http://southbrooklynpost.com/2011/11/revolutionary-war-brooklyn/ By South Brooklyn Post Americans and British clash as the Americans flee over the Gowanus Canal in the Battle of Brooklyn 1858 oil painting by Alonzo Chappel Article by Frederick Fooy George Washington Was Here And It Was Not Pretty The Revolutionary War battles of Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and the Gowanus By Frederick Fooy As Veteran’s Day approaches it’s worth noting that, right here in our cozy pocket of Brownstone Brooklyn, we stand on blood soaked and hallowed national ground, as the biggest battle of the American Revolution was fought in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene and Brooklyn Heights, when today’s Court Street was surrounded by cornfields. It may be hard to imagine British Red Coats barreling into Trader Joe’s on Court and Atlantic and thrashing young American men, but that very intersection saw intense military activity towards the end of August 1776, along with several other familiar South Brooklyn locations. British infantrymen, Hessian grenadiers, kilted Highlanders and a plethora of soldiery battled American soldiers along Degraw Street, down Bond and over the Union Street Bridge on the Gowanus Canal. It was a hot, rainy and violent affair, as the rag tag assortment of Americans, few with uniforms and many in hunting shirts, untrained, took on the British regulars. The Battle of Brooklyn, which took place on Aug. 26, 1776, was the first major action fought by an army of the United States, under the leadership of Gen. George Washington. The Battle of Long Island In 1776, the Americans had been at war with Britain for about a year, but the battling had been focused in and around Boston. On July 4, the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, announcing that the 13 colonies of America regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Washington commemorative plaque at Court and Atlantic erected in 1926 by the South Brooklyn Savings Institution As history has it, Washington himself, observing a regiment of advancing Marylanders from his command post on Fort Cobble Hill — at today’s Trader Joe’s on Atlantic and Court — wrung his hands and cried out: “Good God! What brave fellows I must this day lose!” * The British victory in Boston’s Battle of Bunker Hill, the first battle of the Revolution, on June 17, 1775, was Pyrrhic—the British took control of the hill, but lost about 1,000 of their 2,300 men in the process. The American forces lost several hundred, and Gen. Washington overtook the hill, overlooking Boston, shortly thereafter. It was a critical victory for the new Americans and filled the rebellious Patriots with confidence. Lord Howe, the British commander, withdrew his troops on St. Patrick’s Day 1776 and set his sights on New York City, which was held by loyalists to the crown. Howe set sail from Halifax on June 11 with an army of approximately 9,000, and between July 12 and August 12, a British fleet of approximately 400 vessels carrying 25,000 soldiers assembled off Staten Island, which was turned into a staging area. The American soldiers were stationed in garrisons on Manhattan and Staten Island, and there were many troops on ships in the harbor. Reinforcements from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Virginia arrived to bolster the defenses. A fair number of invalids were included in these reinforcements, and many of the soldiers did not have firearms. Diseases in New York had further reduced the effective strength of the Americans. By August, hostile British forces in and around the city numbered approximately 32,000, while Washington commanded just 19,000 men. A severe thunderstorm lashed New York City on the night of Aug. 21. Several residents were struck dead by lightning, and some regarded this as a bad omen. Fears were realized when British troops landed at the villages of New Utrecht and Gravesend on Aug. 22. Two Tory regiments, all local militia with red badges in their hats and loyal to the crown, added 600 men to the British forces, and 800 slaves fled to the British, forming a labor regiment. Other Long Island Loyalists acted as informers and guides for the British. However, further north into Kings County, rumors of the advancing British soldiers caused quite a commotion in the villages, and there were skirmishes between American and British troops. Howe spent four days gathering intelligence and planning his advance. At 9 p.m. on Aug. 26, he made his move. His units marched through the night and were ready to engage the Americans on a hot Tuesday morning, Aug. 27, 1776.