|There is no existing image of the Red Lion Inn.|
The building itself is Howard's Tavern located at the Jamaica Pass
Both were half-way houses.
The Red Lion in was named after the tavern that English King Henry V rested in after defeating the French at the Battle of Agincourt. So it is somewhat appropriate that the first action in the first real British victory of the American Revolution took place near the inn. The Red Lion Inn was at the junction of three country roads: Martense Lane, which followed what is now the southern edge of today's Green-Wood Cemetery; the Narrows Road, which came up the shore of New York Bay from Denyse’s Ferry; and the Gowanus Road, which led back up to Brooklyn Heights. This is roughly 39th Street and 3rd Ave. in Brooklyn, although other accounts have it on 4th and 40th. I follow Mark M. Boatner's, "Landmarks of the American Revolution," as my guide. Boatner asserts than many of the battle markers in Brooklyn are imprecise. I agree. You can read an earlier blog of mine about my personal visit to that part of Brooklyn a few years past.
|The passes and the British flank march around the the Americans. |
The Red Lion lay along the Flatbush (western-most)
pass on the left
|Lord Stirling leading rebel forces|
From 7 to 11 a.m. the Americans put up a stubborn resistance, but eventually Grant’s forces pushed them back up the Gowanus Road toward the old Stone House. From there, thanks to a heroic counterattack by Lord Stirling, the remaining Americans were able to reach safety in Brooklyn Heights, the British objective, which was vital to the defense of The City of New York. Stirling led 400 men from the Maryland and Delaware Continental Line in several frontal assaults on the British troops who had gotten around the defenders and now blocked the way. All but nine were killed, wounded or captured in the action. From those Heights George Washington watched one third of his force get annihilated. This is the seminal event in my novel, The Patriot Spy.
|Delaware Regiment on Long Island|
The Red Lion Inn was not a factor in the battle, say in the way the Old Stone House was. However, it was a crucial landmark. During a time when maps were few and inaccurate, this is no small thing. Orders often referred to such landmarks: bridges, mills, taverns or farms. And so accounts on both sides referred to "the Red Lion" or "the Red Lyon," as a way of explaining their location during a certain time of the battle. One would think a placard hung out front depicting a red lion, as many taverns used visuals during a period when most men could not read.
|Marker at Greenwood Cemetery commemorating |
action near the Red Lion Inn (note Howard's tavern is the visual)