Battle of Brooklyn comes alive at Ridge’s Denyse Wharf

August 31, 2016 Helen Klein
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History buffs young and old gathered near Denyse Wharf, in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge, on Saturday, August 27, to mark the 240th anniversary of the Revolutionary War Battle of Brooklyn near where the British troops landed in 1776.

The event was organized by the Waterfront Alliance and sponsored by City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, with the U.S. Army Fort Hamilton Garrison allowing access to the area, which is on its property.

“Even though history tells us that we lost the Battle of Brooklyn, we know that our nation and General Washington showed no quit and would be resilient in securing our independence,” said Gentile. “I was proud to sponsor this event by the Waterfront Alliance which included historical reenactments and a plethora of knowledge about this battle. Families and children of all ages had a great time learning and engaging in history on our beautiful waterfront.”

Among the attractions were re-enactors garbed in colonial era clothes and carrying Revolutionary War weapons. In addition, attendees could take canoes out, and Brooklyn diver Gene Ritter, the president of Research Divers, was on hand with artifacts brought up from the bed of the Narrows near the wharf (the one-time home of Fort Lafayette, built in 1812) including old bottles and anti-aircraft shells, the latter likely lost by the USS Bennington in the 1950s.

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“We were there to let people know about the artifacts we’ve found and about the history of Fort Lafayette,” explained Ritter, noting that the fort had been constructed in 1812 “to protect the harbor,” but had become “obsolete” once Fort Hamilton and Fort Wadsworth (on Staten Island) were built.

It had been used, Ritter said, as a prison during the Civil War, and later “to store munitions.” It was decommissioned after an explosion and fire, “Because it was a liability,” and demolished in 1960 to make way for the Verrazano.

The crowd soaked the information up, Ritter added. “A lot of people were very attentive to what we were talking about,” he said, noting that many had not known about Fort Lafayette prior to the event.

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