I am a huge history nerd and I am in awe of Gettysburg. I think it is so surreal that we live about 40 minutes away from one of the most important places in our nation’s history. I take every opportunity I have to learn more about the town and the unique treasures that makes it so special.
The Battle of Gettysburg, which was fought from July 1-3, 1863, amassed more than 51,000 casualties, making those short three days some of the bloodiest in our country’s history. President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address conveys just how tragic the loss of life at Gettysburg was, and implores us not to forget those who gave the last full measure of devotion there.
And forget, we won’t! Because of the sheer amount of deaths that resulted from the battle in the small town, many believe Gettysburg is haunted by the ghosts of Civil War casualties and others. This Halloween, Alex and I decided to take a ghost tour through the streets and battlefields to see for ourselves. Gettysburg Ghost Tours on Steinwehr Avenue offers a variety of tours, including short ghost tours like the Black Cat Tour and the Battlecry Tour, and longer, more intense ghost hunts that include gear to measure the ghostly activity you encounter.
We opted for the hour-long Black Cat Tour (how could I not as a black cat owner/lover?!) and were excited to hear the lesser-known stories about Gettysburg ghosts. Our tour guide took us up Cemetery Hill, where we learned about the ghosts of the original cemetery keepers who still keep watch over the grounds, a general who haunted the Soldiers’ National Cemetery until his medal was listed on his headstone, and a helpful soldier who still tries to keep occupants of the Inn at Cemetery Hill close to the ground to avoid the crossfire in No Man’s Land.
On our tour, we also learned about the horrid history of the children’s orphanage and visited what’s left of the creek bed at Winebrenner Run, which is said to be one of the most active paranormal spots in Gettysburg. I snapped a bunch of photos on our tour, since our tour guide reminded us that sometimes our cameras catch things that our eyes can’t see. You tell me…are these orbs or reflections in the second photo? 🙂
Before embarking on our ghost tour, we had dinner at Springhouse Tavern in the historic Dobbin House. Dining downstairs in the tavern makes you feel like you’ve magically stepped back in to the 1700s, when the house was first built. The house was built by Reverend Alexander Dobbins and later used as one of the first classical schools west of the Susquehanna River. It was built in 1776, making it the oldest structure in Gettysburg. It was also used as a field hospital during the Civil War, so it is often a stop on many ghost tours in Gettysburg.
The steps lead you downstairs into a candlelit room with stone walls and an old-fashioned feel. We were lucky to get a corner booth that was private in the bustling dining room. We started with the warm crab dip and it was the best decision ever! I also couldn’t pass up the crab cake dinner, since they claim to have the best “just crabmeat” crab cakes around. They did not disappoint! Alex ordered the roast beef sandwich and it was gone within 5 minutes of it’s arrival. I also ordered one of their drink specials…warm cider with Applejack, which was garnished with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Yum! Just a note…if you want to dine downstairs in the Springhouse Tavern, be prepared for a wait. The tavern does not accept reservations and is a popular stop for many visitors. We were told our wait would be an hour and 20 minutes, though it did go faster than that. Even if you have to wait, it is well worth it for the food and the experience!
All in all, we had a wonderful date night on Halloween in Gettysburg. Next time, we’ll stay in one of the local bed and breakfasts to see if we have a ghostly encounter of our own!