Most forts have witnessed some terrible scenes in their time, with bloody battles rife with brutal killings, unmerciful deaths, plagues of disease and savage wounds. With histories as ferocious as this, it’s not surprising that forts are common places for otherworldly experiences, sightings and apparitions. If the thought of blood-curdling screams and ghosts walking through walls piques your interest, take a look at Haunted Rooms‘ list of the most haunted forts in the US.
Fort William Henry, New York
(Image: Iris Kawling, public domain)
Constructed in 1755 by a group of British colonial volunteers, Fort William Henry has seen a staggering amount of disease and countless battles. A battle regarded as one of the bloodiest parts of colonial American history took place here and involved the massacring and cannibalisation of over 1,000 people.
(Image: Library of Congress, public domain)
Fort William Henry has featured on the SyFy Channel’s ‘Ghost Hunters’ due to the unexplained reports made by visitors. Many people who have taken the trip to the fort have reported seeing lights randomly flickering on and off, footsteps coming from empty rooms and chimes sounding when there is no breeze. These are nothing compared to some claims which include seeing bottles moving independently, hearing military marching noises, being grabbed by unseen hands and apparitions which actually engage in battle with one another.
Fort Concho, Texas
Built in 1867, Fort Concho has been involved in many attacks and battles targeted toward Native Americans. Thousands of horses, livestock and men were killed here over the years, with a large number of women and children kidnapped and held hostage. Although restored in 1935, Colonel Ranald Mackenzie is still said to command the fort from beyond the grave.
The row of stone houses which makes up the Officers’ Row is said to be the most haunted part of the fort, with most of the sightings taking place here. Many people claim to have seen the ghost of Mackenzie, including one female member of staff who reported hearing the sound of his footsteps and characteristic knuckle cracking before being knocked against the wall by a blast of cold air.
Colonel Benjamin Grierson’s young daughter who died in the Officers’ Row around her 12th birthday has also been seen by several visitors and members of staff. Although not quite as intrusive as Mackenzie, the little girl acknowledges visitors with a smile before continuing to play with her jacks.
Jefferson Barracks, Missouri
(Image: John Stanton, public domain)
Originally built in 1826 to house soldiers protecting settlers from Native American attacks, the Jefferson Barracks was also used as a military hospital and national cemetery. During a private Halloween party held at the hospital, a security officer and the host both claim to have seen a man dressed in a Civil War officer’s uniform; however, no one who was invited to the party claims they wore such a costume.
(Image: ALHN & AHGP Internet Library, public domain)
One of the most terrifying stories pre-dates the Halloween party and took place around the start of WW2. Several soldiers who were each patrolling the powder magazine report being confronted by a ghostly sentry with a bloody bullet hole through his head. Soldiers found this experience so intimidating that some threw down their weapons and deserted their posts, with one soldier even leaving the army altogether.
Fort Pulaski, Georgia
One of the most important buildings during the Civil War, Fort Pulaski was used as a prison, following the surrender of Colonel Olmstead. During this time, hundreds of imprisoned soldiers were ravaged by starvation, scurvy and dysentery before being released one year later. Several men never made it out alive, having succumbed to emaciation and dehydration during their imprisonment.
There have been many ghost stories told over the years involving Fort Pulaski. One of the most intriguing ones occurred in the 1980s when some actors re-enacting the Civil War visited the fort. They reported that a young man in a Confederate lieutenant uniform approached them and immediately reprimanded them for not saluting him. He told them to fall into formation and turn away from him. Playing along, the actors did as they were told and when they turned around to face him again, he had disappeared.
Fort Leaton, Texas
The ground upon which Fort Leaton is built has had many uses over the years, from a Spanish mission to a private residence and even a shelter for homeless families. The fort saw a great deal of deaths and sickness in the form of yellow fever, hit men and revenge killings.
After the Texas Park and Wildlife Department took over Fort Leaton, two employees were asked to fill in a deep pit which had been dug by treasure seekers looking for a previous owner’s rumoured buried gold. Shortly after they began, the employees fled in terror claiming they both felt an invisible force trying to pull them into the pit. Other employees have reported seeing the ghost of the owner who was killed by hit men in the same room where he was shot to death during dinner.
One of the latest sightings would spook even the toughest sceptic. It has been reported that during thunderstorms, a headless spectre can be seen riding around the fort’s corral on a brilliant white horse. This spectre was previously a cowboy who had a fatal accident when riding his horse during a thunderstorm hundreds of years ago.
Fort Belle Fontaine, Missouri
The starting point of many subsequent ghost stories and sightings, Fort Belle Fontaine has protected and housed a lot of soldiers, many of which suffered disease, injuries and death. Due to poor positioning, the fort succumbed to the Missouri River and was almost entirely washed away, with a detention home and training school built nearby, where a second fort had once stood.
Over the years, many Fort Belle Fountain visitors have claimed to feel and see things which cannot be explained. Most reports focus on the Grand Staircase which was constructed in 1936 in the detention home. On many photos taken of the first and second tiers you can clearly see dark red smoke on the stairs, independent of the type of camera or person taking the photo.
Fort Knox, Maine
Constructed in the mid 19th century in attempts to stop a supposed third invasion by the British army which never actually occurred, Fort Knox has never been attacked. Highly regarded as one of the best places in the US for paranormal activity, this fort has featured on many TV shows, websites and books.
Many different sightings and experiences have been reported at Fort Knox, ranging from the slightly unusual to the downright terrifying. There have been several reports of apparition sightings, with a Civil War-era man seen disappearing through a brick wall. The ghost of who is believed to be Sergeant Leopold Hegvi has even been caught on video as he roamed the fort, making sure it’s safe, just like he used to years ago.
Hegvi has made several appearances at Fort Knox, including one night on a tour. The tour guide saw a man dressed in a Civil War uniform standing to the side of her group. She thought nothing of it at the time, assuming it was one of the Civil War re-enactors who were onsite. Later, she found out that there had been no re-enactors at Fort Knox that day and the photo she had taken revealed the man to bear a striking resemblance to Hegvi.
Fort Ticonderoga, New York
The French military fort, Fort Ticonderoga, saw many immense and bloody attacks involving thousands of soldiers during its time, all fighting to take control of the fort. After finally being abandoned in 1781, the fort was turned into a hotel, before it was restored and opened up to the public for tours and events.
Although it is full of unmarked graves, the most prominent ghost said to haunt Fort Ticonderoga is Nancy Coates – the mistress of General Anthony Wayne. She assumed the General had abandoned her for another woman and drowned herself in Lake Champlain.
(Image: Heppenheimer & Maurer, public domain)
Visitors to the fort have claimed to see her ghost running up and down the footpaths and standing by the entrance, always on the lookout for her lover. Several people have heard her heartbreaking sobs, whilst some have even reported seeing her lifeless body floating upside down in the lake.
Fort Delaware, Delaware
(Image: Brendan Mackie, public domain)
Much the same today as it was 150 years ago, Fort Delaware has a rich Civil War history and was previously used as a prison to house captured Confederates, federal soldiers, local prisoners and privateers. The mortality rate was staggeringly high, with soldiers dying from disease, sickness, drowning and gunshot wounds.
(Image: Library of Congress, public domain)
The most well-known spirit haunts the officers’ kitchen at Fort Delaware. During a re-enactment, this spirit was seen observing the women in the kitchen, before giving an approving nod and disappearing through the walls. This woman has even been captured on camera, dressed in a black outfit. A number of light orbs have also been photographed and unexplained laughter has been heard throughout the fort.
Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania
(Image: Seth Eastman, public domain)
One of the most popular haunted spots in Pennsylvania, Fort Mifflin attracted the team of ‘Ghost Hunters’ who headed to the fort to check it out for themselves. This fort, which served as a post during the Revolutionary War, has a long and bloody history, so it’s no surprise that many ghost sightings and experiences have occurred here.
Billy Howe and Elizabeth Pratt are the two main ghosts which haunt Fort Mifflin. Pratt is known only for her blood-curdling screams, whereas Howe has made several appearances. Strange reports include windows and doors opening independently and problems with electrical equipment, including new batteries instantly dying.
Many have reported sightings of a man sewing in the room where Howe was held prisoner. When a visitor disturbs him, the ghost looks up, but he has no face. Pratt disowned her daughter for falling in love and eloping with a soldier. When her daughter contracted typhoid fever, there was no time for the pair to reconcile before she died, leaving Pratt to hang herself whilst screaming.
Wesley is the owner of HauntedRooms.com as well as HauntedRooms.co.uk. If you’re from the UK and you want to experience haunted locations first hand and in the guidance of professionals, be sure to browse through the available ghost hunts.