Living in Northern Virginia, there is a lot of talk about haunted locations, many of which are related to the Civil War era. Nearby Manassas Battlefield
has its stories, as do other battlefield locations scattered throughout the region. To the north, in Maryland, Antietam, along with Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, are two locations that are often cited as being haunted.
Antietam is remembered as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The Battle at Antietam
, which occurred on Sept. 17, 1862, was a fiercely fought battle. According to historical accounts, the battle was comprised of four hours of intense fighting with high casualties on both sides. Over 23,000 men were wounded, killed or missing in action after the Union and Confederate armies met
on these farmlands and the surrounding vicinity.
Antietam is thought by many to be haunted. Two particular locations in the battlefield, "Bloody Lane" (originally known as Sunken Road) and "Burnside Bridge" are often cited as an area where Civil War-era images, scents and noises are noticed.
Burnside Bridge is located in an area that is set apart from the majority of the battlefield. Originally known as Rohrback Bridge when it was built in 1836, today the bridge is called Burnside Bridge, as this is the location where General Ambrose Burnside pushed the Confederate Army back and captured the bridge.
Is Burnside Bridge haunted? According to several reports, odd occurrences happen in the area surrounding the bridge. Many have reported
seeing ghostly figures, blue balls of light and sounds of phantom drum playing.
These accounts come from both park rangers and visitors to the site. Additionally, there are some accounts
Civil War reenactors who have spent the night have seen "strange things" occurring at the bridge
. One story implies a dead solider took part in a reenactment
, possibly thinking it was real.
Reportedly, many soldiers that died at or near the bridge were buried in unmarked graves. Speculation is the activity at Burnside Bridge comes from these restless souls.
This writer did not see any possible haunting activity going on at Burnside Bridge, but it was oddly quiet, however, it was also a chilly winter afternoon that saw some snow flurries. I think I saw only two people anywhere near the bridge that day.
On that September day in 1862, 100,000 men came together to engage in battle and almost a quarter of them did not live to see another day. Whether or not Burnside Bridge, or any other part of Antietam, is haunted, is up for speculation, but either way ghosts of the Civil War do remain.
Stopping at the several battlefield stops on the driving tour, you get an acute sense of what transpired there in the 19th century.