A remarkable Phenomenon...a Chapter of similar ones.
A writer in the Staunton Spectator, dating at Lewisburg, Greenbrier county, Va., Sept. 15th, writes to that paper a description of a remarkable atmospheric phenomenon witnessed in that town. It was seen by our pickets a few miles from the town. The same scene has been described in several respectable papers, the editors of which all vouch for the reliability of their informants. The writer says: ‘ A remarkable phenomenon was witnessed a few miles west of this place, at the house of Mrs. Pearey, on the first day of this month, at about 3 o'clock P. M., by Mr. Moses Dwyer, her neighbor, who happened to be scatted in her porch at the time, as well as by others at or near the house. The weather was quite hot and dry, not a cloud could be seen, no wind even ruffled the foliage on the surrounding trees. All things being propitious, the grand panorama began to move. Just over and through the tops of the trees on the adjacent hills on the South, immense numbers of rolls resembling cotton or smoke, apparently of the size and shape of doors, seemed to be passing rapidly through the air, yet in beautiful order and regularity. The rolls seemed to be tinged on the edge with light green, so as to resemble a border or deep fringe. There were apparently thousands of them, and were, perhaps, an hour in getting by Alter these had passed over and out of sight the scene was changed from the air above to the earth beneath, and became more intensely interesting to the spectators who were witnessing the panorama from different stand-points. In the deep valley beneath, thousands upon thousands of (apparently) human beings (men) came in view traveling in the same direction of the rolls, marching in good order, some thirty or forty in depth, moving rapidly--&double-quick&--and commenced ascending the sides of the almost insurmountable hills opposite, and had the stoop peculiar to men when they ascend a steep mountain. There seemed to be great variety in the size of the men, some were very large whilst others were quite small. Their arms, legs, and heads could be distinctly seen in motion. They seemed to observe strict military discipline, and there were no strugglers. There was uniformity of dress, loose white blouses or shirts, with white pants, wore hats, and were without guns, swords, or anything that indicated &men of war.& On they came through the valley and over the steep hill crossing the road, and finally passing out of sight, in a direction due north from those who were looking on. The gentleman who witnessed this is a man with whom you were once acquainted, Mr. Editor, and as truthful a man as we have in this county, and as little liable to be carried away by &fanciful speculations.& as any man living. Four others (respectable ladies) and a servant girl witnessed this strange phenomenon. W. P. S.--On the 14th inst the same scene, almost identical, was seen by eight or ten of our pickets at Bunger's Mill, and by many of the citizens in that neighborhood, this is about four miles cast of Pearcy's. It was about one hour passing. ’
a writer in the Spectator argues that the phenomenon described above was a mirage, and gives the following similar instances.
- 1st. On July 26th, 1797, about 5 P. M., at Hastings, on the south coast of England, a large portion of the coast of France appeared to a number of observers so distinctly, that sailors, who were spectators of the scene, pointed out to the narrator and witness of the phenomenon a number of places easily recognized with the naked eye, but further increased in distinctness by the use of the telescope. Places known as the Bay, the Old Head, and Dover Cliffs, even the French fishing boats, and portions of the French coast at a distance from 80 to 90 miles, all appearing as near as if they were sailing at a small distance from the coast.
- 2d. In the Highlands of Scotland, in 1774, Mr. Wren and others observed upon an extremely precipitous hill the figure of a man, with a dog, pursuing several horses, all running at a most rapid rate, until they finally disappeared, all of which proved to be a more scene similar to others of the kind.--Some time afterward, in the same locality, as observed by the inhabitants for miles around, there was seen a troop of horsemen advancing in close ranks and at a brisk pace. The various evolutions through which the troops passed were distinctly visible, and observed by all. These appearances were supposed to be the images of a body of rebels drilling themselves previous to the rebellion of 1745.
- 3d. The "Spectre of the Brocken" in the Hertz Mountains in Germany, which is of frequent occurrence, representing oftentimes a magnified image of the observer, and obeying all of his motions, is too well known to allude to more definitely.
- 4th. On Sunday, the 17th December, 1826, the clergy in the vicinity of Poitiers, in France, were engaged in the exercises of the jubilee which preceded the festival of Christmas. Three thousand spectators were present. They had planted, as part of the ceremony, a large cross, 25 feet high and painted red, in the open air before the church. --About 5 in the afternoon a similar celestial cross suddenly appeared in the heavens, about 200 feet above the horizon, and apparently about 140 feet in length, of a bright silver color, tinged with red.