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The Nation: Phantom of the Point

2 minute read

About the last place one would expect to find a ghost is that most earth-bound of educational institutes, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Nonetheless, several cadets swear that they have recently seen visions of a 5 ft. 3 in. soldier in full Jackson-era regimentals, complete with shako and musket. The thought of spectral shenanigans on hallowed military ground has officials of the Point scratching their well-clipped heads in perplexity.

It all began on Oct. 21 in Room 4714 of the 47th Division barracks. One of two plebes who occupy the room said that he awoke to see a life-sized apparition of a 19th century officer emerge from a wall. The vision receded before the plebe could summon his roommate. The next night both saw the ghost. The story eventually reached the ears of Cadet Captain Keith Bakken. He and another upperclassman commandeered the room a few days later. The ghost promptly appeared before Bakken’s confederate, but receded into the wall again. Bakken, who is still a firm nonbeliever, admitted that the designated point of evaporation, which is normally quite warm, felt icy to the touch. Later the men who had seen the ghost identified it from a print found at the Point (see cut).

As it happens, this is not the first astral presence to bestir West Point. The superintendent’s mansion is said to be haunted by the ghost of an Irish cook named Molly. In the 1920s, moreover, a priest was summoned to a house on Professors’ Row to exorcise a spirit that had sent two young servant girls screaming naked into the night. To outflank the new extraterrestrial presence, Bakken has declared Room 4714 off limits until Easter. Meanwhile, one upperclassman insists that the ghost has gone. How does he know? “I am a warlock,” the cadet solemnly explained.

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