A Ghost Story from Gettysburg
Act!vated Story to Read out Loud
Folktales > Ghost Story from Gettysburg
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is said to be full of ghosts.
Sometimes you can hear some of them howling and screaming at night when you walk past Willoughby Run, a small stream that cuts through the middle of town.
During the famous Civil War battle in 1863, Confederate soldiers used the stream's trenches, which ran some 7 feet deep in places, to conceal themselves from the enemy and to escape from the blistering July heat.
As the battle wound down and troops began pulling out, heavy rain descended causing Willoughby Run to flash-flood. A wall of water came rushing forth and several Rebels were killed before they could scramble to safety.
So, if you walk through the streets of Gettysburg late at night, keep your ears open for the wailing of the lost ones. And if you come to a storm drain, you might want to step around it, especially if you're wearing long pants. These spirits are so desperate to pull themselves to safety that they've been known to grab trouser legs.
During the battle of Gettysburg, a little hill standing in what is now the heart of town served as a triage site where doctors gathered to treat the wounded. These doctors were the only ones who carried lanterns and a sentry posted at the site noted in his journal that he only counted 20 lanterns the night he stood guard.
Almost exactly 100 years later, a construction company was remodeling a school building that stands adjacent to that hill. The guards were posted during the night to prevent anyone from swiping any of the construction materials that were left on hand.
One night, one of the guards noticed something that caused him to be concerned; a group of flashlights moving around on the hill. Was someone out to steal some of the construction materials?
He summoned his partner, who got in his car and drove along a private road that made a circle around the hill. But he didn't see anything. Obviously whoever it was out there with flashlights had turned them off and ducked down when they saw the headlights approaching.
The two guards decided to outfox the prowlers. Since the private road was one-way, the driver of the car would make the circle again, but this time going the wrong way. Surely that would catch them by surprise.
But when they tried it the driver again failed to see a single light - even though the other guard could see them the whole time. When both guards were back where they started, they counted the lights that they could see on the hill. There were exactly twenty.
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About this Story
The Act!vated Actors have adapted some of the stories they have performed on stage for you to read aloud. This story is a little different. It is one we learned on a visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The townspeople who live there say it's true. This story was added October 9, 2001.