I went on my first ghost tour back when I was in college. The late, very great Richard Crowe was just getting started with his Chicago Ghost Tours and I convinced my sister, my brother-in-law, and my younger cousin, to take that bus tour and find out about spirits and hauntings in my city, some of which were familiar, and some of which I'd never heard. It was fantastic. And apparently, habit-forming.
Since that first tour, I managed to take two more with Mr. Crowe before he passed. (Interestingly enough, the man is buried in a cemetery that was included on his tours.) And Jim and I have taken a ghost tour every time we travel, if one is available. And every tour I've taken, from the first to the last, I've heard the history of the place, learned about the ghosts said to be present, and never seen any of them. Until Gettysburg. And that wasn't even on a tour. That was just, well, because Gettysburg.
Now, Jim and I are both history buffs. He is also very interested in Native American History and to that end has taken classes, attended Sun Dances, gone into sweat lodges (taking me along for some of those), and enjoyed Pow Wows. He is very taken with the history of the Lakota, and for that reason, I know a visit to the Little Big Horn Battlefield is probably somewhere in my future.
Do I go???
I am also interested in the history of the Lakota. I introduced Jim to it by having him read Crazy Horse: Strange Man of the Oglalas, by Mari Sandoz, a totally amazing book. And I always wanted to see Little Big Horn. The operative word in that sentence is "wanted."
Since meeting up with a dead soldier from Gettysburg, I'm not sure I'm up for what I've read and heard is present at the site of the Little Big Horn battle. All you really need to do is Google "Little Big Horn" and "haunted" to get, oh, a little over six million results. YIKES. I've read books about the spirits there. Compared to the energy at that Montana site, Gettysburg is a park. And I don't mean that in any disrespectful or derogatory way.
The soldiers who died at Gettysburg, although meeting violent ends, seem to be at peace with what happened to them. I'm sure some of them believed in their cause and gave their lives without hesitation. Others may have simply been resigned to the possibility. But although the town of Gettysburg feels unsettled to me, I can't help feeling like a lot of that is due to the enormous amount of life energy expended at that site in a short and violent period of time. Little Big Horn, on the other hand, seems steeped in terror and anger and pain, and the ghosts that have been documented there certainly reflect that.
I don't know that any battle with a great loss of life can ever be considered "good," but there is an aspect of that for Gettysburg. It was one battle in a war fought to keep this country together, fought to free a group of people wrongly enslaved, and fought for whatever principles men held dear at that time, in that era. Little Big Horn was fought for that ugly concept "Manifest Destiny" on one side, and for sheer survival and preservation of a way of life on the other. The conflict was not just bloody, it was born of hatred, rationalization, racism, greed, and desperation. The explosion of life energy expended there is certainly tainted by all of this.
So back to the title question: did seeing my ghost at Gettysburg change things? For me, the answer is unequivocally yes. Henry, the name I bestowed on the Union gentleman I saw, was pretty much benign. The only thing about him that was really frightening, of course, is that he's dead. But the spirits at Little Big Horn can appear terrified, anguished, angry, and all other manner of uneasy that accompanies the kind of deaths they experienced. And I'm not really in a hurry to run into that.
At the moment, we don't have plans to head west and see the site. At the moment. If it comes up, I will certainly keep you posted. And as for doing a ghost tour at Little Big Horn? You know, that may be the first and only time I will ever say that I might just give it a pass. Call me a chicken, call me a measly coward; I just don't want to have to call a therapist...