Spooky Spaces and Haunted Places
Military fright sites
October 30, 2013 by Mark Dye
When I was 9 years old I convinced my parents to let me watch the movie Alien. It had just come out on cable (back when that involved all of three channels) and I heard it was really spooky.
I had no idea.
While my nightmares stopped before my tenth birthday (but just barely), my love of being scared actually grew stronger. Whether it’s watching a creepy movie or while in a haunted house, I just love that being-on-the-edge sensation.
If you love military history and want a good fright, there are a number of places said to be haunted or full of unexplained mysteries.
Antietam—The American Civil War was the bloodiest in our history, and Antietam was perhaps the prime example of just how much. Taking place Sept. 17, 1863, along Antietam Creek in Maryland, the battle only lasted around four hours. During that time, more than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or listed missing. The worst was along a road now called “Bloody Lane,” a sunken dirt path that bore the worst of the fighting. There’s also the nearby St. Paul Episcopal Church, used as a Confederates hospital—legend says the floorboards are so stained in blood that even sandpaper can’t remove it. Today, people claim to hear gunfire and smell gunpowder, and some even report seeing spirits in the area.
Fort Meigs—This outpost was established by General (and later, President) William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812. Just south of Toledo, the fort was abandoned after the war and rebuilt in 1974 due to its historical significance. Since its reopening, many people have claimed to have heard cannon and musket fire, and have seen ghosts peering out of the windows. Some say these are the spirits of the some 500 dead British, Native American, and American soldiers buried in unmarked graves around and even underneath the fort.
Fort William Henry—This outpost, featured in the Last of the Mohicans, is located on Lake George in upstate New York, where it served during the French and Indian War. Given its history, it’s no surprise some professional ghost hunters call it one of the most haunted military locations in the nation (it was even featured on the TV show “Ghost Hunters”). Throughout the years there have been reports of strange goings on, from lights turning on and off, to hearing wind chimes despite there being no wind, to hearing unexplained footsteps. Given that the fort was home to a massacre during fighting between the Indians and British, some believe it is those spirits that haunt the grounds.
USS Hornet—The first USS Hornet was commissioned during the Revolutionary War, and seven more served our nation well. The eighth USS Hornet, however, is the one many consider the most haunted ship in the fleet. Commissioned in 1943, the eighth version was one of the most impressive ships in the Navy, destroying more than 1,400 Japanese aircraft and over one million tons of enemy shipping during World War II, and even recovering both the Apollo 11 and 12 astronauts. But that success has also come at a cost, with more than 300 people dying aboard ship (most in combat). Both the crew and visitors have reported many strange sights and sounds—doors opening and closing by themselves, objects that disappear or fall off shelves for no reason, even ghost sightings.
Cold Harbor—Another Civil War battle that featured extraordinary bloodshed, Cold Harbor was one of the greatest losses for the Union during the war, and general Ulysses Grant’s greatest regret. The battlefield itself is one of the most haunted sites, with locals around the area claiming to have heard the sounds of battle, including muskets, cannon, and even the screams of the fallen. One of the most interesting tales comes from across the street of the battlefield at the Garthwright House, which served as both a Union and Confederate hospital at different points during the battle. The residents at the time moved to the basement, where they could see the blood of the injured dripping through the floor. Today, the house and accompanying cemetery are supposedly haunted by the spirit of a young girl who allegedly fell out of the window of the home around the time of the war.
Ft. Leavenworth—Considered the most haunted location in the Army, there are several areas of the installation said to be harboring spirits. One such place is an elevator shaft used as a makeshift gallows after a prisoner uprising. Since then, those working near the shaft say they can sometimes hear screams coming from it. Another location is the Sutler House, in which a female ghost is sometimes seen, while still another is Tower 8 of the prison, responsible for many unexplained happenings through the years. And then there is the Rookery, which is said to be haunted by several ghosts. One is called The Lady in White, who was living in the home while her husband was off with the cavalry, and was tortured and killed during an attack by Native Americans on the post. Her apparition always looks the same: a white dress, with unkempt and long gray hair that screams at and chases anyone she sees. Another Rookery tale involves a former resident, Carlos Munoz, whose wife swears she saw Major Edmund A. Ogden, who once lived at the home during the mid-1800s. In fact, the Munoz family had so many odd experiences that they called in paranormal experts. More about them and their experiences can be found at http://youtu.be/Ho3u_Zj4AmM
T-43 Training Jet—Two mechanics were working on a T-43 training jet at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas several years ago when one of them went to check a light that hadn’t turned off at the back of the plane. The mechanic said that when he was halfway there, a blast of cold air hit him despite the air conditioning being turned off. He then saw a shadowy figure out of the corner of his eye—the man was sitting cross legged, with his hands on his knee. As one can imagine, the mechanic exited the plane as quick as possible. He shared the story the next day with a coworker, who made a call to a friend he knew who had worked on the same plane. It turns out that, in 1982, the plane’s crew chief had died of a heart attack while on a training flight. The mechanic is convinced that’s who he saw.
Gettysburg—The most famous battle of the Civil War has led to the most claims of hauntings and other odd happenings. In fact, it’s hard to find anyone who has been there who hasn’t claimed to have had…something happen. It might be at the Daniel Lady Farm, which served as a Confederate hospital and claims to have some 10,000 deceased soldiers haunting the grounds. Or maybe it’s at the Cashtown Inn, where the owners claim to have pictures of ghosts and visitors claim to hear strange and unexplained noises. Or still at the Gettysburg Hotel, where a Civil War nurse named Rachael is often seen, or even on the battlefields where many say they have heard sounds of a battle long since ended.
Most of these locations are open to the public and well worth a visit no matter the time of year—but especially around Halloween.
Photo Credits: Library of Congress, Wikimedia, College of History and Legal Studies, Via Wikimedia, Yahoo!