Posted Under Ghosts & Hauntings

How to Capture Evidence of a Ghost

Gettysburg Cemetery

I am often asked how I catch some of the most incredible evidence ever captured on a battlefield. It is relatively simple, but many people are not willing to do what is necessary to capture a paranormal event. If, however, you are one of those rare individuals who not only want to experience the paranormal, but capture it—read on!

As a means of introduction, here are a few terms we use in the paranormal community. (In my newest book, Ghost Soldiers of Gettysburg, written with co-author Jack Roth, we go into more detail about the various haunting terms and methods we used to capture the Ghost Soldiers. The book is also full of our personal ghostly encounters, as well as the personal encounters of other investigators, on the Gettysburg Battlefield.)

    • A residual haunting is the image of the past event in replay. Think of it like a computer program looped; it continues to play over and over again. In most cases, our energy signature will set off the residual haunting.


    • An Interactive, or Live, Haunting is when the spirit recognizes that you are present and tries to communicate with you. Most often we trigger the interactive haunting by talking about the person, or people, who lived, or died, at the location. At the East Cemetery Hill on the Gettysburg Battlefield (about which you can read more in chapter 12 of Ghost Soldiers of Gettysburg), I asked for the Ghost Soldiers to allow me to capture either a picture of them or the sounds of the battle. As I always do, I listened to the little voice in my head and added, "If you would share the Union Huzza or the Rebel Yell with me, I would be honored." I had my audio recorder going and set it down on the fence and started taking some pictures. It was a clear sunny day with a light breeze. After I finished taking the photos, I stopped the recorder and listened to it. On the recording, when I finish speaking there is a gunshot, and then a spattering of rifle fire and then, incredibly, the sound I had been trying to capture since I started investigating battlefields in 2000: the Rebel Yell. It was clear as day and blew me away.


    • Orbs and Ribbons are the hardest evidence to validate. In layman's terms, an orb is the spirit in its pure energy form, and Ribbons are the orbs in motion. Paranormal Myst looks like a solid white, often glowing cloud. When you capture or see the paranormal myst forming, get ready—because a paranormal event is about to take place!


    • Apparitions are the ghosts taking form as they would have appeared during their lifetime. They are normally captured in a still photo or on a video, and can be either full or partial, but sometimes, especially if you are a Sensitive, you get to see history in motion.


    • There are a number of theories surrounding the phenomena of Shadow People, from other dimensional entities to demonic to negative energy. I have seen them before, and have known them to be ghosts and also demonic in nature. It really depends on the setting you are in.


  • Matrixing is what happens when you are looking over audio or visual evidence from an investigation and your mind creates the images or sounds you hoped to have captured. It is best to have someone who is experienced to help you review your photos and EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena), as it takes some time to be able to pick up the actual evidence rather than having your mind play a trick on you.

So, knowing the above, what is the best way to capture evidence of a ghost (in any setting, not just on battlefields)?

    1. Listen to your inner voice. We've all heard it before: that little voice that tells you something is not right or for you to do something that winds up being a benefit for you.


    1. Know the history of the setting you are investigating. A battle is almost always huge, so when investigating a battlefield I take a small element of the conflict and learn its complete history. On my team I always have one person who knows the site's history so that the Sensitive can come in cold (that is, with no knowledge of the action or people involved). This will allow me to validate the information coming into the Sensitive and know if he or she is on track. It also helps to confirm the evidence you are getting, especially EVP, as the questions being asked or the conversation the Sensitive is having with the entities may be picked up on the audio or camcorder.


  1. Have a Sensitive on the team. The Sensitive will be able lead the team to the hot spots, the locations where paranormal activity is highest. By being in these areas your chances of having and capturing a paranormal experience are greatly increased.

As you search for ghostly evidence, there will be times when an entity will ask you to help them cross over if they haven't yet done so—especially if you are a Sensitive. I have crossed over hundreds of lost souls, not just on battlefields but many other locations as well. For me it is a simply good form to facilitate bringing the spirit back with his or her family. Many times when I facilitate the crossing over of a soul, I make sure to align it to the terms of their belief system; it makes the crossing over much easier for all parties involved. Just be sure that you have shielded yourself properly, and know that when you open the portal many spirits will be drawn to the light. Let it flow; you will certainly feel the energy surge and know when to close the portal.

So, if you want to have an experience of capturing a ghost, battlefields are a great place to begin your journey. Just remember that the Ghost Soldiers and other entities are people, too—they are simply walking in a different light! Be respectful and realize that in most cases, especially on a battlefield, they are just good 'ol boys wanting some recognition and company. While there is negative energy on a battlefield, it is not as widespread as many believe.

About Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke has been a paranormal investigator for 40 years. He has written and been featured in countless articles and interviews in print publications and on broadcasts, including in The Washington Post, Ghost Magazine, ...
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