Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gettysburg ghosts

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, in 1863. Ghosts - on the battlefield and in various buildings - have been reported for decades.

Gettysburg College - or as it was then called, Pennsylvania College - is one of the haunted buildings. During the war, there were only three buildings forming the college; there were only about one hundred students at the time. The campus served as a field hospital during and after the battle.

Pennsylvania Hall, built in 1837, is one of the worst haunted of the college buildings. The Confederates seized it during the battle for use as a lookout point and hospital. Robert E. Lee himself used the cupola as a lookout point to watch the battle.

The field hospital, with its wounded and maimed soldiers, may be the most haunted area. There was no anesthesia in those days; antiseptic surgery was still in the future; bullet wounds were often treated by amputation. The area outside the operating rooms was used to put the soldiers who couldn't be saved. They were left there to die.

One night, two administrators were working on the fourth floor. As they left work, they boarded the elevator and pushed the button for the first floor. The elevator moved down, past the first floor, coming to a stop in the basement. The doors opened, and the administrators saw a sight they had never imagined they would see.

1863 had come to vivid, gory life in the basement. The walls were spattered with blood. Wounded soldiers were sprawled on the floor, with doctors attending to them. To add to the eerie effect, the whole scene was silent.

The administrators pushed the elevator button frantically, trying to close the doors and leave the scene. Just before the doors closed, though, one of the orderlies looked up and directly at them, as if he were asking for help.

After this ordeal, whenever either of the administrators had to work at night, they took the stairs.

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