Un-Civil Grounds - Paranormal Activity at U.S Civil War Prisons
by Donna Dalton
While researching settings for my historical romance, THE REBEL WIFE, I took a field trip to the southern-most point of the state of Maryland where Point Lookout Union Prison once stood. It was a glorious late spring day. Short-wearing weather. Yet as I passed through the reconstructed gate and into the prison innards, a heavy sense of oppression overcame me. This flat, austere land had once imprisoned thousands of men. It had seen much suffering and many deaths. Flanked by the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other, the harsh winter months must have been pure hell for the sparsely clothed and starving inmates. Although I didn’t encounter any paranormal activity that day, I could see how departing life in such a wretched place could leave behind tormented souls.
I did a little research and discovered Point Lookout is considered to have one of the most haunted lighthouses in the country. The lighthouse sits at the very end of the peninsula. The most frequent sighting is of a gaunt ghost clothed in ragged, homespun clothing, running back and forth across the road. Other visitors have reported seeing a old woman on the beach, and some speculate she is looking for her gravestone. Paranormal researchers to the area have recorded over twenty-four different sounds and voices.
Other prison camps have reported paranormal activity as well. At the Confederate prison in Andersonville, Georgia, many visitors have heard eerie noises, including gunshots, marching, voices talking, and moaning. There’s a stench that people have smelled in the general area of the camp. One visitor was walking the grounds during twilight and spotted a strange figure walking ahead of him. A putrid odor permeated the air. The stranger and the odor vanished, but later, the man overheard a voice behind him talking about giving the last rites.
At Fort Delaware prison camp, in a restored and fully working officers’ kitchen, there have been reports of a female ghost that lingers around the pantry, hiding items stored there and calling people by name, telling them to get out. The officers’ quarters is reported to be haunted by several apparitions. A childlike ghost tugs on people’s clothing and its laughter can be heard. A woman’s ghost has tapped people on the shoulder and has touched them. Books fall from shelves by themselves and crystals hanging from a set of candlesticks move back and forth when there is no breeze to account for the movement.
While I have never personally meet with any apparitions, I believe they do exist, especially those souls who met their end during calamitous times like the U.S. Civil War. For those readers who find this period in American history fascinating, my latest book, THE REBEL WIFE, is set during the height of the war. The hero is a Yankee war correspondent on his way to Point Lookout to write an article about the prison. Louisa Carleton, a southern rebel, is also headed to there to try and free her imprisoned brother. Jack sees the world in black and white, while dyslexic Louisa sees everything in a distorted light. The joining of these two people cannot help but be filled with conflict and emotion. You can read more about this story and how to purchase it on my website at www.donnadalton.net.