The Last Battle of Blackbeard by Edward Eggleston “[Edward] Teach [Blackbeard] detained all the ships and prisoners, and, being in want of medicines, resolved to demand a chest from the government of the province [of Carolina]; accordingly, Richards, the captain of the Revenge sloop, with two or three more pirates, were sent up along with Mr. Marks, one of the prisoners, whom they had taken in [Robert] Clark’s ship, and very insolently made their demands, threatening that if they did not send immediately the chest of medicines and let the pirate ambassadors return without offering any violence to their persons, they would murder all prisoners, send up their heads to the governor, and set the ships they had taken on fire.” (Johnson, p. 49)
The Golden Age of Piracy (or the GAoP ~1680 ~ 1725) was a rough time for men at sea. Surgery was undergoing slow changes from an art to a science. The men who performed surgery at sea were often just out of their training years, trying to learn their profession on the men on merchant ships. It was from these ships that the pirates abducted them, forcing them to serve as ship's surgeon aboard their chaotic crafts.
Mission the Surgeon
Amputation von Gliedmaßen I decided to become a pirate re-enactor. Since I would never, ever have been a real pirate, I decided to choose a profession that might have wound up with a group pirates without actually having to join the crew: the ship's surgeon. This also gave me a technical field to study which further appealed to me. To define my character, I began looking for books about surgery during the Golden Age of Piracy (GAoP). I discovered that I had chosen a niche so obscure that I could find little good modern reference material. So I decided to write the book I wished someone else had written for a pirate surgeon character.
While gathering the notes to write the book. I stumbled along blindly for several months until the clues began to reveal how to find GAoP surgical material. (This secret, gathered through many, many hours spent in various libraries can be yours for a very small sum. Or by searching the Pirate Miscellanea section of this site.) Gathering a half dozen of these sources, I read and underlined like a mad fool, consolidating my notes and ideas into a book-worthy framework. This has become a Word document of well over 1000 pages (12 point Times). Some day soon I will buckle down, assemble this info and write that book. For now I am still researching and adding some of what I learn to the Tools and Procedures part of this site.
In the course of reenacting this era, I've had several fascinating adventures with other folks similarly engaged. Just like the pirates themselves, pirate re-enacting is filled with wonderfully colorful people doing wonderfully colorful things. In truth, they are some of the most generous and interesting people I have met. I further learned that surgeons were required to keep journals of their medical exploits while at sea, which may be why we so many interesting journals from the sea-going medical professionals (and near-professionals.) Since I have always enjoyed writing, particularly about things that I find humorous, I started putting together my own version of those surgeon's journals. I have documented nearly every event I have attended in my own inimitable way with generous splashes of the bizarre and absurd. You can find the accumulated observations of Mission, the pirate surgeon in the Goofy Event Journals section of this page.
If you have a question, comment or event that would benefit from a pirate-captured sea surgeon, I encourage you to contact me here: . (If you don't see anything there, you must enable Java - your ship's surgeon is funny about spam email, so email links get hidden from the email harvesting 'bots.)