High on a hill overlooking The Valley is a parcel of land with a preternatural ambiance. Some places simply lend themselves to legend and Camp Beauregard is among them. The Civil War campground turned cemetery is a nest of intrigue.
Some people are fascinated by reports of paranormal activity. Armed with full spectrum cameras, EMF meters and laser grid scopes, they converge on Camp Beau to bust ghosts reportedly slinking in the darkest shadows along the fencerow. Note to fashionista's: According to ghost whisperers, earthbound spirits always appear wearing the same clothes they were wearing at the time of their demise. No wonder those spooks are sulking around all agitated. Who wouldn't be if destined to roam the earth for eternity in the same old outfit? Maybe this phenomena led to the classic line, "What, you mean this old thing?"
For those who prefer a legend with a bit more meat on its bones, how about a large, black beast that chases intruders away from the cemetery grounds. Personally, as long as the big, black, menacing beast is not a black cow, calf or bull roaming free range about The Ridge possibly heading towards The Valley, I would be breathing a sigh of relief! A claim particularly interesting about the Camp Beauregard Beast is that it exudes a strong cinnamon scent. Conjure up companion beasts exuding the scents of butter and sugar and I believe I could work with it.
What array of legends would be complete without a witch thrown into the mix? Not to disappoint, Camp Beauregard does indeed have a witch legend. Wild speculation was that a witch was buried near the front entrance gate. Some claim this graveyard occupant was not a witch at all but was a native American Indian woman denied a Christian burial. The more plausible/verifiable explanation for the witch legend is that the tombstone stirring the controversy was etched with the design of a hand pointing downward towards the netherworld leading people to believe the occupant of the grave was a witch. The etching of the hand pointing downward was actually intended to portray the lady's hand reaching down from heaven to earth to her surviving family. And there you have it once again…just a matter of perspective.
Collecting my thoughts sitting high atop that hill on a blustery Halloween Eve, it occurred to me that Camp Beauregard was indeed haunted but not by ghosts, ghouls, beasts, or witches. It was haunted by history.
The breeze blowing through the ancient cedars and rustling the dried leaves of the hickory nut trees seemed to be generated by the movement of spirits of those long departed; the spirits of those who walked the earth identified by old fashioned names such as Elijah and Eliza, and some by still common names like Mary and Sarah but pronounced in that old fashioned manner with the strange long "a" sound which gave each a rather unfamiliar sound.
Not to be forgotten are the spirits of long ago Confederate soldiers encamped at Camp Beauregard but "denied the glory of heroic service in battle" by the ravages of the diseases of the likes of meningitis, pneumonia, and typhoid fever.
In that same wind was the memory of a bugler playing taps at a World War II Veteran's funeral on a bitterly cold January day sending forth each poignant note to puncture the flesh and penetrate into the very marrow of the bones of those who came to grieve a hero from a more valiant era.
And perhaps most bittersweet is Camp Beau haunted still by the voices of youthful selves experiencing a summer to remember among friends confiding and conspiring, reveling in youth and laughing with the sheer delight of life itself under the most divine canopy of stars in the universe.