Manassas Journal Messenger | Museum hosts Halloween ‘Haunting’

At this ghoulish time of the year with Halloween approaching, ghost stories abound.

During the Manassas Museum’s “Haunting at Liberia Plantation,” the eerie, disturbing stories being told are surprisingly true.

The museum will sponsor its fifth annual “Haunting” on Oct. 28 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the 181-year-old historic museum property currently being restored.

Tickets for the event — recommended for 13 and over — are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the event. Buses will transport visitors to Liberia from the museum where tickets may be purchased.

Costumed interpreters will tell haunting stories mostly set during the Civil War era when the home served as headquarters for both Confederate and Union forces.

Because it was at the center of military action and spy activity, and because of its role as a war-time hospital, Liberia has many stories to tell.

Visitors who walk the long, candlelit winding drive to the house during the event, might expect to encounter a spy wielding a revolver and a cavalry charge by Confederate troops protecting Liberia.

That scenario is inspired by Lafayette Baker, a Union spy with a penchant for escape, who was captured on the grounds of Liberia and questioned by Confederate Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard in the house and later by Confederate President Jefferson Davis during the early days of the war.

Liberia’s role as a field hospital will also be showcased during the Haunting. Visitors will be reminded of the primitive conditions that were typical in war-time hospitals; wounds filled with maggots, surgeons smeared with blood, heaps of amputated limbs, dirty surgical instruments reused again and again, and wounded men shrieking with pain as they lay on makeshift tables made from doors.

The basement of Liberia, once a gruesome war-time scene, will also be a stop during the Haunting. When Union forces took over the house prior to the Second Battle of Manassas, they found three dead Confederate soldiers in the basement due to the hurried evacuation by the Confederates.

Because of this, in the Official Record kept by the Army of the United States, Liberia is referred to as the “Death House.”

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