6. Prison Ship Martyrs Monument
Installed in 1908, the 149-foot Prison Ship Martyrs Monument was erected to remember the more than 11,500 martyrs who died on British war ships in Wallabout Bay during the Revolutionary War. The notorious conditions aboard the ships, equally bad or worse than those in the sugar house prisons on land, was captured in the AMC Revolutionary War spy drama, TURN. Those who died on ship prisons like the HMS Jersey, the Falmouth and more, were thrown overboard or ferried to the Brooklyn shore.
Uncovering NYC’s Revolutionary Trail
Bodies were buried by Brooklyn residents in shallow graves in what is now the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Through erosion, bones began to emerge on the shoreline by 1808. The Tammany Society made the first motion that year to find a formal burial ground for the prison ship martyrs, a quest joined by Brooklyn citizens over the next few decades.
The current war memorial sits on the crypt where the bodies still remain in Fort Greene Park, though those buried here represent only a portion of the people that died aboard the prison ships. If you do wish visit the remains, The Society of Old Brooklynites hosts visits to it once a year but you have to be member of the society to enter. The only requirement is that you have to have lived or worked in Brooklyn for the past 25 years. See photos of the inside here!