The Civil War is still by far the bloodiest war in America’s history. An estimated 620,000 Americans lost their lives–two percent of the population at the time. It should be no surprise that so many ghostly legends have their origins in that conflict.
This collection of boulders on top of a hill in Pennsylvania was called the Devil’s Den even before the Battle of Gettysburg. During the war, it earned the nickname of Slaughter Pen because so many men died there. On the second day of the battle, some 8,000 soldiers fought for this hill. At the end of the battle, 3,000 were dead and a nearby creek literally ran red with blood. Many ghosts are said to haunt the area today, but the most famous is a barefoot, shabbily dressed man in a floppy hat who has been known to give directions to startled visitors, pointing and telling them, “What you’re looking for is over there.”
Confederate General Pierre P.T. Beauregard moved into this mansion in New Orleans’ French Quarter in 1865 immediately after the war. It is not just the general himself who is said to haunt the house. On certain nights, visitors say the Battle of Shiloh is fought once more in the main hall, complete with mangled bodies of men, mules and horses and the smell of gunpowder, blood and death. The Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee was a major battle of the Civil War. It began with a surprise attack by Confederate forces. In the end, General Beauregard was defeated by Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Both sides suffered heavy losses.
Although Fort Monroe is located in Virginia, this fort was held by Union forces throughout the Civil War. After the war, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned there for two years. His ghost is just one of several said to haunt the fort today. Davis walked the ramparts of the fort daily while he was a prisoner so his wife, who had moved to a house nearby, could get a glimpse of him. He is said to continue his vigil on the ramparts to this day.
The White House
The White House claims several spectres, but Abraham Lincoln’s ghost is the most famous. Many guests at the White House have reported hearing his footsteps outside the Lincoln Bedroom (actually Lincoln’s office), and more than a few have seen the president himself.
The first reported sighting was by First Lady Grace Coolidge who said she saw the president in the Yellow Oval Room staring out at the Potomac. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands reportedly fainted when she heard a knock on her bedroom door and opened it to find the president’s ghost in his trademark top hat and frock coat. Theodore Roosevelt, Maureen Reagan, and Winston Churchill are other notable guests who reportedly got a glimpse of Lincoln’s ghost. Churchill is said to have exchanged some polite words with the spectre, but most visitors didn’t have his sang froid. Eleanor Roosevelt’s secretary reportedly ran screaming when she saw Lincoln putting on his boots. Eleanor Roosevelt herself never saw Lincoln’s ghost but said she often felt his presence in the house.
Related: Honest Abe’s Not-So-True Crime Tale
About 1,000 Confederate soldiers and 300 Union soldiers lost their lives in the Battle of Kolb’s Farm, fought near Marietta, Georgia. By Civil War standards, that makes it only a minor skirmish. The original farmhouse still stands, but it seems the restless dead prefer a more modern housing development called Kolb Ridge Court which was built on land that once belonged to the farm. At least three families in Kolb Ridge Court have discovered Civil War soldiers walking through their homes. One family even claimed that a ghost had moved into their guest room.
Featured photo: Hulton Archive / Getty Images; Additional photo: Amy the Nurse / Flickr (CC)
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