(According to the National Tribune, December 1880, Anthony Sherman, a close friend of Washington, related this vision to Wesley Bradshaw.)
In a strategic moment in the Civil War, General George B. McClellan, who had been called by President Lincoln to take charge of the shattered Union forces, fell asleep at his desk. He had scarcely been asleep a moment, when it seemed that he was awake, and the whole room was filled with a radiant light. Suddenly, out of the light, he heard a voice, and later saw the face of George Washington, who gave him warning that the Confederate troops were on their way to take the Capitol.
Because of this, with something akin to supernatural knowledge, General McClellan was able to pursue Gen. Robert E. Lee, and stop the northern invasion by the Confederacy at Antietam, September, 1862. This vision was first reported in the Portland Evening Courier at the time the tide turned for the Union forces. Since that time, it has been written as a warning to the America people again and again because of its reference to the last war which will be fought toward the end of this century… when a great conflict could arise with the “oppressors of the whole earth” in which our land could be involved.
In General McClellan’s account of this vision, he relates that the voice of Washington, with penetrating clarity, called out to him:
“General McClellan, do you sleep at your post? Rouse you, or ’ere it can be prevented, the foe will be in Washington! … You have been betrayed, and had God not willed it otherwise, ’ere the sun of tomorrow had set, the Confederate flag would have waved above the Capitol and your own grave. But note what you see. Your time is short!”
In this strange dream state, General McClellan seemed to see a living map of all the troop positions—and with a pencil at hand, he began to copy down all that he saw—the positions of the Confederate troops as they marched toward Washington; the maneuvers which they planned in the future. After the warning of the immediate peril which faced the Union, the splendor of Washington became even greater as he spoke of the days ahead in this, the 20th century, when other perils could befall our nation.
“General McClellan, while yet in the flesh, I beheld the birth of the America Republic. It was indeed a hard and bloody one, but God’s blessing was upon the nation, and, therefore, through this, her first great struggle for existence. He sustained her, and with His mighty hand, He brought her out triumphantly.
“A century has not passed since then, and yet the child Republic has taken her position of peer with nations whose pages of history extend for ages into the past. She has, since those dark days, by the favor of God, greatly prospered. And now, by the very reason of that prosperity, has she been brought to her second great struggle.
“This is by far the most perilous ordeal she has to endure, passing as she is from childhood to open maturity, she is called on to accomplish that vast result, Self-Conquest; to learn that important lesson—self-control, self-rule, that in the future will place her in the van of power and civilization.
“It is here that all the nations have hitherto failed, and she, too—the Republic of the earth, had not God willed other wise—would by tomorrow’s sunset have been a heap of stones, cast up over the final grave of human liberty. But! her cries have come up out of the borders like sweet incense into heaven. She shall be saved! Then, shall peace be upon her, and prosperity shall fill her with joy.
“But her mission will not be finished, for ’ere another century shall have gone by, the oppressors of the whole earth, hating and envying her exaltation, shall join themselves together and raise up their hands against her.
“But if she be found worthy of her calling, they shall be truly discomfited, and then will be ended her third and last struggle for existence. Henceforth, shall the Republic go on, increasing in goodness and power until her borders shall end only in the remotest corners of the earth, and the whole earth shall, beneath her shadowy wings, become a universal republic!”
Upon hearing these words, General McClellan awoke to find the markings and symbols of the Confederate maneuvers upon his own maps as if his dream-pencil had actually placed them there. In his account of this strange precognitive experience, General McClellan wrote:
“… Our beloved, glorious Washington shall rest … until perhaps the end of the Prophetic Century approaches, that is to bring the Republic to a third and final struggle when he may once more … become a Messenger of Succor and Peace from the Great Ruler, who has all nations in his keeping …”