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 Posted: Wed Sep 2nd, 2009 11:23 pm
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javal1
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Folks,

I wanted to ask if anyone else has experienced any "neck hair" moments, but I guess I should explain what that is first :D

Have you ever gone to a historical site, whether it be a battlefield, a building, or whatever, and just have the pure sense of history overwhelm you to the point where there's actually a physical feeling? Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking anything para-normal. With me, it manifests itself with a tingling feeling to the point where I can actually feel my neck hairs stand up. Hence the name of this thread.

For me it usually happens when I've read about a place for years, studied it, thought about it endlessly, and then finally get to visit that place. And that sense of history just slaps me in the face when I finally step foot there. It's rare, and usually only happens once every few years, so don't confuse it with the normal awe which we always feel at these places.

I remember the first time I felt it - guess I was about 12. For years I had read about Lincoln, and more specifically the assasination. I visited my aunt in Arlington and of course had to go to Ford's Theater. Sure I knew it wasn't the same building, that that one had burned. But I have to tell you, I walked through the mezzanine to the door of Box 7 and that's when it happened. It just overwhelmed me. The tingle, the neck hairs, the whole thing. Wow, what a feeling.

It's only happened a few times since then - standing before Bloody Pond for the first time, standing behind the stone wall at Fredericksburg and for some reason stepping inside the Carter House for the first time.

So how about you - any moments when history overwhelmed you?

 



 Posted: Wed Sep 2nd, 2009 11:41 pm
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PvtClewell
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Just this summer, I had several of those moments on the very same day.

It was in Washington DC and I had the opportunity to visit the National Archives. It's probably been two decades since I'd last been there, but seeing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution always raise the neck hairs — and moisten the eyes. Also saw an original copy of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.

Later in the day I got to see the World War II Memorial, which was actually my primary mission for the day. Absolutely stupendous.

And then, at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, saw the top hat Lincoln was wearing the night he was assassinated.



 Posted: Wed Sep 2nd, 2009 11:48 pm
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pamc153PA
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Neck hair moments--I like that!

The first time that happened to me was soon after I became interested in the Civil War, and was at Chancellorsville for the very first time. I'd read about the battle, and about my ggggg-uncle's place in it, and my husband and I had "done" the tour, including Jackson's flank march, Hazel Grove, and Jackson's wounding site--the "must sees." But it was as I stood by myself at Catherine Furnace--not one of the "must see" places--that it really hit me. To this day, I can duplicate it in my mind: the remains of the stone and brick furnace in front of me, the smell of the woods and the wet ground, the quiet, even the pileated woodpecker that flitted from tree to tree nearby. Neck hairs.

A couple years later, when I was by myself at Elwood on the Wilderness battlefield (this was before the NPS had restored the place, and you had to get a special permit to go out there), I had that feeling again. I was sitting out at the Lacey graveyard where Jackson's arm is buried, and there was NOBODY anywhere within a mile or so, just a tractor in a field in the distance. I literally felt this kind of buzz, connecting me to the place and the battle. Not paranormal, just a strong overwhelming connection.

You're right, Joe. Real neck hairs don't happen very often, but when they do, they're something it's hard to forget. I'll be interested to see what everyone else has to add!

Pam



 Posted: Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 01:16 am
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CleburneFan
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Hubby and I visited Fort Sumter. While we were there an incredible thunderstorm boiled up. The thunder and lightning were fearsome! It dawned on me that the constant thunder and the lightening strikes must have resembled the sound and fury of Confederate cannon fire against Fort Sumter. It was really a "Twilight Zone" moment. It was so amazing to be right there as Mother Nature gave us a really cool idea of what the bombradment musyt have sounded like.



 Posted: Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 12:16 pm
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TimK
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I love to travel to historic places and have experienced the "neck hair moments" several times. When I was 18 and a freshly graduated from high school, I bought what was (is?) called an Ameripass from Greyhound. With the pass I could go anywhere Greyhound went for 30 days. This is when I experienced the most hair moments in a very concentrated period. I think the most intense of these moments was probably not an uncommon one. It was when I made my way to Arlington National Cemetery and saw the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. Although being in DC for the first time was pretty awe inspiring, I had never seen anything like that before in my life.

The most recent time was the first time I pulled off Highway 22 into Shiloh NMP. I think a lot of people have experienced the first one. I can't put my finger on exactly why just driving into Shiloh moved me to the point of "neck hair" status.



 Posted: Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 04:39 pm
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susansweet3
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Back in the mid 70's I went to Boston to visit my brother.  We went out to Lexington and Concord of course.  At Concord we had a NPS ranger tell us the story of the battle .  He was amazing.  I really felt as if went I turned my head I would see a redcoat coming up behind the rock I was sitting on.

Around the same time period I visited my old college roommate in Fairfax Virginia.  We went out to Bull Run.  It was a hot July day in the woods .  We were the only ones on that part of the field.  I kept getting this feeling .  This was what it was like.  It was the same  time of year.  I again felt as if a Yank or Reb would step out of the woods at any moment. 

Years later , only a few years ago I went to Shiloh by myself .  I arrived right at 5 pm and met the rangers as they were leaving.  They told me I could visit the grounds til dark.  I drove around and had such strange feelings.  It was so peaceful yet I kept thining this is bloody pond etc.  Was a very emotional moment .

susan



 Posted: Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 06:08 pm
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fedreb
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It was the sunken road at Antietam that did it to me and earlier this year I got that spine tingling feeling whilst standing alone in Grants Tomb in NYC whilst reading their copy of the Appomattox surrender document.
I have no American ancestory or relatives, yet I still get that same neck hair feeling in the Immigration Halls at Ellis Island. Spooky!



 Posted: Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 06:38 pm
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susansweet3
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Fedreb not unusual . I got that feeling standing in Westminster Abby with all the famous of England buried there and while visiting the Tower .  It's that connection with history .  That you are standing right there where it happened.   The strongest  neck hair moment I ever had was in Amsterdam when I was standing in Anne Frank's bedroom in the Secret Annex.  I have been fascinated by Anne and her diary since I was 12 and read the book.  I felt so very close to her in that room and felt her presence there.  Not a paranormal experience just that this is where she had been all those months. 

 

Last edited on Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 06:41 pm by susansweet3



 Posted: Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 07:19 pm
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19bama46
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I have commented about ACW places that do that to/for me, but Pvt Clewell mentioned the WWII memorial and I remembered my last visit DC. I went to the Korean Memorial and just about lost it... those erie figures on patrol.. the expressions on their faces, the gaze in their eyes...  almost more than I can bear

 

Ed



 Posted: Wed Sep 9th, 2009 05:46 am
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cklarson
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I can't say I've really experienced a "neck hair" moment, I think mainly because even though I've read history all my life, events prior to my life always seemed like a movie, until I went to the 75th anniv. of the Lincoln Group of NYC. A very famous Lincoln collector attended and displayed some of his artifacts: Mary's shawl, a book of some sort, Lincoln's bloody shirt collar. One would think the latter would get me, but that was not the piece de resistance--that was Lewis Powell's Bowie knife--wow, seeing that really cut me to the quick!!

But every time I go to Wethersfield CT that my family founded sometime during the weekend I always meet an elderly couple who are quite solicitous of me--I think they represent my ancestors.

A reenactor friend told me about his G-burg ghost. He and his colleague were driving down a Park road and they saw a Rebel reenactor ahead of them. After they passed him, they decided to stop and ask if he needed a lift. When my friend opened the SUV door to look for him, the Reb wasn't there--apparently had not really been there, even though both men had seen him.

CKL



 Posted: Thu Sep 10th, 2009 12:41 am
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CleburneFan
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cklarson wrote:
A reenactor friend told me about his G-burg ghost. He and his colleague were driving down a Park road and they saw a Rebel reenactor ahead of them. After they passed him, they decided to stop and ask if he needed a lift. When my friend opened the SUV door to look for him, the Reb wasn't there--apparently had not really been there, even though both men had seen him.

CKL

I just love stories like that. I wish someone would do an entire book of Civil War battlefield sightings. In fact, I'd just love to experience such a sighting myself. That would be awesome.



 Posted: Thu Sep 10th, 2009 06:32 am
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cklarson
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BTW, for any "doubters and cussers" out there my friend, Tom, to whom this happened to is a former NYPD officer and former Green Beret, so his credibility is rock solid.

Tom's favorite one will knock your socks off. Story goes that a group of Japanese tourists were touring G-burg and came to the crest of a small hill in kind of a valley. All of a sudden a large group of soldiers came charging up the hill. The Japanese were thrilled to see this "re-enactment" and when they got back to the Visitor's Center went on and on to the Rengers describing it in detail, how exciting it was, etc. After they left, one Ranger turned to his partner and asked: Did we have any re-enactments scheduled today? His partner replied: no.

Actually, I'm fairly certain Tom told me there is a book out, titled something like "Ghosts of Gettysburg."

CKL




 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 01:07 am
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CleburneFan
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I'm actually pouting. All the times I visited Gettysburg as a child and never once saw ghostly reenactors. :( I would love to live near the park and take long dawn and dusk walks. Maybe if I would get lucky, some kindly ghost would favor me with a visit...not a malevolent ghost though. 



 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 01:11 am
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Mark
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I went to school at James Madision University which is located in Harrisonburg, VA. There was a skirmish outside the town in June of 1862. The site of the battle is far enough off the main roads so that no one who isn't actually looking for the site will find it, so I never saw anyone else there. I would sit on a rock that memorialized Turner Ashby alone for hours at a time reading and thinking. Quite frequently I would have neck hair moments there. I miss those days.



 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 01:30 am
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CleburneFan
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It's strange, but I DON'T get neck hair moments at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West. And I try really hard to achieve it. I touch the huge coastal guns. I close my eyes and try so hard to imagine Key West harbor full of captured Confederate blockade runners and Union navy ships.

I try to imagine the histle and bustle of Civil War navy personnel in the area. But the Twilight Zone feeling just doesn't come, maybe because few if any deaths there were directly the result of battle. Many were the result of Yellow Fever and Typhoid.  

I visit this park every couple of months, but the coveted "feeling" of the Civil War past just won't come. Maybe someday I will be surprised. Key West has many interesting ghost stroies, but none of them are tied to the fort.

Last edited on Sat Sep 12th, 2009 01:27 am by CleburneFan



 Posted: Fri Sep 11th, 2009 05:32 am
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cklarson
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I'm not a "haunted" groupie or anything, but through conversations and reading, it seems that there are 2 main ingredients for ghosts: 1) a traumatic death; and 2) in life, the ghost was engaged in some repetitive action and so when died couldn't make the routine break. Regarding the latter, that's why there are so many women ghosts: much of their work in repetitive, e.g., isn't there supposed to be one of Jennie Wade baking bread at G-burg (do I have the right name?); and of ship captain's wives walking the widow's walk on houses. This info may put me in a "flake" category, but science is on the side of the ghosts as energy cannot be destroyed, it only changes form.

BTW, it's very interesting what you wrote about Key West duirng the CW. I did some research on the women lighthouse keepers during the CW. As I remember the FL lighthouses stayed in federal hands. Do you know if any lighthouses near Key West had women keepers? -- assistant or full? Have you ever thought of doing an article on Key West during the CW? There needs to be more naval history published.

CKL



 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 01:32 am
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CleburneFan
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I have to check facts, so I am saying this off the top of my head without verification, but I vaguely recall that one woman did take over management and upkeep of the Key West lighthouse when her husband died. I am not sure the exact time, whether this was before, during or after the Civil War. I'll check it out now and see what I can verify.

I have climbed to the top of that lighthouse and toured the cozy keeper's cottage. As an oddity, that lighthouse is now landlocked.



 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 01:50 am
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CleburneFan
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That was easy! I Googled the topic. Wikipedia has a fascinating story with far more details than I remembered and mentions another woman lighthouse keeper who also took over for her deceased husband in a nearby lighthouse. The story of the Key West Light keeper is especially compelling.

The Google article has three or four good photos of the light house. That same lighthouse is across the street and down a half block from Hemingway's House. The top of the lighthouse is a great breathtaking place to view Key West from above.

http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_West_Light



 Posted: Sat Sep 12th, 2009 06:13 am
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cklarson
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Thanks very much for this. My father has spent a fair amount of time in Key West as his wife's sister lived there and he has told me he thought I'd like it very much. This now encourages me more to visit.

I'm in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and so do CG and women's military history. The histories of the lighthouse keepers and the Life Saving Service is wonderful as are all their houses and stations. What's also good about the services is they were probably the first federal agencies that early on employed minorities and women: women, blacks, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and heroes at that. In 1869, Ida Lewis of Lime Rock L/h in Rhode Island was the most famous keeper in the country, with lots of life saves to her credit. Overall, there were about 120 full women keepers and 240 women asst. keepers, usually to their husbands. The Pea Island Life Saving Service was all manned and commanded by blacks in the 1890s. The most decorated life saver was a Native American from WA State as I remember. In 2002 the CG launched its new keeper class of buoy tenders, the first 3 named after women, Lewis being the first. I think I got at least one named after Katherine Walker of Robin's Reef Light off Staten Island as I submitted a lot of documentation on her. The USCG has a good history site at http://www.uscg.mil -- go to "people" I think then history, then lighthouses. etc.

CKL



 Posted: Wed Sep 16th, 2009 08:08 pm
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Old Sorrel
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Great topic javil1,

My 1st neck hair moment was when I 1st visited Gettysburg....more specifically Pickett's charge......I have done so much reading about the CW and Gettysburg....the readings of so many 1st accounts on that battlefield......and when I finally stood at the angle and stared at that field....recalling everything I read about it made my hair stand up and a chill ran down my back. To think I was actually standing in a field where so many brave fell was overwhelming to me......a couple of months after that I went back.....this time I brought a tablet with all the readings from the soldiers that fought there.......I planted a chair in the middle of pickets charge and read about the pickets charge from the words of the soldiers themselves......and yes...it happened again....hairs stood up and chills down the back.

I find that this happens quite often with me.....I read all these books and then when I finally get to visit all these battlefields....it happens again. I feel if I keep the passion....and keep up the reading......it will keep happening.



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