Case File: Gettysburg National Military Park
Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Date: July 1-3, 1863
Description: Gettysburg National Military Park, located in Pennsylvania, is a site of several sightings of Civil War ghosts.
History: Gettysburg Battlefield was one of the hardest fought battles of the Civil War with countless casualties, and many people believe that it is still haunted by the ghosts of those cut down in battle. "At Gettysburg, there was so much emotional energy expended in a short period of time, from the fifteen-year-old kid who was scared to death that he'd never make it home, or the forty-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." Author and historian Mark Nesbitt reports.
Many of the ghostly sightings have been reported by Civil War re-enactment actors. Dressed in period costumes, they re-staged the battle, but in doing so, they seem to reawaken the memories of the those who died here. Ray Hock is one such actor; one afternoon, he and a friend were approached by a haggard figure, too realistic to be just another participant. "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." He adds. Ray says the soldier handed them each two authentic-looking cartridges. When they looked up, the mysterious visitor had vanished. What's unusual about this is that 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, during the 100th anniversary of the battle, some friends were at Gettysburg for the re-enactments. One evening, as they hiked along a creek known as Bloody Run, they came across a man laying in the bushes. As Richard Knapp recalls: "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." Some of their friends also saw ghostly figures farther down the trail, near an area known as the Slaughter Pen. Richard's brother David heard the sounds of gunshots, cannon shots, drum rolls, and men marching on the road.
Several buildings in Gettysburg connected to the battle are also supposed to be haunted. One building, Pennsylvania Hall, was a field hospital during the battle. "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." Mark Nesbitt adds.
Today, Pennsylvania Hall contains the offices of Gettysburg College. Several witnesses have seen and felt ghosts here. One night close to midnight, two school administrators were alone in the building when they went to use the elevator. For reasons unknown, it went past their floor and into the basement. The doors suddenly opened onto a scene from the past. The room was full of wounded and dying soldiers, which reeked with the stench of infection and dying. A medical orderly turned to them as if to ask for help, but the two administrators just left in terror back up the elevator.
The administrators were so frightened by their experience that they have never given a formal interview. However, that night, they 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."
Background: Gettysburg was one of the worst most hardest fought battle sites of the American Civil War, with 170,000 soldiers involved. Three days of brutal combat at the height of the Civil War left 50,000 Union and Confederate casualties.
Investigations: Gettysburg National Military Park has yet to be investigated, but nearby buildings have been featured on "Ghost Hunters," "Most Haunted" and "Ghost Adventures."
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the March 15, 1996 episode.
- Ghosts of Gettysburg on Unsolved.com
- Battle of Gettysburg on Wikipedia
- Ghosts of Gettysburg - Travel Channel
- 'Mourning Theater' now a full-time task for Gettysburg ghost mistress
- Special ghost stories to be presented
- Mark Nesbitt Interview (The Ghosts Of Gettysburg)
- Ghosts of Gettysburg: The 10 most ghost-heavy, haunted spots