Greenwood Heights

Photos: Green-Wood celebrates Battle of Brooklyn anniversary

August 26, 2019 Mark Davis

Sunday marked the 243rd anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, and to celebrate, the borough brought out the big guns — literally.

Green-Wood Cemetery hosted its annual reenactment of the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn, complete with cannons, muskets and a marching band. Onlookers enjoyed the show from behind yellow caution tape.

Cannon fire. Eagle photo by Mark Davis

“This is our way to commemorate it and make history come alive,” said Harry Weil, director of public programs at Green-Wood. “We do over 200 public programs here each year, but the Battle of Brooklyn brings out the largest demographic of people from across the borough. Whether it’s children with families, young adults, or seniors, everyone can connect with this story.”

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Sarah Rose Kearns, of Woodhaven, watches Continental Army soldiers march to the battle front. Eagle photo by Mark Davis

The Battle of Brooklyn was the first major battle after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The advancing British Army pushed north to encounter Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army, which was positioned in present day Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights.

Continental Army fife and drum brigade. Eagle photo by Mark Davis

The battle was ultimately a victory for the British, but Washington is credited with posing a formidable challenge against an opposing army that outnumbered his own three to one. His swift retreat across the East River, and later out of Manhattan, ultimately saved a young ragtag army of revolutionaries who were able to drag the war out for another seven years.

Michael Grillo as Gen. George Washington. Eagle photo by Mark Davis
Michael Grillo as Gen. George Washington. Eagle photo by Mark Davis

Famous characters of history were on hand to help Brooklyn relive its past, including Washington himself. Michael Grillo, visiting from Eastchester, New York, in full Washington regalia, has been attending the anniversary in costume for many years. “What gets me excited about this event every year is — due to me being born and raised in Brooklyn, and as I started to grow up and learn more about our colonial history — you learn that the Battle of Brooklyn was the first and largest full-blown battle of the American Revolution.”

A young boy watches the proceedings. Eagle photo by Mark Davis

Rebecca Austern and Ryan Delorge of Park Slope brought out their kids Zach and Olivia. To encourage the kids to tag along, they said, “we just had to tell them there was a cannon and horses and that was it.”

After the parade and before the reef ceremony, flags are placed into their posts. Eagle photo by Mark Davis

After the war scenes, reenactment participants, along with the Merchant Marine Marching Band and the Sons of the American Revolution color guard, led attendees on a short parade route to a reef ceremony.


Continental Army soldiers practice artillery fire before battle. Eagle photo by Mark Davis

Greenwood Cemetery crafted this year’s event  with help from The Battle of Brooklyn Memorial Committee the Old Stone House of Brooklyn, located in Park Slope.

Mark Davis is a Brooklyn-based photojournalist. His work focuses on community narratives and has appeared in Forbes, Bushwick Daily, and Brooklyn Magazine


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