Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Old Stone House, 232 Years ago

232 years ago today, as described in an excerpt from Lord Stirling's letter to George Washington, which I read on the wall of the Old Stone House:
"I saw the only chance of escaping being all made prisoners was to pass theh creek near the Yellow Mills; and in order to render this more practicable, I found it absolutely necessary to attack a body of troops commanded by Lord Cornwallis, posted at the house near the Upper Mills. This I instantly did, with about half of the Smallwood's, first ordering all the other troops to make the best of their way through the creek. We continued the attack a considerable time, the men having been rallied and the attack renewed five or six times, and were on the point of driving Lord Cornwallis from his station, but large succors arriving rendered it impossible...I found a considerable body of troops in my front, and several immediately turned to the point of a hill which covered me. I soon found it would be in vain to attempt to make my escape, and therefore weent to surrender myself..."

How depressing it must have been for the men when all those "succors" arrived, what a strange word for disaster. 256 of the men Lord Stirling called the Smallwoods, I believe they are also known as the Maryland 400, died that day in their attempt to allow the colonial army to flee, while 100 more of them were wounded or captured. Worth remembering on this beautiful day, when all was blissfully sedate at the Stone House, rebuilt stone by stone in the 1930's.

By the way, is it really true that the Battle of Brooklyn began when British soldiers raided someone's watermelon plot, tasting the "exotic" fruit? That's so Fall of Man!

Engraving and Diorama above from exhibits at The Old Stone House.


Brenda from Flatbush said...

True; according to John Gallagher's reliable book "The Battle of Brooklyn, 1776," the first skirmish of the battle occurred when a British scouting party made a nighttime raid on a watermelon patch in present-day Green-Wood Cemetery. Gallagher cites a report that it was a small local tourist attraction due to a rock with a "devil's hoofprint," and that the melons had been planted as an added lure for visitors.

amarilla said...

Devil's hoofprint! Is there an engraving of that?

NYC taxi photo said...

ooh that battle of brooklyn bit is juicy, I'm gonna look into that.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is outstanding!

Here is the url of the blog from the Archives of the Sandusky Library, if you would like to take a look: