June 11 Gettysburg Campaign: The “Willies”

Once again the two subject soldiers of 35 Days to Gettysburg remained in their camps, though both write about Grant at Vicksburg. In previous entries, Horner, the Union soldier, mentions a number of friends who were subsequently killed in battles at Fredericksburg and South Mountain before Antietam, Charles City Crossroads and during the fierce fighting at Antietam, itself. After a mere two years of war, Horner and Ware have seen a number of comrades die.

Thomas Ware’s brother Robert had joined the 15th Georgia, transferring from an Alabama regiment, and so Ware may have had an extra concern on his mind—his younger brother.

Visiting Gettysburg as a 14-year-old, I remember walking out the Emmitsburg Road one night from the Quality Inn where my family always stayed. I walked past an elderly lady in a rocking chair on the porch of a small house which seemed to be the last one before the sidewalk ended and the road began to cross the once bloodied fields of Pickett’s Charge. I continued to walk into the darkness and suddenly stopped. I got the fabled “willies,” that unexplainable chill running through my body, although it was a hot summer night. Years later, some paranormalists have told me (and they seem to be backed up by hundreds of historical accounts) that the chills are an affirmation that you are in the presence of a spirit.  So, I think that was my first ghostly experience at Gettysburg. It wouldn’t be my last.

Returning, I remember passing the elderly lady’s house and noticing a hand-operated water pump out front. Whether that was her only source of water, I’ll never know. But I remember years later seeing that same pump, sitting as a quaint relic from the past, in front of either Hardee’s or KFC. The pump (as well as Hardee’s) has vanished.

I also remember a large factory-style building across from the Quality Inn. Later it would be torn down and the famous American Civil War Wax Museum would be build there as well as Bob’s Big Boy, now, also demolished.

Mark Nesbitt Ghosts of Gettysburg Quote


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