Gettysburg, PA. Who hasn’t heard of this legendary place where blood was spilled in the name of military tactics and politically meaningful victories? It was brother against brother against father against uncle against cousin, the grey versus the blue, the Yanks toe to toe with the Johnny Rebs. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. An estimated 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or listed as missing after Gettysburg.
These days Gettysburg is a history suinae’s destination. A superfluity trough full of family fun activities, outlet shopping, antique stores, even Segway tours! However, I’m more beguiled by the after dark happenings. Such as at the Farnsworth House Inn where you can be told a tale of local lore in their basement that housed the bloody and dismembered. Or take a walking ghost tour, for those of you that would prefer to have the option to outrun your party, with Mark Nesbitt or other obliging ghosts, I mean hosts. Scout the Jenny Wade house where the only civilian casualty occurred. A PYT struck down by a stray bullet while toiling in the kitchen? A Cinderella ending this was not, sadly. Visit “The Grove” where ghostly lanterns appear searching for bodies of dead comrades to collect. Day and night activities all converged into a celebrated terminus located above mass graves. So, why not spend the weekend?
Cashtown Inn is a historic bed & breakfast located in Cashtown, Pennsylvania, about 8 miles from Gettysburg. During the Gettysburg Campaign, the inn became the headquarters for many Confederate officers and staff, including Generals A. P. Hill, John D. Imboden, and Henry Heth. The basement also served as a field hospital during the battle, and it is said that so many amputations were performed, that the limbs piled up outside blocked any sunlight from coming in the cellar window. Notice the preference to basement sites? If basements were cool enough to keep your food cold and limit a mass breeding of bacteria…well, just think about that. Now think about this, wasn’t it easier to let the viscera and viscous fluids run into the dirt to bond with the earth?
(Driving up to the Inn, this is what you would see.)
(Aerial view of the Cashtown Inn.)
Our group arrived for a weekend getaway of relaxation, gluttony, and ghost hunting. We had booked the General E. Lee room, which was a beautiful suite located on the third floor. There was a small living room area, a private bathroom, and a king size bed. The room encompassed the attic as an open floor plan. Upon entering, there was a small window to your left that showcased the road and lent romantic notions of horse drawn carriages, dusty rogues, and becoming ladies. To your right, was another small window that overlooked an empty yard.
(General E. Lee suite. The pic on the left is what you would see to your left upon entering. The pic on the right would be the side of the room where the candle was originally located.)
My friends had gone downstairs and I was left alone in the room to freshen up. I didn’t sense anything odd or was actively trying to “make contact”. However, I was looking around and wondering why was there a single battery powered candle placed on the sill that overlooked the empty yard? How inviting would it be to have that light illuminating the window that faced the facade? So, I picked up the candle from across the room and placed it where I wanted it, momentarily admiring my feng shui-ness. BAM! I whirled around at the shocking noise expecting something uber large to have toppled over. Everything was in place. Huh…okay, that was weird. At this point, I’m turning back to the window to feed my narcissism and what do I see? Nothing. An empty window sill. Where the fuck was that candle?! I’ll tell you where it was, it was back across the room at the original sill I removed it from. Yes, I booked it out of there faster than a toupee in a hurricane! I quickly joined my friends downstairs and told them aught of my experience. I imagined that, right?
The day was spent taking in the sights like Cemetery Hill and the Devil’s Den. We had lunch at the Dobbin House, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad. I highly recommend immersing yourself subterraneanly and noshing on food in their pub. After, ask about a tour of the building so you can see where the runaway slaves hid on their road to freedom.
(1776 Dobbin House – A most unique eating and drinking alehouse amidst three natural springs and two glowing fireplaces.)
Back to the Cashtown Inn and my reluctance to be left alone was palpable. As we lounged around, I suddenly became cold. It was as if a frigid cocoon had encased me in a thick winter. I can’t even express any better on how cold I became. I wrapped myself in two quilts that I found in the room. I kept turning up the thermostat until it reflected 90F. My friends were complaining about the heat and chiding me on my imagination. Finally I said, “Feel my face.”
I have never seen that look of utter denial on a person’s countenance as was on theirs. One by one, they placed their hands on the only exposed skin of my body, my unique physiognomy, only to pull their hands away and tuck it under their arms or between their thighs to warm their previously outstretched extremities.
Originally, we had determined the sleeping arrangements of who would sleep where upon our arrival.
That night, and the next, we all slept tightly in that king size bed.