Georgia Civil War ghost story about the mysterious “Green Eyes” creature that roams the haunted Chickamauga Battlefield each night. Written by Craig Dominey, told by John Gentile.
Have you ever heard someone use the expression, “My life flashed before my eyes”? People use it so much it’s become a cliche’. But such a thing really happened to me. Although it wasn’t my life that I saw.
When I was a young man growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I was dating a girl named Melissa. She lived just over the state line in the small town of Lafayette, Georgia. When this incident happened, I’d only been seeing her for a couple of months, so I was still trying to impress her as best I could. So you can imagine my anxiety one Friday night – the night of a big date I’d been planning for days – when my car broke down right after I’d gotten off work. I kicked the tires so hard I almost broke my foot!
Well, I frantically located my big brother and coaxed him into letting me borrow his old beat up truck. Sure, it wasn’t the fancy chariot Melissa was expecting me to show up in. But all I cared about was finding four wheels that could take me straight to Lafayette – via Chickamauga Battlefield.
Now if you’ve never heard of Chickamauga – think of it as the Gettysburg of Georgia, but bigger. Chickamauga is actually an Indian word meaning “River of Death.” And it lived up to its name during the Civil War when a bloody battle was fought there. The Yankees were trying to capture Chattanooga, which was a major rail center at the time. The Rebels drove them back, but not before nearly 40,000 soldiers died.
Of course, the history behind the battlefield wasn’t important to me that night. What was important was getting to Melissa’s house, and I was already over an hour late. So I knew the quickest way to get there was the two-lane road that cut straight through the heart of the battlefield.
As I gunned my brother’s truck over the state line, a hard rain that had been falling all day was tapering off. But it left behind a thick and eerie mist that crept through the open battlefield like ghostly fingers. The park had closed for the night, and there were no cars in sight. The road was almost impossible to see. But I had used this park as a short cut a million times before, and knew it like the back of my hand.
As I was driving down the main road, I noticed the faint headlights of a car approaching in the distance. For a split second, I wondered if this was someone just like me, late for an important date with a Georgia beauty. I could only hope he saw me in the swirling mist between us.
But as the car drew closer, I noticed it was unlike any vehicle I had seen before. The headlights appeared to be a strange greenish color. I knew a thing or two about cars, but I’d never seen headlights like that. Maybe they helped the driver see in bad weather conditions, I thought.
The car drew closer and closer, and those green lights were burning at a wattage I’d never seen from any headlight. And they seemed to bounce up and down, and weave from side to side, as if the car was riding on springs. I politely tapped my horn, hoping the driver could see me in front of him.
But as the mystery car got closer and closer, the driver appeared to swerve further into my lane. This time I laid on the horn – what’s wrong with this guy, I thought, is he drunk? Then I saw something that really shook me. There were no beams shooting out of those green lights – they looked like two floating orbs, powered by some other source. They even looked like…eyes.
I frantically blared my horn again as the green lights drew near. And just before we passed each other, the driver suddenly swerved into my lane! I reacted quickly, spinning the wheel the opposite way. My truck flew off the road and onto the battlefield grounds, swallowed by darkness. I slammed into a tree, and the world turned black.
When I came to a few moments later, the battlefield was silent, save the hissing sound coming from the crushed hood of the truck. My headlights were smashed, and the only light was from the bright stars above. I felt the large bump on my head and groaned.
It was then I saw the green lights again, sitting silently in the darkness, observing me. I watched as the lights floated closer and closer toward my vehicle. In the silence, I could hear no car engine sputtering toward me. It couldn’t be a car that I had seen. But what was it?
Suddenly the lights disappeared. I began to tremble with fear for the first time. “Who’s out there?” I called out, but no one answered. I then heard a rustling sound against my car. I peered out the window, and in the darkness I could just make out a large shadowy figure circling me. I thought it was a large man, for it shuffled about on two legs. But as my eyes adjusted, I could see that it’s hair was long, right down to the waist. And it made a horrible moaning sound, the saddest sound I’d ever heard.
Just like that, the figure disappeared, and the night was quiet again. “Is anyone out there?” I yelled, but there was still no answer. After a long pause, I slowly reached for the door handle with shaking fingers.
Then something pounced onto the hood of my truck. I looked out the cracked windshield, and what I saw was no man. It was a beast, with long dirty hair and huge, mangled jaws from which two long, sharp fangs jutted out. And it had two burning green eyes, fueled by some otherworldy evil I couldn’t begin to comprehend.
I tried to scream but found myself mute, hypnotized by those green eyes. And as the creature and I stared at each other in silence, the battlefield began to transform around us. The darkness gave way to a strange green glow. There was no road, no cars and no monuments. Instead, I was surrounded by smoke, fire, scorched grass and the charred remains of warfare. The sickening stench of burning flesh filled my nostrils. At my feet were piles of bodies in blue and grey unforms, drenched equally in blood. Some were missing arms, others legs. There were heads without bodies, their eyes shut tightly as if afraid of their ultimate fate. And everywhere were the low and agonizing moans of pain and death, filling the skies along with the black smoke in a hellish symphony.
Suddenly, a curtain of darkness fell down on the battlefield. I could hear a car horn behind me. The creature leapt off my hood and disappeared into the night. It was then I realized I was back in the wrecked truck. A couple of rangers ran down the hillside to my aid. “Are you alright?” they asked.
“Did you see that animal that attacked me?” I asked them breathlessly. “The one with the green eyes?”
The two rangers looked at me strangely. “That’s a serious bump you got on your head, son,” they answered. “You must be seein’ things.”
“But something jumped on my truck,” I yelped. “I saw it!”
But the rangers never found evidence of any creature. Even when daylight broke, and my truck was towed away, not a single animal print could be found. And I soon gave up my argument about the creature, fearing that people would think I was crazy.
Believe it or not, in later years I ended up becoming a park ranger myself at Chickamauga Battlefield. The area was no longer just a shortcut between Chattanooga and Lafayette. To me it was hollowed ground, from which I could point out every military maneuver, every act of bravery, and every tragic defeat.
But as time passed, other folks insisted that they, too, had spotted the mysterious “Green Eyes” while driving through the park at night. And they would ask me what I saw that fateful night as a teenage boy. You know what I told them? I would say that what I encountered that night was no monster, but the shadow of death that creeps around every town, alleyway and battlefield where men go to war – and will keep doing so as a reminder of our tragic mistakes.
- THE END –
You can help keep the stories coming by making a donation to The Moonlit Road.com. Large or small, any amount helps!