VIENNA, Va., October 28, 2012 — It is my personal opinion that no war or conflict is quite as symbolically connected to the Halloween holiday as the 1861-1865 period of time.
It takes but a few minutes of searching to realize that spirits, ghosts, and inexplicable sights and sounds seem endemic to many sites connected with the war period and thereafter.
If you go to Gettysburg and walk the battlefield, specifically the areas around Devil’s Den and Little Round Top, I can almost guarantee you that something will occur to make you wonder if there is not some truth in it. After the war’s end, many bodies and body portions were discovered in and among the amazing rock formations of Devil’s Den, and only those that could be recovered were brought out and buried.
I am told that there were many still visible down between the huge boulders there, which simply could not be reached and were allowed to deteriorate and disintegrate where they lay. If one believes in spirits who never rest, this would be a good place for them.
One terribly hot July day a few years ago, we were walking over to the Bloody Triangle, down a hill, to where some flags were. I was in front, and as the July sun beat down on us, I walked across an invisible line, and was instantly enveloped by a cold, COLD burst of air. Before I could say anything, as I continued on, Mr. Skeptic stopped behind me, frozen, and said, “Did you feel that?” He had felt the same icy patch of air. I cannot explain it nor have I felt it since.
We are told that up at the old Seminary there atop Seminary Ridge, the site of heavy fighting, the old elevators stop at various floors. A group of students reported that once when the elevator stopped at the basement and the doors opened, there to their startled eyes was a fully functional operating room, staffed by bloody surgeons in old uniforms, who looked up, startled at the intruders, who swiftly got the elevator moving again, up. And it has happened enough times that many students have started to take the stairs.
Many people who have visited “that hallowed ground,” as Lincoln called it, and its environs, come away convinced that “something happened…while they were there.” To them. To their family, etc.
Many who have studied the subject of battlefield ghosts narrow it down to those areas where conflict has arisen, where battles have been fought, and where numerous people died suddenly and violently. They are prime locales for spirits of the departed to announce their presence in some supernatural way, as the manner of death leaves them unable to “cross over” or transition into a final resting mode.
Categorically they fall into several types of “hauntings,” an inclusive word used to cover any sightings, sounds, activities, etc. which cannot be attributed to more logical events.
You can have an intelligent or interactive haunting, usually in houses or other structures, where the spirit actually makes some sound or in some way announces its presence. Shapes appear in mirrors when no one else is there; fingers are felt on one’s shoulder or neck – it can be rather unsettling.
Next is the residual haunting, which seems to consist of one specific scene, which plays over and over like a reel of tape.
The warp haunting is where there is a warp or tear in the time continuum, and the person is transported into a scene that took place long ago such as the one from the elevator in the college building.
The Jenny Wade house where poor Jenny was the only civilian killed, shot as she was baking bread in the kitchen, has been explored and apparently verified by paranormal investigators who set up EVP recorders and highly sensitive camera equipment after making sure the house was totally empty – they term it “dropping a net over it” – with some amazing results.
I talked to a young lady at one of the stores who told me she had been a total skeptic until driving the store’s receipts over to the owner’s house one night. She was talking with him on her cell phone to let him know she was on her way. Suddenly she slammed on the brakes, said some bad words, and when he asked what was the matter, she replied that there was a group of five or six ragged looking soldiers in gray, complete with rifles, slowly crossing the roadway in front of her.
She said that when they reached the other side of the road, they disappeared, but when she got to the store owner’s home, he told her she was as white as a sheet. Amazingly, on the phone the owner had cautioned her to sit still and not try to drive through the apparitions.
I’m told spirits can be seen or felt — usually attended by a very cold feeling — at various places connected to heavy fighting around the battlefield and beyond, and even Little Round Top, where Gen. Paddy O’Rorke died, has its share.
There have been similar sightings at the Bloody Lane at Antietam, another scene of mass violent death, as well as Pry House, Piper House, and others. Some people see things, others do not. It makes for interesting conversation and investigation. Trust me, if you ever have one of these experiences, you will instantly become a believer.
A side note and serious thought — if you are lucky enough to be owned by a coal black cat, please keep him or her inside on Halloween. Some people see them as dark omens. Protect your kitty!
So “…from ghoulies and ghosties. And long-legged beasties. And things that go bump in the night… Good Lord, deliver us!”
Wishing all that you have a Happy Halloween – you never know whom you may bump into!
Follow the blog on FaceBook at MarthaBoltz; email is firstname.lastname@example.org . Read more of Martha’s columns on The Civil War at the Communities at the Washington Times.
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