Few countries have been quite so catastrophically torn apart by war as America was during the Civil War. The scars borne from the conflict took generations to heal after a bloody campaign that raged from 1861 – 1865 and which left over three-quarters of a million soldiers dead.
With so many men, women and children losing their lives in such a tragic and brutal way it was inevitable that reports of ghostly encounters with those who lived through this calamitous period should emerge over time.
An Intrepid Explorer
Rich Newman has been investigating the paranormal for over ten years. He is the founder of the group Paranormal Inc. which created the Civil War documentary Ghosts of War. He has also had articles published by Haunted Times and Paranormal Underground.
In his book Ghosts Of the Civil War, Newman catalogs over 160 different locations around America which have reported supernatural, or paranormal activity, which can be directly linked to the events during this period.
He begins with perhaps the most famous military confrontation of the whole war the Battle of Gettysburg which took place on July 1, 1863 and took more than 51,000. Within this area today Newman identifies three specific locations are most associated with ghostly activities.
From haunted battlefields and those areas of the densest accumulation of loss of life, the author covers some of the smaller concentrations of armed conflict. He explains that typical residues of battle include; “…cries of soldiers, cannons firing, and moans of the wounded.“
Secure militarised installations such as fortresses were always an important aspect to military conflict and national security.
Today, many of them from the time before and during the Civil War are still standing and can be visited by the general public. From a paranormal research point of view this is particularly important for they offer the ability to experience much supernatural activity. Such locations described in the book includes Fort Gaines, Fort Point, and Fort Delaware.
Another important feature of military history are National Cemetaries. These memorial grounds where the deceased could be remembered for their service emerged only after the end of the American Civil War. These feature in Ghosts of the Civil War as locations where the spirits of the dead can be witnessed.
Other locations notable for their paranormal activity related specifically to the Civil War includes places such as churches which were used as headquarters, military hospitals, or as lodgings for soldiers. Several of these are featured in the book along with jails, court houses, universities, institutes, and schools.
In fact, it seems like very few places in America have escaped the dark residue of death, disease and destruction wrought upon the land from one of the worst periods in American history.
This is a book that has a strong leaning towards the historical events, places and people involved in the Civil War rather than upon in-depth accounts of reported, catalogued and researched paranormal activity. This is not meant to be a criticism of the book in any way for I felt that the stories behind the battles and conflicts were fascinating. I mention this only so that potential readers are clear on the book’s approach.
As a catalog of places worthy of a ghost hunters attention Ghosts of the Civil War provides an invaluable guide to which sites and locations are particularly worth visiting. Each location in the book contains details of the skirmishes that took place in that area, a little history of the people involved, and a short note on the type of paranormal activity found there. Some of these also include further details of the ghostly or supernatural activity that has been witnessed.
This is a great field-study publication and the accompanying old images add considerably to the sense of atmosphere that it creates. Even as an armchair reader this book offers a fascinating look into such an important period in American history: so stoke up the fire, pour a glass of something strong and settle down into a paranormal adventure of epic proportions. You can almost smell the pungent and acidic odour of musket fire, and hear the cannons roar for during each page turn!