This month’s Mystery Monday posts will be stories of haunted America. There are hundreds of places I could write about. However, I chose towns places I have visited and taken part in a ghost walk or tour. The first is Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The picturesque town of Gettysburg lies in South Central Pennsylvania. In many ways, it’s like other small towns in America—a spot on a map most people would never visit.
On July 1 – 3 of that year, tens of thousands descended upon the town as the Army of Northern Virginia engaged in battle with the Army of the Potomac. Casualties on both sides were high. An estimated 27,000 Confederate and 23,000 Union soldiers were either wounded or killed—the highest number for any single battle of the war. The war also claimed the life of one civilian when a stray bullet passed through a kitchen door, hitting twenty-year-old Jennie Wade.
After the fighting ended, the town’s residents had to care for the wounded and bury approximately 8,000 dead soldiers.
During the battle, farmhouses and public buildings were used as makeshift hospitals. Surgeons performed countless amputations in less than optimal conditions. Limbs were thrown out windows into piles. These were later gathered and buried in makeshift graves. Citizens heard the cries of wounded soldiers throughout the town.
Mass graves were dug for both Union and Confederate soldiers. Is it any wonder Gettysburg has become a prime location for paranormal activity? This area has more reporting incidents of paranormal activity than any other Civil War Battlefield.
The valley of death is an area between Little Round Top and Devil’s den. One woman reported
being in this area one night when she heard someone playing Taps from deep in the woods. A white fog appeared, then she saw a soldier walk out of the mist. He walked by slowly, then disappeared.
More than one visitor has reported seeing a man with bare feet and shoulder-length hair, wearing a floppy hat and ragged clothing. Many believe he is a ghost of a Texas soldier who died in that area.
Others have had trouble with their cameras while at Devil’s Den. When they leave the area, the cameras work perfectly.
After the war, the Homestead Orphanage was established to care for and educate the children of fallen soldiers. Headmistress Rosa Carmichael was a mean, vindictive woman who often locked children in the outside or tied them to fences and left them in the hot sun.
She hired an assistant, a teenager known as Stick Boy, to carry out much of the punishment. He would trip kids with his stick, beat them, and chain them to a wall of the basement. Some children were locked in a small room in the cellar and left there for days.
The torment continued for almost nine years until someone found a child locked in the outside. In 1877, Carmichael was charged with child abuse, but her punishment was a measly $20.00 fine. She left Gettysburg never to be seen alive there again.
Strange occurrences have been reported including the presence of children in the basement and toys moving of their own accord. The remnants of a wire once used to shackle the children is said to stand straight out from the wall. Many believe the ghost of Rosa, Stick Boy, and the children now haunt the building.
Jennie Wade was the only civilian to die during the Battle of Gettysburg. She was a guest in her sister’s home when they became trapped in the middle of the war. Instead of being idle, Jennie spent her time baking bread for Union Soldiers. A stray bullet when through the door, into her shoulder, and lodged in her heart, killing her instantly.
The nearby Farnsworth house was a Confederate stronghold. The basement was used for triage, the attic for a sniper’s nest. Many believe the bullet that hit Jennie came from this house.
Both places have reported incidents of paranormal activity. Ghostly images of a woman have been seen in a mirror in the upstairs bedroom of the Wade house. In the Farnsworth house, people claim to hear people crying out in pain in the basemen. Many believe Jennie’s spirit still inhabits the home where she died.
We didn’t witness any paranormal activity while in Gettysburg. But more importantly, a visit to this town and the battlefields served as a reminder of a dark time in our nation’s history. It’s my hope we never repeat something that that again.