Tuesday, September 2, 2008

3 days at Gettysburg part 3

Hi everyone; Sorry for the long hiatus from posting here.
Now it's time to talk about our "Ghost Tour" at Gettysburg.

On Saturday night, we all went on a tour with the "Ghosts of Gettysburg, Candlelight Walking Tours". I think we were expecting something out of the TV show, "Ghost Hunters", walking through old houses and woods in the dead of night. What we got was a much different experience, but a satisfying one at that.

We met up with our guide and about 15 other people in the parking lot of a hotel bar, around 7PM. Of course in mid-summer, it was still very much light out, the guide was dressed in period garb and carrying a lantern. The temps were in the high 80s, low 90s, so we were sweating just looking at him, but he set the mood, by starting off with a few stories about the National Cemetery near by. Here's two of the stories, as best as I recall them, On Cemetery Ridge, a Union soldier was standing next to a cannon. when a Confederate cannon ball hit him and took one of his arms off cleanly. The soldier was taken to the hospital tent, minus his arm, but he soon died from loss of blood. The Yankee soldier was buried at the National Cemetery, and what happened to his arm no one knows, but ever since then, a ghostly figure has been seen walking around the grounds, obviously looking for something on the ground in one small area. According to historians, that area was where his own gun was located when he was hit.

Another story is about a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, who died at Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg National Cemetery can be seen right from the main roads, as can many of the tombstones, belonging to soldiers who died at Gettysburg. One grave site had been the haunting spot of a Union officer, whom had been seen by many witnesses, to be standing in front of his grave site and slowly shaking his head. The caretaker did some investigating and found that the person buried there had been awarded (posthumously), the Congressional Medal of Honor, for his actions during the battle. A look at the grave stone revealed that there was no indication, that this man won the Medal of Honor. Shortly thereafter, the plaque was attached to the stone and the hauntings stopped all together .
Our tour took us through a part of the town and to the edge of the battlefield, where Picketts charge took place. As we walked, our guide would stop and tell us another story about the buildings in the area and other sightings made. We found out that the office of Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours, was a house that stood during the battle and was the used by Confederate soldiers during the battle. Of course many of the buildings were used as "Aid Stations" by both sides, lives passed in many homes.

Here's a story that happened to one of their own staff after hours in the office:
It was known or speculated by the staff of Ghosts of Gettysburg tours, that some southern soldiers still inhabited their building. They were never seen, but things were moved, noises were heard by the staff, that led them to believe, that someone still occupied the house.

One night, as one of the staff members closed up shop and turned out the lights, she remembered that she had left something behind in the office and so with a quick turn around, unlocked the door and walked into the reception area, which is in front of the building, and jumped with fright as a young confederate soldier walked into the same area from a back room. He was just as suprised as she, because he stepped back and said, "Who goes there?!"

The staff member quickly apologized and went back out the door to the street, her heart pounding in her ears.

Can ghosts really interact like this with us?

Maybe some of the time they can.

What I have read on the subject of ghosts and what Nicole had read and heard, state that some times, those who have passed away, still think they are alive and in their present situation (July 1863), in their present time and occasionally their "present time" mixes with our "present time" and you have interactions like this where the soldier thinks he is still in this house (his position) doing his duty and it's July 1863, when all of a sudden, appearing from nowhere is a person, not from his time.

So these are the stories our guide related to this as we walked toward the Gettysburg Battlefield proper. The sun was finally getting lower in the sky, evening was coming on. The photo to the right was taken about 7:40PM and is looking towards the Confederate lines along Seminary ridge. Here's some more stories, the first one relates to Union General John Reynolds, who was killed on the first day. In my earlier blogs, you saw a photo of us standing in front of the marker, on the battlefield where he fell.

The day that General Reynolds died, a messenger went to his wife and family, telling them the tragic news and ensuring them that his body would be held in honor at Gettysburg, until the wife came to pick him up. Now General Reynolds was a tall man and unfortunately no coffin could be found to fit him, so the end where his feet would be was opened so he could be laid in there, albeit with his feet sticking out. John Reynolds was laying in state in a small house in Gettysburg, a place that now allows tourists to have their picture taken in period clothing, and each day a women, dressed in black, would sit near his coffin. Fast forward to the present day, a family from out of town, gets to Gettysburg late at night and after dinner decides to walk around the town. Coming upon one small building, they look in a window and see an empty front room, but also a back room, with a coffin in the middle of the room, a corpse, whose feet are sticking out of the coffin and a women dressed in black, who gets up, walks around the casket once and sits back down. The tourists, think this is a strange, bizzare tourist display and especially as they were seeing it late at night, when everything was closed. The next day they go back to the building and ask about the scene. The front room that looked bare when they saw it at night, was furnished with everything a studio would need and the back room was closed off by a curtain. The owner of the studio promised them that there was no display the night before or since 1863, even showing them the back costume room behind the curtain. The owner then described what took place with the body of General Reynolds in that building back in 1863 and it matched exactly what the tourists had seen the night before.

To the right is our guide, doing a good job holding everyones attention as he points out some landmarks on the battlefield. That's Josh leaning against the telephone pole, with Matty, Jonathan and Christopher in front and Nicole on the far end, sitting on the curb. Near this spot, is a house that had the unfortunate distinction of being built on a site where they found numerous arm and leg bones buried. Even to this day, the homeowner has a deodorizer going in one closet, that from time to time will smell like decaying flesh.

Other than that the house is a dream:-)

To the right is looking at the Union positions along Cemetery Ridge and what was the Center of the Union line. This was the focus of General Robert E. Lees attack on the third day, what is now called Picketts Charge. Thousands of men, died on this battlefield in one day, many more died days, weeks and months later, from wounds suffered during this one part of the battle. No wonder it's haunted. Our guide was great and gave us a lot of tips on ways to sense that spirits are walking among us at Gettysburg. The smell of tobacco or cigar, when no one is smoking near you, the sudden feeling of cold or chill, as you walk along the battlefield, the sound of cannons in the distance. These are all reported at Gettysburg, by regular people who live there or are just there for a visit.

Early the next morning, Josh, Nicole and I took a ride to this battlefield, just as the sun was coming up. Jonathan was supposed to come with us, but he never answered our calls and Chris said there was no way he would get up at 5:00 AM to go find ghosts.

Here's some photos from the early morning hours, along the Emmitsburg Road.

Along Emmitsburg Road, the morning of July 20th Sunday. Through this area came over 12,000 of the souths finest soldiers from the Army of Northern Virginia and into the guns of the Union Army of the Potomac.This is looking towards the southern lines, where the 12,000 soldiers came out of the woods. It's been said, that visitors to this area have seen images of these same soldiers walking through the early morning mist.

Looking from the Emmitsburg Road, toward the Union lines. The trees were a landmark the south was aiming for. We saw no ghosts, we only heard the birds and a cow waking up, but you felt something just being there in the dawn.

This last picture is looking down the Emmitsburg Pike, the early morning dew stiff can be seen on the fence rails. Rails like this lined the same road and became a killing ground as Confederate soldiers stacked up trying to get over and through the rails. Now this picture has another part to it, that maybe, just maybe have something of the supernatual to it. If you can view this picture in a larger format and look to the left of the trees in the center left, there looks to me a human figure in the middle of the mist.

It could be and probably is a small tree, but I have looked closer and it does have a human shape to it. Could it be a soldier from North Carolina or Virginia, still making that long walk towards the Union Center, or is it a tree or bush...we'll never know till I go back there again.

A final note about our guide and what a small world it is. Nicole and Matt stayed right with him and they got some more in-depth stories from him than we did. The small world part of the story is that he lived just a few miles from where we live and he knew of my kids High School (Eastern Tech) and I think even taught there years ago.

Now, I have told you some ghost stories and gave you a better taste of the area, but I think I should give you one documented Ghost picture, even if it wasn't taken by me.

The photo to the left was taken by tourists like us, who visited the part of the battlefield named "The Devils Den". This was the scene of ferocious combat among rocks and boulders on the second day of the battle. A couple of "Ghost Hunters" visited Devils Den one summer night, took many photos of the area. But didn't see anything until they were leaving.

This photo was taken from their car, as they started to drive away. They were positive that there was nobody else around and when they stopped to check out the person standing by the road, they could not find anyone, yet this picture clearly shows someone, clad in grey, standing there watching them leave.

Is it a long lost soldier from the Army of Northern Virginia, was he in our time or were the Ghost Hunters in his, and does the war still go on for him at Gettysburg.

Thanks for reading;

Mr. Joe