The Gettysburg Hotel
Any avid paranormal enthusiast or anyone who hears Gettysburg’s name knows how historic and haunted the city is, but did you know that Gettysburg is home to Pennsylvania’s oldest hotel? Where else would it be, right? Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg Hotel was constructed in 1797 in the center of Lincoln Square and is just a couple of blocks away from the infamously haunted Gettysburg Battlefields. Many historians and people of the time tell that the monumental Battle of Gettysburg took place all over the city and not just on the designated battlefield. Due to a large number of casualties and injuries that the battle caused, any occupiable building was free game to become a field hospital or meeting spot for Gettysburg’s elite commanders. Even people with no medical experience were expected to tend to the injured, and anyone with a heartbeat was considered medical staff.
The nine-thousand square-foot Gettysburg Hotel started its run as a tavern on what is now Lincoln Square. A building of many names, it was built in 1797 by James Scott and was called ‘Scott’s Tavern,’ and in 1809, it was bought by William McClellan, a former York County sheriff. He renamed the tavern ‘The Indian Queen.’ After 1846, the tavern was known by Pennsylvania locals as the ‘McClellan House’ after its owners, the McClellan brothers.
During the heat of the summer of 1863, the building bore witness to one of the most pivotal moments during the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg. The hotel saw a lot of bloodshed and tragedy just a few blocks from its front doors. Abraham Lincoln is even said to have completed the Gettysburg Address right across the street at the Wills House.
The 1890s brought the hotel a revamp, and the building’s new owner named it The Gettysburg Hotel. The name stuck throughout the majority of the 20th century. By the time the 1900s arrived, the Gettysburg Hotel was ahead of its time with electric lights, hot and cold baths, steam heat, and an excellent restaurant built right in.
In 1955 it became a temporary White House to President Eisenhower as he recovered from a heart attack he had suffered while in Gettysburg. The President and his wife were the last guests of the hotel in 1964 before the hotel was closed. The building lay dormant and was unfortunately ravaged by a fire in 1983. It has long sat abandoned, a testament to the wild past of Gettysburg. It was, however, rebuilt in 1991 and offers guests over 119 rooms to choose from, as well as all of the modern conveniences of a larger hotel with that historic boutique setting. The hotel is now listed as one of the Historic Hotels of America and is protected.
Steps away from a massive graveyard, the Gettysburg Battlefield, Hotel Gettysburg, sits prominently in one of Pennsylvania’s most historical centers. Soldiers who were injured during this battle were actually brought to the hotel for medical treatment because, as like many buildings of its time, it was used as a makeshift hospital for wounded and dying soldiers. Doctors and nurses cared for thousands of reportedly injured men at the hotel. Many of them succumbed to their wounds right within the hotel’s walls. Hotel staff and guests alike have reported seeing apparitions of Civil War-time soldiers in the hotel’s halls, and one of the most popular ghouls is the spirit of Rachel, a Civil War nurse who cared for the wounded at the Gettysburg Hotel.
Guests tell of seeing a slim woman roaming the halls, seemingly searching for someone. She’s even known to rummage through and empty your dresser drawers and your luggage! The hotel is not her only stomping ground; she’s also been noticed walking the streets of Gettysburg looking for soldiers to tend to.
Two other apparitions are said to haunt the quaint hotel, a woman and a soldier, seen dancing hand-in-hand in the hotel ballrooms. While the identity of the young woman and her beau is unknown, one wonders who these two lovebirds could be. Perhaps a stay at the Gettysburg Hotel could answer the question for you, but don’t be surprised if you find your clothing strewn about your room because of Rachel!
The Gettysburg Hotel is nearby a few very haunted locations, such as Sach’s Covered Bridge, the site of one of Gettysburg’s nastiest haunts. This scenic bridge is rumored to be the place where three Confederate soldiers were hanged for attempting to desert the Battle of Gettysburg.
Nearby is also The Jennie Wade House, which was the home of a 20-year-old seamstress who lived in Gettysburg at the time. Her sister had just given birth a few days before the battle broke out, and Jennie came to stay at this house to get away from the dangers of the battlefield. Historical records state that on the morning of July 2nd, 1863, Jennie was downstairs making bread when a stray Confederate bullet came through two separate doors, hitting her in the back, piercing her heart, and killing her instantly. Her family wrapped her body in a quilt and carried her to the home’s basement, where she lay until the fighting finally ceased.
The Gettysburg Battlefield itself is also only a few blocks away from the Gettysburg Hotel. Said to be one of Pennsylvania’s most haunted locations, the entirety of the battlefield is drenched in blood. All across the battlefield come reports of malfunctioning electronics, apparitions, ghoulish sounds, drum beats, and disembodied voices. Some of the most haunted spots on the battlefield include Devil’s Den, which is ‘the name given to a rocky ridge covered in large boulders south of Gettysburg. On July 2nd, the Den would earn its keep as belonging to the Devil himself. On that second day of the battle of Gettysburg, the small area surrounding the rocky formations bear witness to intense fighting as part of General Robert E. Lee’s flank attacks. The Den was one of the few battles that were won by the Confederacy, and the battle for the Devils Den laid to rest 1,800 of their own soldiers, as well as 800 Union troops. The Den sits between a western running ridge and a marshy valley. Major Daniel Sickles decided last minute that the marshy fields were where they would stand their ground, which later became known as the ‘Slaughter Pen’ due to the lives taken, hidden in the tall grasses.
Today, the Den holds true to its name, clinging mercilessly to the souls that were claimed there. The boulders themselves hold marks of soldier foot traffic and gunfire. Visitors to the Den report seeing soldiers in Civil War uniforms appearing and disappearing as soon as they are spotted. Others have heard the resounding noise of cannon fire, running, screaming, gasps, and garbled words, described as if the spirit were choking on blood. ‘Other haunted locations on the battlefield are The Slaughter Pen and Triangular Field, which you can read about in-depth here.
Haunted History’s Favorite Hotel
Aside from all of the tragic deaths and negative energies, the Gettysburg Hotel is truly a wonderful place to lie your head after exploring the city of Gettysburg all day. Guests state that they do enjoy their stays, and some even leave with paranormal tales and souvenirs to bring home to their loved ones. Have you or anyone you know stayed at the Gettysburg Hotel? Did you witness Rachel running to the aid of some ghostly soldier?