|By Mark Turner Images|
On a vacation trip last year, we made our way to the colonial town of Harper's Ferry. Established in 1763 by Robert Harper, the port town of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, is located where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet. From a certain vantage point, you can see three states at once; Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Harper's is a place full of history, most notably for John Brown; the revolutionary abolitionist that wanted to end slavery - and if it meant starting his own war, then so be it. Brown led an unsuccessful raid at Harper's Ferry in 1859, and men died in the area. Brown was later hung for treason. They say John Brown’s ghost can be seen at Harper's; smiling. Happy, I guess, that slavery finally ended.
The other great historical significance of the area is that two battles of the Civil War were fought there, the Battle of Harper’s Ferry and the Battle of Antietam. While the battle of Harper’s Ferry was relatively small, the battle of Antietam which is only a few miles north of Harper’s, was the single bloodiest day of fighting in American history. 23,000 men lost their lives.
As we made our way to Harper's, we got lost. Driving down a long winding road away from the main roads, we knew we were lost and badly wanted to get to our campsite before dark. We looked to our left side and saw that we were looking at the battle field of Antietam. We really didn't want to be lost in the dark near this place! We had not made plans to visit the battlefields, our main destination was Harper’s. Though it was a bright, hot and sunny day, the air was thick with a strange, eerie mood.
As we drove, trying to find our way to the proper road, we tried to take pictures of our whirlwind tour. We were shocked when we drove by a monument for the 1st Battery Light Artillery unit from Ohio. We are from Ohio and had left there some 10 hours earlier.
Most of the homes in the area were standing during the battle. We felt like we had traveled back in time.
We finally found our campsite, set-up and got to sleep. That night, as we slept, I had a dream of a man walking up the steep, endless mountain, straight to our tent. A soldier? A ghost? He seemed like a man bent on doing us harm.
The next day we made our way to the town of Harper's Ferry.
Another time travel experience. A wonderful place.
We made a stop at Storer College, one of the first Black Colleges in the US, where in 1881, Fredrick Douglas gave his speech about John Brown.
Just around the corner is the fire house, later named the John Brown Fort. This is where Brown barricaded himself during the fighting.
The old railroad bridge nearby is a place where hikers make the trek up the small mountain.
|View of Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers|
That night at the campfire we opened a book of Civil War Ghost stories and read aloud the local lore of a ghost near Harper's Ferry.
Then, as the fire burned, we heard something at the edge of the campsite, far below, down the side of the endless hill. I used my flashlight and kept shining it at the direction of the sound, expecting to see an animal. We felt uneasy, like we were being watched. Taking out the camera, we snapped flash bulb pictures into the blackness to see if anything would show up. What we got were orbs; those much debated balls of light that might or might not be ghosts.
We discussed the orbs in the pictures and as we did, I began to sketch. We both talked about an impression, an image that came to our minds, what we felt might be around us. I sketched what I saw . . .
Was it John Brown or one of his fellow black fighters? A former slave that was now a revolutionary solider? Was this a Civil War solider? The ghost of a woman? This could have just been a figment of my imagination, but it really just came to me. I usually don't have such vivid visions. Whatever the case, I feel that this area was one of the most haunted places I have ever been in. I would love to have a summer home in Harper's Ferry, but for miles and miles, where the battlefields lie, there is a pervading sense of eyes on you, of the anguish of young lives cut short, never allowed to reach old age. The pain of the past feels very real and it will probably be a long time before it fades.
Other Ghost Stoires on this site . . .
Lincoln & the Ghosts of the Civil War
Ghost Girls - TheTrue Story of an Ohio Haunting
The Ghost that Communicates through TV
Sleeping Where a Man Died
The Haunted Radio Station-My First Encounter with a Ghost