This week I thought I’d answer a letter from Michael Couacaud who writes,
It’s me again with another broad question
Can you tell me more about famous battle ground sites and the folklore stories surrounding them? Which is the most famous?
Well Mike, pretty much EVERY battlefield has a ghost story or three, especially the big Civil War battles like Gettysburg. Here’s my own personal favorite battlefield from that war and the legends surrounding it that I wrote about a few years ago. Seems appropriate to rehash it here.
Although hard to say, and even harder to find on a map, Civil War enthusiasts will happily point out that the battle Chickamauga as one of the deadliest battles of the War. From September 19-20th, 1863, reports state that either 37,129 or 34,624 people lost their lives in just that one skirmish. For comparison sakes, 23,582 people died in Sharpsburg, and 43,454 people died at Gettysburg. It is no wonder with so many dead in one spot, that ghosts still dwell in this National military Park.
Chickamauga is only about 30 miles away from Chattanooga, and was the site of the greatest confederate victory in the Civil War.
In the past year, the North had won the Battle of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Mississippi, rallying momentum around them. Tennessee was firmly entrenched in Southern forces, and General Grant believed that if Tennessee could be won, the armies of the South could be divided and ensure a victory for the North.
The Battle of Chickamauga pitted two fine leaders of both Union and Confederate forces against each other. General Williams Rosecrans led the North in this battle. He commanded an army of 60,000 strong and six months before had forced the leader of the Southern army, General Braxton Bragg to retreat to their current Tennessee position after a lengthy three-day battle. Now Bragg’s army had them near defeat outside of Chattanooga.
Skillful leadership by Rosecrans forced Bragg back into LaFayette, Georgia, where a small miracle aided the South. Here in Georgia, reinforcements from Mississippi and Virginia caused Bragg’s army to swell to the size of 66,000 troops.
A few skirmishes occurred where Bragg attempted to defeat small portions of Rosecrans’ army, but they were largely unsuccessful and merely forced small retreats by the north.
On September 18th however, Bragg positioned his army upon Chickamauga Creek. That night Union soldiers were ordered to destroy the bridge connected the east and west banks. Here Union troops ran into advancing troops along Jay’s Mill.
This was a battle Neither General wanted to fight. The battlefield was a thick and lush forest, and because of it, visibility was less than 150 feet. Cannons were useless in this environment, and rifles were difficult to use as well. Often during this battle, troops resorted to fisticuffs instead of guns.
No doubt the battlefield played a huge part in the 16,000 Union soldiers that died, as well as the 18,000 confederate troops that were killed as well. But victory was decided not by strategy or luck, but by simple communication error on the part of the North.
The first day of the battle was an all out assault by both sides. The second day however, Bragg has his men concentrate on the left flank of Rosecrans’ army. Sometime in the day, words came to Rosecrans that a gap had developed in his line of troops. In fact, nothing of the sort existed, but in trying to fortify that area of his troops, Rosecrans accidentally created a real hole in his defenses. Forces under the command of James Longstreet saw the breech in the North’s defenses and led his troops directly into it. Half of the North’s army was routed, including Rosecrans himself!
General George Thomas took over the remaining half of the army and its remnants managed to hold off Confederate forces at Snodgrass hill. This earned Thomas the nickname ‘Rock of Chickamauga.’
Rosecrans was replaced by Thomas as leader, and when General Ulysses S. Grant arrived in October, the North began a month long assault that ended with them controlling all of Tennessee and allowing General Sherman’s advance into Atlanta.
Some say the dead still haunt this place where they died, hatred and emotions tying them to the land.
Even before Europeans settled the land, Native Americans called this area, ‘The River of Death,’ which is what Chickamauga means in Cherokee. And the river actually did run red with blood during the gruesome battle between North and South.
Morbid occurrences are commonplace in this National Park. Most Union soldiers had their corpses burned or were buried in mass graves or haphazardly around the battlefield. There were no stones marking where bodies lay, and occasionally park maintenance digs up disinters bodies where none were thought to lay.
Random ghostly occurrences do happen. Horse whinnies and hoof beats are heard when it is painfully obvious no horses exist. Moans, shouts, and wailing are heard when no one is present. A woman in white drifts about aimlessly, seen by many people. Some believe she is the wife or lover of one of the slain soldiers. That she combs the battlefield, looking for her lost love. But no one has ever bothered to ask.
The most famous ghost is that of “Ol’ Green Eyes.” And there are two legends surrounding the origins of this famous specter.
The first states that Green Eyes is the ghost of a Confederate soldier. At the battle of Chickamauga, This solider has his head severed from his body after a shot from a cannonball. All that was buried of this soldier was his head. Now his ghost roams his place of death, futilely searching for the remnants of his body.
Many people have claimed to see this ghostly soldier, including two people in the 1970’s who crashed into each others car after hearing the horrible moaning that came from two glowing green lights.
However, Green Eyes was seen long before the battle ever took place, and some troops that survived the battle of Chickamauga claimed to see a green eyed ghost wandering the battlefield examining the dead. Accounts before and after the battle state that not only has Green Eyes walked this area before the gruesome battle occurred, but in now way resembles a human.
Those witnesses and storytellers say Green Eyes is a monster. He has glowing green eyes, light colored hair that extends past his waist, and huge twisted maw, from which large pointed fangs protrude. Park Ranger Ed Tinny claims to have seen this creature pass right by him with eyes glaring and teeth gnashing. Then as quickly as it came, it left. It is obviously much different from the fallen soldier portrayed by others.
Contradictions in ghostly legends are commonplace, as are embellishments on the creatures past and history. Perhaps there are two ghosts with similar qualities. Perhaps there are none except for those created by tales and folklore. One thing is for certain and that is Chickamauga Battlefield is no place to be alone after dark.
Coleman, Christopher. Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War. Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Press, 1999.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, The. New York:
Checkmark Books, 2000
Kaye, Marvin, ed. Haunted America. New York: Guild America Books, 1990.
Kaye, Marvin, ed. Ghosts. New York: Doubleday Books, 1981.
Taylor, Troy. Spirits of the Civil War. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Productions Press, 1999.
The American Civil War Overview: http://www.civilwarhome.com/ChickChatt.htm
Battle Summary: Chickamauga, GA: http://www2.cr.nps.gov/abpp/battles/ga004.htm
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park: http://www.nps.gov/chch/
Chickamauga Battlefield: http://www.prairieghosts.com/chick.html
Haunted Battlefields: http://www.ghostresearch.org/articles/battle.html
So I hope this helps Mike. I can’t cover EVERY battlefield on the planet or even every Civil War one. But the webpages I linked below should give you a nice set of follow up info. I will however follow-up with two more Civil War battlefields over the next two weeks, so keep a watch out for those.
This next essay is actually for my friend Chris, who runs the website, Gothling.com, as this is the story that Ira Levin to write the book, Rosemary’s Baby, which was eventually made into a film by Roman Polanski in 1968.
The Devil Baby of Hull House
Before Hull House was a multicultural museum owned at operated by the University of Illinois, this famous Chicago landmark was the center of Paranormal controversy in regards to a strange infant that was supposedly locked away with in the house.
Hull House was built in 1856 when Halstad and Polk Street were the upper class areas of Chicago. After the great Chicago fire of 1871, the richer Chicago citizens move to other parts of the city, and the Southwest corner that Hull House was part of soon became the immigrant location of the city, housing mainly Italian, Greeks, and Jewish families. In the 1880’s Hull House became surrounded by industry, with factories and tenements, swelling the immigrant ranks of the Southwest and further segregating Chicago’s wealth.
In September 1889, Jane Addams and Ellen Starr Gates moved into Hull House, and founded the first United States Welfare Center there. Helen Culver, secretary to the Hull Heirs, was allowed to given the social workers a guaranteed twenty-five year rent-free lease. Hull House began to provide many services to the poor such as kindergarten and daycare for working mothers, an unemployment agency, an art gallery, a library, settlement housing for the homeless and abused, and even music and art classes. Hull House was a century ahead of its time, housing other famous activists as Florence Kelley, Julia Lathrop, Alice Hamilton, and the Abbots. Hull House managed to launch many new organizations dedicated to labor and social welfare, including The Immigrants Protective League, Juvenile Protective Association, and the Institute for Juvenile Research. Due in part to the women of Hull House, the Illinois legislature passed laws in 1903 giving women and children protective labors laws and compulsory education. The federal government soon followed suit, passing laws in 1916 enforcing child labor laws.
Addams became a prolific writer, and was a member of many local and national organizations for race and gender equality. She became the first leader of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919 and won the Nobel peace prize in 1931. Although Addams died from cancer on May 21, 1935, the Hull House Organization continued on. Hull House moved to a new location in 1963, and the old house was purchased by the University of Illinois and turned into a Museum.
It was during Addams occupation of Hull House that the rumors of the Devil baby began. But before that controversy started, Addams and Starr encountered other supernatural phenomenon. Several years before Addams came to Hull House, Mrs. Hull died of natural causes there, and a few months after her passing, rumors began that Hull’s ghost haunted the room where she died. Overnight guests admitted to hearing strange footsteps along with other ghostly and disturbing noises.
Jane Addams first occupied Mrs. Hull’s room when she moved into Hull House. One night however, Jane was awakened by loud footprints. She was aghast to discover her room totally empty, with the noise still persisting. Nights after night this ghostly occurrence repeated itself. Jane eventually confided in Starr about the strange happenings, only to find Ellen has experienced the same thing. Soon after this admission, Jane moved to another room.
Other friends of Jane’s tried the room only to encounter the same thing. Helen Campbell actually saw the apparition who quickly vanished before her eyes when she lit her gas lamp. Louise Bowen, Jane and Mary Smith, and Canon Barrett all witnessed the odd noises and footsteps when they visited the house in 1893.
Jane commented in her book, Twenty Years at Hull House, that she had learned previous residents of Hull House considered it haunted as well! The Little Sisters of the Poor, had kept a bucket of water at the top of the stairs, believing the ghost was unable to cross it. This ghost was believed to be harmless and forlorn, but a spectral presence nonetheless than Hull House residents eventually learned to live with.
It was the ‘Devil Baby’ that truly cemented Hull House in haunted Chicago folklore. In 1913, Hull house was overtaken with rumors that a strangely deformed baby was born in the house and hidden away. The immigrant communities passed their own version of the tales and the house had a veritable horde of onlookers wishing to see the decrepit child. Addams was perplexed as to where this story had sprung from and constantly had to inform visitors that there was no basis to the rumor, but when Chicago reporter Ben Hecht picked it up, things exploded to the point where Jane had to devote two entire chapters of her biography to disproving the story.
There are many versions of the story that Jane discovered when inquiring where locals heard the story.
The Italian/Catholic version of the story involved a Devout Catholic girl who married an Atheist. When the woman became pregnant and hung a picture of the Virgin Mary over their bed, the husband became angered and destroyed the picture, vowing he would rather have Satan himself in their home. God punished the couple by making the woman birth a child that bore an eerie resemblance to the Devil. It had horns, cloven hooves, pointed ears, a long prehensile tail and scales covering its entire body.
The Devil Baby was able to talk and walk from birth and constantly threatened the father. It smoked cigars and its laugh frightened all who heard it. The father, knowing nowhere else to go, brought the babe to Jane Addams and begged her to take it. When Hull House members took the creature to be baptized, it escaped from the priest and ran away on top of the pews. Jane, with no other options, locked the baby in the attic.
The Irish Version of the story had an Irish girl not confessing an affair and her pregnancy by that man instead of her husband.
There are no less than FOUR Jewish versions of this story, featuring a Jewish girl marrying a Gentile where her father swore he would rather have Satan for a grandson than a Gentile for a son-in-law. A Jewish man who had six daughters already swore to his pregnant wife that he would rather have the Devil than a seventh daughter. Yet another Jewish version had a pregnant woman who watched the play Faust, and bore the devil’s child because she watched the devil on stage too intently. Finally, there is an Orthodox Jewish version of the story where a woman hid that she had an illegitimate child, and claimed her second child, who was born in wedlock, was the only one she had. Then when she gave birth to her third child, it was the Devil as punishment for her lies.
The final and most sinister version of the tale, according to Jane, was a Husband who had committed a hideous crime years before and had never concealed the nature of it to his wife. Because he had deceived his innocent young bride and the priest who performed the Ceremony, the child became the incarnation of that sin, resembling the devil itself.
For six straight weeks Jane had to turn back people who wished to view the creature. She received calls form people who wanted to organize tours, and had to crush people’s hopes repeatedly by explaining to them such a creature was not possible. People even offered her money in hopes of glimpsing the satanic child.
Jane wrote in, The Long Road of Women’s Memory, that the child’s story had been most likely created by older immigrant women of the community, taking a tale from folklore 1000 years back and modifying it to show that this current ‘fad’ of female equality and modernization was frightening and against the words of the religion they had grown up with. In other words, it was a metaphorical warning against changing gender roles.
Jane also wrote that the story gave the community something to brighten the humdrum existence that came with being part of the impoverished working class. It let them hold on to their old world beliefs from the countries that had left and also a way for the various groups to mix without commentary on religion or race. So in some respects, in the month and a half where curious and superstitious visitors plagued Hull House, the rumor helped with Hull House’s goal of uniting people.
Eventually the rumors abated and things returned to normal for Hull House. But the story refused to go away entirely. Many believed Addams had the child still in the house and merely denied the rumors. It remained locked in the attic until it died. Some also believed it was moved to another house in a city north of Chicago called Waukegan. Some with a more rational view theorized the child was merely deformed and its appearance was exaggerated. Jane, taking pity on the child, hid it from the slack-jawed yokels who wished to gawk at it.
Even today though, the rumor persists. People claim that the baby can still be seen staring out the attic window at passerby’s. The house is still on tours of Haunted Chicago and a few people claim they can an uncomfortable aura when inside the museum. The Devil Baby legend was even the inspiration for the novel, Rosemary’s Baby, written by Ira Levins in 1967.
Today, other less famous rumors about Hull House being haunted exist. Some claim Adams herself haunted the building, waiting for her work to be finished. Other claim a woman committed suicide upstairs and exists. Others have claimed to witness the ghost of monks. Unlike the Devil baby, none of these rumors have any foundation or documentation, and even the Devil baby was merely spoken word Urban Legend until Hecht.
Hull House is open to the public, featuring rotating exhibits on the history of Adams and Hull House itself. The interior has been refurnished to resemble how the house looked during Addams’ occupancy of it, and is filled with original painting, piece of furniture and photos in an attempt to recapture the feeling of yesteryear. Attached to the Hull House is an Arts and Crafts building which Addams had added on to Hull House in 1906 as a dining hall. As of this writing, the first floor is currently being renovated, and the second floor houses audio-visual activities.
One can visit Hull House weekdays from Ten am to Four pm and on Sundays from Noon until Five pm. The museum is closed from December 24th, until the First of January, and admission is free. Group tours must be booked in advance.
For more information about Hull House write;
JANE ADDAMS-HULL HOUSE MUSEUM
The University of Illinois at Chicago
800 South Halstad
Chicago, IL 60607-7017
Addams, Jane. The Long Road of Woman’s Memory. New York: Macmillan Press, 1916; Boondocks Edition, 2000.
Addams, Jane. The Second Twenty Years at Hull House. New York: MacMillan Press, 1930; Boondocks Edition, 2000.
Bielski, Ursula. Chicago Haunts. Chicago: Lake Claremount Press, 1988.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, The. New York:
Checkmark Books, 2000
Riccio, Dolores, and Joan Bingham. Haunted Houses USA. New York: Pocket Books, 1989.
Scott, Beth and Michael Norman. Haunted Heartland. New York: Warner Books, 1985.
Taylor, Troy, Haunted Illinois. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Production press, 1999.
We all know Lamb is my favorite meat. You can’t beat it for texture, flavour, or the ability to hold in spices. What we’re going to do today is a very simple lamb dish with garlic and peppers and some lovely Rioja wine. Now I don’t drink alcohol, and I never have, but it’s a wonderful ingredient for adding flavors to foods.
If you’re not a lamb person, a good variation of this dish is to substitute the lamb for lean pork and switch the red Rioja wine for a white one.
2 Pounds lean lamb fillet
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
One-fourth cup olive oil
2 red onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons paprika
One-fourth teaspoon ground cloves
1 and two-thirds cups red Rioja wine
Two-thirds cup lamb stock
2 bay leaves
2 Thyme sprigs
3 Red bell peppers, seeded and halved
salt and ground black pepper
bay leaves and thyme to garnish
Green beans and Saffron Rice for veg and side. (You should know how to make these)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut the lamb into chunks. Season the flour with salt and pepper, add the lamb and toss lightly to coat.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan, and saute the lamb, stirring, until browned. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Lightly saute the onions in the pan with the garlic, paprika, and cloves.
3. Add the Rioja, stock, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil, stirring. Pour the contents of the pan onto the meat. Cover with a lid and bake for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the dish from the oven. Stir in the red peppers into the stew and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for another 30 minutes, until the meat is tender. Garnish the stew with bay leaves and sprigs of thyme and serve with green beans and saffron rice or boiled potatoes.
That’s it for this week. Join me next Monday for the last of the Daily Pulses, and in fact the last of Volume I of Nyogtha…