Q: You even report on ghost stories from conflicts as recent as the war in Bosnia (1992-1995). What was the ghost experienced there?
A: I actually had some accounts come in from the current war in Iraq, but I didn’t include them in the book because the soldier who sent them in couldn’t name names, places, or times for obvious security reasons. Plus I didn’t think it was appropriate to make his account so generic that someone could accuse it of being made up.
In Bosnia, a United States soldier with the U.N peacekeeping force was on guard duty one evening in the Posovina Corridor when a lone Bosnian soldier walked up looking war-weary. The Bosnian soldier motioned for a cigarette which was given to him. The U.S. soldier lit the cigarette and then watched as the Bosnian man disappeared in an area full of snow and mud; he said there were no tracks.
What makes accounts from soldiers on guard duty so compelling is the gravity of the situation. When a soldier is on guard duty, the life of every one of his comrades inside his perimeter is in his hands. Guard duty is something one takes seriously, especially in a hot zone. This is just one unexplained account from Bosnia.
Q: Gettysburg is very often associated with ghost activity. Why do you think there are so many haunting reports coming from that area?
A: Two reasons. First, there was indeed a huge battle fought there, and tens of thousands died in a very short period of time. I don’t consider myself psychic, but when you walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, you feel the significance of the place. That significance is part of the location. It’s what some would call “the spirit of place.” When you walk through Gettysburg knowing what took place where you’re standing, and when you feel the awesome power of the location (the sense of history and of loss), I believe you’re simply more in tune with anything beyond the ordinary that may just be lurking (whether that be residual or active).
The second reason is that ghost sightings tend to compound, meaning so many ghost accounts have been reported in the area that many people believe it to be haunted. And when you go looking for ghosts, sometimes you just might find them, which only adds to the legend and haunted reputation.
Q: What’s the most startling report you’re heard about Gettysburg?
A: There have been many, but one that stands out quite a bit comes from David Hoover, who was in the area of Iverson’s Pits back in 2000. While walking back to his car through the cornfield there, Hoover noticed a soldier walking parallel to himself. It’s nearly impossible to walk through a cornfield without making any sound, and Hoover immediately noted the strange silence. But the silence was soon broken by what he described was something like a baseball bat whacking the cornstalks. The soldier had now disappeared, and the loud banging sounded close and violent. He collected himself and asked permission to pass. When the banging stopped, he high-tailed it for his car and collected himself.
Q: Are the ghost and haunting reports that come out of war- and battle-related areas in any way different than, say, a haunted house?
A: Battle-related ghosts are a little different in that I think they are more a residual type of thing. When someone watches a regiment of soldiers march across a battlefield and then vanish, I don’t believe it’s likely that a group of souls got together to march once more. This type of event is either in the head of the witness, perhaps some kind of time slip, or simply an impression left on the location that some people are able to pick up on.
Q: Who are ghosts of some of the more famous people you cover in the book?
A: There are several notable characters from history who make an appearance in Ghosts of War: Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad the Impaler (also the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Guy Fawkes, General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, General James Longstreet, and Captain Henry Wirz, just to name a few.
Q: Speaking of Gettysburg, you have a huge ghost conference taking place there this summer. Can you tell us about that?
A: We’re planning the Ghost World Conference in Gettysburg July 20-22, 2007 at the Wyndham Hotel and Convention Center in Gettysburg. It’s going to be a conference, trade show, workshop, paranormal awards ceremony, and symposium all rolled into one busy weekend. We’re trying to bring the paranormal community together to talk about how we can work together better, how we can leave a legacy bigger than ourselves or our own groups, and to learn from some of the leading names in the field of paranormal research.