Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Haunted Battlefields

It is said that spirits stay on this earth for two reasons: because they don't know they're dead, or because they died a sudden, tragic, unnatural death. So it only makes sense that the most haunted places are battlefields. The most significant one, of course, is Gettysburg. Sightings occur frequently in the form of marching soldiers. At one of the buildings on the Gettysburg College campus, a reoccurring impression has been seen by many spectators - that of a Civil War hospital, complete with bloody-aproned surgeons, moaning victims, and piles of hacked off limbs.

The most haunted place on the Gettysburg battlefield is said to be Devil's Den. Apparently, a huge Indian battle took place there, called "The Battle of the Crows." After intense fighting during the second day of the Civil War battle on July 2, 1863, many men were killed at this location, and their bodies were left for months afterward, because the rocky formations made it difficult to find and retrieve them. This is where photographer Alexander Gardner took some of his most stunning photographs, four days after the battle ended. Stories of ghosts started almost immediately. A hunter was lost in the area, and an apparition appeared, pointing the way for him to exit. A ghost in tattered Confederate garb appears mysteriously in photographs, or poses with tourists, but is missing from the developed photos! Gunshots, men shouting, and the appearance of a ghostly rider who vanishes also occur at the site.

Another haunted battlefield is Stones River Battlefield near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Near the battlefield is one of the oldest national cemeteries in the country, and the oldest monument of the Civil War stands within the cemetery. Most sightings have occurred around what is known as the Slaughter Pen, where the Federals had been surrounded on three sides. It is here that the air is always still: birds and wildlife avoid the area. Eerie feelings persist, like you are being followed, and the air is 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in other parts of the park. Just like at Devil's Den, a mysterious soldier appears. White lights have been seen bobbing along the edge of woods, even though no headlights or fires are present.

Other battlefields have specific places that are most haunted as well. At Antietam (Sharpsburg), it is Bloody Lane, which became a slaughter pen for Confederate troops. Phantom gunfire, along with the smell of gunpowder and smoke, and ghosts of Rebel soldiers still haunt the location. Burnside Bridge, St. Paul Episcopal Church, which was used as a field hospital, and the Piper House are also reportedly haunted.

The "Hell Hole" in Georgia, near New Hope, is said to have a haunted ravine, and Chickamauga (a Cherokee Indian word meaning "River of Death") Battlefield is reportedly haunted by many ghosts. After the battle, fallen soldiers were buried randomly, with two to three in each unmarked grave. Shouts, screams, moans, horses galloping, and gunfire are some of the phantom sounds that occur at night. A ghostly woman in white appears often, as does "Old Green Eyes," believed to be a Confederate soldier whose head was blown off, or a monster that was there before the battle. The glowing green eyes have been seen on numerous occasions, and was reportedly seen after the battle, wandering amongst the dead.

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