The battle at Gettysburg lasted three days and turned into one of the bloodiest battles in history, leaving both the union and confederate armies diminished and over 50,000 dead on the field. In a war that pit neighbors and even brothers against each other, it is not hard to imagine the spirits of those who were torn so suddenly and violently from their mortal vessels continue to roam the last land they saw.
Visitors report hearing war drums and even gunshots throughout Gettysburg National Military Park. Soldiers have been seen marching in formation all around the field, and some ghosts haunt specific spots as well.
Little Round Top was a lookout site atop a hill that granted union soldiers a view of the battlefield. A headless horseman has been reported to roam the area. Is he still holding vigil for his troops, or perhaps searching for the head he lost in battle. Extras in the film “Gettysburg” tell of taking a break at Little Round Top and being approached by a haggard and dirty man dressed in a union uniform. The man reportedly said, “Rough one today, eh boys?” and gave the extras a handful of musket rounds. When the actors gave the rounds to the propmaster for the movie, he told them they were not props. The rounds were later authenticated as original rounds, over 100 years old.
Devil’s Den falls west of Little Round Top, and has been called the slaughter field since so many men died there. The huge pile of boulders and rocks were the scene of intense fighting, mostly between troops from Texas and Georgia. After the confederacy retreated, the soldiers who were left to gather the dead threw the corpses that were already too rotten to bury into the rocks, never to be properly laid to rest. Photographers who documented the battle scene in 1863 moved the body of one soldier to make his death scene more dramatic. Visitors who try to take pictures in the area experience malfunctions with their equipment; a few have reported the cameras knocked from their hands by an invisible force. Is it the ghost of the soldier whose final resting place was disturbed to make for a better photo? One ghost, known to paranormal investigators as “the hippie” has appeared to many visitors. He wears a large floppy hat and ragged clothing and is thought to be part of a group of Texan soldiers who were not properly outfitted with uniforms for the battle. He tells the people to whom he appears, “What you’re looking for is over there,” and points off in the distance to the area known as Plum Run before he vanishes. The ghost is so friendly and convincing, tourists often mistake him for a Civil War re-enactor and take pictures with him, only to find he is not in the developed photos.
“In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear, but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls.”
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain,
Speaking at the dedication of the Monument to the 20th Maine,
October 3, 1889, Gettysburg, PA