Posted on September 2, 2019
Top Ten Most Haunted Places in Gettysburg
Gettysburg is one of the most haunted locations in the United States, plagued by almost 150 years of intense paranormal activity. This little town was the site of the bloodiest and arguably most important battle in the Civil War, which turned the tide in favor of Union forces. However, both sides of the battle took enormous losses, and it’s estimated that anywhere between 46,000 and 51,000 men were wounded, killed or went missing during the three day battle. The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most gruesome chapters in United States history, and there’s no doubt that the little town that was used as a staging grounds for such bloodshed has been irrevocably marked by darkness.
Now Gettysburg is one of the most-visited battlefields in the US, seeing hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Many tourists come in search of the ghosts which are said to still roam the battlefield, but the city itself is also home to a host of haunted sites. Here are the top ten most haunted locations in Gettysburg, PA!
#10: Hoffman Mansion
Like many private homes and estates in Gettysburg, the Hoffman Mansion was converted into a makeshift field hospital as the battle reached its grounds. It’s thought that the spirits of Union soldiers still take up residence in the mansion, and visitors to the site have reported hearing disembodied voices and seeing apparitions of soldiers.
It’s also rumored that the daughter of the man who owned the mansion hanged herself in the attic after learning that her lover had been unfaithful to her. Her spirit is said to occupy the attic space in particular and makes appearances in photos as orbs or other light anomalies. The Hoffman Mansion can be rented out for private ghost hunts for those looking for a different kind of tourist attraction in Gettysburg!
#9: Gettysburg Hotel
One of the town’s most paranormally active inns, the Gettysburg Hotel is thought to be home to a spirit affectionately known as Rachel. Both guests and employees of the hotel believe Rachel is the spirit of a Civil War nurse, and many people have reported seeing an apparition of a woman running down the stairs as if to help someone in need. Others have reported having drawers in their rooms opening or their belongings being rifled through. One hopes that these occurrences are the work of a spirit and not a thief, though!
#8: Sachs Covered Bridge
Designated Pennsylvania’s “Most Historic Bridge,” this scenic covered bridge is rumored to be where three Confederate soldiers were hanged for attempting to desert during the Battle of Gettysburg. Desertion was common during the Civil War as most soldiers had never experienced battle before and were often far too young even to enlist. Stephen Crane’s famous novel The Red Badge of Courage deals with the topic of desertion and describes in detail the all-consuming terror soldiers experienced at the hands of their fellow countrymen.
Sachs Covered Bridge is said to be guarded by the spirits of the soldiers who were hanged there, and many people have reported a feeling of uneasiness at the site. Others have witnessed full-body apparitions of a soldier pacing along the bridge’s length.
#7: The Daniel Lady Farm
Used as a Confederate field hospital during the battle, the Daniel Lady Farm has retained astonishing evidence of its gruesome history throughout the decades. There are bloodstains from amputated limbs and even bloody fingerprints visible in the woodwork around the home, and in the barn area one can find initials and other graffiti carved into the beams by Confederate soldiers. Forensic testing proved the legitimacy of the bloodstains in the house, and cadaver dogs have confirmed the presence of graves around the farm.
Both the house and the barn still show signs of structural damage attained during the battle, and many believe that the farm is the site of several hauntings. The upstairs area of the home is believed to be particularly active, and historical records tell us that when the Lady family returned to the farm after the battle, they discovered the body of a dead Confederate soldier still lying in one of the upstairs bedrooms…
#6: The Jennie Wade House
The Jennie Wade House occupies a unique place in Gettysburg’s history. Jennie Wade was a 20 year-old seamstress living in Gettysburg around the time of the battle. Her sister had given birth just a few days before the fighting broke out, and Jennie came to stay at her sister’s house—both because it was considered to be on the safer end of town, away from the fighting, and to help take care of the newborn baby. Historical records tell us that on the morning of July 2, 1863, Jennie was downstairs making bread for the family when a stray Confederate bullet came through two separate doors and hit her in the back, piercing her heart and killing her. Her family wrapped her body in a quilt and carried her to the basement of the home where she lay until the fighting ceased.
Jennie was the only civilian to die in the entirety of the Battle of Gettysburg. Her family buried her temporarily in the front yard of the house before moving her to a cemetery almost half a year later, and then to another cemetery some years after that. The sudden, violent manner of her death and the multiple disturbances to her grave are believed to have contributed to the hauntings at the Jennie Wade House, and many visitors to the site have reported being pushed, scratched, and pinched by an unseen force.
#5: Gettysburg College
Many of the historic buildings around the city were used as emergency hospitals and morgues during the Battle of Gettysburg, and Gettysburg College is no exception. Both Confederate and Union soldiers took up residence in the college’s Pennsylvania Hall, transforming it into a makeshift hospital. Untold scores of men died from battle wounds, infection, and illnesses on the college’s grounds, so it’s no wonder the school has experienced subsequent hauntings and paranormal energies.
Many students and professors have reported paranormal activity such as objects going missing or being moved, flickering lights, and sensing negative energies, but there have also been numerous reports of seeing full-bodied apparitions of soldiers around the college. However, it’s not only spirits of soldiers which are purported to wander Gettysburg College. The campus is also home to a spirit known as the “Blue Boy,” an orphan who froze to death one winter’s night while seeking shelter at the college. Many students have reported seeing the face of the Blue Boy in the windows of one of the college’s dorms on cold winter nights.
Speaking of orphans, that leads us to number four…
#4: The Children’s Orphanage
Originally known as the National Homestead at Gettysburg, this orphanage was one of many built across the country in response to the thousands of children who were orphaned by the Civil War. The Gettysburg Children’s Orphanage was built with good intentions and had a promising start, but when the headmistress was replaced by a woman named Rosa J. Carmichael, things took a turn for the worst.
Rosa Carmichael devised horrific punishments for the children living at the orphanage, even going so far as to create a dungeon in the basement where she chained misbehaving children to the walls and kept them locked up for days without food or water. Worse still was “The Pit”—a small, lightless crevice in the dungeon where children were forced to stay as punishment. Many believe the orphanage is haunted by the spirits of children who died from disease and malnourishment, while others believe it is Rosa Carmichael herself who still haunts the grounds of the Children’s Orphanage. Regardless, the orphanage is one of the most chilling sites in all of Gettysburg.
#3: Little Round Top
At this strategic point in the battlefield area of Gettysburg, it’s rumored that the spirit of George Washington appeared before Union soldiers twice—once to lead them in the right direction before the fighting started and a second time in the heat of battle to spur them onwards.
The division commander testified to the President’s ghostly appearance, saying “We know not what mystic power may be possessed by those who are now bivouacking with the dead. I only know the effect, but I dare not explain or deny the cause. Who shall say that Washington was not among the number of those who aided the country that he founded…”
Little Round Top was also known as the “Valley of Death” and the “Slaughter Pen” because of how many men lay decomposing where they fell for months after the battle had ended. Little Round Top is thought to be one of the more paranormally active areas of the battlefield because of the intensity of the fighting that occurred there and the sheer number of men who fell in the heat of battle.
#2: Gettysburg National Cemetery
The site of almost 4,000 Civil War graves, Gettysburg National Cemetery is one of the most paranormally active sites in the entire city. After the battle, thousands of soldiers’ bodies lay decomposing across the farmlands of Gettysburg. Many soldiers had been buried where they fell on the battlefield, marked only by a wooden board. Rain and wind began uncovering remains across the city, and fearing the spread of disease, the residents of Gettysburg called for a proper cemetery to be created. Reburial work began around four months later.
Gettysburg National Cemetery was erected as a Union/Federal burial place, while the bodies of Confederate dead were left to their impromptu graves until Southern veterans’ societies were able to begin reburial procedures in the 1870s, moving the soldiers’ bodies to cemeteries across the South. The violent, terrible manner of so many men’s deaths combined with the long interim between death and proper burial is thought to have made the cemetery a highly active paranormal location.
The cemetery is also where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address, and as he himself noted in the speech, “We cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”
#1: The Devil’s Den
The site of heavy casualties and fierce fighting, the Devil’s Den is a rock formation that’s believed to be the most paranormally active location in the entire Gettysburg battlefield. Some reports say the site is named “Devil’s Den” because it was rumored that the Devil, taking the form of a massive snake, lived deep inside the rock formation. More than 2,000 men perished in the battle as they fought to take possession of the Devil’s Den, and it’s believed that site is now home to several restless spirits.
The most commonly reported paranormal experience at the Devil’s Den is that cameras inexplicably lose all battery power or short out when visitors try to take a picture. Many believe there is a spirit who dislikes photographs being taken at the site, and others claim that the spirit belongs to a Confederate soldier whose body was heartlessly staged in different positions around the battlefield by a Civil War photographer. Historians discovered that many of the photos taken around the Devil’s Den were staged after seeing multiple pictures of the same soldier posed in various positions around the site. As one of the Gettysburg Battlefield park rangers put it, “If there’s a disgruntled spirit in Devil’s Den that has animus toward photographers, it certainly would be this guy.”
Civil War soldiers still walk among us…
Gettysburg was witness to an incomprehensible amount of death, suffering, and violence during those three days in 1863. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe that so much darkness has left an indelible mark on this little scenic town. If you happen to be passing through one of America’s most important battle sites, be sure to check out these top ten haunted locations and see for yourself if Gettysburg has earned the title of “Most Haunted Place in America.”
Daniel Lady Farm: https://www.destinationgettysburg.com/members/the-daniel-lady-farm.asp
Gettysburg College: https://www.collegeconsensus.com/rankings/most-haunted-colleges/
Children’s Orphanage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Homestead_at_Gettysburg
Little Round Top: https://ghostsofny.com/2017/02/21/536/
Gettysburg National Cemetery: https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/pennsylvania/gettysburg_national_cemetery.html