On July 4, 1859, Anthony Sherman—one of Washington’s soldiers at Valley Forge who was now 99 years old—was one of the last remaining veteran soldiers of the Revolution.
Before he died, he wanted to tell someone of an event he had witnessed at Valley Forge. So he asked his friend and journalist Wesley Bradshaw to meet him at Independence Hall—the place where the Declaration of Independence had been signed.
They sat down on a bench inside the hall, and the old man recounted a vision and prophecy Washington reportedly had received at Valley Forge. The prophecy spoke of a series of conflicts America had faced and would face, including wars and rumors of wars, whose descriptions sounded a lot like the war for independence, the American Civil War, and other future conflicts. The point of the vision was to tell Washington that America was God’s creation and would endure and be victorious over all these conflicts.
George Washington’s Vision at Valley Forge
Below is an excerpt from the report entitled “Washington’s Vision,” as told directly from the memory of Sherman while sitting in Independence Hall:
The darkest period we had, I think, was when Washington, after several reverses, retreated to Valley Forge, where he resolved to pass the winter of 1777. Ah! I have often seen the tears coursing down our dear commander’s careworn cheeks, as he would be conversing with a confidential officer about the condition of his poor soldiers. You have doubtless heard the story of Washington’s going to the thicket to pray. Well, it was not only true, but he used often 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 [in Valley Forge], the chilly winds whistled through the leafless trees, though the sky was cloudless and the sun shone brightly, [Washington] remained in his quarters nearly all afternoon alone. When he came out I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual, and there seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance.
Returning just after dusk, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters of the officer I mentioned who was presently in attendance. After a preliminary conversation of about half an hour, Washington, gazing upon his companion with that strange look of dignity which he alone could command, said to the latter: “I do not know whether it is owing to the anxiety of my mind, or what, but 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 . . . . 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.
“Presently I 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 strange scene. Before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world—Europe, Asia, Africa and America. . . . ‘Son of the Republic,’ said the same mysterious voice as before, ‘look and learn.’ At that moment I beheld . . .[another] 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 . . . . A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean, and sprinkled it out as before . . .”
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