Gettysburg Encounters: Real Encounters With Civil War Soldiers

Terrifying Reports From One of America's Most Haunted Places

Photo: Tetra images / Getty Images

Gettysburg, a town in Pennsylvania, is one of the most haunted areas in the United States. During its three days of intense battle ending on July 3, 1863, more than 7,800 brave Union and Confederate soldiers lost their lives and tens of thousands more were wounded and crippled. It’s no wonder that hundreds upon hundreds of ghostly encounters have been reported at this National Military Park.

Gettysburg Ghosts

Tourists and ghost hunters have snapped photos with enigmatic images, dozens of fascinating EVP recordings have been made and one of the most interesting and compelling ghost videos was shot there.

Below are just a few of the most haunted locations in Gettysburg.

The Farnsworth House Inn

It’s been called one of the most haunted inns in America. Built in 1810, this brick structure is said to be the dwelling place of several Civil War-era ghosts, and many people – both staff and guests alike – can attest to strange goings-on there.

Guests at the hotel have reported to feeling their bed shake or jolt in the middle of the night, without obvious cause. Others have claimed to see figures walking throughout the inn and even have said to hear doors slam without explanation.

Little Round Top

Civil War battles have been the subject of many motion pictures, but one of the best and most moving was 1993’s Gettysburg. During the filming of that movie, much of which was done right on location at the actual battlefields, some of the participants had an unexplained encounter. Because the film required so many extras to serve as soldiers, the production hired re-enactors to portray the Union and Confederate armies.

During a break in filming one day, several of the extras were resting at Little Round Top and admiring the setting sun. They were approached by a grizzled old man, whom they described as wearing a ragged and scorched Union uniform and smelling of sulfur gunpowder. He talked to them about how furious the battle was as he passed around spare rounds of ammunition, then went on his way.

At first, the extras assumed he was part of the production company, but their minds changed when they looked closely at the ammunition he gave them. They took the rounds to the man in charge of giving out such props for the movie, and he said they did not come from him. It turns out the ammunition from the strange old man were genuine musket rounds from that period.

Devil's Den

There is a large, distinctive outcropping of rock in one section of the Gettysburg battlefield known as Devil’s Den. Dozens of ghost sightings have been reported here by tourists over the years. One of the most well-known is that of a barefoot man dressed in a butternut-colored shirt and floppy hat, which fits the description of a rag-tag unit from Texas who participated in the battle. Those who have met this spirit report that he always says the same thing: “What you’re looking for is over there” as he points toward the Plum Run. He then vanishes into thin air.

The Phantom Surgery

Mark Nesbitt, one of the foremost authorities and authors on the ghosts of Gettysburg, relates one of the area’s most gruesome experiences. Pennsylvania Hall at Gettysburg College has been the site of many Civil War era ghost encounters, but perhaps none can compare to what two college administrators saw one night.

One hundred years ago, the building had been used as a field hospital for many of the fierce battle’s wounded. But on this night, as the two administrators were taking the elevator from the fourth floor down to the first, the long-ago nightmare wasn’t even on their minds.

Inexplicably, the elevator passed the first floor and continued on to the basement. When the doors opened, the administrators could scarcely believe their eyes. What they knew to be storage space was replaced by a scene from the hospital: dead and dying men were lying about on the floor. Blood-covered doctors and orderlies were rushing about chaotically, trying desperately to save their lives. No sound emanated from the ghastly sight, but both administrators saw it clearly.

Horrified, they frantically pushed the elevator button to close the doors.

As the doors closed, they said, one of the orderlies looked up and directly at them, appearing to see them with a pleading expression on his face.

Sach's Bridge

Constructed in 1854 and originally known as Sauck’s Bridge, this 100-foot expanse over a creek not far from the battlefield also has its share of ghost encounters.

A group of paranormal investigators ventured out to Sach's Bridge to see if they could get interesting photos or recordings. While they were there, a strange fog filled the air, and the group saw lights from across the field.

They then heard sounds of neighing horses and cannon fire, which lasted for over 20 minutes. As the last canon fired, the fog lifted.

The group left the bridge, but seven returned later that night, thinking there might be more to experience.

The experience got even more terrifying; they saw shadow people darting by and heard men's voices. When they heard growling and the sounds of battle, they finally left.

Screams of Battle

Possibly the most unnerving experience one can have at Gettysburg is actually hearing – by ear or by EVP recording – the echoes of that horrific battle and its ghostly cries of pain and death.

People have reported hearing battle cries and charges, followed by the agonized cries of men screaming and moaning. It can sound like people are dying all around you.

Gettysburg saw one of the bloodiest battles in our nation's history, so it is understandable that Gettysburg ghosts are so common.