Point Lookout, Maryland
Point Lookout rests on a peninsula where the Potomac River joins Chesapeake Bay. Today, visitors come to this state park to be surrounded by its serene beaches and fully grown pines. However, many have their serenity shattered when they encounter a ghost walking down their path.
Point Lookout has a notorious history. This sandy peninsula once housed the largest prison camp during the Civil War. Prior to its time of housing prisoners of war, Point Lookout was a popular area for Maryland residents. Many built beach cottages, and it became popular during the summer. As the Civil War progressed, finances dwindled in the area and living a lavish lifestyle at Point Lookout was not possible. It was nearly abondoned when the Union army set up a general hospital there in 1862. After the hospital was built, a small number of prisoners were sent there, mostly men from Maryland that were believed to be working for the Confederacy.
After the Battle of Gettysburg, the Union army officially set up a prison camp on Point Lookout in 1863. The camp was capable of holding 10,000 men. It began by housing 4,000 prisoners of war. However, in less than a year, the population exceeded its capacity to a staggering 20,000 men. In order to quell any attempts at rioting, officers of the Confederacy were sent to Fort Deleware, another notorious prison.
When men entered the prison camp they were typically greeted with the view of occupied coffins awaiting burial. The men were given wood for starting a fire and one blanket. They were typically left to their own resources among a camp of desperate men. Money and food was scarce, men became brutal in attempts to aquire both. Violence and murder plagued the camp, however, this was disrupted during the harsh winters. During the winter the prisoners would spend most of their time huddled around a fire desperately attempting to avoid freezing to death. Many were not successful. Winters would typically thin out the population for a time, but only to be replenished during the spring.
Point Lookout had a horrible drainage problem. Water never left the soft sandy soil that the camp stood upon. This would cause a number of health problems. Often the polluted water would run into the wells, poisoning the drinking water. The water was tested by giving it to the prisoners and awaiting the results.
During the prison camp's twenty two months of existence over 4,000 men perished there.
Today, many visitors to the area have seen appartions of confederate prisoners. People have described the ghosts as sharing some common characteristics. They all seem to be very thin, with sunken eyes, and wearing tattered wool clothing (common prison garb). People have reported that while walking down a path during a summer's evening they will see a group of men staring at them from a distance. Unnerved, they quicken their pace, and upon looking back, the men are gone.
Others have heard eerie sounds here. The disembodied sounds of men conversing, singing, crying, and screaming have all been heard in the area. Others have heard the sounds of footsteps right next to them. People have also described hearing the sound of footsteps following them.
Others have seen a bizaare ghost of a man running very fast across roads and paths. People that have been witness to the ghost describe it as having oddly long legs. The legs are more like an animal than a man. Also, the ghost takes impossibly long strides as it runs. Those brave enough to chase after it have found no evidence, footprints or otherwise, to confirm its presence.
Point Lookout stands as one of Maryland's most haunted spots.