Sunday, August 17, saw the opening events of Battle of Brooklyn Week — the week that commemorates the Revolutionary War battle fought across a large swathe of the borough 238 years ago.
The day kicked off with a 10-mile race in the morning, and then a walking tour of Evergreens Cemetery and its Revolutionary War-related sites.
The main event, however, wasn’t until that afternoon when the names of the Maryland 400 – soldiers who died so that George Washington and his troops could escape the British forces — were read aloud. The soldiers were honored with a rifle salute and a wreath laying in the yard behind the Michael J. Rawley Post #1636 of the American Legion, located at Eighth Street and Third Avenue.
A march from the post to the Old Stone House, Fifth Avenue and Third Street — the battle site where many of the troops died — was led by a traditional bagpiper and concluded with another wreath laying.
Nearly 100 people met at the Michael A. Rawley Post, including legionnaires, and members of the Brooklyn Irish American Parade Committee and the Commodore John Barry Club. That number greatly increased when the procession to the Old Stone House ended in the very active Washington Park, where people were enjoying the comfortable, sunny weather.
There is, of course, more on the schedule for Battle Week, which is sponsored by the Brooklyn Irish American Parade Committee. When asked what the biggest event would be, Ted General, the second vice president of the Society of Old Brooklynites, referred to the battle re-enactment that would take place. According to General, enthusiasts in costume will fire muskets to represent the battle in an extended ceremony at Green-Wood Cemetery on Sunday, August 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
General also mentioned the tribute to America’s first prisoners of war— the Prison Ship Martyrs – which is hosted by the Society of Old Brooklynites. The memorial ceremony, will take place on Saturday, August 23 at 10 a.m. The ceremony is held at the 149-foot monument on top of Battle Hill, where the remains of 11,500 patriots rest.
The Battle of Brooklyn was the first battle fought after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. British troops won the day, but due to the great sacrifice of the Maryland 400, General George Washington was able to escape and keep the American Revolution alive.