From the early 1700's until his death in 1718 Edward Teach also known as Blackbeard, instilled fear in everyone who sailed the seas, including other pirates. He was the most feared pirate in the Caribbean and the East Coast of the 13 colonies. England was at war with Spain and in order to help control their Spanish problem, the English got the bright idea to issue "letters marque" to certain seaman. These seaman would otherwise be known as pirates.
Blackbeard received such a letter and became what was known as a Privateer. In other words he was licensed by the British to attack and plunder Spanish ships. Blackbeard however, wasn't particular whom he attacked and plundered. He considered every ship he found on the high seas fair game. He also set himself up as the Magistrate of Nassau, where he ruled over other pirates and citizens alike.
Blackbeard was believed to be the Devil himself, incarnate in man. He would be recognized today as an obvious psychopath. The people that knew him then, or even heard his name, believed him to be the Devil himself. Blackbeard encouraged such belief by weaving hemp saturated with saltpetre into his beard Whenever he went into battle or approached a ship to raid, he would set the hemp fuses afire. The sight of Blackbeard standing on the deck of his ship, "Qeen Anne's Revenge" with his head spewing fire, his body loaded with pistols and knives, laughing like the evil maniac he was, would cause his enemies to tremble in fear.
The end of Privateering
England signed a nonaggression pact with Spain, in order to make sea travel safer for everyone. At this time all "Letters Marque" were revoked. Privateers were no longer legalized for the privilege of plundering Spanish ships. If they did, it would be considered an act of piracy, a hanging offence. Blackbeard paid no attention to the fact that privateering was no longer legal. He had always ignored the rules anyway, so he carried on with business as usual. Blackbeard felt that with his navy of pirates and fleet of ships, he was equal in strength to the British.
Blackbeard attacks the Spanish Galleons
One day in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere East of the Bahamas, Black beard and three other ships in his company spotted three Spanish ships, and initiated pursuit. To Black beard's surprise, two of the most heavily armed Spanish ships turned and ran their galleons straight for Blackbeard's ships rather than fleeing . Blackbeard welcomed a good fight. Along with two of his ships went into battle against the two aggressive Spanish galleons. The remaining Blackbeard ship went off in pursuit of the one fleeing Spanish galleon. Blackbeard destroyed and sank the two Spanish galleons after taking what he wanted. During the battle his fourth ship that had left in pursuit of the fleeing Spanish galleon had completely vanished from sight. The sea being a vast area Blackbeard was unable to find his missing schooner and the Spanish Galleon, but hoped to meet up with it later in Nassau.
Fourth ship strikes Gold
The fourth Blackbeard ship that had left in pursuit of the Spanish Galleon being a schooner could easily catch the slower Spanish Galleon. The Galleon was however more heavily armed with 75 cannon. After a short but fierce battle, Blackbeard's crew out maneuvered and captured the Spanish Galleon. Their own ship was so badly damaged from cannon fire, that it sank a few minutes later. Blackbeard's crew completely destroyed the Spanish crew, and gained control over their ship.
The Blackbeard crew was so devastated by the battle that they barely had enough crew left to sail the Spanish Galleon.They were delighted to find on board not only a load of a new kind of wine, but nearly a ton of gold. The captured ship however, was also badly damaged, and in danger of breaking up. The crew steered their new found ship straight for the east coast of Eleuthera. They never made it to land, but ran aground on an offshore reef. Before the ship broke up and washed away, the crew were able to unload all of the gold into small boats. After many trips ashore, they were successful in landing all the gold and a large amount of the new wine safely on the beach.
The Devil's Gold, & The Devil's Wine
The Blackbeard crew was very tired. They were so thrilled with their accomplishment however, they barely noticed their own fatigue. They opened up a few bottles of wine to celebrate the days events. Unknown to the crew, this was a wine like they had never experienced before. The Spanish had just discovered the technique of fermenting cocoa leaves in their wine. In other words, the wine was heavily laced with cocaine. None of the crew knew anything about this. All they knew was the fact that they were no longer tired. Each individual crew member thought he was the strongest man in the world. This coupled with the alcohol effect as well as the inherent fighting nature of the crew was to prove disastrous. The next morning, when the sun came up over the sea on the east coast of Eleuthera, there was only three crew members left alive. The bodies of the remaining crew members were everywhere, lying dead on the beach. The crew members, now sober, were shocked at what they had done. They couldn't understand just what had happened. They blamed this new wine, believing it to be cursed by the Spanish. A pact was made to never touch wine again.
Lost & deserted
Two of the remaining three crew members decided to row around the top of Eleuthera to Nassau while the third would stay behind and hide the gold and wine. The name of the remaining crew member is unknown but we'll refer to him as John, as that is what his name eventually became. After many days John had concealed the gold and wine, so that no one could ever find it. John sat many more days waiting for his friends to return with his Capt. Blackbeard. They never came. John's supply of drinking water from the Spanish ship had run out. He had no food. John had given up on his friends returning. Any hope he had of staying alive vanished. John was a dying, lost soul on the Atlantic beach of Eleuthera.
The British, at this time, decided to clean up Nassau. Without warning they sailed into Nassau Harbour with a fleet of heavily armed war ships. The British swarmed Nassau, then arrested and hanged eight Pirates that were identified to them by the locals. It is believed that John's two ship mates were among the eight. If so they took their secret of the Devil's Gold to their grave. Blackbeard was at sea, when the British arrived, so was not part of the roundup. Blackbeard got word of what had happened and did not return to Nassau. He was later cornered elsewhere off the coast of Virginia and killed in battle. When he finally fell dead it was determined that he had received eight potentially fatal wounds in his career. He had received five gunshot wounds and three knife wounds, all of which should have ended his life. He had survived all of them, only falling over with the ninth fatal wound he received. Consequently, the belief in Blackbeards supernatural power became firmly implanted in Caribbean folklore.
Where is the Devil's Gold?
John could have buried the gold in a cave, near the beach, or somewhere in the vicinity of the place they landed. John never returned or told anyone, where he buried the wine and gold. To this day neither the wine, nor the gold has ever been found. If you're walking on the beach near Sunrise Villa and come across an old bottle of wine buried in the sand, remember that it could be from the Spanish ship, hundreds of years ago. You should just bury it again for another few hundred years, as drinking it could prove dangerous. If you should see anywhere the glint of Spanish gold, just walk on by. It brought bad luck to anyone who ever possessed it in the past. Would you really want to test your luck?
John Sandman and the Eleutherans found something much more valuable than gold. They found God, peace and Eleuthera. No visitor to Eleuthera would disagree when I say that Eleuthera gives visitors the feeling of peace and freedom. Eleuthera's warm salt water and soft pink sand beaches, and especially it's people are a greater treasure than gold.back to top