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  • Bryan Williams

A Reported Psychic Vision During the American Revolution

Among the conflicts that were influential in turning the course of the American Revolutionary War (which serves as the historical background for the Independence Day - aka., "4th of July" - holiday commonly observed in the United States) were the two Battles of Saratoga, which took place in September and October of 1777, and ultimately ended in the surrender of General John Burgoyne's large British force that was invading the northern colony of New York. One of the casualties suffered by the British during the Battle of Bemis Heights (the second Saratoga battle, which broke out on October 7th) was Brigadier General Simon Fraser, who was struck by rifle fire while he was actively directing his troops on the battlefield. Intriguingly, there's a written account that can be found in Edmund Gurney, Frederic Myers, and Frank Podmore's classic 1886 anthology Phantasms of the Living which claims that very near the time that General Fraser had been shot, his wife (who was across the ocean in England) had suddenly experienced a psychic vision relating to the incident. This account (which appears listed as Case #586 in Volume II of Ref. 1) came directly from a distant relative of Fraser's wife, and went as follows: One of my...grand-aunts was Mrs. F[raser], married to an officer, Major or Colonel F[raser] of the Dragoons, serving in [King] George III's time in America. He was killed at the [second] battle of Saratoga. My aunt lived at the time in Portland Place, W., and was entertaining a large party one evening. Suddenly they remarked [that] she seemed to be in great pain and agony, exclaiming quite aloud to her guests, "Oh do go home. I have seen a most fearful sight, and am compelled to break up the party." Some of her most intimate friends asked her what she had seen. She replied that she was certain "her husband F[raser] had been killed in a battle, and that she most distinctly saw his body being carried to the rear by his soldiers." She remained in great anxiety for weeks, when the sad news confirming her vision arrived from America, and that at the hour she made the exclamation to her guests, her husband F[raser] of the Dragoons (allowing for difference of longitude) was killed in an attack made on the enemy at the [second] battle of Saratoga. [1, Vol. II, pp. 538 - 539] Gurney, Myers, and Podmore further noted: We find from Burgoyne's Campaign by Charles Neilson (Albany, 1844) that Brigadier-General F[raser] was wounded at the [second] battle of Saratoga, at 2 p.m. on Oct. 7, 1777, but did not die till 8 a.m. on Oct. 8. From Letters and Memoirs Relating to the American War of Independence by Madame [Frederika Charlotte] Riedesel (Translation, New York, 1827), we learn that he was carried to Madame Riedesel's hut at about 3 p.m., which would correspond with about 8 p.m. in London; and that during the afternoon, while he was lying mortally wounded, he frequently uttered his wife's name. [1, Vol. II, p. 539] This account seems similar to a few other instances of ostensible telepathy that have been reported in the parapsychological literature, where some individuals report experiencing a sudden psychic impression around the time when someone they know is apparently calling out to them from a considerable distance. In one such instance [2, Case #12, pp. 61 - 64], a woman named Mrs. Hurth said a strong impression of her little daughter being in danger had suddenly come over her, very close to the time that her daughter was narrowly hit by a car. In recounting the incident from her own perspective, the daughter (who'd been more than a block away from the family home at the time) said: I can distinctly remember screaming inaudibly [sic] "Mama! Mama!" I don't believe I made any sound because I was so terrified, but before the driver of the car stopped me, I made a silent plea for my mother that I believe she received. [2, p. 63] The account is also consistent with the situational context of other reported psychic experiences, which often take place in relation to events that can have a negative impact (such as accidents, serious illness, or brushes with death). [2-5] A fair amount of psychic experiences have also been found to occur within the context of war [e.g., see Ch. 10 of Ref. 5], and at least one survey study seems to suggest that the people who tend to most often experience these ESP-related dreams, intuitions, and visions during wartime are women. [4, p. 17] The fact that General Fraser's wife was the one who reportedly experienced the vision would seem to be in line with this latter finding. The PRF would like to wish a pleasant and safe 4th of July holiday to those observing it in the U.S. *********** References: [1] Gurney, E., Myers, F. W. H., & Podmore, F. (1886). Phantasms of the Living (2 vols.). London: Trubner & Company. [2] Stevenson, I. (1970). Telepathic Impressions: A Review and Report of Thirty-Five New Cases. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia. [3] Rhine, L. E. (1964). Factors influencing the range of information in ESP experiences. Journal of Parapsychology, 28, 176 - 213. [4] Schouten, S. A. (1981). Analysing spontaneous cases: A replication based on the Sannwald collection. European Journal of Parapsychology, 4, 9 - 48. [5] Feather, S. R., & Schmicker, M. (2005). The Gift: ESP, Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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