Chestertown – It will be a Halloween-week voyage into high-seas horror when Eric Mills, author of The Spectral Tide: True Ghost Stories of the U.S. Navy, presents a lecture and booksigning at Washington College’s Rose O’Neill Literary House on Tuesday, October 27, at 4 p.m.
In his talk, “Phantom Ships and Ghostly Crews: A Haunted History of the U.S. Navy,” Mills will offer up several hair-raising accounts from his book, newly published by the Naval Institute Press.
The Spectral Tide is the first-ever book that presents all of the U.S. Navy’s rich cargo of paranormal phenomena in one chilling volume.
The eerie list is long, a litany of ghostly occurrences down through the ages. There is the great Stephen Decatur, whose mournful apparition still stalks the halls of his famous home – said to be one of the most haunted spots in Washington, D.C.
Or consider the case of the USS The Sullivans, now a floating museum and the source of much disturbing spectral activity – poltergeists opening locks, hurling objects, and turning radar antennas that are no longer under electrical power. An employee quit the museum, on the threshold of madness, after bearing witness to the sudden appearance of a bloody, ectoplasmic face.
Then there are the repeated sightings of the handsome USS Lexington ghost, “polite . . . kind . . . smartly dressed in a summer white Navy uniform,” described by witnesses as having memorably piercing blue eyes.
From translucent sails to phantom crews, from the flaming ghost-ship to the infamous psychic anomaly at the Naval Academy, from spirit-infested aircraft carriers to battleships where the dead still linger, The Spectral Tide offers a haunted history of the U.S. Navy.
In his advance praise for the book, author James E. Wise enthused, “Eric Mills takes us into a world of mysterious shadows that haunt ships and give life to the voices of long lost seamen. Many of his tales are unknown or little known to readers of naval history which makes his work all the more compelling. His literary style is almost poetic…. A fascinating read. A book that should be included in every mariner's library.”
Mills also is the author of Chesapeake Rumrunners of the Roaring Twenties and Chesapeake Bay in the Civil War, which is now going into its fifth printing. His articles appear in Naval History, Proceedings, Chesapeake Bay Magazine and other publications. He is currently completing a master’s degree in history at Washington College, where he serves as Director of Media Relations.
With Mills’s October 27 presentation, the Rose O’Neill Literary House is relaunching its popular “Tea and Talk” series, which highlights the work of authors and scholars on the faculty and staff of Washington College.
The series continues on November 17 with “This is a Fragment of Me: Emerson and the Poetics of Metonymy,” a presentation by Assistant Professor of English Sean Meehan, author of Mediating American Autobiography: Photography in Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, and Whitman.
Admission to “Phantom Ships and Ghostly Crews: A Haunted History of the U.S. Navy” is free and open to the public. For more information, call 410/778-7899 or visit lithouse.washcoll.edu.