Submitted by Author Suzanne Madron
Listen to the audio version read by David Walton from EPISODE 22: Gettysburg Ghosts:
In Gettysburg and the surrounding area, it’s occasionally hard to tell the ghosts from the living. Such was the case when I first visited the battlefields. I was a teenager on a class trip, and discovered re-enactors, so when I climbed to the observation deck of the 12th and 44th New York Infantry Monument on Little Roundtop, I assumed the young man I met there to be a member of the re-enactor group. We spoke briefly, and his manner of speaking was odd and something I attributed to his playing an historic role. When he seemed surprised that the North had won the war, I chuckled. As my friends joined us on the observation deck I turned to greet them and introduce them to ‘Mr. 1863.’
When I turned, the young man was gone. Anyone who’s been to the monument knows to jump from the observation deck would be to break a limb if not worse. It’s also impossible to get back down the tiny spiral stone staircase if there are people on it. There was no one on the ground, and my friends blocked the stairs.
Afterwards we all compared our experiences. My friends had heard me talking to a man, but saw no one when they rounded the spiral of the stairs.
When I described the soldier’s uniform to a guide friend of mine (it was Union, and I got the impression he was an officer, though he seemed too young for such a rank and the uniform looked almost like an upscale band uniform), they brought me through the visitor center’s museum to see if we could locate something similar for reference. At the very end of the museum I passed a case, and when I saw it
I knew it was the same kind my soldier friend had worn. It was indeed an officer’s uniform, and I discovered the artillery officers were young and often didn’t live long.
I have returned to the monument many times since then, and I’ve never seen the soldier again.