By Chase Anderson, Savannah Cultural Heritage Tours and Events
Civil War Savannah’s haunted history echoes down almost every oak-shaded avenue in Savannah’s famed Historic District. The Civil War experiences of soldiers and civilians in Savannah include some of the city’s most enduring hauntings.
The Eliza Thompson House on Savannah’s quintessential Civil War boulevard – Jones Street – has its share of sightings, including Confederate soldiers in an upstairs window and a young girl wearing a white dress in the hallway.
In 1861, Dr. Richard Arnold witnessed several ghosts associated with the Battle of First Manassas. Looking out of his window on State Street, he waved at returning Savannah soldiers – not knowing they had been killed the day before.
The Old City Hotel, now Moon River Brewery on Bay Street, formerly served as a Confederate and Union hospital during the war years. Many soldiers went in as patients and never came back out.
The same thing is true for the brilliantly restored 1852 Marshall House on Broughton Street. In 1995, an entire collection of well-placed amputated Union limbs were discovered on the ground under the floor of the hotel. The hotel is one of the most haunted in the South – including among many ghosts, one of a Union soldier who, missing an arm, roams up and down the hotel’s hallways, asking, “Has anyone seen my arm?”
There is the old Candler Hospital which served as a P.O.W. Camp for Union soldiers serving time. Under the Old Candler Oak, just off Drayton Street at Forsyth Park – an area used by both armies for encampments and drills – many images have been captured of ghost soldiers in and around the deserted hospital, morgue and haunted grounds.
Walk down River Street and then slip behind the old cotton warehouses to Factors Row where tunnels once led underneath the old city – tunnels used for transport of “commodities,” including enslaved Africans – part of Savannah’s tragic history. To this day, the tunnels contain the sights and sounds of a time when cruelty and secrecy buried the truth underground – not part of a dream Savannah vacation package, but a rather significant part of the Savannah story often overlooked by mainstream Savannah tour companies.
There are the ghosts who haunt the locations of Savannah’s secret Civil War-era schools, slave markets and Irish Civil War-era neigborhoods on Savannah’s famed eastern commons.
The Civil War era is alive and well in Savannah – whether you are a history buff or someone hunting down ghosts in America’s most haunted city. Varieties of Civil War Savannah tours include walking, carriage and bus tours in the company of Savannah’s most elite tour guides.
For general information on Civil War Savannah tours, events and exhibitions, visit Savannah Cultural Heritage Tours, a locally-owned cultural heritage tour and events company, at savannahculturalheritagetours.com.