Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Haunts (pt. 3 )

Most people think of cemeteries and battlefields when they hear about strange apparitions that exist in regard to the Civil War. However, many old fortresses are rumored to host the spirits of soldiers past as well. As my final installation of "Halloween Haunts," I bring to you the forts that time forgot.

Fort Delaware, located in Delaware City, Delaware, is an imposing structure that is said to be one of the most haunted places in America. It is no wonder, considering the suffering that took place during the War Between the States. The fort unintentionally became a prisoner of war camp, with most of its inhabitants being captured at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The fort, located on six acres, with 32 foot high walls and surrounded by a medieval moat, housed over 40,000 men by war's end. The fort had the highest mortality rate of any POW camp: 2500 to 3000 men died. The ghosts of incarcerated Confederates still inhabit the place, as does a woman and several children. Across the river is Finn’s Point National Cemetery, where most of the Confederate soldiers are buried. Sadly, only one marker is placed, which reads, "Erected By The United States To Mark The Burial Place Of 2436 Confederate Soldiers Who Died At Fort Delaware While Prisoners Of War And Whose Graves Cannot Now Be Individually Identified."

Fort Monroe, where President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned following his capture after the fall of the Confederacy, is another ominous place that seethes with spiritual energy. Located in Virginia, which ranks as the most haunted place in America according to the National Register of Haunted Locations, the fort has reported many spiritual sightings, including those of Abraham Lincoln and General U.S. Grant.

Off the gulf coast of Alabama exists two ancient forts that have now become tourist attractions: Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines. Both forts have a long history of military service, surviving many wars, and not surprisingly, both have their share of supernatural inhabitants. Visitors have reported hearing footsteps, seeing strange apparitions that follow them out of the park areas, and noticing ghosts that observe them while they are there.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Haunts (pt. 2) - Tennessee

Many Civil War battlefields in Tennessee are believed to be haunted. One such battlefield that is occupied by a famous ghost is Chickamauga, and the entity has come to be known as "Old Green Eyes." On numerous occasions, people have reported that an eerie presence approaches them, and that glowing green eyes are visible through the eerie mist that lingers around the base of Lookout Mountain.

A group of specters occupies another Tennessee battlefield, Stones River near Murfreesboro (just outside Nashville). At the "Slaughter Pen," one particular spirit inhabits the area, his soul eternally doomed to roam what has now become a dark, shadowy, spooky wooded area.

Shiloh is another haunted battlefield where the land will forever have the impression cast upon it of death, suffering, and destruction. "Bloody Pond" is said to take on the color of blood on occasion, and of course, the battlefield, like nearly all Civil War battlefields, has its share of noises, such as distant drums, marching, battle cries, and gunfire.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Haunts

With the advent of Halloween, I am concentrating on haunted Civil War houses, battlefields, and hotels. It seems that every battlefield, whether significant or minor, seems to inhabit its share of Civil War ghosts. Experts in the supernatural say that people who die sudden, unexpected, violent deaths are the ones whose souls get caught in limbo. Gettysburg is the most famous haunted battlefield because it lies on a lay line (mineral deposits under the soil that criss-cross). These places attract apparitions because the electrical current caused by the lay lines coaxes spirits, just like moths to a flame.

Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi has plenty of supernatural inhabitants as well. It is no wonder, since the citizens and Confederate army were under siege for months, forced to live in caves along the riverbank, and eat vermin, dogs, etc. in order to survive. The town is filled with old abandoned buildings, but many are rumored to be not completely empty. Spirits have been seen wandering the streets at night, along with frequenting local establishments, including old antebellum homes that have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts.

New Orleans entertains its share of Civil War ghosts, along with all the other spiritual entities that thrive there. The Beauregard-Keyes house is said to play host to its former owner, General P.G.T. Beauregard. On several occasions, witnesses have heard and/or seen Beauregard's Confederates charge through the dining room, complete with yelling, screaming, gunfire, and cannonade!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Remembrances

This week marks the anniversaries of two significant battles that took place during the War Between the States. Tuesday was the anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek (1864), and today was the anniversary of the Battle of Ball's Bluff (1861). Both of these battles took place in Virginia.

The Battle of Ball's Bluff was the second largest battle to take place in 1861. The battle resulted in a victory for the Confederates, and led to the establishment of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War after controversy arose as to whether Union officials were participating in a conspiracy against the U.S. government.

At the Battle of Cedar Creek three years later, the Confederacy suffered a crushing blow when General Jubal Early attempted to attack Washington but failed. The defeat led to Abraham Lincoln's reelection, and prevented the Confederates from ever being able to invade Washington again or protect the economic base in the Shenandoah Valley. General Sheridan rode to fame when his cavalry came to the rescue of the Union Army, and his ride is immortalized in Thomas Buchanan Read's famous poem entitled "Sheridan's Ride."

With next year marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is without a doubt that much celebration will take place in Virginia, especially on October 21, which will be the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Ball's Bluff.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mississippi State UDC Convention

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the annual Mississippi United Daughters of the Confederacy Convention. This year's event took place in Hattiesburg, which is a lovely town full of history, friendly people, and amazing antebellum homes. The Daughters were originally booked in a hotel that was evacuated because of structural problems, so the convention was moved down the street to another hotel. Needless to say, the event went smoothly after that, and everyone in attendance had a great time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Antebellum Homes in Hattiesburg

On a recent trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I had the opportunity to see some beautiful, elegant antebellum homes. Last weekend (Oct. 1-3) was the state United Daughters of the Confederacy conference. I will discuss this event further on my next post, but for now, please enjoy the photos. I invite your comments as well. Thanks for viewing my blog.
A Beckoning Hellfire

Monday, October 4, 2010

Amazing Antebellum Homes

While visiting New Orleans recently, I was awestruck by the beautiful old antebellum homes that exist in the Garden District and were basically unscathed from Hurricane Katrina. These homes sell for two to three million dollars today, which is amazing considering that five years ago, the housing market in the Big Easy understandably plummeted. Many of these old homes were built in the 1850's, and survived the Civil War.