Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eternal Soldiers

As I mentioned yesterday (Wednesday), I am not much for a spooky story. I find that they disturb me. I won't watch scary movies or read scary books so when the gals wanted to gather under the Tulip Tree here for Fright Week, I wasn't sure if I have anything to share. I was fretting about this a bit last week when Jean suggested that I tell about what happened in the backyard to Oldest Friend. Then I thought about another similar story that I had heard from my home town of Tuscumbia and this blog was born.

This story is from the War of Northern Aggression. I grew up near Tuscumbia, Alabama, a town on the Tennessee River. In fact, it is at the one end of the Shoals while Decatur is at the other, with the two connected by a railroad. Just as the plantation owners once used the rails to move cotton and freight around the Shoals, so then the the Armies used the rails to move men. It was down the rails from Decatur that the Confederates moved toward Shiloh. The Battle of Shiloh was one of the bloodiest of the Conflict so I guess it stands to reason that many of the soldiers who marched through Tuscumbia never marched again. This story is told by a local historian in Tuscumbia about the Old Memphis Highway where his house is located. He says that often on foggy nights when you can't see the road from his house, that you can hear men marching. Now this is creepy enough but though you can hear horse bits and canteens jingling, you never hear any voices. It's as if the soldiers are still marching but never get to speak or go home. It just breaks my heart for them!

As was mentioned on Monday, Jean lives in a historic neighborhood. Most of the homes there replace the antebellum ones that burned during the Southern War for Independence. This conflict is the source of the haunt in the backyard story. Many soldiers passed through Decatur. It was a major railroad hub and on the Tennessee River just before the infamous Shoals. There were two Battles of Decatur. One of my own ancestors was captured on December 22 during one of those battles, but I digress.

After spending an evening enjoying the fellowship of friends at Jean's, Oldest Friend headed out to her car in the alley to depart for home. Now Oldest Friend is very much a pragmatic sort of gal. She isn't as high strung as Jean and I are. She is all about "the facts and just the facts." So imagine her surprise when after she gets in the car then glances into the rear view mirror ( not expecting to see anything) only to see a Civil War reenactor sitting in her back seat. Imagine her greater surprise when she realizes, "Hey, I can see through him. Maybe he isn't a reenactor but a ghost!" Oldest Friend hopped out of the car to go back inside but when she got out and looked back, the man was gone. Being her practical self, she got into the car and drove home. She did tell Jean and some other folks about it later. It turns out that the people who live in the house at the end of the alley see the soldier a good bit in their house. The theory is that the soldier lived in that house and is trying to get home but can't. Scary stuff! For a long time I wouldn't park in the alley. I love a man in uniform but not one I can see through.

Do you find hearing about the paranormal fun and exciting or unsettling and disturbing?


  1. Both. I find it fascinating and disturbing. I'm drawn to hear about it but there is nothing fun about getting a call from Bunco Babe's phone when no one is home there. Now that she has only a cell, that has stopped. One night when she was spending the night at her mother's house, BB's phone called her there, and played a message I had left. Then the phone started calling my house. BB's son was away at college and if the cat can use the phone we need to be making some money off him.

    Ghost or some prank? We never figured it out. Oh, and it was Halloween night.

  2. Stephanie, this is cool stuff. I can just imagine the sounds in the night, wagon carts, tin cans tinkering with every jostling turn of the wheels, men marching in step, tired and worn, eager for peace, worried that next bend might be their last, the solemn footmarch moving into the distance and the occassional horse whinny. Shiver me timbers!

    I would love to hear that!! I've been to Shiloh and there isn't anything like walking along the Sunken Road. There is a presence there, a numbing sensation that passersby are being watched from the trenches. The Bloody Pond is smaller than I imagined it to be, but what a powerful death knell there.

    Jean, I simply must come by and stay until after dark! I do love a man in uniform, as you know. Would certainly love to see a Civil War soldier!

    I'd also love to point out the difference between a girl raised in southern tradition juxtaposed with a southern girl raised in the military. I've always called it the Civil War, odd to hear it called everything but. ;)

  3. I'm with Kathy. I want to come see this soldier. These things don't bother me because I simply don't believe in them. Scary movies, OTOH, I do not watch. Of course I don't believe them either, but they are terrifying -- and I don't like being terrified.

  4. Y'all are welcome to come, though I've never seen him and I don't know if he will appear on demand. But we could still drink wine and bask in each other so the evening would be saved.

    Or maybe we could get a ghost hunter. Kathy, surely you know one. It might be helpful to have someone here who is open to seeing ghosts. Like Lynn, I am not. My experiences have been indirect.

  5. Jean - Thanks for sharing even more with us.

    Kathy- There was nothing civil about the conflict.

    Lynn- I would hang out with y'all but probably wouldn't actually want to see the soldier.

  6. Hey Guys! Made it! Stephanie I do love the story!

    I don't know if you are aware of it but there was a battle near Arab. Brown's Valley runs between Arab and Guntersville starting at Summit (there is a big antebellum home there) and ending at Warrenton.The battle raged the fifteen or so miles to the Tennessee River. I had a farm there a few years ago - beautiful country between the mountains. We camped out there and just about every evening a very dense fog would roll from Summit toward Warrenton. You could hear the horses and men moving inside it. One night I got brave and approached the fog. I felt like I had stuck my finger in a light socket! My hair stood up and I was covered in goose-pimples. I never approached the fog again!

    As an aside, there is a Methodist church located in the valley. The story goes that Quantrill (Quantrill's Raiders from Missouri) became a pastor of the church while in hiding from the Union soldiers. According to the story, the pastor was missing the same fingers as Quantrill and he fit the physical description. Any way he died there but was secretly buried in Birmingham. Locals say he rides with the ghost Confederates in Brown's Valley.

  7. Oh! We really need to get together for this, Lynn, Jean and Cheryl. I would really 'love' to see this soldier. That would be so cool!

    Cheryl, I want to visit you and experience the fog. ;)

    Get well, girl!