This incident occurred way back when I was 12 years old in the 8th grade in Junior High School (That's what it was called back then in the 60's.) when our history teacher, Mrs. K., arranged a field trip to historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for the entire class. Our parents filled out the necessary paperwork, and we readied ourselves for this momentous field trip.
Mrs. K was a very knowledgeable, and, to some degree, tough teacher. We all swore that 'she' knew George Washington, and Abe Lincoln 'personally'. Seriously. I used to complain about her to my mom, but my mom said that if she was tough, it was because she 'really' was a thorough, and efficient educator. She was right. To this day I actually do remember what Mrs. K drilled into our heads. Believe me, you 'learned' in 'her' class, and I'm grateful for that in retrospect.
On to the trip. We were loaded onto 2 Greyhound buses. The boys on one bus, and us girls in the other. The buses were carrying a full load of pre-teenagers from Willoughby, Ohio to Pennsylvania. Eek! God love them for enduring us for the entirety of that trip. Before arriving in Gettysburg, we went through Hershey, PA., where the chocolate factory is located. We toured the factory where the work force was mostly Amish employees, and we all got free little bags of candy bars. Very cool. From there we went to have dinner in a nice restaurant. After dinner, it was getting toward dusk. We spent the night in a Best Western Hotel and had to get up early the next morning to continue on to Gettysburg.
Once we arrived in Gettysburg, they took us to another facility that was a bunch of neat, little cabins lined up in a row on both sides of the property. They arranged for us to bunk 4 to a cabin. The cabins all had a couple double beds in them. The boys on one side of the road, and the girls opposite them. We went to the main building there as it had a large cafeteria and proceeded to have lunch. During our lunch the 3 teachers that accompanied us on the trip were handing out some fliers for us to peruse about the museums, battlegrounds, homes, pertinent facts, etc...
Sometime early afternoon we embarked on our tour of the fields/battlegrounds.
There were many statues commemorating the famous officers/Generals that were involved in the strategies, and the battles. They had reenactors that were dressed up as Union, and Confederate soldiers. We were escorted by one man, dressed as a union soldier who had a real musket that he loaded and fired off for us. It was very loud. I swear every bird in every tree flew into the air after he fired it. It was fascinating.
Afterwards, they enacted a battle for us. Live theater. It was great.
After the entertainment we were allowed to wander the grounds upon which those battles were fought. You could just 'feel' the history as you were walking the fields. I was with about 10 other girls as we were meandering across the fields. We stopped, briefly, next to a group of rocks behind which were 3 artillery cannons. The cannon balls were in little stacked piles next to guns. From that focal point we could look off into the distance to see the rest of the fields. It was vast.
Unexpectedly off in the distance, but close enough to notice, there came a young man out of the wooded area surrounding the fields. He looked to be about 15, maybe 16. Too young to even be shaving. I thought he was rather cute. As most young pre-teen girls are about boys.
He was wearing a blue union uniform that seemed to be rather worn and dirty. He was shouldering a musket gun that, almost looked as tall as he did. He had brownish hair, white gloves, a big belt around his waist with a canteen, and other accoutrements that a soldier would require.
Naturally, I assumed he was another reenactor. He raised his hand when he noticed me looking at him, smiled and waved to me. I, instinctively, waved back at him. It was the polite thing to do anyway. One of the other girls I was with asked me 'who' I was waving at. I, suddenly, realized that 'she' didn't see the young man that 'I' saw. I told her that I was waving away the gnats that were swarming around. The gnats were swarming around about that time so she believed me.
I felt a little chill go up my spine, but then began to rationalize that since I had soldiers on my mind, that I was simply 'seeing' things.
I said nothing to the other girls.
We were ushered back to our cabins once it began to get dark and got ready for bed. The other 3 girls I was sharing accommodations with were somewhat silent. Finally, one girl came to me and said she just 'had' to confide in me. She said that she noticed me in the school library reading books on ghosts and the paranormal thereby assuming that 'I' believed in that stuff. I confirmed that I did. She and the other 2 girls confessed to me that 'they' saw the young soldier also. They noticed me wave, and were about to do the same when the one girl asked me 'who' I was waving at. They, too, figured out that not everyone there 'saw' him. I felt a bit spooked at this point, but gratified that 'others' did see what I saw.
We, then, had a lengthy discussion about the whole thing. We 'saw' him and we each described the same young man to a tee. We were trying to reason 'why' only 'we' saw him. Couldn't answer that one, but we theorized that, just maybe, that very young soldier just wanted 'our' friendly recognition and to let us know 'he' was there and did his duty. We got a little closer on that trip and we never forgot it. It is rather humbling to think that so many young boys fought and died on those grounds never getting the chance to realize manhood because of it.
I went back to Gettysburg twice more later on. Once with my parents and sister. The last time with my 1st husband. I never saw the soldier again. Possibly because I was still a kid I was more open to seeing him. I could still feel the presences on the fields though.
Gettysburg is a truly amazing, historic and humbling place to go to. If you get the chance please experience it for yourself!