The USS Constellation

     The old sailing ship floating quietly in Baltimore's Inner Harbor has a
long and bloody history. Not surprisingly, the USS Constellation also has a
reputation of being one of the most haunted sites in America. It has been
rebuilt and refitted many times, but the ghosts still linger. The original
vessel, built as a 36 gun frigate, was first launched from Harris Creek,
Maryland on September 7, 1797. She was among a group of ships commissioned
for the US Navy that included Boston's Constitution.

     Commodore Thomas Truxton was the first captain of the Constellation,
and he got her off to a bloody start. One day in 1799 the ship's crew scored
a major sea victory when they captured the French Frigate L'Insurgent while
in the West Indies. During the battle, seaman Neil Harvey fell asleep while
on watch.  When Truxton learned of Harvey's lapse in duty he ordered a
lieutenant to run a sword through the man's gut. Later, after the battle was
over, Truxton had Harvey's body tied to a cannon and blown to pieces to
serve as a warning to other sailors. Neil Harvey has become one of the most
frequently seen ghosts aboard the Constellation. He has even been mistaken
for a costumed tour guide.

     The ship in her many incarnations went on many missions, including
slave interdiction and providing support for land troops fighting against
the Seminole Indians. The Constellation distinguished herself in the War of
1812 and against the Barbary Pirates. She has sailed to such exotic places
as China, West Africa, and Hawaii.

     In 1822 a boy was serving aboard as a surgeon's assistant. He was
stabbed to death by two other sailors, though it is not known why. Psychic
Sybil Leek once confirmed that the boy's spirit is still aboard the ship.

     The USS Constellation entered the Norfolk, Virginia Navy yard in 1845.
The restructuring that she underwent there is still a source of argument
amoung historians. Some believe that the entire 1797 vessel was scrapped and
a completely new ship was erected. Other analysis has proved that timbers,
materials, and equipment were used from the original ship. It is very
unlikely that one hundred percent of the 1797 ship was intact, even in 1845.
She had received a new stern (back end) in 1829-30. Not to mention, the hull
of a wooden ship had to be rebuilt on an average of every 16 years.
Whatever was left of the original vessel, it's use in the new ship was
enough to keep the ghosts around.

     In 1855 the Navy's modifications were completed. The Constellation had
been downgraded from a 36 gun frigate to a 22 gun sloop of war. She was
launched on July 28 of that year and is now considered the last all sail
powered vessel built for the US Navy. (Ship builders had begun to prefer
steam power.)

     Late in the 19th century the Constellation outlived her uses and in
1893 was moved to the Naval station at Newport, Rhode Island. She served as
a stationary training ship until 1914 and for the first half of the
twentieth century she sat rotting. In 1940 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
recommissioned her as the Flagship of the US Atlantic Fleet. When the money
for that project ran out she was towed to Boston.

     In 1953 a committee of Maryland citizens collected the money needed to
get the ship home to Baltimore. The Constellation arrived in that it in
September of 1955 and was docked at a local ship yard to await repairs. This
is when stories of ghosts began to surface. Sailors standing night watch on
nearby ships reported odd noises and unidentifiable shapes. The submarine
Pike was moored closest to the Constellation and the submariners frequently
saw ghosts walking on the old war ship.

     By December 1955 Lieutenant Commander Allen R. Brougham had heard lots
of these stories. He set out to investigate them. He called a photographer
friend and asked him to come  aboard one night with his camera. They set up
on a spot overlooking the ship's wheel. Very close to midnight the figure of
a nineteenth century US Navy Captain appeared and was captured on film. "It
was all over within the time he took to make a single stride." Brougham told
a reporter. The stunning photograph appeared in a local paper a few days
later. It shows a man in gold epaulets bending over slightly, reaching
across his waist with his right hand as if to draw his sword.

     Some believe this figure was Captain Thomas Truxton, who is known to
haunt the ship. There are other spirits aboard as well. A seaman has been
seen running across the gun deck. Cries and moans have been heard in the
hold, and witnesses have heard the sound and felt the motion of unseen
people running about. An anonymous seaman has been spotted sadly wandering
around the gun deck. He is believed to be a sailor who became overwhelmed by
the harsh life at sea and hung himself. People have reported smelling gun
smoke before the appearance of some apparitions, especially of Captain

     Carl Hansen, a mid-twentieth century night watchman, is believed to be
the only spirit that is actually happy aboard the ship.  He cared for the
Constellation until an alarm system was installed in 1963. Hansen's spirit
has been seen playing cards on the lower decks. One day a priest came aboard
the ship and was given a tour by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide.
Before he left he praised the man's services to the staff. The guide didn't
fit the description of anyone working there-but it did fit Carl Hansen.

     The Constellation has been restored several times since she returned to
Baltimore in 1955. She most recently came back from dry dock on July 2,
1999. The spirits are still there. Late one evening a night watchman was
inspecting the ship's orlop (storage) deck. It was late and he had only a
flashlight to lead him through this narrow area at the bottom of the ship. A
misty white light appeared out of nowhere and became a sailor in an outdated
uniform. He walked towards the watchman. The man stood still as the ghost
passed through him.

     The USS Constellation is docked at Pier 1 in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
She is open to the public and for a fee you can visit her from 10AM to 4PM
in winter, or 10AM to 6PM in summer.


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