Remembering The Prison Ship Martyrs

The 104th Commemoration and Memorial Tribute to the Martyrs of the Prison Ships took place Saturday, August 25, as one event in the larger 236th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn.

Revolutionary War Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Ft. Greene Park, dedicated in 1908.

The ceremony was held in Fort Greene Park at the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument. It included a maritime pipe band, an interpretive dance number, the playing of Taps, and a wreath-laying ceremony. A Marine Corps Honor Guard was also in attendance.

The ceremony pays tribute to the 11,500 American POWs who perished aboard British prison ships during the Revolutionary War. The prisoners, packed into the “holes” of ships moored in Wallabout Bay in Brooklyn, were forced to live in brutal and inhumane conditions.

The dead were thrown into the shallow waters of the bay. The monument, dedicated in 1908, is a 149-foot tall column that sits atop a crypt with the recovered remains of the prisoners, the largest Revolutionary War grave in the country.

Making the time to pay tribute to those buried beneath the monument is very important, noted Ted General, second vice president of the Society of Old Brooklynites, which organized the event.

“It’s very significant,” General stressed. “We talk about Gettysburg, but here’s a monument in a public park with the remains of 11,500 patriots and not too many people know about it. Everyday people walk past this towering monument, and many don’t realize its significance.”

The event was open to the public and drew a crowd of nearly 65 people. Journalist and historian Susan DeMark gave the keynote address.


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