The Real Pirates of the Caribbean by Colin Woodard

By Colin Woodard

Here's the genuine tale of the British Royal Navy's fight with the best pirate gang of all time. Drawing on data in nice Britain and the USA, award-winning journalist and writer Colin Woodard separates truth from fiction, revealing the true motivations and struggles of Blackbeard, Black Sam Bellamy, Calico Jack Rackham, and extra.

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In the winter of 1716-1717, Blackbeard teamed up with the “gentleman pirate” Stede Bonnet, a wealth-but-eccentric Barbados sugar planter who had built his own pirate ship and snuck away to the Bahamas, undeterred by his lack of sailing experience. Together, they stalked the flagship of the South Seas Company, Royal James, and her escort, HMS Diamond, across the Gulf of Mexico, intending to seize them both. They never found them, but earned a frightening reputation among the Spaniards. All of the Bahamian pirates were continuously threatening to launch an amphibious invasion of Bermuda.

When the pirate Sam Bellamy seized a sloop bound for Antigua, a 10-year old passenger named John King begged that he be taken away with them. ” Most volunteers were older, but just as enthusiastic; seen side-by-side, life on a pirate vessel appeared far more attractive than on a merchant vessel, where food was scarce, pay was poor, and working conditions miserable. As a result, pirate sloops typically carried 30 percent to 100 percent more men than a naval sloop-of-war, a critical advantage in an era when boarding actions were common.

But it did not. Thanks to the support of Hornigold, Burgess, Jennings and other pro-pardon pirates who manned the fort, a coup was averted, and many of their former colleagues were brought to justice. While Rogers’s hold on the island would remain tenuous for years, it deprived the pirates of their primary sanctuary and supply lines, allowing them to be picked off, one by one. Despite reinforcements and direct orders to hunt pirates, the Navy had few successes. Those went to civilian-led posses – well-manned expeditions using nimble sloops - who were responsible for the vast majority of pirate apprehensions in the Americas.

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