Charleston SC: The Battery
By Shannon Reinbold-Gee
In a place known for Southern hospitality, it’s no wonder that some residents would want to linger. But the residents of some Charleston, South Carolina haunts seem unwilling to ever let go… Even after death.
Charleston’s Battery, also known as White Point Gardens, sits on the edge of the meeting place of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Long before the area became a scenic retreat and peaceful park, both Fort Broughton (established around 1735) and later Fort Wilkins occupied what was then known as White or Oyster Point, named for the eerie white and skeletal piles of bleached oyster shells covering the peninsula’s point. The Battery has been a place of conflict since its colonial beginnings. Frequented by pirates and later a key location as Charleston tried to defend itself from the Union’s invasion during the Civil War, Charleston’s Battery has seen enough death to explain it being haunted.
“Charleston’s Most Haunted Inn”
Behind the wrought iron gates of “No. 20,” known more popularly as the Battery Carriage House Inn, ghosts have continued on well beyond their expected stays. Built in 1843, the battery Carriage House is part of a larger, private home, but visitors who dare overnight are welcomed by the B&B’s staff. Heavy footsteps are heard on stairways where no one is seen walking. Strange glowing masses appear, change shape and fade away and cell phones act oddly in Room 3 of the Inn. Shutters open and close on their own and some visitors report seeing faces on one of the Inn’s beautiful mirrors.
Beginning in the early 1990s, reports started coming in about more oddities. People report feeling like they were being watched in the middle of the night, and perhaps most disturbing of all, some visitors claim to have seen a headless torso dressed in layers of clothing, overcoat on top haunting Room 8.
The strange headless torso is thought to be either the remnants of a colonial pirate or a man from the Civil War period. His overcoat is of a coarse material, which, depending on additional details could belong to a man of either historical period. Speculation rages over the figure’s identity and people get an uneasy feeling when he appears. He is possibly one of the many pirates and near-do-wells that met their end “dancing the hempen jig” in 1718 when Charleston tried and hanged nearly 50 pirates. Charleston was overrun by pirates and was one of Blackbeard’s favorite ports. Anne Cormac (later Anne Bonny, the famous female pirate) grew up in the area and met her husband, pirate James Bonny in Charleston. It was from Charleston that Blackbeard kidnapped Council member Samuel Wragg and his young son, holding them hostage until his crew received necessary medicines. Stede Bonnet, “the Gentleman Pirate” met his end at the end of a hangman’s noose after his pleas were ignored. He was buried on White Point Shoal (now the Battery Garden); although most pirates were dumped unceremoniously into the ocean. Is it possible Bonnet still roams the area, displaced and angry, threatening in a raspy, breathy way because his final words were useless?
The other frequent ghostly visitor is the “gentleman ghost.” It is believed that the gentleman ghost is the spirit of a well-bred well-educated young man whose family owned the house decades ago. A college student with a supposedly sensitive nature, the young gentleman jumped to his death, leaving his motivation a mystery to friends and family alike. Now he seems to frequent Room 10 of the Inn, ghosting by like little more than a shadow—sometimes with the scent of fresh soap as if he’s just bathed. Occasionally he is rumored to take a liking to certain members of the opposite sex, ghosting nearby them and giving the sensation he is lying beside them, his arm gently around them.