J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Strange Encounters

With Halloween approaching, I thought I’d share a few bizarre experiences I’ve had in regard to the Civil War. As you know, many battlefields, houses, cemeteries, and ex-prisons are known to be haunted. There have been ghostly sightings in all of these places. The spirit of President Lincoln was actually seen in the White House by Grace Coolidge, Winston Churchill, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, to name a few. Scores of cemeteries are said to be haunted, as well as private homes like the Carnton Plantation outside of Nashville. And of course, every Civil War battlefield has a ghost or two.

I have personally been to a lot of these battlefields, and I can attest that, although I didn’t see actual apparitions, I could defiinitely feel a presence. Shiloh was very eerie, especially when we drove through it at night. It seemed as though there were tiny orbs flying around in the trees, and I was just waiting to catch a glimpse of a soldier running toward us holding a shotgun.

Another scary experience I had was at the reinactment of the Battle of Chickamauga. The reinactment was interesting in that the spectators were practically on the battlefield with the soldiers. It was a little too close for comfort! But the scariest thing was that the organizers of the event decided to put all the authors in a tent, and then they tethered a cow at the entrance of the tent. Talk about bizaare! Needless to say, the cow scared away most of the visitors, and it wasn’t even a ghost!

I’ll have to say that the most profound experience I’ve had in relation to the Civil War happened to me when I was in Virginia. The Grafitti House, located near Culpeper, was the sight of many battles, including the largest cavalry battle to take place on American soil, the Battle of Brandy Station. The Grafitti House was used as a field hospital. Both Union and Confederate soldiers stayed there, and while convelescing, they drew pictures on the walls. The pictures were later covered with wallpaper. It wasn’t until recently that the drawings and signatures were discovered, just before they were going to tear down the house. Numerous horseshoes have been found in the area, as well as bullets, and a bayonet was discovered inside the chimney. Now the Grafitti House is a tourist attraction. When I was there, I definitely felt a presence. I walked into one of the upstairs rooms and was suddenly overcome with an oppresive feeling of dread, so much so that I felt like I was going to pass out. As soon as I crossed the threshold into the hallway, the feeling instantly vanished. I can’t say what caused this feeling, but I’m sure someone else was there with us, someone unseen.

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