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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Walk in the Footsteps of Gettysburg's Haunted History

  
      My fascination with the paranormal has led me to add Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to my list of "The Most Haunted Places in the United States that I'd Love to Visit."  I also was born in Hershey Pennsylvania.  That's why I'm so sweet. Haha, just kidding. Anyway, Gettysburg has been named by many as the most haunted place in America.  The town is home to a surprising number of phantom forms, showing up in photos. The ghost of what appears to be Confederate General Robert E. Lee, has shown up in several pictures. All cultures throughout time have been fascinated by the dead, apparitions, ghosts, strange occurrences and unexplained phenomena. Television shows and "Ghost hunters" have an overwhelming interest in the "Haunted History" of Gettysburg.  Both the Sci-Fi and Travel Channel have featured Gettysburg in shows. "Ghost Adventures" had some interesting experiences there in fact.  They acquired evidence of hauntings in Gettysburg and recorded some  EVPs (electronic voice phenomena).

Here is the link to the YouTube video where the "Ghost Adventures" recorded some EVP's.
  http://www.travelchannel.com/video/eerie-evidence-at-gettysburg-12203


    The story of Gettysburg is larger and rooted deeper than just the 3 bloody days during the Civil Wary in July of 1863.  Gettysburg has several haunted sites we are visiting today in my blog. The most haunted area, is the Gettysburg Battlefield, of course. The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (July 1–July 3, 1863), was the largest battle of the American Civil War as well as the largest battle ever fought in North America, involving around 85,000 men in the Union’s Army of the Potomac under Major General George Gordon Meade and approximately 75,000 in the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert Edward Lee. It was a crucial meeting between the North and South.  This bloodbath would change American history, forever.


     When the cannon smoke cleared,  there was blood everywhere; permanently marking the battlefield. An estimated 569 tons of ammunition was fired during the three days of fighting. Casualties at Gettysburg totaled 23,049 for the Union (3,155 dead, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing). Confederate casualties were 28,063 (3,903 dead, 18,735 injured, and 5,425 missing), more than a third of Lee’s army. The Confederate Army had suffered largely irreplaceable losses.  This was a turning point in the war.  After the battle, bodies lay scattered throughout Gettysburg’s farmlands. Burial work commenced quickly as fears of epidemic rose.  The dead were hastily buried in shallow graves on the battlefield, crudely identified by pencil writing on wooden boards. Rain and wind began eroding the impromptu graves, and Gettysburg’s citizens called for the creation of a soldiers’ cemetery for the proper burial of the Union dead. With the support of the Pennsylvania Governor, a committee formed to select a site for the cemetery and oversee the proper burial of Union remains.  The state purchased the property, and the reburial process began. The site chosen encompassed the hill from which the Union center repulsed Pickett’s Charge. Known as Gettysburg National Cemetery, it is the final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was delivered November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the “Soldiers National Cemetery” at Gettysburg. The speech was extremely short by the standards of the day and received scant notice at the time, but its concise, powerful wording has made it one of the best-known public addresses in all of history.


     After losing the battle at Gettysburg, and ultimately the war, many of the confederate soldiers who gave their lives for their country, never received a proper burial. This isn't surprising since The Union won, why bother with your dead enemies?  Even in the most primitive of cultures they bury the dead.  They didn't want the hassle and didn't bother with the courtesy of a proper burial, or sending the bodies home to their families.  So, as the Union tended to their own dead and wounded soldiers, Confederate soldiers rotted in mass graves. The stench was unbearable. Efforts in the 1870s by Southern veterans' societies eventually relocated 3,200 Confederate remains to cemeteries in Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas.


     Next year, in 2013 Gettysburg is having their 150th anniversary, a tribute to those who gave their lives in the war.  These unsettled spirits may still lurk in Gettysburg.  Sightings of ghosts in uniform have been seen non stop ever since the battle at Gettysburg. According to a few sites, nearly everyone who have been to Gettysburg has been touched, by it's haunting spirits since the American Civil War.  People have heard disembodied voices and screams.  They've seen apparitions, and had interference with cameras and electronic equipment. With it's bloody past, it's easy to believe Gettysburg would be haunted.


     The Daniel Lady Farm was used as a Confederate army field hospital.  Soldiers who suffered from artillery wounds, especially chest wounds were taken there. Of course there were mostly chest wounds, as shooting at the head or heart/chest would be the most effective way to kill your enemy.  There were also a lot of lost limbs, from bad aim with guns and good aim with cannons. The quick slice of a sharp saber would easily cut off limbs as well. The wounded were taken to the farm to recover or to suffer until they finally died.  The farm house barn saw it's share of horror and blood.  The ghosts of General Isaac Ewell and his corps of 10,000 are said to still haunt the farm.

  
     Now lets visit the Balademy Inn. It offers beautiful views of the countryside, but sometimes gives visitors a terrifying glimpse of life after death.  Located on Hospital Road, the inn served as a Union Field Hospital, on day 2 of the battle in Gettysburg. Suzanne Lonky, the owner, has collected dozens of stories, and photos of her guests' ghostly encounters. She sought out a psychic, who said the place appears to be haunted. You think? She said the farm was haunted by the Union soldiers who died when it was a field hospital, and Confederate soldiers buried beneath a tennis court nearby.  That seems strange to me. The Inn is haunted by ghosts of a nearby tennis court? Really? It's definitely not the most honorable place to be buried. They were discarded, not buried. If they are in fact buried there, they are probably quite aggravated and upset that they are in unmarked graves, under a tennis court. They don't even get the dignity to get buried under real grass. They are buried under a tennis court. Wow. I'd be pissed. Imagine going to play tennis, and seeing a ghost. Good luck trying to explain that you lost a tennis game because you saw a ghost. It might be a tad hard to convince everyone to believe you.


     Then there is the Ghost train, that takes tourists on a 90 minute ride.  It's the only ghost tour in Gettysburg that takes visitors across the actual battlefield. One of the tours storytellers says he and the passengers in the train have smelled cigar smoke. You could even be lucky enough to see a ghost on the train during the tour. Several other people have.  They had seen the souls of solders roaming on the train or near the tracks while traveling across the historic battlefield. It would be even scarier to see a ghost when you are relaxing on a train during a tour.  Just when you thought you were safe.....

   
     The number one other haunted place in Gettysburg besides the battlefield, is the Farnsworth House, named by international publications as the most haunted Bed and Breakfast.  It still has over 100 bullet holes in the walls. It is listed in the National Register of Historic places. Few buildings that remain in the area resound with more history than the Farnworth house does. It is dedicated to honoring the memory of the brave solders who fought and died on both sides.  Finally. At least the future generations  of Gettysburg had respect for all of the dead, not just their own soldiers. Visitors have seen blood dripping down walls, and heard what sounded like soldiers moving trunks in the attic.  The Farnsworth House has had the longest running ghost tour company, for over 20 years.  They provide Gettysburg with original and exciting haunted tours, so they claim. I'm sold! It sounds fun! They have a new haunted walk-through attraction now, next to the Farnsworth house. It is called the house of horrors with special effects that depict scenes of actual Gettysburg haunting events. Why not visit that as well? They say it is a fact that their haunted attraction, is ACTUALLY haunted. There is a woman and her son from the turn of the century and a man from the late 1800's roaming the dark halls.  Those are just a few spirits who inhabit the house at 415 Baltimore Street. They also have a viewing parlor for their "Mourning Theater." Doesn't that sound uplifting and pleasant? It is in the cellar of, the inn, where someone dressed in era appropriate clothing tells you tales from the era by candle light, taking you back in time to 1863. 

  
       The Jenny Wade house off of Baltimore Street is believed to be haunted as well. People have heard loud bangs upstairs and children's voices.  It has a lot of historical significance.  Along with her sister and mother, Jenny Wade helped the Union Army by baking bread and giving soldiers water as they passed by.  Jenny Wade was the only civilian killed during the battle of Gettysburg.  She was killed in the house's kitchen on the 3rd day of battle, July 3rd, 1863.  Her husband was a union soldier and was off fighting in the war.  Soldiers had warned Jenny and her family to leave the house because it was right in the middle of the battle. They refused to leave regardless.  That was a bad time to be stubborn.  The house was hit by bullets several times. In fact, you can still see the numerous bullet holes in the brick walls.  One of these bullets went through the kitchen door around 8:30am, and struck Jenny Wade below her left shoulder blade. She died within minutes, at the age of 20, with her true love fighting in the war.  I imagine in those last moments she wished that she and her family had left, she realized she wasn't going to see her husband again.  She realized that she was going to die, at a young age, before she really got a chance to live.
     The Jenny Wade house as it is known today, has a reputation for being haunted. People claim to see the apparitions of a young woman, and some even claim to see children who lived in the nearby orphanage. They would come play at the Jenny Wade house.  The scent of rose perfume and bread fills the house from time to time. People have heard strange noises and chains swinging when they came up the stairs past the chained off sections of the house on the 2nd floor to prevent people on tour from damaging antique furniture. Many believe that the chains are moved by the ghosts of the abused orphans who still play in the house.  


     What used to be the Orphanage, by The Jenny Wade house is known today as the Soldiers National Museum.  It was used during the battle of Gettysburg by General Howard as his headquarters.  In 1866, it was turned into an orphanage. "The National Soldiers Orphan Homestead," was formed to shelter the children of Union Soldiers lost to the war. From 1870 to 1876, the children suffered the abuses of the second headmistress of the orphanage, Rosa Carmichael. Orphans who played at the Jenny Wade house went there to escape Rosa, the cruel and sadistic headmistress at the Orphanage. She revelled in punishing the children.  She would chain them up for days at a time, down in the pit of the cellar in complete darkness.  Another punishment was to chain children in a barrel of water up to their chests and have them stand until the children could no longer bear this and would drown.  She was obviously a very horrible, twisted person.  Numerous children went missing under her care.  To keep order, Rosa delegated some older boys to be disciplinarians and carry big sticks.  They would beat the younger children into submission when Rosa felt it was necessary, or just because they felt like being bullies on a particular day. They were called the "Stick Boys."  Many children died there, but there was no proof.  Finally she was put on trial and admitted to the loss of one boy.  The townspeople suspected her of being responsible for many more deaths, but couldn't prove it. Word got out about her cruelty to neighboring veteran soldiers and they told her to leave before daylight or she would not live to see another day.  This evil woman was never seen or heard from again.  Some believe her ghost still haunts the orphanage, along with the spirits of mistreated orphans. The poor orphans never had a chance. They would never get adopted, grow up with a family, and live to old age.  They were ended at the hands of a cruel bitter woman.  Today you can visit the Soldiers National Museum and see the dungeon where Rosa kept the children shackled up. People claim to have had encounters with Rosa Carmichael, and have heard footsteps of the children.



                                                         ghostly image at Orphanage 

     Cemetery Hill was a critical defensive line for the Union Army. There have been a lot of light orbs seen, and other visual and auditory phenomena.  Some have seen soldiers standing in the woods.  It is near the Jenny Wade house and Culps hill, which are also haunted.  When people die without a proper, dignified burial, such as the soldiers of Gettysburg, it is said that ghosts appear.  Do ghosts haunt their grounds as a way of seeking redemption or closure?  Do they think they are still in the war? Cemetery hill and Culps hill are two hills outside of Gettysburg, where most of the soldiers met their end.  During the first night of the Gettysburg battle, soldiers retreated to the safety of cemetery hill only to be killed by opposing troops. Both places saw the deaths of thousands of soldiers both from the North and the South. Years after this battle, people began to report ghostly sightings. 

                                                         Cemetery Hill
                                                          Culps Hill
                                                     Ghostly image on Cemetery Hill

     I'd love to visit historic Gettysburg. There are so many haunted places there to visit, ghosts to see and photos to be taken. There are many ghost walks you can go on in the evening.  They also have annual reenactments in July, but you will come upon events April through October; such as bike shows, fairs, wine events, antique shows, and musical events. They even offer family fun, such as horses, elephants(random), hiking, kayaking, golf, theater and several wineries just outside of Gettysburg in Adams County.  That sounds like a good trip to me.  You can start off walking the streets of Gettysburg, a town that etched it's name in history books in blood.  Then you can find things to do during the day and go hunt ghosts in the evening. And of course, you have to visit a winery, while you are in the area.  I know I will.  There are several wineries in Adams County, just West of Gettysburg.


1 comment:

  1. El otro dia, vi el programa de buscadores de fantasmas. La imagen que sacaron de un soldado en las vias del tren despues de disparar es chulisima. Lo que mas me gusto fue el orfanato de rosa carmichael, es increible como una mujer puede torturar asi a los niños, y peor hacer que los mayores peguen a los pequeños. Esta claro que en un sitio, donde ha habido tanto muerte y dolor tienen que haber quedado residuos, sino, los espiritus.

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