The Sachs Bridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is the most haunted bridge in America! The Civil War Confederate retreat bridge exit went south over the Marsh Creek using the bridge to get home to the Confederate southern states. The bridge and creek provided water, shelter from the rain and was a make-shift hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg. Hundreds of men died on or near the bridge after being wounded during the July 3-4, 1863 battle between the North and South. That dramatic loss of life could account for the structure being haunted. However, three Confederate soldiers also dressed up as Union army and were caught as traitors. It’s hard to know if they were spies or deserters but they were hung from the wooden support beams and it is said their ghosts remain there.
The bridge was constructed as a truss covered bridge, inexpensive but ok for light travel. On July 1, 1863 two brigades of Union soldiers crossed the bridge heading town the inevitable battle. It was used again by Robert E. Lee’s army retreating over the bridge and heading South after the Union defeated the Confederates during the Battle of Gettysburg. The ability to provide water for all of the soldiers was also important so the Marsh Creek under the bridge was a strategic location.
A few years back, William R. Forstchen and I visited the Gettysburg battlefield where I had the opportunity to interview him. As we sat in the equally haunted Farnsworth House eating our game pie Bill told me of the Sachs bridge ghost stories and promised to bring my family to visit it later that night. The interview is vividly descriptive of what we experienced first-hand at midnight. The energy was that of the horrors of all wars and the horrific loss of life. I felt their inevitable questions about the insanity of brother fighting against brother and civil war within a nation. Mostly, I sensed the energetic cries of pain from the wounds both physical and mental from all soldiers who crossed the Sachs Bridge as I walked alone across the bridge in the dark. Our group sent healing energy and prayers.
Guest Blog by William R. Forstchen, Ph.D.
New York Times Bestselling Author
There are two sites in Pennsylvania that everyone must put on their “Bucket List”. . .Gettysburg and just off the battlefield national Park, the Sachs Bridge, Gettysburg. As Joshua Chamberlain, who received the Medal of Honor for his gallant stand on the second day of the battle, said of that storied field, “it is the vision place of souls.” But there is another vision place just a few minutes from the battlefield. Sachs Bridge.
If you drive from the center of town southward, you’ll pass straight through the middle of ground where Pickett’s division charged towards their doomed “high water mark.” Head down another mile to where Emmitsburg road comes to an intersection at the “Peach Orchard, where Union general Dan Sickles men fell by the thousands, and turn right. Go about a mile or two, slow down, cross over a concrete bridge and you will see Sachs Covered Bridge on your left.
Best to pull in and stop there at night because you are about to enter one of the most haunted spots in America. During the day it is a picturesque place, a covered bridge built in 1852, a good spot to take the family, kids love playing around inside it. But once darkness falls, leave the kids home or back at the motel because you might very well enter the Twilight Zone.
During the Battle of Gettysburg, thousands of wounded Confederate soldiers were carried back to the small stream under the bridge, temporarily turning it into a vast hospital area. The day after the battle, it poured buckets of rain while Robert E. Lee’s shattered army prepared to evacuate the stricken field and retreat back towards Maryland and Virginia. Every wagon they could lay their hands on, most all springless, were loaded up for the agonizing journey home. As the night of July 4th fell, thousands of wounded were evacuated, across the Sachs Bridge. Eyewitness accounts told how the bridge floor was soon soaked in blood from wounded and dying men.
Their hellish night still echoes nearly a 160 years later. The first time I went there, I had heard the stories, wanted to check it out, I got out of the car, several people were hanging around with cameras and what could be called “ghost hunting” equipment. A Gettysburg police officer came up causing parking concern, but instead he got out of his car, was friendly enough and asked if I had seen anything that evening. That was interesting coming from a policeman. He then said we were okay visiting the site but “just be careful,” and he wasn’t talking about falling into the creek. He was talking about spirits of the dead.
He told us a few stories of his own encounters including one where he was crossing the concrete bridge next to Sachs Bridge and it was glowing red. He thought it was on fire, he punched his lights on and started to call the fire department, but as he raced up to the west end of the bridge he saw. . . a red pulsing glow inside, but no flame and suddenly it just winked off. He cancelled the call to the fire department, and said that talking later with a couple of firemen they said that he wasn’t the first to call in that the bridge was burning but there was no flame and then the glow just “winked out.”
Well the challenge was on. I actually do believe in ghosts but not the type that would make a bridge look like it was on fire. And then it started. I guess I would say it was a feeling of dread, of sadness, of loss, but also that my presence was not alone.
It is hard to describe. I have felt a strange connection to that long distant struggle since I was a child of five. Growing up I read voraciously, played with my huge army of Civil War soldiers and in my backyard lead charge after charge with my neighbor and first and still best friend Nora D’Ecclesis. Maybe I was therefore “attuned” to that place.
And then it happened. I turned around to snap a flash photo which instantly came up on the screen. I was saying it to those lost souls in the bridge as well. The image revealed a coiling cloud of something smoke like behind me and the feeling of a sad painful death and dying surrounded me.
I’ve been back at least half a dozen times since, the last time with Nora Lee in tow. We went at midnight and well Nora will tell her story. What I find now at that bridge is sadness, infinite sadness. Thousands of men, many of them still boys, torn, bleeding dying at they took that journey from the field of lost glory. If they lived but another hour, or died abed seventy years hence, that night stayed with them and in turn they left something of themselves there as well.
Sach’s Bridge … “it is the vision place of souls.”