PDF Beneath the Battlefield: A Civil War Ghost Story

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There are no distant sounds of traffic and very few intrusions from a modern world. I started the car and drove about a hundred yards further along the road; there is a turn off to the left known as Warren Avenue which ascends the hill and runs across the crest of Little Round Top but I was heading to Devils Den which is a few hundred feet on the right hand side. Devils Den is actually a series of large boulders that are scattered around an embankment at points reaching up as high as fifteen feet. I parked the car, got out and walked across the grass on the other side of the road towards the center of two enormous boulders.

There is a one particularly rock formation which is now directly in front of me, that was made famous as a result of a photograph taken there of a dead Confederate soldier. It later turned out that the photographer had in fact moved the body from another location and staged the scene. But staged or not the fact remains that where I am now standing and taking pictures myself, over years later a dead soldier once lay sprawled between the rocks, rifle still at his side.

I walked a few yards to the right and climbed up through a gap in the boulders where there is a set of steps cut into the hill. I am now about fifteen feet above the car park and I could look out towards the top of the hill to the left which is Little Round Top. There are several cannons that mark the positions of the gun batteries that were stationed here.

Beyond that a few hundred feet to the left is the Triangular field. In front of me set several yards back is a low stone wall, with a partially opened wood gate across its center. I turned on the flashlight that I had hanging from my belt and shone it across the field that lay beyond the gate. I followed the embankment down from the road and walked through the opening in the wall. There was also once a gun battery of Union cannons positioned here until they were abandoned to the Confederate onslaught but not before many died trying to overrun them.

The woods behind seem exceptionally dark and there is an unsettling feeling about being here. I made my way up the embankment and circled down the hill walking in the middle of the road, keeping an eye out for any cars that may have been coming in my direction. Once in my own vehicle I headed for Little Round Top. On the way out of the car park on my right hand side there is another smaller formation of rocks with a shallow pond at the base, this was known as the Slaughter Pen.

This is another area that has been reported as having a high level of paranormal activity. Just beyond, the road climbs along side the Valley of Death for about a quarter of a mile and then at the top curves around to the left. As I neared the summit I tried to imagine men charging up the hill, and the hail of bullets and cannon fire raining down upon them. The nature of warfare was very different then compared with today, and as a result the casualties were usually much higher.

There are lines of trees on both sides of the road and on the left there is a car park which runs to the rear of the western edge of Little Round Top. There are a few vehicles here already, but it is a fairly long stretch of mountaintop so it will still be fairly secluded. I walk through a gap in the trees and just beyond are a series of intersecting paths that run across the top of the ridge. I followed the first one I came to which ran along to the left hand side.

On my far right I could see a few people huddled together and the occasional flash of a camera.

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But in this section it was just me. From where I stood on the edge of an overhang on top of the hill I could look back down over the Valley of Death and towards, the Devils Den. Beyond that you can see the distant lights of the town. Beneath a moonlight sky haunted Gettysburg makes for an eerie landscape. But as I make my way along the path that snakes across the hill top you cannot help but remember that you are literally walking in the footsteps of historical events that shaped an entire nation.

Aside from a digital camera I also have a video camera with me, so at this point I shot some footage using night vision as I made my way towards the north side of the ridge. All the way along the path are regiment markers as well as several cannons depicting the former positions of gun batteries and there is also a life size statue of Union Commander Major General Warren peering out of the Valley of Death.

I cut back through the rear of the tree line and made my way over to the car. Just a few hundred feet down the hill to the left along a path in the woods was where Colonel Josh Chamberlain had successfully defended the flanks of the hill. After running low on ammunition he ordered a bayonet charge against the attacking confederates. I had been there earlier on in the day and if you have ever seen the film Gettysburg this was one of the most memorable scenes in the movie as the soldiers charged down through the trees bayonets at the ready.

The street is one way so I have to return down the hill via Sykes Avenue, and make a left on Crawford until once again I am at Devils Den, this time I head past it and towards the Wheatfield. Just beyond there is a fork in the road. To the right is the more direct route but to the left is Cross Avenue. This road is much narrower and far more isolated and is one that few people travel along even during the day.

It will lead to the Wheatfield but not before it twists its way through an avenue of dark over hanging trees. I decided to take this one, I had already been down here once in the early afternoon but at night it would be a very different experience. Although it is not far from many of the battlefields more popular locations this section has somewhat of a forgotten feel to it. All the way along hidden beneath the trees and undergrowth are more battlefield markers and several white life size statues that beneath the car headlights do look like someone is standing there.

A few are perhaps to realistic, as if when you pass they could almost be turning their heads to watch you fade into the darkness. It is a large open field within an expanse of trees. I walked about 50 yards towards the centre of the field pointing the camera at random and taking a few pictures.

Each time light from the flash provides a fleeting glimpse into the darkness before it quickly fades and everything returns to silhouette. I still had several more places to visit so I headed back to the car. The wind was picking up slightly and I felt a few drops of rain. I am now heading in the direction of the town.

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On my right hand side is the Pennsylvania State Memorial; this is visible for many miles throughout the battlefield. It is a vast structure crowned with a marble dome and engraved on its walls are the names of all 34, Pennsylvanian soldiers that fought here. Either side of the road there are cannons positioned in formation to show the original position of the Union gun batteries. The Confederates would have attacked from the fields and slopes to my left.

Up ahead in th e dark the headlights pick out a single clump of trees.

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  • This is what is known as the High Water mark, because it marks the area where not only was the fighting most intense but also the point where the Confederate army came closest to overrunning the Union Ranks. I pull over on the other side of the road a few feet down from the trees. I got out the car and crossed over the grass to the right hand side. Bordering the area in front of me is a low stone wall. At one corner there is a gap in the wall, I climbed through it and stepped down into the field beyond. Unlike the grass section behind me this area had been left overgrown, and the ground was rough and uneven with a noticeable slope to it.

    In one of the last major actions of the conflict nearly 12, Confederate soldiers under the command of General Longstreet charged over almost a mile of open ground. The landscape is largely unchanged. There is little in the way of cover and even if retreat had been an option the confederate troops would have easily been picked off before they could make it out of range of enemy artillery.

    It is remarkable that any of them made it this far but a handful did, and fierce close quarters fighting took place all along the battle lines around the stone wall behind me. The immediate area where I am now must have been blanketed in the dead and dying. I walked on down into the field cutting across in front of the crop of trees that was the High Water Mark until I was about half way between them and the Emmmitburg Rd and.

    I started walking back up the hill towa rds the Angle. Colonel Pickett and his men would have swept across here from South to North; up ahead close to the area where I first entered the field is where Colonel Trimble took a more direct route. Both he and Colonel Pickett survived although Trimble did lose a leg. The Confederate brigades were spread out over almost a mile as they began their convergence on the Union positions. The terrain is quite rough and uneven and as the stone wall of the Angle looms up in the darkness and the outline of the trees at the Highwater Mark gets closer you realize that for a large number their march would have been certain death.

    No doubt many fell along the exact same the path I was taking. There is no cover and the fact that the ground slopes slightly upwards meant there would have been nowhere to hide, even for an instant. After just a few hundred yards the walk starts to get tiring, so doing this in battle conditions at full charge while all manor of gun and cannon fire reigned down upon you would have been hell on earth. It must have seemed like a false victory to be one of the first few that made it up the hill only to be met by the awaiting Union guns.

    Beneath this ground undoubtedly lie fragments of cannon balls, and bullets from the battle, and in all probability bullets that killed the men that fell here. I crossed back close to the stone wall pausing for a few moments to try and picture what it had been really like to make that fateful charge, but as nothing more then a tourist ultimately you will never truly be able to. I followed the wall back to the far corner and stepped back through the gap, once again on the flat ground adjacent to the road.

    I took one last look into the dark behind me, and headed off back to my car. At nighttime it geographic isolation insures it remains strangely apart from its more famous counter parts across the other side of the Baltimore Turnpike. It was now about 9. As soon as I made the left turn and began my drive along what is a fairly narrow single lane road the dark seems to creep in around you.

    The trees reach across to each other to obscure even the moonlight and you get this sense of having crossed from a more modern world into one which you are intruding upon. The wind has started to pick up considerably, the car windows are still rolled down but I have turned on the heater as it gets noticeably colder as the road starts to climb.

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    At one time this area was occupied by both Union and Confederate troops. Just to my left I can see an indentation in the ground with a small brick wall that curves up over a grass embankment. This is the actual site of the spring. Bitter fighting took place here between the Union brigades led by General Greene and the Confederates led by General George Steuart and possession of the spring changed hands several times between the opposing sides. People have also reported seeing dark shadowy figures in the same area. As I slowly pass by I peer across through the open window, seeing if I catch anything in the beams of the headlights.

    The park will be closing soon, so I am beginning to run out of time. Within a few yards there is a point of no return, there is a fork in the road.

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    Make a left and it will take you to the Baltimore Turnpike, take a right and you continue the ascent through what is now a rather dark and ominous looking section of winding road that takes you to the top of the hill. I make a right. This is the closest I have ever been to feeling like I was in an Evil Dead movie. The road starts to climb steeply, and the pitch of the engine rises slightly as I push on to the top of the hill. As I leave one haunted location behind another one looms up in the dark ahead.

    All along this part of the road people have reported hearing people screaming in the woods, and seeing strange flashes of light. But I am close to the summit now, which is over feet above ground level. Much of the activity focuses on the snug above the cellar. According to local legend, the Cavaliers plotted against the Parliamentarians in this very room.

    In , an unseen presence threw a stone at the landlord in the cellar. Local tales speculate Edward was the son of the Lord of Stannycliffe. Betrayed by a spy, he found himself trapped in the pub. Parliamentarians cut him to pieces in the cellar and dumped him under the floor. While helmets and pikes were found under the cellar stones, no human remains have yet been found. Parliamentarian forces defeated King Charles I at Newark in He was taken to Newcastle upon Tyne , where he spent ten months held captive in the grand house, Anderson Place.

    beneath the battlefield a civil war ghost story Manual

    It no longer exists, and a branch of Lloyds bank stands on the site on Grey Street. During his time there, his captors allowed him to play golf in nearby Shieldfield. According to legend, he escaped from Anderson Place in a boat. Much like the many rivers of London, the streams of Newcastle are now underground. But at the time, boats could sail up the Lort Burn as high as Low Bridge.

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    • His escape attempt failed and his captors recovered him at Sandhill. He allegedly haunts the Quayside, searching for his rescue ship. Trinty House, also on the Quayside, also boasts sightings of the spectral monarch. The tale claims he hid in a cellar below the chapel. Much of the income to pay for the war came from taxing coal leaving Newcastle. The story alleges he watched for ships to count his share while he waited. And on certain nights, his ghost walks the corridors of Trinity House. One man kept a vigil all night after a spate of robberies.

      While no live intruders bothered him, the doors kept opening and shutting on their own. Was it King Charles I? In this case, plenty of stories of Civil War ghosts. These only scratch the surface of the volume of tales available. Many of the tales appear again and again in different locations. While knowledge of the Civil War fades, perhaps the ghosts will not. Indeed, a Cavalier ghost is one of the protagonists in my new supernatural mystery novel, The Stolen Ghosts. If you enjoyed this post, sign up below to get future articles straight in your inbox every week.

      My stepfather was and a die hard no nonsense Royal Marine total skeptic very introverted. But one day he actually admitted he had seen something when he was younger when he was a young Marine he was traveling home to his mums he lived in York then. He always kept quiet about it and only slipped up telling the story once or twice. We wonder if him being a royal marine had any affinity to it appearing to him?

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      Subscribe on these platforms or your app of choice! Writer of dark fantasy novellas, Gothic short stories and the occasional weird Western. Once described as a cross between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Blogger on folklore and former ghost hunter. Working on a PhD about haunted house films! Email her here to get in touch!

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      There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again. Email Address. Comments My stepfather was and a die hard no nonsense Royal Marine total skeptic very introverted. He might have been more attuned to military spectres. Have your say!