George Washington's Vision, Valley Forge, Winter of 1777
Conditions at Valley Forge - Winter of 1777
In the winter of 1777, prior to George Washington’s Vision at Valley Forge, the continental army had suffered defeats in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. The British forces occupied the capitol of the colonies at that time, which was Philadelphia, Pa. A brutal winter, unknown to the troops, was coming and food, as well as clothing, was scarce. The situation grew desperate as winter set in on the plains of Pennsylvania.
There was near famine and temperatures fell far below freezing. Winds blew with Gale force. Some soldiers had no shoes and wrapped their feet in rags. Trails of blood could be seen on the snow where they would walk. Amputations were common. Disease set in and as many as 3,000 troops died. Defeat and surrender seemed inevitable.
The British forces could have destroyed the continental army before winter but chose not to; a grave mistake. They instead decided to wait out the winter and prepare to take care of the colonists in the spring.
George Washington's Vision in the Winter of 1777
The story of George Washington’s Vision was originally published by Wesley Bradshaw. Copied from a reprint in the National Tribune, Vol. 4, No. 12, December 1880. First published there in 1859.
The Vision from print in 1859
The last time I ever saw Anthony Sherman was on the fourth of July, 1859, in Independence Square. He was then ninety-nine years old, and becoming very feeble. But though so old, his dimming eyes rekindled as he gazed upon Independence Hall, which he came to visit once more. “Let us go into the hall,” he said. “I want to tell you of an incident of Washington’s life—one which no one alive knows of except myself; and, if you live you will before long, see it verified.
George Washington would hardly have been the type of man that one would expect to be seeking visionary manifestations or to be easily taken in by them. “From the opening of the Revolution we experienced all phases of fortune, now good and now ill, one time victorious and another conquered. 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 care-worn 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 into 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.
An Uninvited Guest
“One day, I remember it well, 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, 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 mention 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 into 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.
Strange Sensations precede the Vision
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. Even thought itself had become paralyzed. A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitant.
Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed as though becoming filled with sensations, and luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarify, the mysterious visitor herself becoming more airy and yet more distinct to my sight than before. I now began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensations which I have sometimes imagined accompany dissolution. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move; all were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly, vacantly at my companion.
The First Threat
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. 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 it sank from view.
The Second Threat
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 spectre 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.
The Third Threat
“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 countries arose thick, black clouds that were soon joined into one. And 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, which country was enveloped in the volume of cloud.
And I dimly saw these vast armies devastate the whole country and burn the villages, towns and cities that I beheld springing up. As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, clashing of swords, 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 well-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 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.
Washington's Spiritual Habits
Nelly was ten years old when Washington was called to the Presidency, and she grew to maturity during his two terms. During that time, she traveled with Washington and walked amidst the great foreign and domestic names of the day. On Washington’s retirement, she returned with the family to Mount Vernon. Nelly was energetic, spry, and lively, and was the joy of George Washington’s life. She served as a gracious hostess and entertained the frequent guests to Mount Vernon who visited the former President.
Clearly, Nelly was someone who knew the private and public life of her “father” very well. Therefore, Jared Sparks, in searching for information on Washington’s religious habits, dispatched a letter to Nelly, asking if she knew for sure whether George Washington indeed was a Christian. Within a week, she had replied to Sparks, and Sparks included her letter in Volume XII of Washington’s writings in the lengthy section on Washington’s religious habits. Of that specific letter, Jared Sparks explained:
I shall here insert a letter on this subject, written to me by a lady who lived twenty years in Washington’s family and who was his adopted daughter, and the granddaughter of Mrs. Washington. The testimony it affords, and the hints it contains respecting the domestic habits of Washington, are interesting and valuable.
Woodlawn, 26 February, 1833
I received your favor of the 20th instant last evening, and hasten to give you the information, which you desire.
Churches of George Washington
Truro Parish [Episcopal] is the one in which Mount Vernon, Pohick Church [the church where George Washington served as a vestryman], and Woodlawn [the home of Nelly and Lawrence Lewis] are situated. Fairfax Parish is now Alexandria. Before the Federal District was ceded to Congress, Alexandria was in Fairfax County. General Washington had a pew in Pohick Church, and one in Christ Church at Alexandria. He was very instrumental in establishing Pohick Church, and I believe subscribed [supported and contributed to] largely. His pew was near the pulpit. I have a perfect recollection of being there, before his election to the presidency, with him and my grandmother…
He attended the church at Alexandria when the weather and roads permitted a ride of ten miles [a one-way journey of 2-3 hours by horse or carriage]. In New York and Philadelphia he never omitted attendance at church in the morning, unless detained by indisposition [sickness]. The afternoon was spent in his own room at home; the evening with his family, and without company. Sometimes an old and intimate friend called to see us for an hour or two; but visiting and visitors were prohibited for that day [Sunday].
No one in church attended to the services with more reverential respect. My grandmother, who was eminently pious, never deviated from her early habits. She always knelt. The General, as was then the custom, stood during the devotional parts of the service. On communion Sundays, he left the church with me, after the blessing, and returned home, and we sent the carriage back for my grandmother.
His Daily Habits
It was his custom to retire to his library at nine or ten o’clock where he remained an hour before he went to his chamber. He always rose before the sun and remained in his library until called to breakfast. I never witnessed his private devotions. I never inquired about them. I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those who act or pray, “that they may be seen of men” [Matthew 6:5]. He communed with his God in secret [Matthew 6:6].
My mother [Eleanor Calvert-Lewis] resided two years at Mount Vernon after her marriage [in 1774] with John Parke Custis, the only son of Mrs. Washington. I have heard her say that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother before the revolution. (The king of England was the head of the church and apparently Washington would not recognize him as such after the war). When my aunt, Miss Custis [Martha’s daughter] died suddenly at Mount Vernon, before they could realize the event [before they understood she was dead], he [General Washington] knelt by her and prayed most fervently, most affectingly, for her recovery. Of this I was assured by Judge [Bushrod] Washington’s mother and other witnesses.
He was a silent, thoughtful man. He spoke little generally; never of himself. I never heard him relate a single act of his life during the war. I have often seen him perfectly abstracted, his lips moving, but no sound was perceptible. I have sometimes made him laugh most heartily from sympathy with my joyous and extravagant spirits.
I was, probably, one of the last persons on earth to whom he would have addressed serious conversation, particularly when he knew that I had the most perfect model of female excellence [Martha Washington] ever with me as my monitress, who acted the part of a tender and devoted parent, loving me as only a mother can love, and never extenuating [tolerating] or approving in me what she disapproved of others. She never omitted her private devotions, or her public duties; and she and her husband were so perfectly united and happy that he must have been a Christian. She had no doubts, no fears for him. After forty years of devoted affection and uninterrupted happiness, she resigned him without a murmur into the arms of his Savior and his God, with the assured hope of his eternal felicity [happiness in Heaven].
Is it necessary that any one should certify, “General Washington avowed himself to me a believer in Christianity?” As well may we question his patriotism, his heroic, disinterested devotion to his country. His mottos were, “Deeds, not Words”; and, “For God and my Country.”
With sentiments of esteem,
I am, Nelly Custis-Lewis
Death and Accounts of The First President
In the 1700s, there were no pictures or photos or even I-phones to take pictures. All they had were paintings. If they were fortunate and wealthy, there might be a few in their house. No one would have a painting in their home unless it were of a subject they liked. If it was of a person, they had to have importance to the person who owned the painting.
Paintings in his possession
If George Washington’s Vision did not take place, I believe he would not have acquired the painting. Think about that. He would have known little to nothing about the Blessed Virgin, and he would have little interest in her.
But it was there and in his possession at his death. A reference to the Madonna painting can be found on page 287 of Edward Everitt’s “Life of George Washington” that was printed in 1860. It lists every item of his property that was of his estate at his death.
What I have learned from My Experiences
After my encounters with the Virgin Mary, it took me some time for me to make my experiences known, even to my own family. It was not that I was ashamed, just the opposite. It was such a tremendous experience and I felt unable to explain it. I began to acquire books and information about the Virgin Mary, then the pictures came. None of this happened overnight.
What did happen overnight for me was an unquenchable interest in the Virgin Mary and the spiritual and it never stops. She is part of my life every single day and this is what I have been given whether anyone agrees with it or not. I cannot change it and have no desire to.
The Evidence is Present
A tremendous amount of my time has been spent on spiritual things by choice. I can completely understand someone who spends a few hours every day in bible study after an event like this vision happens to them. It can easily continue until their life’s end and probably will.
But, in my opinion, there has to be an intersection between the person (George Washington) and the subject (the Virgin Mary), or there would be no evidence that the experience ever occurred. In this case, a singularly beautiful female exposed herself to him and showed him the future.
As listed in the estate property below, the evidence is there.
These two paintings are listed in the right-hand column of the estate property above.
Who is the Guest in George Washington's Vision
Background of Locutions to the World
On December 10, 2010, a Pennsylvanian soul began receiving heavenly messages from Jesus Christ and The Blessed Virgin Mary under the guidance of John Esseff, a priest who was the soul’s spiritual director at the time.
John Esseff, a diocesan priest from Scranton, PA was ordained in 1953 and had acquired an impressive list of spiritual qualifications prior to 2010.
His spiritual director was Padre Pio early on, and John Esseff was also the spiritual director to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
The messages were called Locutions to the World and had an internet website name of locutionstotheworld.org. In 2015, the website shutdown, was suspended and then abruptly disappeared.
There is a priest I know from South Carolina, that after having encounters with the Virgin Mary myself, I began to visit every so often in order to discuss what was going on in my spiritual life. He told me, having met the gentleman Esseff, that he had died although he never said what the reason was for the website shutdown. I have since had contact with his sister, who worked for Mother Teresa for 10 years, and I understand he is still alive.
George Washington's Vision Mentioned
Prior to meeting the priest from South Carolina Fr. Stanley Smolinski, I discovered the messages (this happened in 2012 I believe) of the Locutions to the World and began to read them, and I found them to be very helpful in my understanding of Catholicism as well as a large assortment of other spiritual topics. At the time, new messages were coming out two or three times weekly and I would add them to my collection (I have them all) and I would read and ponder them when new ones were available. As the messages came out, I could see some of them come to pass.
I came across a message in which the Virgin Mary mentioned George Washington’s Vision at Valley Forge and a woman showed him future events of the United States and an interpretation of the messages given to him. I had never heard of this before and it really captured my attention. I researched it and found it to be an accurate account regardless of what others thought.
The two messages are listed below in their original form and are quite interesting.
Locutions Referencing George Washington's Vision
September 4, 2011 - When the Woman Spoke to George Washington
So many do not see or understand. That is why I must speak so clearly. Like a wall that is built slowly, so has the wall of evil has been put in place. When the wall is finished, Satan will believe that he has an inevitable victory, but it will not be so. There will be a way out of his wall for all who follow me. Now listen, so the divine light will show you the way.
The Secular Man
These themes I repeat often but they must be learned well. There are unimaginable problems ahead. The world has seen only a few, the previews of what is to come. There will be a great shift of power away from those nations that used to call upon me. Yes, I must say it, “that used to call upon me”. Long ago, they left the Church. They left the side of my Son. They adopted different values and put on a different garment. Now, they are Christian in name only.
Their building still stands but they have no foundation. Their people are not united in faith.
They have nothing holding them together. The secular spirit only responds in prosperity and abundance. It dissolves when faced with catastrophe. “Every man for himself”. This is the cry of the secular man. “How can I preserve what is mine?” are the thoughts of his heart. Where does that leave a nation in the time of crisis? To whom can they turn when all are seeking their own interests?
America still breathes. It still has life. It still remains my hope. If only I can cure it of its sickness, it will regain its strength. Even more, it will regain its purpose, the noble purpose for which I brought it forth. Let me define the purpose of America.
O America, I appeared to your first president when he was still a general at Valley Forge. I told him of three moments in the history of the republic – the present moment in which he found himself, a future moment when brother would kill brother, and a moment yet to come. Go back and read those words. They are recorded by your historians. See what I said about the first two moments that have already happened. Then, you will believe my words about the third moment which is about to happen. More important, you will understand that this republic came about through my hands and that your nation has always been in my hands. Then, you will turn to me.
Mary is speaking of her appearance to George Washington at Valley Forge, which has been publicized widely.
September 3, 2014 - The Woman and George Washington
I must begin to prepare, especially since all are seeing, for the first time, the extent of the evils and the possibilities for destruction that they hold. Many evils are still hidden, soon to appear, claiming even more of what seemed to be so stable. A hopelessness and an inevitability set in, as if the only choice is just to watch passively as this new force makes its conquests.
My message is quite different, “Prepare”, I say. “Awaken to the powers that lie in your faith. Your faith alone can save you. This is my promise, ‘Fill your churches and I will raise up leaders who will guide you in my ways. I will strengthen the hearts of the people and make firm their resolve. They will sweep away the years of debauchery. They will instill new ideals of morality. The hearts of the young will turn back to me (for they especially will see their future being taken away)’”.
The Spirit of God must come upon America. The conversions must be true and deep. All of these evils would never have arisen if America had stayed true to the light. It is not too late but there must be no delay. An unprepared America will shatter into many pieces. An America prepared by an outpouring of the Spirit will respond. I prophesied these times to George Washington, the son of the Republic. Read my words. They will reveal a woman who has always cared for America and has promised her salvation.
One morning at Valley Forge, a woman appeared to George Washington and prophesied three events. First, he would win the Revolutionary War and bring about the union. Second, there would be a civil war but the woman would preserve the union. Both of these have happened. The third event concerns ten nations that come against the United States, which is saved only by the actions of the woman. This account was published in the Philadelphia Tribune and is available on the internet.
What I believe Took Place At Valley Forge
Difficulty in Converting
The Virgin Mary greatly influenced my decision to convert to Catholicism, and she led me to the Catholic Church. Read my incredible conversion story here.
I experienced a lot of apprehension as I made my decision. I expect anyone who follows this same path to experience some level of apprehension especially if they are from a heavily dense protestant area.
The change from protestant to catholic weighed heavily on my mind but when I changed from one protestant denomination to another, I do not recall ever experiencing this. It is possible that I knew a lot of people in the new denomination every time I changed from one protestant church to another.
It took seven years since my first encounter with the Virgin Mary to convert to Catholicism, although the time that I was seriously considering the change was maybe three or four years.
For some reason, becoming catholic was a very significant decision for me. I often questioned what I was getting into. And if I did not like it, could I reverse it?
I consecrated myself to her prior to becoming catholic. In the end, I just left everything to her as I finally put in her hands all things. I trusted her. All of this took a long while for me to accomplish, so I could see waiting until I was on my deathbed to do this.
The Only Female
One more thing bears mentioning here. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the only spiritual female who appears to people on this planet with any frequency. A lot of the time she appears to a number of people at once as she does in a number of apparitions. That is certainly not a rule.
There is no one else. No other female in the last two thousand years.
You don’t believe me? Check out this website (Miracle Hunter) that lists all of her apparitions that are known to have occurred over the last 2,000 years. The list is very long. Or take a look at this World Map of Virgin Mary Apparitions that originated with National Geographic.
I believe the visitor in George Washington’s Vision was the Virgin Mary just as the locutions state. After all, she visited me. That, I do know.
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