The Civil War Ghost of Halloween-a True Story – Oldwarrior
On a scorching Halloween weekend in 1959, I was once again shunted off to visit relatives in the depressing southern town of Lucedale, about an hour’s drive north of my home on the Gulf Coast.
The relatives in this case were named the Millers, a family I knew little about and cared for even less. They had a fourteen-year-old son, another son age 8 and two daughters ages 11 and 12 respectively.
The most unusual thing about this family was not their collective makeup; it was the location in which they lived. They were typical country folks, poor, uneducated and on a quick and winding road to a life of grinding poverty.
They lived several miles north of town on a gentle slope leading down a dusty dirt road into a deep, narrow and unusually creepy valley.
Dead Man’s Gulch, My pseudo cousin Ronny remarked, explaining the significance of the mysteriously creepy hollow below their home. “Word has it that a Yankee spy was butchered down there while trying to escape during the war.”
The war he was referring to of course, was the Civil War or War of Northern Aggression as they dub it. Seems like people in this neck of the woods still live and think as if that particular war never ended.
Hunters and hikers have seen the ghost of the Yankee soldier walking through the brush, Ronny expounded. “It’s been said that people who entered the hollar at night have come up missing for no reason. Even the animals keep away.”
Naturally Laura Sue, the 12 year old daughter was listening to this one sided conversation and had to inject her thoughts. “Take a real brave person to go down yonder after dark,” she crooned, batting her pretty blue eyes and looking at me with a dreamy smile.
Heck, I ain’t scared of no ghosts, I blurted out, trying hard to impress her with my lack of fear and stout manliness.
Which naturally led to the proverbial dare.
That night Ronny and I trekked into the creepy environs of Dead Man’s Gulch.
We were well prepared for the brave venture, he had his 410 shotgun with half a box of mixed shells, I carried his dad’s 12-gauge shotgun, and for good measure I wore an old machete that I had spotted hanging on the wall in their barn. It was red stained and probably used to chop the heads off chickens.
Despite this armament, I was scared to death during the entire journey. Ronny acted as if he didn’t have the slightest bit of fear, but I could tell from the way he constantly talked that he was desperately trying to hide it.
Along about midnight we decided to give up the idiotic venture and head up the winding dirt road back to his house.
Less than five minutes later Ronny put his arm out as a signal for me to stop then bent forward as if he was trying to see something on the dark road ahead of us.
The night was sweltering hot for that time of year but relatively clear with a bright moon slowly making its way down to the horizon. We could see quite well for twenty or thirty paces but after that darkness enveloped everything casting various shades of black and gray.
At first I could see nothing along the sides of the road but silhouettes of bushes and trees, then I suddenly spotted movement in the center of the road about fifty or sixty paces ahead of us.
It was no animal or at least it did not have the outline of an animal. The movements were quite like those a slowly pacing man would make.
As the silhouette continued to walk back and forth from one side of the road to the other, Ronny began to yell. “Whoever you are youall better git or I’m gonna start shooting at you!”
After several minutes of yelling and threats, Ronny finally opened up at the shadow with his shotgun.
The sudden blast was shocking in the still quiet of the night.
I was worried at first because it may be someone playing a prank on us and the shotgun would be a deadly weapon at this close distance.
I then noticed that the shadowy form was still pacing back and forth across the dark road. We gave each other a terrified glance, and then we both opened up with everything we had. For a mad minute or two we shot shell after shell at the silently pacing figure.
The rounds had no effect that we could tell.
Then all of a sudden… the form simply disappeared.
To say the least we made it back to his home with a speed that an Olympic champion would envy.
The next day, Halloween, during broad daylight we cautiously made our way back down the winding road to the area where our terrifying adventure took place.
The entire road from side to side was torn up and bushes mangled from the impact of the shotgun shells we had fired.
There was no sign of blood or anything that might indicate that someone or something had been the recipient of our furious shooting.
But – and there’s always a but – we did find several partial boot prints with a crescent shaped indentation in the soft dirt.
Could these possibly be the boot prints of the ghost of Dead Man’s Gulch?
Ronny said that his grandfather saw the same footprints with the same crescent mark over sixty years ago.
That evening after Trick-or-Treating his parents said they were going out to the American Legion with another couple and we were asked to baby-sit the younger kids.
Our instructions were to have everyone in bed by ten that evening or we would be in very deep trouble. Which meant no movies or allowance or anything for the next week.
Naturally, like kids of any age and time, we followed our orders to the letter.
Along about eleven thirty that evening we thought we heard what sounded like a car door slamming in front of the house. A rapid look at the clock told us we were in very hot water.
We quickly turned the lights off and rushed to our rooms and dove into our beds, pulling the sheets up high so we could pretend that we had been sound asleep.
We heard the front door opening, then closing, then heavy footsteps crossing the living room to the kitchen, which was in the back of the house.
Our bedrooms were right off the kitchen so we could hear even the slightest noise. Plus, there was a quarter inch gap at the bottom of our door so it was easy to listen in on a whispered conversation going on in the kitchen.
We heard a chair scraping as if it was pulled from the table then…
If it was their parents they were incredible quiet. No talking, no clattering of pans, no moving about. Nothing!
Then the light in the kitchen flicked on!
We could see the bright light flooding beneath our bedroom doors. We were wondering if they knew we had been up late and were waiting to pounce on us with the accusation.
Still no sound of any kind.
For what seemed like hours we waited for someone to open our door and check on us.
No noise! Not a sound!
Finally, we heard more footsteps on the front porch and loud talking as the front door was unlocked, then more footsteps as someone headed for the kitchen.
Our door quickly burst open!
We told you kids to go to bed by ten, their mother said. “We know you’re just pretending to sleep. Get up now and answer me!”
As we tromped guiltily to the kitchen to face the music, we spotted the clock on the wall. The time was one in the morning.
We’ve been in bed since eleven thirty, Laura Sue answered. “We heard you come home then and went straight to our bedroom.”
And why did you leave the light on? her mother asked in cool reply.
We didn’t. Ronny blurted. “We heard someone close a car door, we turned the lights off, ran to our bed room and pretended to sleep. Someone came in, walked to the kitchen, pulled out a chair, turned the lights on, and that’s it. We thought it was you guys coming home.”
We just got home, their dad stated. “No one was here before us. The front door was locked – and he glanced at the kitchen back door – the kitchen door is locked, both from the inside. There is no invisible man here! Why are you kids lying to us?”
I started to swear that it was God’s honest truth – which it was – but something on the kitchen floor caught my eye.
It was a dirty foot print with a crescent shaped indentation on the soul.
Suddenly we heard heavy footprints…in the bedroom!