“The Ghost Sentry and the Secret Tunnel Under New Hope Church” – by Clifford B. Davids

Church and Flag and grave

New Hope Church

Some time ago I found myself visiting Dallas, GA, riding along with the sons of the Confederacy as they refreshed the flags on their ancestors’ graves. They were a dedicated group of guys, and our journey took us into the most remote corners of Paulding County. At the end of the day we found ourselves in the parking lot of the New Hope Church, site of a bloody Civil War battle in 1864. They had finished their task and called it a job well done, so we celebrated with a cold coke and handshakes all around. As we spoke, they pointed out the monument and flag across the street, a testament to the hundreds of Confederate soldiers who died in that bloody battle.

For no other reason, I took out my old Polaroid and snapped two quick shots of the defensive entrenchments behind the memorial. They were among the last of the crumbling earthworks used during the Battle of New Hope Church, fought hard and won strong by the South on May 25-26, 1864. I downed the coke and then glanced at both photos, noticing that a gust of wind had lifted up their venerated battle flag in the second photograph – but I didn’t remember any type of blowing breeze. It had been an unseasonably hot day, sticky and steamy with no wind at all. I looked at the second picture more closely, and what I saw in the background blew me away. It was the image of a Rebel soldier wearing a mismatched uniform, standing eyes front and at ease, staring straight at me. (see the photos below)

I was speechless. I looked carefully at both photos taken just seconds apart, but it was unmistakable. The soldier wasn’t present in the first one, and in the second one he was staring right at me. I had heard stories about New Hope’s grim past – that ghosts haunted this rural community, site for both the bloody Civil War battle and a horrific commercial airplane crash in April of 1977 – and here was the unmistakable proof.

I walked over and showed the photos to the two remaining sons. They glanced at each other and then excused themselves, stepping into the woods to talk privately. The two men had a heated discussion, but afterwards they grudgingly agreed to reveal the truth about what I had just witnessed, as long as I promised never to disclose their names or the exact location. They said the memorial would soon be removed because it was drawing too much attention to an area that was never meant for prying eyes.

New Hope Tombstone

They explained that I had captured the image of a ghost soldier posted on sentry duty – a still vigilant casualty from the Battle of New Hope Church. They told me that hidden away among the remains of those hastily dug entrenchments was the entrance to an underground tunnel, a closely guarded secret among the many descendants of those who had fought there. The tunnel runs under the ruins of the original church and beyond to the graveyard, located diagonally across the street from the main intersection. It passes directly under the area that the Union troops later referred to as the “Hell Hole,” where in May of 1864 they engaged in a hellacious battle during an unholy thunderstorm while the canister and shrapnel tore them to pieces.

The sons stated that the tunnel had been discovered and used by the Cherokee during the Indian wars until they were forced westward in 1838 on the Trail of Tears. After that, the tunnel lay abandoned for over two decades. It was rediscovered in the early days of the Civil War, and then strategically employed by the fully entrenched Confederate forces during their resounding victory at New Hope. They claimed it allowed the Rebels to appear like ghosts during the bloody onslaught – and then vanish just as quickly back into the smoke and mist. It surely allowed Hood’s well-served artillery to inflict heavy casualties on Hooker’s corp of battle hardened troops.

My friends admitted they had never been inside the tunnel, but they both claim to have witnessed the sentry standing silent guard from their earliest days, just as their fathers and grandfathers had before them. They also told me that he is the last remaining defender of a secret storeroom underneath the present day New Hope First Baptist Church – a hidden chamber overflowing with a king’s ransom of gold and silver, zealously protected by that forgotten soldier for over 150 years. The old timers predict the fortune will be returned to its rightful heirs when the time is ripe, but until then the Ghost Sentry will continue his lonely vigil, and remain steadfast and strong at his forsaken post.


“The Ghost Sentry”

Photo #1-a floating swirl can be seen to the left of the memorial (Click to enlarge)

A floating swirl can be seen to the left of the memorial (Click to enlarge)

Photo #2-the Ghost Sentry makes his appearance (Click to enlarge)

The Ghost Sentry makes his appearance (Click to enlarge)


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34 Responses to “The Ghost Sentry and the Secret Tunnel Under New Hope Church” – by Clifford B. Davids

  1. Lisa says:

    O.K. Cliff….this story is WAY cool! I noticed that in the first photo, there is a brown swirl around a group of trees to the left of the flag. However, this swirl is not present in the second photo. What’s up with that?

    • cbdavids says:

      Lisa: If you look closely, the “brown swirl” is still present in the second photo, although the color has dispersed. The Sons of the Confederacy tell me that it represents some type of spectral disturbance that occurs just before the sentry appears. They said it also caused the flag to stir, even though it had been a calm day.

  2. Tyler Cloherty says:

    Whaaaaaat?! That’s amazing, Cliff!

  3. Alice says:

    I came here yesterday but was in a hurry and didn’t have time to ponder or comment, so here I am back again. What a coup! I never expected to see a real ghost story here! I do see the fading swirl in the second picture, and also note the shift of the flag’s position, a true “hair on the back of your neck” experience.

    What more can you add to that statement that a tunnel storeroom under the present New Hope Church contains a “king’s ransom of gold and silver” still protected by that sentry? I take that to mean the treasure is still there and to be returned to its “rightful heirs” when the time is ripe. I wonder when that might be?

    • cbdavids says:

      Alice – I don’t think sons are able to answer that question because they disagree on the origins of the plunder. Some say it was removed from Gen. William T. Sherman’s “safekeeping” by the Rebel soldiers during his Atlanta Campaign – others believe that it is part of the legendary Lost Confederate Gold, the CSA treasury that Jefferson Davis took with him when he fled Richmond in April of 1865.

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  5. Jon says:

    “Who you gonna call?” I look forward to whatever may happen next on your interesting journey in and around Dallas, GA…

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  7. Ursula says:

    Hi Cliff,
    Being prepared to find an apparition in the first photo after having read the beginning of your story, I focused on the orange-brown swirl which, to me, looked like a character out of “Where the Wild Things Are,” white eyes and all. That was uncanny enough. And then I looked for it again in the second picture where it had moved. It took me a minute to see the actual soldier. And now I am worried that I might believe in ghosts in other places as well. Thanks for unsettling me so convincingly…

    • cbdavids says:

      Ursula–You are scary right! When you click and enlarge the first picture, you can see a lion’s visage inside of the floating swirl, staring straight at you with empty eyes. In the second photo, the beast has vanished. I can only imagine what this might represent. Thanks for your comment.

  8. chad says:

    I grew up in the Mona Place subdivision next to the graveyard. I never really saw anything, but when l played in the woods it seemed very creepy at times.

  9. Cliff, That’s a good story to tell around the campfire. I am thinking s’mores to round out the event. Scary story!!!

  10. Ellie says:

    Are you sure this is real?

  11. Sadie Goodwilley says:

    Bunch of CRAP….. Lived in this area all my life, never heard anything so ridiculous. Only truth is that one of the bloodiest civil war battles was fought at New Hope Church and a plane crashed there. Have relatives buried in the cemetery and never seen any ghost there!!!!!

    • Melinda Arnold Kemp says:

      Yeah, me too. My great grandparents lived practically ON this property (the old white house out the long driveway – Phillips house) and my grandparents lived in downtown New Hope since the 1920’s (Arnolds)…never did I hear any of these stories.

      We played in the New Hope Cemetery all the time when I was little–believe me, we would have found a tunnel. Cool story though, Bro.

      • Rolling My Eyes, AGAIN! says:

        Oh, good grief. The Paulding County Kemps…

        This is an excellent piece of Paulding County’s history in the battle of New Hope. There are many stories like these – and just because Melinda hasn’t heard them doesn’t make them less true.

        Our family has helped care for the Paulding County Museum for a number of years, and are members of the Historical Society in Paulding and several surrounding counties. The stories, photos and artifacts within are priceless treasures. I’m of the much younger generation, and am so grateful to have been taught the importance of our community’s past.

        The Sons have many great tales, regardless of them being just tales or accurate pieces of our county’s rich history in the civil war.

    • merry says:

      I lived on Bobo Road in New Hope, and didn’t know anything about the activity there. I was physically assaulted by unknown entities, and my dreams were invaded by cruel stories. I have been working on a book regarding the stories told to me in my dreams. Someone (or something) wants the truth to be told. Haunted? YES! There is so much going on there, you would have to simply turn away from it to not see it and feel it.

      I didn’t know of the history when I moved there, and some people from Paulding County may not want other folks to know the entire truth. If what my dreams told me are true, there were more deaths than just those during war – the war became a cover for murder as well. The murder of many, just to get to one man.

      I have never been a historian, nor do I watch historical programming. But I have dreamed, night after night, of a story unfolding before me like I was watching a movie. When I tried to document the accuracy of what I saw after the fact, it was all just too much.

      One day I kept hearing a scratching sound in my closet, and lo-and-behold a piece of the ceiling fell down. It revealed that the house was made of logs with the bark still on them. After questions were asked, I was told it had stood there during the war, and was used as a hospital. Still it does not explain the story I was told. The family name that was revealed to me is here on this page. I had chill bumps when I saw it, and the comment.


  12. colmel says:

    While you are looking for ghosts, you absolutely must go to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. I caution you, though, be prepared for not only sightings, but sounds and even the occasional brush-by of unseen beings. I was not even considering that there might be spirits when I went there to bird. Arriving well before dawn – in hopes of locating thrushes – I was walking around one of the many meadows, when I realized that I was “hearing” wagons moving and hushed speaking. There wasn’t a thing there – well, not of this world, anyway.

    As I forced myself to relax and open my mind, I could swear that I not only heard voices, but could see the speakers. That was enough. I hurried back to the “safety” of my car in the parking lot, but as I did so, someone brushed past me as if hurrying in the opposite direction. I stopped and turned by sheer instinct and saw the form of someone running. He disappeared into the air.

  13. hulseytown says:

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  14. Cowardly Lion says:

    I DO believe in ghosts, I DO believe in ghosts, I DO believe in ghosts…

  15. Lisa says:

    My great great great-grandfather and his family lived somewhere on the battlefield near the Baptist Church and the graveyard. My great great-aunt shared with one of her nieces the story of being only 12 and having to cross the battlefield to get to a ravine where her brother had hidden potatoes before he and her father had left for the war. There were also stories about the stench and the starving dogs carrying around decaying human body parts.

    I wonder if the “gold” the ghost is protecting is really in an old food storage area, because starvation was widespread after this 11-day battle.

  16. Jennifer D says:

    This story is awesome!! The pictures are cool and a bit creepy!! Love it 🙂

  17. charles says:

    I had a family member who died at that battle on the Confederate side.

  18. Douglas Lee Morris says:

    It truly is a great story. Unfortunately, it is only that. If my Confederate ancestors, or any of their war impoverished contemporaries had been within fifty miles of anything of monetary value, they wouldn’t have languished as long as they did. The true stories are even better and more inspiring than any fiction ever written.

    I am a member of the SCV by direct blood line. We meet at the old New Hope Church once a month on Monday. Our meetings are open to the public, and we hide nothing. We are very pleased to share all we know about the local men, women, and even children who struggled thru this bitter part of our past. It doesn’t cost a dime to attend. We aren’t selling anything. Our “true” Confederate history is free to all. The cost for that having already been paid.

    It is a good story…nothing more.

  19. Brittany says:

    Omg, this picture gave me chills. It took forever for me to see him, but once I did it jarred me lol. I would like for you to email me… I have lived on the Hell Hole (no seriously, I do) for 13 years. I’ve seen and heard it all. We have much much respect for them, so they are much more chill with us being here. I hope to hear from you soon. I shared this with my dad and he looks forward to talking to you.

    To those of you who don’t believe, that’s wonderful! I understand you bc my step-mother had lived here with us the whole 13 years and has never experienced anything. I believe some people are sensitive to it and others aren’t, so it’s not cool to put those down who do experience these types of things. Thank you.

  20. allison says:

    I was in girl scouts in the mid to late 80’s, and the place we met was in the basement of the New Hope Church. It was creepy to say the least. We would always see a guy outside dressed like the guy in the picture, and we would also hear doors open and close above in the church. That was when I first heard about the tunnel and its historic significance. It’s great that you actually caught the solider on film.

  21. Polk County Confederate Son says:

    Great story, thanks for sharing this!

  22. tompanter@cfaith.com says:

    Well, it is a good story and that is about all–a tunnel would have been documented in the Official Records, if it existed. My great grandfather fought at New Hope as a member of the Georgia State Militia. He kept a diary that is in the hands of some of our relatives, but I have yet to find who currently has it. I have only heard some of the stories. There was a story of calling a truce so the wounded could be saved from burning forests, then getting back behind their lines and commencing the slaughter. Sounds semi-civilized. If I remember correctly, this story took place on Kennesaw Mountain.

    Dallas, New Hope and Picketts Mill reportedly were the first battles to employ trench warfare. The trenches filled with water during the stand-off after the battles and for weeks after the soldiers had to spend their time in waist deep water shared with rats and lice. But no mention of a tunnel.

  23. I grew up in Paulding County and have heard many stories of the Civil War. If you grew up here, you would know most everybody is related to each other. My Great Aunt Della Pickett is the one that sold the 700 plus acres to the government in 1976 which is now Pickett’s Mill. I lived just across from the cemetery right next to the elementary school, which is now Walgreens. I would wake to odd sounds in the night like doors opening, gunshots, men’s voices whispering, people walking in the house, but everyone sound asleep in the bed. I have asked several staff members at Walgreens and they swear the place is haunted, and some refuse to close the store alone. It would be interesting if you did a little more investigating on this matter.

    The staff at Walgreens, most of them are new comers and do not know the history of New Hope, but yet they believe this area is Haunted!!

  24. Dee says:

    I have lived on Marty Lane in New Hope since 1989 and have witnessed a ghost sighting that I will never forget. He was a Confederate soldier running away from Old Cartersville Road. It was getting dark and I was doing yard work. I heard a whooshing sound and looked up and saw him running (off the ground) right past me. Other strange things have happened, but this was my only sighting so far.

  25. Dr. J. Vilardo says:

    I was riding my motorbike by there today and had to stop and visit. I noticed unknown confederate CSA graves and a very heavy spirit vibe there. I walked around, paid my respects, and was careful not to tread on any graves as I read headstones. A lot of them are from May 26th 1864. Some are modern. There were no sightings on my part, but I felt something there. There are also Federal soldiers buried there. I saw an Illinois infantry grave from the same battle with no name.

    Thank you to those that are maintaining it and keeping it alive in Georgia Civil War history. If you haven’t, visit Cheatham Hill near Kennesaw. Another great trench, canon emplacement area where a large battle took place, where both sides stopped to bury their dead before carrying on the next day. Tragic events that formed our Republic in the war between the states.

  26. tom says:

    I believe in ghosts and spirits, for sure…..the Bible mentions them numerous times…..and then there’s the trinity: the Father, Son, and HOLY GHOST…..that’s proof enough for me.

  27. Tracy says:

    I live about a mile from New Hope. My husband donated some landscaping to W.C. Abney Elementary School years ago when my son went to school there. He brought several plants/trees and one of his employees to install them. He had to run to another job and told Greg he would be back in an hour to help finish up.

    When he returned, Greg was waiting in front by the street. He jumped in the truck and said he already finished the planting and wanted to go, that he did not want to come here again, and didn’t want to talk about it.

    Finally he said “There’s ghosts here, lots of them, all around here. I don’t ever want to come here.” This man had never been told anything about the battles, the plane crash, or the hauntings. Personally, I have heard the sound of horses running through my front yard, but I have never seen anything. I have noticed both of my cats watching them go by.

  28. bonniewcarlson says:

    I find this fascinating. My 3rd great grandfather John Dickinson Aldridge died here on May 26, 1864 from a minie ball to the head. I’ve often wondered exactly what his last day was like. Where was he stationed? What were his duties? His younger brother Thomas Jefferson Aldridge had died at Manassas three years earlier. These were relatively poor people who owned no slaves but fought for their homeland. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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