Gettysburg’s renown as one of the most haunted places in America is fairly recent, but the stories of Gettysburg’s paranormal activities are almost as old as the town itself. From Indian graveyards to phantoms spawned by the hideous three-day battle, Gettysburg is certainly knee-deep in ghostly legends that only add to its rich past. If you travel to Gettysburg, whether or not you are a believer in the paranormal, you will undoubtedly see and experience many things that are not easily explained.
Many historical houses in Gettysburg, mostly those existing before the great battle of 1863, are reputed to contain spirits of past residents. If you manage to book a tour of one of these venerable homes, you may want to arrive right at opening time since major attractions like General Lee’s Headquarters may be more crowded later in the afternoon.
Some buildings in Gettysburg have more than their fair share of ghosts, according to local paranormal enthusiasts. To name just a few:
1. General Lee’s Headquarters was owned by widow Mary Thompson in July 1863. Although many people believe General Lee slept in the house during the entire time it served as his headquarters, he actually made good use of a tent he had set up across the road, extremely close to the Union lines, in fact. The top floor of the old stone home dating from the late 1700s has been converted into apartments, and, for the right price, you can sleep above the rooms where General Robert E. Lee planned his next moves in the course of battle.
2. The Jennie Wade House was actually the home of Jennie’s brother-in-law, Louis McClellan, who shared the double home with the Isaac McClain family. Louis’ wife Georgia was Jennie’s elder sister. Jennie Wade, a young woman who was shot through the heart while providing nourishment for famished soldiers, is surprisingly not the presence many claim to feel most often here. The spirit is believed to be that of Jennie’s father who was absent for her childhood and whose life choices estranged him from his children. The basement in the Jennie Wade House is especially a dark and shadowy place; this is where Jennie was taken after death.
3. Farnsworth House Inn, owned during the battle by the Sweney family, is an old home dating from the early to mid-1800s. It is said that when construction begins on an old property, it opens the door to ghostly activity, and the Farnsworth House, now a respectable bed and breakfast, has been renovated quite a bit. You won’t be able to take a tour of the house unless you have reservations here, but if you can afford to stay at this terrific inn, you’ll be well rewarded. Many rooms are labeled as “haunted” and each have their own story to enchant you.
The battlefield itself is said to be home to thousands of spirits, ranging from singular figures like officers on horseback to columns and units of men marching together just as they did almost 150 years ago. Try visiting the battlefield just as it opens if you wish to avoid the crowds and experience the quiet, serene feeling that touches the heart. You may also want to visit when fog hangs over the fields.
Little Round Top is known to have an abundance of ghostly activity. You might be surprised at what you’ll find here. Pickett’s Charge even in the daytime is a daunting sight, but at nighttime it’s downright frightening. Thousands of men marched over this field into enemy fire; visitors have reported the feeling of being surrounded or of hearing strange noises that did not seem to come from the present.
Many will agree that Gettysburg has a purely different feeling in the evening than it does in the sunlit hours. At night, when all is quiet, a walk around the quaint town might help you to “meet” someone from the past.
Try taking a walk down Baltimore Street, where many haunted homes are located. Stop by the gates of Evergreen Cemetery. This is where Jennie Wade and many other people living during the Battle of Gettysburg are buried. If you feel a breeze or have a strange feeling you’re being followed, don’t chalk it up to an earthly visitor. Have your camera ready; you never know what you’ll find!