A Historical Haunt



Ghostly figures standing outside of the Ghostly Images Tours.

Kennedy Kosienski, Reporter

    Gunshots were fired, smoke filled the air, brother against brother, bearing their arms on a field of blood. This was the battle of Gettysburg. 156 years ago this gruesome event occurred only five hours away from what we call home. Resolving in just three days, the battle was known as the turning point for the Civil War for one specific reason —the strong Union in Gettysburg countered General Robert E. Lee’s plan to invade the north and force the war to an immediate end. With the losses of 23,000 Union soldiers and 28,000 Confederate soldiers, the event was known as the “bloodiest battle of the Civil War”. Due to the substantial number of casualties, many have claimed that the whole town of Gettysburg and its battlefields are haunted. Many of these haunted places are open to the public, especially for exhibits such as tours and late night ghost walks.

        Citizens never expected the war to move into the center of the town, yet several were forced to flee from their homes while others found themselves caught in the crossfire. Mary Virginia “Ginnie or Jennie” Wade, her mother, and a boarder were staying in her sister Georgia’s house with Georgia’s new baby when the battle began to close in on the town. Being supporters of the Union, the Wade family often provided soldiers with food and supplies throughout the battle. On the morning of July 3rd, Jennie read scripture from the Bible and spoke her last words to her family before going downstairs, “If there is anyone in this house that is to be killed today, I hope that it is me, as Georgia has that little baby.” Jennie went to the kitchen to make bread for some Union soldiers and only a half hour later, a stray Confederate musket ball struck her through the back, killing her instantly. 20 year-old Jennie Wade was the only civilian casualty in the whole battle of Gettysburg. Georgia’s house, now known as the “Jennie Wade House,” is located on Baltimore Street in the heart of Gettysburg, serving as a museum and tourist attraction in honor of Jennie’s supporting role in the war. Over 150 bullets holes, including the mistaken shot, remain visible in the side of the house, and there’s a rumor that many people have seen the spirit of young Jennie wandering around the house and near the countryside that she loved so dearly. Some have even seen her famous bread for the Union soldiers. 

      Devil’s Den is a ridge that displays several large boulders along the countryside of Gettysburg, just 500 yards west of Little Round Top. On July 2, 1863, the second day of the battle, the area around Devil’s Den witnessed intense fighting as a division of General Robert E. Lee’s flank attacked the Union. It was one of the few Southern successes in that day’s fighting. Total casualty estimates are over 800 for the Union and more than 1,800 among the Confederates. Because of the fate of the battle, many people have claimed that the rock formations have been cursed. According to The Washington Post, many envelopes have arrived at the Gettysburg National Military Park with an apologetic note and a few small rocks enclosed. “Please return these to Devil’s Den, we are sorry,” read park ranger Maria Brady. According to Brady, these notes of apologies appear about every three months and entail details of what the curse has done to them. These things include deaths, failures, loss of money, and relationship issues. Many others things that happen there are soldier sightings, a “happy hippy” that talks to visitors, cameras failing, and demonic voices being heard.

   On a lighter note, there are some friendlier ghosts that reside throughout the town. Matilda J. “Tillie” Pierce was a 15 year-old girl alive during the Battle of Gettysburg. Tillie and some friends left the town and went to what they thought would be a safe farmhouse during the battles . Jacob Weikert’s farmhouse was located at the base of Little Round Top. Throughout the battle, Tillie provided water and food to the soldiers and assisted the surgeons and nurses caring for the wounded. On July 7, 1863, she went back to her home. She said, “The whole landscape had been changed and I felt as though we were in a strange and blighted land.” She continued to help care for the wounded after the battle. Twenty-five years later, she wrote a book about her experiences during that time. “At Gettysburg, Or What A Girl Saw And Heard Of The Battle” is still in print today and available for purchase at the Inn. (Tillypierce.com)

The most haunted part of the “Tillie Pierce House” is the Blue Room. People have reported hearing footsteps above in the attic and there have been sightings of a girl sitting on the bed. There have also been sightings of a Union soldier. He is seen walking up the stairs, into the Blue Room, and then retreating down the stairs again; As if he was “patrolling” The house is located in downtown Gettysburg along the Trolley line and many tours are hosted in the house.

    Whether it’s a friendly ghost cooking bread for Union soldiers, or a curse set upon a “devil’s home”, many spirits can be found throughout this small town. With only a five hour drive for Erie, it is a very popular destination for many living in the area. There are years of history to be discovered in the town of Gettysburg, and many with a haunted twist.


Caption: Ghostly figures standing outside of the Ghostly Images Tours

Credit:Gettysburg Battlefield Tours