The Battle of Brooklyn America’s “First Battle”
After the British were driven from Boston by American revolutionaries, they plotted their next move. New York, the capital of British North America was the obvious choice so King George assembled the greatest armada in British history: over 600 ships and 35,000 British regulars and Hessian mercenaries to invade New York Harbor. This army was led by Gen William Howe and the Royal Navy by his brother Admiral Richard Howe.
It was August 1776, just one month after the Declaration of Independence, thus given this battle the distinction of being the first between independent nations.
The British having learned the bloody lesson at Bunker Hill that untrained rebels could decimate a frontal assault decide to attack Gen George Washington’s troops, hunkered in a series of fortifications protecting the strategically critical Brooklyn Heights, from the rear and flanks.
They landed in Staten Island, welcomed by the largely Royalist Staten Islanders and launched an amphibious landing in Gravesend Brooklyn.
From there,the British divided their forces into 3 columns: one to advance directly up the Flatbush Road at the famed Dongan Oak (in present day Prospect Park) and 2 flanking columns to surround and surprise Washington’s army. This led to a route and frantic retreat down the slope (of present-day Park Slope) to the Old Stone House. There a courageous regiment from Maryland withstood repeated assaults by Britsh and Hessian troops, enabling the American army to escape across the Gowanus swamp to safety up on Brooklyn Heights.
Washington and his army were trapped the British forces on land and the formidable Royal Navy in the East River.
The Revolution, just months old, stood precariously on the Brooklyn shore and Washington had just one choice, to somehow evacuate his army across the East River to safety in New York.
Come explore this little known but critical battle of the American Revolution at the multiple locations where it actually happened. Led by noted author and historian Bob Furman, we’ll visit Battle Hill, in Greenwood Cemetery, The Old Stone House, The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Ft. Greene, The Maryland Monument and Battle Pass in Prospect Park and learn about this battle and Brooklyn’s and NY’s role in the American Revolution.