Fort Mifflin, located next to the Philadelphia Airport, is well-known for its ghosts. For a time during the Revolutionary War, it was all that stood between the mighty British Navy and George Washington’s ragtag army of Revolutionaries. The few brave men stationed there had fought a heroic battle and succeeded in holding off the British for several weeks. Many of the defenders were killed, including two of my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather’s brothers.
Peggy and I visited the Fort several years ago on Halloween and decided it would be fun to go on a special Halloween Night tour. “Maybe the Mekemson ghosts will be lurking,” I had told Peggy.
Our guide had gathered us up. His lantern was immediately blown out. “It’s only the wind,” he explained. “I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t hunt them and they don’t hunt me.” His disclaimer came with a ‘but.’ He worked at the Fort, and occasionally ‘things’ happened. Doors closed and latched on their own. A woman screamed like she was being murdered. The police were called but couldn’t find anyone— or thing.
He related story after story as we made our way through the candle lit buildings of the fort. Other staff, volunteers and visitors had also experienced strange phenomena. More than one visitor had left on the run and even the guide had packed up and gone home on one occasion. He was spending the night in a second-floor room when he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He opened the door and no one was there. Next he heard voices coming from the room next to him. He checked. No one was there either. He packed up and left, quickly.
We arrived at the Fort’s ammunition magazine, a bush covered hill that resembled an ancient burial mound. A bright hurricane torch outlined the dim opening. We entered and walked down a narrow, dimly lit corridor that opened out to a large, arched bunker. A single candle created dancing shadows on the far wall. Reputedly, a man dressed in Revolutionary Soldier garb had once greeted guests in the dark room and vividly described the horrendous battle that had taken place on November 15, 1777. Afterwards, the tourists had stopped at the park headquarters to report on how much they had enjoyed the presentation. The Fort had no such guide.
“I’ve never felt anything in here,” the tour leader related. “It’s dead space,” he quipped. I stared hard into the corner where the soldier had supposedly stood, trying to create something out of nothing. But there were only the dancing shadows. Peggy tried to take a photo but the camera froze and refused to work. As she struggled with it, the last of our tour group disappeared down the narrow corridor, leaving us alone with the flickering candle.
We hurried after the group. There was no one outside the magazine, only the glowing torch and the dark night. “I saw them heading down a side corridor,” Peggy said. With more than a little reluctance, we dutifully trooped back inside. Peggy’s corridor was a bricked in wall. I was starting to feel spooked.
“Maybe we should go back to the bunker,” she suggested.
“Maybe not” I had replied and headed for the entrance, with Peggy close behind. Just as we arrived, the hurricane torch, which was designed to withstand high winds, was blown out by a slight puff of ice-cold air, leaving us with nothing but dark.
The hairs on the back of my head stood at attention. Was my ancient Uncle Andrew trying to communicate with us? He had been cut in half by a cannon ball after saving the Fort’s flag. Maybe he was still seeking his other half. Peggy and I decided it was time to vacate the premises.
Fortunately, we found our group several buildings away and stuck like super glue to them the rest of the tour.
Tomorrow’s Halloween Blog: A Lonely Grave… Peggy and I are looking for the grave of an ancestor, shot down as a Scottish Presbyterian Martyr, when we see what almost had to be a ghost.