On August 27, 1776, on the marshy fields of Gowanus and Red Hook, George Washington and his rag-tag army of untrained soldiers fought the British Army, one of the most powerful military forces in the world. The rebels were ingloriously defeated. The first major armed campaign for the colonies after declaring independence from Great Britain, the Battle of Brooklyn (also referred to as the Battle of Long Island) stands as the largest single battle of the Revolutionary War, and one that would loom large in George Washington’s consciousness. Yet because it is a story of defeat and retreat, it does not occupy the same place in American history as the narratives of the more famous battles of Bunker Hill, Saratoga, or Yorktown. Through 90 objects and documents, including Hugh Gaine’s printing of the Declaration of Independence, a camp bed used by George Washington during the war, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and a rare hunting shirt that became the first ‘uniform’ of the Continental Army, The Battle of Brooklyn presents the dramatic story of the near-disaster that both threatened and abetted the outcome of the war for American independence.
Generous support for The Battle of Brooklyn is provided by Bernard L. Schwartz, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Con Edison, and the William T. Morris Foundation. Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.