Civil War Ghosts

Author: Martin Harry Greenberg, Frank McSherry, Jr. & Charles G. Waugh

A man goes mad, haunted by the drumming of his dead soldier-nephew. A Union lieutenant promises to come back and waltz “The Blue Danube” with his sweetheart in Brooklyn, and he does---not even death could stop him. A Boy Scout helps a crusty, old, one-legged Civil War vet face down a great evil. A group of privileged pranksters discount the legend of a ghost who guards a confederate shot-tower, and pay a terrible price for their disbelief.

The Civil War depleted and destroyed the resources of our nation, taking, above all, an overwhelming human toll. In a nation of only thirty million people, more than half million died. It’s not surprising that this war in which so many died before they could finish the business of living produced an extraordinary number of ghost stories.

 Greenberg, McSherry, and Waugh have gathered nine of the best in this collection of short fiction about Civil War ghosts. The earliest was published four years after the war and the most recent, only a few years ago. The stories vary from the internal horror of Ambrose Bierce’s “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” to the blue-flamed phantoms of Manly Wade Wellman’s “Fearful Rock,” to the deceptive nostalgia of Mary Elizabeth Counselman’s “The Shot-Tower Ghost.”

 What unifies the stories is the horror of the losses we sustained, a horror that finally cannot be measured in numbers or dollars but can only be conveyed in the language of imagination.