If ghost tales give you the shivers. . . if a dark autumn evening is more chilling than crisp, Gettysburg is the place to be in October. A sense of history always hangs over this charming Pennsylvania community, due in large part to the efforts made to preserve the battlefield and the buildings in town that witnessed history during July 1863.
Like any place where significant events occurred, spirits remain. Walking in downtown Gettysburg, it is easy to picture what life was like when Union and Confederate soldiers collided here in the most pivotal battle of the Civil War.
Regardless of whether you believe spirits walk among us, there are riveting stories of the soldiers who fought and died here, and what Gettysburg citizens lived through during the three days of battle. Makeshift hospitals, a civilian casualty, destroyed homes and farms were all part of the true story of the battle and its aftermath.
And, over the years, locals and visitors alike have claimed to see, and sense, these events. Glowing orbs spied at spots on the battlefield, or even smelling gunpowder, all make up part of the stories and experiences that paranormal tours tap into for Gettysburg visitors.
Numerous sightings have been reported over the years at the Jennie Wade House, which was home to the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. Or Sachs Covered Bridge, which was used by both sides during the conflict and is where visitors have reported seeing ghostly apparitions and even hearing the voices of soldiers.
When the Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1st of 1863, 20-year-old Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade and her mother stayed at the home of her sister, Georgia Anna. While baking bread for the Union troops, a stray bullet passed through two doors striking and killing Jennie Wade. Jennie was the only civilian killed in this bloody 3-day battle, and she was remembered as a martyr to the cause, an example of courage and patriotism.
The home is said to be haunted by several spirits, including Jennie herself. Her apparition has been captured in photographs. Others smell fresh bread baking, an activity she was doing went she died. Visitors tell of feeling a strong gust of cold air when they climb to the second floor of the home and of hearing loud, unexpected bangs. Some have even felt the arms of a young child hug their legs, refusing to let go.
The Sachs Covered Bridge is yet another on the list of haunted structures found in Pennsylvania. Used by both Confederate and Union forces during the Battle of Gettysburg, the Sachs bridge served as the execution site for at least three Southern soldiers, providing the backdrop for the otherworldly activity said to take place there.
Since a vast majority of Union and Confederate soldiers were young men, there were instances that saw some of them attempt to abandon their posts and go into hiding.
One such occasion involved three Confederate troops who tried to evade the war by donning Union attire. Marching with the North near Sachs Covered Bridge, they were soon discovered as belonging to the South and were promptly made an example.
It’s argued as to whether they were spies or deserters. Regardless, the three young men were hanged from the bridge’s wooden support beams, ensuring that any Confederates passing through would see the executed men, thereby serving as a warning.
The Sachs Covered Bridge has become a hot spot for paranormal encounters. Its captivating beauty draws visitors to experience its mysterious charm. In the daylight, the bridge is truly a picturesque scene, with stunning streams of water and elegant wooden construction. Once under the cover of night, however, the atmosphere quickly changes to a rather scary setting.
Many witnesses claim seeing three disembodied heads floating on the bridge. Under the dim moonlight, other pictures have captured what appears to be the ghostly apparitions of the three Confederate soldiers.
The strong scent of cigar smoke has also been detected by guests, as if a soldier or general from years ago still patrols the area. Visitors have also been rattled by a tap on their shoulder, only to find that no one is there with them.
The rich history of Gettysburg has created an abundance of supernatural stories and spooky lore that intrigues and bewilders to this day. Tourists and lovers of the paranormal will find many locations to satiate their curiosities. If your goal is getting the living bejeebers scared out of you, visit one or more of these out-of-the way places on your own where the restless spirits of hundreds of soldiers and some townsfolk are said to still wander. You might hear the sound of hooves and frightened neighs of horses who fell victim during the battle’s carnage.