Around dusk at nearly all times of the year, you will see crowds of people walking the streets of Gettysburg led by someone in period attire and probably carrying an old lantern. Google “Gettysburg Ghost Tour,” and your Google results will stretch for pages and pages. You will stop by the “Jennie Wade House” (actually owned by her sister, but where Jennie was killed), and you will hear several different ghost stories. You may be encouraged to take a twilight picture of the outside and spy the ghost of her father in the window, peering out at you (see the circled top pane in the photo above).
Gettysburg is frequently called the most haunted place in America. Controversy bubbles up in the town from time to time with articles in favor of commercial ghost tours and articles against.
The stories of ghosts, goblins, and ancient peoples go back far longer than the Civil War, and one of the more prominent locals to note them in local publications was none other than Emanuel Bushman, Sadie’s father. You may recall Sadie indicating that her father whipped her for going out to the field hospitals weeks after the battle was over or that Catherine claimed that, much to his chagrin, Emanuel was forced to save her life when sharpshooters opened fire on her.
The monumental events clearly weighed on Emanuel for the rest of his life, and at least part of his attempt to contextualize them seems to have come through writing. At times, Emanuel wrote under the pen name “Antique,” and at others, he wrote as himself. In this article, Emanuel recounts the story of a headless horseman seen on the Emmitsburg Road back in 1832, then seen again forty years later. The two who originally saw the headless horseman are noted as “John” and “Michael,” and The History Bandits, the defender of ghost tours, asserts that John Burns is the “John” that Emanuel is referencing. “Father Bushman” in Emanuel’s article is Emanuel’s brother, the Reverend Michael Bushman, whose house still stands on the battlefield today and, at times, is available to rent from the Gettysburg National Military Park. In recent correspondence with me, Bushman descendant and Cole County Commissioner Samuel Bushman noted that the Michael Bushman farm saw men from Hood’s unit camp on it and travel over it, particularly on day 2 and thereafter and that the spirits of those men still linger around the place.
Note in this article on the so-called “Indian Field,” Emanuel plots the location of the field, artifacts known to be there, and then an assortment of “ghosts and hobgoblins,” along with the echoes of native people hunting. Emanuel notes wistfully that the spot has been overwhelmed with relic hunters and that the old tales are dying away (apparently the ghosts and their stories disappear with their relics?).
As The History Bandits notes, Emanuel revisited Devil’s Den in both his writing and in person. Noted here is a visit he paid and a picture taken of him and Sadie (by then married the Edward Jungerman).
The cabinet maker, carpenter, and painter who physically stayed with his house during the terrors of the battle, hauled his wife and infant to safety under fire, and then later ruminated on the spirits that might linger over the county from prehistoric times to his present day slipped away into that netherworld in 1899. He merited this obituary, where he was hailed as one of the county’s “well known men,” then faded into history with only the slightest trace left behind.