The Legend of Old Green Eyes

Who — or what — is the green-eyed being that haunts Chickamauga Battlefield?

Green Eyes on a black background

Have you had a Green Eyes encounter?

Graphic by NOOGAtoday via Canva

Table of Contents

If you’re a Chattanoogan, there’s one story you can’t escape the month of October without hearing — the legend of Old Green Eyes.

Like any good haunted legend, who (or what) Green Eyes is, exactly, isn’t quite agreed upon. Its one defining characteristic is glowing, green eyes that haunt the Chickamauga Battlefield — typically near Snodgrass Hill — at night.

We’ll let you decide which of the following you think those green eyes belong to:

  • Civil War soldier | In some tellings, the spirit of Green Eyes is that of a soldier who spends his days searching for his body that was buried without a head during battle.
  • Cryptid creature | Other legends say that the immense amount of blood that was shed during the Battle of Chickamauga attracted the “creature of great malice” known as Green Eyes. Different cryptid tales describe a long-haired, two-legged creature with fangs that has been around long before the war.
  • Tiger-like animal | Some say that the legend originated with the 125th Ohio Regiment, which saw a tiger-like creature with glowing green eyes near Snodgrass Hill.
  • Ambrose Bierce | An interesting theory hinted at by The Pulse in 2016 is that Ambrose Bierce, a veteran and writer who chronicled the horrors of the Civil War in his writing, is the spirit — in his article titled “A Wry Self-Portrait,” Bierce revealed that he had green eyes.
  • Deer | One more levelheaded (*cough* boring) explanation is that folks who claim to have seen Green Eyes actually saw deer standing in the field, which, thanks to tapetum lucidum, can appear to have glowing yellow-green eyes at night.

Strange happenings

While the creature or spirit isn’t known to be aggressive, per se, its sighting has allegedly been the cause of several car accidents — those who see it become so afraid that they crash.

Others who claim to see it may not have stayed long enough to find out just how cruel Green Eyes could be. Check out a few of these personal accounts.👇

Reddit | "... My cousin and I were deep in the battlefield a solid hour down some trail at about 3 a.m. when were heard what sounded like a human running through the woods at us at that exact moment all out [sic] equipment went insane and he screamed in pain. He said nothing was actually hurting but for a split second he got hit with something and the best way he could describe it was someone stabbing him in the gut then it immediately disappeared along with out [sic] equipment shutting off...” — gpenn16

Park ranger | Edward Tinney, a former historian + chief ranger at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, said that one night, he saw something that he could not explain. According to his story, one early morning in 1976, he went to check on battle reenactors who were camping in the park. While walking near Glenn Kelly Road, he encountered a tall man wearing a long black duster with long, black hair walking toward him. Tinney walked to the other side of the road, and when he passed the man, the person gave him a devilish grin as his green eyes glared: “The eyes — I’ll never forget those eyes — they were glaring, almost greenish-orange in color, flashing like some sort of wild animal.” At that moment, a car came down the road — when its headlights hit the apparition, it vanished.

Facebook | Green Eyes even has its own Facebook page... kind of. While it’s lacked updates in recent years, the page does have several anecdotes claiming sightings or stories (along with a healthy dose of skepticism). Here’s a comment from Facebook user Brandon B.: “I set a recorder in the bars one night from 12-2 a.m. and left. Listening back to the recording you can clearly hear a male and female voice talking but no one was there. I’ve also seen a lantern light float across the lawn in front of the [ Wilder] tower like the ones they used to hunt for lost loved ones after the war. Too many stories to tell. My ghost hunting friends have had several paranormal experiences in the battlefield. Its definitely the most haunted place I’ve been to! Lots of activity.”

See for yourself

If you’re up for a haunt, take a drive through the battlefield yourself. We recommend going on a gloomy day (how fitting that this Halloween is forecasted to be a cloudy one) and queuing up a perfect playlist — might we reccomend Coldplay’s “Green Eyes”?

Pro Tip: The visitors center closes at 5 p.m. + the park closes at sundown, so it’s best not to go roaming around after dark.