Whitall House Has Its Own Set of Spirits
Park rangers at Red Bank Battlefield say there's an unmistakable presence at the Revolutionary War home.
Cloaked in night, the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift, with its loneliness and heightened nerves, is eerie enough to be called the graveyard shift nearly everywhere, whether you're a janitor at a warehouse or a baker readying doughnuts for the breakfast rush.
It's eerier still when you're a park ranger at Red Bank Battlefield.
Rangers there have the 263-year-old Whitall House to watch over, and the onetime Revolutionary War battlefield hospital–or, more likely, given the mortality rate for wounded soldiers, the onetime charnel house–comes with its own set of haunts.
“It's pretty creepy when you go in there overnight,” said Brian Collins, who's been a park ranger there for about six years.
Collins has spent time on the winter graveyard shift, barely seeing the sun for days at a time, and said as the days grow shorter and night takes over the park, things get strange.
On one run through of the Whitall House one winter, Collins was checking the oil level in the heater and the thermostat in one room downstairs, when he heard a clamor in the next room over, followed by a booming sound.
“It sounded like the table got flipped over,” Collins said. “I took off–ran out and locked the door.”
He returned about 45 minutes later, having worked up the courage to head back in, only to find the house undisturbed. The same couldn't be said of him, though.
“I was a little nervous about going back in there overnight,” Collins said.
Other rangers have spun tales of the stuff of typical haunted houses–cold spots, puffs of frigid air from nowhere, disembodied voices from the Revolution–and some not-so-typical.
Collins said one of the popular stories among the rangers is an incident in a snowy December, where a man appeared in a British infantryman's red coat near the monument that marks Fort Mercer, a few hundred yards from the Whitall House. When a ranger chased the figure, the redcoat took off down the embankment, only to disappear without leaving footprints.
Other rangers have reported sightings of soldiers in period uniform poised outside the locked gates of the battlefield, especially in the middle of the night.
And when the crew from Perceptive Paranormal Research (PPR) spent the night at the Whitall House in August, they reported much of the same–voices, clanking noises and the feeling of being touched by some invisible presence.
Amanda Staszak, one of PPR's co-founders, said the sense of history inside the home is palpable.
“If the walls could talk, they would have very much to say,” she said.