THE BATTLE OF OCRACOKE - T-ISLAND SCREENPLAY

 

 

 

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Blackbeard was one of the most feared pirate captains operating in the Caribbean Sea. When he resumed pirating, the British made it their business to capture him as an example to other would be renegades.

 

 

 

 

The notorious pirate, Blackbeard, had been splitting his booty with the Governor of Virginia for some time, but Alexander Spotswade wanted more, to fund his empire building plans for the Colony. He knew Edward Teach had a significant stash from his loose talk when lubricated on rum. Though, he'd never managed to elicit the exact location, he knew it was tucked away on an island frequented by other privateers, the clue to where was marked on a parchment, in a chest, that Blackbeard kept close to him at all times. The island would be out of the way, and somewhat off the beaten track for the black hearted brethren who sailed under a Jolly Roger. None the wiser, and not caring, so long as the rum flowed and women danced, in proportion to the doubloons and pieces of eight, their captains so amply provided.

 

A plan was hatched, based on Blackbeard's escape route and known tactics, Spotwade double crossing his partner. The legendary pirate's skill and daring would be his undoing.

 

On the 19th of November 1718, Lieutenant Robert Maynard was given the command of two sloops, the 'Ranger' and 'Jane.'

 

"Remember the plan," said Spotswade to Maynard, on the dockside of Hampton.

 

"It's ingrained in my brain. Fear ye not." And with that 'Jane' and 'Ranger' upped anchor and hoisted their sails. Slowly, catching the wind, and picking up speed, as they headed to Pamlico Sound.


Rarely mentioned in the very many accounts of the battle at Ocracoke is how it came to be that Maynard and the other volunteer sailors from the British King’s ships stationed in Virginia, were persuaded to accept the deadly assignment of apprehending or killing the North Carolina pirates. It was the irresistible prospect of acquiring an abundant pirate treasure so vast in one lifetime as to be unimaginable. It must be said that the sixty or so men aboard the two, small, rented vessels under Maynard’s command, were hardly better than the pirates they were hunting.

 

Lt. Maynard caught up with Blackbeard at Ocracoke Inlet off the coast of North Carolina on 22 November 1718. True to the intelligences Spotswade had furnished, most of Blackbeard's men were ashore in various taverns, for a weekend of carousing. This factor was crucial for Spotswade's plan to succeed.

 

Maynard out-gunned and out-numbered the pirates three to one in small-arms. But his ship had no cannons, while Blackbeard's Adventure was thought to have up to eight cannons, considerably less than on the Queen Anne's Revenge, that was scuppered by Teach at the Beaufort Inlet, Bar of Topsail-Inlet, North Carolina on June 10th, after blockading Charleston Harbour, some five plus months earlier. In refusing the Governor's offer of the King's Pardon, the pirate had painted a target on his head. He was a marked man and no mistake. Foolish he was in trusting a crooked politician.

 

Maynard hid most of his men below decks, to lure Blackbeard in for a boarding. Initially, Blackbeard had his ship go to shallower water. Maynard's heavier ship hit a sand-bar and was stuck. Blackbeard then maneuvered his ship to fire a broadside at Maynard's ship. 

 

"We're stuck men, like a turkey shoot. Fish in a barrel. Look lively now and throw all inessentials to combat overboard."

 

The band of gold hungry sailors responded at great speed. Just about everything not bolted down was ejected. And eventually the Jane was freed, but not before Blackbeard, aboard Adventure had fired another two broadsides on Maynard. Inflicting heavy losses. He was a skilled sailor first and foremost.

 

Maynard rounded on the 'Jane' ramming the Adventure amidships. Blackbeard not quite understanding the tactics in the heat of battle, saw Jane's decks bereft of fighting men. He took this to mean the cannon pounding had succeeded, and a boarding would ensure capture, of what he believed to be another merchant ship at first. This was a fine start to a Saturday weekend morning.

 

"Grappling irons mates, lets pull her closer and tie us in." Ordered Blackbeard.

 

In reply, shots fired from the deck of the Jane, hitting two of Teach's men. But his crew returned fire, taking down four of those on the deck of the Jane. Fewer to overcome by the boarding party.

 

Thus emboldened, Blackbeard bellowed: "Now to it me hearties," as he swung from the Adventure to the Jane. A knife in his teeth, and shock of black hair trailing wisps of smoke, to strike fear into those about to be savaged. His crew duly chased their leader, hearts beating loud, as the red blood of battle coursed through their veins. But there was nothing to strike. The few men on deck threw down their weapons.

 

"Wise ye be," called Blackbeard, daring any reprisals with his fearsome appearance. "Catch up those arms lads. Let's not fuse a foolish heart."

 

Blackbeard saw Maynard as the biggest built and best attired. "Bind this fellow." The pirate moved to weigh up other opposition, and satisfied there would be none from the scrawny offerings before him. Rested for a moment. A moment that would cost him dear.

 

The whole encounter at sea had lasted just twenty minutes. Then Maynard gave a pre-arranged signal, and suddenly thirty men swarmed from below decks, engaging in hand to hand combat, with many pistol shots fired. The swordplay was savage on both sides. Then Blackbeard rounded on Robert Maynard. The two coming together with equal gusto. Maynard proved to be an expert swordsman. Blackbeard's cutlass was no match for the precision of the Royal Navy officer's blade. 

 

Blackbeard was shot, once, twice, but this did not slow him. Maynard inflicted cut after cut with his sword.

 

"Don't kill him," said the Lieutenant to his men, as more shots were fired. "We need what is in this scoundrel's head."

 

"So tell me, Mr Edward Thatch, where is your booty?" With this Maynard cut Blackbeard twice more with his blade.

 

"This ship is too small."

 

"Aye, that it be," said Blackbeard, giving his most evil grin."

 

"Then where. Tell me and I'll spare you and your crew?" Maynard hit out again, but Blackbeard struck Maynard, drawing blood from his right leg.

 

Maynard responded with a thrust to Blackbeard's left arm. Blood gushing from the wound.

 

"It'll do you no good, fancy as you are with that steel."

 

Maynard lost it momentarily, letting loose another pistol shot. This caught Blackbeard in the side, taking out a rib. He knew he was done for. His men were dropping all around him, the deck awash with blood, much of it his own.

 

"The secret goes with me to the Devil and my grave. I curse you, your crew and kin." With this, Blackbeard charged Maynard, cutting him fiercely with his cutlass. To no avail. Maynard dealt him a death blow to the neck, as he pushed the pirate down, and Edward Teach dropped to the deck, mortally wounded.

 

Maynard pressed forward, twisting his blade in Blackbeard's right arm. Despite the excruciating pain, Blackbeard just laughed. "Dead men tell no tales." He fell silent, blood pumping from his neck wound. Then the blood stopped gushing. Blackbeard was dead.

 

The remaining pirates threw down their weapons. Without their fearsome leader, they had no chance and no plan.

 

"Bind the prisoners men," ordered the Navy Lieutenant, as he headed for Blackbeard's cabin. "We'll question them later."


Maynard searched in the roundhouse of the 65-foot-long Jamaica-rigged sloop, Surely the world’s best-known and most-feared pirate captain kept a chest of Spanish gold, silver pieces of eight and jewels hidden beneath his bunk, just for his walkin’ around money.

 

But there was naught. Just a small bag of gold nuggets for wine and rum. In a chest there were letters and other documents, the most interesting of which was a parchment, with directions and measurements, but no name or coordinates to identify the land mass it applied to.

 

"Vexed I am, cursed indeed with frustration. That festering mound of flesh was right." With that Robert Maynard chopped off Blackbeard's head. He bagged the offending body part, in a canvass sack. Then counted the gunshot wounds on the torso, five in all, and cuts to the body, twenty in number.

 

"The treasure must be mountainous to warrant such pain. I'll be lucky not to be court marshaled for my excess, if the Governor is displeased with our account of this morning. I wonder if Teach's wife will be more forthcoming." 

 

With that, Maynard ordered Blackbeard's body thrown over the side, into the deep blue Atlantic.

 

Maynard sailed Blackbeard’s ship 'Adventure' across Pamlico Sound up to Bath, but not with the pirate’s head hanging under the bowsprit as is so often told. It was too valuable, worth a bounty of £100 pounds sterling back in Virginia. Blackbeard's wife, Mary Ormond, could not be found.

 

With that, Lieutenant Maynard began his descent into obscurity. His account of the encounter, bore little resemblance to the battle real, and the manner in which Blackbeard was overcome. 

 

 

 

 

 

Damn you for Villains, who are you? And, from whence came you? The Lieutenant made him Answer, You may see by our Colours we are no Pyrates. Black-beard bid him send his Boat on Board, that he might see who he was; but Mr. Maynard reply'd thus; I cannot spare my Boat, but I will come aboard of you as soon as I can, with my Sloop. Upon this, Black-beard took a Glass of Liquor and drank to him with these Words: Damnation seize my Soul if I give you Quarters, or take any from you. In Answer to which, Mr. Maynard told him, that he expected no Quarters from him, nor should he give him any.

 

 

 

PART I

 

SCENE 1. THE BATTLE OF OCRACOKE - North Carolina Historic flashback - 1718, 22nd November, a British naval taskforce led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard lay in wait for Edward Teach (Blackbeard), beheading the troublesome pirate after a long and bloody swordfight, including severval gunshots wounds by way of a torturous interrogation. As Blackbeard expires on the deck of the Adventure, he curses the English sailors and their kin, taking the secret of his treasure with him to the Devil.

 

SCENE 2. EARTHQUAKE JAMAICA - Present Day - An earthquake hits Port Royal, disturbing the sunken city. Underwater scenes of chaotic movement ripples, what is left of buildings rocking. A Palisadoes cemetery opening an entrance to Henry Morgan's mausoleum.

 

SCENE 3. BLUE SHIELD ENGLAND - England - Blue Shield, Newcastle University. John Storm is called to Jamaica urgently, requested by UNESCO, to catalogue the archaeological remains of the underwater city, using the Elizabeth Swann's ultra modern array of subsea survey sensors, worried that another quake threatens to wipe out all records. They plan to make the submerged city a UNEP World Heritage Site.

 

SCENE 4. HENRY MORGAN'S DEATH - Historic flashback - Henry Morgan musing taking of a prize ship as a pirate off coast of Venezuela and Panama, while he is working his sugar cane plantation in drunken condition, he has a heart attack. Cut to his funeral ceremony at Palisadoes cemetery, old Port Royal.

 

SCENE 5. SUNKEN CITY SURVEY - Caribbean Sea Present Day - The Swann's sensors scan the ocean bed, revealing what turns out to be the mausoleum and tomb containing remains of the former Governor of Jamaica. It is under threat of imminent and dangerous collapse.

 

SCENE 6. JUNE 1692 TSUNAMI - Jamaica Historic flashback - June 7th, an earthquake hits Port Royal, then a tsunami washes the pirate haven under the sea, covering Henry Morgan's mausoleum. Washing clean the sins of the wicked city.

 

SCENE 7. HENRY MORGAN'S COFFIN - Jamaica Present Day - John Storm investigates target underwater areas using an ROV, then dives the site, coming face to face with Sir Henry's macabre skeletal remains. Then discovering secret compartment in his coffin, and interesting wooden engraving.

 

PART II

 

SCENE 8. BBC Jill Bird - London. "The intrepid conservationist, Mr John Storm .." News of the archaeological find and condition of lost Henry Morgan, pirate's remains - saved. "And for those of you wondering, there was no treasure."


SCENE 9. Lord Huntington acquires funding from the British Geographical Society, with Royal Navy interest in the background, for an expedition to recover relics in the Caribbean, a shipwreck rich in archaeologically important artifacts. Though his secret agenda is to piggy back that operation in the search for Blackbeard's mythical hoard and the supposedly cursed Golden Skull. Huntington purchases an old Antarctic survey ship, renaming it 'Hispaniola'.

 

SCENE 10. William Gray helps John Long and his band of cut-throats to crew for Huntington, one the basis of purloined data from a UNESCO report on the wooden engraving. John Long poses as a cartographer, but proves to be a dab hand on the galley. He is elected ship's cook.

 

SCENE 11. Huntington contacts John Storm, asking for help with the supposed shipwreck survey - meet in the Caribbean. Asking for ES assstance as portable lab, appealing to Storm's general interest in such matters. At this stage John has no idea about the parchment Huntington has been keeping a secret, thinking he is cosher, as a BGS bigwig.

 

SCENE 12. ...

 

SCENE 13. ...

 

SCENE 14. ...

 

PART III

 

SCENE 15. ...

 

SCENE 21. ...

 


 

John Storm and Elizabeth Swann get to Treasure (Skeleton) Island

 

 
 

 

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