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A Strange Tale of the Kosciuszko Uprising

Tadeusz Kościuszko

On the afternoon of October 10, 1794, a Hungarian nobleman named Baron Ruthog was hunting in the Carpathian Mountains when he stopped to rest on a rock by a spring. Suddenly, the nobleman was startled by an unearthly shriek, the likes of which he had never heard before. It sounded human, and to the baron's ears it seemed to be a combination of a howl and a wail. In writing of the mysterious scream, Ruthog described its volume as being greater than that of ten thousand men, and seemed to have been coming from a northerly direction.

A man of education, Baron Ruthog was not the superstitious sort, yet he felt there was something supernatural about the ear-splitting shriek. He was so frightened by the event that, upon returning to his castle, wrote a detailed description of what he had heard.

On the very same day, at the very same hour, a  Norwegian student at the University of Upsala in Sweden named Ole Aginous was aboard a ship bound for Stockholm when he heard the deafening shreik, which precisely matched Baron Ruthog's description. Aginous reported that the scream came from the southeast. When he returned to Upsala he reported the occurrence to one of his professors, Esau Hellakomming. The celebrated professor had not heard the shriek, but was so intrigued by Aginous' story that he wrote down everything the student had told him.

Similar reports poured in from all over Germany, inspiring a professor from the University of Giessen, Herr Klautwetter, to collect statements from those who had heard the noise. Klautwetter discovered that, while there were many people who did not hear the scream, those who did hear the scream all appeared to share a common trait: they were all highly educated and possessed an above average intelligence. Klautwetter's report was published in Hellgosh, a leading publication of Leipzig.

More reports came from Russia. Baron Jaquamanoff, private secretary to Empress Catharine, was handed the task of collecting witness statements and writing an official report. The empress herself had heard the sound, as did numerous military officers stationed throughout Russia. At St. Petersburg, the sound appeared to come from the southwest. General Frozistozoff, in Moscow, also indicated that he heard the shriek coming from the southwest. Prince Kutakowstitoff, in Odessa, wrote that it came from the northwest.

However, the most remarkable reports came from Warsaw, where the howl was heard in all of its terror. It seemed to come from the very city of Warsaw itself, and filled every street and square with equal volume, making it impossible to ascertain the origin. An official report of the scream was made by Count Warsoff of Warsaw and presented to the Empress.

A world-wide investigation was made a few years later, largely through the efforts of Madame Brayquinde of Belgium, who was a friend of the recently-deceased Empress Catharine. Funding for the investigation was provided by a wealthy Calais nobleman, the Duc de Gobosnot. Leading scholars and scientists of the day assisted in the research; these men included: Mottier la Brique, of the French Academy of Sciences, Monsieur Schufli, of the University of Geneva, Don Uteri of Spain's University of Salamanca, Baron Ruthog, Professor Hellakomming of the University of Upsala, Prince Czschnotnosz of Bohemia, Lord Grant, a wealthy nobleman from Scotland, the Earl of Buckfort, and Baron Pyles of Athol. The entire party assembled in Warsaw, intent on solving the mystery of the horrible shriek heard throughout Europe.

They combed through reports of the sound with a fine tooth comb, approaching the matter with the earnestness of a Scotland Yard detective or a NASA engineer. These learned men were relentless, and after days of hard work, they believed they had pinpointed the source of the hellish scream-- a tiny, unimportant Polish village near Warsaw called Maciejowice.

The Battle of Maciejowice was fought in this village on October 10, 1794, between the armies of Poland and the Russian Empire. The Poles, led by Tadeusz Kosciuszko, fought valiantly for three hours, until they ran out of ammunition. At this point, the Russian infantry, led by Alexander Suvorov, made a bayonet charge at the defenseless Poles, slaughtering them at will. Kosciuszko attempted to take his own life as his army was routed by Cossack bayonets, but the Polish hero found that his pistol was empty. Poland fought for its independence that bloody day, but lost. Four thousand Poles were slaughtered.

The ear-shattering scream became part of Polish legend; to this day, however, no satisfactory scientific explanation for the horrible shriek has ever been produced.

Do dreams make a sound when they die?

Apparently, sometimes they do.

Source material: The Weekly Kansas Chief, October 11, 1894

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