In the 19th century, the Battery ws one of the most exclusive residential neighborhoods in Charleston. During the Civil War, however, the waterfront area was also one of the most embattled. Beginning in 1861, Federal forces under the command of Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont had begun a blockade of Charleston. Because he did not want to see the city fall to Federal gunboats, as New Orleans had done, General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard Began installing powerful defense preparations. To guard the harbor entrance, soldiers dug artillery positions into the White Point Gardens at the foot of East Battery. On August 21, 1863, Brigadier General Quincy Adams Gilmore’s men began an artillery bombardment of the city. From a special pine-log platform constructed in the salt marsh between Morris and James Islands, an eight-inch Parrott rifle, dubbed the “Swamp Angel” began firing on downtown Charleston. By the end of the war, the burned-out structures in the districts near the waterfront were silent testimony to the price Charlestonians paid for their fierce resistance to Federal forces. Some people say that the fine old mansion on 20 S. Battery Street still resonates with the horror of those tragic days.

The property on which the Battery Carriage House Inn stands was purchased on June 7, 1843, by Samuel N. Stevens, who erected a large but simple house on the site at 20 S. Battery Street. In 1859, Stevens’ widow sold the house and property to John F. Blacklock for $20,000. Blacklock sold the estate to Colonel Richard Lathers in 187-. Colonel Lathers, a millionaire, was a native of Georgetown. Before the Civil War, he had toured the South, begging businessmen to remain loyal to the Union. After war broke out, Lathers served with the Union. In 1869, Lathers returned to South Carolina to assist with the rebuilding of the state. Lathers transformed Stevens’ comparatively modest home into a palatial mansion typical of the showplaces constructed during Charleston’s golden age. He built a two-story addition on the northeast corner, a ballroom area over a passageway to the west, and a mansard roof to form a fourth story, which lathers used as a library.

Lathers held gatherings at 20 S. Battery Street to bring leaders of the South together with those of the Union. In 1873, Lathers invited the Governor of New York, Noration Seymour, and the editor of the New York Evening Post, William Cullen Bryant, to a party held in their honor at his home. Disappointed by his failure to bring the South completely into the Union, Lathers sold his house to the president of the First national Bank of Charleston, Andrew Simonds, in 1874 and returned to New York. Simonds used the house for business purposes and political entertainment.

The house on 20 S. Battery Street changed hands several times in the 20th century. In 1910 the Simonds family sold the property to William B. Chisolm for $25,000. Ernest H. Pringle bought the house for $34,000 and spent many happy years there. The present owners of the property are Mr. And Mrs. Daryton Hastie, who established the Battery Carriage House Inn on the site in 1976. The eleven-room inn is located in an outbuilding overlooking the garden. The house has been used in the filming of North and South and Queen.

Mrs. Hastie has a personal connection to the old house. In the 1890s, her grandmother, Sara Calhoun Simonds. When she was a little girl, Sara climbed on a limb and jumped onto the roof. As she was walking along the roof, her feet slipped, and she fell through the ballroom skylight. Fortunately, she landed upside down in a huge crystal chandelier.

The inn’s “other” guest began making an appearance shortly after the Battery Carriage House Inn opened for business. The final ghost to make an appearance was one of the young soldiers who defended Charleston against the Yankees. Unaware that Charleston officials initiated a general evacuation of the city on February 17, 1865. Ironically, a number of families gathered up their valuables and traveled 120 miles to the capital city, which they mistakenly assumed would be a safe refuge. One company of Confederate soldiers was ordered to destroy the hundreds of pounds of munitions on the house at 20 S. Battery Street was converted into a temporary barracks. According to local lore, one young soldier who was handling one of the highly explosive shells was accidentally blown to pieces.

The staff at the inn assumes that he was one of the nine soldiers who spent the night in the carriage house because he seems to have made one of the rooms his permanent home. Kathy Jo Connor, a concierge at the inn, tells the story of a couple who discovered on August 8, 1992, that they were not the only ones in Room 8: “The man had heard that the room was haunted, but he did not believe in ghosts, so he and his wife went right to sleep. Late that night, he got the feeling that someone was staring at him when he was sleeping, so he woke up and saw the apparition of a headless torso floating over the end of his bed. The man started looking around the room for a projector because he thought the bed and breakfast was putting on a share to scare him. [When he realized that there was no projector in the room], he got curious and scooted to the end of the bed. He put his hand right through the apparition! Just as he did this, he knew he’d don something wrong because his whole arm became cold. He turned his arm sideways and tried to pull it out of the apparition. As he did this, he could feel the wool fabric of the soldier’s uniform. When he finally pulled his arm all of the way out, the ghost moaned and disappeared.”

On Thanksgiving weekend in 2003, a different couple discovered that Room 8 came with an unexpected bonus. Connor checked in the man and woman at 5:00 p.m.: “Everything was fine. They loved the room. I came back upstairs [a little while later], and I saw them throw their bags over the top of the railing.” The first thought that went through Connor’s mind was, “What’s going on there?” Connor said the couple picked up their bags and walked quickly to the lobby. The man said, “We’d like to check out. You did not tell us the place is haunted. We can’t stay here. We want our money back!” Taken aback by the fear on the man’s face, Connor said, “I’m very sorry. We’re on a ‘Don’t ask—Don’t tell’ basis.” As Connor was refunding their money, the man explained that they had no sooner laid their bags on the bed when the blinds closed by themselves. The man tried to open the blinds with no success. “It was as if something was holding the blinds back,” the mane explained.

Another, much less threatening spirit haunts Room 10 in the Battery Carriage House Inn. The ghost story centers around a young man from a well-to-do family who lived in Charleston at the turn of the century. When he was eighteen, he fell in love with a young woman who agreed to marry him. His parents were upset when they lear4ed of their son’s engagement because they had wanted him to attend Yale University. Unwilling to go against his parents’ wishes, the young man reluctantly put off his marriage to his girlfriend. “A week after he left for school, his girlfriend ran off with a local boy and got married,” Connor said. “His family didn’t have the heart to tell him, so when he got back to Charleston and found it out, he was so depressed that he got dressed up in his best suit, and he fell from the top of the house into the garden. People said he ‘fell’ because they didn’t say ‘suicide’ back then.”

The story goes that the young man’s spirit has taken up permanent residence in Room 10. He has been christened the “Gentleman’s ghost,” Connor explains, “Because he only shows himself to women, he’s nicely dressed, and when women let him know that they don’t want him there, he leaves.” Unlike the headless torso, the Gentleman Ghost was experienced by twin sisters who checked into Room 10 on their birthday. “One sister lay on the bed, and the other sister propped up a chair against the door and was reading a book,” Connor said. “While she was reading, she saw the apparition of a tall, slender man enter the room through the wall and lie down on the bed with her sister.” Connor says that the lady was not afraid until the ghost put his arm around her sister. “She walked over and started shaking her so she could see the ghost. Finally, her sister woke up and screamed. When she screamed, the Gentleman Ghost got out of the bed, took a bow, and exited through the wall that he had come through. [Later], they said they could see the outline of his suit, but it was like someone had taken an eraser and erased his face.”

One of the most recent appearances of the Gentleman ghost took place on April 4, 2004. A couple had come to the Battery Carriage House Inn to spend their third anniversary. While his wife was alone in Room 10 upstairs, her husband was downstairs talking to Connor: “That night, I was working, and the husband was downstairs asking me a millions questions. We didn’t know at the time that his wife was experiencing the gentleman ghost upstairs. What happened to her was very different from what everybody else had said. She said she was sitting on her bed watching T.V., and she kept seeing shadows pass her window.” The woman assumed that her husband was standing outside smoking a cigarette. She realized her error when the shadow suddenly came into the room and showed up on the wall inside the room. “She then smelled cologne, a soapy, clean cologne,” Connor said. “The only thing she could relate that smell to is Old Spice. It wasn’t like her husband’s [cologne], so she soon put two and two together. She got scared and opened the door, and the apparition disappeared.” The woman was halfway down the stairs when she met her husband coming up. Surprisingly, neither the woman nor her husband was frightened by what had happened to her. “They went back to the room, went to sleep that night, checked out the next morning, told us the story, and wrote up a nice little letter.”

According to Connor, the cleaning ladies have sensed that the presence of the entities in both rooms: “They’ll get into the bath tubs in Rooms 8 and 10 and start cleaning the shower, and the shower will come on suddenly and soak them. That’s happened a couple of times, and the cleaning ladies swear they didn’t bump the nozzle.”

The ghosts in the Battery Carriage House Inn are unusual in that they appear to congregate in different rooms. “The more they congregate, the more things happen,” Connor said. Room 3 used to be the original wine cellar in the main house, so we can understand why ghosts would congregate there more than anywhere else. It’s one of my favorite rooms. It’s the only room that has a sitting area and a bedroom. It has a wall mirror, so it looks larger.” People who have stayed in that room have had problems with their cell phones turning off and on. “They have also seen a blue light in that room. “The light can’t come from an outside source because there are no windows,” Connor said.

With help from the tour guides who thrill tourists with tales of Charleston’s ghosts, the Battery carriage House inn has become known as one of the city’s most haunted places. In fact, one could say that the spirit that haunts Room 8 is probably one of the most terrifying ghosts in the entire nation. Regardless whether or not one believes the ghost stories, it cannot be denied that in war-torn cities like Charleston, the Civil War is as much a part of the present as of the past.