On June 14 of 1747 several Spanish privateers (privately owned warships with a government sponsored license to attack enemy shipping) from St. Augustine entered Beaufort harbor and made off with several small ships. At the time, a militia of only 13 men were posted in the town to protect the area. The Spanish easily escaped.
Only two months later on August 26, the Spanish privateers reappeared. This time, their intention was to take the town. Major Enoch Ward and fifty-eight militiamen responded but were driven from the town. The citizens fled leaving behind everything for the privateers to pillage.
Three days later Colonel Thomas Lovick and Major Ward had collected more men and counterattacked, driving the Spanish out. It is 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 Grounds, also known as Queen Anne's Cemetery.
The Beaufort Pirate Invasion is an annual event sponsored by The Beaufort Business Association to highlight this unique historical event.