On December 16, 1842, the United States brig-of-war Somers dropped anchor in Brooklyn Harbor at the end of a cruise and 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.

Join author Richard Snow as he examines the account of this all-but-forgotten episode in naval history filled with intrigue, mutiny, and retribution in his new book, Sailing the Graveyard Sea (Simon & Schuster, 2023).

About the Speaker: Richard F. Snow was born in New York City and he graduated with a BA from Columbia College in 1970. He worked at American Heritage magazine for nearly four decades and was its editor-in-chief for seventeen years. He is the author of several books, among them two novels and a volume of poetry. Snow has served as a consultant for 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. Most recently, he served as a consultant on Ken Burns's World War II series, The War.

Note: This virtual program will air on the museum’s Facebook page on the date and time indicated. If you have questions accessing the program, contact David Barker at david.a.barker16.civ@us.navy.mil

Book Cover for Richard Snow's publication Sailing the Graveyard Sea. Images courtesy of Simon & Shuster.

Book Cover for Richard Snow's publication Sailing the Graveyard Sea.  Images courtesy of Simon & Shuster.