The inscription at the Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Marker in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania reads “Near this spot, lies Lieutenant John Waterman, died April 23, 1778, whose grave alone of all his comrades was marked.”
Some 2,000 Continental soldiers died at Valley Forge or in distant hospitals. Most expired not in the dead cold of winter, but in the spring, when influenza, typhus, typhoid and dysentery more than decimated the camp. Waterman died during this time.
His lonely gravestone on the grand parade ground was marked simply, “JW 1778.” He was later identified by his initials as a Rhode Island officer.