|July 9, 1960|
In the 1740s, Spanish privateers began roaming the coastal waters of North Carolina. Beaufort's normal maritime activity was interrupted or threatened on several occasions by the presence of these privateers, whose vessels rendezvoused in the large natural harbor provided by Cape Lookout Bight. On at least three occasions between June and September of 1747, it was necessary to muster local troops to resist the intruders. On June 14, 1747, the Spanish entered Beaufort harbor and made off with several small vessels; at the time a militia of only thirteen men was posted in Beaufort.
|Click above image to view other 1747 militia groups posted by Joel S. Russell|
Led by Major Enoch Ward, the militia held them off until August 26 when the Spanish put a landing party ashore and took possession of the town. In early September Colonel Thomas Lovick and Captain Charles Cogdell gathered more men to finally rid the town of these invaders. It has been said that without the help of close to 100 farmers and locals, the militia may not have prevailed. Local folklore suggests that several Spaniards died and were buried in the Old Burying Ground.
On July 9, 1960, town firemen participated in Beaufort's first reenactment
of the Spanish invasion--implemented from an idea by Grayden Paul.
|Pirates who participated in the 1960 reenactment|
First row: L to R - Norwood Gaskin, Bud Taylor, Gerald Woolard, Freddy Snooks, Bobby Hudgins, Elmond Rhue.
Second row: L to R - Bud Smith, Jackie Chaplain (Jesse's father), Neal Willis (Linda Sadler's father), Allen Willis, Bryan Loftin, Joe Long and Frank Langdale.
Photos taken by Roy Eubanks; photo IDs from Jesse Chaplain.
Photos courtesy Linda Willis Sadler.
Click images to enlarge.
In his book, Beaufort by the Sea - Memories of a Lifetime, Neal Willis wrote,
In June 1960, there was a re-enactment of the 1700s invasion of Beaufort by Spanish sailors (who had run out of food and supplies). It was staged on Front Street near the Post Office. A fort was erected on the island across from Branch Bank.
The pirates were members of the Fire Department and were dressed as pirates were thought to have looked. We wore bandannas, nautical outfits and carried plastic cutlasses and guns. The town defenders were mostly merchants dressed in overalls and straw hats and carrying guns.
We pirates were brought in on a large boat and were transferred to a lifeboat used as the pirate boat. The pirates rowed the boat over to the island and attacked the fort. It was set on fire. Then we rowed across to the shore and charged over the breakwater with blood curdling screams, waving cutlasses and firing guns.
We had been practicing the landing for a week, mostly when the tide was high. When the real landing came, the tide was low. The boat ran aground about six feet from the shore. The bow was on land but the rest of the boat was over water about ten feet deep. We didn't know the water was that deep until we went over the side and went over our heads. Our pirate costumes were wet and coming apart. Our guns were wet and some didn't fire. Our cutlasses were floating away. But we still charged the defenders. We put up quite a fight. After the battle, the town defenders loaded us into horse drawn wooden carts and carried us to the jail...
Some of the same pirates participated again in 1961.