Hell Hole – Battle of New Hope Church
Georgia ghost story of a Civil War relic hunter who stumbles across the haunted site of the Battle of New Hope Church. Written by Craig Dominey, told by John Gentile.
They say there are places on this planet which have seen such tragedy and sorrow that they are forever cursed. It’s as if the earth itself holds some dark supernatural force beyond our understanding. A few years ago, I found such a cursed place just a few miles west of Atlanta, Georgia – a tiny hamlet called New Hope. And even though many people don’t believe the story I’m about to tell, my visit there haunts my dreams to this day.
At one time, I was a 35-year-old small business owner living in a tiny town in rural Virginia. I didn’t have a brilliant business mind, but my father, a rabid Civil War hobbyist, had taught me to do one thing very well – hunt for Civil War artifacts. Bullets, belt buckles, coins, uniform buttons – the Virginia battlefields were full of them. Collectors from as far away as Germany and Japan paid top dollar for these rare artifacts, so I created a website to hawk my latest finds.
I’m a bit ashamed to admit it now, but profit was much more important to me in those days than respect for the dead. It didn’t matter to me if a battlefield was located on protected land or not. Under cover of darkness, I would sneak onto the property with my shovel and trusty metal detector, and would steal away as many artifacts as I could find. But other relic hunters quickly got in on the act, and competition became fierce. Verbal threats and fistfights became common amongst rival hunters, and I knew it was time to hunt for relics elsewhere.
I remembered studying about Union General William T. Sherman’s devastating “March to the Sea” in Georgia, and figured that somewhere along that long path from Chattanooga, Tennessee, down through Atlanta, and south to Savannah there must be a treasure trove of artifacts. So that spring, I hopped in my truck and drove south to Georgia to see what I could find.
I was especially interested in a small town located near the Pickett’s Mill Battlefield called New Hope. It was here that one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War took place – the Battle of New Hope Church. And to understand my story, you must understand the carnage that took place there.
It was May 1864, and General Sherman had begun his relentless march toward Atlanta. His men were hungry and battle weary, but knew that to destroy Atlanta would mean destroying the heart of the Confederacy and finally bringing an end to this horrible war. Standing in Sherman’s way was a stubborn Confederate Army led by Joe Johnston. Johnston’s men resisted the Union onslaught, forcing Sherman into flanking maneuvers. But like a bloody chess game, Johnston countered each of Sherman’s moves, slamming his army into the Union forces day after day.
It was during one of these flanking maneuvers that Sherman’s men marched into the area of New Hope Church. What they didn’t know was that Confederate forces were lying in wait with sixteen cannons and some 5,000 men. As the Union troops struggled through the thick underbrush into the clearing, they were suddenly hit by a vicious firestorm of artillery. Confederate guns and cannons blasted away at them from behind makeshift log walls. The Union soldiers were sitting ducks.
As the battle raged on, legend has it that a vicious thunderstorm blew into the area – a storm unlike anything the men had ever seen. The skies turned black as night. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed around the battlefield, sometimes drowning out the relentless artillery barrage. Wounded Union soldiers desperately crawled through the torrential rain into a ravine to escape certain death from the Confederate guns. And it was said that, even with the storm and battle raging around them, one could still hear the agonizing moans of the wounded soldiers rising from the ravine.From that day forward, the Union troops gave a new name to the ravine near New Hope Church – “Hell Hole.”
Like other battlefields, New Hope was rumored to be haunted. It had a reputation amongst learned Civil War historians as being a creepy and unsettling place. But I had heard plenty of ghost stories about the battlefields in Virginia, and they had never stopped me before.
I drove into the town of New Hope just before sundown. It wasn’t as much a town as it was a country intersection, with a small auto repair shop, a couple of churches and a cemetery. But the historical markers lining the road betrayed its bloody past. I reasoned that the Confederate battle lines must have been spread out across the area where the cemetery now stood. There was a heavily wooded area beyond the graveyard that I reasoned must have been the location of the “Hell-Hole.” I spotted several homes on the other side of the woods, and decided to wait until nightfall to begin digging.
I parked across the street behind one of the churches and waited. An hour later, I was blessed with a beautiful, clear night sky and a full moon. As I crept through the cemetery with my equipment, I noticed that the tombstones seemed to reflect an eerie white light from the bright moon above. More fainthearted relic hunters might have turned back at that point, but not me.I reached the woods and soon found myself struggling through a thick jungle of thorn bushes, vines and trees. For a brief moment, I thought about what it must have been like to have been a solider back then, already weary and hungry and now having to fight your way through this hellish Georgia forest. But then my thoughts drifted back to the business at hand.
The ground suddenly sloped downward, and I figured I was on the lip of the ravine. Since I was now totally enveloped in the forest, I figured it was safe to use my flashlight. Shining it around the ravine, my heart sank. Some of the residents were now using the ravine as a garbage dump. There was plenty of scrap metal scattered about, including a rusted old car. But I had come this far, so I was going to at least give the place a try.I crept down into the ravine, chose an area that seemed the least polluted, and began clearing away some of the garbage. Once that was done, I swept the area with my metal detector and picked up plenty of readings. Whether or not this was from buried garbage I did not know, but I soon began digging in earnest.
In fact, I was so intent on my digging that I didn’t notice a strange noise – heavy raindrops plopping onto the thick canopy of leaves above. This seemed impossible to me, as the skies were beautifully clear just a few minutes before. But as the raindrops fell harder, I looked up into the sky and saw that a sudden storm front had blackened out the stars and moon, leaving me in total darkness.
A jarring blast of thunder shook the forest, and I quickly moved into the only shelter I could find – the inside of the junked car. I didn’t want to run out of the woods and be caught, and I hoped this was one of those hit and miss thunderstorms so prevalent in Georgia. But the storm grew louder and more intense, the booming thunder shaking the earth, and the torrential rain drenching everything, even through the thick trees.
It was then that I heard it – a low moan drifting out of the bottom of the ravine. At first I thought it must be some wounded animal, or perhaps a dog lost in the storm. But as it grew louder and louder, I realized the voice was definitely human. Soon other agonizing moans could be heard, seemingly feeding off the horrifying thunder crashing around me.Then I smelled a repugnant odor that I can only describe as the smell of rotted flesh. It must be from a dead animal, I thought, desperately trying to rationalize what I was experiencing. But the odor seemed to grow stronger and stronger as the moans grew louder.
A bolt of lightning suddenly illuminated the forest, and in that brief second I swore I saw a shadow darting though the woods – a human shadow. As the storm reached its crescendo, the intense lightning lit the forest like some harsh florescent light, the gnarled trees taking on odd and terrifying shapes. My blood ran cold as I spotted more of these shadows darting amongst the trees, as if fleeing in terror from the storm. And in the bright flashes of lightning, I began to notice details on the shadows – a military cap here, a rifle or bayonet there. They could only be one thing – soldiers.
But the worst was yet to come. The temperature seemed to drop twenty degrees around me, and I was hit with the most sick and agonizing feeling I had ever felt. I can only describe it as a feeling of devastating loss and pain, as if I had learned that my entire family had suddenly died at the same time. I couldn’t take it anymore – I kicked the car door open and hopped out into the storm. Then I was hit with a debilitating feeling of exhaustion that raced through my whole body, as if I had walked a hundred miles. I left all my equipment behind and desperately clawed and sputtered through the rain-drenched forest until the cemetery was finally in sight.
As I burst free of the forest, the storm inexplicably stopped. The clouds blew away, and I found myself standing in the midst of the glowing white tombstones. I had seen enough – I crossed the street and ran back to my car, only to spot the silhouette of a man standing beside it, peering into the windows. I stood frozen in my tracks until he yelled out in a warm, inviting Georgia drawl, “Hello there! I was getting worried about you!”It was the minister of the church. He had come out to check the building after the storm, and had discovered my car. Road maps and Civil War books scattered across the seats had betrayed me as the tourist I was.
I tried to avoid telling him what I was doing in New Hope by commenting on the thunderstorm that had passed, and how I had never experienced such a ferocious storm. The minister chuckled and replied, “Yeah, we seem to get them this time of year, especially on this date. Some folks think this place is haunted, but I don’t believe in such things.”
My blood suddenly ran cold, and I heard myself ask him, “What’s so special about today?”
The minister cocked an eyebrow at me and grinned. “Well, from all them Civil War books in your car, I thought you’d know. Today’s May 26th – the Battle of New Hope Church was fought 136 years ago today.” And that’s my story of the Hell Hole.
- THE END –
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45 Responses to “Hell Hole – Battle of New Hope Church”
I like this story i would of scared as well seeing the dying around you.I hope these spirits are finally at rest.
How coincidental that he was in the area of New Hope Church at just the right date for this to happen. I enjoy reading these kinds of stories where adults -for the most part, love to indulge their fantasies, by writing and talking about it. Good story though.
you can call it adult fantasies if you want, but i live in the area and have talked to several people who have had many experiences in the area. as well as some of my own
Lots of weird things have happened in that area, including a horrible plane crash.
I liked this story, it is one of the scarier ones. I wonder, what do you think would have happened had he stayed longer in hellhole?
Have you ever heard about ‘ForeShadows’? This is a type of demon that can many harmful things to you. If you stayed their more then 4 hours then the foreshadow will follow you where ever. It can be seen by movement it is a slient beast and the only way to see it is by a flash of light like a camra light or flash light and if it appers like a person you must run out of the area.
It is known for taking over people bodys and might give you cuts that you dont fell. The bestest way to be sure is to see if they are 3 or more that are people in a full size from head to toe and if you keep away they will do no harm. I had many expirences with people and my self but their is a way to make go to peace and never come back haunting.
we open many doors to this world but some are the worlds bigest mistakes. The way to get the demon out is by a priest say page 37.G and have the cross. he is say the whole section and puts the cross on you chest and that will make the demon in pain and goes away. But few make it while this is done it maybe also fatal and it happen before.
My tip is not to bother the parinormal.
I recently bought a house that backs up to the Picketts Mill Historical Site. I have only been here a few months. Nothing concrete here about hauntings but I do get the feeling Im not alone. My son has had a few incidents and completely believes that this place is haunted. He has only been frightened twice. Once was an apaharition. But all in all it is a beautiful peaceful place. I love to sit on my deck and look as far back into the woods as I can. I just wonder why there is not many birds here??? I was hoping to wake to the sweet sound of the birds. I have birdhouses and seed out. But I rarely ever see birds. I do see them but it is so rare that when I do I find myself excited.
this a good story
I don’t think that I would have gotten inside of that car. That would have scared me in itself. Seeing the soldiers would have just been, “icing on the cake” in terror. There would have been a path blazing from behind me, I would have been running so fast.
I believe that this story is fake… So…. yeah.
Amazing story! I have an ancestor that fought at Hell Hole.
I grew up in New Hope. I can tell you the stroies like this are NOT fake. As a child, the neighborhood kids including myself, decided to “sleep under the stars” one night in athe center of the neighborhood in one of the only flat yards there…you know back when you could…that’s the last time I will EVER do that. We all were woken up by soldiers on horseback, some headless or carrying their heads, soldiers on roof tops all over the small subdivision, some running by, some on “lookout”, some just walking by…they were everywhere. We even had the faint smell of gunpowder around, you could hear a battle going on all around you, the expolsions, the screams & yes, the cries for help. All of this was before I had ever even heard of “history”, much less before hearing of the Battle of New Hope, when we read about that battle all these images came back to me from the few years prior, it sort of all made sense at that point. We constantly heard things outside at night, especially during the summer when you would sleep with your windows open because there was no AC back then in “most” houses. Those were the images that will stay with me forever. Believe what you want, but for me I choose to go by what I have actually seen & experienced.
Thanks for the comment, Ang. Lots of weird stories in that area.
thhis is a cool story! i like this one alot!
i need to go there
sounds cool ..!!
How coincidental that he was in the area of New Hope Church at just the right date for this to happen. I enjoy reading these kinds of stories where adults -for the most part, love to indulge their fantasies, by writing and talking about it. Good story
HEY THAT WAS AN VERY NEW STORY TO ME A LITTLE BIT FRIGHNING BUT IT WAS PRETTY COOL THEY SHOULD PUT MORE STORIES ON HERE BECAUSE THAT WAS A COOL STORIE
i grew up in mona place which is the little subdivision next to the cemetery. i played in the woods just about 100 yards from it. i never saw anthing but that doesnt mean anything. my dad is buried at the rear of cemetery. alot of death in such small place.
Cool story. I have herd many like this, but this one was pretty cool.
Cpt. dip di dr:
this story was good but it was a little slow in the begining
bobo yea buddy:
this is a deadass wierd storry
i like the story hell hole hahahaha
YOU GUYS ARE ALL CRAZY.
Great story, he got more than he wanted. Love the stories at this site.
awesome very entertaining:)
Awesome story! I would love to go see the old cemetery
Okay what I’m about to say will seem as if I’m lying my ass off but i not only live in New Hope,I own and live on the hell hole! My back yard is the “hole”(for lack of better words).We live on 7acres and no the the hole itself isn’t that big but it does indeed take up almost all of my backyard. I must be honestand say that this story is NOT fake!! Oh and btw the only house that is on the hell hole is mine! I have been living on the hell hole for 13 years now and there isn’t enough time to tell all I have gone through! I’m 27 years old and I simply CAN’T be in this house alone at night! For those of you that believe that this is all bullshit I challenge you to contact me and come for a visit! My email address is email@example.com
I grew up in a Victorian house built by a sea captain in the 1850’s. At one time it had been a nursing home. My parents bought the home in 1957. I was 9. I told my dad we needed to go back to our old house. There was something wrong with this one. I tried for the next year. I didn’t understand how that worked and dad wasn’t listening! Five brothers and myself. Then my husband. We ALL know about the ghost! Many hauntings in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.
Just found your story online. Very intriguing and very well written! I must say, I am glad you didn’t take a relic from that place home with you. I returned from Gettysburg Battlefield, PA this past May (I wasn’t going to make it to the actual celebration of its 150th in July). To make it short: I am an agnostic; I never believed in ghosts. I do now! I stupidly brought home a rock, yes, only a rock but it was from way down deep in a crack between two boulders at the notorious DEVIL’s DEN! I though, Heck a rock won’t be defiling the earth or spirits, or tick off a Ranger from the park or the TSA when I go to get on a plane back home. Well, even though I don’t have an ultraviolet light to check for blood on the rock, I am sure there’d be some and from many different soldiers as they died spread out all over Devil’s Den in July 1-3 1863. Well, something followed me home and I’ve got the pictures on my computer to prove it: so many, many ghosts in my house now it’s unsettling! I am making a special trip this weekend to fly back with the rock and make sure it goes exactly back where I took it from. Yes, taking “anything” from a battlefield is disrespectful and can be dangerous. I only hope the soldier spirits go back with this rock!
Quite intriguing if true. I cannot say whether this story is strictly for entertainment value, but that is how it reads. I suppose I should say it was written as if it were just a story, but the style does not necessarily translate into fiction. If this actually occurred, which is within the realm of possibility, I would have been terrified, and I imagine that words cannot describe just how afraid you must have been.
First I want to say that this website has been a great help for my school project on folk tales and ghost stories from the civil war. Thanks!
But just so you know… the audio story for Hell Hole isn’t working. You can press play, but nothing happens.
Should be fixed now, thanks!
I also live in New Hope, and I can tell you it is definitely haunted ..maybe even cursed. I myself have had too many experiences as well as friends of mine. I also have an ancestor, my great great grandfather, that walked with Sherman and was in a unit that fought here. I did not learn about that until almost 8 years after moving here and it was from reading his actual diary he kept from his time in the war. Funny how history has a way of repeating itself!
This is where I reside. I have seen things. I relic hunt in my yard on 4 acres. Most of what has been found is bullets. Some fired some not.
Georgia’s Spookiest Places | Sites Of Georgia:
[…] have reported the sound of strange moans and shadowy figures running through the forest. Click here to learn more about Pickett’s Mill Battlefield’s […]
I am a longtime member of New Hope Presbyterian Church. I haven’t attended sermons there for many years but have alot of memories from my youth regarding the church. Interestingly my parents, relatives, congregation members or history classes ever mentioned “hell hole” or the horrific battle that took place on this land. As a family we regularly spent Sundays visiting with the family that lived behind the church and creek where the huge ravine is located. At that time garbage was indeed disposed of down the ravine into the creek. I witnessed it on many oçcasions. We played in the creek on either side of the “dump”. My grandparents lived behind that house in a sharecroppers home where papa picked cotton. Mom would always warn us kids not to venture too far. Some places were strickly off limits! Both of my parents were from the Paoli community and both are now buried at New Hope Cementary. Dad went to Vineyards Creek Church located around four miles from New Hope. He saw mom carrying an ice block from Threlkelds grocery home and inquired about what church she went to. It was New Hope so he visited, met mom and married her. As an adult I have lived close to both churches. First in Mrs. Vassor’s house close to Vineyards Creek Church and it was very haunted! I even went outdoors to escape the feeling of being watched to no avail. I was terrified there. I was a few months pregnant with my son and was at home alone one evening when a very powerful storm approached. I went to turn the fan off when I could see a bright bolt of lightning hit in front of the house by a huge oak tree. It knocked me to the floor, everything went black and I was frozen in fear.On countless nights I would hear noises outside and call my husband or my dad to check things out. We moved from there and I was determined not to ever live in Paoli again. The area gives me an intense feeling of loneliness and dreaded doom. After five or so years passed I had to move back to the area for a short while against my better judgement. It was a big house with a full basement. My son was 4-5 years old and took an immediate dislike to it and cried because he was scared. You could feel a presence and it was cold. He would not sleep there so we moved. Grown men left that house in the middle of the night from fear is what I learned later. The Broad river with it’s creeks and tribularies travel through this area. Cherokee and Creek Indians also inhabited the New Hope area. Apparently war and standoffs left it abundant with tortured souls. If you are sensitive you will most definately feel something uncomfortable about this particular site and the immedite area that surrounds it.
I am on my way to find historical signs that I have taken for granted all my life. The story is very surprizing and interesting.
In 1959, when I was 8 years old, my family and I went through Gettysburg on our way south. My father loved Civil War history and told me about Pickett’s charge, Devil’s den etc. as we toured the battlefield. I had two great grandfathers who were in the war. One a surgeon with Waul’s Legion out of Texas (Confederate) and one with the New York 7th Regiment. Anyway, I have never forgotten that brief moment in Gettysburg standing on one of the battlefields. It was so quiet. As I stood there, I got such an overwhelming sensation of the immense struggle (for wont of a better word) that had happened less than 100 years earlier. I can appreciate the author’s story.
I have pictures of ghosts in my house. I live here.
On the way home from work tonight I remembered a story a man once told me I always think of this around this time of year Halloween! And so I came home and decided after 25 years of hearing this story to research it. Why now? who knows I had nothing better to do I guess. And in doing this I found this story tonight and now have some other confirmation on things.
About 25 years ago I lived in Acworth Ga and it was a few days before Halloween like it is now. I was working on my car and my neighbor came over who was a manager at Battle Foods in downtown Acworth. We started telling spooky stories and he told me about a road off Dallas Acworth Hwy that he found once that him and his wife had heard about years ago. He said people told them you could drive down it at night and park and you would see a strange mist like fog that would take on shapes that looked like Civil War soldiers crossing the road in battle. He explained him and his wife decided to check it out one night. He said they planned it out and spent days talking about it and when they went some friends decided to join them.
He said when they found the road it was just a gravel road and that he must have passed it five times before they found it. But once they drove down into the woods everything seemed fine. Everyone was very calm and the woods seemed like it was in the process of being developed. He said he turned off to the right down another gravel road and then he noticed a patch of fog so think it seemed like a cloud just sitting on the ground. He said they decided to just park and watch the fog with the headlights on. As they did this he said it just got thicker and thicker until his sister inlaw in the back seat said it’s behind us to guys. He said he looked in his review and couldn’t see it so he touched his break pedal and thought he seen someone standing behind them. He said he hit it again and it was still there but not in the exact same spot it had moved. His wife seen the expression on his face and asked what was wrong. He said he didn’t know what to say so he just put the car in reverse and started backing up slowly to leave. He said his sister inlaw turned around and said OH MY FREAKING GOD!!! lets go move it go go go now! He said as they backed out of the fog behind them you could see the fog in front of the car taking on shapes of men. From the hats and guns to even horses and stuff. He said they left and everyone in the car was freaked out and they have never been back. I laughed he however didn’t and he swore by it.
He gave me directions and I went myself folks but that’s another story.
My 3rd great-grandfather was one of the relatively few Confederate soldiers killed on this day in this battle. I wonder if he is still there.
James M Paine:
One of my ancestors is buried in the New Hope Baptist Church Grave Yard as a result of the battle he was killed in near by there. I think he was in the 34th Ala his last name was Ellis and was from Mobile Alabama.