The Willcocks and Badgley family cemetery is also located in the Deserted Village. There are an estimated 24 graves in this little modest cemetery. There are headstones of three Revolutionary War Patriots. The original headstone is of John Willcocks who died November 22, 1776. John Willcocks was a member of “Captain Marsh’s Light Horse Troop,” and was killed defending General George Washington retreat across New Jersey.
According to one historical account: On November 16, 1776, Fort Washington fell to an overwhelming assault by the British forces who captured over 2,000 American troops. Following the fall of New York City to British occupation, the Continental Army crossed the Hudson River and scaled the Palisades to man the fortifications on the bluffs of Fort Lee.
General Washington, realizing that with the loss of New York’s Fort Washington, Fort Lee was of little military value, and made preparations to evacuate his remaining army through New Jersey. An orderly retreat, however, was not in store for the Americans. On November 20, General Cornwallis ferried between 6,000 and 8,000 men across the Hudson River north of Fort Lee. When word of the crossing reached Washington, he ordered the abandonment of Fort Lee and an immediate retreat before his army was cut off and captured by the British. Most of the American supplies and artillery had to be left behind. During these darkest days for the Revolution when it seemed as though the Continental Army could not survive, Thomas Paine, who was in Fort Lee with Washington’s army, wrote the famous words, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The other Patriots graves, John’s brother William Willcocks died October 20, 1800 after serving as judge advocate in Chatham NJ, for Revolutionary court martials during the war. Their cousin Joseph Badgley died in 1785.
Grave Marker Text:
- John Willcocks Sr. New Jersey, LT Horse CO., NJ Militia,Rev war.
- William Willcocks New Jersey, Judge Advocate Rev War.
- Joseph Badgley New Jersey, Pvt. 1st NJ Reg. Rev War.
To learn more about other locations in New Jersey connected to the American Revolution, go to Crossroads of the Revolution