When I told my husband, Bobby, that I wanted to visit my Aunt Kim and Uncle Jay in Greencastle, Pennsylvania for a weekend sometime this year, I hadn’t expected him to suggest the upcoming weekend. But that is what he did. Due to the fact that I was working for the week, the travel plans were up to him. (He had taken a week of vacation.) I would have never thought of going on a ghost tour, so I am glad he planned things. It turned out that Mark Brugh’s Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour was a wonderfully captivating journey through downtown Sharpsburg, Maryland.
We arrived in Sharpsburg a little before our scheduled tour time. This gave us a bit of time to check out the memorial in front of the city hall and discover Nutter’s Ice Cream shop, which wasn’t opened, but promised to be at 1 pm. The morning was a bit overcast and threatened rain. Thankfully it was cool. (I hate being hot!)
Mark arrived dressed in a period piece outfit, hat and all. He was friendly and had a laid back manner about him. He put us quickly at ease. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as this was my first ghost tour. Bobby had conversed with Mark a few times during the week and had informed me there would be a lot of history in the tour. I was glad to hear that. What Mark does is tell the tales and leaves the decision to the listener whether or not to believe the story about the ghost.
He shared some history about the battle of Antietam. Since I know very little about the Civil War, I was very intrigued. I asked him if Sharpsburg was a northern town or southern in regards to their sympathies. Mark indicated that it was split. Sixty-five percent of the citizens held sympathies for the North, while 35% for the South. I had a hard time imagining what it would have been like to live in an environment where your neighbor could so vehemently hold an opposing view that we could actually go to war with one another.
Mark told us that during September 1862 Sharpsburg had been occupied by the Confederates. Because of this, the Union Army bombed the town. Although over half of the citizens had fled, there still remained 400 within the city. During the bombing, they took refuge in the basements of the more sturdy brick homes. Mark pointed out one house that had a hole from a canon ball in it. There was a canon ball “perched” in the hole, but Mark said it wasn’t from the fight. One of the owners put it there a few years ago.
The tour lasted around 75 minutes. In that time we heard a number of stories where people had seen ghosts in the town. He would give the background or back story of the tale. He shared if it was a frequently seen (or heard) apparition. He also gave some plausible non-ethereal reasons for what people might have experienced whatever they experienced.
What I really enjoyed about the tour was the way Mark told each story. As he talked I tried to think about the people and their motivation. When someone can talk about history in a way that I am trying to figure out the ending, that person is a good storyteller.
When it comes to history, I might not remember dates or names, but I am pretty good at remembering the stories. And going on the Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour, I got plenty of them — ghost and otherwise.
You might be wondering why I am not sharing any of the actual stories he told. The reason is because they are his stories to tell. He has done the research, leg work and cataloging (even corroborating stories with documents in the National Archives). It wouldn’t feel right to share them outright. However, if you want to read them, you can get his book, Civil War Ghosts of Sharpsburg, from Amazon by clicking here. (For full disclosure, I am an affiliate with Amazon. By purchasing through my website, I will receive a small commission.)