Monday, April 7, 2014

Hauntings: Fort Mifflin

Fort Mifflin (Pennsylvania)

The British built Fort Mifflin south of Philadelphia in 1772 to defend against naval attacks from the Delaware River.  But in 1777 during the American Revolution, the British destroyed it with a barrage of cannonballs estimated at a thousand rounds every twenty minutes.  Nearly three quarters of the garrison stationed there were killed.  The fort was rebuilt twenty years later and used in the War of 1812 and then made into a prison during the Civil War.  

The fort’s now a tourist attraction featuring guides in historical dress and war reenactments.  However, the actors aren’t the only ones attracting tourists.  Many come to see the ghosts!

The Lamplighter's Ghost appears on the second-floor balcony of the barracks, carrying a long pole with a dimly flickering light on the end.

The casements, which were probably the most heavily bombarded area during the British attack of 1777, are the site of too many ghost sightings to number.  The visions are mostly pale outlines, but one of the apparitions is visible enough for people to see he’s missing his face!  The Faceless Man is supposed to be the ghost of William Howe, a war criminal held in the cells during the Civil War for killing his superior and desertion of duty in wartime.  He was hanged with a black bag over his face as the mark of shame for being a deserter.  People report seeing his ghost in Civil War clothing, but with no face.

The Screaming Lady is never seen, but her wails are heard in the old officer’s quarters.  She's supposed to be Elizabeth Pratt, an 18th century neighbor of the fort whose daughter had an affair with an officer.  After Elizabeth renounced her and threw her out, the girl died from dysentery. Consumed with guilt at her loss, Elizabeth killed herself.  Her crying isn't the only spectral sound at the Fort.  Near the blacksmith shop, the rhythmic pounding of hammer against anvil often rings out but disappears when people come by and peer in.

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