issues.
was one of the most feared pirate captains operating in the Caribbean Sea.
When he resumed pirating, the British made it their business to capture him
as an example to other would be renegades.
After years of official uncertainty, North Carolina state authorities confirmed in 2011 that the shipwreck just offshore from the small beach town of Beaufort was indeed the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
The ship grounded on a sandbar near Beaufort in 1718, nine years after the town had been established. Blackbeard and his crew abandoned the ship and survived.
For 15 years, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources emphasized that the wreck, discovered in 1995, was "thought to be" the Queen Anne's Revenge.
After a comprehensive review of the evidence, those same officials declared in 2011 that they were certain the wreck was the ship sailed by one of history's fiercest and most colorful
"There was not one aha moment," Claire Aubel, public relations coordinator for the North Carolina Maritime Museums, said in 2011.
"There was a collection of moments and a deduction based on the evidence."
There were two main reasons for the team's certainty, Aubel said: the sheer size of the wreck and the many weapons that were found in the rubble.
No other ship as big as the Queen Anne's Revenge was known to have been in the area at the time, and a pirate ship would have been well
SHIPWRECK LOOT POINTS TO BLACKBEARD
Blackbeard achieved his infamous immortality in only a few years, operating in the
Caribbean Sea and off the coast of colonial America before being killed in a battle with British ships in North Carolina's Pamlico Sound in 1718.
Some historians have speculated that he deliberately ran the Queen Anne's Revenge aground so that he could keep the most valuable plunder for himself.
Such loot has helped archaeologists link the wreck to Blackbeard since excavations started in 1997. Among the major recovered artifacts are:
— Apothecary weights stamped with tiny fleurs-de-lis, royal symbols of 18th-century France. Queen Anne's Revenge was actually a former French ship, Le Concorde, captured by Blackbeard in 1717. He forced Le Concorde's surgeon to join the pirate crew, and a surgeon at that time likely would have had apothecary weights.
A small amount of gold found among lead shot. Archaeologists think a French crewman might have hidden the gold in a barrel of shot to conceal it from Blackbeard's pirates.
— A bell engraved with the date 1705.
ID OF BLACKBEARD'S SHIP NEVER REALLY IN DOUBT
The disclaimer about the wreck's identity was more an acknowledgement of the strict code of scientific scrutiny than the result of any serious doubts about the ship's identity, said Erik Goldstein, curator of arts and numismatics
- the study of coins and tokens - for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia. Archaeologists working on the wreck were always sure of its identity.
State officials "were just being safe," Goldstein said. "At the beginning phase of an excavation, unless you find something like a ship's bell with the name engraved on it, it takes a little while to put the pieces together and gather documentary evidence. It was good, responsible behavior on the part of those folks."
There were two reasons for dropping the official doubt about the identity of the shipwreck, added David Moore, curator of nautical archaeology at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.
First, the museum recently opened "Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge," a greatly expanded exhibit of artifacts from the shipwreck. Had the confirmation of the ship's identity not been made, curators would have had to title the exhibition something like "Artifacts From the Purported Queen Anne's Revenge," Moore said.
Also, removing the official caveat could help the museum secure private funding to continue excavating the wreck, Moore said. Although the state legislature provides some funding, he said, tight budgets are cutting into that money.
Archaeological recovery ceased on the shipwreck after the 2015 season because of lawsuits filed against the State of North Carolina, the NCDNCR, and the Friends of the Queen Anne's Revenge nonprofit. Intersal, which discovered the Queen Anne's Revenge, filed suit in state court over contract violations. In a unanimous decision on November 2, 2019, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed Intersal's complaint and voted to send the lawsuit back to complex business court for reconsideration. In 2015, the state government of North Carolina uploaded videos of the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge to its website without permission. As a result, Nautilus Productions, the company documenting the recovery since 1998, filed suit in federal court over copyright violations and the passage of "Blackbeard's Law" by the North Carolina legislature. Before posting the videos the North Carolina Legislature passed "Blackbeard's Law", N.C. Gen Stat §121-25(b), which stated, "All photographs, video recordings, or other documentary materials of a derelict vessel or shipwreck or its contents, relics, artifacts, or historic materials in the custody of any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions shall be a public record pursuant to Chapter 132 of the General Statutes." On November 5, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Allen v. Cooper. On March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of North Carolina and struck down the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act, which Congress passed in 1989 to attempt to curb such infringements of copyright by states, in Allen v. Cooper.
In January 2018, sixteen fragments of paper were identified after being recovered from sludge inside a cannon. The scraps were from a copy of the book A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World, Perform'd in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711 by Captain Edward Cooke, in which Cooke travels under Woodes Rogers; it is likely the pages were torn from the book and used as wadding in that cannon. A portion of the objects and artifacts found at the shipwreck have been given on long-term loan to the Smithsonian and are on display in the National Museum of American History. Additionally, some artifacts have been loaned to the Musée National de la Marine in Paris.
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
Queen Anne's Revenge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The reference number is 04000148. It is listed as owned by the State of North Carolina and located near Morehead City. The wreck site is designated 31CR314 by the state of North Carolina.
Blackbeard was a feared
pirate, turned privateer, who the British Navy hunted down and killed.