The sighting occurred in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in the city park. During the Civil War the park had been a wide open space with a fresh water source and access to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. So it was an ideal area for troops to settle down and camp.
During the war, the area was occupied by both Confederate and Union soldiers who fought some terrible battles throughout the war to claim that area.
One family headed to the park that 4th of July to claim a good spot for watching the evening’s fireworks. The group consisted of five adults and seven children. They picnicked and enjoyed themselves throughout the day, and were soon joined by other people wanting to get a good view of the fireworks.
The grandfather was the first to detect a foul smell coming from one direction. He turned and saw a teenage boy leaning against a tree nearby. The rest of the family quickly noticed the smell and turned to see the teenager who didn’t appear to notice them. The smell was described as “old sweat, horse flop, rotting garbage, or the smell of rancid meat”.
The father called to the teen ordering him to go away. He either didn’t hear him or didn’t care because he didn’t react in any way.
The mother jumped up and went to get a policeman. She quickly returned with one and pointed to the area where the teenager was standing. It was then that she realized he was gone and that her family was sitting, speechless staring at the tree where he had stood.
The grandfather then explained that they were all watching the boy when he disappeared in front of their eyes. It was then that the family realized they had seen a ghost.
Later that night, the police received two other reports of a teenage boy lurking in the area who smelled horrible. But they never found him.
The teen was described by all who saw him as about 5 feet tall with torn brown pants, a filthy red checked shirt, suspenders, no shoes, filthy feet and a weird flat-top cap with a small brim in the front.
Those details describe a typical Confederate soldier . They were often dressed in shabby, worn out clothes and they wore caps that were flat with small brims in the front called kepis. The soldiers all smelled terrible because soap wasn’t available.
He’s not the only ghost seen to be haunting West Virginia. Apparently there are many sightings throughout the state, mostly related to the Civil War era. On a day when we celebrate our lives as free Americans and the birth of our country, let’s remember those who went before and shaped the course of our history.