|Investigating the scene of an Ill-Fated UNION Attack on 7/3/63:
(Click on BOLD text to hear EVP)
In the Spring of 2004, Ed Dubil and I had been talking about the extensive tree removal near the Slyder and Bushman farms near Big
Round Top, and how it, like renovations in a house, might stir up some activity. The tree removal is part of the ongoing effort of
the NPS to restore more of the battlefield to its 1863 appearance. On Fri. March 19, while in town for the 3rd Paranormal PA
Conference, I spent about an hour in this area off South Confederate Avenue by myself and obtained some interesting results.
Located near Big Round Top, this is another place on the battlefield that is not well know, and thus affords better opportunites for
quiet, undisturbed research.
On the battle's 3rd day, after the ill-fated assault led by Pickett and his Division against the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, Federal
Cavalry made a likewise ill-fated attack on elements of Hood's Division, including the 1st TX & 9th GA, entrenched behind stone
walls in this area. This ill-conceived move, ordered by Gen H. Judson Kilpatrick achieved only extensive casualties in the Federal
ranks, including the death of Gen. Elon Farnsworth, who reluctantly led the charge. The attack covered ground that was part of the
Slyder and Bushman farms, sending the Federal Calvary down over Bushman's Hill, through trees and brush (although not nearly as
much as yet still exists today) which took away the advantage of rapid movement mounted troops normally have. Waiting for them
on lower ground were several regiments of Confederate Infantry. The stone walls at the bottom of the hill are the original ones
which protected the Southerners that day, and there is some evidence to suggest that these walls were heightened by the infantry for
protection from both gunfire and sabres (If tall enough, a cavalry horse with all its gear could not jump them) The recent removal of
trees reveals the open field that the wall bordered in 1863.
I took EM readings in several areas where the trees had been felled, without any unusual results. EVP was prompted in this area,
also with no results. In a way, this did not surprise me; most of the fighting -- and killing -- took place as the Federal Cavalry
descended the hill toward the wall. I then walked up the hill, and noted several unexplained EM spikes, particularly approaching the
monument of the 18th PA. These were not close enough to be caused by the monument, and too sporadic to have been caused by
rock strata. I noted no temperature changes here, but must admit that on this crisp, clear afternoon I felt a bit "spooked". After the
EM alerts, I tried recording EVP several times without success. Nothing unusual appeared in any photos either. I then walked back
down through the woods, retracing what must have been a treacherous descent on a horse, and began to take readings as I
approached the stone fence at the edge of the woods. Once again, sporadic spikes were noted, and I began prompting EVP. In the
almost full hour I had been here, perhaps only 3 or 4 cars had passed. Strangely, a steady parade of cars started coming by, so I
returned to mine and drove a bit closer to Big Round Top, where I pulled over to check the results of my last EVP attempts.
This is when I heard, seconds after asking "how did you die", the sharp crack of what seems to be 4 shots. Naturally, I was
stationary when recording, so the sound was not caused by movement. No sounds of this nature were audible at any time, either.
A few years ago, I recorded apparent gunfire in the Rose Woods, but it was just in the background while filming in IR. It was not
"prompted". Also in the Rose Woods, and in that section of the SSP site, is the piece recorded by Kim Shaffer, which includes a cry
for help, a shot and a moan. As these shots were recorded at about 5pm, the approximate time of Farnsworth's charge, I'm more
prone to think it is just an "imprint" in time. However, I can't rule out the notion that after asking "how did you die?" - someone on
the other side devised a creative way to answer what I have to admit is a dumb question to ask on a Civil War Battlefield!
Photo on left looks uphill, showing the view of Hood's Confederates of the 1st TX at the bottom. Photo on right is what
Farnsworth's Union Cavalry saw ahead as they descended the hill, with the enemy behind the stone wall. The gunshots were
recorded just ahead, on this side of the wall. The open field beyond is where trees have been recently cleared to restore the ground
to it's 1863 appearance.
Update Spring 2006: The Spring Issue of Blue & Gray Magazine includes an article which includes a very convincing argument for
several monuments including the 18th PA Cavalry, !st VT Cavalry and others being mis-placed. The action described at the bottom
of the hill by the stone wall shown in the lower right photo appears accurate; According to the article, Farnsworth fell west of this
location, out of the photo range by approx 100 yards and covered by thick undergrowth at the moment. Some accounts have him
falling close to the 1st VT monument, several hundred yards south of this proposed location; One of the Battlewalks I took this
July saw Ranger Karlton Smith offer "official" (NPS) reasons why they support the monuument placements. One of the great
things about exploring the battlefield and its history are the never-ending debates over where, who and when! I will try to access the
newly-suggested location of Farnsworth's death in more appropriate conditions (fall/winter). - JDW