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Observations placeholder

The prophecies of John R. Davis, a soldier in the American Civil War, born in South Wales



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Premonitions: A leap in to the future – Herbert Greenhouse [1971]

In 1895, the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research published a letter from Major E. C. Dawes of the 53rd Ohio Regiment, in which he described the three predictions of John Davis, all of which had come true.

Davis was forty-four years old, past the usual age for military service. Although he had been born in South Wales, he enlisted in the Union Army in the early 1860s. Major E. C. Dawes of the 53rd Ohio Regiment had good cause to remember Davis, because the man seemed to know more about the Army's plans than either he or his superior officers.

In August, 1863, the 53rd Ohio was stationed at Messenger's Fort on the Black River, sixteen miles east of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Orders had come to Dawes from General Sherman to take the division to Natchez, Mississippi. While Dawes was riding into camp one day, he spotted Private Davis policing the grounds. The man did not look well, and Dawes told the sergeant to relieve him of duty. Then he invited Davis into his tent.

"Well, Davis," he said genially. "We are going to Natchez."

Davis shook his head.

"No, sir, the division is not going to Natchez. The regiment is not going."

"How do you know so much?" asked the astonished major. "When did you take command of the army?"

Davis repeated - respectfully but firmly - that the regiment was not going to Natchez. He had seen in a dream that the troops would be "marching off the transports at Memphis." Further, he could see Dawes "on the deck, pointing."

"And where will you be, Davis?"

"I am not there. I am going to die."

The order to go to Natchez was changed. One of Davis' predictions came true on September 5, after the battle of Chicamauga, when he died. Then the regiment was ordered to Chattanooga by way of Vicksburg and Memphis.

Arriving at Memphis, the troops "marched off the transport," as Davis had seen in his dream. Dawes was about to leave the troop ship, when he saw the Lieutenant Colonel of the Regiment, who had been ill, standing on the wharf.

Major Dawes leaned over the rail and called the attention of the guards to his superior officer, pointing at him. As he pointed, he recalled the third prediction of Davis.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps