Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy's Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation

Richard Snow

Book cover for Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy's Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation
Book cover for Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy's Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation
Book cover for Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy's Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation
Book cover for Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy's Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation

Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy's Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation

Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy's Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation

Richard Snow

  • Become a member to save 30% on all book orders, plus a variety of great perks. Simply add any book to cart and you’ll see an option to become a member
  • 100% of this book's profits go to our community of authors.
Get 50% off your first order, and then 30% off everything
Member Book Price
$29.00$14.50
Monthly Membership
First month free, renews at $5.00
$0.00

Already a member? Log In To Access Member Price

  • Allstora Membership will renew at $5/month, cancel any time. Learn More

Description

A riveting account of the only mutiny in the history of the United States Navy--a little-known event that cost three innocent young men their lives--part murder mystery, part courtroom drama, and as propulsive and dramatic as the bestselling novels of Patrick O'Brian.

On December 16, 1842, the US brig-of-war Somers dropped anchor in Brooklyn Harbor at the end of a cruise intended to teach a group of adolescents the rudiments of naval life. But this seemingly harmless exercise ended in catastrophe. Commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie came ashore saying he had narrowly prevented a mutiny that would have left him and his officers dead. Some of the thwarted mutineers were being held under guard, but three had been hanged: Boatswain's Mate Samuel Cromwell, Seaman Elisha Small, and Acting Midshipman Philip Spencer, whose father was the secretary of war, John Spencer.

Eighteen-year-old Philip Spencer, according to Mackenzie, had been the ringleader who encouraged the crew to seize the ship and become pirates, raping and pillaging their way across the old Spanish Main. And while the young man might have been a rebel fascinated by pirates, it soon became clear the order that condemned the three men had no legal basis. And worse, that perhaps a mutiny had never really occurred, and that the ship might instead have been seized by a creeping hysteria that ended in the sacrifice of three innocents.

Months of accusations and counteraccusations were followed by a highly public court martial which put Mackenzie on trial for his life, and a storm of anti-Navy sentiment drew the attention of the leading writers of the day (Washington Irving thought Mackenzie a hero; James Fenimore Cooper damned him with a ferocity that still stings). But some good did come out of it: public disgust with Mackenzie's training cruise gave birth to Annapolis, the place that within a century, would produce the greatest navy the world had ever known.

Vividly told and filled with tense action based on court martial transcripts, Snow's masterly account of this all-but-forgotten episode is naval history at its finest.

About the Author

Richard Snow spent nearly four decades at American Heritage magazine, serving as editor in chief for seventeen years, and has been a consultant on historical motion pictures, among them Glory, and has written for documentaries, including the Burns brothers' Civil War, and Ric Burns's award-winning PBS film Coney Island, whose screenplay he wrote. He is the author of multiple books, including, most recently, Disney's Land.

Publishing Information

Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Pub date: 2023-11-21
Length: 304 pages
View full details

The Allstora Membership

Membership Perks:

  • Save 30% on all online store purchases
  • Exclusive access to author's content
  • You pay less, but authors still earn double

Membership Terms:

First Month: $0.00
Monthly price: $5.00
  • To access membership discount simply log in and add to cart, discount applied automatically.
  • One month free trial, cancel anytime. Membership renews on the 15th of each month.