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  • Writer's pictureCaptain Mark and Suzanne

The Pirate Files: The History and the Legends

As Suzanne and I remain mostly housebound, ashore in Rock Hall this winter, the opportunity to look back at our many "Pirate Files" has presented itself on more than one occasion, thus, inspiring us to revisit and repost the "Graybeard Legends" - the stories and poems that I composed each of the first several years in order to incorporate a theme into each year's event. Fourteen years ago, in the quaint Town of Rock Hall, Md, the annual festival known as Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend, was born. Looking back, it is still a great mystery how a rather simple idea exploded like the blast of a mighty cannon to become one of the largest, most well-attended festivals of its kind. Year after year, by land or by sea, thousands of participants and spectators have ventured to our humble shores for a safe, fun and family friendly town wide theme party they never would forget. As the creators and directors of the first 10 (plus one encore year) of P&W Weekend, Suzanne and I, along with our most dedicated volunteer crew, take great pride in how the event got started, what the event has become and how it will be remembered. After our eleven years in the directors' chair, we are immensely gratified to know that the torch has been passed and a most adventurous and able crew is now at the helm - and, that they are working very hard to keep the event afloat, especially now, during these storm ridden times. Although, 2019 (year 12) proved to be an enormous success for our new captains and crew, the 13th annual event, scheduled in 2020 was unfortunately set adrift and lost at sea by the tempest known as COVID 19. We look forward to an even more thunderous success in August 2021.

The idea for Pirates and Wenches Weekend was conceived on the deck of Waterman's Crab House on Halloween night in 2007 as we watched pirate after pirate enter the tent for the annual costume contest. Suzanne and I had been inspired by the wonderful experience we shared while serving on Rock Hall's Tricentennial Committee during the previous two years. We were mightily impressed by the way pretty much everyone in town came together to support and celebrate the town's 300th birthday. It was an honor for us to work with our mayor, Jay Jacobs and his newly-wedded wife, Dawn, as well as so many other creative and energetic volunteers. As part of Rock Hall 300, Suzanne and I volunteered to plan "Chicken Necker Appreciation Day" as well as provide volunteer assistance for each major event. In addition, we agreed to video-tape the events, a somewhat exhausting project that we eventually edited as an inspiring and heartfelt documentary. As newlyweds ourselves, this experience stands out as, perhaps, one of our greatest honors as full-time residents of this wonderful town.

To say the least, from its moment of conception, with more help and support that is possible to express with mere words - and from more people than anyone, including ourselves could ever imagine - Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend quickly came to life. Fresh ideas flowed like rum from a bottle as the planning committees worked to organize activities that would carve out the basic template of what was in store. Like a complicated jigsaw puzzle, there were so many pieces, yet, with so many creative minds in possession of a common desire, it seemed as though the puzzle pieces found their own place in the ever developing picture. Of course, at first, there were doubters among us. For example, one night at a local watering hole when we floated the idea to one of our good friends, the conversation went something like this:

Good friend: "What do you think - you can just build it and they will come?"

Captain Mark and Suzanne: (With great certainty) "Yes!"

To everyone's shock and amazement, including our own, and to the credit of so many people, businesses, resident and non-resident volunteers - multitudes of attendees, performers, re-enactors and planning committees, our 2008 inaugural event was a roaring success with many more to follow in its wake.

No pirate themed event can possibly exist without a celebrated piratical hero. While we are mostly aware that real piracy is a horrible criminal activity, the stereotypical imagery of the legendary bad guy has been woven into our maritime folklore and forms the basis for some real fun times on a hot August weekend in Rock Hall, Md. What follows are the original unabridged Graybeard stories and accompanying photos. Although, the reader may find a few "alternative facts" in these accounts, the rest is, as they say, history!

The Legend of Graybeard

The Chesapeake Bay is rich with a colorful history spanning more than 400 years. However, few, if any, accounts have survived that accurately chronicle the fascinating story of the discovery and early settlement of Rock Hall, Md. - "The Pearl of the Chesapeake".

While most explorations of the Chesapeake region originated between Cape Henry and Cape Charles, Virginia, the voyage of Graybeard, Rock Hall's celebrated pirate, orator and leader of men, originated in Great Britain at the turn of the18th century during the War of the Spanish Succession.

Captain Albert Kendall Hall, an ambitious seafarer from Cornwall, England, rapidly rose through the ranks to become one of the youngest captains in the history of the British Royal Navy. In 1702, at just twenty-five years of age, he was easily distinguished by his unique, pre-maturely gray beard. While commanding the man-of-war, HMS Gratitude, Hall's unflinching, steadfast courage against the Franco-Spanish Fleet in the Battle of Vigo Bay earned him the nickname La Roca which translates into "The Rock." British naval historians believe that after the destruction of the Spanish at Vigo, La Roca illegally pillaged a huge bounty of silver, gold and "other fabled treasures" from the doomed galleons of the richest treasure fleet ever to sail the Spanish Main.

Her Majesty, Queen Anne, summoned the triumphant La Roca back to England in 1703. She had fully expected to bestow upon him a well-deserved knighthood for bravery and exemplary service. However, to her shock and humiliation, the captain unexplainably absconded with his loyal crew of six aboard Gratitude, making off for the New World with much of the stolen treasure. The ship sailed westward at sunset and as accordion music played on the breeze, La Roca's crew exulted in song:

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

When the Queen became aware of La Roca's treasonous departure, she immediately ordered an "armada of tiny ships" to "pursue him to the ends of the earth" and upon his capture, to carry out specific secret instructions she had carefully sealed in an envelope. Believing that it takes a pirate to catch a pirate, the Queen chose Capt. Jay Hawkins, grandson of the notorious Elizabethan sea dog, Sir John Hawkins, to command the flotilla. The fleet quickly assembled and set out with Godspeed after La Roca. However, by the time the tiny ships got underway, HMS Gratitude could barely be seen. As her tall masts fell below the horizon, an accordion played and the sound of cheerful voices sang:

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

Although laden heavy with treasure, Gratitude stayed well ahead of her relentless pursuers on fresh winds and following seas. Nevertheless, the crew soon became restless when they began to run low on beer. It was just before happy hour during their second week at sea that a near-mutiny took place on the deck of the ship. The six angry men drew their swords and began to surround the Captain demanding that he turn back to England. It was at this defining moment that Graybeard's extraordinary gift of oratory would come forth. The Captain swiftly drew his sword and thundered to his threatening scallywags, "Stand down me lads, avast, avast! I know how to make it last." At once, silence befell the deck as Graybeard outlined his brilliant solution to the problem - and miraculously, the tension began to quell. Within a few days, the men had completely adapted to daily rations of ten-ounce beers. The crisis was averted and the issue never arose again. Graybeard smiled as an accordion played. His men burst into song:

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

Fearing that pirating would be too competitive in the Caribbean, Graybeard plotted a course for Delmarva on the northern coast of Virginia. Graybeard believed that Delmarva had been mistakenly designated a peninsula by map makers who had been too lazy to fully explore the area. The truth, he held, was that a northern passage existed, thus making Delmarva an island. They chose to sail north into the Delaware Bay where they would search for the passage and prove Delmarva was in fact, an island.

When the pirates reached Cape May, New Jersey, they decided to stop for grub. They bartered pieces of eight with the natives for necessary supplies. Digging deep into one of the treasure chests, Graybeard found a tattered treasure map depicting a northern passage around the "Isle of Delmarva" exiting into the Elk River at the head of the Chesapeake Bay. An arrow pointed north and then south to a remote location on a small peninsula where a large black letter X marked a secluded spot. The Captain read the following words that were scrawled on the map. "Perla de la Chesapeake - quien posee esta perla encontrara vivir agradable eterno". This translated means, "The Pearl of the Chesapeake - He who possesses this pearl shall be granted an eternity of pleasant living".

Graybeard had heard of the fabled pearl and having discovered the secret map marking its secret location, he got underway immediately making toward the northern passage to the Land of Pleasant Living. The crew began to sing:

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

The ship kept steadily on her northward course until the river began to narrow. Dodging shoals and large pieces of driftwood, the going became treacherous. Before long, the lookout in the crow's nest spotted an entrance to an uncharted tributary that Graybeard suspected was the mythical route. Although the channel was no wider than the ship was long, the Captain ordered Gratitude forward as they ventured into the unmarked opening. Since Graybeard's voyage pre-dated the age of electronics, he set two mates off in a dinghy to check the depth ahead. After several miles of scraping the bottom and waiting for rising tides, Gratitude suddenly stopped - she was hopelessly stuck in the mud and was unable to turn around. Once again, the Captain's remarkable resourcefulness came to bear. Graybeard ordered all men ashore, whereupon they began clearing a road for transporting the ship's contents over-land where they would reclaim it upon reaching the Chesapeake Bay. For several weeks, the pirates labored unloading cargo from the stranded ship and carrying it to a hiding place on the Chesapeake side of the passage. They called this hiding place, Chesapeake City. When the last of the cannons and treasure chests were removed, Gratitude was once again afloat and ready to make sail. Yet again, the men began to sing:

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

By August of 1707, Graybeard and his fearless lads had finally reached the spot that was marked on the map with an X. It was a most magnificent site with an abundance of fresh seafood, excellent sailing, secluded harbors, and everything they might have hoped to find in the Caribbean (except warm winters and blue water, of course). They moored the ship just off a small sandy beach where they buried their treasure, for fear that Jay Hawkins and his men with tiny dinghies might one day find them. Moreover, on August 11, as the men came ashore, they fittingly named their discovery in honor of their beloved leader, Graybeard himself - Captain Albert "The Rock" Hall.

Graybeard and his men found a wonderful life in Rock Hall. As it turns out, because they had no use for it, they nearly forgot about the treasure they had buried on the beach. Before long, they had all found beautiful wenches, who would allow them to fish, sail and drink as much beer as they pleased. Graybeard knew that he and his pirates truly possessed the greatest treasure of all - the Pearl of the Chesapeake Bay - the Land of Pleasant Living. Watching as the sun slipped majestically below the distant horizon, Graybeard raised his ten-ounce can into the air. "Who lives better than us?" He heartily inquired upon his intrepid mateys. "Nobody"! Was the thunderous reply.

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

The Legend of Graybeard - PART II - The Abduction of Pearl

Shortly after his triumphant discovery of Rock Hall, Graybeard encountered a very beautiful and saucy wench affectionately known to the locals as "Pearl". Pearl had migrated south to the Isle of Delmarva from Philadelphia after escaping a jealous lover by stowing away on a ship from England. An accomplished watercolor artist, she soon grew tired of the crowds and the accelerated pace that she found in the fast-growing metropolitan area. Pearl enjoyed a free and laid-back lifestyle operating an art gallery on the main street as well as catching her own grub from the Chesapeake Bay. She had a particular knack for catching crabs simply by tying string around chicken necks and placing them into the water. Graybeard quickly became besotted with love for Pearl and set about to make her his wench for life. However, Graybeard's fearless mates could not bear to see their celebrated leader swept away with such infatuation. They complained that he had lost interest in them and that they never did the fun things they used to do - like stealing, sword fighting, sailing and drinking grog. The men began to ridicule Graybeard behind his back. They laughed uncontrollably as they sang out their familiar refrain.

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

Meanwhile, after a year of relentless pursuit, Captain Jay Hawkins, great grandson of the notorious sea dog, Sir John Hawkins, had become discouraged in the quest for his elusive nemesis. His mates had likewise, become exhausted from their tormented days and nights at sea in the armada of tiny ships. "Alas", Jay Hawkins sighed in gloomy resignation. "We must prepare to come about". Just as he was giving his orders, a scurvy lookout by the name of Bud the Wiser spied a shiny metallic object floating adrift on the western horizon. Hawkins ordered the tiny ships forward, whereupon the buccaneers retrieved a 10-ounce container of grog from the sea.

"Aargh"! Growled the Wiser, reaching over the side"

"Land is near - we can follow the tide"

Wiser, a well-known scrimshaw artist, scratched his name into the can, then shared its contents with the thirsty crew before tossing the empty back into the sea. "An amazing discovery indeed", remarked Hawkins, then he barked,

"Sail onward! Me scallywags, don't be distressed, Graybeard is near - we shall continue our quest!"

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

The wayward canister with the words "Bud Wiser" engraved into the side finally washed ashore beside a shack in the harbor where Graybeard's and his men gathered for grog.

Recognizing the container, Graybeard, stirred from his love-sick spell and studied the empty can carefully. He spoke:

"Avast me scoundrels, what have we here? Someone, it seems, has been drinking our beer!"

Graybeard's mates continued to mock him and they refused to listen as Graybeard withdrew to the buccaneer's bathroom (heretofore known as the head).

Then Pearl examined the object and exclaimed:

"Tis Bud, the Wiser - whose been drinking our beer and only can mean that Jay Hawkins is near!"

Moments later, an enormous fleet of small ships appeared outside the harbor led by the resolute flagship of Captain Jay Hawkins.

"At last!" shouted Hawkins - "We have come for the Rock".

As the fleet of small dinghies tied up to the dock!"

Capt. Jay Hawkins and his ruthless invaders came ashore in a throng, demanding grub and grog from the startled wenches behind the bar. At once, the music stopped; the fiddler's fiddle dropped and the crowd froze in fear. Jay Hawkins carefully scrutinized the multitude of pirates and wenches that assembled on the dock. He commanded with great indignation,

"I am Jay Hawkins, in relentless pursuit

Of the one they call Graybeard and Her Majesty's loot!"

(A gasp rose up from the crowd as the impatient Hawkins twirled his mustache with his fingertip).

Then Hawkins stepped up to the head and exploded with a furious shout, "Graybeard, ye rouge, I warn ye, come out"!

The Pirate captain's unpatched eye was then captured by a glimpse of the beautiful Pearl holding the empty Bud Wiser can. At once, his mouth dropped open and his anger fell away to silence.

"Pearl", Jay Hawkins muttered in a trembling whisper. "This cannot be true. So many years, I've been searching for you".

The unsuspecting Graybeard was caught off guard when he finally emerged from the head. Although the record is unclear as to what happened next, a terrible fracas ensued and a horrified Pearl suddenly found herself in the jealous arms of Jay Hawkins. He hauled her away toward one of the tiny ships waiting at the dock. Graybeard, hastened to the chase, but found his less-than loyal men slow to the call as they defiantly ordered another round of grog, laughing still.

Yet again, Graybeard's oratorical proclivity rose to the fore. In what may have been his finest exhibit of persuasive verbal communication, Graybeard addressed his mates. Although his exact words are not known, the legend has it that when he was through, a dry eye among his men could not be found. The buccaneers began to hug each other and cry as Graybeard hoisted his mug:

"Who lives better than us? He implored. "NOBODY" - shouted the men as they hastened toward their ships echoing out their familiar refrain:

"Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall

Long live Graybeard - Pirates are we all

Pirates are we all - pirates are we all

Long live Graybeard - Hail Rock Hall"

The Legend of Graybeard - PART III: Queen Anne's Revenge - The Real Story

As the unpopular War of the Spanish Succession dragged on, Queen Anne eventually grew impatient waiting for Captain Jay Hawkins to return with Graybeard and the stolen Spanish treasure. However, she possessed no way of knowing that Hawkins' quest for Graybeard would have taken him all the way to the Isle of Delmarva on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Through precise navigation and by skillfully following a lengthy trail of empty beer cans, the relentless pursuer and his armada of tiny ships had not only ensnared his nemesis in the small fishing village named after its beloved founder, Graybeard, (Capt. Albert Kendall Hall) but Hawkins unexpectedly rediscovered his long lost love, Pearl, who had hitherto become the object of Graybeard's (rather embarrassing) affection. A rowdy brawl and a terrifying abduction of Graybeard's saucy wench ended with a startling revelation that Pearl actually had little interest in either Graybeard or Hawkins, but rather, preferred the wickedly gallant and robust, Captain Black, a fierce fighter with renowned strength! Thus, our protagonist and antagonist are left together with their respective shipmates, brooding in despair.

Although it is not quite clear in the log books, legend recounts that because Hawkins had no true desire to return to England - and because his hopes remained that Pearl would soon grow tired of Captain Black, he chose to stay behind in the town of Rock Hall while the rest of his armada sailed home without either Graybeard or the stolen treasure. Moreover, because they soon discovered that they had much in common, such as sailing, fishing, sword fighting and drinking grog, Hawkins and Graybeard went on to become hearty mates in the Land of Pleasant Living. They even built a road sign declaring "Nice Pirates Live Here".

Then, one day, while the two pirates sat at the bar, Hawkins decided to divulge to Graybeard the contents of the envelope that had been dispatched by the Queen. Opening the envelope he removed a letter written by the Queen herself. Graybeard took a long drink from his mug, and then began to read:

"Alas, Graybeard, my poem has found thee,

O treasonous rogue who hath stolen my bounty"

To ye, naughty pirate, who causeth this mess

I have a little secret that I must confess".

Then he began to squint his unpatched eye...

"Give me me spyglass", cried Graybeard, the writin's too small. There's somethin' in the fine print, but I can't read it all.

As he read the fine print with a horrified look, he dropped his grog from his hand as it shook, and then ran to the pier, his whole body did shake and disappeared in the water without leaving wake. He escaped in a submarine called "Ol' Chumbucket". He had nothing to say but simply... Oh... Who lives better than Us? And, once again, the whole village replied with a roar, "Nobody"!

Meanwhile, back in merry old England, Her Majesty, Queen Anne, would learn of Graybeard's hiding place after interrogating Bud the Wiser upon his return. Consequently, the furious ruler appointed herself "Lady High Admiral of the Royal Navy" and vowed to pursue and abduct Graybeard herself. (Her recently deceased husband, the former Lord High Admiral, Prince George of Denmark had suddenly expired amid political tension resulting from the war). In short, the armada of tiny ships would sail, yet again, for the distant Isle of Delmarva - only this time, it would be commanded by the Queen.

The Legend of Graybeard - PART IV The Mutiny on Main Street

At dawn on the 12th day of August, 1710, a very angry Queen Anne, "Lady" High Admiral of the British Navy, arrived upon the shores of Rock Hall on the Isle of Delmarva. Although it had been long presumed that the object of her obsessive pursuit was to recapture Graybeard and the stolen treasure, she quickly revealed she had no interest in reclaiming her lost possessions at all. Instead, she had dispatched a mighty task force of tiny ships solely with orders to capture the town now known as Rock Hall, along with its courageous namesake and secure them until she arrived. With the village under siege, the Queen came ashore with a vengeance, capturing Graybeard and his men. At his public trial in the center of Main St., before a mob of terrified spectators; Queen Anne offered the Captain a seemingly straightforward choice of either marriage or death. After a brief deliberation, our heroic protagonist understandably chose death. However, just as he was about to be executed - and to the astonishment of all, he cleverly staged an escape aboard an early prototype of a modern day sea plane. Even though the outlandish looking craft never actually left the ground, it remains clear that because both of its wheels momentarily leapt over a hole in the road before splashing into the harbor, it was indeed, Captain Albert Kendall Hall, "Graybeard", who formally introduced flight to the modern world. Nevertheless, while his daring exploit did little to impress Her Majesty, the Captain's steadfast shipmates along with all the pirates and wenches of Main Street, exploded into a hearty cheer.

Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall Long live Graybeard, Pirates are we all.

Pirates are we all – Pirates are we all Long live Graybeard – Hail Rock Hall

By the end of the long siege, even Queen Anne's most loyal captains became increasingly disinterested in the pursuit of Graybeard. Most found themselves more absorbed with the allure of the Chesapeake Bay than in troubling themselves with the subjugation of Rock Hall's legendary pirate, orator and leader of men. Before long, the entire fleet of Her Majesty's ships lay ashore on the local beach as her royal captains went native; eating, drinking and dancing to the music. A very satisfied Graybeard climbed to the masthead of one of the ships, and hoisted his mug to the setting sun. "Who lives better than us?" he roared out loud –a thunderous "NOBODY" was the cheer from the crowd.

Queen Anne was eventually exiled to the nearby colony of Chestertown, a haven for Tories and the proper English. From there, she was safely transported back to England without incident on a topsail schooner. The Queen proclaimed the lands stretching from the southern shores of the Chester River were to be named in her honor, and they have ever since been officially designated "Queen Anne's County". Although it would appear that her quest had ended in defeat, the truth is – it had not yet begun.

Traditional historians claim that the Southern Pacific Ocean trade did not officially begin until 1787, when the British explorer, Captain James Cook, discovered the islands of Hawaii and Polynesia. For years, however, scholarly Delmarvans have fiercely debated this assertion and claim to have proven otherwise. Their evidence strongly suggests that prior to the Queen's arrival in Rock Hall, a British naval captain, known only as "Smilin' Jack", had actually visited the island of Hawaii at the turn of the 18th century, more than 60 years before Cook. Having been mercilessly blown off course for Bermuda, Smilin' Jack allegedly missed both North and South America and wound up rounding Cape Horn by accident. Thanks to modern interpretations of his log, and research conducted by notable scholars in the field of South Pacific apparel, many Delmarva historians agree that "Smilin Jack" was the first European to have encountered the island of Hawaii and its natives. He simply referred to his discovery as "The land that has everything you want, but nothing you need". The log goes on to propose that an historic transaction took place, quite possibly rivaling Peter Minuet's earlier purchase of Manhattan Island from the Indians – a full cargo of hand-made Hawaiian shirts was exchanged for just a few sugar free non-alcoholic beverages. In 1707, while attempting to retrace his course back to Bermuda, Jack and his crew encountered the notorious sea dog, Jay Hawkins and the armada of tiny ships that were in hot pursuit of Graybeard. Having spent an undo amount of time at sea, and because his ship had traversed the Pacific Ocean with the excessive weight of the shirts, Smilin Jack chose to remain in Rock Hall as a spy operating under the guise of a Hawaiian shirt merchant. So he pillaged and looted the remains of a once popular coffee shop, tore down the old sign and replaced it with his own. However, Smilin Jack was never too good at spelling, and the sign still reads, "Smilin Jake's". Hence, it was to Smilin' Jake that Queen Anne, just before her exit from the island, secretly delegated her most devious and clandestine plot. A scheme that would forever, carve its mark into the annals of Delmarva history - a mutiny on Main Street.

On August 13th, 1711, Smilin' Jack lured Graybeard into his store by offering him discount coupons and other forms of bribery. Then suddenly, while the Captain was trying on a shirt in the dressing room, he was captured at gunpoint by a gang of mutineers led by Black Bart and Jim Bones, an improbable pair of pirate conspirators from across the street, posing as innkeepers. The kidnappers blindfolded Graybeard's unpatched eye, locked him in irons, and demanded that he reveal where the treasure was hidden. "Avast me maties", cried Graybeard in terror – "You are making a serious error!" Just then, Jay Hawkins stepped up through the crowd of mutineers to commence with the interrogation of Graybeard. It was not pretty! In fact, it was a pitiful sight.

The Legend of Graybeard - PART V: The War That Never Was

Introduction: The War of 1812 - The War Nobody Won

The "War Nobody Won", better known as the War of 1812, represents a highpoint of an exciting chapter in maritime history. It is often glorified as the "Golden Age of Sail". Throughout the 18th century and the decades leading up to what would also be remembered as America's Second War for Independence, the world's oceans, shorelines and harbors had become raging battlefields typified by thunderous cannon fire, barbaric boarding actions, amphibious invasions and tactical maneuvers testing all elements of human bravery and seamanship. In the early 19th century, caught amid an already long and costly series of wars between Great Britain and Napoleonic France, a young and inexperienced United States found her neutrality seriously compromised by the British policy known as impressment on the high seas. This refers to the dreaded practice of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. Finally, on June 8th 1812, at the request of President James Madison, the United States once again took arms against its former sovereign, King George III. The war lasted three years; with the most decisive American victory being won in New Orleans a month after the Treaty of Ghent formally ended the conflict. Although no one actually won the war, both sides continue to claim victory, simply because neither side lost. Beginning in June of 2012, the State of Maryland along with the rest of the country will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the often misunderstood and nearly forgotten "war to save the republic". Many activities, events and reenactments are being planned to venerate the historic battles associated with the war. With heightened interest in the history of the conflict, one becomes fascinated by the dramatic role the Chesapeake Bay would play as the British set out to plunder the cities and towns situated along its tributaries. However, to fully understand the background of what ultimately brought the young nation to back to blows with its Anglo-Saxon brethren - and more specifically, to fully grasp the significance of the upper Chesapeake Bay region in America's defining struggle for international respect - one must revisit a colossal, yet, little known episode that occurred on the shores of Delmarva 100 years beforehand. The event is known locally as "The War That Never Was".

The War of 1712 - The War That Never Was

The long history of American tension with Britain can be traced back to the reign of Queen Anne and the defiant actions of her legendary Royal Navy officer – later turned pirate, Captain Albert Kendall Hall. Captain Hall distinguished himself during the War of the Spanish Succession, known in the colonies as Queen Anne's War. Feared by his enemies as, "La Roca" (The Rock) and hailed by his loyal shipmates as "Rock" Hall, perhaps, the captain is best known by his prematurely gray beard which thus earned him the nickname, "Graybeard". Having destroyed the Spanish fleet at Vigo Bay in 1707, Graybeard, the beloved pirate, orator and leader of men, absconded from Queen Anne's navy with a huge treasure, then sailed westward in search of a fabled northern passage around the Isle of Delmarva. After discovering and successfully navigating the passage, thus disproving earlier claims that the land was a peninsula, Graybeard and his piratical crew found great happiness in the "Pearl of the Chesapeake", a quaint Chesapeake fishing village that still bears his name, Rock Hall. It is well established that "NOBODY!" lived better than the pirates of Rock Hall and soon, a bawdy multitude of pirates and wenches gathered in the village under Graybeard's fearless protection. Finding excellent sailing and bountiful fishing in the "Land of Pleasant Living", the inhabitants soon developed their own native customs which consisted mainly of pillaging crabs and plundering 10 ounce cans of beer. Queen Anne was unimpressed, but she vowed, "Those treasonous barbarians will surely be impressed when I get my hands on them". With this, she commissioned an armada of unusually small ships, commanded by her malevolent cohort, Sir Jay Hawkins (Great grandson of sea dog, Sir John Hawkins), to track down the fugitive pirates. Over the next several years, Hawkins and even the Queen herself executed numerous unsuccessful actions to recapture Graybeard and the stolen treasure. In August of 1711, a mutiny on Main Street was orchestrated by the infamous spy and Hawaiian shirt merchant, known as Smilin' Jack. The uprising was led by Black Bart and Jim Bones, and resulted in a horrific interrogation of Graybeard by Jay Hawkins. We will forego the gory details, but suffice to report that after Hawkins injected the captain with a primitive sort of "truth serum" (actually Sea Rum) Graybeard finally gave up the map. Although the treasure had been hidden in plain sight, right before the scurvy pirate's eyes, the mutiny ultimately failed as the clever captain escaped with the prize back to safety aboard a rickshaw. Vanishing into the sunset, Graybeard then shouted out the familiar query that has long survived the ages. "WHO LIVES BETTER THAN US?" In reply, the answer, "NOBODY", resounded throughout the village as the pirates and wenches broke into their well-known refrain:

Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall Long Live Graybeard Pirates are we all Pirates are we all, Pirates are we all Long live Graybeard – Hail Rock Hall. In response to the outrageous breeches of their peace, the pirates called for an assembly to redress the British violations. The gathering would come to be known as the First Congress of the Isle of Delmarva. Here, it was unanimously decided that the pirates and wenches would formally declare independence from Queen Anne's empire, and that any further disturbance of their peaceful haven would be considered an act of war. (Although the actual document has been lost, it is believed that Thomas Jefferson borrowed a considerable portion of its content in 1776). It was further agreed that in order to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity, it would be necessary for the pirates and wenches to provide for their own common defense, thereby authorizing the complete fortification of the Harbor as well as the establishment of an official Navy to defend the Isle of Delmarva. Then, in a historic gesture of veneration and respect, the pirates unanimously elected Graybeard to the office of First Admiral of the Chesapeake Bay and Supreme Commander of all land and sea batteries on the Isle of Delmarva. In his honor, the pirates all sang out: Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall Long Live Graybeard, Pirates are we all! Pirates are we all! Pirates are we all! Long live Graybeard, Hail Rock Hall Graybeard, losing not a minute, rose to the lofty expectations of his loyal constituents. Summoning forth his unparalleled talent for oratory, the great leader laid out his military agenda:

"We need boats!!" The admiral did cry. "Boats is what we need to buy!!" "Buy boats!!" "Buy boats!!" The pirates did reply. Within weeks, the first known Chesapeake Bay fleet was commissioned under Commodore Long John Flynn, a well- known pirate and philanthropist who donated the money needed to "buy" the boats. The vessels were uniquely designed to permit extra space on deck for cannons, crew and provisions. As a clever alternative to the more popular "tall "ships of the time, these ships were constructed with undersized masts so they could not be seen from afar. While some argued the unusual looking vessels should be simply called, "short ships", Commodore Flynn insisted on calling them "buyboats" as a tribute to Graybeard's historic inaugural address.

Later that year, in what came to be known as the Decree of 1712, Graybeard proclaimed that a grand naval exercise of "the utmost scale", would surely impress the Queen and exhibit with "shock and awe", the invincible might of Delmarva's combined land and sea defenses. This spectacular event would coincide with the 5th anniversary of the pirates' discovery and occupation of Rock Hall and would thus be a suitable occasion for a party. The celebrated pirate, orator and leader of men then rallied an army of volunteers that he affectionately called his "scurvy crew", to throw the most extravagant boarding party in the history of the Chesapeake Bay. Everyone sang out with joy. Hail Rock Hall, Hail Rock Hall Long Live Graybeard, Pirates are we all! Pirates are we all! Pirates are we all! Long live Graybeard, Hail Rock Hall The exciting news spread quickly to every pirate encampment far and wide. The scurvy crew spent the next several months fortifying the village with grub and grog and cannons and powder in preparation for the August 11th extravaganza. Soon, however, when Queen Anne learned of Graybeard's portentous decree, she became even less impressed. She indignantly vowed that there would be NO such boarding party and if anyone was to impress anyone, it would be SHE who would do the impressing. Then, in a most prodigious state of anger, Queen Anne commenced to amass her most ambitious armada ever to sail to the Isle of Delmarva, - with direct orders to seize all eligible men of seafaring habits between the ages of 10 and 75 years and to pillage and plunder their every village and town. Thus began the British maritime practice that would be known as "impressment" – a cruel policy that would not end until the War of 1812.

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM ADMIRAL ALBERT KENDALL HALL FIRST ADMIRAL OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AND SUPREME COMMANDER OF THE ISLE OF DELMARVA INVITATION A 5 Year Celebration of Pillage and Plunder AUGUST 10-12, 2012 AVAST ME HEARTIES! Come One and Come All By Land or by Sea to the Town of Rock Hall Come pirates and wenches at Graybeard's request For a grand celebration that will surely impress.

You will surely be impressed as Graybeard and his scurvy crew work to make this the BEST Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend ever. Join the fun as the newly commissioned fleet of armed and dangerous buyboats enters the harbor under the command of Commodore Long John Flynn. Lend your support as the shore batteries pack their powder for a spectacular broadside at sunset to salute Graybeard, the First Admiral of the Chesapeake Bay. Find out who gets impressed when the British arrive to wage The War That Never Was.

The Legend of Graybeard - PART VI: The Year of the Raven

Raven - Revisited 2013 As we celebrate the momentous victory of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2013 Super Bowl, some might be amazed at the unlikely role cryptology, WW2, Edgar Alan Poe and Graybeard, Rock Hall's legendary pirate, orator and leader of men, all played in this triumphant success. What follows is the story of a little known chapter in the early history of Rock Hall, Md – a story that ultimately connects the fascinating histories of Maryland's eastern and western shores - and reveals how the heroic pirate, Graybeard came to find out about a daughter, Raven, that he never knew he had - and, ultimately, the true story behind the name and colors of the Baltimore Ravens football team. Famed US Army cryptographer, William Frederick Friedman was greatly influenced by the stories and poems of Edgar Alan Poe. Friedman ran the research division of the Army's Signals Intelligence Service in the 1930s. In 1940, his team of cryptologists broke Japan's PURPLE code, thus disclosing Japanese diplomatic secrets before America's entrance into World War II. As many are aware, Edgar Alan Poe spent much of his life in Baltimore and the poem, The Raven, is perhaps his most popular poetic composition. What many don't know is that in 1835, Poe and his 13 year old first cousin and bride, Virginia Clemm actually visited Maryland's Eastern Shore on their honeymoon. Surprisingly, it was in the small fishing village of Rock Hall that Poe encountered a local historian who told him a story that he later penned in a little-known, very first version of the popular poem, The Raven. The original manuscript of the poem was written entirely in code and was generally disregarded by literary scholars until it was finally deciphered by Friedman during the 1930's. However, Friedman's efforts, being completely overshadowed by the imminent Japanese attack, had long passed into historic and literary obscurity. Now, as we kick off Rock Hall's 6th annual Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend, we proudly present to the public for the first time, the very first known version of Edgar Alan Poe's The Raven, and the story of Graybeard's first encounter with his long lost daughter.

"Who lives better than us?" "Nobody!"

Edgar Allan Poe Raven Graybeard W. F. Friedman


By Edgar Alan Poe (deciphered by William F. Friedman) Once upon a midnight clear, a warm and breezy time of year In Rock Hall Maryland on the Eastern Shore Graybeard nodded, nearly napping, when suddenly there came a tapping As if someone gently rapping, rapping at his cabin door "Tis some pirate" Graybeard muttered, "tapping at my cabin door, Only this and nothing more. Peering up from every angle, at the rigging's jingle jangle Graybeard heard strange winds that he'd never heard before And as his ship was gently rocking, Graybeard called above the knocking "Avast ye matey, knocking, knocking at my cabin door" He drew his sword before unlocking, opening his cabin door. Just the wind and nothing more. Graybeard felt his heart grow stronger, hesitating then, no longer "Pirate", said he, wench or scoundrel, truly your forgiveness I implore" But the fact is, I was napping and so gently you came rapping And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my cabin door, That I hardly thought I heard you". Then he stepped outside the door… Darkness there and nothing more. Deep into the darkness peering, long he stood there – never fearing Watching, waiting, hesitating, like a staysail ready to unfurl Graybeard thought about his treasure, and about forgotten pleasure And of a love beyond his measure one whose name was Pearl "Are you Pearl from long before, knocking on my cabin door"? Or just the breeze and nothing more?" Back into his cabin turning, Evening rum inside him burning His curiosity to be learning, was even greater than before "Avast", he cried, "Avast" ye, and reveal yourself unto me For I know not who you must be who is knocking on my door Then he spied outside the door standing upright on the floor A purple female figure - nothing more Graybeard thought he must be dreaming, many shades of purple, gleaming Glimmering in the darkness, seeming, like a plum, the clothes she wore Purple not so out of fashion, purple like a pirate passion Casting purple shadows down across the cabin floor "Who is this purple wench", he uttered lifting up his sword This he asked and nothing more. Open there; he flung the hatches careful not to break the latches In then stepped a stately stranger he'd never seen before Not the slightest utterance made she, not a minute stopped or stayed she But with the elegance of a lady, she stepped inside the cabin door Then balanced on a hammock swinging just inside the cabin door She sat and smiled and nothing more. Now, the purple wench beguiling Graybeard's fancy into smiling By the sweet and innocent decorum of the countenance she wore Asked he, "What brings you to this Haven?" Said she, "Kind Sir, my name is Raven And finally my search for thee has brought me to this shore For Raven is the long lost child your beloved Pearl once bore. Your long lost daughter, nevermore". Startled by the silence broken, by reply so boldly spoken Graybeard gulped some grog then opened wide the cabin door "Get thee back upon the water for I am sure I have no daughter Maybe thief or spy or plotter, but no child of mine that Pearl once bore Maybe someone else's daughter, but not a girl that Pearl once bore" A stranger here and nothing more" But then, Raven, sitting, swinging on the hammock started singing Like a ship's bell gently ringing, ringing out across the eastern shore. "Hail Rock Hall", she gently sang and like a bell, her voice it rang Singing like a pirate from the bawdy days of yore The old familiar chorus, Graybeard heard the girl outpour "Long live Graybeard", nothing more. Graybeard stood engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the girl whose blazing voice burned to his bosom's core "Hail Rock Hall" she sang again, "Long live Graybeard", louder then And watched as Graybeard sank upon the dusty cabin floor Raven reached to help him as he rose up from the floor "Alas", he cried! "You are my daughter, evermore"

The End - for now...

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