Old Green Eyes: the Green Ghoul of Chickamauga

Old Green Eyes has roamed Chickamauga ever since the famous battle there in 1863
Ol’ Green Eyes, whatever it is, has roamed Chickamauga Battlefield since at least the time of the Civil War.

In my very first book of all things weird, wondrous and wicked in the Mid-South, Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground, in addition to the traditional haints, haunts and boogers, UFO’s and other unexplained phenomena, one curious tale revolved around the northern Georgia Civil War battlefield of Chickamauga. In that chapter I chronicled several of the battlefield apparitions known to haunt the battlefield, but the one which was the most curious, to my mind, was Ol’ Green Eyes, sometimes also known as the Green Ghoul. Since publishing that account, I have run into a few folks who have had their own tales to tell about this particular spook, so this venue I judge to be a good place to update my readers until I can prevail on my publishers to let me do a revised edition of that classic book.

Anyone who has visited Chickamauga knows it is a brief run from downtown Chattanooga—a brief run, that is, if you are a Yankee soldier trying to flee from ten thousand Rebels with bayonets all yelling like a banshee. Otherwise, it is about ten miles or more. At any rate, between the eighteenth and twentieth of September, 1863, thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers lost their lives fighting there, while thousands and thousands more suffered agonizing wounds.

It is not surprising, therefore, that quite a few ghost stories and reports of eerie encounters at Chickamauga have surfaced over the years. As I tell in my book, one version of Ol’ Green Eyes holds that he is a stone monument—dedicated to the Union brigade known Opdycke’s Tigers—that comes to life at night and stalks the countryside. I personally am dubious of that one—it has all the earmarks of a story invented around a campfire to scare gullible youths.

Opdycke's Tigers, battlefield monument. Chickamauga; some claim this is Ol' Green Eyes; others say it dates back to Indian days.
Opdycke’s Tigers, battlefield monument. Chickamauga; some claim this is Ol’ Green Eyes; others say it dates back to Indian days.

Another version holds that Green Eyes is a human looking ghoul, with top hat, gentleman’s cloak and long stringy hair; after the battle, it was said, this green eyed fellow went about munching on the bodies of the dead. It’s been a long time since that feast and he’s built up a powerful appetite since then. According to one source, this version was invented out of whole cloth by Park Ranger Ed Tinney some years back to entertain tourists.

While I can’t judge the veracity of the Tinney version, I do know that some park rangers go out of their way to deny any paranormal activity, in order to discourage people trespassing there at night. In all fairness, some self-appointed ghost hunters have vandalized historic sites in pursuit of nighttime thrills. The rangers at Chickamauga have been known to shut down all the secondary roads in the area at Halloween to keep out the thrill-seekers. So officials at Chickamauga National Battlefield have a rather strong motivation to deny accounts of Ol’ Green Eyes and other hauntings there, valid or not.

To my mind, the most credible accounts of Green Eyes are less specific; some have seen a green glowing light about Snodgrass Hill, while others describe a pair of eyes. Is it a ghoul, a ghost or a beast? Hard to say, but I have spoken to one man who had a close encounter.

Although Ed Tinney popularized Green Eyes, according to this local source, folks have known about the creature for generations; it’s just that in the old days you didn’t talk about such things, and certainly not to strangers.
After Strange Tales came out, I was doing a signing and this gentleman from Chattanooga, who bought a copy, told me of his experience.
It was some years back, when he was a hot blooded young teenager and since he had a few years on me, I am judging this was sometime back in the 1950’s. Well, he took a date out one Saturday night and after a little dinner and dancing they decided to park after dark; it was somewhere near Snodgrass Hill.

Then as now the park was closed to the public at night, but it was a favorite place for couples to go nonetheless. They were parked in his car with the top down, and he and his girlfriend were, shall we say, somewhat distracted at the time; that was until he felt the sensation of warm moist breath behind him. With a start he turned around to see two large green eyes glowing behind him.

The eyes were set apart, farther apart than any human pair of eyes could possibly be, and the creature was close enough to tell it was on the curved trunk of his car or close to it. Romance turned to terror in an instant; the teenager fumbled for the ignition, slammed his car into gear, and high-tailed it out of there as fast as his jalopy could go, just barely avoiding being Ol’ Green Eyes next meal.

There are those who scoff and those who deny, but for that mature gentleman at least, there is no denying that Ol’ Green Eyes is very, very, real—whatever it may be.

For more accounts of Civil War Ghosts and Haunts, read Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground; also see Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War.

7 thoughts on “Old Green Eyes: the Green Ghoul of Chickamauga

  1. Pingback: Old Green Eyes – The Ghost of Chickamauga

  2. Robert T. Kennedy, Ph.D.

    I too have seen a green eyed demon with gleaming eyes larger and more apart than human eyes. I was driving home around midnight on an unlit two lane road on the last Saturday in April, 2004. As I was driving west toward East Haddam, CT I noticed two gleaming eyes about an eighth of a mile ahead and thought it must be a bear or a wolf. But as I got within 20 or 30 feet I saw no body and nothingness around the eyes for several feet on each side and behind it. It was just off the opposite side of the road and my car headlights reflected the ground and vegetation on each side of it but looking straight across from it was like looking into empty space. I am a Ph.D. Inorganic Chemist and yet I was afraid to get out of my car or even roll down the window.

    I just recently told a fellow scientist of my story and he told me to read about the Ghost of Chickamauga. As a person well trained in observation I cannot believe what I saw wasn’t real. It seems impossible that someone could set up a hoax this elaborate. Plus in researching the internet I found other similar observations were made recently and also by early settlers in the 1600 hundreds. Additionally, tales of a demon in the area were told by Native Americans before that to the first settlers.

    I would welcome any comments on what I observed.


  3. Caleb T.

    May sound crazy IDC… My uncles aunt, who raised my uncle all his life was on top on the tower in the battlefield. I remember him telling me that he was very young when this happened… Anyways they were both out enjoying the park like they always did. When my uncle and his aunt decited to go to the top of the tower… When my aunt made it to the top, she somehow hit a wasp/hornets nest, and started being swarmed by the wasps. My uncle said she flailed around swatting and screaming and ultimately ended up falling of the top of the tower. She died from her injuries. What’s really messed up is that the police deamed it a suicide, and never listened to my uncle. He still to this day won’t go back to the battlefield. This happened in the early 80s.


    1. Interesting account. While strictly speaking not Ole Green Eyes, it is an uncanny occurrence. The Parks folks generally keep the tourist attractions clean and safe; but the killing fields of Chickamauga seem to attract death and other uncanny events. Some would chalk it up to “bad JuJu” brought on by all that pain and suffering. In ancient Britain they would gather the battle dead into one mass grave and then build a church over it, to have consecrated ground over the dead so that they would not be able to roam the area and bring further death or suffering on the living.


  4. Apparently in the area, we talked about 50 miles around Green Eyes is known
    I heard a history, about some young people who camped in a nearby place Chickcamauga, They carried tents, they made a bonfire and all that hikers do. At night they had beer, sang and some went to sleep, others stayed at the campfire, at one point they saw the big green eyes in the brush, one of them was hypnotized and went to the brush The others were paralyzed and did not stop him. The boy who was attracted to the undergrowth disappeared, and moments later the others rejoined, they went looking for him without success. The next day, in the morning his body was found with all the bones separated.

    Liked by 1 person

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