Living in the past: Locals restage Revolution’s Battle of Brooklyn on 242nd anniversary

Living in the past: Locals restage Revolution’s Battle of Brooklyn on 242nd anniversary
Seeing red: Christopher Wines takes aim at the Battle of Brooklyn re-enactment, held at Green-Wood Cemetery on Aug.26.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

We lost the battle — again — but still won the war.

King George’s Redcoats sent a rag-tag army of American revolutionary soldiers scrambling out of Green-Wood Cemetery on Sunday during an action-packed restaging of the Battle of Brooklyn. But unlike their Continental Army counterparts defeated by the British 242 years ago, members of Gen. George Washington’s troop took the loss rather well, according to the “general” himself.

“We had a wonderful time,” said Michael Grillo, who portrayed Washington at the annual event this year.

The reenactment at the private burial ground featured more than 30 costumed soldiers who squared off in formation near Battle Hill, before blasting each other with replica muskets that evoked the sounds of the historic conflict without any of its bullets.

Centuries ago, Washington led his army in fighting one of the Revolutionary War’s bloodiest battles at the site, during which hundreds of continental fighters perished before soldiers with the Maryland 400 — a band of troops whose bodies may be buried nearby, according to some historians — bravely fended off the Brits long enough for the general to retreat to the outer borough of Manhattan.

But many present-day spectators found the men in the front line far less compelling than those 18th-century women who fought for independence just off the battlefield, according to another actor who played Washington’s faithful wife Martha at the festivities, who said many attendees approached her with questions following the main event.

“There were questions about women’s roles, clothing, and their social class in the colonies,” said Maria Grillo. “A lot of people were very curious.”

And the husband-and-wife duo and their fellow reenactors weren’t the only ones to dress in period garb for the occasion — a few pint-sized revolutionaries showed up in uniform, too, hoping to lend their hands to the cause, according to an evil Redcoat.

“One of the kids was walking around with a wooden musket, and our entire line pretended he shot us all,” said 18-year-old Christopher Wines, who traveled from New Jersey to take on Washington’s army.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Hey George!: Michael and Maria Grillo depicted the Washingtons at Green-Wood Cemetery’s Battle of Brooklyn anniversary bash.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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