On a balmy afternoon in June of 1863, Federal General John
peered through his binoculars across a field just west of the town of
He was perplexed as he gazed at a column of Confederate soldiers
along Chambersburg Pike. He knew this body of men was too large for a
party; what he didn’t know was that they were an advance element of
General Heth’s division. What he didn’t know was that he was to be the
general to instigate the pivotal battle of the American Civil War. What
he didn’t know was that three days later, fifty three thousand men
soak the fields red with the blood of the dead and dying.
It is with little wonder that an abundance of ghost sightings
reported time and again from visitors who frequent the town and
year after year. It is as well with little wonder that Gettysburg has
the reputation of being the most haunted place in America. Even the
who refuse to believe even in the possibility of ghosts, won’t refute
possibility of this haunted locale. Could that be due to the magnitude
of the historical event? Could it be the reverence of this hallowed
by students of history and John Q. Public? Could it even be that the
skeptic will unknowingly open themselves up to the possibility with the
mind numbing knowledge of the macabre event which took place 136 years
On July 1, 1863, what began as a skirmish soon escalated into
heated battle with the arrival of Federal General John Reynolds’
The Confederates pressed, and soon found the Union troops retreating
towards the little town. The streets were thick with soldiers as the
retreated toward a designated rallying point just beyond town at
Hill and Culps Hill. Confederate sharpshooters took up positions
out as their prey was easy and plentiful. Some took position in the
House, a small home situated along Baltimore Pike. Their perch was
due to the locale on the main road through town. They mercilessly fired
upon retreating soldiers, often hitting their mark. The streets were
Today, the Farnsworth house functions as a Bed &
Bullet holes can still be seen on the southside wall. It is here that
guests report seeing an apparition at the end of the bed during the
while other guests have reported doors opening and closing through
own volition. One woman incredulously has reported her infant being
by unseen hands and gently placed back down.
A local radio station wished to broadcast via remote one
in particular. They contacted a local author/historian who in turn
a renowned psychic. As airtime approached at 6:00 am, the crew needed
tap into the phone lines for the broadcast. The crew needed to run
to another sight since all phone lines were down at the Farnsworth. No
lights, no dial tone, nothing. As the psychic toured the house to gain
impressions, she got the distinct feeling that someone was trying to
concern that traitors were about, and they didn’t want their position
away. It was realized later that the radio crew was wearing all blue.
shirts, and blue jeans. They also referred to their contact at the
station as “ The Captain”. Could those Confederate lost souls have
the presence of these individuals as Federal soldiers?
The time had come for the crew to depart to a different area
town while continuing their broadcast. As they were leaving, every
on the phone began flashing desperately, and then reducing to one
light. As the psychic picked up the receiver, she heard no one and hung
up. The light began flashing with desperation again, while the psychic
picked up the receiver. This time she spoke aloud to an unseen visitor.
She instructed this poor individual to move on, that he didn’t need to
be a soldier anymore. As they left, the light continued to blink.
this soul was unable to let go.
The group continued down the street to the Jennie Wade House.
was here that the only civilian casualty was to meet her fate. As
old Jennie baked bread for Union troops, a bullet ripped through the
striking her down in an instant. Given the danger outside, the family
soldiers removed a wall and carried the body to the basement. Jennie
to lie in state for the duration of the battle while her family grieved
and took refuge in the cellar. A beautiful young woman who lost her
before she could find out the fate of her beloved fiancé;
Johnston (Jack) Skelly, killed in a battle near Winchester. The unlucky
individual who had the unfortunate task to inform her was a childhood
Wesley Culp, who had joined a Virginia militia and therefore went to
with the Confederacy. Wesley found Jack wounded and dying as a prisoner
of war and swore he would deliver the horrible message. He never had
opportunity. Early on July 3 1863, Wesley himself would meet his
struck down upon the hill bearing his family name; Culps Hill.
As the radio crew and psychic approached the house, she
sensed uneasiness. Many visitors before have felt the same while some
to enter the cellar. Still, others would leave hurriedly while video
that worked without flaw prior to the basement, will record
As the psychic relayed the presence of at least three souls, a feeling
of torment prevailed. The group began to ascend the stairs and when she
halted along with the house manager, the chain separating the visitor
and the spot where Jennie laid began to swing. The movement was odd,
it swung as if it were a solid wire. For a full minute, the chain swung
like this as other members of the group quickly descended the stairs.
chain stopped swinging abruptly, deliberately.
The morning of July 2 1863 awoke with the battle lines drawn.
Federal lines extended from Spangler’s Spring and Culps Hill southward
to a hill known as Little Round Top, resembling that of a fish hook.
Confederate lines paralleled the Union lines about a mile away.
General Robert E. Lee ordered simultaneous attacks on both the left and
right flanks. Confederate Texans under General John Bell Hood assaulted
with wave after wave through the Triangular Field, across the Devils
and up the rocky height of the Little Round Top. It was here that Union
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Regiment made his
lionhearted stance. With fewer than thirty percent of his original
and dry of ammunition, he ordered a bayonet charge against the
taking them utterly by surprise, thus preserving the Union left flank.
The Triangular Field , situated one hundred yards southwest of
Devils Den is notorious for supernatural activity. It is common for
equipment to either malfunction or cease to work at all. Visitors have
reported the sounds of gunshots and drum rolls emanating from the
area of the field. Others have reported the apparitions of
among the tree line, taking careful aim at an enemy absent for over a
The local author/historian mentioned earlier, escorted a television
crew out to the field for a special on Gettysburg ghosts. A prior
check showed everything was in working order. At the moment they
the field, all equipment malfunctioned. As they exited the field, the
began working again. They entered and exited the field numerous times,
only to have this bizarre pattern continue. As they filmed the field
outside of it’s perimeter, they were disappointed to learn that no film
recorded of the field itself came out.
The Devils Den is a large patch of rocks where many
sharpshooters took refuge in order to exact their death toll upon Union
officers atop the hills of Little and Big Round Tops. In 1970, a
approached a park ranger and inquired about stories of Gettysburg being
haunted. The Park Service cannot answer such questions but the ranger
‘why?’ The woman stated as she was taking photographs of the Devils
a man suddenly appeared beside her and said, “What you’re looking for
over there.” Pointing northeast toward the Plum Run, she turned
look and the man vanished. The ranger asked for a description, and she
felt he looked ragged and like that of a hippie. Barefooted with torn
shirt and trousers, wearing a big floppy hat. This was often the attire
of Confederate Texans. A few weeks later, the same ranger was
by yet another visitor with the same question. The man said he was
pictures and a man mentioned to look elsewhere and disappeared. His
was identical to the woman’s.
The Little Round Top is an unimpressive hill overlooking the
Den and the wheatfield. As the extreme left flank of the Federal lines,
it has had its share of carnage. During the filming of the movie
many re-enactors would find themselves with some down time. Although
movie was not filmed on the battlefield, it was not uncommon for these
extras to walk upon the battlefield in their period uniforms. One small
group of men found themselves atop the Round Top, admiring the view as
the sun began to set. A rustling of the leaves behind them alerted them
to the presence of a stranger. From the brush emerged a rather haggard
looking old man, dressed as a Union private. The man was filthy and
of sulfur, a key ingredient of the black powder used in 1863. He walked
up to the men and as he handed them a few musket rounds, he said “Rough
one today, eh boys?” He turned and walked away. As the re-enactors
upon the musket rounds, they looked up to see the man had vanished.
they brought the rounds into town, they were authenticated as original
rounds 130 years old! Many visitors have reported the smell of
and have heard gunshots and screams from the Little Round Top over the
Friday, July 3 1863 was a new day already polluted with the
of death and war. For two days, 175,000 men have engaged in the
battle before or since on the American continent. The morning was
uneventful, with the exception of some fighting at Culps Hill; which
ended by late morning. At 1:00 p.m., 140 Confederate cannon opened fire
on the Union center. For two hours, the largest cannonade ever
pounded the Federal lines. So fierce was the shelling, that one could
see across the mile of open field to ascertain whether or not their
have been hit. So loud was the shelling that the attack was heard in
DC; some 80 miles away. This was the preamble for one of the most
military events. This was the preamble for what was to become known as
Pickett’s Charge. After the second hour of the cannonade was up, some
Confederate infantrymen emerged from the woods. Formed in battle line,
they began the deadly march across the mile of open field. How the
soldiers must have gazed wide eyed as 12,000 fixed bayonets glistened
the summer sun, all preparing to converge on a single stretch of stone
wall known as The Angle. Long range cannon fire sent explosive shells
the rebel ranks. As they neared, the artillerymen changed to canister
a typed of buckshot fired from a cannon. Closer still the rebels
closing holes in the line left by soldiers killed en masse. A
musketry opened from the Yankee lines behind cover of the stone wall.
the Confederates came. As the survivors reached the stone wall, brutal
hand to hand combat ensued, but alas, the rebels, tired and outnumbered
quickly lost momentum.
The entire charge lasted less than an hour. In that time,
Confederates lay dead and dying. With the failure of the charge, the
ended. Robert E. Lee retreated back into Virginia. Thus ended Lee’s
invasion of the north. Thus ended the Confederacy’s hope for
Although the war would continue for two more years, the Army of
Virginia would never fully recover from this loss.
The Angle is a beautifully maintained area of landscape. One
still look out across the field from where Pickett’s Charge originated.
A park ranger while on routine patrol one night noticed a man on
As the rider neared, the ranger wondered who would be on the
so late; on horseback. Upon closer inspection, the ranger noticed the
of the rider. It was that of a Civil War officer although the
could not be ascertained. The unknown horseman approached to within 10
feet of the car and promptly disappeared. Other visitors have reported
the sound of galloping horses in the immediate area of The Angle,
none were present. Sounds of the cannonade have permeated through time
as people report hearing the thunderous roar of battle. One visitor
reported seeing Robert E. Lee himself, sitting atop his horse,
on the opposite side of the field. A resident of Gettysburg, and
ghosthunter mentions that during a stroll across the field on a warm
night, cold spots were common. Going from balmy humidity to sudden
so cold he could see his breath, the fellow continued the path of
Although there are literally hundreds of ghostly tales
Gettysburg, one must wonder how many more stories are out there.
not everyone who has experienced such phenomenon has reported it. Even
to walk the field, especially at night or early morning, when the
have gone; one can feel the energy, the aura of this most hallowed
A truly humbling experience as one contemplates the enormity of this
Do the dead look at us with equaled wonderment? Are they forever
in a pocket of time, a nightmare from which they cannot awake? The
are there, you can feel them. You can feel the event if you allow
as this ground has been consecrated by the blood of tens of thousands.
by Phil_Keller@mail.sel.sony.com (Phil Keller)
Special thanks to Mark Nesbitt, whose books Ghosts of
Volumes I-IV served as an invaluable resource