Battlefield Full Of Ghost Stories
By: Denice M. Santangelo
COPIED FROM: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ARCHIVES Originally published on Sunday, March 12, 1995.
"So if it is perturbed spirits who return to - or remain at - the place where they reluctantly left some unfinished business, or to the spot where they resigned this world too suddenly for their journey into the next, or to some touchstone where they need to find the answer, not to why they died, but why they ever even lived, Gettysburg is as likely a place as any for them to be."
"Ghosts of Gettysburg"
GETTYSBURG teems with tales of paranormal experiences and apparitions. Mark Nesbitt has collected much of the town's lore for two books: "Ghosts of Gettysburg" and "More Ghosts of Gettysburg."
Nesbitt, 44, became intrigued with Gettysburg and its ghost tales as a battlefield ranger historian for the National Park Service.
During my stay in town, quite a few tourists wanted to know about the ghosts. Guests at the Doubleday Inn hung onto every word by local historian Charlie Kingston when he lectured about strange happenings on the battlefield.
A skeptical Kingston recounted the story of "Iverson's Pits" as follows:
On the first day of the battle, Confederate Gen. Alfred Iverson's troops walked into an ambush by Union soldiers hunkered behind the stone walls that now line the Doubleday Inn.
Almost 500 North Carolinians fell as they marched shoulder-to-shoulder into a hailstorm of bullets.
After the battle, the bodies were rolled into a shallow trench on the once fertile farmland.
Even after the bodies were exhumed in the early 1870s, farmhands refused to go near the area after sundown. Most spoke of seeing a mist rising from the ground at sunset.
Not far away, the ghost stories continue at another inn.
The Farnsworth takes reservations for a popular show, "Ghost Stories." Pattie O'Day, daughter of owners Loring and Jean Schultz, dresses in 19th-century mourning garb and recites ghostly tales in the inn's candle-lit cellar.
The show draws so many tourists that O'Day has two seatings each Saturday night. Reservations must be made at the Farnsworth bookstore.
Most of the stories that O'Day recites are mentioned in Nesbitt's ghost books.
Also available is a video that Nesbitt worked on, "Ghosts of Gettysburg." The hour-long video is available only by mail for $22.95 from Thomas Publications, P.O. Box 3031, Gettysburg, Pa. 17325. Copies of Nesbitt's ghost books are also available at that address for $4.95 each, plus $2
shipping and handling.
If the books and video fail to satisfy your appetite for ghostly tales, you might be ready to join guides for a one-hour, 20-minute candlelight ghost tour of the battlefield and nearby sites.
Guides who know Nesbitt's tales lead visitors through parts of the battlefield and to sites on the old Pennsylvania College campus. Reservations are recommended.
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