A conundrum that surrounds the sunken wreck of Blackbeard’s pirate ship has been recently solved by new research.
There’s been a longstanding mystery regarding how the vessel contained heaps of coal, considering it was before coal mining was even prevalent in America. However, scientists probably have an answer now.
Introduced in the early 18th century, the 31.4-meter-long ship was a French slave-trading vessel that sailed in the Atlantic. Back in 1717, on 28 November, the vessel was reportedly captured by Edward Teach (Blackbeard) as well as his gang of pirates close to the island of Saint Vincent.
Gathering a crew of about 400 pirates, Blackbeard used the vessel not only to raise hell but also to fetch hoards of treasure in and around the Caribbean. It appears in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, as any great pirate legend ideally should.
Blackbeard was renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge to reference the monarch who lost his life three years previously. Some suggested that the name was a reference to Queen Anne’s War, wherein Blackbeard had served as part of the Royal Navy.
It eventually sunk in 1718 (June) when it ran aground close to the Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina, and the wreck was rediscovered in 1996.
Experienced archaeologists have also successfully recovered Blackbeard’s treasures, including paper documents, gold, mercury, glass beads, brass goods, and – quite unexpectedly – hundreds of pieces of coal.
This was a few decades before coal mining found prevalence in North America, and it wasn’t until the 1870s that steam-powered vessels were propelled by burning the fuel, so what could it possibly be doing among the wreck?
If we look at a 19th- or 20th-century setting, the simplest explanation for the source of these types of coal could be lying in the Appalachians, but the mining there did not exist in the period we are trying to look at.
Besides, European settlers didn’t discover the Pennsylvania anthracite until the latter half of the 1760s, and legitimate mining did not take place until the 1800s, explained James Hower, the study author and also a distinguished fellow as well as research professor associated with the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research.
Recently, scientists have analyzed the coal and also surveyed the seabed to resolve this mystery. Their work has revealed that the coal dates much later than that of Blackbeard’s time. That it was sprinkled around the shipwreck simply was a matter of chance.
The shipwreck is off the coast of Fort Macon, which was one of the key harbours and coal refuelling stations during the Civil War following the Union troops captured it on 26 April 1862. Within the next two years, about 421 vessels could make nearly 500 trips into the city for coal. It seems that some ships may have also chucked some cargo overboard.
The coal may have gathered on the pirate shipwreck due to strong waves, hurricanes, and tidal currents that have resulted in the inlets and sand shoal formation along the Outer Banks.
Reference: Diver Net, Mirror
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