Ghosts Soldiers Finally Arrive at

Center Hill Mansion

"Happenings as they occurred on the 24th January

At the Annual Ghost Watch in Petersburg"

Ben N. Keys, Jr.

Here can be seen several incredible pictures of orbs of ghostly entities thought to be of a group of Civil War Soldiers as they arrived on the grassy front lawn of this magnificent old Virginia Mansion. They had been summoned to the Mansion by General George Hartsuff who was placed in command of the Reclamation of Petersburg by President Lincoln at the end of the Civil War. According to legend they arrived at the Mansion on January 24th around 7:20, dismounted from their horses and with their Sabers rattling by their sides, they went up the front steps and through the front door. Then down the hall to the rear stairs and up to the General’s office which had been set up in the Great Hall at the upstairs front of the house. They stayed only a short time before leaving.

Everything remained quiet after that until 7:30 pm on the 24th of January sometime in the 1890s. It was then Mrs. Pryor, the current owner of Center Hill, reported that she heard horses arrive at the front of the Mansion followed by voices and the rattling of what sounded like metal as they came into the front entrance and then proceeded up the stairs to where the General’s office had been located. She called the servants and had the areas checked but there was not one mortal to be found anywhere! The same thing happened again the following year on the 24th of January and every year thereafter! It was then that the decision was made that this ghostly event was going to occur every year on the same day and at the same time and had no intention of stopping. It soon became accepted by everyone involved that the sounds were being made by the soldiers coming back each year!

As the years passed, the event would take place faithfully on the 24th of January. The rumors of the event were soon known throughout the entire area and a multitude of believers still swear that they have known some who have either seen or heard something ghostly on that day. Thus began the annual Ghost Watch at Center Hill. To date Center Hill has played host to scores of visitors who regularly come to visit the Mansion on the 24th of January with the expectation of being there at the right place and at the right time to see or hear the sounds and ghostly entities as they repeat the strange happenings of the past! Up until this year many strange things have taken place but none as spectacular as the events that took place this year out there on the grassy front lawn of the Mansion. I was not inside when they went in but I would have liked to have been. They could have been overwhelmed by the large crowd preparing to leave and returned to their trusty steeds and left for a much quieter place.

Having investigated hundreds of reports of ghostly events over the years, I can tell you that ghostly entities take great pleasure in making sure no one gets to predict what they will do or when and how they will do it. Otherwise their reputation could be in jeopardy! Maybe such has been the case here at Center Hill. For years I carefully researched every nook and cranny and did everything in my power to outsmart them but I only managed to be successful a few times! Needless to say, those times will never be forgotten but the events of this year have proven that they are still ‘holding the reins’. They must be getting more brazen as I get older and slower!

The Ghost Watch this year had started off in much the same fashion as in previous years. Yet, for some strange reason I began to get the feeling that things just didn’t seem to be the same and I hoped that something would happen to allow those faithful visitors who had come each year with the hopes of seeing ‘something’ might at last be rewarded. A short time later during the last walk through of the visitors through the Mansion, I had a strong premonition that I needed to be out in front of the Mansion on the Great Lawn and be there in a hurry. I lost no time in getting there where I found a old friend, Kristen Booth standing there with her camera on the ready and from all aspects she seemed to be right where my premonition seemed to be leading me! The previous year Kristen had taken an incredible photograph of an ectoplasm near this very spot! Maybe everyone including us had been looking in the wrong place and this is where the action might actually begin to take place! It suddenly made sense to me that if anything was about to happen as a repeat of the past, then it should start here as the soldiers arrived and moved up the front steps into the Mansion.

I doubt that truer words have ever been spoken for Kristen and I soon began to discover all sorts of incredible energies covering the entire front area. Then I began to smell horses, a smell you never forget if you have ever been around them to any extent. Unfortunately, the noise level was high in the area and I do not remember hearing any distinct noises like Sabers or other hardware rattling and can offer no explanation why I insisted that Kristen take lots of pictures right around us in the front area of Mansion on that grassy lawn with the most horse smell! The results of our efforts have now become history. She and I got a multitude of incredible pictures of Astral Fire over the entire front of the Mansion! Then, she began to photograph incredible ghostly orbs as they left our area and approached the front door of the Mansion. It was then and there I knew we had hit pay-dirt. These were the orbs of a multitude of ghostly entities and there was no doubt about that. We did not stop to determine if some of the orbs were horses and some were men, we just took pictures and would worry about that later! Within seconds the congregation of orbs went up the stairs and into the mansion. The time however was 8:20 and not 7:30 as it had been thought to be over the years! Perhaps, there had there had been an error in the time frame over the years and no one knew about it?

Already several of us have been comparing notes and making plans for the next Ghost Watch. Some should wait outside and not get excited until we smell the horses and watch the orbs of the soldiers as they alight and go inside. The rest would wait inside with the rest of the devoted hopefuls. After all these years, we may at last have figured a way to outsmart these ghostly entities or we may simply be following the proper ritual they wanted us to do all along so that they remained in the limelight! One can never tell what Ghosts have on their mind! In the sixty years I have been researching their behavior as well as their Dimensional Abodes, I have never managed to outsmart them, but they do manage to get me every time. No wonder I have a Pacemaker that smokes at times!


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