Christopher K. Coleman,
Ghosts & Haunts of the Civil War
(Rutledge Hill, 1999)

Ghosts & Haunts of the Civil War is one of my favorite ghost books. It provides the case histories of several haunting related to the war. An interesting difference in this book and others on the same topic is that this one includes a section about the premonitions. There are several documented cases of people predicting the war and its consequences. Of these, my favorite is "The Black Spot." It does not attempt to explain what happened. Instead, it simply relates the story and leaves you to draw your own conclusions. Did George Washington's ghost really visit the father of the secession and toss a skeleton across his arms?

Christopher K. Coleman weaves a fascinating tale. He gets you on the edge of your seat and keeps you there. He provides excellent explanations of the incidents leading up to the death and return of a person. His writing is vibrant and descriptive. He wastes no words, telling his stories with brevity, even though they may cover a period of several decades.

Coleman has included a list of Civil War Ghost Tours (I can personally recommend Ghost Tours of Harper's Ferry and McRaven Tour Home) and a list of Haunted Hotels of the Civil War (I recommend Myrtles Plantation, Cedar Grove Mansion Inn and Duff-Green Mansion). These are great starting point lists, but several of the better places have been omitted.

I cannot select any single story from this collection as my favorite. I grew up hearing many of these tales and have visited many battlegrounds and haunted buildings in search of Civil War ghosts. But if I had to select just one, it would be the last story, "After the Storm -- a Rainbow." This story relates how an omen appeared to a Kentucky farmer and his wife. An April storm, common in the area during spring and fall, tore through their community, leaving extensive damage in its wake. But it left one good thing. On three windows, there was a rainbow that could only be seen from the outside. It was not painted or otherwise artificially colored. But it remained for years. There has never been any scientific explanation for it.

These 36 stories will command your attention, spark your curiosity, and bring many emotions to the surface. They are the stories of the people that live on and bear witness to the most atrocious war in the history of this country.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 29 March 2003

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