Soldiers go to battle and then hopefully, return home. However, there are some that never return home even in death. These specters are referred to as "Spectral Armies" and consist of soldiers that have battled in life and continue to do battle after death. We are given several instances of ghostly armies coming to the aid of the Israelites in the bible, residents of countries where battles have been fought, and even St. Augustine has reported such a phenomenal occurrence.
It is a common belief that victims who experience strong emotional events, extreme pain, horrible or tragic deaths, and suicides are more likely to remain behind to wander restlessly. Clearly, soldiers experience extreme emotional highs and lows in battle, excruciating pain, as well as tragic and horrible deaths. It is no wonder then that there are numerous reports of past battles still being played out in the sky or in the location of their deadly battle.
One would tend to believe that this particular occurrence would be rare, however, there are far too many instances of witnesses either seeing or hearing past battles.
Here are a few:
In the pamphlet The City of God, St. Augustine records that a roman battle was seen and heard occurring on a plain in Campania. Actual footprints of soldiers and their horses were observed on the ground. Was this a battle that had occurred earlier? No, it was a battle yet to take place. The battle happened shortly after witnesses viewed the battle of this spectral army.
In 1537 the Turkish army of Suleyman the Magnificent was set to besiege the city of Otranto. However, Otranto was saved by an army of 800 martyrs who appeared on the city walls accompanied by angels too numerous to count. These martyrs were reported to have fought in 1480 with their bodies being left unburied on the battlefield for thirteen months. Again in 1644 this army again saved Otranto from an onslaught by invading Ottoman.
In 1836 another ghostly army was seen on the Ballyfriar hills. As was the case with St. Augustine, this army also left physical traces of their presence. Other ghostly battles have left physical evidence as well. In 1686 there is a record of showers where bonnets hats, guns and swords fell from the sky. England and Scotland have records of these type of showering events such as this happening.
In Scotland, a woman was out driving one evening when she saw what appeared to be the Battle of Nechtanesmere that was fought in 685 AD. Startled, she drove her car into a ditch leaving her stranded. She decided to walk the rest of the way home via country lanes carrying her small dog. Within minutes her dog began to growl and struggle. Looking up, she saw people coming towards her carrying lit torches. The men were bending down turning over bodies that were lying on the ground as if looking for fallen comrades. The woman reported her encounter and described the clothing to a history researcher. Her experience matched the dress of Pictish warriors.
1953 Harry Martindale reported seeing Roman soldiers stepping out of a wall in the basement of a home in York, UK. He reports to having heard a sound, almost like a blaring trumpet. Immediately following the trumpet blare, a Roman soldier walked across the basement floor after having stepped through the wall. Others followed walking in pairs. Some were on foot while others were on horseback. The helmets were plumed, they carried a short sword on their right-hand side, and their clothing was handmade of cloth in shades of green. The weird thing of this particular sighting was the soldiers and horses were only visible from their knees upward. The reason for this was due to the road having only been excavated so far down. In other words, the rest of the road was still buried but enough had been cleared for the apparitions to be mostly visible.
November 1956 two brothers were camping in the Cullin Mountains of Skye when they were awakened by the battle cries of kilted Highlanders charging across the ground. The next night, around 4 in the morning, the brothers were awakened again by the same ghostly army of Highlanders. This time the Highlanders were in retreat stumbling and trying to run for their lives.
In the United States one can witness the battle that occurred at Hat Creek Monument in northwestern Nebraska involving Cheyenne Indians and soldiers of the Fifth U.S. Calvary. Witnesses to this re-enactment have heard disembodied voices and unexplained noises as well as sometimes seeing ectoplasmic mist and phantoms. The spirits are aggressive but usually avoid human contact. It is not known whether or not a person would be safe if he/she entered into the battle.
Another battle that is often seen again and again is the Battle of Little Bighorn from June 25, 1876 in Montana involving a large number of U.S. soldiers who died in the battle including General Custer. Witnesses have reported seeing ghost lights and ghost soldiers. They have also reported an overwhelming and intense feeling of sorrow, hopelessness and sadness. The haunting is not limited to the battlefield. The spirits have taken up occupying the Visitors Center, Last Stand Hill, The Stone House (where the employees once slept), and the Battlefield Cemetery. General Custer is reportedly seen most often in the Battlefield Museum.
Harpers Ferry in West Virginia is another scene of a pre-civil war battle. This one involves the fighting that led to the capture and execution of John Brown, a well-known slavery abolitionist.
The Battle of Gettysburg is another battle that is frequently witnessed by people today. The three-day battle spilled more blood and death than any other battle in the history of the U.S. on home soil in such a short period of time. Witnesses have reported the sounds of gunfire, shouting, screaming, and moans of pain and dying. There have been ghostly soldiers lying on the battlefield dying, soldiers marching and cleaning their weapons preparing for the battle, and even the battlefield hospitals complete with doctors treating the wounded and dying have been seen and heard.
One must wonder if the battles of past will continue to be fought forever or will the soldiers eventually find their way home or at
least to a peaceful existence in the afterworld. Some have offered up different speculations as to the existence of these apparitions. They include a vivid imagination, a reflection of a battle somewhere else in the world being projected through the sky or water (actually, they lost me when this one was being explained) to a time slip.
A vivid imagination can be responsible for a lot of things but I don't think that is the case here. Not when you have many people at different times reporting similar events and feelings. Further, the suggestion that the apparitions are a result of a reflection of another battle? Please. I have some prime land for sale in the middle of the Everglades. A time slip, I guess could be possible but more than likely the energy of the battle and the pain, suffering, dying, and tragedy of a battle is so overwhelmingly strong that I believe it is forever burned in the aura or location of the battle. This could explain why soldiers are seen preparing for battle and the search afterwards for their comrades.
One other thought before I end this - think about all the apparitions that have been reported and the weird sounds and lights one can sometimes see that are not of this world. They are not usually of human beings that experienced a "normal" death or life. We hear almost always only about those apparitions or occurrences where tragedy, violence, pain, suffering, or a severe injustice has been done robbing the person(s) of a happy life. Yes, occasionally one will hear about the little old lady's rocking chair that rocks long after her departure to the afterworld but who is to say she was happy? She may not have died a violent death and she may have lived a full life but at some point near her death she suffered a major heartache - perhaps she was alone or her family no longer visited. Pain and suffering comes in many forms as do hauntings.