Prison ship martyrs commemorated on 240th Battle of Brooklyn anniversary

September 1, 2016 Anna Spivak
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Commemorated with a memorial tribute in conjunction with the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, the 11,500 American Revolutionary POWs entombed in a crypt in Fort Greene Park were remembered on Saturday, August 27.

Hard to miss, as the immense, 149-foot tall Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument, sited atop the crypt, stands tall in the center of the park, the Society of Old Brooklynites, elected officials and local residents gathered at the base of the monument to pay their respects.

“On these hallowed grounds, the society paid tribute to the unsung patriots who were captured and incarcerated aboard decrepit British prison ships under the most horrendous, and almost sub-human conditions for their failure to swear allegiance to the British Crown,” said Ted General, vice president of the Society of Old Brooklynites. “When they died, they were tossed overboard or placed in shallow sandy graves along Wallabout Bay.”

This year – the 108th memorial tribute – society President George Broadhead, a decorated U.S. Marine Corps Korean War veteran, presided over the program while Revolutionary War re-enactor Norman Goben delivered the keynote speech.

The FDNY’s Ceremonial Honor Guard and Pipe and Drum Band shared their talents and opened the ceremonies while Craig Gabrian, who heads the Young Dancers in Repertory, performed an interpretive dance highlighting the sorrowful plight of the imprisoned martyrs, according to General.

“According to historical accounts, more sailors, soldiers and citizens died in British jails and on prison ships than in all the battles of the American Revolution,” General writes in his column for this paper. “Today, many are unaware this sacred site in Fort Greene Park is the largest American Revolutionary burial ground in the nation.”

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