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Ghost Encounters at Gettysburg

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SCREAMS OF BATTLE

Possibly the most unnerving experience one can have at Gettysburg is actually hearing – by ear or by EVP recording – the echoes of that horrific battle and its ghostly cries of pain and death. Such was the memorable experience of Mary Adelsberger as told to authors Jack Bochar and Bob Wasel in their book, More Haunted Gettysburg: Eyewitness Accounts of the Supernatural.

Mary had gone to Gettysburg with her two grown daughters on a cold February evening. There was plenty of snow in the ground, but the three women were determined to brave the weather and visit the battlefield monuments. On Wadsworth Avenue, they found a marker that said “95th New York Infantry, July 1, 1863.” Almost immediately, they began to hear men’s voices in idle conversation, as though they were sitting around a campfire. Reluctantly, they chose to explore the woods to see if they could find the source of the voices. Suddenly, they heard a voice shout, “Get up! Get up! Go! Go!” followed by the command, “Charge!”

The women were terrified, to say the least, and ran out of the woods as quickly as their legs could carry them. Yet behind them they could hear the agonized cries of men, screaming and moaning.

Mary and her daughters retreated to their hotel but, astonishingly, decided to go back to the woods, even though it was 12:30 in the morning. “I agreed to go with them,” Mary said, “but with a couple of stipulations: we would drive, not walk; I would not get out of the car; and one of them had to promise to stay in the car with me at all times!”

With those conditions agreed to, Mary and her daughters drove back to Wadsworth Avenue. “Jen opened the car door,” Mary said, “stepped out, and before she even had a chance to close the door, I heard it – the most horrible, blood-curdling screams and moans that anyone could possibly imagine!”

That was all the women needed to speed away in their car, their faces wet with tears.

THE PHANTOM ON HORSEBACK

Did you know that George Washington is credited by some as helping the Union Army in one of its most decisive engagements at Gettysburg? Wait a minute... George Washington? He was a general during the Revolutionary War and died in 1799, well before the Civil War. Yet Washington – or rather his ghost – is said to have appeared to the 20th Maine Division as they approached Gettysburg.

En route to the battlefield, these soldiers reached a fork in the road and were unsure as to which direction to take. Suddenly, an imposing figure wearing a tri-cornered hat appeared on horseback to lead them. At first they thought he was a Union general, but noticed that both the man and his horse seemed to emit an eerie glow. Furthermore, some recognized the man as strongly resembling George Washington, whom they knew from his famous portraits. Hundreds of the soldiers verified that they had seen this phantom.

The ghost led the division of soldiers to a strategic position at Little Round Top, where they were able to repel a flank of Confederates.

So well-known became this report of Washington’s ghost that Secretary of War Stanton later conducted a formal investigation of the matter. In his testimony, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, who was in charge of the troops in question, said, “We know not what mystic power may be possessed by those who are now bivouacking with the dead. I only know the effect, but I dare not explain or deny the cause. Who shall say that Washington was not among the number of those who aided the country that he founded?”

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