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Soldiers in the Mist

Virginia, USA
October 1999

This story did not happen to me, rather it happened to my mother and father when I was quite young. I did not hear it from them until I was an adult. As my parents were not prone to tall tales, and the fact that it took so long for them to talk about it, I am inclined to believe it. This is their story, related almost twenty years after it happened.

When I was three years old we moved from our ancestral home in northwestern Ohio to a Virginia suburb of Washington, DC. My parents were totally unfamiliar with the area and only vaguely aware that it had played an important part throughout the Civil War. In Ohio at that time the Civil War was thought of as something that had happened a long time ago to "those folks down south".

One spring weekend my parents were invited to spend some time at a friend's farm near Orange, Virginia. They drove down together in the morning, leaving my brother and I with a babysitter for the day. At the end of a fun-filled day, and after dusk had settled in, they got on the road for the long drive home. At that time it was all two-lane country roads. They hadn't gone too far when a misty fog settled in, as it does at that time of year. My father could barely see the road and had slowed down considerably. They knew from their trip down earlier that they were passing through a remote rural farm area with large pastures on both sides of the road, although they could see almost nothing.

My father began to get an uneasy feeling as if they were being watched by something in the fog. The feeling became stronger and stronger, to the point where my father felt there were hundreds, if not thousands of pairs of eyes staring at him. My mother had grown very silent. My father, in an attempt to get her to talk so that he could hear a human voice jokingly said,"It sure is spooky out here", to which my mother replied "Let's get out of here as fast as we can". Those were the last words they spoke to each other until back on the main road and clear of the fog. Even then, they did not mention the fog on the way home.

The next morning at breakfast (in the cozy, sunlit suburban kitchen) my father asked my mother what she had thought of their trip the night before. She was noncommittal at first and murmured something about the fog scaring her. My father, emboldened by the warm surroundings, told my mother what he had felt; that just before leaving the fog the feelings had been the strongest, and that he "felt" the presence of hundreds of men, which he got the impression were some type of soldiers. My mother took a long look at him and then quietly said,"I didn't feel them, I SAW them. Row upon row, hundreds and hundreds of soldiers, most on foot, some on horseback lining either side of the road. They were dressed in long coats and old fashioned uniforms and they stared silently as we drove by. I saw them even before you told me you thought the place was spooky. I have never been so scared in all my life".

A few days later at work my father asked his friend about the area he and my mother had driven through. His friend told him they had been on a road that cut directly through the infamous Wilderness and Chancellersville battlefields; two of the bloodiest areas of the Civil War. Needless to say we all became better acquainted with our local history after that.

Years later my father would routinely travel that same route at night for business. Although he told me he always got the "creeps" when he drove through the battlefields, he never saw anything unusual again.

Virginia, USA
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