Baylor’s Massacre Site, River Vale NJ

Imagine walking through the old Baylor’s Massacre site in River Vale NJ, where in 1778 members of the local militia known as Baylor’s Dragoons were slaughtered by German Hessians. These men were just like any other men with at least one exception. They left their homes and families to fight for the independence of a fledgling nation and gave their lives to the spirit of liberty.
 As they slept, the German mercenaries crept upon the camp and butchered the patriots. This event went unnoticed until development unearthed the graves. But there is more than a simple fence cordoning off the area that outlines the grounds consecrated by their ultimate sacrifice. The event itself seems to replay from time to time.
 Local stories abound concerning strange happenings in the massacre site while the author experienced it for himself on a warm summer’s eve. The sighting was corroborated by two others present that night. What was witnessed were numerous apparitions moving through the woods as if to stealthily creep upon some unseen prey. Although dark and shadowy, the attire could be ascertained as that of the era of the revolution, particularly that of the Hessians.
 As these apparitions moved from tree to tree, some crouching as if to hide, no sound was made. As the three individuals stared incredulously at these men, they began to make their way toward the woodline, only to feel a marked drop in temperature and a sudden feeling of foreboding. The sensation of knowing if they continued, very bad things would happen. Without saying a word, they stared at these men of another time only to watch them fade away as the temperature regained it’s summer comfort.
 Although somewhat unnerving, I later came to the realization of what I had truly witnessed. Yes, I feel we saw numerous ghosts, but the revelation was more than that. We had witnessed a part of an event that had taken place 217 years prior. Not only had I read the little sign erected to commemorate the site, not only had I read about the militia in my area from the war for independence; I had actually witnessed the preface of the massacre.
 Many people feel the best way to learn about history is to talk to those who lived it. My grandmother was a wealth of information concerning stories from the ‘Old Country’ and stories about my grandfather’s involvement in the first world war. Given our biological frailty, it becomes impossible to speak with those from an era long passed. Or is it?
 Think about a ghostly apparition witnessed on a battlefield of your choosing. What are you seeing? Perhaps you are discomforted in seeing what shouldn’t be, but keep in mind that you are also seeing someone’s father, brother, or son who lost their life upon such a field. Tears were shed for their loss, or perhaps their sweetheart went to her death never knowing what happened to her love.
 Of course you can’t sit and have tea with these spirits while discussing firsthand accounts of their struggle, but with a little after thought, the sighting becomes more than just a great tale to spin around a campfire. You may have seen a ghost, but you also have briefly seen firsthand something that you were only able to read about prior.


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