Like Hatteras, Ocracoke has spawned many colorful legends. One of the most intriguing is the story of the pirate Blackbeard's last battle. The bloody fight was supposedly waged in Teach's Hole channel near Ocracoke Village. Some historians have cast doubt on this traditional tale, but it certainly makes for an interesting yarn.
The story goes that Blackbeard, near the end of his infamous career, hatched the idea of fortifying Ocracoke as a pirate haven. Hearing of this devilish plan and despairing of any help from Charles Eden, the colony's do-nothing Royal governor, the responsible citizens of coastal North Carolina appealed to Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia for aid.
The call was answered with the dispatch of two small sloops under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy. The two craft sailed to Ocracoke, where they found Blackbeard's ship, the Adventure, at anchor in the channel. Maynard sent out two small boats seeking a clear passage to his quarry. These were fired upon. Maynard displayed his colors, and the battle was joined in earnest.
One sloop soon ran aground, but Blackbeard bore down on the larger vessel, the Ranger, which was under Maynard's personal command. The Ranger was swept with cannon fire, for the British had only small arms with which to press the attack. Cleverly, Maynard ordered all his men below to escape the murderous fire. Seeing an apparently helpless vessel, Blackbeard brought the Adventure alongside and personally led the charge onto the deck of the British sloop. He soon met Maynard face to face, but as Blackbeard charged, the commander grazed his skull with a pistol. Charging up from his hiding place below, a Royal marine dealt the pirate a terrible neck wound with his saber. On and on Blackbeard fought with Maynard, until he finally fell dead at his enemy's feet. A later examination revealed that the pirate had suffered over thirty major wounds. In a grisly gesture, Maynard severed Blackbeard's head from his body and hung the disfigured visage upon the bowsprit. The body was flung overboard and is said to have swum three times around the Ranger before it sank.