The year 1776 was a tumultuous one for Brooklyn. As the city’s residents celebrated the issuing of the Declaration of Independence in July, British forces were preparing to transform their homes into the battlefield of the Revolutionary War’s largest engagement yet.
Following another tumultuous year in 2020, Green-Wood Cemetery will host an event this Saturday commemorating the Battle of Brooklyn. The cemetery tradition — which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic — honors those who defended the early American Republic on Green-Wood’s current grounds in August of 1776.
Organized in collaboration with Park Slope’s Old Stone House, Green-Wood’s Battle of Brooklyn event is a family-friendly afternoon featuring reenactors, demonstrations, music, and storytelling. Muskets, cannons, and horses will be present throughout the cemetery, as well as actors representing the American Continental Army and the British redcoats.
For the staff at Green-Wood, the Battle of Brooklyn’s anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the cemetery’s relationship with the borough’s history.
“Green-Wood is proud to again remember the crucial role Brooklyn played in the birth of our nation,” said Green-Wood president Richard Moylan. “We come together to honor the American heroes who fought so valiantly 245 years ago.”
Green-Wood’s resident historian, Jeff Richman, echoed a similar sentiment.
“History is both an opportunity to remember those who have come before us and learn from their lives, so that we can better live ours,” Richman said in an interview. “When we reflect on the freedoms we enjoy today in this country, we must remember that they are only possible because General George Washington, despite the defeat he suffered on this ground, was just barely able to save his army and continue the fight for independence for seven long years, until independence was won.”
The Battle of Brooklyn was a pivotal point in the American Revolution. Although it was technically a defeat for the Americans, a force of 2,000 Continental troops bravely held back over 30,000 British soldiers, giving General Washington and his army an opportunity to retreat to Manhattan and fight another day. It was the largest battle in the entirety of the war.
Greenwood’s Battle of Brooklyn event is free and open to all, yet the cemetery requires that visitors secure tickets in advance to comply with COVID-19 capacity protocols.
Visitors can select a time slot to visit the event at green-wood.com/calendar. Masks are strongly recommended regardless of vaccination status.