When travelers stay at an inn or bed and breakfast in Gettysburg, they find more than just a distinct style and charm, they discover a little bit of mystery and magic. Although the warmth and special attention guests receive from innkeepers is quite magical, there is more to it than that. There are mysterious things that also stay at the B&B’s of Gettysburg. They are remnants of our past… and they have no intention of leaving.

“I spent a few days in Gettysburg last year and stayed at the Farnsworth House overnight, and upon awakening during the night, I saw a form of a woman standing near the doorway. Oh how exciting it is to know that you had a ghostly encounter,” says Lorraine Saintz of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. 

 Just imagine waking up in the night to see a ghostly soldier standing at the foot of your bed or hearing eerie footsteps in the hall outside your room. When unearthly beings are a part of your vacation, it can mean the adventure of a lifetime! 

The Battle

The Battle of Gettysburg occurred in July 1863 and lasted for three days. On the first day Confederates attacked from the west and north driving the Army of the Potomac back through the streets to Cemetery Hill, and then took up positions on Seminary Ridge, west of town. The second day of battle saw Union and Confederates engaged in battles at the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devils Den, and the Round Tops at Culp’s Hill and East Cemetery Hills. And on the final day of battle was the famous Pickett’s Charge that failed, forcing Confederates to retreat with severe casualties. Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg marked the turning of the tide for the Confederacy. According to the Battlefield Park Web site, this three-day battle resulted in more than 51,000 reported casualties: 23,000 Union soldiers and 28,000 Confederate soldiers.

So began the legacy which, some would say, continues today in what is now a peaceful and sought-after vacation refuge.

Staying Among the Supernatural

In fact, a haunted bed and breakfast is a one-of-a-kind adventure for vacationers. Guests can stay in a place that is not only steeped in Civil War history, but also may have visitors from the area’s tumultuous past lurking through its rooms and halls. “Battlegrounds are hallowed grounds for spirits, so Gettysburg would be a great choice for those seeking a haunted experience,” says Marti Mayne, the media contact for BedandBreakfast.com and Inns.com.

To help me understand what draws others to stay at a haunted bed and breakfast, I asked several guests who have experience these supernatural wonders firsthand.

Rose Eckhoff, of Phoenix, Arizona, says, “Haunted inns are so much fun to visit and stay in. They are usually over 100 years old and filled with old-world charm. I love the historical perspective and the ambience. A ghost or two is always an intriguing possibility to look forward to!” 

“I love the history of the inns where I stay,” Saintz says. “The thought of seeing or hearing something of the paranormal makes me know there is life on the other side.” 

Lorraine Scott, of Seven Hills, Ohio, says, “The reason I love staying at haunted B&Bs is because it stirs up the curiosity in me as a paranormal investigator.”

The Cashtown Inn

 “BedandBreakfast.com has done their annual round-up of ‘Great Places to Sleep with a Ghost’ for three years now, and each year we find more interest from not only inn-goers but media on the opportunity to stay at a haunted place.” Mayne says. “I think the interest is fueled by traveler’s unquenchable thirst for unique travel experiences and seeing or feeling a ghost certainly qualifies. For the younger set, it's a great story to tell on Monday morning around the water cooler; for others, it's perhaps the chance to experience the third dimension — something we're all curious about.”

Where the Ghosts Come Out to Play

Cashtown Inn. The apparition of a Confederate soldier staring from the upstairs windows at the Cashtown Inn has greeted many a guest. Saintz experienced a ghostly encounter, “Returning to the inn around 10 p.m. and while in the parking lot I heard music and people having a good time in the bar. When I unlocked the door to get into the inn, I saw no one in the bar room and no music was playing. The bar was locked up for the night and no one was in sight.”

Cashtown Inn’s Web site states, “Built circa 1797. The Cashtown Inn served as the first stagecoach stop west of Gettysburg. During the Gettysburg campaign of 1863, the Inn served as Confederate headquarters for General A.P. Hill. Recently the Inn has appeared in the movie Gettysburg, in the Mark Nesbitt book and video Ghosts of Gettysburg, the book and video Haunted Gettysburg, and on the cover of Blue and Gray magazine.”

Farnsworth House Inn. Guests in the Farnsworth House Inn report hearing footsteps and seeing the ghost of a woman in their rooms. Others report that a Civil War soldier comes into their rooms in the middle of the night.

The Lightner FarmhouseAccording to Farnsworth House Inn’s Web site, “During the battle, the house sheltered Confederate sharpshooters, one of whom it is believed accidentally shot Jennie Wade, who died in the three-day struggle. The south side of the house bears mute testimony to the death and destruction that raged around it. More than 100 bullet holes can still be seen in that wall.” The Farnsworth House has been featured on A&E’s “The Unexplained,” as well as the History and Sci-Fi channels.

Lightner Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast. The Union Army commandeered Lightner Farmhouse as a hospital; the wounded lay in the fields around the Farmhouse waiting until a doctor could treat them. A few of these deceased soldiers are said to still lurk about in the dead of night. 

Several of my friends have stayed in this Federal-style building (circa 1862) and have experienced ghostly phenomena. The day I visited this beautiful bed and breakfast, I too experienced paranormal happenings in the parlor room, which was the operating room of the Civil War hospital. 

Herr Tavern & Publick House. This 1815 Federal-style building remained behind Confederate lines and was used as a Confederate hospital where it was said that amputated limbs were thrown out a window into a waiting wagon for burial. 

 The Herr TavernAccording to the Herr Tavern & Publick House Web site, “There are literally dozens of incidents at Herr Tavern that would indicate that it is haunted. Steve Wolf, the owner, is the first to admit that his place is haunted. Steve calls one of the ghosts ‘My buddy, Freddie.’ Steve thinks that it is the ghost of Frederick Herr, although he has no way to be sure.”

When I visited Herr Tavern, I thoroughly enjoyed its dining room — the food was mouth-watering and the atmosphere superb.

Gettysburg Today

Whether you come to Gettysburg for a weekend getaway or to tour the Civil War battlefield, Gettysburg has much to offer. Those who are daring can take ghost tours choosing from a dozen tour groups, or they can walk the battlefield where the Civil War’s most decisive battle took place. When you come to Gettysburg be prepared to step back in time and experience the history of America’s most important Civil War battle and maybe a few ghosts along the way.