I read an email yesterday which contained a reference to an apparition by an unknown being to George Washington at Valley Forge who revealed to him the future course of the new nation, using words like “Son of the Republic, look and learn!” I had never heard of this account before, so I was intrigued by the idea of such a vision. I did a search for a longer account discussing the vision, and it seems to have originated in the mid-nineteenth century. It begins:
This afternoon, as I was sitting at this table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld standing opposite me a singularly beautiful female. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of her presence. A second, a third and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor except a slight raising of her eyes.
By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to address her, but my tongue had become useless, as though it had become paralyzed.
You can keep reading the whole account.
The story was apparently told by an old veteran of the American Revolution and recorded by a man named Wesley Bradshaw. I did a search in Google Books for the earliest reference to this story, and it came in a book published in 1861. I would have put a link to the exact book here but for some odd reason, Google does not want to show me the book I was able to pull up just yesterday(!).
Anyway, the Snopes article puts the vision as purely false. It says that the story was written by Bradshaw as a kind of “patriotic fiction” (my words, not theirs) and that the author wrote other pieces of a similar type during the Civil War. It pointed to the references to the Union in the account as helping to essentially place it as a piece of Civil War propaganda. Here is one such reference in the Washington account:
Then once more I beheld the villages, towns and cities springing up where I had seen them before, while the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried with a loud voice: “While the stars remain, and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last.” And taking from his brow the crown on which blazoned the word “Union,” he placed it upon the Standard while the people, kneeling down, said, “Amen.”
I did notice that the Snopes story got at least one aspect of the story factually incorrect when it put the age of the veteran storyteller, Anthony Sherman, as being 99-years-old at the time of the telling. In the source from 1861 that I read just yesterday, it clearly said he was 91-years old. This is only mildly material but it may suggest that there were some incorrect re-printings of the account somewhere along the line.
Searching around the internet, there seem to be people who give this account credibility.
Anyway, has anyone else come across this account before?