Last week my husband and I spent a few days tromping around the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. My great, great, great grandfather had fought there and I wanted to know more about this three-day battle. I learned that his division, the Wilcox division (mustered in as the Alabama 14th from Auburn) was the far right flank of Pickett’s Charge. Now if you don’t know about Gettysburg, Pickett’s charge was a bloody engagement on the third day of the battle that involved 12,000 Confederate troops marching about a mile across an open field, enduring cannon fire and gunfire. The line of men stretched over a mile from end to end. Wilcox’s brigade was one of the only brigades to make it to the Union line but was repulsed when they found they were alone facing a heavy bombardment at point-blank range. In essence, it was a full-scale slaughter.
The one thing that struck me about the battlefield was the serenity that existed there. It was a beautiful place, quiet and restful. But, underlying that feeling in the cool evening air as a fog crept across the Valley of Death, you could sense the souls of those soldiers marching over and over to their deaths. It was definitely eerie and disturbing.
One evening, my husband and I were standing on the rocks at the Devil’s Den where Confederate Sharpshooters from Texas and Georgia were positioned to take shots at Little Round Top when his camera started going off, clicking away. He wasn’t touching it and it wasn’t even on. We both looked at each other in surprise. I told the ghost that I was a Southerner, that my three-greats back grandfather had fought just over the rise with the Alabama 14th and that we meant no disrespect. The camera immediately stopped.
It is well documented that people trying to take pictures at the Devil’s Den will have their cameras malfunction or the batteries will be immediately drained. Everyone believes that the ghost there is an infantryman (not a sharpshooter) who a photographer moved about forty yards to stage the photo. It seems the ghost doesn’t approve of cameras because of the way his dead body was treated by the photographer.
Later in the week we decided to join a ghost hunt with a local paranormal society. We went to a mansion south of the battlefield, the Hoffman Mansion. This home served as a field hospital and holding area for Confederate prisoners. We met the members of our team in downtown Gettysburg and then drove to the mansion down the Emmitsburg road. It was nine in the evening and already dark. We took our EMF readers, ghost meters, cameras and digital recorders inside to start the hunt. Immediately upon entering, I did not like the place. I seem to have a second sense about buildings and this one was very unsettling. I told one of our team members and he asked me to tell him any feelings I was having. He already knew a lot about the house and it’s resident ghosts but I told him not to tell me. I wanted to know if my feelings were imagination or were actually psychic resonances I had the ability to pick up.
I was holding an EMF reader while a young Marine held a ghost meter to my left. The red light on the ghost meter came on which meant something was around us. The team leader asked the ghost to signal one beep for yes and two beeps for no then he asked if the ghost would talk to the Marine. Two beeps – no. The leader handed the meter to all five members of the group and asked the same question getting the same response. He finally handed it to me and when the leader asked if the ghost would talk to me – one beep. I got to communicate with the ghost. We found out that he didn’t like all these people in his house; that he was the original owner; and he wanted everyone to leave except me. Let me tell you, I didn’t feel honored. The owner kept popping in, lighting up the meter at odd times as we toured the house. We had a ghost box that manufactures words and he kept telling everyone to leave.
On the side of the house was a sunroom that I did not want to go in. Everyone else went in but I refused, telling the leader that it felt bad and I didn’t want to be in there. He told me that two Confederate prisoners were buried there right after the battle (later moved). At that moment my ghost meter went off – one of the soldiers. He wanted me to come in to the room. I walked in and he immediately started answering questions. He was from Georgia; he hated the place he was stuck; he hated the Yankees standing in the room; and he liked my accent and me. Great, now I had two ghosts hanging around me. The leader was amazed since the soldiers would never talk to anyone. At this point I tried to hand off the ghost meter and one guy took it, only to have the thing go off, making beeping noises and not stopping. It only stopped when I held it. So the ghosts only wanted to communicate with me.
We went to the second floor and I began having a burning sensation in my throat. I told the leader that my throat and neck were hurting and I didn’t want to be near the attic door. He grinned and asked if I now wanted to know what happened up in the attic. Since my throat was on fire, I said yes, please explain. It seemed that a woman, Sarah, hung herself in the attic when she found out that her husband was cheating on her. Sarah still haunted the attic. Again everyone went to the attic to conduct a ghost box interview with Sarah. She didn’t want to talk to anyone but one person – the sound from the ghost box said “Che…” Since I had not introduced myself, no one in the room knew my name. I was standing at the bottom of the stairs when I heard that and I called up “Cheryl?” The ghost box said “yes.” Great, I had to go up to the attic. We were all sitting in the dark with everyone quiet, expecting me to question her. I asked if she wanted to leave – yes. I asked her if she wanted us to pray for her – yes. I asked her if, when she hung herself, her throat burned – yes. I asked her about music of the forties – she responded Pearls (I guessed String of Pearls which I began humming). Sarah like that and kept saying yes, yes, yes to the humming. We all said the Lord’s Prayer for her and she no longer responded. I felt sorry for her and I hope we did some good, sending her on her way.
As we were leaving, the only other female in the group suddenly complained of a headache while standing under the chandelier. One of the team aimed an EMF detector on her which hit 4 – meaning there was activity around her. I whispered to my husband that her face had changed, scowling and looking angry. He agreed. When I suggested that the girl step outside for a bit, a black shadow, that we all saw. shot out of her, up into the chandelier and then through the ceiling. The EMF reading on her went to zero. That scared me so I led the way, almost running over people, to get the Heck out of that house.
It was an eye-opening experience and definitely impacted me. Places which endured such turmoil and pain seem to resonate with it, even years later. My husband and I went back to the house the next day to shoot a picture of it in the daylight. It still seems foreboding even in the sunlight. I didn’t walk up to the place; I had had enough.
Do you believe in ghosts? What do you think about places, such as Gettysburg, which resound even today with the ghosts of people who suffered and died? Have you ever visited a haunted house? Don’t you think the girls here on the blog should do a ghost hunt? I do – think of the blogs we could write.