Do you love a good scare? Perhaps you simply want to commune with spirits of the long-dead that may still walk among us. Satisfy your ghostly cravings with a trip to Gettysburg, the site of the largest, costliest, and deadliest battle of the Civil War and a well-known hang-out for the ghostly crowd. It is on these hallowed grounds that many of the 7,058 known dead Union and Confederate soldiers and upwards of 11,000 missing are believed to still roam this earth.
How exactly can one tell ghosts are around? Ghost encounters, of course! About 10 percent of Gettysburg ghost encounters have been visual. Another two-thirds have been auditory, through sounds such as footsteps, cannon fire, hordes of men cheering, and intimate whisperings in one’s ear. Others have been tactile – unexplained taps on the shoulder, clothes pulled, or the sensation of being pushed by invisible hands. Still others have reported smells with no obvious source: cigar smoke, lilac or rose water as in old-fashioned perfumes, or the strong and pungent smell of sulfur, a key component of black gunpowder. Bottom line: be on high alert when ghost hunting.
If your goal is getting the living bejeebers scared out of you, visit one or more of these out-of-the way places on your own where the restless spirits of hundreds of soldiers and some townsfolk are said to still wander. You might hear the sound of hooves and frightened neighs of horses who fell victim during the battle’s carnage.
Know before you go: We recommend contacting your destination before your visit for their latest rules and regulations. Find up-to-date COVID-19 traveler resources on visitPA.com.
1. Spangler's Meadow
Spangler’s Meadow, just east of Spangler’s Spring, is where hundreds of Union soldiers from Massachusetts and Indiana lost their lives on the morning of July 2, 1863. Be on the lookout for the legendary “Woman in White” who has been seen countless times since the battle. She appears floating, then bending down, apparently searching for someone. While no one knows her name, some have speculated she is one of many nuns who came from a nearby convent to tend to the wounded right after the battle.
2. Confederate Angle
Confederate Angle, on Culp's Hill, is the location of still existent (but empty) burial pits. Listen carefully and you might here the painful and pitiful cries of “Help…Help me…” – or perhaps ghostly plea from a long-dead soldier still seeking to return home.
3. Hospital Woods
Hospital Woods, on Country Club Lane, served as one of the battle’s primitive temporary field hospitals. In a recent paranormal investigation, gifted medium Kayla Miner reported seeing two officers from the 42nd Mississippi, one named “Feeney” and the other “Moseley.” A Colonel William A. Feeney and a Lieutenant Colonel Hillery Moseley indeed served in the 42nd Mississippi and were stationed in Hospital Woods. Both were wounded at Gettysburg.
Other souls are said to frequent Hospital Woods, reportedly kicking doors, turning on lights, activating electronics, moving heavy furniture around, and leaving nail holes in the fine furniture at one completely locked home along the lane. Also frequently seen is the specter of a woman from the neighborhood who committed suicide years ago.
So, why, you may be wondering do spirits appear to be “stuck” in a place like Gettysburg? Undoubtedly, it is due to the extreme expenditure of human emotional energy embedded in the physical surroundings by the Battle of Gettysburg. This legendary Civil War battle took place on July 1-3, 1863, when nearly 180,000 soldiers from the Union and Confederate Armies battled each other. Thousands lost their lives or were grievously injured.
Emotions were running at a fever pitch during the battle. Every soldier knew what was on the line: reunion for the north; independence for the south. Many who died on the battlefield lay where they fell for days, while others were placed in shallow graves still subject to the rain and winds. Thousands died far from home.
The Union dead were eventually moved to the new National Cemetery, which was dedicated by President Abraham Lincoln. The graves were consecrated on November 19, 1863. The Confederate dead would have to wait in their unconsecrated graves until southern women gathered enough funds to have them brought home in the early 1870s. Some—both north and south—never made it home from the fields and backyards of Gettysburg; the most recent remains were discovered almost 135 years later near the Railroad Cut in 1996. As Shakespeare wrote, “I am afeared there are few die well that die in battle.”
Mark and Carol Nesbitt are the owners of The Ghost of Gettysburg Tours,
visit their website to learn more.
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