The USS Constellation
The old sailing ship floating
Baltimore's Inner Harbor has a
long and bloody history. Not surprisingly, the USS
also has a
reputation of being one of the most haunted sites in America.
rebuilt and refitted many times, but the ghosts still linger.
vessel, built as a 36 gun frigate, was first launched from
Maryland on September 7, 1797. She was among a group of ships
for the US Navy that included Boston's Constitution.
Commodore Thomas Truxton was the
of the Constellation,
and he got her off to a bloody start. One day in 1799 the
a major sea victory when they captured the French Frigate
in the West Indies. During the battle, seaman Neil Harvey fell
on watch. When Truxton learned of Harvey's lapse in duty
lieutenant to run a sword through the man's gut. Later, after
over, Truxton had Harvey's body tied to a cannon and blown to
serve as a warning to other sailors. Neil Harvey has become
of the most
frequently seen ghosts aboard the Constellation. He has even
for a costumed tour guide.
The ship in her many incarnations
many missions, including
slave interdiction and providing support for land troops
the Seminole Indians. The Constellation distinguished herself
the War of
1812 and against the Barbary Pirates. She has sailed to such
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
Sybil Leek once confirmed that the boy's spirit is still
The USS Constellation entered the
Virginia Navy yard in 1845.
The restructuring that she underwent there is still a source
amoung historians. Some believe that the entire 1797 vessel
a completely new ship was erected. Other analysis has proved
materials, and equipment were used from the original ship. It
unlikely that one hundred percent of the 1797 ship was intact,
She had received a new stern (back end) in 1829-30. Not to
of a wooden ship had to be rebuilt on an average of every 16
Whatever was left of the original vessel, it's use in the new
enough to keep the ghosts around.
In 1855 the Navy's modifications
The Constellation had
been downgraded from a 36 gun frigate to a 22 gun sloop of
launched on July 28 of that year and is now considered the
powered vessel built for the US Navy. (Ship builders had begun
Late in the 19th century the
outlived her uses and in
1893 was moved to the Naval station at Newport, Rhode Island.
a stationary training ship until 1914 and for the first half
twentieth century she sat rotting. In 1940 Franklin Delano
recommissioned her as the Flagship of the US Atlantic Fleet.
for that project ran out she was towed to Boston.
In 1953 a committee of Maryland
collected the money needed to
get the ship home to Baltimore. The Constellation arrived in
September of 1955 and was docked at a local ship yard to await
is when stories of ghosts began to surface. Sailors standing
nearby ships reported odd noises and unidentifiable shapes.
Pike was moored closest to the Constellation and the
saw ghosts walking on the old war ship.
By December 1955 Lieutenant
R. Brougham had heard lots
of these stories. He set out to investigate them. He called a
friend and asked him to come aboard one night with his
They set up
on a spot overlooking the ship's wheel. Very close to midnight
a nineteenth century US Navy Captain appeared and was captured
was all over within the time he took to make a single stride."
a reporter. The stunning photograph appeared in a local paper
later. It shows a man in gold epaulets bending over slightly,
across his waist with his right hand as if to draw his sword.
Some believe this figure was
Truxton, who is known to
haunt the ship. There are other spirits aboard as well. A
seen running across the gun deck. Cries and moans have been
hold, and witnesses have heard the sound and felt the motion
people running about. An anonymous seaman has been spotted
around the gun deck. He is believed to be a sailor who became
the harsh life at sea and hung himself. People have reported
smoke before the appearance of some apparitions, especially of
Carl Hansen, a mid-twentieth
watchman, is believed to be
the only spirit that is actually happy aboard the ship.
cared for the
Constellation until an alarm system was installed in 1963.
has been seen playing cards on the lower decks. One day a
the ship and was given a tour by an enthusiastic and
Before he left he praised the man's services to the staff. The
fit the description of anyone working there-but it did fit
The Constellation has been
times since she returned to
Baltimore in 1955. She most recently came back from dry dock
1999. The spirits are still there. Late one evening a night
inspecting the ship's orlop (storage) deck. It was late and he
flashlight to lead him through this narrow area at the bottom
the ship. A
misty white light appeared out of nowhere and became a sailor
uniform. He walked towards the watchman. The man stood still
passed through him.
The USS Constellation is docked at
1 in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
She is open to the public and for a fee you can visit her from
in winter, or 10AM to 6PM in summer.