One of the most infamous figures to grace the North Carolina Coast was Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate. During the golden age of piracy in the early 1700s, the Outer Banks were a perfect stomping ground for Blackbeard and his kind, as the barrier islands and inlets provided the perfect cover from merchant ships, ideal for sneak attacks and hiding from authorities.
With a large black beard that covered his face, Blackbeard became a notorious figure in these waters. According to the recounts of his victims, he would light cannon fuses under his hat during battles, making his face look like it was covered in fire.
His pirate career lasted only a few years (it is believed that he started attacking ships in 1710 or so), but he quickly became well known throughout the coastal waters. While he hunted in the waters off of the Outer Banks, he spent his spare time in the mainland towns of North Carolina, and the small town of Bath is well known as one of his favorite haunts and his hometown. He is rumored to have settled down there while not on ship, with a wife in a grand house next to a North Carolina politician.
In 1717, Blackbeard captured a French ship, the Concorde, off the island of St. Vincent, renamed it the Queen Anne's Revenge and used it to terrorize merchants off the coast. It is not currently known how many vessels Blackbeard captured during his exploits, but a preliminary database compiled by North Carolina Maritime Museum researchers currently contains over 50 prizes which can be directly attributed to Blackbeard's activities.
Blackbeard was eventually tracked down to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina by the Royal Navy and killed in a brief but bloody battle on November 22, 1718. On the night before the battle, Blackbeard is rumored to have cried out "O Crow, Cock! O Crow, Cock!" in eager anticipation of the morning's fight. This phrase eventually became the name of the neighboring island, Ocracoke.
In November 1996, a private research company discovered what it believed to be the Queen Anne's Revenge in about 20 feet of water off Beaufort Inlet, in Carteret County. A bronze bell dated 1709, a 24-pound cannonball, a blunderbuss barrel, along with other items, were recovered in March 1997, and were given to the state of North Carolina.