There have been various accounts of “George Washington’s vision,” and they all agree in their basic content. There have been only minor variations in some details as the story was repeated over the years by those to whom it was told by General Washington.
First, let’s establish the setting.
It was the bitterly cold winter of 1777 at a place called Valley Forge (Valley Forge is located in Pennsylvania, about 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia).
Washington’s army had been turned back several times by the British and the situation was desperate. Food was scarce. The Continental Congress was not sending supplies or money. Some of the troops did not even have shoes to wear in the snow! Many soldiers were sick and dying from disease and exposure. Morale was at an all-time low and there was great stirring in the Colonies against the continued effort to secure our freedom from England.
The dream of a new and free country, ruled by the people, was beginning to fade and die.
Nevertheless, General Washington was determined to see the struggle through. Why was Washington so confident even though everything seemed to be against him and his army?
In 1880, in a newspaper called “The National Tribune,” an article appeared giving an account of “The Vision of Washington at Valley Forge.”
The account had been written by a gentleman named Anthony Sherman, who supposedly was at Valley Forge, with General Washington, during the winter of 1777-78. The story has been published several times.
Here is what Anthony Sherman wrote:
You have undoubtedly heard the story of Washington going to the thicket to pray in secret for aid and comfort from God, the interposition of whose Divine Providence brought us safely through the darkest days of tribulation.
One day, I remember it well, when the chilly winds whistled through the leafless trees, though the sky was cloudless and the sun shone brightly, he remained in his quarters nearly all the afternoon alone. When he came out, I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual. There seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance. Returning just after dusk, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters who was presently in attendance. After a preliminary conversation of about an hour, Washington, gazing upon his companion with that strange look of dignity which he alone commanded, related the events that had occurred that day.
General George Washington went on to say:
“This afternoon, as I was sitting at my table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something disturbed 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 I repeated 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 my desire to move impossible. I attempted once more to address her, but my tongue had become useless, as though it had become paralyzed.”
“All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed as if it had become luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarefy, the mysterious visitor herself becoming more airy and yet more distinct to my sight than before.”
“Presently I then heard a voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn,’ while at the same time my visitor extended her arm eastwardly, I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I looked upon a stranger scene. Before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and America. I saw rolling and tossing between Europe and America the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America lay the Pacific.”
“‘Son of the Republic,’ said the same mysterious voice as before, ‘look and learn.’ At that moment I beheld a dark, shadowy being, like an angel, standing or rather floating in mid-air, between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand, he sprinkled some upon America with his right hand, while with his left hand he cast some on Europe. Immediately a cloud raised from these countries, and joined in mid-ocean. For a while it remained stationary, and then moved slowly westward, until it enveloped America in its murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through it at intervals, and I heard the smothered groans and cries of the American people.”
“A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean, and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud was then drawn back to the ocean, in whose heaving billows in sank from view. A third time I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn,’ I cast my eyes upon America and beheld villages and towns and cities springing up one after another until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific was dotted with them.”
“Again, I heard the mysterious voice say, ‘Son of the Republic, the end of the century cometh, look and learn.’ At this the dark shadowy angel turned his face southward, and from Africa I saw an ill-omened specter approach our land. It flitted slowly over every town and city of the latter. The inhabitants presently set themselves in battle array against each other. As I continued looking I saw a bright angel, on whose brow rested a crown of light, on which was traced the word ‘Union,’ bearing the American flag which he placed between the divided nation and said, ‘Remember ye are brethren.’ Instantly, the inhabitants, casting from them their weapons became friends once more, and united around the National Standard.”
“And again I heard the mysterious voice saying ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ At this the dark, shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his mouth, and blew three distinct blasts; and taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it upon Europe, Asia and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene: From each of these continents arose thick, black clouds that were soon joined into one. Throughout this mass there gleamed a dark red light by which I saw hordes of armed men, who, moving with the cloud, marched by land and sailed by sea to America. Our country was enveloped in this volume of cloud, and I saw these vast armies devastate the whole county and burn the villages, towns and cities that I beheld springing up. As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, clashing of sword, and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat, I heard again the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ When the voice had ceased, the dark shadowy angel placed his trumpet once more to his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast. Instantly a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me, and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At the same moment the angel upon whose head still shone the word Union, and who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword in the other, descended from the heavens attended by legions of white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, who I perceived were will nigh overcome, but who immediately taking courage again, closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle.”
“Again, amid the fearful noise of the conflict, I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ As the voice ceased, the shadowy angel for the last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious!”
“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 (bright blue) 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.’”
“The scene instantly began to fade and dissolve, and I at last saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I at first beheld. This also disappearing, I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious visitor, who, in the same voice I had heard before, said, ‘Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union.’ With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown to me the birth, progress, and destiny of the United States.”
BELIEVE IT, OR NOT!
A little bit more about George Washington, the man:
George Washington was born, February 22, 1732 and died December 14, 1799. He was the first President of the United States (1789–1797), the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the convention that drafted the current United States Constitution and during his lifetime was called the “father of his country.”
Many students of history consider George Washington to be the greatest man who ever lived, as do I. Certainly, he was the greatest American. A brilliant, educated, successful man who risked everything for the freedom of our country.
“Washington was a man of great moral character. He was forthright, honest, charitable, and a gentle man of quiet modesty and proper deportment, considerate, kind and courteous.”
Washington was also a man of great talent. He was knowledgeable in agriculture, he was a surveyor with an established reputation, and early in life became a land owner of some importance and considerable wealth.
He was held in such respect that at the age of 21 he was made a Major in the Virginia Militia, and so distinguished himself that at the age of 23 was made Commander in Chief of the Frontier Forces of Virginia.
Washington had a commanding appearance. He was the most physically impressive of all of our Presidents, and in his prime stood over 6 feet 4 inches tall and was a lean and powerful 225 pounds. In addition, this handsome figure had a distinct military bearing.
Most important of all, Washington was a man with a total sense of responsibility, unquestioned integrity and deep devotion to God.
How was he able to defeat the British, however, with the odds stacked against him, and the colonies, in every way?
Let’s not forget that, the British military was the best in the world at that time. It had conquered much of the world and prevailed in war after war over the past century. It was well-trained, fully-equipped, and 50,000 troops strong. If you add in the 30,000 Hessian (German) mercenaries hired to fight the colonists, the British forces outnumbered the colonial forces four to one. George Washington never commanded a force of more than 20,000 troops at any given time.
Adding to that, the colonial troops were mostly inexperienced, ill-equipped and unprepared.
Ultimately, the Americans somehow miraculously prevailed. General Washington just refused to accept defeat. He willed his army on to victory. Failure just was not an option.
Upon winning the Revolutionary War with England, most Americans were so respectful and trusting of George Washington that they wanted to make him their king! A king! The very thing they were fighting to get freedom from in the first place! George Washington respectfully declined their offer, was elected our first president, and the rest as they say is history.
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