6 Truly Strange Tales From The US Civil War

Soldiers That Glowed Blue In The Dark

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs division

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs division

Some of the soldiers shot or injured in the Battle of Shiloh had to wait around in cold temperatures for days before medics could remove them from the field.  As dusk fell the first night, some noticed that their wounds began to glow in the dark.  Stranger yet, those with glowing wounds had better survival rates than those that didn’t.  The seemingly protective nature of the mysterious glow garnered it the name “Angel’s Glow.”  Almost 140 years later, seventeen-year-old Bill Martin solved the mystery after visiting the battlefield.  He found the glow was caused by a bacteria called Photorhabdus luminescens, which live in the guts of parasitic worms called nematodes.

Unidentified photo little girl

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Due to the chaos of battle and the difficulty identifying dead soldiers, many of them were moved into unmarked graves to remain unnamed for eternity.  Private Thomas W. Timberlake found a photo of a small girl lying between two dead soldiers, one Union, and one Confederate.  The photo was likely carried by one of the men lovingly into battle.  There was no way of knowing which soldier the photo belonged to, or if it belonged to them at all.  Her identify remains unknown.

The mystery itch

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As if conditions weren’t bad enough during the Civil War, soldiers began complaining of a severe itch.  As the war progressed, so did army itch, which ultimately came home with soldiers once the war ended but would completely disappear by the end of 1867.  The source of the itch wasn’t derived until 2006, when it was confirmed as epidemic scabies, caused by the terrible hygienic conditions of the barracks.

Lost Confederate Gold

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The Confederacy had built a cache of millions of dollars worth of gold.  After the war, the government tried to uncover the gold, but found nothing.  Allegedly, some of the Confederate treasury was hidden in order to wait for the rising again of the South.  Rumors of where it was buried still abound and treasure hunters continue to search for the loot.

USS Keystone State

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The Keystone State was lost at the height of the war, despite it being in service in the Great Lakes and far away from battle.  In 2013, it was found at the bottom of Lake Huron, seemingly sunk by a storm.  After the discovery, it was questioned why the ship would have chosen to travel in the storm.  The best hypothesis is that the storm was used as cover while transporting weapons to Wisconsin for militia training.

The Secret Confederate Flying Machine

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© RR Auction

Confederate designer and dentist Finley Hunt built visionary plans for a steam-powered flying machine that could change the course of the war.  He managed to get the plans to the Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who heavily considered them.  Ultimately, despite Hunt’s pleading, Davis and his cabinet decided that the machine would not work and diverted funding elsewhere.  It’s possible, although not very likely, that some prototype was built, as reports of UFOs in the area cropped up at about the same time.  Hunt never gave up.  He went to Washington, D.C. after the war ended and got a U.S. patent on his device.  He also built several working models and was still attempting to get financing in 1872, but was never able to obtain it.

Sources: Listverse, Viralnova

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