Spirit of ’76 burns bright for battle week

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Remembering the shots heard round the borough…

Battle Week, the commemoration of a historic Revolutionary War battle that took place right in the streets of Brooklyn officially opened Saturday with a ceremony at the Old Stone House to remember the sacrifices of the Maryland 400.

The day’s activities were kicked off by the Brooklyn Irish American Parade Committee who held a solemn march from the Michael A. Rawley American Legion Post, located on 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues down 3rd Avenue to the somber cadence of a lone bagpiper

Marchers ended at the Old Stone House near the corner of 5th Street and 5th Avenue, where a wreath was laid at the spot where the famed Maryland 400 gave their final stand.

Historians say that the Battle for Brooklyn in August, 1776, which ended in a resounding defeat for the colonial separatists, is considered the first major military confrontation of the Revolutionary War.

The battle, in which the colonists lost almost 2000 soldiers, was fought almost entirely in Park Slope and Green-Wood Cemetery.

According to the history books, 400 Maryland volunteers, many of which never stepped foot in New York, came to help their rebel brothers in their fight to overthrow British forces.

Their biggest task was to overrun the Old Stone House, which at the time was occupied by the British military.

As they made their approach, the cannoneers on the upper floor of the house opened fire, striking down wave after wave of volunteers.

But the hearty Marylanders never gave up.

They closed the gaps and charged forward, slogging through the blood and exploding gunpowder until they reached their objective.

Soon enough, the Marylanders found an opening to the house, barreled inside and silenced the guns.

The British withdrew. But, since so many lives had already been lost and reinforcements were nowhere in sight, the surviving Marylanders had to abandon their new post, leaving behind their dead, many of which were reportedly buried where the Rawley Post was built.

Their remains, however, have never been found.

Events at the Old Stone House Saturday included a rifle salute, reception and an open house of the historic site. Two Revolutionary War re-enactors arrived to provide members of the Brooklyn Irish American Parade Committee with proclamations of thanks from both Governor David Paterson and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

The ceremony kicked off a week of Battle Week commemorations which will end this year with a re-enactment of the Battle of Brooklyn on Sunday, August 24, at 12:30 p.m. inside Green-Wood Cemetery.

A host of celebrations, which includes a tribute to George Washington’s Irish generals, begins at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, organizers said.

Updated 3:44 pm, October 19, 2011
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