Harper House at Bentonville State Historic Site North Carolina
The Soldiers War On
It comes as no surprise to us that battlefields across the world are probably the most actively haunted and paranormal phenomena related areas of all.
Soldiers experience a wide variety of mentally intense emotions during combat: feelings such as fear, excitement, elation and agony - all of which can be experienced together inside of minutes.
Could these heightened out-pourings of unseen energized vibrations then be at least one reason for an imprint to form on the very fabric of time itself, to be re-played over and over again throughout the ages, unlike ,say, house ghosts, which sometimes tend to dissipate over time?
Jim Weaver lived near the town of Smithfield, North Carolina, in the early decades of the 20th century. Jim was a man of medium height and slender build, who worked hard at his tasks of farming and milling. His favorite pastime was small-game hunting, which gave him great pleasure, besides adding to the family cook pot at times.
One late March evening, Jim and an English friend were tramping through the piney woods hunting near the Civil War battlefield of Bentonville, North Carolina. Soon enough, the baying of Weaver's hound alerted the two men that the dog had treed a possum or raccoon. Back in Jim's day a fat opossum's meat was a welcome addition to any supper table.
It was almost midnight Sunday morning, which Jim felt a man shouldn't hunt on, being the Lord's Day and all; but there was surely a critter up that tree so he gripped an ax to bring it down. As he planted his feet and prepared to swing, there suddenly came an intense flash of light from the surrounding foliage.
Jim dropped the ax as another streak broke through the trees around the men, now frozen where they stood. Next, they beheld the sight of soldiers running to and fro, ducking behind trees and bushes. Abruptly, ghostly cavalry riders thundered past; still, they remained rooted to the spot as the woods around them roared with the din of battle.
From thirty feet away, Jim then saw a desperate fight occur. A Yankee soldier and Rebel flag-bearer were entangled in a life and death struggle, as the man in blue tried to snatch away the bullet ripped-banner from the butternut clad adolescent. Another Rebel rushed up to help his comrade defend the flag, but the Federal turned and thrust his bayonet into the boy's gut.
What seemed like hours, but was probably only minutes, passed by, before Jim and his friend bolted the chaos, running as fast as their legs could carry them. Terror stricken, the men ran past the old abandoned Harper House, where a ghostly light illuminated through the windows amid the haunting sound of screams and shouting. They arrived exhausted but safe at the door of Jim's cabin, with quite a tale to tell for the rest of their natural born days.
The Battle of Bentonville was one of the last major battles of the Civil War and was fought from Sunday, March the 19th, through Tuesday, the 21st, 1865. It was a desperate ambush by the Southerners, with only 20,000 men and boys, trying to prevent Sherman's 60,000 veterans from linking up with Union forces coming up from Wilmington and other places.
These junctions- if successful- would have given Sherman the option to march on the state capital of Raleigh or even head north and merge with Grant's huge army besieging R.E. Lee's stalwart and hungry forces around Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia.
The Harper House had been employed as a hospital by both sides during the battle. The sounds of a Civil War hospital with all its activity and wounded men must have reverberated throughout the area for several days after the close of hostilities.
As the years went by, and Jim Weaver - who had a reputation for integrity - told this haunting story to Smithfield's veterans, there was at least one fellow who knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jim had witnessed what he said he had.
As a seventeen-year-old lad that long ago night, he had been his regiment's flag bearer. The man still bore a damaged left arm from a struggle to keep the sacred banner with his unit. His older brother had fallen, mortally wounded by a bayonet thrust to the abdomen in an attempt to aid him.
The battlefield remains a hotbed of paranormal activity to this day; with folks reporting cannon blasts, rifle-shots, shouts, ghostly fires and apparitions. Odors such as gunsmoke and putrefying human flesh have also been reported. Heightened emotions and the adrenal power of fury may well leave a mark on the very fabric of time itself when it comes to bloody battlefields like Bentonville..
The Major Returns
As Major Patrick Ferguson led his 1300 Tories( Americans siding with King George III) into the Carolina backcountry during the last years of the American Revolutionary War, he proclaimed to the rebellious settlers of what was later to become the State of Tennessee, an intent to "march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword."
Not surprisingly, the people of the Watuagan settlements and their Over-the-mountain-men, didn't take too kindly to the Major's threat, and so readied themselves at once for retributive combat. In other words, they were going to bring the fight to the Scottish officer where he was.
Much of the battlefield at Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina is preserved like that long ago day of October the 7th, 1780, despite a recent forest fire. It was then that the Americans surrounded Ferguson's encampment atop the small mountain. What ensued was a slaughter of the Tories, with Ferguson himself refusing to surrender his bleeding and beaten men until shot off his horse trying to escape by multitudes of musket balls.
The Loyalist commander's body and plaid over-shirt were literally riddled and torn by the hissing missiles. Numerous bones were also broken as he fell from his mount. His men carried him on a blanket out of harm's way, only to have their leader expire soon after. The second-in-command quickly sued for quarters and the Tories still on their feet threw down their arms and tried to surrender.
A single hour's battle has produced many paranormal encounters over time. One of the patriot commanders, three hundred pound Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, rode Ferguson's horse home where it soon dropped dead from exhaustion.
To this day, people in the area of Cleveland's old homestead report Ferguson's ghost galloping on his horse about the banks of the mighty Yadkin River, looking confused and bewildered. Some speculate the Major may be seeking his way back to Kings Mountain, hoping to turn the tide of battle.
As a visitor begins the mile and a half circuit around the mountain, one of the first memorial stones is the spot where Ferguson was killed. It has long been rumored that his ghost returns at midnight on the anniversary of his death and confronts anyone brave, or foolish enough, to be standing there. The writer can personally attest to this legend, having heard as a boy of folk doing so to their regret.
The Major's stone cairn is farther down the walk. Of his two mistresses at King's Mountain, one, red-haired Virginia Sal, was supposedly killed in the fight and buried with him. One afternoon two Revolutionary enthusiasts were at the grave discussing the history of Scottish cairns, when suddenly and inexplicably, they became extremely uneasy. A sense of being stared at also came over them and they expected to turn around and see a park ranger.
What they saw instead was Major Patrick Ferguson himself, not fifty feet away! The checkered-shirted specter exhibited a slight smile, and then said "It doesn't always work, my lads." The ghostly major then threw his head back in merriment and moved off into the woods, where he slowly faded away from the gentlemen's sight.
Battle of Chickamauga
Old Green Eyes and the Lady in White
Chickamauga. In Cherokee that means "River of Death." And so it was in north-west Georgia on September the 19th and 20th of 1863. In the South's last major offensive victory, the blood indeed ran in rivers and death descended like a dark cloud as one of the war's most sanguinary conflicts ensued.
After such a trauma it wouldn't be surprising to have a very haunted battleground, but something else was seemingly afoot before those two bloody days claimed their 35,000 casualties. The Cherokees had long told tales of a vengeful Indian spirit with eyes like strobe-lights, that walked the banks of the river looking for victims to frighten. But then again, there are those who believe it to be the spirit of an angry slain soldier.
Old Green Eyes holds pride of place in being the creme de la creme of the park's resident haunts. One young fellow, deeply into the Civil War, who had no interest in the paranormal at all, told of the time he was visiting the Chickamauga battleground when he heard the sound of groans coming from a stand of trees nearby.
Assuming an injury to someone had taken place, the man quickly ran towards the spot where the noise seemed to be emanating from. He'd no more taken a few strides when he was overcome by a feeling of dread, which was followed by the appalling sight of a floating head with glowing green eyes that had burst out of the foliage. He was to later say the apparition was more than just a frightening experience, it was an absolutely horrifying one.
The Civil War buff screamed and took off lickity-spilt.. Needless to say, the young man had a different perspective on the supernatural from that day forward. Visitors aren't the only ones that report encounters with this wicked-acting entity, as the Chickamauga park rangers themselves have recounted their own run-ins and sightings of Old Green Eyes on numerous occasions throughout the years.
Another familiar specter is the "Lady in White." This apparition is seen so often at Chickamuaga the park rangers hardly raise an eyebrow anymore when she's reported. Always seen wearing a wedding gown, she traverses the park from end to end as if searching for something.
Legend has her one of so many wives, mothers and sweetheart's scouring the battlefield on the night after the carnage ended, searching for a lost loved one.The stories passed down have this one tormented girl forever after seeking her missing beau.
When her ghost meanders in the night, a lantern is seen lighting her way, in an endless quest for the remains of her beloved. When the woman passed on, she was laid to rest in a white bridal gown. This poor creature has apparently found no peace in her silent repose.
Some may say sightings of the haunting "Lady in White" are simply people's imagination stoked by legends and campfire tales; but the amazing thing about this ghostly wraith is the fact she has been glimpsed by tourists from all over the world, most of whom had no knowledge of her tale at all.
The Alamo circa 1854
The Alamo's Spirits and Devils
There's no question about it. The Alamo is one very haunted place. The history of this infamous Texas landmark is fairly well known, with General Santa Anna's Mexican troops wiping out nearly all of the Republic of Texas defenders after a thirteen day battle and siege.
The first sighting came just a few days after the old mission's fall. Santa Anna ordered the Alamo's total destruction so as to prevent it becoming a shrine to his Texian enemies. The soldados sent in to do the dirty work, however, came out howling about the six eerie diablos guarding the inside of the Alamo.
A disbelieving general took it upon himself to do the flame job, but came back stunned and confirming that six devils were indeed guarding the place, protecting the sacristy he said.The complete destruction of the building was left for another time that never came for the Mexican army in Texas.
So, the ghost sightings began soon after the fires of battle burnt themselves out and have continued on unceasingly ever since. One San Antonio native took an oath never to return to the Alamo after spotting a specter in old-fashioned clothes, bending over a display case gazing at the original Bowie knife held within it.
The ghost of a tall, polished looking Mexican officer is often seen slowly meandering around the remaining parts of the old Catholic mission.
His hands are clasped behind his back as he appears to shake his head in sorrow; possibly the apparition of General Castrillo, upset with the killing of defenseless men after the battle's end. This humane and philosophical officer was one of the few who dared stand-up to the abusive and brutal Santa Anna.
There are many other paranormal encounters and sightings at the Alamo, such as the ghostly apparition of James Allen, the last courier to leave before the fight, now assumed trying to return in an endless quest to aide his doomed comrades.
There are the eerie, original Long Barracks, too, which seem to be one of the most frequent spots for supernatural activity. Outside of the Gettysburg National Military Park, the Alamo certainly has a claim on being the most haunted battle spot in America, and of that paranormal fact, there can be no doubt whatsoever.*
*For more mystery-themed and paranormal stories - with some being first person experience - from the South, and Europe, by Alastar Packer and some great guest writers, google -- Mists and Moonlight Weebly.
Steve Dowell from East Central Indiana on September 25, 2016:
Thanks Alastar, I'd love to do that! Now if I can just put aside some extra time, I'll get right on it. BTW - now following you on twitter, I'll be in touch!
Thanks again Mr. Packer!
Alastar Packer (author) from North Carolina on September 25, 2016:
Howdy Steve and thanks! Sure remember your award-winning story about the Bennett House and Bentonville campaign. I had a few spirits myself before Fort Fisher so don't remember it too well. It 's funny about the comments - sometimes you'll get a dozen and sometimes one or two, so there are only a few up on certain articles like the Mt Lion ones. There's a contact page on the website that see's a lot more action now that most of the comments were closed. I bet if that was a live round at Fisher its been taken out but maybe not. I'll put it in the story about that live round with thanks to you. Appreciate ya Hoosier! Btw, going to follow you on twitter, hope you'll followback. And oh, consider doing a guest write on a history topic of your choice and we'll putting it up w/ links on Once Upon a History. E-mail me at - firstname.lastname@example.org if interested - love to have you do one.
Steve Dowell from East Central Indiana on September 25, 2016:
Interesting hub Alaster! I've been to Bentonville (as you may remember) and have vivid memories of Harper House and have also been to the Alamo. Didn't see any spirits in San Antonio but partook in a few.
I checked out your website and tried to comment about Fort Fisher, but comments were closed. There was a live artillery round embedded in the wall when I was there back in ca 1975, don't know if it's still there or not.
Take care Tarheel!