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The Ghosts of Gettysburg


Mon, May 8th, 2000
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By Carolyn ThompsonMay 8, 2000

"There are no such things as ghosts," I told myself as I stood in the middle of the battlefield at Gettysburg. "Not even here. They simply don't exist." It was the second day of our senior class trip out east. I laughed nervously and zipped up my coat, realizing as I did that it wasn't cold at all.

The Gettysburg ghost stories have been told through generations. The spirits of various Civil War heroes have been said to roam the battlefield at night, often revisiting the sites of their own deaths. I happened to be standing on the place where two hundred and ten Minnesota soldiers had been killed by the Confederates.

Despite my attempts at self-reassurance, my hands shook terribly as I peered through the murky haze that lay all around. I was surrounded by acres and acres of rolling hills. Brass cannons were scattered along the paths, providing testimony to the bloody struggle that had taken place beneath my feet. Monuments to various infantry and cavalry regiments were strewn here and there, but for the most part, the entire battlefield held much of the same silent, mysterious grandeur that it did in 1863.

I scanned the sky warily. It was well after sunset, and the stars were just starting to peek out from behind the ebony curtain of the night. Over the horizon ahead of me I detected the faint glow of city lights, the only
connection I had to the rest of civilization.

As I slowly made my way up the hill, my feet sank into the ground, pulled down by the mud. The quiet darkness seemed to close in around me. I moved
faster, all too aware that I was the last one on the field. All of my classmates were in their hotel rooms by then, safe from the cruel silence of the battlefield.

I remembered the words of our guide, Mr. Zimmer. “Maybe tonight you’ll see one of the famed Ghosts of Gettysburg.” Earlier that day I had hoped to catch a glimpse of one, but now I had second thoughts. I’m not going to explain what I saw that night, April 13th, 2000. All I will say is that I have new respect for the events of the Civil War and the people who lived and died during it. Mr. Zimmer gave our class knowledge of the battle and we gave ourselves an incredibly exhilarating experience when we marched the field in formation. We felt the pride and valor of the
infantrymen as we screamed our victory call into the placid night. We honored the First Minnesota Regiment for its bravery. I can honestly say that I would like to take my future children to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania so that they too can see its beauty, hear its story, and feel its history.

Carolyn Thompson is a student at Mabel-Canton High School.

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