THE PHANTOM OF DEVIL’S DEN
There is a large, distinctive outcropping of rock in one section of the Gettysburg battlefield known as Devil’s Den. Dozens of ghost sightings have been reported here by tourists over the years. One of the most well-known is that of a barefoot man dressed in a butternut-colored shirt and floppy hat, which fits the description of a rag-tag unit from Texas who participated in the battle. Those who have met this spirit report that he always says the same thing: “What you’re looking for is over there” as he points toward the Plum Run. He then vanishes into thin air.
THE PHANTOM SURGERY
Mark Nesbitt, one of the foremost authorities and authors on the ghosts of Gettysburg, relates one of the area’s most gruesome experiences. Pennsylvania Hall at Gettysburg College has been the site of many Civil War era ghost encounters, but perhaps none can compare to what two college administrators saw one night.
One hundred years previous, the building had been used as a field hospital for many of the fierce battle’s wounded. But on this night, as the two administrators were taking the elevator from the fourth floor down to the first, the long-ago nightmare wasn’t even on their minds.
Inexplicably, the elevator passed the first floor and continued on to the basement. When the doors opened, the administrators could scarcely believe their eyes. What they knew to be storage space was replaced by a scene from the hospital: dead and dying men were lying about on the floor; blood-covered doctors and orderlies were rushing about chaotically, trying desperately to save their lives. No sound emanated from the ghastly sight, but both administrators saw it clearly.
Horrified, they frantically pushed the elevator button to close the doors. As the doors closed, they said, one of the orderlies looked up and directly at them, seeming to see them, and with a pleading expression on his face.
GHOSTS AS SACHS BRIDGE
Constructed in 1854 and originally known as Sauck’s Bridge, this 100-foot expanse over a creek not far from the battlefield also has its share of ghost encounters. One I’m very familiar with is told by Stacey Jones, founder and director of the Central New York Ghost Hunters. As I am affiliated with that group, I have heard Stacey recount this story many times, but she tells it best, perhaps, to our friend Jeff Belanger in his book, Ghosts of War.
Members of Stacey’s group were visiting Gettysburg in May, 2004 (this was before I joined the group). It was a warm Saturday night when they decided to venture out to Sachs Bridge to see if they could get some interesting photos or EVP. After they were there for awhile, a strange fog rolled in, seemingly out of nowhere. “And then we started seeing lights,” Stacey told Jeff. “They were coming from the field across from Sachs Bridge. These orange lights were coming from the ground and going up in an arch about 12 feet in the air and then coming back down again.”
The group then began to hear the sounds of neighing horses and what sounded like the distant rumble of cannon fire. “That lasted about 20 minutes,” Stacey said, “and then the fog disappeared and everything stopped.”
The group left the bridge, but seven returned later that night, thinking there might be more to experience. They weren’t wrong.
It began with people-sized shadows that seemed to be darting about in the field of tall grass across from the bridge. This was followed by a return of the arching orange lights that shot up from the grass, and then the unexplained smell of flowers and a penetrating cold. For a while, all was quiet. “There were no more shadow people,” Stacey recalls, “and no more lights, but we heard men’s voices out in the field. We couldn’t make out what they were saying. And we could hear movement in the tree line. The voices came right up beside us on the tree line... and then we started hearing the horses again.”
Finally, when members of the group heard the sound of a man growling quite close by, they hightailed it out of there.
Next page: Screams of Battle, Phantom on Horseback