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Battle Pass in 1792, with tree stumps still visible.

Dongan Oak Monument at Battle Pass in 2009.

Battle Pass in 1866, shortly before the creation of Prospect Park.

Battle Pass, formerly known as Flatbush Pass or Valley Grove or The Porte, is an historic hill pass that played a significant part in the 1776 Battle of Long Island, and that is currently part of Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Flatbush Pass went through Heights of Guan along the Native American trail that preceded the original route of Flatbush Road, and was at the border between the Towns of Brooklyn and Flatbush in Kings County under the Dongan Charter of November 12, 1685. Earlier, Governor Lovelace mentioned the pass in documents from 1670.[1][2]

Battle of Long Island

Battle Pass was the site of a skirmish between Americans under John Sullivan and Hessians under Leopold Philip de Heister during the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776. The Hessians had 5,000 troops and the Americans had 1,300, and had two cannon on the eastern Redoubt Hill.[3][4] One account says that the Dongan Oak was felled by local farmer Simon Voorhis.[5] The skirmish was over by late morning, and Sullivan was captured.[6] The Hessian killed a number of Americans in a devastating bayonet charge. Many of the American dead were buried at the Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church Complex, although occasionally remains were discovered in the area for years afterward.[7][8] Some of the Hessians who participated in the battle appear to have etched their names at the Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead.

Prospect Park

Preservation of the battlefield was one of the reasons given for the creation of Prospect Park, with the pass currently running for about 150 feet (45 m) along the car-free East Drive inside the park. It is marked by the small Dongan Oak Monument, which commemorates the boundary tree felled and used as a barricade by the American defenders against the northward invasion. The stump of the Donegan Oak was still recorded in the 1840s, and it may have actually been destroyed in the landscaping that created Prospect Park, when parts of the hills were also leveled.

Battle Pass was the site of a vineyard planted with Isabella grapes in the early 19th century.[9][10][11]

An emphasis on naturalistic landscape architecture in the park's original design discouraged a large memorial,[7] and the site is little-noticed today.[12]

The United States Centennial of 1876 saw the Line of Defense monument sponsored by the Sons of the Revolution[13][14][15][16] and the planting of a Centennial Oak.[17][18] A symbolic new Dongan Oak was planted by John W. Hunter on Arbor Day 1890 with descendants of the Dongan family in attendance.[19][20]

Raymond Ingersoll put up some temporary markers in the 1910s for Battle Pass and other Revolutionary sites in the park that have since been lost,[21] several written by Charles M. Higgins,[22] who also proposed a more elaborate series of Battle of Long Island monument, including the placing of Revolutionary era cannon or captured cannon from Imperial Germany on Redoubt Hill .[21][23] Cleveland Moffett also wrote a fantasy piece of invasion literature at this time set partially set in Prospect Park and recreating the battle.

The Dongan Oak Monument with its bronze eagle atop a stele was dedicated on Evacuation Day 1922,[24] designed by Frederick Ruckstull and sponsored by the Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York. The local "Battle Pass Chapter" of the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated another boulder marker in 1929.[25] The eagle of the Dongan Oak Monument was stolen in the 1970s, and again in the 1990s, and has been replaced both times by the Prospect Park Alliance.[26] The area around the monument has been vulnerable to flooding and was repaired in the 2010s.[27]

Two historic tablets set in boulders also mark Battle Pass.[16][25]


  1. Vanderbilt, Gertrude Lefferts (1881) (in en). The Social History of Flatbush: And Manners and Customs of the Dutch Settlers in Kings County. D. Appleton. 
  2. Ross, Peter (1902) (in en). A History of Long Island: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. Lewis publishing Company. 
  3. Gallagher, John J. (2009-08-05) (in en). Battle Of Brooklyn 1776. Hachette Books. ISBN 9780786751327. 
  4. Ross, Peter (1902) (in en). A History of Long Island: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. Lewis publishing Company. 
  5. "1868 Historic and antiquarian scenes in Brooklyn and its vicinity by TW Fields" (in en). 
  6. "The Battle For Brooklyn, 1776". 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Under Annihilation’s Sign: Public Memory and Prospect Park’s Battle Pass" (in en-US). 2014-08-27. 
  8. "Untitled Document". 
  9. (in en) A History of the City of Brooklyn, Including the Old Town and Village of Brooklyn, the Town of Bushwick, and the Village and City of Williamsburgh. Volumes II ONLY. Heritage Books. ISBN 9780788441646. 
  10. Pellechia, Thomas (2015-02-11) (in en). Over a Barrel: The Rise and Fall of New York's Taylor Wine Company. SUNY Press. ISBN 9781438455495. 
  11. "Old Brooklyn" (in en). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 22, 1870. p. 2. 
  12. Sullivan, Robert (2012-09-04) (in en). My American Revolution: A Modern Expedition Through History's Forgotten Battlegrounds. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9781429945851. 
  13. Alden, Henry Mills (1876) (in en). Harper's New Monthly Magazine. Harper & Brothers. 
  14. Ingersoll, Ernest (1904) (in en). Rand, McNally & Co.'s Handy Guide to New York City: Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Other Districts Included in the Enlarged City. Rand, McNally. 
  15. "Battle Pass, Prospect Park, Site of the Battle of Long Island" (in en-US). 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Prospect Park Monuments - Line of Defense : NYC Parks". 
  17. DeMause, Neil (2001) (in en). The Complete Illustrated Guidebook to Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Sterling Publishing Company. ISBN 9780760722138. 
  18. Sargent, Charles Sprague (1893) (in en). Garden and Forest. Garden and Forest Publishing Company. 
  19. "To Train Trees" (in en). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 3, 1890. p. 1. 
  20. Instruction, New York (State) Department of Public (1891) (in en). Report of the State Superintendent. State Printer. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Higgins, Charles Michael (1916) (in en). Brooklyn and Gowanus in History: The Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776 : the Past Historic Neglect and the Present Historic Duty of Brooklyn. Brooklyn Eagle Press. 
  22. Assembly, New York (State) Legislature (1918) (in en). Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York. 
  23. "Suggests Redoubt Hill for Victory Loan Prize Guns" (in en). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 18, 1919. p. 6. 
  24. Legislature, New York (State) (1923) (in en). New York Legislative Documents. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Prospect Park Monuments - Battle Pass Historic Marker : NYC Parks". 
  26. "Prospect Park Monuments - Dongan Oak Marker : NYC Parks". 
  27. "Flooded Prospect Park Path and School Air Conditioning Win Taxpayer Funding". 

Coordinates: 40°39′58″N 73°57′59″W / 40.6661°N 73.9665°W / 40.6661; -73.9665

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