Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia, PA

by Dave Juliano (

Let’s start with the history lesson.   Known as the “Fort that saved America”, Fort Mifflin has a history that dates back to the 1770’s.   In the fall of 1777 George Washington’s Colonial army was defeated at Brandywine by British forces led by General William Howe.   Howe’s 20,000 troops moved in and occupied Philadelphia.    He wanted to crush the retreating colonial army and end the revolution.   He needed supplies which were on over 200 British ships at the mouth of the Delaware River.    A small contingent of troops manned Ft Mifflin which was an unfinished British fort.  They needed to delay the arrival of the British ships.  Time was of the essence for Howe.  He had to get his supply ships up the river before the river began to freeze or his army would not be able to pursue Washington.   In November 1777 the siege of Fort Mifflin began and only lasted a little over a week.    The British did take the Fort but in the time it took to prepare for the battle and the battle itself Washington was able to make his way to Valley Forge.  The Colonial Army was safely out of the reach of the British and the river began to freeze which blocked Howe’s supplies.   The 400 men at Fort Mifflin held off the 200 ships and 2000 troops long enough to cover Washington’s retreat.

During the Civil War the Fort was used a prison for both Confederate and Union troops as well as other prisoners.   The Fort was active through the Korean War and was closed down in the early 1960’s.   Now the fort has been returned to what it looked like during the Civil War period and is open to the public for tours.

The fort’s haunted history seems to tie into the Civil War era but there are some older spirits there as well.   What makes this place unique is the large amount of sightings all describing the same spirits in the same areas.   Here is the breakdown of the haunted areas of the Fort Mifflin and the spirits that haunted them.

The Officers Quarter’s is where you may encounter The Screaming Woman.  The screaming woman is thought to be Elizabeth Pratt.  She was the wife of an officer that hung herself after her estranged daughter died of a typhoid fever.  The daughter had fallen in love with an enlisted man and she died before Elizabeth could reconcile with her.  The Police have been called out because of people hearing the screams coming from inside the fort.

Casemate 5 was used as prison cells for confederate POWs, Union deserters and other law breakers during the Civil War.    Many people report seeing a faceless man that is sewing in the casemate.  There is just a black void where his face should be.  He is thought to be Billy Howe who was imprisoned in the casemate.   He was later convicted of murder and hanged in the courtyard.   Billy was the only person hung here during civil war.  Many other soldiers and voices have been seen and heard in this area.

Jacob the blacksmith was always getting in trouble with the commander because he always wanted to back door open to the blacksmith shop.   He has been seen in the shop and the employees at the fort still have problems with that door opening and closing.

Around the Power Magazine is where you may find a very informative tour guide dressed in a Revolutionary War uniform.   He gives a great tour of the area and many visitors have complimented the guide when they stop by the office as they leave the fort.   When they are told that there was no tour guide or re-enactor on site they are very surprised.

During investigations I led for South Jersey Ghost Research at Fort Mifflin we did get an above average amount of EVPs and motion sensors detecting movement.   Positive EMF readings, many psychic impressions and apparition sightings we also reported by investigators.  We obtained positive photos including an apparition photo from inside Casemate #5.

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