Gettysberg, a name forever carved in American history. An ordinary run of the mill American town in Pennsylvania until the events of 1st to the 3rd July 1863.
During this fateful period Union and Confederate forces collided in what was one of the pivotal moments of the civil war. At the end of the three days 7,500 men were dead and the blood soaked battlefields of Gettysberg enshrined in history.
Visited by thousands each year, Gettysberg has become famous for another reason. The area has become rich in paranormal activity with many reporting ghostly experiences.
Is this area haunted by the souls of those who lost their lives in that terrible battle? Here are just a few true Gettysberg ghost stories…
The ghost of George Washington is possibly one of the first recorded hauntings at Gettysberg. Many years before in 1777 he is said to have reported a terrible premonition of the future to his aides.
The premonition was so vivid it was recorded in writing. Some believe that at least part of this premonition was a vision of the Battle of Gettysberg.
The story becomes even stranger. On approaching the Gettysberg area on the first day of battle, the 20th Maine Division of the Union Army came to a fork in the road. Unsure which path to take, the division led by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, hesitated.
At that moment a rider wearing old fashioned clothes, a tricorn hat and riding a magnificent white horse approached. He guided the soldiers along the path to a strategically advantageous area, known as Little Round Top.
The rider stayed with the Union soldiers throughout the ensuing battle. Both Union and Confederate soldiers reported that the rider emanated an eerie glow and seemed impervious to gunfire or cannon shot.
So many soldiers were convinced that the ghost of George Washington himself had been present during the fateful battle, that a formal investigation was undertaken by the Secretary of War.
Little Round Top
Little Round Top became one of the strategic areas during the Battle of Gettysberg. A small rocky hill, the site was successfully defended from the attack of confederate soldiers.
Visitors to the area report hearing gun and cannon fire. One of the most bizarre and unexplained incidents though took place during the filming of the movie Gettysberg.
During a break in filming a group of extras dressed in army uniforms, took a break. Whilst they were resting they were approached by an elderly gentleman smelling strongly of sulfur and dressed in Union garb.
The gentleman talked about the progress of the battle and pressed what turned out to be authentic musket rounds into their hands before disappearing.
His role was clearly to replenish the ammunition of the Union soldiers. A ghostly apparition, a slip in time? He certainly wasn’t connected to the movie.
The name of this barren area would be enough to strike terror into the heart. A large rocky outcrop with deep fissures and crevices, it is a place where many people have sighted ghostly forms.
These sightings include a man who approaches tourists directing them to some invisible scene, before disappearing into thin air.
Another strange feature of this area is the effect that it has on cameras. Hundreds of people have reported the same phenomenon. Cameras suddenly become inoperable or are struck from the hands of their owners.
One theory is that a photographer at the time of battle, disrespectfully posed the corpses of the dead soldiers for dramatic effect. Are the spirits of those who passed exacting their revenge?
Sachs Covered Bridge
Sachs Covered Bridge is a 100 foot long covered bridge that spans Marsh Creek. The bridge was originally captured by Confederate soldiers and used as a makeshift hospital.
As the soldiers retreated on the third day, the dead and the dying were laid out on the bridge. Visitors to the bridge have reported a feeling of overwhelming sadness and despair as well as witnessing strange lights, orbs, mists and shadowy figures.
One of the most disturbing events that took place at the bridge during the battle was the hanging of three men. Thought to be either spies or deserters, they were hung from the rafters of the bridge.
Is it their cries that can still be heard?
Gettysberg College was used as a field hospital during the battle. Many strange events have been reported in the building since, including wailing and footsteps.
One of the strangest was reported by two officials from the college. Taking the elevator one day, they were stunned when the doors opened to reveal a bloody scene laid out before their eyes.
According to the two witnesses they swore that they saw dying soldiers being tended by frantic medics. They quickly closed the elevator doors, when they opened again, the scene had returned to normal.
Historic Farnsworth House displays over 100 bullet holes, like a badge of honor. Promoting itself as one of the most haunted inns in America, it claims that 16 ghosts occupy the property.
Footsteps, the sound of a Jew’s harp, a tap on the shoulder, all have been experienced by visitors.
One room, the garret, is kept locked. Said to be the station taken up by three sharpshooters during the battle, strange stains are said to appear on the bathroom floor and the sound of sobbing can be heard from the locked room.
Jennie Wade House
The unfortunate Jennie Wade was a civilian shot by one of the sharpshooters occupying Farnsworth House. An innocent lady, she was killed whilst baking in her kitchen. To this day the aroma of freshly baked bread is sensed in her home.
A sense of sadness, the acrid smell of sulfur in the air, a cold hand on a shoulder, the sound of battle. Who is to say which of the many paranormal events experienced at Gettysberg are the product of over active imaginations and which are true Gettysberg ghost stories?
What is certain is that those that do experience these events have a profound belief in their veracity. The Gettysberg battlefields and nearby town have been the scene of one of American history’s most bloody events.
Over 7,500 young men gave up their lives, American fought American. It is no surprise then, that hundreds if not thousands of people have reported paranormal experiences when visiting the area.
Whether these people are experiencing the strange replay of historical events or the hauntings of unquiet souls, it is hard to know.
What is known, is that during these three dreadful days, days that brought a maelstrom of horror, fear and violence, many died a terrible death. Do these poor unfortunates, these phantom battalions still walk the bloodied battlefields of Gettysberg? You decide.