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The "Battlefield Ghost" of Gettysburg

Updated on July 1, 2015

Devil's Den

Battle of Gettysburg

So many Civil War soldiers met their deaths in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg it comes as no surprise many regard the town as one of the most haunted places in the United States. The living population of Gettysburg Pennsylvania, in July of 1863 was outnumbered twenty to one by the dead.  It was said drain holes had to be drilled into the church floors for the blood to drain.  So, if there was ever a place which deserved to be haunted…this it.

History records General Robert E. Lee and his troops had descended upon Gettysburg only to find the Union Army, led by General George G. Meade, was already there. Naturally, an immense battle ensued. The blood bath lasting three long days culminated in an estimated 51,000 casualties. 

Following the battle phantom apparitions, battlefield ghosts and eerie terrifying screams have all been reported.   Even at the time of the battle some very important people regarded the battlefield haunted by what has become known as the “Battlefield Ghost.”

Earliest Haunting

The story goes, one of the earliest hauntings happened during the battle. Soldiers of the 20th Maine claimed to have stumbled upon a ghost while marching toward Gettysburg. Reportedly they came to a fork in the road and stopped, not knowing which way to go.  Suddenly, a man on horseback they mistook for a Union General appeared and led them on toward Gettysburg.

 Upon further investigation the soldiers noticed the uniform was different, as he was wearing a tri-cornered hat not worn for over a hundred years. They also noticed an eerie glow emanating from both him and his horse and the rider bore a striking resemblance to George Washington.

Washington's Ghost

Edwin Stanton, secretary of war under President Lincoln, ordered Colonel John Pittenger to visit General Oliver J. Hunt after the battle of Gettysburg to investigate.  Hunt reported a Revolutionary War officer riding a white stallion and looking much like a portrait of the former president, ordered the union soldiers to charge.  The conversation between Pettinger and Hunt was later recorded in a soldier’s diary. The ghostly presence continues to be seen riding across the Gettysburg battlefield.

Stanger still is an account reported during the filming of the 1993 movie Gettysburg.  During breaks in filming, actors in Union uniforms would explore the battlefields. One afternoon the actors met a haggard looking union private who smelled heavily of sulfur. The private solemnly stated, "Rough one today, eh boys?" as he handed over three musket balls.  As the surprised actors examined them the private disappeared.  The musket balls were found to be original, dated about 130 years ago.

Other early reports of paranormal activity in Gettysburg came from the Forney farm workers who had strange experiences in an area called Iverson’s Pit. This is where a brigade of North Carolinians’ was buried in four shallow mass graves after being totally decimated by a union ambush. The graves sank causing a depression.

People began reporting strange lights in the area and mysterious mists arising from the ground depressions at night.

There seems to be one location having more paranormal activity than others. It is known as the "Devil’s Den.”  The rocks of this location provided protection and enabled snipers to kill hundreds of soldiers in the bloody battle.  Visitors to the area today find the camera or video equipment quickly drained with no apparent cause.

Many have witnessed other strange phenomenon such as foggy patches, lighted orbs, and other unusual apparitions. Some have seen apparitions closely resembling human form. These ghosts are often said to repeat the same acts over and over, and apparently oblivious to anyone else’s presence. This is often typical in residual based hauntings.

One of the most haunted inns in America, the Farnsworth Inn, is also close by. It was built in 1810 and said to be inhabited by about 14 spectral residents.   One such guest is the spirit of a young boy named Jeremy.

 According to “Jerry” a frequent visitor at the inn “I was lying on the bed when all of a sudden it shook,” he says. “It was a pretty good jolt and that bed is pretty heavy.”

In March, 2009, Jerry returned to Farnsworth with his girlfriend, Deb. But on this visit he rented the McFarlane room in the original part of the house and Jeremy is said to visit there from time to time.

“It was Sunday morning and we were supposed to check out by 11 a.m.,” Jerry explained. “We had not experienced anything paranormal in the room, so I asked Jeremy if he could give Deb an experience before we left.

The story gets bizarre after Jerry took a shower. “When I opened the door and walked out, Deb asked if that was the first time I walked out of the bathroom. I said yes and asked why. She said before I came out, she heard someone walk from the bathroom to the closet. I then told her what I asked Jeremy. Is it a coincidence? I don't think so. I think Jeremy was hanging around and heard me."


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank you all!!

    • profile image

      odie_driver 6 years ago

      Very entertaining and informative - great hub - voted up!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      As always, entertaining and causes the reader to ponder the possibilities. Very good hub, JY.