A Ghost by Any Other Name

Posted by Donna on 10:39 PM with No comments
October 13, 2015 |

I’ll admit, I’m writing this blog in between innings of game 4 of the NLDS series. The Mets – my Mets – are down 3-0 after 3 innings. Grrrr...... but, I’m already behind on blogging about our vacation so I’ll soldier on. And speaking of soldiers, yes, we’ve left Gettysburg, but I'm going to re-engage a time or two before I fully retreat.

Our ride from NJ to Gettysburg was scenic, beautiful and relatively uneventful. And then this happened...

...requiring a detour to a Verizon store to buy a new phone. With the new phone safely stashed in the Harley’s tour pack, we mustered on to Gettysburg traversing the pristine and perfectly manicured farmlands of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

We arrived in Gettysburg and checked in to The Swope Manor, a fabulous bed and breakfast a quick double time walk from the center of town. The inn was originally the home of George Swope. George, his wife Margaret and son John were living in the home during that fateful summer of July 1863. We stayed in the Meade Room, a nod to General George Meade, and our friends were in the Lt. Pohlman Room, named for the Union soldier who died there on July 21.1

Does the ghost of Lt. Pohlman still walk the floors of the Swope Manor? Someone does. At breakfast on Saturday morning, while telling the tale of the lieutenant’s demise, and assuring Liz and Jeff that he died in one of the first floor parlors and not the room they spent the night in, my teacup unexplainably started to rattle in its saucer.

That was the closest we got to the paranormal this trip, despite the ghost we took through the Farnsworth House, advertised as one of the most haunted houses in Gettysburg. It started in the garret (attic) of the Farnsworth House (where we had a lovely dinner prior to the tour) and tales of sharpshooters volleying ammunition across Baltimore Avenue and a mischievous young ghost who is drawn to blonde with blue eyes and likes to untie shoes. My bright white laces remained untouched, but Jason’s ball cap was pushed up on his head.

But it was the story of the Murphy brothers, James and Brady, soldiers with the 54th NY Infantry, that had us most intrigued. Brady, after losing his sight to exploding cannon fire, is escorted to a tree near the medical tent by his brother, James. Long story short, and believe me, it was a looooong story, James was killed in that explosion, so how could he possibly have taken care of his younger brother? My curiosity got the better of me and I researched the Murphy brothers and the 54th New York.

The 54th New York Infantry, under the command of Major Stephen Kovacs, was part of the Army of the Potomac’s First Brigade, First Division, 11th Army Corps. One of several German regiments in the division, the 54th NY, also known as the “Hiram Barney Rifles”, saw action in the Confederate attack of East Cemetery Hill on July 2, 1863.

Unfortunately, neither James nor Brady Murphy were on the roster of the 54th New York, so the bigger question is, how could they haunt a battlefield they were never on?

Not a ghost of a chance.


  1. Melody Asper, “Gettysburg Swope Manor Becomes a B&B,” 2 May 2013; online edition, The Evening Star, (http://www.eveningsun.com/ci_23151944/swope-manor-becomes-b-b : accessed 13 October 2015).
  2. National Parks Service, “The Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg”, NPS, (http://www.nps.gov/gett/learn/historyculture/aop-orderofbattle.htm :accessed 13 October 2013).
  3. National Parks Service, “The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System,” NPS, (http://nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm: accessed 13 October 2015), search for Brady and James Murphy, New York. Search yielded no results.