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Notorious Brit pirate Blackbeard's terror tactics found in recovered ammo

June 11, 2011 - Washington

Notorious English pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, is said to have terrorized many, and the secret to his tactics was found in piles of ammo recovered from his ship.

An expedition on what is believed to be the wreck of Blackbeard's flagship Queen Anne's Revenge found ammo containing lead shot, nails, and glass, which were likely to have been put in canvas bags and fired from cannons.

The improvised missiles were intended to scare sailors into surrendering, and to terrorize the seas from Virginia to the Caribbean in the early 18th century.

Archaeologists from North Carolina's Department of Cultural Resources, who were exploring the ocean floor off the North Carolina coast, noticed three metallic clusters, which covered a 5-by 3-foot-square area on the seabed.

"The three conglomerates consist mostly of lead shot, nails, and glass which we suspect were put in canvas bags and fired from the cannons," Discovery News quoted Mark Wilde-Ramsing, deputy state archaeologist and leader of the expedition, as saying.

"There are 24 cannons within the wreckage and five have been cleaned. Four cannons were loaded and one had three 9-inch bolts, in front of the cannon ball, which would have been very terrorizing when shot," he explained.

The archaeologists also found the remains of another frightening contraption - two identical cannon balls linked by an iron bar or chain. Producing a spinning effect when fired from cannon, these contrivances were used at close range to slash through the rigging of an enemy ship.

"As with all pirates, Blackbeard did not want to sink merchant ships but scare them into giving up. Shooting bolts and scrap lead, iron and glass would have been very effective," Wilde-Ramsing said.

According to the archaeologist, historical evidence indicates that Blackbeard also put the same mixture along with gunpowder into bottles with a wick.

"In the end, we were not able to recover these items during the expedition. They likely will be recovered this coming fall when we return to the site," Wilde-Ramsing added.


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