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The White Cavalry


The White Cavalry : This is my Army

So, anyways, you want to hear a Ghost Story that you are just not going to believe - unless, of course, you are like me?

You know, when I was a teenager up visiting my older sister in Barton for a weekend, her and her hubby wanted me to babysit his nephew and they sent us off to the movies on his birthday and I can't remember what the movie was cause I was half asleep anyways but at some point in the movie, the scene was a battlefield during, I believe, the first world war and this Angelic Army show up on the battlefield to help the good guys.

So, years later, in 1983, I'm over in Europe in Mons, Belgium and turns out that I later learned that there was an Angelic Army that appeared to rout the Germans and give the Brits time to retreat to a more secure location which, probably, saved the war for the Allies and this was assuredly what the movie was depicting. The Hill that the Angels appeared on was, in my opinion, later given by the Belgians to NATO and they built SHAPE on the Hill (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), which is where I was stationed.

Now, however, there was some question as to the real story - whether or not it even happened or was just a fictional account by one author or even a publicity campaign to improve the morale of the Allies Nations at a low point in the war.

Well the Intrepid Investigator of the Mysterious has, once again, cleared up another mystery.

And, that cause I just found this Army in the Coptic Synaxarium this morning.

They are known as the Theban Legion.

Turns out that they were working for the Emperor and helped him put down a revolt by the Gauls (where Mons is) and, in his joy at winning the war he wanted all his soldiers to offer sacrifices to the gods in celebration but this Legion of Copts steadfastly refused to do so and they were first decimated and, when they continued to refuse, due to the leadership of this legion by Maurice (gee, similar to the name Mark, huh), the whole legion was slaughtered (including in the other cities where some of them were stationed like Zurich where three of the beheaded Warriors actually carried their heads up to the top of a hill, knelt and prayed and, only then, gave up the ghost and they built a Cathedral on the spot years later and many miracles were performed and, one Lady who venerated these Saintly Soldiers named Verena was also martyred with them).

Now, get this, some of the stories of the Angels of Mons specifically mention Three Angels and another one mentions an Angelic Woman dressed in a Robe but many of them consistently mention that this was an Army of Thousands of Cavalry and, further, that they were Bowman.

Well, gee, guess what?

The Theban Legion was called Legio I Maximiana and they also fought in the Battle of Andrianople under Valens and some of them were called Sagittarri cause they were about a Thousand Mounted Archers.

There is also one Angel that appears in a singular way from more than one source and he glowed like the sun and held a flaming sword riding on a horse and this would be the 'counterpart' to Maurice. Not only that but if you were to spell Markus with a samach you would have Maurice. In other words, if you were an immortal chosing another name but wanted to maintain connection to your previous name of Mark, you could chose Maurice and still have that as a Signature.

You know, kinda like Mars, hey.

Anyways, I just proved the veracity of the Coptic Synaxarium, Two Legends, found the other Angel left behind to guard the way of the Tree of Life and caught an Army of Ghosts.

These are my boys.

And this is my Army...

The Angels of Mons

The only real evidence of visions from actual named serving soldiers provided during the debate stated that they saw visions of phantom Cavalrymen, not angels or bowmen, and this occurred during the retreat rather than at the Battle itself.

On the side of the Angels

Harold Begbie, in On the Side of the Angels (1915), quoted testimonies of soldiers. A dying prisoner spoke of the reluctance of the Germans to attack the English lines "because of the thousands of troops behind us."

In 1915 a Private Robert Cleaver of the 1st Cheshire regiment swore an affidavit of what he had witnessed: "I personally was at Mons and saw the vision of the angels with my own eyes."

An unnamed lance-corporal is quoted as saying, "I could see quite plainly in mid-air a strange light which seemed to be quite distinctly outlined and was not a reflection of the moon, nor were there any clouds in the neighbourhood. The light became brighter and I could see quite distinctly three shapes, one in the centre having what looked like outspread wings, the other two were not so large, but were quite plainly distinct from the centre one. They appeared to have a long loose-hanging garment of a golden tint they were above the German line facing us."

General John Charteris also wrote to his family of how, "The angel of the Lord on the traditional white horse, clad all in white with a flaming sword, faced the Germans and forbade their progress."

Angel of Mons

Spanish Catholics who witnessed the ‘miracle’ at Fatima had less need for hovering angels or intervention through a supernatural agency than the British troops on the western front. The squaddies’ patron was St George - traditionally his spectral presence had appeared at testing moments on the battlefield. At Antioch in 1098, a heavenly army was reported to have rescued a band of crusaders from engulfing hordes of Saracens; the host included the saints George, Demetrius and Mercury, who, with a fluttering of banners and crunching of hooves, charged down the hillside and revived the Christians' flagging morale.

Nearly a thousand years later, The London Evening News featured a story by Arthur Machen entitled The Bowmen which has become part of the ‘mythos’ of the First World War, telling how the English army, under harrowing conditions and in the face of heavy odds, was rescued by the bowmen of Agincourt who miraculously appear and dispatch with their arrows ten thousand German soldiers.

The Bowmen was a success and reprinted several times. To the intensely nationalistic fantasy, Machen later added an introduction wherein he surmised that his story had inspired the crop of reports of the "angel" seen at Mons. He was surprised when another author, Howard Begbie, produced a book 'On the Side of the Angels' which criticised Machen for his "amazing effrontery", pointing out that an extraordinary range of visions - angels, knights, saints, bowmen and ghostly riders - had been seen before Machen devised his tale; he had merely picked up an actual event out of the air.

The “angel†version of the story first appeared in a church newspaper, May 1915. According to the testimony of an army officer, while his company was retreating and the German cavalry about to cut them down, they turned to face the enemy, "expecting nothing but instant death when to their wonder they saw, between them and the enemy, a whole troop of angels..." The heavenly hosts halted the advance of the Germans and allowed the British time to reach their fort.

German Forces Advancing

Furthermore, military historians who have studied Mons have enthusiastically incorporated the legend of the Angel of Mons into their writings up to the present day. Trevor Wilson and Martin Gilbert mention the apparition in their recent works. Daniel David in his bock, THE 1914 CAMPAIGN reports that "Some beleaguered soldiers reported being rescued by angels and ghostly bowmen."

Arch Whitehouse in an earlier book, HEROES AND LEGENDS OF WORLD WAR I. states that after the battle on what is known as the Retreat from Mons some Coldstream Guards being the last to withdraw, got lost in the area of the Mormal Forest and had dug-in to make a. last stand.

Whitehouse reports an angel then appeared as a dimly outlined female figure. She was tall and slim, wearing a white flowing gown. The Guardsmen followed the glowing figure across an open field to a hidden, sunken road which enabled them to escape.

During the World War of 1914-18, there were certainly two outstanding occasions when God fulfilled His Promise, as far as Great Britain was concerned, in a most noticeable manner. In the early months of World War 1 the contemptible little British Army, as the Gerrnan High Command termed it, was hurriedly equipped and sent across the Channel to support the French and Belgian Allies; but these combined forces were far weaker in guns and man power than the Gerrnans, and so, fighting a dogged rearguard action, they fell back before the terrific impact of massed enemy attacks. Serious defeat and tremendous losses appeared inevitable; but, during two days fighting around Mons, the German advance was halted long enough to allow the British Expeditionary Force to withdraw.

Much has been written on the subject of the Angels of Mons and there have been many versions of the phenomena, but it is not inconsistent to believe that they are all substantially true though they differed in certain aspects. A number of accounts are gathered together and examined by Harold Begbie in his book, "On the Side of the Angels", and few readers will remain unconvinced that both British and German troops were aware of supernatural intervention during the battle.

The magazine This England subsequently recalled these events in its pages in the following words: In the summer 1982 edition of "This England", a correspondent in "Post-box" inquired about the mystery from the First World War which became known to our troops as "The Angels of Mons". Apparently, though outnumbered three to one and on the verge of annihilation by advancing Germans, a heavenly host intervened between the rival armies thus saving the British and causing the enemy to flee in panic.

True or false? Controversy has raged on the subject ever since it was first reported and in an attempt to present all the known facts this is a reprint of the entire testimony of a principal witness, Captain Cecil Wightwick Hayward, formerly Staff Officer in the '1st. Corps Intelligence, British Army Headquarters.

He refers to two incidents, the "Angels of Mons", an event claimed to have been seen in late August 1914 and an even more remarkable phenomenon known as "The White Cavalry" which occurred during July, 1918 and was witnessed by the Germans. Captain Hayward's testimony is printed below.

The first of these visions was near the town of Mons, during the battle of that name between the German forces and the British Army, towards the end of August, 1914. The German Army, after sweeping all resistance aside, had advanced on a wide front right into the heart of Belgium and France. Although the Belgians, French and British put up a stout defence, it was principally against the British that the heaviest enemy attacks were launched. Our troops greatly outnumbered, had been fighting continuously for several days, with little or no rest, and our men were almost dropping from fatigue after a prolonged rearguard action during which we lost numbers of men and guns. Serious defeat appeared inevitable, especially as we had practically no reserves ready. It was realised that a "Day of Trouble" had arrived, and that God alone could help us. Churches were crowded with the whole of the British Nation at prayer.

Then occurred the event afterwards known as the appearance of the "Angels of Mons", in answer to national prayer. Of several accounts referring to the appearance of "Angels" the following two are typical, both having been related by British soldiers who vouched for the occurrences as having been observed by them personally.

While a detachment of British soldiers was retiring through Mons under very heavy German artillery and machinegun firein August 1914 they knelt beside a hastily erected barricade and endeavoured to hold up the enemy advance. The firing on both sides was very intensive, and the air reverberated with deafening crashes ofexploding shells.

Suddenly, firing on both sides stopped dead and a silence fell. Looking over the barrier, the astonished British saw four or five wonderful beings much bigger than men, between themselves and the halted Germans. They were white robed and bareheaded, and seemed rather to float than stand. Their backs were towards the British, and they faced the enemy with outstretched arm and hand as if to say: "Stop. Thus far and no further." The sun was shining quite brightly at the time. Next thing the British knew was that the Gerrnans were retreating in great disorder.

On another occasion, the British were in danger of being surrounded by the Germans, and had lost numbers of men and guns. Just when matters seemed hopeless, the heavy enemy firesuddenly stopped dead and a great silence fell over all. The sky opened with a bright shining light and figures of "luminous beings" appeared. They seemed to float between the British and the German forces, and to prevent the further advance of the enemy. Some of the German cavalry were advancing and the officers and men were unable to get their horses to go forward.

Before the surprised British were able to realise what had happened, the whole of the apparently victorious enemy force were retreating in great disorder. This allowed the British and the Allied Armies to reform and fall back upon a line of defence several miles further west, where they "dug in". Then began the period of "trench warfare" which continued for over three years, with varying fortunes to either side until the Spring of 1918.

Here is the eye-witness testimony of a soldier who was there.

"I was with my battalion in the retreat from Mons on or about August 28th (1914). The weather was very hot and clear, and between eight and nine o'clock in the evening I was standing with a party of nine other men on duty, and some distance on either side there were parties of ten on guard. Immediately behind us half of my battalion was on the edge of a wood resting.

An officer suddenly came up to us in a state of great anxiety and asked us if we had seen anything startling ...taking me and some others a few yards away showed us the sky. I could see quite plainly in mid-air a strange light which seemed to be quite distinctly outlined and was not a reflection of the moon, nor were there any clouds in the neighbourhood. The light became brighter and I could see quite distinctly three shapes, one in the centre having what looked like outspread wings, the other two were not so large, but were quite plainly distinct from the centre one. They appeared to have a long loose-hanging garment of a golden tint they were above the German line facing us. We stood watching them for about threequarters of an hour. All the men with me saw them, and other men came up from other groups who also told us that they had seen the same thing."

"It is a statement originally made in conversation!"

August 28, 1914, following the Retreat from Mons :

In a version of the story told by German prisoners described a batallion of angels armed with bows and arrows, led by a towering figure on a shining white horse who spurred on English forces during an assault on German trenches.

In another story three angelic beings were observed by the British, hovering in the air over German lines, providing a source of deep inspiration for them.

The irreducible details about the incident of the Angel of Mons seem to be that a small force of regular soldiers representing a nation with an oral tradition of combat success due to divine participation had a narrow escape against a vastly more numerous opponent at Mons in August, 1914.

Contemporary diaries and letters of many sane, sober people show that by 1915, the British had accepted that a supernatural event had taken place at Mons. Military historians that have studies Mons have incorporated the legend of the Angel of Mons into their writings.

"Soldiers reported being rescued by angels and bowmen."

The author's father Galen Hunt was an Iowa teenager who fought in WW1. As he lay wounded on a supply wagon, watching the brilliant blasts of the exploding shells in the night skies and waiting for morning to come, so he could be taken out, he saw a vision of Yeshua/Jesus. He related stories both verbally and in his diaries which tell of many soldiers, some wounded, or dying, who saw visions of the Christ of the Battlefield, and of angels.

Legio I Maximiana (of Maximian) was a comitatensis Roman legion, probably created in the year 296 or 297 by the Emperor Diocletian.

The I Maximiana was formed together with II Flavia Constantia, to garrison the newly created province Thebaidos, in Aegyptus. The legion is also known as Maximiana Thebanorum or Thebaeorum ("Maximian legion of the Thebans"). Since no Legio I Maximiana is listed as being stationed at Thebes in the Notitia Dignitatum, the designation is interpreted more broadly as of the Thebaid in general. The cognomen Maximiana originated from Maximian, Diocletian's colleague.

In 354, I Maximiana was in Thrace, in the neighborhood of Adrianople (modern Edirne). Thus it is likely that it fought in the Battle of Adrianople, in 378, when emperor Valens was defeated by Goths.

Diocletian reorganized the Roman army, in order to better handle the menace of the barbarians from north Europe as well as that of the Persians from the East. The army was formed by border and field units.

The border (limitanei) units were to occupy the limes, the structured border fortifications, and were formed by professional soldiers with an inferior training.

The field units were to stay well behind the border, and to move quickly where they were needed, with both offensive and defensive roles. Field units were formed by elite soldiers with high-level training and weapons. They were further divided into:

Scholae: the personal guard of the Emperor, created by Constantine I to replace the Praetorian Guard;

Palatinae: "palace troops" were the highest ranked units, created by Constantine I after he disbanded the Praetorian Guard, it was comprised originally of former guardsmen;

Comitatenses: regular field units, some were newly formed, others were descended from Early-Empire legions;

Pseudocomitatenses: these were limitanei units diverted into the field army and often kept there; some Early Empire legions became pseudocomitatenses units.

These units usually numbered between 300 and 2000 soldiers and some of them kept their original numbering schemes. The primary source for the legions of this era is the Notitia Dignitatum, a late 4th century document containing all the civil and military offices of both halves of the Roman Empire (revised in ca. 420 for the Western Empire).

The Battle of Adrianople (August 9, 378), sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between a Roman army led by the Roman Emperor Valens and Gothic rebels (largely Thervings as well as Greutungs, non-Gothic Alans, and various local rebels) led by Fritigern. The battle took place about 8 miles or 13 kilometers north of Adrianople (modern Edirne in European Turkey, near the border with Greece and Bulgaria) in the Roman province of Thracia and ended with an overwhelming victory for the Goths.

Valens' army was composed of veterans and men accustomed to war. It comprised seven legions — among which were the Legio I Maximiana and imperial auxiliaries — of 700 to 1000 men each. The Cavalry was composed of Mounted Archers (sagittarii) and Scholae (the imperial guard).

Comitatenses is the Latin plural of comitatensis, originally the adjective derived from comitatus ('company, party, suite'; in this military context it came to the novel meaning of 'the field army'), itself rooting in Comes ('companion', but hence specific historical meanings, military and civilian).

However, historically it became the accepted (substantivated) name for those Roman imperial troops (legions and auxiliary) which were not merely garrisoned at a limes (fortified border, on the Rhine and Danube in Europe and near Persia and the desert tribes elsewhere) — the limitanei or ripenses, i.e. 'along the shores' — but more mobile line troops; furthermore there were second line troops, named pseudocomitatenses, former limitanei attached to the comitatus; palatini, elite ("palace") units typically assigned to magistri militum; and the scholae palatinae of actual palace guards, notably under the magister officiorum, a major court official of the Late Empire.


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