The Bat­tle of Brook­lyn

The writer of­fers be­lated thanks to the Mary­land men who gave their lives to save New York 240 years ago

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND VOICES - Richard Mel­nick, As­to­ria, N.Y. The writer is a trustee of the Greater As­to­ria His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion Round Ta­ble of New York.

Alet­ter of thanks is in or­der to the good state of Mary­land and its res­i­dents for your coura­geous and noble ser­vices ren­dered to my fair state (then the Bri­tish province) of New York 240 years ago. For those Mary­lan­ders (and New York­ers and Amer­i­cans) who do not know, our great United States would prob­a­bly not be if not for a few good Mary­land men.

On Aug. 27, 1776, af­ter a two-month buildup of ships, troops, weaponry and ma­teriel, the Bri­tish Em­pire set loose forces num­ber­ing 32,000 to in­flict one mas­sive sin­gle blow to the Amer­i­can cause of lib­erty and in­de­pen­dence. Their tar­get — the heav­ily for­ti­fied hills of Brook­lyn on Long Is­land — was a step­ping stone to cap­tur­ing New York City and to split­ting the new na­tion along the Hud­son River. The Con­ti­nen­tal Army and states’ mili­tias were mostly green and untested. The Bri­tish troops and their Hes­sian merce­nar­ies were some of the best sol­diers in the world at the time.

Af­ter a mag­nif­i­cent Bri­tish flank­ing move­ment caught our Amer­i­can troops by sur­prise, the unit called the “Mary­land 400” brought se­ri­ous bat­tle to the Bri­tish in­vaders. While so much more can be and has been writ­ten about th­ese brave men, Brig. Gen. Lord Stir­ling and Maj. Morde­cai Gist led at­tacks that al­lowed a vast amount of sol­diers to re­treat and evac­u­ate the bat­tle­field. The Mary­lan­ders were or­dered to de­lay the enemy pur­suit of a nearly de­feated Amer­i­can army. Th­ese heroic ac­tions es­sen­tially sen­tenced many to death or cap­ture by the ruth­less Bri­tish, who de­nounced us as rebels and traitors, and not sim­ply as op­pos­ing for­eign com­bat­ants.

The de­ci­sive and self­less ac­tions of your good Mary­land 400 (ac­tu­ally around 270) re­sulted in the deaths of 256 of them, many still in un­marked graves in Park Slope, Brook­lyn. We have the his­toric and im­por­tant Old Stone House and a state his­tor­i­cal marker here in Park Slope, and a beau­ti­ful “Mary­land Mon­u­ment” in Prospect Park in­scribed with a quote at­trib­uted to Amer­i­can Gen. Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton: “Good God, what brave fel­lows I must this day lose.”

We do cel­e­brate the hero­ics of your Mary­land 400 each Aug. The Bat­tle of Brook­lyn painted by Alonzo Chap­pel in the mid-19th cen­tury. 27 with a bat­tle week of tours, lec­tures, re-en­act­ments and prayer at our fa­mous Green-Wood Cemetery.

Thank you, Mary­land. Your brave deeds to save Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s army and our 6-week-old in­de­pen­dent na­tion shall never be for­got­ten. Your Mary­lan­ders saved the army so that we could re­treat, re­group and fight an­other day. And that we did.

Most note­wor­thy to this revo­lu­tion­ary topic is Mary­land’s Charles Car­roll of Car­roll­ton, a signer of the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence and the last liv­ing sig­na­tory, pass­ing away in 1832 at the age 95. Brook­lyn’s Car­roll Street, Car­roll Park and the Car­roll Gar­dens neigh­bor­hood are named af­ter him and com­mem­o­rate his ser­vice to our coun­try.

Huz­zah! All hail the Old Line State!

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