Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Friday, September 16, 2011

Battle of Long Island, by Alonzo Chappel, 1858

The Battle of Long Island, or more appropriately, The Battle of Brooklyn, took place on August 27, 1776 and was the first battle of importance in the American Revolutionary War following the Declaration of Independence. The most intense fighting, which took place around the Brouwer family mill, was depicted by Alonzo Chappel in 1858.

Battle of Long Island (1858)

 This image, as well as a photograph of Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887), can now be found at a new location.

The Battle of Long Island, as it has traditionally been called, or more appropriately, The Battle of Brooklyn, was fought on August 27, 1776. An excellent, current account of the battle can be found in John J. Gallagher, The Battle of Brooklyn, 1776 (De Capo Press, 2001). Much of the fighting took place around the tide mills owned by the Brouwer family at Gowanus. On orders of the retreating Gen. George Washington, the mills and all their stores were burned so as not to fall into the hands of the British. Many later day accounts of the battle refer to the mill property as "Freake's Mill," which is not completely correct. At the time of the British attack, the mill properties were owned by the families of brothers, Abraham and Jeremiah Brouwer. It was only in 1798, that John C. Freeke became owner after purchasing the property, and rebuilt mills, from Adolph Brouwer (d. 1827). In 1818, descendants of Abraham and Jeremiah Brouwer petitioned the U. S. Congress in an effort to gain compensation for the losses which resulted from the British attack and the subsequent burning of the mills.
I have placed online a transcription of the 1818 testimony regarding the heirs petition, transcribed by Lily Martin in 2007.

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