Bloody Lane is one of the most haunted locations on the battlefield. There have been numerous reports of paranormal activity from visitors; the most common are hearing the sounds of gunfire, the smell of gunpowder and ghostly chanting.
Located on the far western edge of Maryland is the Antietam Battlefield, which can be found just outside of the small town of Sharpsburg. This former battlefield is the best preserved of all of the areas that have been turned into National Park Battlefields, looking much as it did at the time of the battle in 1862. The battle was fought on September 17 and marked the first of two attempts by Robert E. Lee to take the war onto northern soil, it became known as the bloodiest single day of the entire war with combined casualties of 23,100 wounded, missing and dead.
Union troops had encountered Confederates under General D.H. Hill posted along an old sunken road which separated the Roulette and Piper farms. For nearly four hours, fierce fighting occurred along this road and it would later become known as "Bloody Lane". The slaughter at the Bloody Lane became one of the most memorable and tragic events of the battle, and perhaps even of the entire war.
Some of the most heroic participants were the 69th of New York, recalled today by their nickname, "The Irish Brigade". The Brigade had been reformed in New York after the fighting at Manassas cost the lives of many of their men and many others had been captured. They formed again under the command of Thomas Meagher, an Irish immigrant and a campaigner for Irish freedom. The Brigade were amongst the most colorful of the Union troops fighting was common, as was heavy drinking. They brought along their own priest to war and he conducted mass for them on the Sabbath and on the eve of battles.
The Irish announced their arrival at the battlefield with the sounds of drums and volleys of fire as they attacked the Confederate position. They launched their assault, cheering loudly, while their priest, Father Corby, rode among the men offering prayers and absolution. As they charged, the Brigade screamed loudly and shouted a battle cry Faugh a Balaugh, "Fah-ah-bah-lah", which is Gaelic for "Clear the Way!"
The Brigade fought fiercely and fell in large numbers; the Irish Brigade lost more than 60 percent of their men that day.
Bloody Lane has become known as one of the most haunted locations on the battlefield. Strange things have happened here, which lead many to believe that events of the past are still being replayed today. There are numerous reports of paranormal activity from visitors; the most common are hearing the sounds of gunfire, and the smell of gunpowder.
Overlooking the battlefield is Pry House, a brick farmhouse that was commandeered by General George McClellan to use as his headquarters, and as a field hospital during the battle. General Israel B. Richardson, who had been shot, was brought to the house, unfortunately he would never recover from his wounds, and he died at Pry House six months later it was a slow painful death. His wife Frances was there with him during his final days, she never recovered from his death. It is thought to be Frances's spirit that haunts the property. Pry house today is owned and maintained by the National Park Service.
Frances's ghost has been seen walking out of an upstairs office and disappearing through the wall, this is thought to the room in which General Richardson died. During a meeting of park personnel, the wife of one of the men at the meeting met a woman in old-fashioned clothing coming down the staircase. She later asked her husband who the lady in the long dress was but he had no idea who she was taking about.
During a fire at the house in the 1970s, firefighters reported seeing a woman in a second floor window, after the second floor had collapsed. After the fire was extinguished firefighter's spent hours searching the debris for the woman they had seen, no remains were ever found.
When the building was being renovated all the doors in the house were opened to air it. Suddenly all the doors slammed shut, from the front to the back of the house in the space of several seconds. All the doors were reopened and again each door slammed shut, this time from the back of the house to the front.
Another piece of reported phenomena is that of phantom footsteps that have been heard going up and down the staircase.
The Otto House stands on a knoll along the Burnside Bridge Road it overlooks the Sherrick Farm. The Otto House was used as a field hospital during the Battle of Antietam. One night two Antietam park rangers were doing their rounds, when they reached the Otto house they were horrified to see a blue translucent figure in the open doorway of house. The ghostly figure looked like a Southern belle she was dressed in a hoop skirt standing in doorway of the house looking toward town.
St. Paul Episcopal Church was used as a Confederate field hospital during the battle; it was heavily damaged during the fighting and was later rebuilt. Those who have lived close to the building claim they have heard the screams of the dying and injured coming from the inside of the church. They have also seen unexplained lights flickering from the church's tower.
One resident of Sharpsburg who visited the battlefield early one summer's morning saw several men in Confederate uniforms walking down the lane towards him. He assumed they were re-enactors or guides, the sound of his phone drew his attention from the men. On answering his mobile he looked up to find the soldiers had vanished.
The most famous story of the Bloody lane involves a group of boys from the McDonna School in Baltimore. The children had toured the battlefield for most of the day and ended the trip at Bloody Lane. The boys were allowed some free time to think about what they had learned that day. They were asked to record their impressions for a history. The comments that got the most attention from the teacher were written by several boys who walked down the road to the observation tower, which is located where the Irish Brigade charged the Confederate line.
The boys described hearing strange noises that became shouts, coming from the field near the tower. Some of them said that it sounded like a chant and others described the voices as though someone were singing a Christmas song in a foreign language a song that sounded like "Deck the Halls". More specifically, they described the words as sounding like the part of the song that goes "Fa-la-la-la-la". The singing came strongly and then faded away. When the teacher asked them if the words they heard were Fah-ah-bah-lah all the children agreed that this is what they heard.
Burnside Bridge is another area of the battlefield where paranormal activity and ghosts have been seen. Historians and experts report that the fighting here was fierce and there were many casualties, after the battle these bodies were hastily buried in mass graves close to the bridge. Visitors to the bridge at night have reported seeing blue balls of light moving on and around the bridge, and the sound of a phantom drum that slowly fades away.
Piper House, is located on the battlefield itself, during which, it served as headquarters to Confederate General Longstreet and the barn was used as a field hospital. The house was situated directly in the middle of the battle and after the fighting ended, three dead soldiers were removed from under the piano in the parlor. Owners have complained of strange sounds and mysterious figures that appear and vanish without explanation. The house now operates as a bed and breakfast the present owner's have not had any paranormal experiences. Guests however have reported hearing muffled voices and odd sounds coming from within their rooms, and a misty apparition has been seen in the doorway to the upstairs bathroom.