American Civil War Ghosts
The American Civil War (1861-65), fought between the Union and Confederacy, needs no introduction. However, it is worth refreshing our memory of the statistics: 655, 000 people killed, and a further 419, 000 injured, to say nothing of the resultant economic and ecological depression that came for many in the aftermath. Even with hindsight, it remains divisive: although most are glad to have seen the end of slavery, the brutality meted out by both sides still rankles in some parts, and as in all conflicts it is important to separate the issues fought over from those made to defend them.
Just as the ghosts of the English Civil War are still seen or heard nearly 400 years after the conflict, so too the ghosts of the American Civil War are still said to walk the earth. Many relate to the Battle of Gettysburg (1863). The Daniel Lady Farm, occupied by Confederate troops after Gettysburg as their field hospital, is said to be haunted by General Isaac Ewell and 10, 000 soldiers. Likewise, the Baladerry Inn was used as the Union’s field hospital, and is also still claimed to be haunted by those who died and suffered after the bloody battle.
Purportedly the most haunted site associated with the Battle of Gettysburg is Devil’s Den, a hill on the south side of Houck’s Ridge at the battlefield. It was used on the second day of the battle by Union sharpshooters, but captured by the First Texas Regiment, who used it for the same purpose. The many boulders strewn across the hill were useful as cover for the artillery regiments. It is haunted by a deceased member of the First Texas Regiment, clad in a bright shirt and floppy hat, who utters the enigmatic words, âwhat you’re looking for is over there’.
Away from Gettysburg, other smaller battles have left their ghosts. Kolb’s Farm, Georgia, saw a skirmish that resulted in the deaths of 1, 000 Confederate troops. Amongst their ghosts is a playful entity that tugs on visitors’ hands and clothing. The Battle of Antietam (1862) saw c.4, 000 deaths and almost 18, 000 injured, and the battlefield is rich in revenants. Phantom gunfire and the smell of gunpowder have been reported along the aptly-named Bloody Lane and, inexplicably, strains of âDeck the Halls’ have been heard. Ghosts of both sides have also been seen fighting one another, as at Edgehill.
So what do these supernatural reports signify? In the first instance, it is common for traumatic events of the past to leave a mark in the national consciousness, from which reports of ghosts tend to spring. Additionally, historians have long determined that the war broke out over States’ Rights, and the limits of Washington’s interference, rather than slavery in and of itself. There is still friction between individual states and the White House, and these ghosts are a reminder of the continuing issue, to which we can add some instances of the controversial Confederate Flag being flown in the South.