Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Haunted Houses

The list of houses that are supposedly haunted by Civil War ghosts is enormous, and exist in nearly every state, both North and South. The Farnsworth House in Gettysburg is among the top ten most haunted places in the country. But there are other dwellings where phantoms reside as well.

On November 30, 1864, The Battle of Franklin took place near Franklin, Tennessee. Sadly, Confederate General Hood's men charged Union General Schofield's troops, and Hood lost 6200 men. The Yankees lost 2300. In other words, it was a bloodbath. In the middle of the mayhem stood the Carter House. The Carter family and neighbors who were staying with them were forced to hide in the dank cellar while Federal troops took over the house, and heard the battle raging outside. One of their sons, Tod Carter, who had been fighting under Hood, was shot, and after the battle, members of the family scoured the battlefield in the dark until they found him only 100 yards from the house. He died two days later. Since the battle took place, the house has been host to many ghosts, one of whom is thought to be of Tod Carter. Staff members have witnessed the sensation that a child is pulling on their sleeves, or have observed objects appear, disappear, and move around. The apparition of a girl has been seen disappearing down steps and hallways, and the voice of a woman has been heard.

Also near Franklin is the Carnton Mansion. During the battle, Caroline McGavok and her husband, John, resided in the house, which ended up serving as a field hospital. Needless to say, many died there, and were moved to the back porch. There were so many dead men stacked up in the back of the house that they stood erect in columns. The dead were buried nearby, and in 1866, more remains were moved from the Carter House to the Carnton grounds. Since that time, heavy footsteps can be heard echoing through the old house, and a restless soldier has been seen many times pacing through the mansion, across the back porch, and around the yard. A former cook supposedly haunts the place, as does Caroline herself. There is also the spirit of a girl residing there, and a specter that is fond of breaking glass.

It's no wonder that many spooky houses stand in New Orleans. One is the Beauregard-Keys House. Confederate General Beauregard lived there after the war, and wrote several books on his battlefield experiences. After the turn of the century, the house was occupied by a wealthy Italian family who saw much violence there, as the Mafia tried to extort them, and several of their members were killed. But not until after WWII did the house become occupied with Civil War ghosts. The phantoms have been seen engaging in battle within the house itself. Horses gallop through, men scream and slash at each other, cannons and other weapons go off, and the general himself has even made an appearance.

The Griffon House outside the French Quarter was abandoned by its owner when Federal troops invaded New Orleans. The first soldiers to enter the house reported hearing chains rattling and moans coming from upstairs. They went to investigate, and found slaves shackled to the walls and near starvation. They were removed to a nearby hospital, and the house was turned into a prison. Two raucous Union soldiers were held captive there, and spent their days drinking, and loudly singing "John Brown's Body." They were actually Confederate deserters disguising themselves as Yankees. Then one day, they bribed a guard to bring them pistols, laid down on the bed, pointed the guns at each other's hearts and pulled the triggers simultaneously. It is said that they still haunt the old house, as their singing can be heard on occasion. Blood has been seen dripping from the ceiling, but upon further inspection, disappears. Marching boots echo upstairs, and pieces of concrete were hurled at previous owners, who went upstairs to find that nothing was amiss. In 1951, a hurricane blasted the town, and after the cleanup, a tunnel was discovered running underneath the house. In it was a chest, chains, trash, and a few uniforms.

The most tragic story revolves around the Lalaurie Mansion. In 1832, the Creole mansion was occupied by Dr. Louis Lalaurie and his wife, Delphine, who were well-respected socialites. Inside, the house was decorated with elaborate furnishings. Delphine was admired and revered, but there was a demonic side to her. She kept many slaves, and treated them with brutal cruelty. The cook was chained to the kitchen fireplace, and servants disappeared without a trace to be replaced frequently. In 1834, a fire tore through the house, and the firefighters made a ghastly discovery. Upstairs in the attic, slaves had been chained to the walls, strapped to operating tables, confined in cages, and tortured. Body parts were strewn across the floor, heads and internal organs were thrown haphazardly into buckets, and grisly souvenirs were stacked on shelves beside a collection of paddles and whips. All the victims were naked, some had their mouths sewn shut, or their hands sewn to their bodies. Others had been disemboweled while still alive. Limbs were cut off, fingernails had been ripped out, brains had been "stirred," eyes were poked out, and privates were sliced off. All this was done by Madame Lalaurie herself under the blind but knowing eye of her husband. This was the most hideous crime to ever happen in the city, but to avoid arrest, the Lalaurie's made a hasty departure. Almost immediately, reports surfaced about strange occurrences within the mansion. The house was left to disrepair, and neighbors said they heard screams and moans, and saw apparitions of slaves walking on the balconies and in the yard. Vagrants who went inside for shelter were never seen again. Over the years, tenants stayed for only brief periods. During the times the house was occupied, strange things happened: a black man in chains attacked tenants and then disappeared, animals were brutally butchered, children were attacked by a whip-wielding ghost, and of course, there were the never ending screams, yells, and cries. When the house was recently renovated, a makeshift graveyard was discovered under the floor, which explains the disappearance of Delphine's slaves. Her victims were many, and apparently some still linger there.

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