The Untold Story

by Richard D. L. Fulton

There have been countless stories of ghosts on the Gettysburg Battlefield, within and beyond the national park boundaries, and there has been a seemingly endless array of books and documentaries based on the myriad number of ghostly encounters. 

But not all of the stories have been told, and not all of them relate to the Civil War Battle of 1863. 

Below are a few of these “untold stories.”

Did spirits from the past inspire the establishment of a historic wayside in Gettysburg?

In the mid-2000s, Eileen Catherine (Cathe) Curtis, star of America’s Most Haunted Town and America’s Most Haunted Inns—and subsequently guest medium at the Jennie Wade Museum for a number of  years—was strolling down Baltimore Street with a friend when they encountered two young men attired in what appeared to be vintage Marine uniforms.

Cathe and her friend caught up with the two Marines and asked them if they were there for a reenactment or reunion event. She said they both “boasted big smiles and replied that they were ‘simply visiting the town, which was dear to them’.” 

Cathe and her friend walked along with them, briefly. They told them their names (George and George), and gave them their mailing address. 

At some point, Cathe and her friend realized that they were not talking to the living, but had been interacting with two spirits, and the two spirits soon vanished before their eyes.

Cathe decided to do some research online and soon found the two Georges, who had perished in the crash of a Marine dive-bomber near the present intersection of Culp Street and Johns Avenue during the 1922 Marine maneuvers at Gettysburg.  Their names were George Wallis Hamilton and George Russell Martin. She even found their photographs and recognized them.

Conveying what she had found to the author of this article uncovered enough information about Hamilton and Martin and the 1922 Marine maneuvers that the writer approached Jim Rada and the two co-authored The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg, which included a good deal of information about Hamilton and Martin and the crash of the airplane.

The coverage of the Hamilton and Martin deaths in the book inspired local residents and Marines to raise money to erect the Captain George Hamilton and Gunnery Sergeant George Martin Memorial Wayside, which was completed and dedicated in 2018, and stands near the crash site on land set aside by the Heritage Center.

A couple of stories have come out of Colt Park, a housing development constructed beginning in the late 1950s on the battlefield, specifically on what was a Confederate position on the left flank of Pickett’s Charge. 

Not only was there a heated exchange between Confederate and Union troops on the farm fields there that would eventually become the Colt Park development, but there was also a significant Confederate mass grave located along the perimeter of the site. Even isolated burials of deceased soldiers from the conflict had been recovered in the decades following the war.

But two notable paranormal occurrences that occurred among the modern-day residents of the park appeared to not have been Civil War-related.

The names of the residents and the locations of the incidences must be kept out of print, but below are the encounters.

One involved the movement of planks in the attic of one of the homes, which had commenced one night at exactly 11:45 p.m., and continued for five or ten minutes. This inexplicable activity continued for days, each night at exactly 11:45 p.m.

After the first day or two, a contractor was called to determine if something was structurally amiss in the home’s attic, but nothing was found to indicate what was causing the persistent disturbances. 

After another day or two, an exterminator was called to ascertain if the activity was the result of a “home invasion” by one or more of the neighborhood’s squirrels or raccoons. 

After an extensive investigation, the pest control expert declared that he had found nothing out of the ordinary and no signs of where an animal could have entered, nor any evidence of any animal activity.

On the way out of the door, he commented to the homeowners, “I think you know what it is…” Two days later, the disturbance ended and never occurred again. 

A second Colt Park incident was non-Civil War related. A resident was watching television, and admittedly getting a little dozy while waiting for his wife to return from an outing with a friend. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and as the husband was jolted out of a semi-sleep, a young girl jumped up off the couch and exuberantly proclaimed, “I’ll get it,” and ran to the backdoor in the kitchen.

Then the husband realized there was no little girl in the house, so he got up and went into the kitchen to let his wife in.

It would be easy to write this off as the husband having dozed off and was suddenly awakened and thought he saw the little girl, whom he described as wearing shorts and a non-descript blouse, with a decidedly late-1950s-style hairdo (the husband grew up with two sisters and believed he had recognized the hair style).

However, a few days later, the husband went into the basement where he had his office and found a complete child’s tea set, comprised of four teacups and saucers and a tea pot, arranged nicely in a circle on the floor of the basement. But the residents did not have any young children, and none belonging to any friends or relatives had visited them recently.

Further, later in that week, the wife was moving some boxes around in the basement, and found lying on one of them was a late 1950s Christmas catalog, of the type that hardware stores used to mail out in that timeframe. Looking through it, she found a photograph of nearly the very same tea set that had been found arranged on the basement floor a few days earlier.

They still have the tea set and catalog, but nothing further of the little girl has been experienced since.

Back to the battlefield “proper,” generally, it is held that park rangers do not share any of their paranormal experiences with the public, but one did so a number of years ago.

It appears he had been dispatched to an area of the park (which was closed at that hour to the public) to investigate reports of Civil War reenactors having been seen on the field.

Responding to the reported location, the ranger parked and exited the car and, grabbing a flashlight, began to look around. He finally did spot a number of figures that appeared to be…in the dark as best as he could determine…walking across the field among some trees and heading in his direction, so he proceeded to approach them.

As he and the ‘soldiers’ approached each other closer, he said the central figure actually passed through the tree in front of him.

On that note, the ranger retreated to his patrol car and immediately departed the scene, and merely reported that he had “not encountered any reenactors in the area” and left it at that.

Bloody hand projects from medium Eileen Catherine (Cathe) Curtis while in the Orphanage, Gettysburg.

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