What You Might Need To Know
Early in America's history, the struggle for independence from England brought all types to the two banners, for and against, while emotions ran high on both sides. Privateers, brave men and women who sailed the British-controlled seas, supplemented the Continental Navy, which formed in 1776. Sailing under the commissions of private businesses, the fledgling government, and the personal finances of wealthy men interested in plucking wealth from British trade, the privateers dealt severe blows to the already-weakened British economy.
Two long event-filled years before the Continental Navy was formed, before the Colonial government declared their independence, and before privateers were officially sanctioned, there was a legend born among the inhabitants of the Outer Banks shores. A riveting tale that later grew to be known throughout the Mid-Atlantic area as The Vengeance Legend. Many will tell you it is a tall tale, the speaker partaking too much of the rum, but The Vengeance Legend was very real to many people...including the seven strong men who crewed her. Lost to the pages of history, their story remained in the oral recitations of the locals. The Vengeance Legend told of men bound by destiny, heroics, and their own code of honor. At the heart of the legend was the bond between the seven diverse men, a bond that knew no bounds.
Born in the wake of a devastating tragedy in 1773, the mighty schooner Vengeance set sail in 1774 as a privateer. Her mission was simple: right the wrongs done by corrupt men, both in the Colonies and in the British Navy. Identities hidden by masks and fake monikers, their dark ship sailed under a menacing banner that struck fear in all who saw it. The tales instilled fear, with the exaggerated recounting quickly passed by word of mouth and helped to keep the ship and crew shrouded in mystery.
The crew of Vengeance found breathtaking adventure during the first four months of their existence, trying to rid the waters of the deadly pirates who were the scourge of all who dared to venture offshore. As they began to earn their name defending the colonies' maritime traffic, one day they found themselves coming to the aid of a helpless merchantman, severely changing their destinies.
Instead of a raiding pirate crew they expected, they discovered the attackers were poorly disguised men crewing a flagless Royal Navy brigantine. Dishonest and frustrated with the way the British Navy paid and treated their sailors, the Royal Captain had started taking goods for himself and his crew, directly in violation of the rules of conduct governing His Majesty’s Navy. By the time the crew of Vengeance realized their mistake, they had defeated and captured the Navy vessel.
In the aftermath, they sent the merchant on their way, and sailed the Navy ship north. Quietly, and in the dead of night, they slipped the Navy vessel into the middle of the Boston harbor, and left the British crew bound, gagged, and naked. They also stripped the vessel of everything of worth. How they managed to get past the blockade was still a hotly debated mystery, since the Port of Boston was closed in June 1774, and local government was severely curtailed by order of the Coercive Acts. The Acts -- renamed the Intolerable Acts by the colonists -- were the official British response to the Boston Tea Party in December 1773.
Having publicly and soundly humiliated the British, the Vengeance crew had to be doubly careful. The British Government declared them pirates, not privateers, and placed a bounty on the ‘Recovery of the Vessel Vengeance, and Any or All of Her Crew, to be tried for treason against the British Crown.’ The British considered the crew of the Vengeance no more than pirates, but those who believed in the cause for independence thought of Vengeance’s crew as Robin Hoods of the Sea.