Is the battlefield at Gettysburg haunted?

At Gettysburg, bodies covered the field

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

CASE DETAILS

A mysterious man in Civil War garb

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Three days of brutal combat at the height of the Civil War left 50,000 Union and Confederate casualties.  The creeks literally ran red with blood.  Some report that Gettysburg is still haunted by the ghosts of those cut down in battle. Author and historian Mark Nesbitt offered this theory as to why:

“At Gettysburg, there was so much emotional energy expended in a short period of time, from the 15-year-old kid who was scared to death that he’d never make it home, or the 40-year-old man who’d just been shot through the lungs and was dying and thinking about his family.  You have to think that some of it must remain.”

Many of the ghostly sightings have been reported by Civil War re-enactors. Dressed in period costumes, they re-stage the battle, blow by blow.  One re-enactor, Ray Hock, says he and a friend were approached by a haggard figure, too realistic to be just another
re-enactor:

“I think I seen a ghost.  I think this guy had original equipment on.  Original coat.  Everything, to me, points out that it was original.”

Ray says a ghost gave him this bullet

Ray says the soldier handed them each two authentic-looking cartridges. When they looked up, the mysterious visitor had vanished.

Live ammunition hasn’t been allowed at Gettysburg for 100 years.  Ray, a university expert, determined that the cartridges were genuine Civil War issue, vintage 1863.

In the summer of 1993, some friends were at Gettysburg for the battle re-enactments.  One evening, as they hiked along a creek called Bloody Run, they came across a man laying in the bushes.  Richard Knapp described what he saw:

“He appeared to be a man laying there, but he wasn’t solid like you and I are.  I mean, he was more of a hazy mist.  He was shivering ’cause it looked like he was in a lot of pain.  I couldn’t go no further.  Emotionally, I broke down and cried.  I was shaking.  I had to actually have somebody come back and lead me out of the trail.”

The terror of Gettysburg was not limited to the battlefield. According to Mark Nesbitt, Army surgeons, lacking medicine and proper instruments, handled most injuries with one quick treatment—amputation:

“Many of the men underwent amputations of limbs without any anesthetic whatsoever, except perhaps a shot of good old-fashioned army whiskey.  So the Civil War hospital then was probably as close to a descent into hell on Earth as these Civil War soldiers would have ever gotten to.”

One building, Pennsylvania Hall, was a field hospital during the battle. Today it’s the offices of Gettysburg College. But some say the cries of the wounded still echo here.  One night close to midnight, two school administrators were alone in the building. They were using the elevator when the doors suddenly opened onto a real-looking Civil War hospital. Mark Nesbitt described what the women experienced:

“The stench of a hospital was all around. As they peered out on this, of course they began to panic.  There was no place to go. Suddenly, one of the orderlies turned to them and looked at them beseechingly, as if he needed help with this horrible task that he was doing or perhaps help to get out of this forced incarceration he’d been in for the last 13 decades.”

That night, the two officials told their story to a campus security officer. Timon Linn,
chief of security at Gettysburg College, remembered the incident:

“I would have to say that something frightened them. I can’t explain it.  Although I don’t believe in ghosts, I guess to a certain extent I believe that they saw maybe what they said they saw only because I know them as credible people.”

Is it possible these ghostly sightings were imagined?  Or, will the spirits of Gettysburg’s soldiers remain here forever?


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season two with Dennis Farina and coming soon with Robert Stack. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.

 

7 Comments

  1. Deb

    Oct 2015 my friend and I went on a late night ghost tour behind the middle school just off of Cemetery Hill. I walked on with the group when I turned around and noticed my friend still standing at the edge of the woods. I walked back to her and stopped dead in my tracks, I heard the sound of a snare drum and whistling. When I asked my friend if she heard it she shh’d me and said she was recording it. There was another gentleman from our group standing behind her that said he heard the same thing. We ran back to join our group and tell our tour guide what we heard. To this day it still baffles us.

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  2. Norma

    I was in Gettysburg in 6/11/16 for a graduation party. We had my hubby, 2 of my brother in laws and sister in laws with us. Now the sister in law who lives in Fairfield grew up in Gettysburg. One of my sister in law, Bonita, never been there, never been on a paranormal investigation. We went to the battlefield and then ended up at Sach’s bridge. We waited for the crowd to leave and then started on the investigation. We let Bonita take pictures. Now no one was on the bridge at this particular time. She was taking pictures with her phone. What came on that pic took my breath away. You could see what looked like a soldier looking down at hat looks like a little girl. It’s pretty awesome. I wish I could post it here.

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  3. teresa

    my husband & i visited gettysburg last sept, for 1 week. we were truly amazed, at all the history.however, after, being at the battlefield, on our second visit, only i noticed, a horrible stench, that followed me where ever we went, in town, back to our hotel, shopping, near the college, ect.. the horrific smell, didn’t seem to bother anyone else?? i am a nurse, smell of death?? spirit, trying to connect to me??

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    • Judith

      Hello Theresa. Our family visited Gettysburg in the mid 80’s. Years later my mom had mentioned the smells as well, she had told me that she didn’t say anything at that time because she thought we all could smell the same – of course we didn’t. In the past my mom had been told she was an old soul and had always had that extra sense with other situations that she encountered.

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    • Anonymous

      sounds like a bunch of “bull bot bull run

      Reply

    • Norma

      You there’s been reports of smelling rotten flesh on the battlefield and in certain places in town. I’m a nurse too. I smelled it once in the triangular field area. My guess is a residual energy or smell? You should hear the ghost box responses when you tell these soldier spirits you are a nurse! Lol. It’s amazing!

      Reply

  4. Patricia Sites-Williams

    It is true. I have no doubts. Being born and raised at Gettysbutg we lived 5 miles west on Rt. 30. My house is still there I heard it was there during that time. There use to be many sheds and a gorgeous huge white barn. Our house had its moments of knowing we were not the only ones living there. Patricia

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