Most places associated with the American Civil War are considered haunted, hallowed, or cursed. The terrible energies of such battle have left their imprint on multiple locations across the country — some darker than others.
One of these dark locations is a little red bridge. Used by both Confederate and Union forces during the Battle of Gettysburg, Sach’s Covered Bridge served as the execution site of three captured southern soldiers, providing the backdrop for the otherworldly activity that takes place there today.
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Bridging the Gap
Sach’s Covered Bridge was built in 1852 but David Stoner. It extends one-hundred feet and connects the land separated by Gettysburg’s Marsh Creek. It served as a passage for vehicles and pedestrians for over a century, allowing them access to free travels — and dry feet!
However, due to weakening abutments over the decades, the historic landmark was closed to automobiles in 1968. Almost thirty years later, flooding shook the beautiful bridge from its foundation, and one-half of a million dollars later, it’s fully restored with steel support beams.
While the bridge is more structurally sound than ever, it’s only open today to light foot traffic. Throughout the years, township officials have considered reopening it for vehicular use, but each time, the importance of preserving the bridge outweighs any change in use.
When the Battle of Gettysburg broke out in July of 1863, the town of Gettysburg was turned completely upside down by the brutality that permeated the land. Since a vast majority of Union and Confederate soldiers were very young mean, some of them attempted to abandon the bloodshed and go into hiding.
One such occasion involved three Confederate troops who tried to evade the war by donning Union attire. Marching with the north near Sach’s Covered Bridge, they were soon discovered as belonging to the south and were promptly made an example of.
It’s argued to this day as to whether they were deserters, spies, or outright traitors. Regardless, the three men were hanged from the bridge’s wooden support beams, ensuring that any Confederate soldiers passing through it would see the executed men and heed the warning.
Sadly, this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the harrowing accounts from the Battle of Gettysburg.
Largely considered to be the bloodiest of any infighting to ever take place on American soil, much of Gettysburg became inundated with all things war. Homes, businesses, and even schools were taken over by military forces to function as make-shift hospitals and command headquarters. Civilians sprang into action to assist in tending to the wounded as bullets sprayed from every direction.
It was a trying time, to say the least. The body count soon started rising to what seemed like innumerable heights; the make-shift centers were overcrowded with both the dead and the injured — it is because of this that Pennsylvania is known as one of the most haunted places in the country.
End of the Bloodshed
Fortunately for the overall outcome of the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg served as the ultimate turning point. Due to a series of events leading up to Gettysburg, Confederate Colonel Robert E. Lee soon found himself with a greatly decreased army.
He waited for a Union counterattack, supposedly coming his way on the 4thof July. But the attack never came. Outnumbered and outgunned, Lee withdrew what few soldiers he had left and admitted defeat to Union General George Meade.
The Union was victorious in the Battle of Gettysburg and the war was nearly over.
Many people would later criticize Meade for sparing the lives of Lee and his remaining troops, as he had decided not to pursue any further fighting. Meade’s experience would prove that doing so would have had little effect, if any. The Confederacy was already defeated and any additional killing would have been grossly unnecessary.
At this juncture in the war, both Union and Confederate forces had already lost nearly 50,000 lives, and General Meade had seen enough death. The North would go on to rejoice in their bittersweet victory, while the South would mourn; their hopes of foreign recognition were forever gone.
With the Union victorious, President Abraham Lincoln would go on to deliver one of our nation’s greatest speeches with the iconic Gettysburg Address. Here, he would redirect the trajectory of the Union’s vision, now aimed at finding liberty and equality among the people.
The final words of his grand speech eerily foreshadow the hauntings that would later pervade Gettysburg. On November 19, 1863, Lincoln would end his address by saying:
“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.
That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Such noble yet chilling words were spoken by our former President. It would appear that the dead took this well to heart, for it seems that they will forever inhabit the lands of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Specters at Sach’s Covered Bridge
While many of the locations throughout Gettysburg that played a part in the Civil War garner plenty of attention, Sach’s Covered Bridge has become an icon. In the daytime, the bridge is a picturesque vision — one you may see on a postcard. But under the cover of night, the atmosphere wastes no time in transforming into a rather frightening setting.
Many witnesses have come forward to report the sighting of three disembodied heads floating on the bridge. Under the dim moonlight, their pictures have captured what appears to be the ghostly apparitions of the three Confederate soldiers.
The strong scent of cigar smoke has also been detected by guests as if a soldier or general from years ago still patrols the area. Visitors have also been rattled by a tap on their shoulder, only to find that no one is there with them.
The sound of distant gunfire is heard when on the bridge at night. This could easily be attributed to someone hunting in the nearby woods, but those same gunshots are often accompanied by cannon fire.
Throughout Gettysburg, tourists and lovers of the unknown will find plenty of locations to satiate their curiosities. Preserved for nearly 200 years, this haunted crossing serves as a reminder of life during the late 19th century and the many brave soldiers who used it during the Battle of Gettysburg.
For more on America’s most haunted locations, check out our blog!
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