Aug 30, 2009
Seven members of the1st Rhode Island Regiment participated in the Brooklyn Heights Battle Commemoration, a.k.a The Battle of Long Island, for the first time. Though historically it was the biggest battle of the American Revolution, it is not mentioned often in educational and other venues. The Continental Army suffered a devastating loss, with 200 killed and wounded, and 900 captured. When the British forces converged on New York in August 1776, it totaled over 32,000 soldiers, which included some regiments of black slaves from the Caribbean who had been promised freedom if they fought for the Crown. Possibly hundreds of blacks, mostly scattered among the New England regiments, who had fought at Lexington and Concord, fought for the patriot cause. The 1st Rhode Island Regiment composed of purchased blacks and native Americans hadn't been formed yet. However the 14Th Continental, Glover's Regiment, fishermen from Salem and Marblehead Mass, had a large contingent of blacks. Other regiments not used to associating with blacks as peers found this to be "disagreeable" and "degrading". These fishermen played a vital role in transporting Washington's army by boat during the battle, and in the evacuation of the 9,000 troops out of Long Island to New Jersey, fighting a rear action to help it escape.
Before the program our regiment gave a presentation and did a musket firing demonstration. Visitors to our exhibit table showed a keen interest. Afterward the the regiment paraded with the merchant Marine band to the site of the commemoration ceremony.
Cpl Leon Brooks
6th Regiment USCT
Telling the Story