Monday, March 4, 2013

George Washington and an Incredible Vision at Valley Forge...

As you can imagine, there are a ton of stories out there surrounding the birth of our nation, some based on fact and some now relegated to the corners of legend. Not surprising many of those legends involve George Washington, the presiding authority of the Continental Army. I found several that intrigued me while writing my ghostly paranormal romance,  "Spirit of the Revolution..."

Here's my favorite...

The annals of history say the winter of 1777-78 was uncommonly cold. Historical documents tell us that Washington’s troops were sick, starving, and freezing to death. Morale among the dispirited troops had fallen to its lowest point. Disease took the lives of over two thousand good men. More than half of what was left of his army had every intention of going home once their terms of service ended. Whispers abounded that a disheartened General Washington toyed with the idea of surrender.

George Washington by Peale 177
During this tumultuous time, our beloved first president had an encounter with the paranormal, or so the story goes. You see, we find printed in the National Tribune of 1880--a century after the fact--a story concerning this encounter. According to the alleged witness, (one Anthony Sherman,) George Washington had an unexpected visitor. This beautiful, ethereal spirit—some say angel—appeared before him, startling him half out of his wits. After several attempts to inquire as to her purpose, she pointed east, and said, “Son of the Republic, look and learn.” She then showed him in vision several episodes of conflict involving his beloved country.

There are those who interpret these conflicts as America’s triumph over England, the Civil War, and then scenes from World War I and II. In the last conflict all nations were arrayed against America
Very cool...right?

But hold on a minute. There are a few problems with this account. We do find the name Anthony Sherman in historical records pertaining to the Revolutionary War and his participation in the Continental Army. However, his pension records state that he was at Saratoga with Benedict Arnold near the end of the year in 1777, not at Valley Forge. He didn’t join the main forces in New Jersey until just before the battle of Monmouth, which occurred in June of 1778.

We can’t find any other Eighteenth century source to support the ‘vision’ story, and it’s noticeably absent from Washington’s personal papers. Such a momentous incident would probably have at least a mention in Washington’s diary, wouldn’t it? Then again, perhaps Washington didn’t mention it because he didn’t want people to think the war had affected his sanity.

And while we mull this story over in our minds, don’t forget the claims of many credible people who, while visiting Valley Forge, have heard the cries of otherworldly voices, the sounds of shuffling feet, wearily meandering into camp, yet there isn't a single mortal body to go along with those sounds. We also have accounts of misty apparitions, floating into the crude cabins built during the war. Oh, and did I mention the sound of the flute and the drum, when no one is present to play them?

So...back to Washington. Do we attribute this account as mere legend, a story of the divine, a morale booster . . . or did it really happen?

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts...


  1. awesome.. I think he did see it...Thats my story and Im stickin to it....

  2. That's one for reality! Do I hear any more???

    Thanks Tammy, I love it when you drop by...

  3. I won't discount it, that's for sure. And I got goosebumps reading it! I've visited Valley Forge a bunch of times...walked in those cabins, biked on the trails. It's tucked back off the roads and has a quietness all it's own. Unlike Gettysburg, which is a huge battlefield park, Valley Forge is small. Maybe that's part of it's quietness. I love the photo you found with the stormy sky in the background :)

    I always enjoy your posts!

  4. Perhaps that reverence you speak of comes from the spirits that have chosen to remain behind and it's their way of reminding all those who visit just what happened their during that cold winter of 1777-78. Just a thought...

    Thanks for stopping by Mae!