sites of public execution


Legend tells us that the ghost of the Lady in Black haunts Fort Warren, a Civil War prison in the Boston Harbor that housed Confederate soldiers. The Lady in Black was the young wife of a prisoner. They had been married only a few weeks before his incarceration. Very much in love, she traveled north, rowed her boat across the harbor and attempted to break her husband free. She made it into Fort Warren, found her husband and they formulated a plan for escape. They began digging a tunnel from under the Corridor of Dungeons to the parade grounds but due to a slight miscalculation, they were in earshot of Northern soldiers and they were discovered by the sound of the digging. When cornered, she pulled out her pepper-box pistol and it accidentally exploded, tragically killing her husband. Sentenced as a spy, she was slated for execution on the public green in the middle of the prison, (visible here from the inside of a former prison cell). However, she was wearing men's clothing for her jailbreak and she requested women’s clothing for her execution. The only other clothes found on the island were black robes that had been worn by the soldiers for a performance. They draped her in these robes then proceeded to hang her from a tree on the green.

Shortly thereafter, there were odd occurrences attributed to the ghost of the Lady in Black. There have been mysterious footprints in the snow, voices in the night, court-martial cases of men who have shot at ghost-like figures while on sentry duty, and one man deserted his post, claiming he had been chased by the lady of the black robes. To this day, there are reports of sightings of her walking the walls of Fort Warren, her long black robes trailing behind her.


Site of Public Executions by Hanging
c. 1861 – 1865

(Fort Warren on Georges Island, Boston Harbor, MA)

20 x 21", 2007