One hundred and thirty-one years have passed since the bloody Civil War fighting at Gettysburg, but there are those who believe the battle has never ended for some of the 51,000 soldiers who were killed, wounded or missing in action.

“Acre for acre, Gettysburg is probably the most haunted place in America,” says Mark Nesbitt, a writer and historian who has collected about 150 stories of spectral sightings in this small Pennsylvania town that has been his home for more than two decades.

Inspired by these prolific hauntings and the popularity of ghost tours in other historic areas, Mr. Nesbitt recently trained a group of guides and began offering candlelight walking tours that feature frightening tales from two of his books, “Ghosts of Gettysburg” and “More Ghosts of Gettysburg.”

“The ghost tours are fun,” he says. “This is the most unusual tour you’re going to get in Gettysburg this year. You’ll go away with an understanding of the rich folklore of the area.”

“We don’t have an official position on that,” says Katie Lawhon, public affairs specialist for the Gettysburg National Military Park. “We have official positions on lots of things, but nothing on ghosts.”

Perhaps the earliest Civil War ghost story dates to the battle itself, when reports circulated among the Union troops that General Washington — deceased since 1799 — had been seen leading the men to victory.

“I think something special happened here at Gettysburg,” Mr. Nesbitt says. “Gettysburg was what I consider the climax of a truly mythological war. There was an unprecedented amount of death and woundings. . . . and emotional energy expended between countrymen as they fought in what was the turning point of the war.

“The ghost stories might be scary, but the reality of the battle of Gettysburg was even more frightening.”


When: Tours begin at 8:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Thursday through Sunday continuing through Halloween. The schedule may be expanded.

Cost: $6 a person; children 7 and younger attend free

4( Call (717) 337-0445 for reservations

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