|The Battle of Forks Road
A Port City Paranormal Investigation of
Halyburton Nature Reserve
After the fall of Fort Fisher, Union forces began their advance toward the city of
Wilmington from both sides of the Cape Fear. Major-general Robert F. Hoke and 6,600
troops defended the approach to Wilmington from present day Eastwood Road to the
Cape Fear River. A few miles south of the city, at Sugarloaf, and again at Forks Road,
Hoke and his men fought off repeated assaults and were a formidable obstacle between
the enemy and the Confederate's port of Wilmington.
It was here at Forks Road that Hoke earned his title "The Stonewall of Forks Road".
Interestingly, the Northern forces opposing Hoke were guided by Jacob Horne; a local
man who betrayed his State, his family, and his brother Hosea,who fought along with
Brother against brother.
Due to the overwhelming success of Federal forces at Fort Anderson, Hoke was ordered
to retreat, and abandon Wilmington. Hoke lead his troops away from their
entrenchments along the Cape Fear.
Preserved at the park are the remains of Union earth works.
Many battlefields have sightings of phantom soldiers, eerie sounds, and tales of hauntings.
Halyburton Park is no exception. Port City Paranormal received special permission to
explore this site for evidence of spirits left behind
after the fighting ended. In recent years, employees have whispered about ghosts, but
they are no longer silent as the sightings seem to be on the increase.
More than once after the building has closed for the night, footsteps are heard, cabinet
doors slam closed and utensils rattle in the kitchen. Phantoms of men in uniform and
women in long skirts have been seen moving soundlessly through the hallway, and on the
unlit paths. But every search confirms the building is locked,the
visitors have left for home, and the parking lot is empty.
One evening an employee stayed late to do some needed maintenance.
"As I proceeded to get to work, I suddenly heard a firm gruff voice directly behind me
say “Hey!” “I jumped up and looked around, but no one was there. I checked all the
doors and went outside, even though I knew the voice was right behind me!” “It
sounded like an old seaman from the 1700 or 1800’s. I quickly finished up and
left right after that!”
The spirits around Halyburton are not content to just make noise; they want to
be seen too!
"Once, while at my desk, I saw a woman in a bonnet standing to my left. She was wearing
a long dress, with her hair pulled back. The dress was similar to those worn by prairie
settlers. Odd as it may sound, she had no color, all I could see, was she was walking
Another worker experienced seeing figures walk through the hallway, through the nature
room and into the classroom. She s had stayed late to finish up some work, when she
suddenly heard sounds like footsteps coming from the classroom. There she saw a figure
walking through the classroom towards the glass doors where she vanished. After
checking to see the building was secure and no one else was there, she sat back down to
her computer. Once more, the repeated their journey through the class room and
kitchen. Again she looked around, only to find
Robert F. Hoke
Hosea L. Horne,C.S.A.
|Nestled between a quiet neighborhood and a major
thoroughfare is one of Wilmington's hidden historic
treasures, Halyburton Park Nature Preserve.
|Unless you are a local, or a student of history, you may
not be familiar with Halyburton Park and its remarkable
past. For the naturalist, the park contains 58 acres of
rare long leaf pine savannah, Carolina Bays, red oaks,
and gently rolling sand hills
Civil War enthusiasts know this land as Forks Road, and
for the battle fought there in February 20-21,1865.
With the many witness reports and the history of ghostly apparitions, our
group was excited to investigate this historical battlefield!
Due to local traffic, our investigation was conducted at night after the park
closed. We divided into two smaller groups for optimal coverage and to
eliminate possible audio contamination due to ambient sounds. The night
was overcast and the ground was damp from an earlier rain. Solar activity
was normal but geomagnetic fields were active. Temperatures were in the
mid to upper 50s with a light wind. Later the sky cleared, the stars became
visible, and the temperature dropped enough we could occasionally see
Team members reported a number of personal (subjective) incidents.
Frequent odd noises came from the woods; however, it was hard to rule out
an unseen animal or the possibility of someone else being in the park.
Walking down the old Forks Road path, one group detected a small
localized area of extremely cold air. The cold spot was localized within a
three foot wide area that did not extend off the road. Investigators moved
in and out of the anomaly repeatedly before the cold eventually
dissipated. Shortly thereafter as Doug walked down the road, he felt a
strong tug on his jacket. Another investigator was touched on the shoulder.
This evidence was later corroborated by the second group, when they
encountered the same cold spot later that night. Of the many cold spots
found, several occurred in conjunction with other personal experiences.
These anomalies are not by themselves proof, but when experienced by
multiple witnesses and occurring simultaneously with other personal
experiences they can be considered evidence of a haunting.
Early that night, the two teams continued around the park via the asphalt
walk way. Doug moved on ahead of his team to see if a lone investigator
might elicit contact. As he walked he lost site of the rest of his group and
sat down on a bench to wait for them to catch up. Hearing an odd noise,
he strayed a few feet into the woods, but never lost site of the road. Later
when they didn't pass by, Doug retraced his route back to where they had
separated. There he met the other team as they walked back to the main
building. Doug was puzzled to find his team already waiting there. How,
his group had walked to the same location, using the same route, without
passing Doug on the path is very curious. Doug stated he did not see or
hear them, nor did they hear him call out. Review of video during that
time has not yet revealed an explanation.
Several times during the investigation faint lights were seen coming from
the woods. The possibility the lights were from other investigators or from
traffic was eliminated. These unexplained lights appeared from
inaccessible parts of the woods, in the bays, and over the ponds. Most
were dim, and seemed to fade when investigators approached.
|The team agreed that the most disturbing phenomena
encountered during the investigation was the constant and
overwhelming sense of being watched. As if the team were
being stalked, the sounds of footsteps seemed to pace the groups
as they moved down the path. The footfalls would stop when
they paused to listen only to resume the moment they continued
on, as if some unseen entity tracked their progress.
Shadows roamed the thick wooded areas and around the
crumbling entrenchments. Team member Mark likened it to
being stalked by natives. "you can feel the presence, but only
catch fleeting glimpses of something darting between the pines"
photos by M. Richardson