No pirate left a legacy like Blackbeard’s. In the two short years he spent terrorizing America and the West Indies, he built up a reputation as the fiercest, dirtiest, and most terrifying pirate on the seven seas.
Today, he’s become more of a myth than a man. We almost see him as the ultimate badass, a pirate who could strike fear into the hearts of anyone who stood in his way. And that isn’t exactly wrong. But Blackbeard wasn’t just some cool, tough, but likable antihero. He was incredibly dangerous—and completely out of his mind.
He Shot His Crew Members To Remind Them He Was In Charge
Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was massive. It had a crew of 300 men, all of them hard-drinking pirates who were ready to go wild at the slightest provocation. It was a struggle to keep them in line—which is probably why Blackbeard picked up the habit of getting drunk and shooting them.
Early on, it’s believed that Blackbeard had a hard time getting his crew to obey him. After raiding ships, they’d get drunk on the wine they stole and get rowdy, and, initially, Blackbeard struggled to get people to listen to him.
That changed, though, when he started acting crazier than they ever could. According to an old story, Blackbeard was once drinking with his first mate, Israel Hands, when suddenly, Blackbeard blew out the candle, pulled out his gun, and shot his first mate in the knee.
Israel Hands hadn’t done anything to provoke Blackbeard. When Hands asked Blackbeard why, he simply relit the candle and said, “If I don’t shoot one or two crewmen now and then, they’d forget who I am.