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While in the vicinity of Cuba in 1668, English pirate Robert Searles captured a Spanish supply ship and a brigantine on its way to Florida. On board was French surgeon Pedro Piques who had worked at the fort in St. Augustine. When he told Searles about the vulnerable city, Searles decided to sail there.

Searles maneuvered one of his captured ships into view of the fort and ordered the imprisoned crew to appear on deck and perform their usual tasks. The "supply ship" disguise fooled the presidio launch. The townspeople thought the supply ship would wait for favorable wind and dock in the morning.

Around midnight, Searles quietly maneuvered his ship into harbor. He and his pirates landed and quickly spread out, killing or capturing anyone they found while pillaging homes and shops. The townspeople, including the governor and the soldiers, fled into the woods.

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Did you know?

  • In 1671, when Henry Morgan sailed from Port Royal, Jamaica to sack and plunder Panama, his fleet consisted of 37 vessel, ranging from 4-gunners to 22-gunners.

  • Captain Kidd received a letter of marquee from King William III to seize any French ships during his search to capture pirates. Instead, he captured an Indianman resulting in the beginning of his pirate career.

  • The cook onboard a pirate ship was usually a disabled pirate who was allowed to stay on the ship if he could make food that didn't kill the pirate crew.

  • In September 1718, following months of successful plundering raids, the pirate crews of Blackbeard and Charles Vane rendezvoused on Ocracoke Island (North Carolina) for a wild, weeklong bacchanal.

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