When Prohibition was the law, Chesapeake Bay was a smuggler’s paradise. Rogues of all types transported boatloads of forbidden liquor in the days when America experimented with forced, and unforeseeable, temperance. In a style reminiscent of the era it describes, Eric Mills brings to life the world of mobster and preacher, rumrunner and revenue man, moonshine and “real McCoy.”
It was a whiskey-soaked age that was supposed to be dry. Prohibition may have been the law of the land, but the Chesapeake Bay country was awash in illegal alcohol. The marshes were teeming with hidden stills, and bootleg liquor was smuggled throughout the waterways and adjoining countryside by daring men in fast boats and faster cars.
Chesapeake Rumrunners of the Roaring Twenties is a saga of people—watermen and steamer captains, mob racketeers and “legitimate” businessmen—all of them wanting part of the action. In the maze of bay waters, boats played a key role in that action, many disguised as workboats but built for speed and the ability to outmaneuver the law.
On the other side, Billy Sunday and an army of temperance crusaders campaigned tirelessly to encourage Prohibition, while federal agents and Coast Guardsmen shared the impossible task of enforcing it.
Using a mix of news reports, government records, and local lore, the author has written a fascinating account of a memorable chapter in Chesapeake history.