The US Civil War had its fair share of paranormal events that continue to this day. From cryptids and UFOs to reincarnations and prophetic dreams, here are 10 of the most interesting paranormal events connected with that terrible war.
10 John B. Gordon Reincarnation
In 1991, fire chief Jeffrey Keene decided to visit Civil War battle locations. When he visited the field where the Battle of Antietam had been fought, Keene was overcome with emotion and could not stand anymore. After returning home, he contacted a psychic to help him understand the experience. During the reading, the psychic kept repeating the words “not yet.”
Soon afterward, Keene was reading a historical magazine about the war when that phrase jumped out at him. According to the magazine, General John B. Gordon had repeated that phrase to hold back his troops during the Battle of Antietam.
Keene began to earnestly research the life of the Civil War general and discovered uncanny resemblances between Gordon and himself. Both men looked similar. Also, many of the men under Gordon’s command looked just like firefighters with whom Keene worked.
On Keene’s 30th birthday, he had felt a sharp pain in his jaw that went away. Doctors could find no reason for this pain. Similarly, Gordon had taken a bullet in the jaw when he was just 30 years old. Keene also has three markings on his face that correspond to where Gordon suffered his wounds.
The weirdest connection came when a linguist compared the two men’s writing styles. Keene’s firefighting reports were remarkably similar to the writing style of General Gordon, who had collected his memories of the Civil War in a book. Both reports seemed to come from the same man, separated only by time. Keene firmly believes that he is the reincarnation of the old Civil War general.
9 General McClellan’s George Washington Sighting
The Civil War was going poorly for the North during the first few years of the war. General George B. McClellan, one of the Union’s main generals, was struggling to mount successful operations against Confederate forces. That’s when McClellan reported a strange incident in which he saw a vision of George Washington in early 1862.
Late one night, McClellan was studying maps and planning attacks when he gradually realized that the enemy knew his positions too well and could fight off any offensive. As he sunk into despair, he heard a booming voice through his cabin.
The voice told him that only God was helping the Union to repel Confederate attacks and that the South would have won otherwise. Looking up from his maps, McClellan found himself staring at the wispy ghost of George Washington.
Washington reassured McClellan that the cause was not yet lost and that the US would prevail for many centuries. After his speech, Washington raised his hand above McClellan’s head in blessing and thunder rolled throughout the cabin.
When McClellan awoke, he was lying on the table. At first, he thought that it had been a dream. But when he looked at his maps, he could see markings that showed him how to attack the Confederate positions. He did not remember making those markings himself.
Obviously, this story helped to solidify the idea that the North received divine help during the war. But the tale was only made public after the war ended. It is impossible to determine whether this actually happened to McClellan, but it is a fun story of paranormal events.
8 White River Monster
The White River was one of the most important trade routes in Arkansas during the Civil War. As such, it was the site of constant combat. Oddly, combat on the river may have involved a mysterious cryptid called the White River Monster as well. Although not officially sighted until the 20th century, local legend and paranormal investigators have placed the monster in the Civil War.
According to local legend, the White River Monster is a gray-skinned, reptilian creature that sometimes walks on land, leaving distinctive three-toed footprints. Multiple attempts to capture the monster have proven unsuccessful.
Reports of sunken ships during the Civil War have led some believers to assume that the monster was active during the conflict. Sailors told stories of boats being smashed from underneath by an aggressive creature.
Other reports state that soldiers on the river shore sometimes shot at a large, elephant-like creature in the water. But they were never able to kill the beast, which resulted in multiple boats falling victim to the enigmatic cryptid.
7 Beauregard-Keyes House
If you believe in the supernatural, the Beauregard-Keyes House is one of the best places to go if you want to witness a real Civil War battle. This New Orleans estate belonged to General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a leading general of the Confederate forces.
Beauregard was in command of the shelling at Fort Sumter, which started the war, and was instrumental in the early victories of the Confederacy. After the war, he retired to his New Orleans residence and died there in 1893.
A decade later, the house was occupied by the Giaconas, an Italian family who had mob connections. One night in 1909, a mob shooting occurred at the house, killing three of the Giacona family members.
They promptly moved out and decided to convert the house into a macaroni factory. Residents fought against the change, ultimately saving the house as a heritage site. Then the hauntings started.
Around World War II, people began reporting odd occurrences in the house, such as visions of Civil War soldiers. Legend states that General Beauregard appears on certain nights with an entire contingent of soldiers.
The most common supernatural occurrence is hearing gunshots and battle sounds from the yard. In 1993, paranormal investigator Victor Klein wrote his description of the unusual activity at the house:
Men with mangled limbs and blown-away faces swirl in a confused dance of death. [ . . . ] Horses and mules appear and are slaughtered by grapeshot and cannon. The pungent smell of blood and decay permeated the restless atmosphere.
If true, General Beauregard and his troops are still fighting the war in the next life.
6 The Legend Of Old Green Eyes
The story of Old Green Eyes, a cryptid or ghost from the Battle of Chickamauga in Tennessee, is actually two unrelated legends that bear the same name.
The first story is about a Civil War soldier whose head was blown off during the battle. His friends buried his body without the head. According to legend, the ghost of this soldier still roams the battlefield, moaning and looking for his head. People have wrecked their cars after being shocked by glowing green eyes on the roads near the battlefield.
The second, older story involves a mysterious cryptid called Old Green Eyes that was allegedly first sighted during the Civil War. Legend states that soldiers saw the monster during the Battle of Chickamauga. According to popular folklore, it was a short creature that had glowing eyes and a protruding jaw with huge fangs. Old Green Eyes had long hair like a woman, but the hair was thin and straw-colored.
Soldiers say that they spotted the creature walking among the dead bodies after the battle. Sightings of the creature continued into the 20th century with Chickamauga park ranger Edward Tinney stating that he glimpsed the mysterious creature. According to Tinney, Old Green Eyes still stalks the abandoned battlefield, always watching those who decide to visit.
5 Bigfoot Sightings
While the Civil War was raging in the US, there were multiple stories of encounters with Bigfoot, the country’s most popular cryptid. One of the stories came from the Battle of Chickamauga, that haunting ground of Old Green Eyes.
Before the battle, Privates Ott Morton and Billy Chandler were sitting on a sentry line when they heard terrible shrieks from the woods. They went to investigate and ran into a monster that was 3 meters (10 ft) tall and smelled like rotting meat.
After running from the woods screaming, the two privates told their commanding officer about their experience. He went to investigate the area, and to his surprise, there were footprints in the dirt that were 55 centimeters (22 in) wide.
Bigfoot also appeared in Virginia. While guarding Harper’s Ferry one night, Private Moore heard shouts coming from his barracks. The soldiers were yelling about a man-beast roaming around and were getting guns so that they could kill it.
As Moore listened, he could hear gunfire coming from the river. The next morning, his commander said that he had seen a hairy monster that was 3 meters (10 ft) tall the previous night.
Another Bigfoot sighting came from Virginia. A young soldier was sick and returned home from the front. Knowing that he would die soon, the soldier requested that his family bury him in the mountains near his home. These mountains had been the location of many Bigfoot sightings.
When the soldier died, his family buried him according to his request. A few days after the burial, the soldier’s father went to visit the grave and found that it had been dug up. His son’s body lay nearby, torn apart and stripped to the bone. The father suspected that Bigfoot was the culprit.
4 Nicolas Cage: Civil War Vampire
Jack Mord is an antiques dealer who came across an interesting photo while searching through old documents. The photo, taken around the time of the Civil War, shows a man from Tennessee who looks shockingly like modern-day actor Nicolas Cage. The resemblance is uncanny, which has led Mord to speculate that Cage is actually an undead vampire.
It is hard to tell how seriously Mord takes this claim, but he was adamant about this conspiracy theory in 2011. Mord claimed that Cage comes back and reinvents himself every 75 years, constantly switching occupations. For proof, Mord pointed out that Cage has looked nearly the same since his 1987 hit Moonstruck.
At one point, Mord offered to sell the photo for $1 million. To boost his credibility, he claimed that certain photography experts and historians had stated that his photo was genuine and showed a Civil War prisoner of war.
Since 2011, the photo has disappeared. Mord’s articles have also been removed from his website.
3 Jefferson Davis’s Ghost
Few people from the Civil War are as important as Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America. Davis died in 1889, but his ghost still walks the Earth according to some paranormal investigators.
Davis’s postwar estate, Beauvoir, is in Mississippi. His ghost supposedly still lives there, with sightings beginning in 1986.
During a Civil War reenactment at the estate, a photographer took a picture of some girls in costume. When he developed the picture, he saw something odd. Two figures stood in the windows, one in a white dress and one in a dark suit.
During the event, the organizers had locked the house. Also, the woman in the white dress was at the balcony level of the house, meaning that she was not a reflection of any of the reenactors.
As stories about the ghosts circulated, staffers at the estate eventually came forward to say that they had seen Jefferson Davis on multiple occasions. Unlike other paranormal hot spots, full-body apparitions occur often enough at Beauvoir that people have taken pictures of the president.
Other members of Davis’s family have also appeared as well as Confederate soldiers who walk the grounds. Ghost investigators are fans of the site, and Beauvoir has become a popular destination for people interested in the supernatural.
2 Joseph Smith’s Civil War Prophecy
Mormon prophet and founder Joseph Smith is a controversial character in history. During his life, he spent a lot of time writing down prophecies and supposed revelations from God.
One of the most interesting is his 1832 prophecy that there would soon be a war over slavery in the US and that the war would start in South Carolina. He also stated that the South would ask for help from Great Britain. This prophecy is a canonized part of Mormon scripture as Doctrine Covenants Section 87.
Even though the Civil War did start in South Carolina, skeptics are critical of Mormon claims. For one thing, anyone in the US in the mid-19th century with even the slightest political awareness could have guessed that a war would start over slavery. Abolitionist movements were already springing up during Joseph Smith’s time.
Detractors also point out that Great Britain was not involved in the Civil War to any great extent and that Smith’s prophecy that the Civil War would eventually involve all nations proved false.
Still, faithful Mormons state that these considerations are invalid. First, they point to how specific the prophecy is about South Carolina. They also state that the prophecy was actually meant to include all wars until the second coming of Jesus Christ.
In 1842, Smith again recorded the Civil War prophecy. After his death in 1844, the church continued to teach and print this eerily specific prophecy.
1 Abraham Lincoln’s Vision Of His Assassination
Abraham Lincoln was a religious man—one who put a lot of stock in the dreams that he had. Often, he talked about his dreams and pointed out that God had frequently communicated with people in the Bible that way.
In the 1880s, Lincoln’s friend Ward Hill Lamon published an account about the former president’s dreams. According to Lamon, Lincoln had a strange dream in 1865 in which he woke up and began wandering through the White House. He could hear sobs coming down the hallway.
As he entered the East Room, he saw a gathering of soldiers and mourners crying over a corpse. When Lincoln asked a soldier who was dead, the man replied that it was the president, who had been murdered by an assassin.
This was not the only premonition of death that Lincoln supposedly had. According to Lamon, the president once saw himself in the mirror and watched his face transform to a ghostly shade of white.
On the morning of his assassination, Lincoln told his cabinet that he had dreamed the previous night of sailing across a body of water at great speed. Evidently, Lincoln had a similar dream before every turning point of the Civil War.