The Thirteen Days of Halloween, Part 3:
CHARLESTON’S GHOSTS AND HAUNTS
Out of curiosity, I recently looked up one of my relative’s old antebellum home located on the South Battery, only to see that it was for sale. It’s been a number of years since last I visited the manse and the city, but its sale nonetheless made me a bit wistful—not only for the time when my uncle gave me the tour of the majestic old home, but also for the many ghosts that reside in Charleston–some of them next door to the home.
Mind you, Charleston being an old city, and being Southern, it has quite a gaggle of ghosts—far more than I could ever chronicle in Dixie Spirits, much less here. So I will only highlight a few of its most singular spirits here. First off, just a few houses down from my Uncle’s old home on the South Battery, facing Charleston harbor, is the Battery Carriage House Inn. Like all the grand and gracious homes lining the Battery, it is a large place with a courtyard leading to the carriage house in the back—the actual bed and breakfast. And like most of the homes lining the battery, the place has a brace of ghosts–and ghost stories–attached to it.
Located at 20 South Battery, it offers a cozy place to stay while visiting, plus the added bonus of one or two friendly ghosts, who may or may not show up to keep you on your toes. There is the Gentleman Ghost, who from the accounts of past visitors, has a certain affection for the ladies; then there is the Headless Torso, thought to be a victim of the Yankee bombardment of the city during the Civil War; and then there is the unnamed female ghost who resides in Room 9 who was photographed by one hotel guest. All in all, a very interesting place to stay.
Elsewhere in Charleston, other spirits of the restless dead also may their appearance at various times. In the heart of the city, where once a military hospital stood, in the dark hours before dawn, late night revelers have occasionally seen a phantom army marching through the streets.
They are marching, it is said, out of their death beds to defend the city against the invading Yankees who are besieging the city. No one can tell them now the war is over.
Then there is the Old Jail, that old gothic looking structure that in its day not only housed murderers and other criminals, but runaway slaves and Yankee prisoners—many of whose restless spirits still abide there. Tour guides report heavy objects moving on their own inside, “shadow people” have been reportedly sighted there, plus the ghost of one notorious murderess—Lavinia Fisher—who haunts the cavernous prison dressed in her wedding gown.
And then there is the Charleston tale about the “Doctor of the Dead” which seems too creepy to be true. But in Charleston, the outlandish is normal, don’t you know. At any rate, that strange story of necrophilia and spirit possession is a bit too long for this brief survey, so we’ll save it for another time.
While Halloween is a fine time to visit Charleston, it really don’t make no never mind to the city’s restless dead. As far as the spirits are concerned; they’ll still be there whatever time of the year you go.
For more about Southern ghosts and haunts, grab a copy of Dixie Spirits, with a listing of haunted hotels you can stay at, as well as more detailed accounts of the ghosts of Charleston. Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground, the first and still the best account of uncanny doings in the Mid South, is still in print and easily purchased.