Fort Mifflin Investigation

Located on the scenic Delaware River, Fort Mifflin was originally built by the British in 1771. It is the site of the largest bombardment the North American continent has ever witnessed. In 1777, during the American Revolution, a valiant five-week battle took place when the British Navy attacked Fort Mifflin on Mud Island. The British had the garrison of approximately 400 Continental soldiers surrounded from three sides. Attempting to open the supply line for the British Army already in the Rebel capital of Philadelphia, the British shot over 10,000 cannonballs at the Fort, causing the garrison to eventually evacuate. Over 150 Continental soldiers died as a result of the battle and led Thomas Paine to write: “The garrison, with scarce anything to cover them but their bravery, survived in the midst of the mud, shot & shells, and were obliged to give up more to the powers of time & gunpowder than to military superiority.” This allowed General Washington and the Continental Army to repair to their winter quarters in a place called the Valley Forge. Too late in the season for British General Howe to chase them, the garrison at Fort Mifflin thus extended the war and allowed the American army time to regroup until the spring of 1778.

Forever after that known as the “Valiant Defender of the Delaware”, Fort Mifflin was reconstructed in 1798 as one of the coastal defenses of the era. An active military post until the Korean War, this made the fort one of the longest continually used military posts in the nation up until that time. The Fort has played many roles in the security of our Nation in its 235 years of existence; garrisoned in the War of 1812, a Confederate prison during the Civil War and a munitions depot in World Wars I & II.

The fort is home to 14 restored historic structures constructed from 1778 to 1875, including an Enlisted Barracks, Officer’s Quarters, Blacksmith Shop and the casemates (or as the students like to call them, the dungeons.) The fort is situated on the beautiful banks of the Delaware River, where you can eat a picnic lunch and watch the abundant fauna and flora or investigate the ancient moat, which is home to all sorts of aquatic life. 

Located at Fort Mifflin & Hog Island Roads, Philadelphia, PA. 19153, 215-685-4167



The Officer’s Quarters: This area is said to be haunted by the Screaming Woman, traditionally believed to be the ghost of Elizabeth Pratt. Elizabeth was married to an officer and her daughter, who lived with them at the fort, fell in love with and wanted to marry an enlisted man. Elizabeth could not accept this and disowned her daughter. The daughter died of typhoid fever before they could reconcile, which threw Elizabeth into a deep depression. She hanged herself over the balcony of the second floor. It is claimed that the police have been called out there to investigate the screams when witnesses heard them and thought someone was being murdered.
 Recent research that was published by Tony Selletti in Fort Mifflin: A Paranormal History revealed that Elizabeth Pratt never lived in the area of the Officer's Quarters, but was housed with the officer's families on the grounds now occupied by the artillery shed. (Incidentally always an area of activity) In the new book, a different Elizabeth is credited with possibly being the screaming woman. There are very few first hand accounts of the screaming woman, and no proof that the screams emanate from inside the fort, since the officer's quarters are right next to the edge of the fort.

The Powder Magazine: A Revolutionary War soldier has been seen outside the entrance to this structure. Footsteps are heard in the hallway and EVPs have been recorded inside. During an investigation on October 22, 2008 and also on Feb 15, 2009, a shadowy figure was seen moving quickly away from the powder magazine and up the embankment.

Blacksmith Shop: Between the Powder magazine and the Commandant's House is the Blacksmith Shop. It is said to be haunted by a blacksmith named Jacob. He wanted the doors to the shop kept open, but the Commandant wanted them kept closed. The door is said to open by itself.
Although nobody there has witnessed the door opening, some have witnessed the tools that hang on the wall start swinging by themselves.
On Feb 15th, a metal can was left and the group asked the spirit there to move the can. When they left, they heard a loud noise and when they checked the can was knocked down.
Lorraine saw a figure move behind a group she was talking to in front of the blacksmith shop. One of their group was facing in the same direction and also saw the figure at the same time.

Casemate 11: A newly discovered area in 2006 by Wayne Irby allegedly haunted by phantom faces, EVPs and disembodied voices. Casemate #11 housed Fort Mifflin's most famous prisoner, William H Howe, after he led an attempted escape of 200 prisoners from Casemate # 5. Howe was a Union soldier accused of desertion and found guilty of murder. Howe was held at Fort Mifflin from January 1864 until April 1864 when he was transferred to Eastern State Penitentiary, after being placed in solitary confinement in Casemate #11 in February 1864 and then transferred back to Fort Mifflin on the day of his execution on August 26, 1864. He was held in the fort's wooden guardhouse, just steps from the gallows where he would be hung. Howe, one of the four men executed at Fort Mifflin, has the distinction of being the only person ever executed by the army where tickets to the execution were sold to the public. Inside the casemate, the signature of William H. Howe can clearly be seen. Prior reports of Howe being illiterate are completely false. Howe wrote to President Lincoln twice in his own hand asking for clemency. The letters are filled with bad grammar and run on sentences, but are believed by some to be in Howe's own hand; the signature, believed by some to be Howe's, found in the cell is said to be a perfect match to the two letters to Lincoln. Other artifacts found in the casemate include pottery, a tin cup, the cell doors with numerous graffiti written on the inside by various people in the 1860s, a tin chamber pot, period buttons, an 1864 wine token, a penny dated 1864 in remarkable condition and dozens of animal bones. Various graffiti of the Civil War period also grace the interior walls.

Casemates 1-5: Traditionally hotspots for paranormal activity, the casemates are a popular spot for investigation. They seldom disappoint.
They were originally constructed as a fort defense when Fort Mifflin was rebuilt after the Revolution. (1798 - 1801).
Casemate 1 is the first of the casemates and is the largest. It was used as a barracks and as a prison cell for Confederate prisoners during the Civil War. It served in this capacity from 1863 - 1865. Each of the following casemates: 2 - 5, were also used as prison cells.
Every casemate has had paranormal activity. Casemates 4 and 5 have been the location of the most aggressive and violent manifestations.

Artillery Shed: This is where the officer's housing stood when Elizabeth Pratt (screaming woman?) lived at the fort with her husband.
It is a storage area now and the inside is not always accessible, depending on what is stored there at a given time. The second floor of the shed has not been investigated much (if at all) and the artillery shed has recently picked up in activity.
It was originally built in 1837 for the storage of a cannon (report from Engineers Dept. Nov 28, 1837; American State Papers 7:580)

Soldiers Quarters: The sounds of heavy boots have been heard on the 2nd floor.

History and haunting information Courtesy of Laurie Hull, author of

The Ghost Research Society investigated Fort Mifflin on August 23,  2010. Team members included: Lisa Krick, Jim Graczyk and Dale Kaczmarek. We were joined by Mari Bushway and Rod Herring of Haunting Haunts.









               Nothing here                                                                                                                                                                                              A Whitish Mass appears out of the wall


Equipment setup: Static IR cameras were set up in the downstairs room of the Officer’s Quarters, Casemate 11 along with an EM Pump and Motion Detectors, the Commandant’s House, Casemate 4 & 5, Powder Magazine Room, Blacksmith Shop.  

Experiments: EVP sessions were conducted throughout the above locations with additional sessions at the Artillery Shed, Torpedo Room and another guard’s area. The Video Ovilus was employed in Casemate 11 by Rod Herring, Jim took digital IR and trap camera pictures. I set up a digital recorder in Casemate 4 where a laser grid system was set up. Full spectrum pictures and video were taken at various locations throughout the night.  

Personal experiences: A number of times while the team was in Casemates 4 & 5, strange sounds were audibly heard coming from down the entranceway into the casemates. At first we thought it might have been the rope on the flagpole flapping but it sounded almost like a shuffling sound. A couple of times, a strange almost screaming noise was heard and recorded while in Casemate 4. Lisa believes that someone or something might have tossed a small pebble in her direction while conducting an EVP session there.









        See the shadow in the doorway


Lisa Krick: Equipment used:  Sony Audio recorder, Canon Rebel EOS digital camera, Sony Camcorder, IR Illuminator.  

Needless to say, we were very excited to be given the chance to investigate such a prestigious and historic location.  After our tour, we set up our static cameras and I placed mine on the bottom floor of the Officers’ Quarters where it had been purported that the top part of a hurricane lamp popped off its base, fell to the floor, and rolled to the foot of a bewildered onlooker, without breaking.  So, I put the camera in the back corner of the room, facing the majority of the room.  The camera was against a back door, which was firmly closed.  Dale and I set up the camera and left the room.  I would return with Jim every hour to change out my disks.   

After that I went with Mary and Rod to look at the casemates while Dale and Jim did some more set up work.  As we were heading down to casemates 1-5, there is a room that had, in prior times, been used as a kitchen with a very heavy metal door.  As we passed this kitchen and headed to the casemates, the door was fully open.  We walked down the tunnel in the casemates, set up Mary’s camera in casemate 4 (all the while hearing shuffling, footsteps, whispers out in the hallway, but every time we’d stop to listen or pop our head out of the casemate, it would stop) and headed back outside.  As we passed the kitchen again, I noted that the door was now half closed.  Dale and Jim had been in the Enlisted Quarters doing set up the entire time. Lorraine was already gone for the day and Wayne Irby, the groundskeeper, was firmly ensconced in his room in part of the Officers’ Quarters building.  It was not windy that evening and the building is such that the wind really couldn’t reach in and blow the door shut anyway.  We thought that perhaps an animal came in and got behind the door to push it shut, but it was a very heavy door and it would have had to have been an animal the size of a very large dog, at the least, to close it.  The only animals we ever saw that night were two cats who kept us company during our down time in the Enlisted Quarters.  So we don’t know how the door shut, but it never did happen again that evening.   

As the investigation began, we all headed to the infamous casemate five to get down to business.  Rod and I were sitting on the right side of the room (as seen when standing in the doorway) and the others were sitting on the left side of the room.  I tried taking pictures in this casemate and could not get the auto-focus to work.  I had to switch to manual focus.  After sitting in the dark for about five minutes, I experienced chest pain.  Rod was using a K-II meter and every time I would ask a question, it would go dead.  However, whenever Rod asked questions, it would light up.  The story with this casemate is that it was used during the Civil War to house the “hardened” criminals from the South – the murderers, rapists, etc.  There is a purported entity in this room who doesn’t like blonde women, so I wasn’t surprised that I was being ignored.  However, I was surprised when a rock was thrown at me in the dark room.  It landed between my feet.  Not only did I hear it, but I also felt the movement of the air as it struck the ground. I immediately asked if Jim had thrown a rock at me, because it seemed to have come from his direction.  He stated that he had not.  He thought I had thrown a rock.  The interesting thing about this rock was that when we turned the light on to leave we found no indication of a rock being anywhere in the area, yet we had all heard the sound.  From start to finish during our investigation in this room (and we went back a second time) I saw shadows moving around in the doorway to the casemate.  I believe Dale captured some anomaly on his full spectrum camera to back up my sighting.   

We went next door to casemate four and sat in the dark.  Mary had her static camera in this room and she was using a grid.  There is said to be a nasty entity in this room who doesn’t want anyone in this room at all.  We were hoping to interact with him.  We ran an EVP session.  We kept hearing noises out in the hallway, scuffling and footsteps.  At one point, we all heard a disembodied cat yowl and I was able to capture it on my audio recorder.   

After we left casemate four, it was time to change my disk, so Jim and I headed over to the Officers’ Quarters to take care of that.  We walked in and noted that the exit door directly behind my camera was ajar.  It was a sturdy wooden door that had been firmly in place when I set up the camera in front of it.  I had tried to open the door at that time to see where it led, but it was either locked or stuck.  Now it was open a good four inches.  We closed it again, hoping that it would open on its own again later.  It never did.  Since we were so close, we went upstairs to the Officers’ Quarters on the second floor.  We looked through both the rooms and I became dizzy in the back room.  A woman (one of the women named Elizabeth) had purportedly died in that room.  I put my flashlight on the floor to see if it would roll because the floor was slanted, but the floor was fine.  Not sure the reason for the dizziness.  As we walked out the door of the Quarters, we smelled the distinct smell of maple syrup.  When Wayne checked in with us later, we asked him if he had any syrup with his dinner.  He stated he hadn’t, but that we weren’t the first to smell that phantom smell where it shouldn’t have been.   I also smelled perfume when walking out of the Enlisted Soldiers Barracks twice.  Others smelled it as well.  But the smell was not consistently there and neither of us girls was wearing perfume.  We couldn’t explain it.   

We all headed to the powder magazine together.  This is the area where a purported vortex exists in one of the corners.  Rod sat in that corner and Jim and I sat in the other corner.  Mary and Dale sat at the other end of the room, facing us.  I had one personal experience in that room, which was someone sighing in my left ear.  I asked Jim if he had sighed and he stated that he had not and thought that I had been the one sighing.  However, this was not picked up on audio.   

We all headed to Casemate 11, which is the newest discovery.  It had been buried and recently unearthed.  This was an interesting little area.  Mary and I went to the back part of the cell and I stood with my back almost against the far wall.  Mary sat on my right.  Dale and Jim sat in the next room of the cell, closest to the entry.  Rod squeezed into a small sort of corridor which had a window like opening into our room.  There was supposed to be a shadow figure or a figure with no face back in that small area, that Rod wanted to encounter.  Jim and Dale were facing us and videotaping us as Mary and I ran an EVP session.  In this casemate I experienced chest pain, gooseflesh on my entire backside, cold spots, thumps near Rod, and something hovered above my head and disappeared into the ceiling at one point.  I believe Dale has full spectrum photos of a shadow directly in front of my legs which moves from frame to frame.   

We then headed to the Officer’s Quarters on the first floor where my static camera was located.  I was using the real time EVP device, but registered nothing on it or on my static camera during the time of our EVP session.   

Next, it was upstairs to the other Officer’s Quarters, where in the back room, it is reported that a lady died horribly from some medical condition.  I, again, was using the real time EVP device and my K-II meter, which popped when we first went in the room, but then lay silent for the rest of the session.  However, we were sitting around the room and I asked if the children were there and if they’d like to come in the room with us.  I heard a footstep (through the real time EVP) but no one else did.  So I asked, “Can you take another step?”  And, another step is heard. However, this time, EVERYONE heard it.  I even asked if everyone had heard it and they all stated they had.   

Our next stop was the torpedo magazine.  Here we encountered nothing out of the ordinary.   

Next, we investigated the blacksmith’s shop.  Jim’s static camera was in this location.  I captured nothing out of the ordinary on my audio recorder here.  People have reported that the tools swing around.  However, this building is open to the elements and it could just be the wind making that happen.   

After leaving the blacksmith’s shop, we stopped at the Sallyport and Rod, Mary, and I did an EVP session while Dale and Jim walked around outside the grounds.  While I captured nothing untoward on my audio recorder, my K-II meter was responsive in this area.  I asked, “Do you want to go home?” and the K-II popped up to three.  We asked if the entity could make the K-II turn on and it responded.  We then asked if it could make the K-II stop lighting up and it responded correctly again.  We asked if the entity felt more comfortable over by Rod and the K-II popped into the red.  I don’t know if anyone was filming our session.   

Our last stop of the night was casemates 4 and 5 again.  Jim, Rod, and I sat in casemate five and Dale and Mary sat in casemate 4 at the beginning of the session.  We weren’t having much luck getting any responses, but we all kept hearing things in the hallway and I kept seeing shadows flit in and out of the doorway.  About halfway through the session, I decided to mix things up a bit and sent Dale in to sit with the boys in Casemate 5 while I joined Mary in Casemate 4.  We wanted to see if the entity would pick on two girls alone in the room.  We heard things shuffling, stepping, mumbling out in the hallway, but every time someone would go to investigate, it would stop and there would be nothing there.  However, about two minutes before we called it a night, we all heard a loud moan come from the casemates closer to the entrance.  Everyone sat there stunned and finally we asked if the guys had moaned.  They stated they had not … and asked us if WE had moaned.  This moan, I DID capture on my audio recorder.    

We capped off the night with a lovely pancake breakfast provided to us by Wayne Irby as he sat and listened to our tales of the previous evening.  What a great place to visit.  It certainly warrants a follow up investigation, if we can get out there again!   

Jim Graczyk: Equipment: Sony Nightshot, 12mp digital camera  

My camera was first set up in the Blacksmith Shop. When I went to set up and retrieve me camera I felt a little uneasy being in the building. It was a feeling of being not alone as if someone was watching you.

When I was in Casemate 4 with Dale, Rod and Mary we noticed shadows outside in that hall area. Mary and I went into the hall to investigate in the darkness. I had the first generation night vision goggles and Mary had her video camera.  We both went in the hall and I was keeping an eye on Casemate 5 and that portion of the hall. After a few minutes I noticed a strange greenish light coming from around the corner where I was looking, it was about shoulder height and seemed to be coming directly at me. I said something along the, “what the hell is that?” and immediately took a step back as if bracing myself. This light was closing the gap and coming my way. Just then Mary, whom was looking the opposite way I learned, turned around and looked in my direction. The greenish light now was gone instantly! After that brief moment, we figured out her camera was casting a shadow off the shiny walls in my direction. The camera eye piece was shining just enough in the darkness to cause this event. We both laughed and I said she got me good. After that event, I paid more attention to the ricochet of light in complete darkness with our camera.   Other than those two things I mentioned I really didn’t feel uneasy or experience anything there.

Lisa and I walked out of that Officers Quarters upstairs room opposite Wayne’s room. As we entered the hallway outside both rooms we got the smell of what was Maple Syrup. Lisa and I investigated the area and found the open attic area. This was the source of the Maple Syrup smell. We believe the smell might have been from the old wood up in that area. We did mention this to the rest of our investigators for further exploration.  

Photographic evidence: Digital trap camera pictures taken in Casemate 11 and shooting in the direction of Lisa and Mari show something unusual. Picture #89 appears to be normal, while the next picture; taken almost in the same minute (#90) shows a black shadow now covering part of the wall and Lisa’s legs.

Digital IR pictures taken in Casemate 5 of the hallway door (#173) show what appears to be a silhouette of a figure in the doorway while others taken just before and after show nothing at all. It’s definitely not some kind of stain on the wall or simulacra effect.

Pictures taken by the digital IR camera in Casemate 4 (#190) show a large mist-like formation on the far wall in front of Lisa.  Pictures taken in that same session using a full spectrum camera now show a smaller mist directly behind Lisa on the wall (#0040).

Pictures taken in what I think was Casemate 3 show what might be a dark shadow in the doorway (#204). There is the possibility however that this in nothing more than Jim’s shadow. There were no other pictures taken of that same angle to be used for comparison purposes.

Audio evidence: We twice picked up the sound on IR cameras and digital recorders of what sounded like a high-pitched scream somewhere in the distance while we were investigating the casemates. Was this the infamous "Screaming Woman" making her presence known?

1st scream during an EVP in the Casemates, we may have heard and recorded the infamous screaming lady.

2nd Scream during an EVP session in the Casemates for the second time we may have picked up the screaming lady.

A strange raspy breath was heard and recorded.

Casemate while conducting a Laser Grid and EVP session in one of the casemates, a strange sound is heard and recorded.

Hiccup while conducting an EVP session in Casemate 11, PA, a strange sound was heard and recorded further down the corridor behind us that sounded like a hiccup.

Voice a static IR camera in Casemate 11 picks up a strange muffled voice in the background after the sound of the plane going overhead dies down.

Weird Whine during an EVP session in Casemate 11, a weird whine is picked up and recorded.

Whisper during an EVP session in Casemate 11 a whisper was recorded.

Whisper1 during an EVP session in Casemate 11, another strange whisper was captured.

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