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 Posted: Tue Oct 29th, 2013 05:14 am
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Hellcat
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These next two come from Lighthouse Ghosts & Carolina Costal Legends by Norma Elizabeth and Bruce Roberts.

We begin at Fort Macon. Now as some of you may already know in the early part of 1862 Ambrose Burnside launched his North Carolina Expedition. Put in command of the expedition by McClellan, the North Carolina Expedition was probably the high point of Burnside's military career for 1862. The expedition would see Burnside's forces take Roanoke Island, Elizabeth City, and New Bern all by mid-March. Then late in march he began the siege of Fort Macon which would last from March 23rd to April 26th before the fort fell to Federal hands.

Today Fort Macon is a state park which normally draws visitors into the millions. Though if you ask some of the visitors and staff, Fort Macon is haunted and the spirit doing the haunting is a Confederate soldier named Benjamin Combs. Now apparently according to historical records Combs was killed by shrapnel in his back, suffering for several hours before finally succumbing to his wounds early in the war. Just how early the book does not actually say, only that it was during the early days of the war. This could mean some time in 1861, perhaps during a live fire training drill gone wrong, or, as I suspect, during the siege of the fort. Now I have looked on CWSS and discovered five Ben Combs serving in the Confederate army there, one with an unlisted Maryland unit, one with the Virginia Cavalry unit Harness' Independent Company, one with the 2nd Arkansas Mounted Rifles, one with the 35th Arkansas Infantry, and the last one with Company F of the 1st North Carolina Artillery. The last one would seem the most likely though I can't find evidence Co. F was at Fort Macon during the siege or before. I do find that the company was captured at Fort Fisher, which would fall later in the war.

No matter what unit Combs belonged to, his ghost has been said to be responsible for locking one park ranger out of their office. The ghost is also said to turn lights off and on, slam doors, and do other things that aren't considered harmful or dangerous but more playful little pranks. When this happens all the staff has to do is tell Ben to knock it off and the pranks stop for a while. As for visitors, their more likely to actually see the ghost in some for or other. Reenactors who have spent the night at the fort have reported seeing someone or something hanging around their equipment. Perhaps as they are re-enactors dressed in period clothing and carrying period equipment the ghost believes they are fellow Confederate soldiers returning to the fort.

From Fort Macon we travel south to mouth of the Cape Fear River and Fort Fisher. In January of 1865 Federal forces launched the 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher. Among the Confederates present at the fort was Major General William H.C. Whiting, commander of the District of Cape Fear. Upon arriving at Fisher prior to the battle Whiting is to have told the commander of Fisher's Garrison, one Colonel William Lamb, "Lamb my boy, I have come to share your fate. You and your garrison are to be sacrificed" Whiting would be wounded in the battle and by 10 PM on January 15 would be forced to surrender his command. Taken prisoner, the general would die on March 10th of dysentery while on Governor's Island in NYC.

It was just a few years after the war that the story of the haunting of the grounds of Fort Fisher would first be reported. And it would be appropriate that it was Confederate veterans of the 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher who would be the first witnesses. Near to dusk as the men were conducting their pilgrimage to the site where they and their friends had shed their blood, sweat, and tears all those years before the men discovered another being at the remains of the old fort with them. They believed at first it was another veteran, this one dressed in his old uniform, also making a pilgrimage to the site of he fort. The figure mounted the gun emplacement near to the Wilmington road and they realized not only was this man wearing the uniform of the Confederate Army but he also wore the stars of a general. The group suddenly realized that they recognized him as the man they had called "Little Billy" It was, as you already know, none other than General Whiting. The men moved to welcome the general back only to have him suddenly vanish before their eyes. As they stood in wonder of what had just happened one of the veterans suddenly realized that the spot they had just seen the figure in was the very spot where General Whiting had been wounded.

This would not be the last time the ghost of General Whiting would be seen. Indeed today some still claim to see Whiting's ghost. A column today marks the center of the old fort. Visitors to the fort claim that if you wait long enough around dusk you will see General Whiting appear at this spot before moving off to a nearby hill. At a distance you can tell the figure is an officer with generals stars. He reaches the low hill and appears to be scanning the horizon, perhaps seeing the now long gone Federal naval force that took part in his last battle or perhaps searching for blockade runners, before he vanishes.

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