Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, you can probably agree that some places are simply creepy. Old hospitals, abandoned insane asylums, empty prisons, and most low end strip clubs immediately spring to mind. And of course you have to include places like battlefields and old military forts, where people were brutally killed or wounded during insanely bloody battles. Lots of those places simply give people the creeps, and after reading this list of 10 haunted forts and battlefields, you’ll probably understand why.
Back before he was a United States president, William Henry Harrison was a general. During the War of 1812, he established Fort Meigs just south of Toledo, Ohio, and successfully defended it against British attacks for over a year before it was finally abandoned and burned down. Because after all, who needs a fort proven to be highly defendable?
These days, people claim to hear cannon fire, muskets, and the sounds of fifes and drums being played, and no one can explain exactly what is causing those sounds. Still more people have stated they hear footsteps and, when walking around outside, have seen apparitions staring at them through the windows. It’s believed that over 500 dead Americans, British, and Indian soldiers are buried in unmarked graves around and underneath the fort, which was reconstructed and opened to the public in 1974.
If you have ever read The Last of the Mohicans, or at least watched one of the movie versions, you are familiar with Fort William Henry. Located on Lake George in upstate New York, it was a fort used in the French and Indian War. Of course there is a chance you may have become familiar with the fort through another means: an episode of the television show Ghost Hunters, since rumor has it that Fort William Henry is one of the most haunted military sites in America.
There are ghost tours offered at Fort William Henry, with reports over the years of lights turning on and off as well as the sounds of unexplained footsteps, as well as wind chimes sounding despite the absence of any actual wind. The fort was home to a massacre during the skirmish between Indians and British soldiers, with some believing that the spirits from both sides of the conflict still roam the grounds.
Going back to the War of 1812, but this time hopping across the border and into Canada, we move now to Stoney Creek. Located in Ontario, Stoney Creek was home to Mary Jones Gage and her family. Her husband, who had fought for the British, had died during the American Revolution, and then in 1813 invading American troops stormed the home with the hopes of taking it as their headquarters. The next day, the Battle of Stoney Creek broke out with the Gage family holed up in the basement of their posh home.
Unlike most of our other entries on this list, the Stoney Creek home once owned by the Gage family is not said to be haunted only by deceased soldiers but by Mary Jones Gage herself, whose family had been at one point held captive by American forces during that fateful battle. These days it is believed Gage still haunts the grounds. She died in 1841, and before she could be laid to rest her body and headstone disappeared. In addition to Gage haunting the actual home, there have been reports of misty figures who appeared to be soldiers marching in the area, apparently headed to battle.
In 1066, the Battle of Hastings took place with King Harold II and 7,500 of his Saxons defending against the invading Norman conquest of William, Duke of Normandy. William defeated Harold, and an abbey was built on Senlac Hill with the high altar said to have been placed on the very spot where King Harold perished. Apparently building an abbey on the site of that much bloodshed was a bad idea, considering that over the years there have been numerous bizarre reports.
Apparently, most of the sightings are of ghostly monks rather than soldiers, with visitors claiming to have seen re-enactors dressed in robes wandering the grounds only to be later informed that there were no re-enactors employed at the time. There are some other claims, such as the high altar bleeding and a soldier marching through the Great Hall carrying a sword, but those tales are considerably less substantiated.
Built in 1867 in San Angelo, Texas, as an outpost to protect the frontier settlers in West Texas, Fort Concho operated for more than 20 years. Among the commanders who served there was Pecos Bill himself, William Shafter, and today it is considered an historical landmark sitting on 1,600 acres. It saw numerous battles over the years, and its soldiers helped put down the Comanchero Movement, which saw illegal profiteering between Mexican and American traders.
These days, however, it is more famous for being haunted by several ghosts, including the spirits of James Cunningham, George Dunbar, Edith Grierson, and Ranald MacKenzie. MacKenzie was the most famous commander at Fort Concho, and visitors claim to have seen him appear as an apparition throughout the fort, particularly in Officers Row, where he lived for the duration of his time at Fort Concho. The other three, including the spirit of 12 year old Grierson, have been spotted throughout the facility over the years.
The Battle of Marston Moor was fought on July 2, 1644 during the First English Civil War. 4,000 members of the Royalist side were killed in what was a decisive victory for the Parliamentarians, with Oliver Cromwell leading the victors. Cromwell used the Old Hall in the village was used as a base of operations by Cromwell, and according to legend, he’s there to this day, haunting the grounds.
Oh, and that’s not even mentioning the fact that, apparently, the spirits of the Royalists who were slain in battle still roam the area. There have been reports over the years of phantom soldiers marching in Marston Moor, including possible sightings in 1932, 1968, and 1992, when people reportedly observed long haired, finely dressed soldiers marching along the roads.
Cold Harbor Battlefield
The Battle of Cold Harbor took place from May 31 to June 12, 1864 during the American Civil War, and is considered one of the bloodiest battles in United States history. Union general Ulysses Grant led his men against Confederate general Robert E. Lee in what would turn into a bloodbath, with the Confederates decimating Grant’s troops through the course of the two weeks of fighting. It was one of the last battles for Grant, and one that he would call one of his largest regrets.
The Cold Harbor battlefield is also believed to be one of the most haunted military sites in America, with locals reportedly hearing sounds of the battle to the point where cannon fire, gun fire, and the sounds of screaming men are sometimes reported in the local newspaper. Tourists claim to still smell gunpowder when they visit the historical landmark, and both the Cold Harbor National Cemetery and the Garthright House, located across the street, are said to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl.
The Dieppe Raid, also known as Operation Jubilee, was a precursor to the Normandy Invasion during World War II. Consisting of primarily Canadian soldiers along with some British and a few Americans, the operation commenced on August 19, 1942 and between the hours of 5:00 a.m., when it began, and 2:00 p.m., when the battle ended, the attack proved to be a failure for the Allies. The casualties numbered more than 4,000 before the Allied forces retreated back across the English Channel.
Fast forward to 1951, when a pair of tourists were vacationing in Puys, nearby to Dieppe, and at 4:00 a.m. they were awakened by what sounded like gunfire, shouting voices, and other sounds of battle coming from the beach nearby their hotel. For the next three hours, they listened to the events unfold and documented all of the sounds they heard, and later the Society for Paranormal Research determined that their notes matched up almost to the second to the Dieppe Raid on that exact same beach.
The American Civil War was an incredibly bloody affair, to put it mildly. However, nowhere was this more evident than at the Battle of Antietam, which took place on September 17, 1862 on Antietam Creek in Maryland. The battle lasted four hours in this tiny area, and the casualties were astonishing. In that one small span of time, more than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing in action. Today, the small road near Antietam Creek where the battle took place is known as Bloody Lane, for very good reason.
Today, the sound of gunfire and smell of gunpowder is often reported at Bloody Lane, and visitors have claimed to have both seen and heard spirits in the area. Virtually everything surrounding the Battle of Antietam has had reports of haunting, from Burnside’s Bridge, where Ambrose Burnside’s Union soldiers pushed back the Confederates and where the dead were quickly buried in shallow, unmarked graves, to the nearby St. Paul Episcopal Church, which was used as a Confederate hospital in the aftermath of the battle. According to the local legends, the floorboards of the church are so stained in blood that not even sandpaper will take it out.
If Antietam was the bloodiest single battle in the American Civil War, Gettysburg is the most famous and, over the course of several days, became one of its bloodiest with more than 50,000 men killed, wounded, or missing. Fought from July 1 through July 3, 1863 in the small town in southeastern Pennsylvania, the Battle of Gettysburg is viewed as the turning point for the Union in the Civil War.
And in the 140 years since the battle was fought, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who visited to Gettysburg who does not have some spooky story to share. At the Daniel Lady Farm, which served as the Confederate field hospital, it is believed that more than 10,000 deceased soldiers still haunt the grounds. Cashtown Inn, where the first soldier in the Battle of Gettysburg was killed, also has some bizarre tales, and the owners claim to have photographic evidence of spirits on the premises, as well as guests reporting hearing knocking on doors, lights turning on and off, and doors locking and unlocking themselves. Those are only a small sampling of the alleged ghostly sightings, which have also been reported at the Gettysburg Hotel and the Baladerry Inn, as well as on the battlefields themselves.