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On this day, in 1863, the South suffered a great loss.  For on this day, a brave and strong General, “strong as a stone wall,” succumbed to the after effects of friendly fire and pneumonia.

General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was a general of whom armies dream……one wonders where he would have led the Confederates if an accident of war had not taken his life.

If the words battle brought out the best of him could ever be understood, it was exemplified in the life of Jackson.   He intertwined his faith in God and his fierceness in battle tighter than any weave of cloth.   While others succumbed to the hardships of war, his health and vigor fed on the strife.

Until fate stepped in.

Strong in leadership and strong in faith, Stonewall died on the Sabbath, one thinks he had a hand in this and chose to meet his God on his day.

His final words, “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees,” aptly apply for any army……either of the Confederacy or the army of God’s soldiers….. under both of which, he loyally served.

Honoring a General………..


There was a Confederate flag rally yesterday in Gettysburg, near the Peace Light.I did not attend……..

Vulgarity and tension permeated the hallowed atmosphere……

The eternal Peace Flame wavered like a flag over angry words and hatred.

One can only imagine what the spirits of those whose lives ended almost two centuries ago thought when witnessing it………

The energy of this country is in tremendous need of balance, and needs a great leader to accomplish this feat.
I worry for this country and the world…….and what it holds for my grandchildren.

But, then again, maybe no leader can balance it.   Perhaps if the Messiah descended down a celestial staircase, it still wouldn’t change humanity.

Put rifles in the hands of the crowd yesterday and one can only imagine what might have happened.   The hands that would have held those rifles are the hands of those who have grasped the holy wafer in Communion.   Has it changed those hands?   Could any leader, whether from a log cabin, or a mansion of endless rooms, change what is in the deepest part of man………..

Men fight, they hate, they kill……a lot of times in the name of religion.

So, perhaps, praying that even religion will save us is an unanswerable prayer.





Yes, Gettysburg is a tourist town.  It is filled with tourist shops, selling knickknacks and bobble headed Generals.  Much as I would like to envision Pennsylvania craftsmen sitting in a barn somewhere creating them, most likely they are born in some overseas factory.  Is it a good thing……

Much as I would like to hope most tourists walk away with a historic book (or one of mine)……I think it is safe to assume that a lot of those touristy items fill the bags of many walking among the streets of this town for the first time…..or maybe the second, or third…….Gettysburg calls to those who visit, to return.

Though bobble headed Lees and Grants aren’t my idea of appropriateness; shadows of the pastif they captivate a child’s eye and interest his or her mind in Civil War history, then I say…..why not?

Most families who come to Gettysburg cannot afford to bring home an expensive antique or genuine relic.  Most carry home that cup, or that kepi, or that knickknack…..and each one helps sustain a shop keeper in town……helps sustain the town where my farmhouse stands.

Taking away Confederate memorabilia will hurt people………the wrong people.  Not the gun toting racist intent on murder, but the innocent people just trying to maintain a business and hire help.

We are seeking to right wrongs here……..but in doing so……we may be creating other wrongs on those with no guilt upon their shoulders………



I had some strange things happen at my farmhouse this weekend. I will tell one. It was dusk. I came downstairs to ask my husband a question and went in the kitchen…..He wasn’t there, I looked into the adjoining room, it was getting fairly dark, couldn’t see him. I called out, “Are you in there?” That is not a particularly good phrase for the faint of heart in Gettysburg. As I said it, the door behind me swung open, inches from hitting my back. Okay, just random…..Except for one thing, as I looked down, the doorstop was still placed beneath it……The doorstop we keep in place to stop it from opening. My husband was outside, he wasn’t in the room……but I wasn’t alone………..:-)

More of these stories may be read in my book about experiences in this unique, hallowed town and the farmhouse I call home.
“The Returning Ones,” available at's snow


That title stuck in my head on Saturday……actually, it’s a Renaissance song.
But Saturday, it was literal…the turkey vultures were actually flying over my head, landing in the neighboring field.
There must have been some tiny soul’s decomposing body there….maybe a feral cat, or the carcass of a deer or skunk.
In Gettysburg, in 1863, the whole town smelled of death.
Death has a unique smell; since moving to a farmhouse, I am familiar with it.
At my farm, I recognize the smell when a little mouse takes his last breath and is decomposing nearby.
I cannot imagine the smell of death that passed over my field in 1863. It lingered for months and months.
I am overwhelmed by the smell of one tiny mouse; how could the residents of 19th Century Gettysburg have continued with their routines and lives among the stench of death.
I suppose the vultures flew high during those July days in 1863.Buzzard 1
buzzards 2
buzzards 3



general's snowI went shopping this weekend at a Civil War artifacts shop in Gettysburg. Filled with relics, soles of shoes, sewing kits, buttons, letters, it is a great place to take a child interested in history.
No paragraph in a book can match gazing at the sole of a soldier’s tattered shoe, or the bullet ridden, battered canteen dug up from the Battlefield.
Behind the glass, I was moved by a dress….a handsewn patched dress, ridden with blood. All that was known about the dress was it was from a nurse, thought to be named Beech.
Funny how some thread and cotton can tell more than a million words on a page.
You can watch the PBS Civil War series over and over, you can walk along the boulders of Devil’s Den, you can watch a reenactment; but gaze directly through the glass at a tattered piece of leather or a patched scrap of bloody cloth,or hold a dented button or weathered diary in your hands and you cannot help but think of the lives and horrors of those who wore or wrote in them almost two hundred years ago.

This wisp appeared to me at a tree in the Grove, the next moment it had vanished.

This wisp appeared to me at a tree in the Grove, the next moment it had vanished.

When I first came to Gettysburg, I went on one of the popular ghost walks around the town. Our guide was period dressed as a Civil War soldier, and seemed quite knowledgeable. We took a midnight tour by lantern light through streets and wooded areas as he told us ghostly stories. One particular story has stayed with me. I have tried to research more about in online but come up empty.
That is the case with some stories around Gettysburg. People have all had unusual experiences……some believe in the Paranormal and wish to talk about experiences, some do not wish to open their minds to this possibility and keep things to themselves.
If you visit Gettysburg, ask the shopkeepers, ask the waitresses, ask the people working and living in town if they have ever encountered something strange. Some will be happy to share, some will snicker at the mention of “ghosthunting”…….
But, if you walk away with one personal story, it will be worth the snickers.I have had quite a few unusual things happen to me; one day, I hope to document them in a book about Gettysburg and the Paranormal. I am not talking Amityville Horror type episodes, but the unexplainable day to day moments that many Gettysburg residents call normal.
Here is the tour guide’s story as well as I can remember it. It concerns one of the most haunted pieces of land in Gettysburg, called the Grove. I have gotten many strange photos at the Grove. It was the scene of horrific battle. When ammunition was depleted, soldiers took to battling with the dismembered arms and legs of fallen comrades.
Now, Gettysburg Middle School, stands on part of this plot of ground. There have been stories of strange occurrences at the school. This one fascinates me most. Land holds energy of what occurred on it; the battle is over, but the energy remains.

It was an important test day for one of the classrooms at the Middle School. Quietly immersed in their test papers, the students came face to face with the image of a Civil War Soldier who burst in through the back wall, ran up the classroom aisle, then disappeared through a front wall…….
The teacher announced……the test is done. Class is finished today.
Was this a wrinkle in time…was this the apparition of a soldier imprinted in time…..was this a ghost………I do not know.

There are many similar stories…..I find them all equally fascinating.
What do you think?
I think those students should have all received a passing grade…that’s for sure…….