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Ghosts (Original)

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Author Topic: Ghosts (Original)  (Read 767 times)
Jennie McGrath
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« Reply #45 on: February 04, 2008, 11:23:41 pm »

Sandra Taylor

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   posted 12-10-2005 08:05 PM                       
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During the American Civil War (1860's)


many incidents occured that result in ghostly manifestations to this day

The bloodiest battle ever fought on Amercial soil occured during the Civil war.

Incident 1:

On a balmy afternoon in June of 1863, Federal General John Buford peered through his binoculars across a field just west of the town of Gettysburg. He was perplexed as he gazed at a column of Confederate soldiers marching along Chambersburg Pike. He knew this body of men was too large for a raiding party - they were an advance element of Confederate General Heth's division. This resulted in the pivotal battle of the American Civil War.

Three days later, fifty three thousand men would soak the fields red with the blood of the dead and dying. That would help explain why the abundance of ghost sightings are reported time and again from visitors who frequent the town and battlefield year after year. It is as well with little wonder that Gettysburg has obtained the reputation of being the most haunted place in America. Even the skeptics who refuse to believe even in the possibility of ghosts, won't refute the possibility of this haunted locale.

On July 1, 1863, what began as a skirmish soon escalated into a heated battle with the arrival of Federal General John Reynolds' infantry. The Confederates pressed, and soon found the Union troops retreating chaotically towards the little town. The streets were thick with soldiers as the Federals retreated toward a designated rallying point just beyond town at Cemetery Hill and Culps Hill. Confederate sharpshooters took up positions through out as their prey was easy and plentiful. Some took position in the Farnsworth House, a small home situated along Baltimore Pike. Their perch was magnificent due to the locale on the main road through town. They mercilessly fired upon retreating soldiers, often hitting their mark. The streets were strewn with dead.

Today, the Farnsworth house functions as a Bed & Breakfast. Bullet holes can still be seen on the southside wall. It is here that many guests report seeing an apparition at the end of the bed during the night, while other guests have reported doors opening and closing through their own volition. One woman incredulously has reported her infant being lifted by unseen hands and gently placed back down.

The Devils Den is a large patch of rocks where many Confederate sharpshooters took refuge in order to exact their death toll upon Union officers atop the hills of Little and Big Round Tops. In 1970, a tourist approached a park ranger and inquired about stories of Gettysburg being haunted. The Park Service cannot answer such questions but the ranger asked why?The woman stated as she was taking photographs of the Devils Den, a man suddenly appeared beside her and said, 'What you're looking for is over there.' Pointing northeast toward the Plum Run, she turned to look and the man vanished. The ranger asked for a description, and she felt he looked ragged and like that of a hippie. Barefooted with torn butternut shirt and trousers, wearing a big floppy hat. This was often the attire of Confederate Texans. A few weeks later, the same ranger was approached by yet another visitor with the same question. The man said he was taking pictures and a man mentioned to look elsewhere and disappeared. His description was identical to the woman's. 

The Little Round Top is an unimpressive hill overlooking the Devils Den and the wheatfield. As the extreme left flank of the Federal lines, it has had its share of carnage. During the filming of the movie Gettysburg, many re-enactors would find themselves with some down time. Although the movie was not filmed on the battlefield, it was not uncommon for these extras to walk upon the battlefield in their period uniforms. One small group of men found themselves atop the Round Top, admiring the view as the sun began to set. A rustling of the leaves behind them alerted them to the presence of a stranger. From the brush emerged a rather haggard looking old man, dressed as a Union private. The man was filthy and smelled of sulfur, a key ingredient of the black powder used in 1863. He walked up to the men and as he handed them a few musket rounds, he said 'Rough one today, eh boys?' He turned and walked away. As the re-enactors looked upon the musket rounds, they looked up to see the man had vanished. When they brought the rounds into town, they were authenticated as original rounds 130 years old! Many visitors have reported the smell of gunpowder, and have heard gunshots and screams from the Little Round Top over the years.

Friday, July 3 1863 was a new day already polluted with the stench of death and war. For two days, 175,000 men have engaged in the bloodiest battle before or since on the American continent. The morning was somewhat uneventful, with the exception of some fighting at Culps Hill; which had ended by late morning. At 1:00 p.m., 140 Confederate cannon opened fire on the Union center. For two hours, the largest cannonade ever witnessed pounded the Federal lines. So fierce was the shelling, that one could not see across the mile of open field to ascertain whether or not their targets have been hit. So loud was the shelling that the attack was heard in Washington DC; some 80 miles away. This was the preamble for one of the most infamous military events. This was the preamble for what was to become known as Pickett’s Charge.

After the second hour of the cannonade was up, some 12,000 Confederate infantrymen emerged from the woods. Formed in battle line, they began the deadly march across the mile of open field. How the Union soldiers must have gazed wide eyed as 12,000 fixed bayonets glistened in the summer sun, all preparing to converge on a single stretch of stone wall known as The Angle. Long range cannon fire sent explosive shells into the rebel ranks. As they neared, the artillerymen changed to canister shot; a typed of buckshot fired from a cannon. Closer still the rebels marched; closing holes in the line left by soldiers killed en masse.

A deafening musketry opened from the Yankee lines behind cover of the stone wall. Still, the Confederates came. As the survivors reached the stone wall, brutal hand to hand combat ensued, but alas, the rebels, tired and outnumbered quickly lost momentum.  The entire charge lasted less than an hour. In that time, 10,000 Confederates lay dead and dying. With the failure of the charge, the battle ended. Robert E. Lee retreated back into Virginia. Thus ended Lee’s second invasion of the north. Thus ended the Confederacy's hope for independence. Although the war would continue for two more years, the Army of Northern Virginia would never fully recover from this loss.

The Angle is a beautifully maintained area of landscape. One can still look out across the field from where Pickett's Charge originated. A park ranger while on routine patrol one night noticed a man on horseback. As the rider neared, the ranger wondered who would be on the battlefield so late; on horseback. Upon closer inspection, the ranger noticed the attire of the rider. It was that of a Civil War officer although the allegiance could not be ascertained. The unknown horseman approached to within 10 feet of the car and promptly disappeared. Other visitors have reported the sound of galloping horses in the immediate area of The Angle, although none were present. Sounds of the cannonade have permeated through time as people report hearing the thunderous roar of battle. One visitor even reported seeing Robert E. Lee himself, sitting atop his horse, Traveller, on the opposite side of the field. A resident of Gettysburg, and amateur ghosthunter mentions that during a stroll across the field on a warm summer night, cold spots were common. Going from balmy humidity to sudden cold, so cold he could see his breath, the fellow continued the path of Pickett's infantrymen.
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