Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ghosts, Goblins, and Soldiers

Since Halloween is nearly upon us, I decided to write on my blog about hauntings that have taken place in various parts of the country in regard to the Civil War. Disputably, the most haunted place is Gettysburg. This is because the town rests on what is known as a "lei line," where two intersecting fractures meet. It has something to do with energy fields beneath the earth's surface. Within Gettysburg, probably the most haunted place is the Farnsworth House.

Now an inn, the Farnsworth House saw its share during the War Between the States. Confederate sharpshooters used the garret (attic) as a vantage point to fire upon Union troops positioned on Cemetery Hill. One bullet fired by a sharpshooter supposedly traveled down the street, hitting Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed during the battle. Afterward, the house was used as a Federal headquarters.

There are over 100 bullet holes visible on the south side of the house, and some of the bullets that were lodged in the brickwork are on display inside. The house boasts a fabulous restaurant, a cozy tavern decorated with memorabilia from the movie, "Gettysburg," and the guestrooms are decorated in beautiful Victorian style. Guests and staff have witnessed strange occurrences on several occasions. Some of the servers have had mysterious encounters in that someone or something yanks their aprons. Others have seen apparitions in the forms of women in period dress and soldiers, or have been tapped on the shoulder. Phantom footsteps echo through the two-story house, and strange, eerie shadows abound.

The Farnsworth House sponsors ghost tours, and recently added a seance room in the spooky basement to replicate the Victorian notion of communicating with the dead. When my husband and I stayed at the Inn a few years ago, we didn't experience any ghostly encounters, although the room we stayed in was decorated with strange paintings. One was of Jennie Wade herself, looking straight at us from beyond. Another was a creepy Victorian angel, and a third was that of a weirdly-dressed monkey playing a mandolin. You would think the paintings would be enough to summon ghosts, but alas, I never did encounter any, even though I sat outside late at night waiting for an apparition!

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