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Ghosts of Antietem

Updated on November 12, 2015

The Battle of Antietam will forever be known as the bloodiest one-day battle of the American Civil War. Antietam Battlefield is now a National Park and lies just outside the small town of Sharpsburg, Maryland. Today, it looks much the same as it did the fateful morning of September 17th 1862. The combined casualties of that single battle were estimated to be over 23,000. A few of the fallen soldiers are believed to still frequent the place.

When the battle was over General Robert E. Lee withdrew his forces back across the Potomac River leaving the dead where they had fallen. The wounded remained in hastily formed make shift field hospitals in several churches and a house called the Grove Farm. Many say the floorboards in this house are still stained with blood which has defied all attempts to remove them.

One spot in particular, “Bloody Lane,” seems to be where most of the spirits are concentrated. It was a shallow road separating two small farms. So many combatants died at the location the bodies were measured more by how deep the piles of dead were than actual body counts. Some piles of dead were recorded as high as 5 feet. It’s not surprising “Bloody Lane” has been noted as a hot bed of paranormal activity.

Bloody Lane in 1862

Strange things about this battlefield have been reported since the last shot of the battle was fired. The sounds of gunfire smell of gunpowder and sightings of Civil War clad soldiers are not uncommon. One visitor who spotted several Confederate soldiers assumed they were re-enactors, until they suddenly vanished before his eyes.

Overlooking the battlefield is the Phillip Pry House. It’s a brick farmhouse that served as Union Headquarters during the battle. General Joseph Hooker and General Israel B. Richardson were brought here after being wounded. Richardson later died there of abdominal wounds.

TheNational Park Service doesn’t allow access to this structure by visitors which for many years was used as a storage facility. A good portion of the Pry House was destroyed by fire in 1976. It was during its’ restoration when much of the paranormal activity around the building seemed to begin.

For example, during a meeting of park personnel, a woman in old-fashioned clothing was seen coming down the stairs. Questions were asked about her identity but no one knew who she was. The same woman was seen again standing in an upper window by an arriving team of workers. Coincidentally, it was the same room where General Richardson had been tended by his wife before he died. After going upstairs, they realized the room in which the woman had been had no floor. The same apparition has been seen on several other occasions.

Burnside Bridge at the battlefield is another site of interest for ghost hunters, especially after dark. Visitors have reported seeing blue balls of light moving about and the sound of beating drums.

Another site of interest is the St. Paul Episcopal Church which was used as a Confederate field hospital. It had been nearly destroyed following the battle but has since been rebuilt. Some nearby residents have claimed to have heard screams emanating from inside and have also reported flickering lights from the tower.

The Piper House was used as the Confederate headquarters. It is now a bed and breakfast where visitors can spend the night at an authentic historical landmark. Its’ present owners say the house isn’t haunted, but that’s not what guests have said. Most reports concern the bathroom where visitors have heard voices and even seen an apparition in the doorway. The odd thing is that portion of the house was added around the turn of the century. Some have proposed perhaps the room was built on top of one of many mass graves on the battlefield.

Many have come to visit Antietam Battlefield and left with photos of "orbs" strange mists and eerie tales of their experience.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      That's an interesting piece of info Jama, thanks.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Any place where thousands of soldiers died at the same time is going to be haunted with the spirits of those who can't accept that they actually died and therefore never "crossed over". How or why this "left behind" energy imprints itself on a particular place is a fascinating mystery. Another anomaly of large battles is the heavy rainfall reported during or shortly after on an otherwise clear day, which is nothing more than the result of unintentional "cloud seeding" caused by the concussive effect of cannon- and gunfire "banging" the atmosphere above the battlefield.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I agree Western, I've always enjoyed museums and historical places.

    • WesternHistory profile image

      WesternHistory 6 years ago from California

      Excellent hub. Enjoyed reading. So much of our country's history can now be found in National Parks and Monuments. There's good educational opportunities when visiting any of these old historic sites.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Why, thank you Donna

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      Excellent hub. Interesting historical information with specific details chronicling paranormal activity. Voted it up.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Paradise, I too was amazed by the stats. But you make a very

      good point about WMD.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      The Civil War ghosts persist to this day on many battlefields. This was a very good article. I'm just awed by the sheer numbers--23,000 dead, when they only had cannon, single-shot rifles, and sabres, I believe. The most killing weapons of mass destruction weren't invented yet.