Article (A) guide: Real Pirates of Savannah

Real Pirates of Savannah
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Savannah is a city known for quirky characters, haunting stories, and harrowing history. As a seafaring site, pirate lore is naturally a major part of Savannah’s charm. The city was even the site where Captain Flint of Treasure Island fame brought his nefarious crew. Discover the real story about the sea-roving villains who cruised the coast and swarmed the streets of this mysterious city.

Walk Route

Guide Name: Real Pirates of Savannah
Guide Location: USA » Savannah
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km
Author: Grace Fleming
Author Bio: Grace Fleming is a freelance writer, historian, and storyteller from Savannah, Georgia. She attended college at Armstrong University in Savannah, where she teaches the history of America and Georgia. She has produced a series of historical prints, greeting cards, and stories from colonial America which are called collectively “A History of Misbehavior.”
Ships of the Sea Museum

1) Ships of the Sea Museum

Inside the Ships of the Sea Museum, you’ll find a replica of the Ship Anne, which was the three-masted galley that brought the original settlers to the shore of the Savannah river. Savannah’s pirate history began at the end of the long, treacherous trek across the sea, before the first colonist ever set foot on the city’s sandy shore. Just a few miles off shore, Savannah’s first inhabitants were alarmed to see a mysterious ship closing in on them.

One colonist wrote in his journal:...
Savannah Custom House

2) Savannah Custom House

There was evidence that Savannah was a city in league with pirates for a time in the nineteenth century. In April of 1818, the brig Nordberg sailed from the port of Havana bound for Hamburg, laden with a cargo of sugar, coffee, logwood and cigars. Somewhere along the coast of Florida, the unfortunate ship was “forcibly and piratically seized.”

The terrified and tormented crew was taken to the West Indies—but the goods were carried to the Savannah Custom House, where the pirates somehow...
Walking Bridge

3) Walking Bridge

Below the bridge, between Bay Street and the River are dark, secluded spots where many unsavory characters once lurked during the days of tall ships. Old Savannah enjoyed the profits of piracy so much that she even grew her own brand of pirates—river pirates--who preyed on unsuspecting sailors brought to the city aboard trade ships. A report from 1844 warned: “There is a regular band of cutthroats and scoundrels in this city who shrink from the light of day but prowl about during the night...
Image by Joe Senft under Creative Commons License.
Old City Exchange Bell

4) Old City Exchange Bell

This bell dates back to 1802, and it was used to sound any alarm that befell the city, like fire, invasion, potential insurrection or outbreak of a disease. Another of its uses was to sound the city curfew. After the bell tolled each night, no sailors and no one of African descent was to be discovered on the city streets.

One little -know fact of piracy is that pirate ships were quite democratic and pirate populations very diverse. One night in the early 1800s, a pirate ship arrived with...
Riverside West

5) Riverside West

The river was once filled with dozens of sailing vessels, anchored off the river’s bank. Among the floating ships there were always a few pirate and privateer vessels. The international mix of men always posed a problem--especially as the brigands poured on shore and filled the grog houses. One day in 1798, two "Spanish privateers" anchored on the river while the men who sailed them enjoyed the patronage of pubs and prostitutes in Savannah. To no one’s surprise, a brutal fight...
Riverside East

6) Riverside East

To the south of the mouth of the river, Blackbeard Island sits, still unoccupied and looking just as it was when Edward Teach used the site as a place of respite. Blackbeard used this nearby island to tend to his profits and divide his booty between piratical raids. Some say the island still contains buried treasure from those days.

This river has been the pathway to disaster for many unwary passengers, who lived to tell blood-curdling stories of their encounters at sea.

One captain told...
Pirates House Restaurant

7) Pirates House Restaurant

Dating from 1753, the Pirate’s House is one of Savannah’s oldest surviving buildings, and it stands as the most significant location when it comes to Savannah’s piratical past. This Pirate House is the very site that inspired the Pirate House tavern in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island --a tavern that played host to bloodthirsty brutes, and the place where Captain Flint died in an upstairs room.

It’s no secret that pirate ships had a rather unconventional way of recruiting...

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