For the paranormal enthusiast, Gettysburg should be close to the top on the list of haunted places to visit. It’s a quaint town, and there are so many haunted locations that have an incredible history. It’s no surprise that people have reported ghostly encounters all through this area because in a matter of 3 days, and numerous battles spread over a relatively small area, over 51,000 people were killed.
The Restless Dead of Gettysburg
Ghost stories abound here, and paranormal activity has been reported for quite some time. I came across an interesting newspaper article from the Harrisburg Telegraph in 1939. Someone reported seeing two men walking on the side of the road that appeared to be injured. The person stopped the car to see if they needed help and noticed that they were carrying rifles and were dressed in stained and bloody old-fashioned military uniforms.
The men told the good samaritan that their friend needed help and was propped up on a nearby tree. He walked with them to the tree and saw the man lying there with an obvious chest wound. He told the men he would drive to the nearest gas station and call for help. When he got to the gas station the attendant said don’t bother going back to help; they won’t be there; they are the restless dead of Gettysburg.
Devil’s Den and The Valley of Death
My recent visit to Gettysburg was a pretty short one, but I wanted to check out Devil’s Den because it has a reputation for being one of the most active paranormal hotspots. Also, the history of Devil’s Dean has all the ingredients to make the location haunted. Violence, death, and extreme emotions. The fighting in the area was pretty intense. So intense that the entire area surrounding Devil’s Den became known as the Valley of Death.
Devil’s Den is an area marked by large boulders in between two rocky hills known as Little Roundtop and Big Roundtop. While most people assume it got its name during or after the war, it was called Devil’s Den well before the war. People living in the area prior to the Civil War said this spot was the site of a Native American skirmish called the “Battle of the Crows”.((http://civilwartalk.com/threads/native-american-battle-at-devils-den.15782/))
The Battle at Devil’s Den
On the second day of battle, July 2nd, 1863, the area around Devil’s Den saw extreme fighting between approximately 7,900 men. (2,400 Union Army and 5,500 Confederates)((http://www.historynet.com/devils-den-gettysburg)) The nooks and crannies of the boulders were used by Confederate sharpshooters who fired at the Union Army on top of Little Round Top.
By the time the battle ended over 2,600 men had been killed in the area in and around Devil’s Den. So many Confederates were killed in between Devil’s Den and Little Round Top that it was often referred to as the Slaughter Pen.
A creek running in between Little Round Top and Devil’s Den became known as Bloody Run because it literally ran red with blood. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, heavy rain on July 4th, 1863 caused the creek to flood drowning a few wounded soldiers who were not lucky enough to have been taken to the field hospital.
Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter
One of the most famous photographs taken in the days after the war had ended is Alexander Gardner’s “sharpshooter”. Gardner used the carnage in Devil’s Den to his advantage, and his picture became an iconic image of the Battle of Gettysburg. Years later it was found to be staged. The dead soldier in the photograph was not a sharpshooter, but most likely an infantryman that Gardner moved over 40 yards to this spot for dramatic effect.
Does it come as any real surprise then when numerous people report odd occurrences in this area? People visiting the area have reported that their cameras, video cameras, and phones suddenly won’t turn on, or take pictures. They’ll move on to another part of Gettysburg, and their equipment works just fine.
A frequent sighting in the Devil’s Den area is that of a disheveled man. He’s said to be barefoot, wearing shabby clothes, and a floppy hat. He often walks up to people and tells them “What you’re looking for is over there” while pointing towards Plum Run. He then promptly disappears leaving those that have encountered him bewildered. This odd ghost has made a name for himself as the Helpful Hippy.
If you ever get the chance to experience Gettysburg for yourself, make sure you take some time to visit Devil’s Den. Maybe you’ll run into the Helpful Hippy himself!