Haunted Fort Mifflin, PA
It’s common knowledge among paranormal enthusiasts that locations that have witnessed a great deal of emotion or death are prime suspects for a haunting. Imagine, then, what might be walking the halls of a fort that was the recipient of the largest bombardment in North American history when the British Navy peppered it 10,000 cannonballs during a 5 week span of the Revolution.
The fort was built by the British in 1771 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia. By 1777 the Colonists has taken it, and were besieged for five weeks as the British army was attempting to open a supply line through Philadelphia. The fort was home to 400 troops who fought valiantly but eventually had to retreat, losing 150 during the siege.
The real strength of the soldiers of Fort Mifflin is that they held on for as long as they did in the rough winter. Their engagement of the British forces allowed General George Washington to lead his troops to Valley Forge, where they regrouped, and ensured that Philadelphia would not fall. The fort was rebuilt in 1798, and saw action during the War of 1812, the Civil War, and served as a munitions depot during World Wars I and II.
An active history is often a precursor to a paranormal present, and that is definitely the case here. To start off, there are countless experiences all over the grounds of the fort, where over 150 brave Colonists lost their lives, but the people who visit Fort Mifflin are hoping to experience two specific ghosts: “The Screaming Lady” Elizabeth Pratt and “The Man Without A Face” Billy Howe.
Elizabeth Pratt’s story is the type that ghost hunters have heard before, mainly because such horrible tragedies might as well be in the “How-To-Create-A-Haunting” handbook. She lived in the fort with her husband and daughter in the Officer’s Quarters. The daughter fell in love with an enlisted man, which threw her father into a rage, and he subsequently disowned her. The daughter died from typhoid fever before any reconciliation could take place. In a fit of despair, Elizabeth Pratt hanged herself off the second railing of the balcony. It is said that visitors to the fort hear her desperate screaming at night in the Officers’ Quarters.
The above story is the common one you will find, but thanks to Anthony L. Selletti the author of “Fort Mifflin: A Paranormal History” the true story is that Elizabeth Pratt’s husband a US Army Sergeant, her infant son (died 1802), and child daughter, Elizabeth, lived in a shack inside the fort. The daughter, a child, died of yellow fever in 1803.Elizabeth Pratt herself died in 1803, years before the officers quarters were built, also from yellow fever. The desperate screaming of a mother that lost 2 children in 1 year can be heard at night at the Fort.
Billy Howe’s story is a bit more straightforward. He was a prisoner during the Civil War, when Fort Mifflin’s Casemate 5 became a depository for POWs. Howe was convicted of murder and was hanged in the courtyard, and is the only prisoner to be hanged at the fort during the war. Many people report seeing a full-bodied apparition sitting in Casemate 5, who is sewing. There is just blackness where his face should be. This location also has reports of physical attacks, including slaps and punches.
Though people come to see the two famous locations mentioned above, reports of paranormal activity come from all over the fort complex. EVPs are often caught in the casements, and feelings of dread and unease often accompany trips to the powder magazine. Fort Mifflin’s unique history would make it worth a visit on its own, but the near-constant paranormal experiences make this place a must-see for any paranormal enthusiast.
Ghost Eyes Note: George Washington said in 1777, “Fort Mifflin is of the utmost importance to our cause and must be saved at all costs.” Today that cost is an issue and Fort Mifflin, the fort that saved America, needs to be saved. You can make donations and find out more about haunted Fort Mifflin at their website. You can also join in on a paranormal investigation Sept. 5, 2009 with proceeds going towards the saving of this piece of American history. Find at more about it at the P.A.R.A. website.