J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the category “ghost”

The Notorious Point Lookout

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Although it isn’t a battlefield, one of the most haunted places in America related to the Civil War is Point Lookout in Maryland. Point Lookout was a notorious Confederate prison camp during the war. At one time, over 50,000 men were held captive, which was far more than what the prison was designed to hold. Because of overcrowding, over 3,000 men died due to the horrific living conditions. They were buried in the swampy marsh of Chesapeake Bay.

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The place where the prison once stood is now a national park and historic site, and the men who died at Point Lookout are remembered in a war memorial cemetery, which is actually a mass grave. Not surprisingly, many strange things have occurred on this haunted and hallowed ground. Visitors have reported a multitude of paranormal phenomena, including ghostly figures of soldiers seen running from the location of where a smallpox hospital once stood, which was a regular escape route for prisoners. A slender man has often been seen loping across the road into groves of pine trees.

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Rangers have described how frequent, low lying, damp fog would suddenly become impenetrable and chilling. The sudden change in atmosphere sent their dogs into a panic. Recorded devices have picked up strange snippets of conversation at all hours of the night. Some of the phrases heard included a man say, “Fire if they get too close to you.” A woman’s voice was heard saying, “Let us take no objection to what they are doing,” and a child’s voice asked to play in the water.

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Point Lookout’s lighthouse has experienced the most activity. Former park ranger Gerald Sword said his Belgian Shepherd regularly lunged at unseen figures. Once, Ranger Sword saw a young man in a sailor’s uniform enter the lighthouse and then disappear into thin air. Voices and piano music frequently float through the lighthouse halls, and fishermen have often told him they’ve heard phantom cries for help coming from the water.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

The Haunting of the Perryville Battlefield

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Most people wouldn’t think of Perryville, Kentucky as being one of the most haunted places in the country. But on October 8, 1862, a terrible tragedy took place there that forever left an imprint on the land. Union and Confederate troops clashed for several hours, leaving approximately 7,600 young soldiers either, wounded, dead, or missing. The nearby Chaplin River ran red with blood from the fallen. The battle decided the fate of the state, and although the battle was a tactical victory for the Confederates, the Union army received enough reinforcements to force Confederate General Braxton Bragg back into Tennessee. His army would never again enter Kentucky. Because of this, the Federals had the opportunity to properly bury their dead. The Confederates, however, were unceremoniously thrown into mass graves and haphazardly left in unmarked plots on the battlefield.

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(Photo courtesy of Steve Stanely)

It isn’t surprising, then, that countless visitors to the battlefield have witnesses ghostly figures wandering the grassy fields, sometimes in broad daylight. Many reported seeing full-bodied apparitions marching across the fields, and have heard the deep percussion of heavy artillery and cannon fire echoing across the rolling hills. Disembodied voices have been captured on audio, responding to questions with intelligent responses that were indicative of 1862.

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Not only is the battlefield haunted, but so is the nearby Dye House, which served as a makeshift hospital after the battle. The structure witnessed hundreds of emergency surgeries, amputations, and painful, gruesome deaths. So much blood was spilled on the floors that, to this day, has been impossible to remove.  People have heard footsteps descend the stairs, and doors open and close by themselves. Recordings have been made where ghostly voices claim to be Civil War doctors.

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Joni House, the park’s preservation and program coordinator, has also witnessed strange occurrences. “I’m in my office and I hear people talking to me and nobody else is in the building. Or I come in here and see things that have happened in the museum. There’s no real explanation for why a mannequin’s head has been pulled off and is now in the middle of the floor.”

(The Perryville Battlefield was one of the Civil War Trust’s 10 most endangered battlefields in 2008.)

Stay tuned: on Halloween – It isn’t a battlefield but it’s still very scary.

“Wherever there has been great suffering, people are always seeing strange things.”

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(Ghostly apparitions on the Chickamauga battlefield. Photo courtesy of Danial Druey.)

The Battle of Chickamauga was a costly one. On September 19 – 20, 1863, approximately 35,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing. It was considered a Confederate victory because the Rebels halted the Federal advance. Chickamauga, meaning “River of Death” in Cherokee, lived up to its name. Not surprisingly, the site of the battle in Georgia is reportedly haunted.

In 1876, thirteen years after the battle, ex-Confederate Jim Carlock participated in a centennial celebration. While walking across the battlefield, he and his friends saw something ten feet high with a “big white head.” He said the entity appeared to be a black woman carrying a bundle of clothes on her head.

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Edward Tinney, former historian and chief ranger at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park from 1969 to 1986, said ghostly sightings are not uncommon. The most famous phantom is known as “Old Green Eyes.” This ghost takes on many different shapes, including a Confederate soldier and a green-eyed panther. Old Green Eyes was spotted soon after the battle ended when surviving soldiers saw the strange specter.

“Green Eyes is rumored to be a man who lost his head to a cannonball, frantically searching the battlefield at night for his dislocated body,” Tinney said.

According to legend, the ghost of Old Green Eyes existed years before the battle took place, possibly during the time that Native Americans lived on the land.

One night in 1976, Tinney was on the battlefield checking on camping reenactors. A man over 6 feet tall, wearing a long black duster, with stringy black, waist-length hair, walked toward him. Intimidated, Tinney crossed to the other side of the road. The man reached him and flashed a devilish grin. His dark eyes glistened. Just then, a car came down the road and the scary apparition vanished.

Another ghost appears in the form of a lady in a white wedding dress. Known as the “Lady in White,” the ghost is supposedly searching for her lover. Many visitors have reported hearing gunshots and hoof beats, or smelling the strong scent of alcohol. Reports of ghostly encounters and paranormal activities number in the hundreds.

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(Ghost horse behind reenactor. Photo courtesy of Rick Kanan.)

Several years ago, David Lester was camping on the battlefield with several other reenactors. Some of his comrades wandered over to a neighboring camp to say hello to the soldiers. They talked for several hours before returning to their camp. In the morning, they returned to the camp, only to discover that there was no sign of a campfire or any trace of human occupation. There was only undisturbed land.

(Headline quote courtesy of Edward Tinney.)

(Next up: Battle of Perryville)

Haunted Battlefields: Part II, Antietam

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The bloodiest day in American history began on September 17, 1862 at Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. Union and Confederate troops clashed with a series of attacks and counterattacks. Toward the center of the battlefield, Union assaults against the Sunken Road pierced through the Confederate line. Later, the third and final assault came from the Union army as they pushed over a bullet-strewn stone bridge spanning Antietam Creek. Just as the Confederates began to collapse, reinforcements arrived and drove the Federals back across the bridge, which later became known as Burnside Bridge. The battle ended in a draw, but President Abraham Lincoln decided it was enough of a “victory” to support his Emancipation Proclamation. More than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or MIA. The road near Antietam Creek came to be known as Bloody Lane, and the creek flowed red with blood.

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Not surprisingly, the Antietam battlefield is reportedly one of the most haunted places in the country. Visitors have heard gunfire and smelled gunpowder near the Bloody Lane when it was completely deserted, and many have seen ghostly apparitions in that area. Confederate soldiers approached them on the lane only to disappear into thin air. Burnside’s Bridge and St. Paul Episcopal Church, which was used as a Confederate hospital following the battle, are also haunted. According to local legend, the floorboards of the church are so bloodstained that not even sandpaper can take the stains out.

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The sound of singing can sometimes be heard echoing across the eerily quiet battlefield. The tune sounds like “Deck the Halls.” During the battle, some Irish-American Confederates used a Gaelic hymn as their battle cry. The hymn sounded very similar to the Christmas melody.

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(Next up: Chickamauga)

Haunted Battlefields: Part I, Gettysburg

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In the spirit of Halloween, I will be posting the next few articles about hauntings related to the Civil War. The number of haunted places and things associated with the War Between the States is virtually limitless. New reports of strange occurrences surface nearly every day, and each story is more fascinating and creepy than the last.

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It goes without saying that the most haunted place in America associated with the Civil War is Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This small, sleepy town suddenly found itself in the crossfires on July 1, 1863. The battle would last three days and claim over 50,000 lives (including dead, wounded, and missing). The tragedy left a lasting imprint on the land. Over 150 years later, ghostly apparitions still dwell on the battlefield and nearby town.

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The Farnsworth House is reportedly one of the most haunted places in Gettysburg. The house was riddled with bullets during the battle, and the scars still exist outside the building’s facade. Tourists say they have seen a specter of a distressed man carrying a child in a quilt, as well as the ghost of a fallen Confederate sharpshooter. Outside of town, the Daniel Lady Farm, which served as a Confederate field hospital where over 10,000 Confederate soldiers lost their lives, is host to numerous hauntings.

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At the Cashtown Inn, the first soldier of the battle was killed. The owners claim to have photographic evidence of spirits floating around the premises. Guests have witnessed someone knocking on doors, lights turning off and on, and doors locking and unlocking by themselves.  The Gettysburg Hotel and the Baladerry Inn are also reportedly haunted.

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Gettysburg visitors have reported hearing the sound of whirring bullets and the screams of fallen horses and soldiers. Some have had direct encounters with the deceased.  Devil’s Den is one of the most haunted places on the battlefield. So is the Triangular Field and Sachs Bridge. Visitors have captured apparitions on camera. In one instance, a long-haired young man told a tourist, “What you are looking for is over there.” The ghost then quickly vanished.

(Next up: Antietam)

An Eerie Sighting

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Social media websites have been abuzz with posts about a photograph that was taken by a man from Houston. The photo was shot at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The photographer claims that when he took the picture of the hotel’s entryway and grand staircase, no one else was in that area with him. However, the photo revealed otherwise. On the landing is what looks like a woman dressed in period, turn of the century (circa 1900) clothing.

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I find this fascinating, since I have been to the Stanley many times. Colorado is home for me, and Longmont is only a few miles from Estes Park, so my family and I have been up there frequently. The Stanley Hotel wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar if it wasn’t for author Stephen King. He stayed at the Stanley, which inspired him to write his famous novel, The Shining. The original movie was not shot at the hotel, but a subsequent miniseries was later on.

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My husband and I have stayed at the Stanley, but alas, we didn’t see any ghosts. However, I definitely felt a presence when I performed at the Concert Hall, which is a stone’s throw away from the hotel. The Stanley has a reputation of being haunted, and this newly released photograph seems to be the latest proof.

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It’s amazing how many places around the world are reportedly haunted. My husband is a skeptic, but I believe, because I’ve had some weird, unexplained experiences happen to me. Many historic buildings, landmarks, forests, and battlefields are haunted. Gettysburg is one of the most haunted places in the world. Not only is the battlefield haunted by Civil War soldiers, but by medical personnel and citizens who lived there as well. The scent of peppermint often wafts through the air. (Peppermint was used to mask the odor of death after the battle.) I can attest to the fact that Gettysburg is haunted, which makes it all the more intriguing to me. Sightings and eye witness accounts only prove that the inexplicable exists.

http://www.today.com/money/ghostly-image-captured-stanley-hotel-inspiration-shining-t86986

http://www.pennlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2013/06/gettysburg_150_12.html

Killing a President

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150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln became the first U.S. president to be assassinated. On the evening of April 12, 1865, Lincoln attended a play at Ford’s Theater titled Our American Cousin with his wife, Mary Todd, Union army officer Henry Rathbone, and Rathbone’s fiance, Clara Harris, the daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris. While they enjoyed the play from the presidential box, actor and Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, sneaked into the box and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. The president was taken across the street to William Petersen’s Boarding House, where he lay dying for several hours. He expired at 7:22 a.m.on April 13.

Booth escaped Washington with accomplice David Herold. The two men traveled through southern Maryland until they were cornered in a barn in Virginia on April 26. Herold surrendered, but Booth refused and was shot to death. Conspirators of the assassination were arrested, including Mary Surratt, who owned the boarding house where Booth frequented. She later became the first woman in American history to be hung by the Federal government for treason.

The traumatic event left an incredible impact. Mary Todd, who claimed to communicate with her dead husband through seances, was eventually committed to an insane asylum by her oldest son. Henry Rathbone married Clara Harris, and later, murdered her. Rumors abounded for years that John Wilkes Booth had actually escaped and had gone West or to Mexico. The train Lincoln’s body was transported on from Washington to Illinois was seen for many years as a spectral ghost. And the spirit of Mary Surratt haunted the Old Capitol Prison where she was hung until the building was razed in 1929.

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