The Soldier on the Bicycle
Submitted by Author Suzanne Madron
Listen to the audio version of this story read by David Walton from EP22: Gettysburg Ghosts:
The next time I came to the area, it was to stay. Being from the city and growing up in the mountains of Pennsylvania far to the north, it never occurred to me there were smaller battles surrounding Gettysburg. All we ever learned in school was the Battle of Gettysburg.
Discovering that my house was built on one of those battlefields, at the base of what was known during that battle as ‘Bunker Hill’ shocked me. When we bought the house, it was considered a ‘fixer upper’ with minor cosmetics needed to bring it from the late 1930’s/early 1940’s to the 21st century. There were plenty of unexplained things happening inside the house to keep me occupied enough that I barely noticed the man in uniform on a bike when he would ride by in the summer.
I took notice of the man because he seemed to only go by on our street around the end of June/very beginning of July. As I worked in my office, I would see him riding past on an ancient-looking bicycle, and while odd, it wasn’t completely out of place in the area. There are many re-enactors who go for authenticity and historical accuracy. As soon as the weather is warm, it’s not uncommon to see Model T cars driving around and parked at local eateries, so an old bike being ridden by a man in Civil War uniform was just as plausible.
For years, I saw this man on his bike, or other men in Civil War uniform around the neighborhood. While out in the garden one day, my neighbor across the street came out on her porch and we started talking. As we chatted, the soldier on the bike rounded the corner and rode between us. I waved at him and said hello, and he looked surprised and seemed to pedal faster.
I looked across to my neighbor and laughing, said, “Re-enactors, huh?”
She looked confused and asked what I was talking about. I pointed down the street where the soldier on the bike had gone, but he was already out of sight. I told her about the man on the bike who had just ridden between us while we talked.
She looked more confused and said she must not have been looking. I know she had been looking because we had been talking and she had been looking at me from across the street. I shrugged off the event until one day I was at a local event with another neighbor from down the block.
We started talking about the area and how it used to be a battlefield, and she brought up all the ghosts still hanging around. I asked her if she had ever seen the soldier on the bicycle and she smiled. Yes, she had seen him many times, along with the others walking the neighborhood. I told her I assumed they were re-enactors gearing up for the Gettysburg re-enactment in July.
She smiled and said, “I think we both know they’re not re-enactors.”
In 2013 there was a re-enactment of our town’s battle to commemorate the 150 year anniversary of the Gettysburg Campaign. The area where the battle took place has since become residential, so the re-enactment took place on a farm just outside of town. Since then, I have not seen the soldiers, or the soldier on his bike.