Photo Credit: Ann Cook
The Lefferts Homestead & Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument
Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York
This old Dutch farm house known as Lefferts Homestead is located within Prospect Park. Members of the Fort Greene Chapter NSDAR, located in Brooklyn, New York, originally donated the contents. Lefferts Homestead Museum is open to the public.
Prison Ships Martyrs' Monument
Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York
The Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument is located in Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, New York. Below the monument lie the remains of over 11,500 American prisoners of war. These men were held on British prison ships in Wallabout Bay, now known as New York Harbor, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
These are America’s first martyrs. Our POWs suffered outrageous and indefensible cruelty resulting in lingering torturous deaths made more painful by starvation, regular beatings, and diseases. Fatal diseases included yellow fever and small pox, which spread throughout the overcrowded, filthy prison ships.
One notorious ship, The Jersey, was built to hold 400 persons, but when used as a British prison ship, held 1,400 Americans, with the portholes sealed to prevent escape. These men spent years suffering from intolerable circumstances, the blistering heat of summer, and the bitter cold of winter.
These ships, twelve known, became pestholes where prisoners died at rates of five to ten a day—their bodies tossed overboard with their bones and remains washing up upon the shores. At any time, prisoners could have walked off these ships with their lives had they agreed to defect and enlist in the British Armed Services. With very few exceptions, they all said no and chose a horrid death rather than forsake their new beloved country and leader, General Washington.
Some of our chapter members are working on a documentary about the Prison Ships Martyrs' Monument. For more information on the project contact Barbara Skinner.