Drink to defeat!
On Saturday Aug. 23, history buffs will have a chance to raise a glass to the heroic revolutionary soldiers who reluctantly retreated under the withering British assault now known as the Battle of Brooklyn. A local history buff will commemorate the 238th anniversary of the clash with an educational pub crawl, hitting bars near the sites of notable events.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a while, follow the action of that day,” said Connor Gaudet, a Red Hook resident who recently finished a graduate program in history at New York University, and has enthusiastically studied the history of Revolutionary War-era Brooklyn. “The battle that day was lost, but the Continental Army was able to escape, which was really important. It saved the fledgling nation.”
The pub crawl will start at Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street at Mary’s Bar in Park Slope, which is near where the first skirmishes of the Battle of Brooklyn began. That is where a British scouting patrol stumbled on some American troops, firing the first shots and effectively fooling the Continental forces into thinking the main attack force had arrived. Meanwhile, the real British force — which was 10,000 strong — moved to surround the Americans, Gaudet explained.
From Mary’s, the tour will move along up Fifth Avenue, stopping into more watering holes for a drink or two and a lecture from Gaudet on the bloody events that occurred nearby.
The real day was a tough slog for the Continental troops, and Gaudet said he is not going to let his pubcrawl platoon off the hook — the modern-day march will be about a mile and a half. He also briefly considered making his suds-fueled squadron don heavy woolen coats like those the soldiers wore, but decided he didn’t want to make the day quite that realistic.
“You thought you were going to have fun?” he said, laughing. “It was an absolutely grueling retreat, so I thought I would make people sweat.”
Following the path of our revolutionary forefathers, the pub crawl will also hit Quarter Bar, Brooklyn Pub, Greenwood Park, Freddy’s Bar, Black Horse Pub, Der Kommisar, Skylark, the Gate, and Canal Bar. It will finally end in Gowanus at Lavendar Lake, on Carroll Street between Bond Street and the Gowanus Canal.
Gaudet chose the spot to reflect the final march of the Americans on that wretched day, mirroring the retreat General Washington’s troops made over the marshy land where the murky waters of the canal now flow.
Colonial dress is encouraged, though not mandatory. But Gaudet, at least, will be looking the part — he has purchased a tricorn hat for the occasion.
Battle of Brooklyn pub crawl, starting at Mary’s Bar (708 Fifth Ave. between 22nd and 23rd streets in Park Slope). Aug. 23 at 2 pm. Free, though you must purchase your own drinks.