Drums Along the Gowanus

Henry Fonda as Gil Martin in Drums Along the Mohawk directed by John Ford.

“Kickin’ British butt in Brooklyn”

The Battle of Brooklyn, the crucial battle of the Revolutionary War, takes place in Green-Wood Cemetery. George Washington loses but manages to escape across the East River while soldiers from Maryland fight a desperate retreating action across the cemetery and down into the swamps of Gowanus, where I will later work. The Marylanders are slaughtered on Third Street, where I will later live. Thus, my personal battles in Brooklyn trace the course of the Battle of Brooklyn. 

The Old Stone House on 3rd street in Brooklyn where the American Revolution was saved.
The American Revolution was saved here in Brooklyn.

As a child, long before I know this bloody history, I feel a kinship with the fallen rebels. Oh, I like Westerns but I love “Easterns” – movies set in Early America. I am instinctively drawn to them. I know every frame in John Ford’s Drums Along the Mohawk. I want to live in that time and I’m sure that in a former life, I did. So, I devour everything in my history textbooks about Early America. And, when I walk on the dirt paths in Prospect Park, or hide in a weedy vacant lot, or merely jump over blades of grass sprouting through the sidewalk, I am transported to 1776 and have a musket in my hand and a powder horn on my hip. All this emotional connection, spanning centuries, is forged before I know that I am living on sacred, blood-soaked battleground. It is a psychic mystery of Brooklyn. 

Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder memoir by Jack Antonio
Image: The smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
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