Halves of the battle: Borough’s two Battle of Brooklyn celebrations

Halves of the battle: Borough’s two Battle of Brooklyn celebrations
Photo by Nicole Lewis

Brooklyn celebrated falling to the Redcoats at two events marking the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn on Aug. 27.

First, reenactors exchanged musket and cannon fire in Green-Wood Cemetery, where British soldiers thoroughly routed Gen. George Washington’s troops and forced his retreat to Manhattan during the Revolutionary War on Aug. 27, 1776. And the not-so-live ammunition really made history come to life, one attendee said.

“You can read about the history in a book, but when you see it and are living it, you have a better understanding of the history,” said Donna Murray who took her 10-year-old son Adian to the celebration. “My son absolutely loved it. He made us come back a day early from vacation for it.”

The day began with a trolley tour of the graveyard’s Revolutionary War-related sites. Crowds enjoyed parades, battle re-enactments, meeting famous colonial Americans, and colonial-style grub at the graveyard, including Thomas Jefferson’s recipe for vanilla ice cream whipped up by local food historian Sarah Lohman.

Further south, history buffs highlighted black soldiers’ contributions to the Revolutionary War at Denyse Wharf — the site where British and Hessian troops first landed in Brooklyn.

Reenactors dressed as mariners of Colonel Glover’s Marble Headers taught visitors about the little-known-but-crucial all-black unit that helped Washington escape. Marble Headers laid down their lives nearly 100 years before emancipation to keep invaders busy while Washington fled — an act of selflessness that must never be forgotten, one reenactor said.

“It’s not in the average history text book, that’s why we give up our time, our energy, and our money to tell our story,” said Leon Vaughan of the historical group Sable Soldiers of the American Revolution.

The Waterfront Alliance and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) sponsored the Narrows-adjacent party, and members of the Village Community Boat House gave free boat rides while marine educators discussed the area’s nautical history.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.