We met on a field where tens of thousands had died. Eight o’clock rolled in, following a thunderstorm that left the skies low and dark. Our tour guide, wielding a lantern, greeted the group of twenty or so adventurers ready to walk across the historical burial site beneath our feet. We were a mix of men and women, young and old, teenagers, couples and families. Some of us were historians, others knew nearly nothing about the Civil War. Our guide introduced himself and gave us a short background on the field where we stood, waiting for ghosts to appear before us.
A fog crept in over the expanse of grass. We stood in place, trying to picture the scene as it might have been during the three-day blood bath that was the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. Picture it: a small town of 400 houses and a normal population of 2400 people suddenly swarming with 75,000 Confederate and 97,000 Union soldiers. They fought viciously. The Lutheran Theological Society, then a seminary, was turned into a makeshift hospital. Young men carried their fellow soldiers there for care. They had little to offer for comfort. Some held their friends down and put bullets in their mouths so they could “bite the bullet” as their limbs were amputated. The body parts piled up, reaching as high as the first floor windows of the makeshift hospital.
There was blood and pus, maggots and flies. It rained, and some of the injured soldiers drowned.
In that short period of time, approximately 40,000 young men died in battle, many of whom were brought to the lawn where we stood. When the battle was over, the bodies were buried in the fields surrounding the Seminary until it was later ordered that they be moved to proper burial ground. Officials will claim that every body was removed. It seems an impossible claim to make considering the incredible number of casualties. Surely some soldiers were left to rest here.
So it stands to reason that the fields where we stood were haunted.
We walked through Seminary Ridge with the Ghosts of Gettysburg Tour, listening to story after story of spirit sightings. We reached one point and I felt an inexplicable drop in temperature. Moments later, my husband and son walked past and said they felt it, too. We didn’t see any ghosts that night, but we felt them. It’s not hard to imagine that their spirits were still there on that foggy field where once, long ago, they’d lain dying.
Have you been to Gettysburg? Did you see any ghosts?