Thursday, June 13, 2013
Ghosts of Gettysburg
The following is an account by someone who was a war reenactor who had an encounter, along with others, that he will never forget -
Without a doubt, what is one of the most amazing events in my life happened at Gettysburg. Not even the fact that almost twenty-five years have gone by, can dilute the memory.
I understand that the story has been making the rounds for some time. I even read a version of it published in one of the several booklets having to do with phenomena on the battlefield. What I heard and read is not the correct and full version of the story. So, after some prompting by others and careful consideration, I decided to tell the story just as it happened and set the record straight.
The story begins on a Friday evening on a July 4th holiday. Two others and I were on our way to Gettysburg to take part in a small reenactment and encampment. As we all had to work that day, we got a late start. We didn’t leave New Jersey until nine o’clock.
After stopping for gas and a late dinner we arrived at Gettysburg at 1 in the morning. The fact that it was the first time I had ever been there, and the fact that it was dark; held me spellbound as I observed the silhouettes of the cannons and monuments. I was impressed!
We parked in the lot over by where the National Tower used to be, and changed in to our newly purchased uniforms. The three of us began to make our way down the road to where the encampment was; by Meade’s Headquarters on Taneytown Road and Hunt Ave.
Our reproduction brogans with their metal heel plates made a “clack-clack-clack” sound with each step we took down the poorly maintained road towards the encampment.
Let me digress here by stating that it was a beautiful evening. It was cool, but not uncomfortably so, being July. The moon was full and not a cloud was in the sky.
As we walked down the road a thick, a white mist coalesced some distance in front of us. None of us thought it strange. Rather, we were curious as we watched first one then two other figures walk out of the mist toward us.
The figures got closer; close enough to us to where we should have been able to pick out clothing details and features. But all we saw were just silhouettes of the darkest ebony.
It didn’t dawn on any of us that something was amiss. At least; not then. We just watched the figures turn around to walk in the direction they seemingly came from, only to disappear around the bend up the road.
Not quite knowing how far down the road the encampment was, we thought we might hurry up around the bend and ask these guys how much further we had to walk. But, of course, when we rounded the bend, no one was there.
Our first reaction was that someone was playing a game with us. Where could they have gone? We looked carefully around the immediate area thinking that three reenactors would pop up out the darkness, laughing when they scared the crap out of us.
I then pointed out that I thought it was strange that the figures made absolutely any sort of noise moving down the road; that all we saw were dark figures. Refusing to jump to any sort conclusion that would make us look ridiculous, we decided that there had to be some sort of logical explanation. Those three were somewhere, and we were going to find them. We decided to walk back to the car and retrace our footsteps.
Once more, we moved down the road; this time in a column some distance apart. I was the second man in the group, and watched the first guy disappear around the bend. A moment later he called out to me telling me to come quickly.
As I rounded the bend I could see three figures leaning against the post and rail fence ahead, on the left side of the road, smoking. We could see the small, bright orange dots of light.
The two of us ran back to hurry the last guy along, but when the three of us rounded the bend in the road, the three figures were gone once again!
I suggested we walk up to the fence to see if we could see them lying down in the field that it bordered, trying to hide. When I walked up to the fence I noticed that it had wide-gauge chicken wire stapled to the outside of it. That meant, of course, that the figures would have to be leaning through the chicken wire! I pointed this out to the others. We just stood there for a few moments staring at each other. It had now become very apparent that we had witnessed something very unusual.
Wordlessly, we moved down the road to where we could finally see the dying embers of the campfires. A sentry stood by a fire on the edge of the road.
“Hey. What’s up? Anyone about?”
“No. Everyone is in camp, asleep.” He replied.
“Really!” I said as I looked at the others. “We’ll be back with our stuff in a bit.”
With that we turned around and walked in the direction of the parking lot. Passing the field on our right, the three of us drifted up to the fence. We peered in to the field and discussed we had we had just seen.
Just as we turned to heads back towards the station wagon, I heard some noises in the grass in front of us.
“Guys! Do you hear that?”
We all peered in to the grass. Our eyes must have bulged out of their sockets as we watched an invisible presence creating a line of footprints in the grass. We screamed curses to make a sailor blush as we bolted up the road toward the lot and the supposed safety of the station wagon.
It turned in to a footrace.
The three of us knew that there was only room for two to stretch out in the wagon. One of us was going to lose and be forced to sleep outside on a cot. Yours truly lost the race.
Several years later, one of the guys and myself took a couple of local women to the site.
As we were pointing out the various locations and explaining just what we observed one of the women spoke up.
"Do you smell that?" she said sniffing the air.
The other woman replied that she was smelling something also and that it was becoming really strong.
The other guy and myself could smell nothing. The odor became really strong to the point that one of the women began retching.
In between gasps for air she said, "I know that smell! I used to work in a hospital and that is the smell of ether!"
At that point I could begin to smell something as well! Interestingly enough, the other guy with me did not smell anything at all. Of course, ether hasn't been used in large amounts since the battle; and what smelled like pure ether at that!
What is more is that site may have been the location or near the location of a 2nd Corps Hospital!
at 2:30:00 AM