(In 1874, Custis took up his mother’s crusade to obtain Arlington and won. Because the house was surrounded by a cemetery, he immediately sold it to the U.S. Government. Ownership was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933. Eventually, all of the Lee children’s remains were moved to the Lee Chapel.)
Most people think of cemeteries and battlefields when they hear about strange apparitions that exist in regard to the Civil War. However, many old fortresses are rumored to host the spirits of soldiers as well. As my final installation of “Halloween Hauntings,” I bring to you the forts that time forgot.
Fort Delaware, located in Delaware City, Delaware, is an imposing structure that is said to be one of the most haunted places in America. It is no wonder, considering the suffering that took place during the War Between the States. The fort unintentionally became a prisoner of war camp, with most of its inhabitants being captured at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The fort, located on six acres, with 32 foot high walls and surrounded by a medieval moat, housed over 40,000 men by war’s end. The fort had the highest mortality rate of any POW camp: 2500 to 3000 men died. The ghosts of incarcerated Confederates reportedly still inhabit the place, as does a woman and several children. Across the river is Finn’s Point National Cemetery, where most of the Confederate soldiers are buried. Sadly, only one marker is placed, which reads, “Erected By The United States To Mark The Burial Place Of 2436 Confederate Soldiers Who Died At Fort Delaware While Prisoners Of War And Whose Graves Cannot Now Be Individually Identified.”
Fort Monroe, where President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned following his capture after the fall of the Confederacy, is another ominous place that seethes with spiritual energy. Located in Virginia, which ranks as the most haunted place in America according to the National Register of Haunted Locations, the fort has reported many spiritual sightings, including those of Abraham Lincoln and General U.S. Grant.
Off the gulf coast of Alabama exists two ancient forts that have now become tourist attractions: Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines. Both forts have a long history of military service, surviving many wars, and not surprisingly, both have their share of supernatural inhabitants. Visitors have reported hearing footsteps, seeing strange apparitions that follow them out of the park areas, and noticing ghosts that observe them while they are there.
In the spirit of Halloween, I have been posting 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m always fascinated to learn about long-lost items from the Civil War that have been discovered. When I lived in Mississippi, it was fun to see what some of my WBTS enthusiast friends found with their metal detectors – from coins to belt buckles to buttons. The most interesting find was a Confederate sabre that a friend found buried on his farm. There are lots of theories about what happened to the Confederate gold, and now, some say they have found Union gold. I hope you find this article as fascinating as I do!
RUMORED SITE OF $55M IN CIVIL WAR-ERA GOLD DRAWS FBI’S ATTENTION, REPORTS SAY
President Abraham Lincoln reportedly ordered the shipment to help pay Union Army soldiers, Dennis Parada, owner of local treasure-hunting group Finders Keepers, told WJAC-TV.
“I’m not going to quit until it’s dug up,” Parada told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “and if I die, my kid’s going to be around and make sure it’s going to be dug up.
Dozens of FBI agents, Pennsylvania state officials and members of a treasure-hunting group dug in a remote Pennsylvania site earlier this week, on rumors of Civil War-era gold being buried there.
A 155-year-old legend has it that a Civil War-era gold shipment bound for a U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was either lost or hidden northeast of Pittsburgh around the time of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
“There’s something in there and I’m not giving up.”
Based on different stories, the shipment was composed of either 26 or 52 gold bars, each weighing 50 pounds, meaning it would be worth $27 million to $55 million today.
Local lore that the federal gold might be buried at the Dents Run site in Benezette Township, Pa., about 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, caught the FBI’s attention.
So earlier this week agents from the bureau and officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) set up a search area off Route 555, the Courier-Express reported.
The site is west of Driftwood, where a crew delivering the gold was attacked in an ambush, lone survivor Sgt. Jim Connors reportedly told his Army superiors at the time, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. But the Army reportedly doubted his story and Connors died in a “western outpost,” leaving the loot unfound.
This week the FBI wouldn’t say why it was at the site, revealing only that it was conducting “court-authorized law enforcement activity.”
Historians have cast doubt that the shipment of gold was lost on its way to Philadelphia. Finders Keepers also said Pennsylvania’s Historical and Museum Commission claims the legend of the lost gold is a myth, the Inquirer reported.
But the lost treasure recovery group has insisted for years that it discovered buried gold in a state forest at Dents Run (within the township) using a high-powered metal detector, but federal law wouldn’t allow it to conduct a dig in search of more, the Courier-Express reported.
A spokesman from the Pennsylvania DCNR said that the group previously asked to excavate the site, but elected not to pay a required $15,000 bond.
The spokesman also referred questions on Tuesday’s activity to the FBI, and Parada said he was under FBI orders not to discuss the site.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 42, Issue No. 4, April 2018)
I recently blogged about the Civil War Trust’s efforts to restore the Widow Thompson House, where General Robert E. Lee had his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg. The CWT’s goal is to restore the house to its appearance in 1863. The Civil War Trust also intends to restore the surrounding landscape and install an interpretive trail.
(Photo of the Widow Thompson’s House on Chamberlain Pike taken circa 1861 – 1865.)
The stone house, built in the 1830’s, was owned by Thaddeus Stephens, the Radical Republican Pennsylvania congressman who played an important role in Civil War financing and the anti-slavery movement. The house was leased to Mary Thompson who, in 1863, was a widow living in the house with her eight children. The property surrounding the house played a pivotal role during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. Located on Seminary Ridge, the house was first in the center of the Union line of defense and then became a key position for the Confederates. Lee’s army pushed out the Yankees, and the Confederate general quickly took control of the house as his headquarters. For the next three days, the house served as a hospital, fortress, and nerve center for the Confederate army.
In the 1890’s, the house was left out of the National Military Park and fell into private hands. The site became a popular attraction. Campgrounds, cottages, and a museum popped up around the house. In the 1960’s, Larson’s Motel (later Quality Inn) and a large restaurant surrounded the house.
Two years ago, the Civil War Trust announced plans to purchase and restore the property, as well as four acres surrounding the house, at a cost of $6 million. After receiving donations, the property was purchased last year. This year, restoration to the property’s 1863 appearance began with the demolition of the restaurant and motel. This first phase will be completed this month.
I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July. This holiday brings many fun-filled memories of family, friends, and special summers. Although everyone has fond memories of July 4, let’s not forget what the holiday truly represents: FREEDOM. We have been a free country for so long that it’s easy to take that for granted, but remember our ancestors, who gave their lives so that we could be free. The Fourth of July is historically significant, not only for our War of Independence, but also for the War Between the States.
In 1863, two important events played out: Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The battle of Gettysburg, after three days of heavy fighting, ended on July 4, with both sides thinking they were victorious. It was realized later that the Confederate army had actually suffered a defeat; the first major loss of the war. At Vicksburg, Mississippi, Union General Grant succeeded in taking the town after a month-long siege, thus securing the Mississippi River for Federal use.
Our founding fathers sacrificed home and health to secure our freedom. This 4th of July, let us honor those who so loved, cherished, and believed in our country that they laid down their lives unselfishly. God bless America!
One of the greatest American speeches ever delivered took place on this date in 1863. Following the bloody Battle of Gettysburg on July 1-3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln was invited to participate in dedicating the Soldiers National Cemetery to say “a few appropriate remarks.” After a long, two hour oratory given by Edward Everett, a popular speaker of that time. President Lincoln rose to his feet, stepped to the front of the platform, and began reading. His speech lasted just over two minutes, but it has endured through the ages. Once he was finished reading, the audience responded with only a spattering of applause. Lincoln remarked that his carefully chosen words fell on them like a wet blanket. Little did he know, his speech would become one of the most famous, reverent speeches in this country’s history.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Today marks the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle began on July 1, 1863, and lasted through July 3. Prior to the battle, Union forces, coming from the south, collided with Southern troops travelling from the north. After the first day of battle, General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates were victorious, but by the end of the third day, following Pickett’s famous charge, the battle was considered to be a draw. It wasn’t until several days later that Union General Meade’s Army of the Potomac learned they had won the fight. The battle was a pivotal one in that, from that time until April 1865, the Union army started winning battles, and ultimately won the war.
Every year, a large reenactment takes place in Gettysburg, and this weekend is no exception. Last year’s event was colossal, since it was the 150th anniversary of the battle. However, thousands of reenactors from all over the country are expected to participate in this year’s event, which is called “The Last Great Invasion.” Reenactors wearing authentic clothing and using authentic weaponry camp out over the weekend in Civil War tents. A period ball is held, complete with ladies dressed in beautiful gowns. Battles are staged, as well as living history demonstrations.
An estimated 100 cannons and 400 horses (cavalry) will be involved. And for the first time, “Traveling Tara” will be there, which depicts everyday life in a Civil War home. The name is taken from Tara, Scarlett O’Hara’s home in Gone With the Wind. The battle reenactments will take place on the Yingling farm – the same site where the movie Gettysburg was filmed 20 years ago.
On Monday, July 7, the National Park Service has granted permission to stage a photo shoot on Little Round Top and Devil’s Den. This is the first time they have allowed it since 1992, when The Killer Angels was filmed there. Reenactors are invited to participate. All in all, the presentations during this weekend will be nothing less than spectacular, and will give spectators a glimpse of what fighting and living during a Civil War was really like.
For more information, check out
Since I’m in a writing class this week, I’m going to cheat on my blog by posting some more videos of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg reenactment. Hope you enjoy!