The legend of the
Every island has its legends, but perhaps the most famous of them all concerns the Lady in Black at Fort Warren. The legend of the famous Lady in Black has been whispered at Fort Warren for many, many years, until now there are quite a few who believe in the existence of this lady of black robes. I herewith offer the legend without the slightest guarantee that any part of it is true.
During the War between the States, hundreds of prisoners were captured by General Burnside at Roanoke Island. Among the group incarcerated at Fort Warren in the Corridor of Dungeons was a young lieutenant who had been married only a few weeks before. He succeeded in getting a message to his young wife by the underground railroad, giving complete directions as to where he was and how she could reach him.
Being very much in love, she obtained passage on a small sloop, and landed in Hull a few weeks later. She quickly located the home of a Southerner in that town and was fitted out with a pistol and dressed in men's clothing. Choosing a dark, rainy night, the lady rowed across Nantasket Road and finally landed on the beach at Georges Island. Slipping noiselessly by the sentries, she reached the ditch under the Corridor of Dungeons. After giving a prearranged signal, she was hoisted up to the carronade embrasure and pulled through the opening. As soon as husband and wife had exchanged greetings, they made plans for the future. The prisoners decided to dig their way out of the dungeon into the parade ground and set to work.
Unfortunately for their plans, a slight miscalculation brought their tunnel with hearing of Northern soldiers stationed on the other side of the wall.
The commanding officer, Colonel Dimick, was notified and the whole scheme was quickly exposed. The brave little woman, when cornered, attempted to fire at the Colonel, but the gun was of the old-fashioned pepper box type and exploded, killing her husband.
Colonel Dimick had no alternative but to sentence her to hang as a spy. She made one last request: that she be hanged in women's clothing. After a search of the fort, some robes were found which had been worn by one of the soldiers during an entertainment, and the plucky girl went to her death wearing these robes. At various times through the years, the Ghost of the Lady in Black has returned to haunt the men quartered at the fort.
Once, three soldiers were walking under the great arched sallyport at the entrance to the fort, and there before them, in the fresh snow, were five impressions of a girl's shoe leading nowhere and coming from nowhere. Ten years before World War II, a certain sergeant from Fort Banks was climbing to the top of the ladder which leads to the Corridor of Dungeons when he heard a voice warning him, saying: "Don't come in here!" Needless to say, he did not venture further.
There actually are on record court-martial cases of men who have shot at ghost-like figures while on sentry duty, and one poor man deserted his post, claiming he had been chased by the lady of the black robes. For many years the traditional poker game was enjoyed in the old ordnance storeroom, and at ten o'clock one night a stone was rolled the entire length of the storeroom. As all the men on the island were playing poker, no explanation could be found. When the same thing happened the next time that the men played poker in the evening, the group at the card table decreased appreciably.
By the end of the month the ordnance storeroom was deserted, and since that time, if any of the enlisted men wished to indulge in that pastime, they chose another part of the island. The ghost of the "Lady in Black" was, of course, blamed for the trouble.
--Excerpted from The Romance of Boston Bay