October 26, 2008
The Ghosts of Fort Fisher
In the spirit of Halloween, I decided to take a look to see if there were any ghost tales regarding Pleasure Island. Surely there would be some when you consider that there is an entire ghost tour just 15 miles away in historic downtown Wilmington.
Well, it turns out that ghosts are apparently averse to crossing the Snow's Cut Bridge because the ghost tales of Pleasure Island are pretty thin. The tales primarily center on Fort Fisher and several teams of paranormal investigators have spent time investigating the southern part of the island. In addition, the Fort Fisher ghost tales were discussed in the book, Best Ghost Tales of North Carolina, written by Terrance Zepke.
The general consensus is that the ghosts at Fort Fisher are haunts from the Civil War era as some of the reported sightings mention images of Confederate soldiers. A few attribute some of the ghost activity to the late Fort Fisher Hermit, Robert E. Harrill.
The nature of the death of Robert Harrill has fueled some speculation that he may have been murdered. The official cause of death was that he died of natural causes. But some question the accuracy and thoroughness of the police investigation and feel that there were enough suspicious circumstances to raise concerns of some form of foul play. But either way, there is some speculation that the Fort Fisher Hermit still roams the lands he called home at Fort Fisher.
The majority of the investigators feel that the hauntings of Fort Fisher are related to the Civil War and, more specifically, feel the area is haunted by General William Whitting. General Whiting was injured in the last hours of the final battle at Fort Fisher and was forced to surrender the Southern fort to Northern Forces.
He died a prisoner in 1865 at Fort Columbus, New York Harbor. Today, the theory is that his spirit returned to Fort Fisher because he blames himself for the fall of the fort. Others speculate that he returned because the Fort was the last place he knew or because he seeks a better outcome to the last battle of his life.
When you consider that over 3,000 soldiers lost their lives at Fort Fisher, one can understand why the area is ripe for paranormal speculation.
Other sightings at Fort Fisher tell of Confederate soldiers standing watch in the pine groves north of the Fort. Apparently, the reports of these sentinels have been made by park employees, visitors as well as professional paranormal investigators.
The group Haunted North Carolina Paranormal Research & Investigation conducted a four hour investigation at Fort Fisher. They came away with the distinct belief that the fort is indeed haunted. Three separate members of the team saw the soldier in the woods, and the temperature at the spot immediately dropped from 68 degrees to 43 degrees. Their equipment recorded footsteps in the woods at the same time, although a motion detector showed no movement. They heard the sound of a gunshot. They heard a scream and a cry for help on the beach, but of course there was no one there. Their flashlights kept going off, even though they tested all the equipment before the expedition. Likewise, batteries drained at a rapid pace, cameras jammed, and flashes refused to flash. Photos taken show an orb moving through the trees.(1)
In September 2008, members of the East Coast Paranormal conducted an investigation of the fort and have posted a three part video series on youtube. Unfortunately, the investigation was cut short when they found themselves being haunted by an onslaught of mosquitoes.
Here are the 3 parts to the ghost hunt:
So, whether or not any of these speculations are rooted in any truth, we can say that Pleasure Island, NC has tales of the paranormal. And with Halloween right around the corner, everyone needs a ghost tale or two.