Juliet Rice Wichman’s ghost army story

In September 1930, Juliet Rice Wichman and her husband, Fred W. Wichman, were residing at their home, “Pihanakalani,” on their Wailua Ranch, located in the vicinity of today’s Hindu Monastery off Kuamoo Road, Kauai, when she wrote the following narrative about hearing and feeling a horde of Hawaiian ghost soldiers marching down toward the Wailua heiau ruins.

“Less than a year ago, we moved into the home we had built on the mauka bank of the Wailua River, and about four months later, our head cowboy came to us in a fever of excitement.

“That night, as he had been sitting by his window, after the family had gone to bed, he noticed the peculiar excitement of dogs. They were listening to something. He listened too. Away in the distance, at the foot of the mountains he heard drums beating. Old Hawaiian drums — war drums.

“The dogs became frantic as the sound drew nearer, and the cowboy more interested, for he had heard from his father that ‘ghost armies’ passed at night along old war trails.

“As the sound came nearer, the dogs ran down the little valley in back of his house, and followed the sound up the hill, running in and barking as though beside a column of marching men.

“The drums beat louder and he could hear the thud of marching feet, as they passed close to where he stood in the yard, and past him, until the sound died away in the distance toward Wailua.

“Now this man is exceedingly steady and reliable and not given to drinking. The cowboy’s Portuguese brother-in-law admitted he had heard the drums, too, but had put his head under the covers, and the Japanese stableman, who had lived up there longer than any of the rest of us, said he had heard it before.

“Although that was the first time we had heard of this ‘ghost army,’ I have twice since heard the drums beat and the passing footsteps, and watched the procession.”


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