Many times the residue
of misdeeds and human drama are imprinted upon the stone face, making it
possible to playback visions of the past, what we know as hauntings.
Such is the case for Ft. Monroe, Virginia, where the infamous and
the innocent are found.
This moated heptagonal
stone fort faces the Chesapeake Bay on three sides, the water making
escape remote and the isolation of its prisoners complete.
It’s lonely casemates held one of the most illustrious prisoners
of the Civil War, the President of the Confederate States, Jefferson
Davis. Brought here in shackles after the war, Davis slowly grew
weak within its walls. His
wife, Varina, followed him here and pleaded to have him removed from the
cell to a private apartment to die in peace.
Both of their ghosts can be found at Ft. Monroe still, Davis in his
cell and Varina is sometimes found gazing from a bedroom window towards
her husband’s cell. Their
imprints of dreams unrealized and the reality of war make their shades
constant companions to the grief left behind.
Other political figures make appearances too; the ghosts of Abraham
Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant roam Old Quarters No. 1.
Edgar Allen Poe, known
as Edgar A. Perry before selling his enlistment in 1829, served four
months at Ft. Monroe. While here, he wrote, “The Cask of Amontillado,” based on
a ghost story of a Virginian military man walled up inside an empty stone
building (see, I told you stone had long memories.)
Visiting the area a month before his death, Poe read poetry on the
veranda of a nearby hotel. After
his death, he has been believed to have been seen in his former barracks,
which is now located at Building #5.
What’s a good haunting
without a good love story? Camille
Kirtz, or the “Light Lady,” was murdered by her husband on Matthew
Lane within the fort. While
meeting her French lover, Camille’s secret was discovered by her much
older husband. Hot-blooded and fast-acting, Camille’s husband shot at the
pair, intending to wound the man but killing his wife instead.
The Frenchman ran off and Camille now wanders “Ghost Alley” and
a nearby copse of oak trees searching for her lover in vain.
She has been seen many times since the Civil War as a radiant mist
in the form of a woman.
Children have also found a home within these walls, serious illness was a fact of life in the early days of our nation, and many children did not live to see their tenth birthdays. Their innocent spirits are often trapped within the walls that sheltered them in life, as they unknowingly continue their journey after death. Two small boys have been reported at the fort, one in the upstairs of an old house next to the moat wall and the other in the basement of an enlisted man’s home. The latter child sometimes seeks out other children to play with when they visit the house, ghosts get lonely too…