Ghosts in Gettysburg and Antietam
Ghosts - Gettysburg is considered one of the most haunted places in America. There have been hundreds of paranormal experiences reported. Former Park Ranger Mark Nesbitt has made a career of documenting these stories in his books. Antietam also has its share of ghost stories.
I don't know where you stand on the question of whether or not ghosts exist. I try to approach this subject from a totally objective perspective. I don't immediately leap to accepting ghosts as real, nor do I dismiss the possibility. I simply accept the evidence as it comes to me, dismiss those events that can be explained by normal reasons, and wonder about what is left.
You can make your own decisions. If you dismiss the possibility of ghosts, you can enjoy your civil war battlefield experience without them. (If they'll let you MWHAHAHAHAHHAAAAA!!!) If you are open to the possibility, this adds a whole dimension to your visit there.
With that in mind, I'll relate the following experiences we had on our trips.
Trip #1 - Gettysburg Ghosts:
While walking around an artillery area on South Confederate Avenue just past Auto Stop 7 - Warfield Ridge, my wife caught a sudden, strong smell of pipe tobacco. There was no one within a half mile of her, so she couldn't write it off to someone smoking by her. There were no cars or other vehicles any where near her. She couldn't see any attributable source for that strong smell. She didn't know until later that one of the most common paranormal experiences people report at Gettysburg is the unexplainable smell of gun powder or tobacco.
That evening, we both heard several loud booming noises from the battlefield. We were walking around the Lutheran Theological Seminary at the time. I've never heard a cannon fired before, but these booms sounded like what I would guess a cannon would sound like. There was storms in the area and we heard several rumblings of thunder and those sounds were completely different. The sound of gunfire or cannon is another very commonly reported paranormal experience.
Later that evening, near the Lutheran Theological Seminary, my wife was shooting pictures when her camera went completely dead. When she shut it off and turned it back on, the camera didn't display so much as a startup signal. She handed the camera to me. I tried restarting it. I pulled the battery out and reseated it. I pulled off the lens and put it back on. Nothing worked. We didn't get so much as a flicker from the camera. She didn't have her camera bag with her, so she didn't have another battery and was finished taking pictures for the evening. About 15 minutes later we went to a restaurant and she pulled out the camera, turned it on and the camera started right up. She spent 10 minutes looking at pictures on the camera, using the same battery, and it didn't run out of power. I have taken over 30,000 pictures with that camera, and I've never seen it do anything like that, before or since. After that we read that in some instances, people have trouble using their cameras or video cameras on the Gettysburg battlefield. The devices simply stop working, and then start working again when the people leave.
Trip #2 - Antietam Ghosts and Gettysburg Ghosts:
My wife took a variety of pictures of woods and other places around Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields. She pointed her camera into the West Woods at Antietam and took shots there, for example. She walked through the Wheatfield at Gettysburg one evening and took shots as well. The orbs showed up in these pictures, but not in the rest of the 1200 photos she took on the trip. What are orb pictures? The photo to the right, taken in Antietam's National Cemetery, shows two orbs, or circular spots on the image.
I'm very skeptical of the relevance of orb pictures, but after reviewing her pictures I can say this: 1) the orb patterns are not consistent from picture to picture, so this debunks the notion that the orbs are caused by spots on the lens or sensor. 2) I can see no light source or other cause for reflections on the lens to cause the orbs. 3) The orbs tended to show up on pictures she took in areas where great violence took place during the war or in cemeteries, and at times when she was relatively alone while picture-taking.
You can find some of our "orb shots" below..
While visiting Gettysburg, we stayed at the Cashtown Inn's Pender Suite. The Cashtown Inn is known as one of the most haunted B&Bs in the country, and was featured on the show Ghost Hunters.
The first night, we went to bed at midnight. Almost immediately, we started hearing creaking sounds from the living room area, like someone was walking slowly through that room. We also heard a variety of noises above us, ranging from doors closing, feet stepping and an odd scraping sound like what you'd hear when you pull a drawer slowly from an old desk. The problem is, there is no upstairs over the Pender Suite. It's located in a one story wing of the Inn. These noises were loud and this went on for 20 minutes before it stopped. I finally went to sleep. My wife stayed awake after that and she heard someone running down the hallway outside our door. We are both kicking ourselves for not recording anything this night. I think we were both freaked out by what we were hearing.
The second night we were ready with a video camera and an Ipod recorder. And naturally we didn't have as much going on. We went to bed about 11:00. The noise started right away. We heard nothing overhead, but we did hear the creaking sounds from the living room. The noises are faint, but they can be heard on our tapes. Ultimately we will digitize the recordings and put them on this page.
Those were our experiences. I have absolute confidence that my wife honestly related her experiences to me and she has reviewed this text and confirmed that I have documented her experiences correctly. I have accurately described my experiences as well. Whether or not you believe in the possibility of ghosts, you have to admit that if you experienced these events, the hair on the back of your neck would stand up!
Here are some of the "orb shots" we took on our trip:
of the above shot in the next three images:
this detail shot we see a red dot - this was replicated in many other images at
the exact same place so we are excluding it:
of the above shot:
Civil War Trip Reports
Civil War trip report (general notes) - Many of our observations applied to more than one battlefield or to the trip in general. This was particularly true with regards to planning and booking the trip and the items we brought with us on our vacation. Rather than duplicate those comments in the Antietam, Harpers Ferry and Gettysburg trip reports, I've included a separate page for these general comments here.
Antietam National Military Park trip report - We spent one and a half days touring Antietam National Military Park. Read this trip report to learn about our cabin, a great restaurant . . . to avoid, suggestions for improving your visit, and much more.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park trip report - We visited Harpers Ferry National Historical Park for a half day. While we weren't there for too long, we still had a good time and identified several tips and observations that might help you as you plan for your vacation.
Gettysburg National Military Park trip report - We made two trips to Gettysburg. The first was an overnight stay as part of our June 2009 vacation to Washington DC with our two 16 year-old boys. We all loved it there and when we got home, my wife and I planned a second trip for the two of us in July 2009. We devoted a great deal of time to the Gettysburg battlefield and came up with several tips and suggestions that should help you save time, money and mix-ups on your vacation.
Vicksburg National Military Park trip report - We spent a fast two days in Vicksburg to travel the battlefield in March, 2010. We spent a great deal of time traveling around the battlefield, and stayed overnight in Vicksburg. Good tip for a hotel, not so good experiences with restaurants unfortunately. But you can learn from our mistakes.
Living Civil War History - Civil War Reenactment in Jefferson, Texas - In May, 2010 we traveled to Living Civil War History a civil war reenactment in Jefferson, Texas. This trip report describes the event and provides reviews of two restaurants you don't want to miss.
Texas Civil War Museum - Fort Worth Texas - We have driven past this facility literally hundreds of times - it is within 10 miles of our house. Every time we see it, one of us will say to the other, "We need to check that place out - is it open?" Well, we finally broke down and went for a visit on February 27, 2010. Yes, it is open. We were pleasantly surprised at how nice it was inside too! Check out the trip report from the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
Civil War Travel Photographs
Antietam Battlefield travel photographs - The weather was somewhat uncooperative while in Antietam, but we still were able to get good shots of the Cornfield, Dunker Church, Bloody Lane (also called Sunken Lane) and the observation tower, Burnside's Bridge and around the Antietam Battlefield. You'll also find photographs of the log cabin where we stayed for this part of the trip.
Gettysburg Battlefield travel photographs - For our first vacation to Gettysburg we enjoyed terrific weather and captured location photos of all the famous places on the battlefield, including Devil's Den, the Triangular Field, Little Round Top, Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, The Angle, High Water Mark, Pickett's Charge, Seminary Ridge, McPherson's Ridge, etc. For our second vacation to Gettysburg I put a lot of effort into photographing the remarkable memorials. There are more than 1300 markers and memorials at Gettysburg and some of them are works of art - they made great photo subjects. We also took pictures of Quality Inn at General Lee's Headquarters (from the first trip) and the Cashtown Inn, (where we stayed for two nights on our second visit).
Harpers Ferry National Park travel photographs - We didn't spend a lot of time at Harpers Ferry, but we did get to see (and photograph) The Point, John Brown's fort, the view from Thomas Jefferson's Rock, the High Street historical district, etc.
Vicksburg National Military Park travel photographs - We spent a fast two days in Vicksburg to travel the battlefield there. While there we photographed the Coca Cola Museum, Vicksburg Murals, 3rd Louisiana Redan, African American Monument, Alabama Monument, Battery De Golyer, USS Cairo Ironclad Museum, Fort Garrott, Fort Hill, Graveyard Road, Illinois Monument, Iowa Monument, Kentucky Monument, Louisiana Monument, Marine - Navy Monument, Mississippi Monument, Missouri Monument, National Cemetery, Railroad Redoubt, Ransom's Gun Path, Rhode Island Monument, Shirley House, Surrender Site, Texas Monument, Thayer's Advance, General Tilghman Monument, Welcome Center, and the Wisconsin Monument.
Texas Civil War Museum - Fort Worth Texas - We have driven past this facility literally hundreds of times - it is within 10 miles of our house. Every time we see it, one of us will say to the other, "We need to check that place out - is it open?" Well, we finally broke down and went for a visit on February 27, 2010. Yes, it is open. We were pleasantly surprised at how nice it was inside too! Check out the photos from the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
Shiloh, Chickamauga, Point Park / Lookout Mountain and Stones River Battlefields - Tennessee - We spent a week in Tennessee in 2011. There are tons of Civil War places to visit here, and we went to four of them - Shiloh, Chickamauaga, Point Park / Lookout Mountain, and Stones River. We managed to get pictures of all the famous spots at these historic sites, including the Hornet's Nest (Shiloh), Shiloh Church, Snodgrass Hill (Chickamauga), Umbrella Rock (Point Park), and the Slaughter Pen (Stone's River). We also visited some other places, including Rock City, Ruby Falls and Falls Creek Falls.