Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Ghosts of Fort Mifflin

Fort Mifflin
The British originally built this garrison along the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers on Mud Island in Pennsylvania in 1771. 

The Americans then used it to protect the original capital city of Philadelphia.

The colonials named the fort “Mifflin” after it’s first commander, General Thomas Mifflin who eventually became the first governor of the state of Pennsylvania.

In 1777, the British bombarded Fort Mifflin with a “barrage of cannonballs.” This battle was the greatest sea battle of the Revolutionary War.

Over 300 American men were killed or wounded at the fort and a large portion of the fort was damaged during this 60-day battle.

Twenty years later the fort was rebuilt, and it was again used during the War of 1812. Then during the Civil War, it was used as a prison for Confederate soldiers and Federal prisoners.

Today, Fort Mifflin is a tourist attraction with guides in traditional dress. An unexpected attraction at the old garrison is the many ghosts that remain.

Officer's Quarters
The Lamplighter

This ghost is seen on one 2nd floor barracks balcony. It is believed this ghost was a “lamplighter” because this transparent man is seen every evening lighting oil lamps.

His form is described as pale and barely distinguishable in the twilight. But people do see his long pole with a dimly flickering light on the end.

The Casements

In this area, numerous ghosts have been seen. Most of these phantoms present themselves as pale outlines. They were not seen regularly so one cannot chalk them up to just overactive imaginations.

One ghost seen here is known as the Faceless Man. People believe this war criminal was held in a cell during the Civil War.

His name was William Howe, and he killed a superior before deserting his post. He was imprisoned at Fort Mifflin before he was hanged.

The outline of his ghost is clearly seen except for his face, which always appears in shadows. One reason for this might be because deserters sometimes had a black bag tied around their heads--to mark their shame.

The Screaming Lady

This female ghost is the fort’s most well known. Her spirit is heard as opposed to being seen. There are various tales about her origin.

Some believe her name was Elizabeth Pratt, and that she was the wife of an officer.

When Elizabeth found out her daughter intended to marry an enlisted man she disowned her.

Unfortunately, the daughter succumbed to either dysentery or typhoid fever depending on the tale. So the daughter died before the two women could reconcile.

It is said Elizabeth let out a blood-curdling scream upon hearing the news and then filled with regret -- took her own life.

Ever since Elizabeth’s scream has been heard either at the fort or near it.

In recent years neighbors that live near Mifflin upon hearing this chilling scream have called the police thinking someone was being murdered.

Photo: Mary Thomas, 2010
Shadow person or dark figure
Yet another phantom sound heard at the fort is connected to the old blacksmith shop.

The sound of a hammer is heard striking an anvil repeatedly. When people peer into this dark structure no one is there.

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