Sherman’s Christmas Gift

As the holiday approaches some people have a long Christmas List to fill, and in 1864 General Sherman had one special person at the top of his list; President Lincoln. And the gift he gave was the city of Savannah Georgia.

After General Sherman and his Yankee troops burned Atlanta, he decided to “make Georgia howl” for their impudence and attacked the south’s civilian population. From November 15th to December 21st General Sherman embarked on his historic “March to the Sea” and led 60,000 troops 285 miles from Atlanta to Savannah. His goal was to make southerners give up their cause and to bring a swift end to the war. The northern troops burned, stole, raped and pillaged across Georgia, but nobody was howling. They we’re just really really mad.

When he reached Savannah 10,000 rebel troops flooded the rice fields so the approaching enemy could only come into town one way and that one way was heavily fortified.

But there was no battle and the reason for that gets a bit “fuzzy”. Some say General Sherman was charmed by Savannah’s beauty and could not destroy it. Others say the mayor cut a deal to surrender supplies and the city if the good citizens and their possessions would be safe. Most people believe Sherman realized the importance of Savannah as a seaport and it was in the north’s best interest to keep it intact.

And so, after six weeks of being “gone”, General Sherman sent a telegram to President Lincoln that read “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” The fall of Savannah was given a 300-gun salute Washington DC in celebration.

While in Savannah General Sherman was cordially welcomed to stay at the Green-Meridan house. He was wined and dined with Savannah elegance. His soldiers, who’d camped out in the Old Colonial Cemetery, had a bit of fun changing the birth and death dates on old tombstones. Some people lived to be a thousand years or died before they were born. In true Savannah politeness all was forgiven. (boys will be boys, no matter if they be Yankee or Rebs)

When Savannah General Sherman left Savannah, just to give everyone a scare, he led his army around South Carolina. The residents of Charleston thought he’d burn their town, but he didn’t go there because, like today, it wasn’t on the way to Richmond. He eventually went to Columbia and marched up to Richmond. General Lee surrendered in April 1865 and that was the end of that.

There haven’t been any reports of General Sherman’s ghost haunting Savannah, and the only howling done in Georgia is heard at a UGA game by the Bulldogs.

Merry Christmas!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Shrimp Factory

The Shrimp Factory on River Street in Savannah is the-place-to-go for some delicious local seafood. Today it’s decorated with coastal art displayed on old Savannah brick walls, but in 1823 it was a cotton warehouse.

The story goes that slaves worked all day in poor conditions pushing and hauling bales of cotton from the warehouse to shipping vessels. It’s understandable that perhaps a few might’ve died in the building and their spirits might be haunting The Shrimp Factory. Muted voices and rattling chains and unexplainable sounds are often heard on the top floor (where the slaves were kept) and when investigated nobody is there.

During the summer the staircase leading to the storage room is hot, but sometimes in the evening, about halfway up the stairs there is a blast of cold air.

Some employees believe the cold spot is the ghost of a former employee named Joe. Although Joe was in good health, for some unknown reason he dropped dead on the staircase in August 1977. Joe also likes to hang out in the liquor storage room and, upon occasion has been known to knock over a few bottles of rum. He’s also been thought to be the mischievous culprit responsible for flickering lights and shutting down of all things electrical.

So if your in the mood for some popcorn shrimp, oysters on the half shell and want to enjoy watching the ships go up and down The Savannah River, then this might be a good place to go for dinner.

And if the ghost sitting at the next table asks for the hot sauce, please have some respect for the dead and pass it on over. It’s the polite Savannah thing to do.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Haunted Poet – Conrad Aiken

Some hauntings don’t necessarily take place in a house, a graveyard, a brewery or a hotel room. Sometimes a haunting occurs within. Such was the unfortunate case of Savannah born poet, Conrad Aiken.

His father and mother moved to Savannah from “up north” and settled into a nice brick home. Dr. Aiken was a brain surgeon and his wife a popular socialite. But the Aiken house was not a happy home. Conrad’s parents fought a lot and as time went on Conrad’s father turned dark and volatile.

One night, as the eleven-year-old Conrad lay in his bed he heard his parents arguing. He heard his father count to three, followed by one gunshot, and then another. Conrad ran to his parent’s room to find them both dead. His father had killed his mother, then shot himself in the head.

Little Conrad was sent “up north” to live with family. He graduated from Harvard and eventually became an American Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, short-story writer, novelist, and a critic. But the tragedy of his youth would haunt him and his writings forever. He was fearful he’d be afflicted by the insanity that his father had succumbed to. His poems were sometimes dismal and hauntingly sorrowful.

In his later years, Conrad moved back to Savannah, and morbidly odd as it may be, he bought and lived in the house next door to the family home. He spent many days in Bonaventure Cemetery by his parent’s graves.

One day he saw a ship named Cosmos Mariner pass by. When he inquired about where the ship was going he was told “destination unknown”. He decided that would be the perfect epitaph for his own grave. Being a true Savannahian, he selected his grave stone made in to a seating bench to invite visitors to sit down and share a drink with him.

I have in fact visited Conrad Aiken’s grave in Bonaventure Cemetery. I sat upon the bench and raised a glass of wine to toast The Haunted Poet to bid him a peaceful journey home.

Because we are all Cosmos Mariners sailing among the stars to unknown destinies.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Aargh! Ghosts In The Pirate House

The building for The Pirates’ House Restaurant in Savannah Georgia is over 250 years old. And so, it only stands to reason that a place being that old, and also being in Savannah, can mean only one thing…. it’s haunted!

During the golden olden days, when Pirates sailed off the Georgia coast, it’s understandable they’d drop in to the old tavern on the bluff for a tankard of rum. (Savannah has always been a hospitable friendly party town.) Rumor has it that not only did pirates come to town, but upon occasion they’d Shanghai a few drunken sailors into a secret tunnel under the tavern and make them join their pirate team.

With so many pirates coming and going it’s possible some notorious evil-doers died here and never left or they just decided to return to haunt the old tavern.

They say shadow ghost pirates can been seen lurking in the corners, and the thump-thump-thump of a peg-leg sailor can be heard stumbling across the wood floorboards. Photos taken outside of the inside capture the flash a golden pirate toothy grin. While dining people sometimes get the sensation of being watched… by a ghostly one-eyed pirate with a black eye patch perhaps?

It’s believed Captain Flint, from the book Treasure Island, died in The Pirates’ House and he haunts the place, which would be appropriate considering he’s a fictional character.

There’s no doubt there were deviant pirates pillaging off the Georgia coast and also believable they’d sail into Savannah for a good o’l Pirate-fest, but all I know is; I’ve dined at The Pirate House and although I did see a creepy skeleton bone display and a gift shop, I did not see, hear or sense any paranormal pirate activity.

But perhaps on that particular evening the ghost Pirates were sailing on the high seas, raising the black flag, slitting throats, walking gangplanks and collecting treasure. Or could it be the ghost pirates are just waiting offshore for favorable winds so they can return to The Pirates’ House and order the shrimp gumbo?

The Pirates’ House is a location in my book Zombies Y’all! There’s lots of excitement happening in the underground Shanghai tunnels when they’re filled with hungry zombies!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Willink House

Henry Willink built his little house south of Oglethorpe Avenue at the corner of Price and Perry Streets sometime around 1845 or maybe it was built in 1851 when he returned from New York having learned more about the ship building business. (He built the C.S.S. Georgia Ironclad for the Confederate Navy and The Ladies’ Gunboat Association thought it was too ugly so he had to build a second one, which was just as monstrous, heavy, stinky and it leaked. The Confederates sunk it themselves in 1864).

His shipyard business and his life was going pretty well until a fateful day when he invited his wife to join him at the shipyard. Poor Mrs. Willink tripped, went over a ship’s rail, and drowned. She couldn’t swim and her heavy skirts dragged her down.

Needless to say, Henry was quite upset that he couldn’t save her, and spent much of his time at the shipyard to forget the tragedy… until another fateful day when he saw his wife’s ghost standing on a ship’s deck. He was so stunned to see her that he tripped, went over the ship’s rail and fell into the Savannah River. He didn’t drown, but was saved and went home safe. He was so mad at her for frightening him that he slammed the front door on his way inside.

And so… now the ghost of Henry Willink opens the front door and closes it with a loud bang just to make a statement, but for some strange reason he can’t get out of the little house he shared with his dearly departed wife.

The house was also rumored to have been used as a school for African American children where they were taught secretly by a white school teacher. She would reward the children for doing their school lesson by bribing them with candy treats. It is said now the living encounter a ghostly Candyland as sugar treats are randomly found in the house and the house smells of sweet spirits.

The house was moved to 426 E. St. Julian Street and is privately owned. If you take a walk by perhaps you will find a candy treat or get a door slammed shut in your face. Will you get a trick or a treat? It must be Halloween at the Willink House all year long. Trick-or-Treat!