ECU Pirates :: Traditions

The Legend of the East Carolina Pirates

Arrrgh! The legend of the East Carolina Pirates grew out of the Golden Age of Piracy, which was born during the late 17th century when plundering blood-thirsty pirates sailed the high seas and sounds of North Carolina's outer banks, bringing terror to the hearts of the bravest of sailors. During this time, many a pirate was feared, but none more so than the notorious and infamous, Blackbeard. Born Edward Teach, Blackbeard was the most diabolical and villainous swashbuckler to ever sail the North Carolina coast. Arrrgh!

Blackbeard was a tall strong man with long dark hair and a coal-black beard - hence his name Blackbeard. He was known to wear a long Royal Purple coat, a broad black hat, Old Gold knee trousers and high black boots. Slung across his chest was a bandoleer holding pistols and daggers, and on each hip hung a saber. Before battle he would stick pieces of slow burning rope under his hat illuminating his menacing face and dark eyes. It appeared that he might have stepped directly from the pits of hell - and some said he looked like the devil himself. Arrrgh!

Blackbeard captained a fleet of as many as four ships, and a crew of three hundred. His flagship, The Queen Anne's Revenge, carried forty cannons and was as grand a pirate ship as ever sailed.

Blackbeard's legendary pirating career came to a sudden end on November 22, 1718, when Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy sailed from Virginia and attacked Blackbeard's ship at Ocracoke Inlet near his hideaway - Teach's Hole. During the bloody battle, Blackbeard's crew of only nineteen sailors, including thirteen whites and six blacks, fought ferociously before all was lost. Blackbeard himself suffered five musket ball wounds and twenty lacerations before he fell mortally wounded. Arrrgh!

People around eastern North Carolina still wonder about Blackbeard's buried treasure. Some say it is still around the area being watched over by the ghosts of Blackbeard and some of his most loyal bandits. On the night before his death, Blackbeard reflected on his buried treasure. Drinking heavily, Blackbeard was asked by one of his crew, "If ye die on the morrow, does your wife, know where ye buried the treasure?" Blackbeard laughed and replied, "Damn ye my friend, nobody but me and the devil know where it is - and the longer liver will get it all." Arrrgh!

Some believe the treasure was buried in either Beaufort or Bath. Around East Carolina University this story is told: Two weeks before the battle at Ocracoke Inlet, Blackbeard, with a small crew and treasure in hand, sailed up the Pamlico River and then rowed a small boat up the Tar River. Here on the south side he buried his valuable plunder on what today is the campus of East Carolina University.

Still today, true East Carolina Pirate believers who walk the campus late at night after a great Pirate victory tell the same story of seeing the ghostly image of Blackbeard, dressed in his long Royal Purple coat, broad black hat, Old Gold knee-trousers, and high black boots, along with his devilish band of loyal pirates, wildly-roaming the East Carolina campus, pistols drawn and sabers waving in celebration of another Pirate victory. Thus, we have The Legend of the East Carolina Pirates. Arrrgh! Go Pirates Arrrgh!

By Jerry Tolley '65 '66