Event celebrates last naval battle of Revolutionary War

Each year, the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center holds a ceremony to commemorate the last naval battle of the Revolutionary War.

Think about the American Revolutionary War and images of New England battlefields readily surface.

Images of naval battles? Well, not so much. However, there was plenty of marine combat between the colonists and the Crown. The last of these confrontations happened not on the cold waters off Northeastern shores, but right here along the Space Coast.

The last naval battle of the Revolutionary War took place March 10, 1783 off Cape Canaveral. So, it is no wonder the Veterans Memorial Center and Museum on Merritt Island takes note of the event.

"It has been celebrated in early March on the Space Coast for years," said Donn Weaver, who is helping to organize the observance that will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 7 at the Center and Museum at 400 S. Sykes Creek Pkwy. on Merritt Island.

During the Revolutionary War, the land now known as Brevard County provided the perfect location for loyalists from Georgia and the Carolinas to establish supply lines for the British. The Seminoles sided with the Brits, making it impossible for the Continental Army to win a single land engagement here. On the water, it was a different story.

In March 1783, Continental ships Alliance and Luzerne were wending their way along the coast from Havana, where their holds had been filled with funds headed for Congress to start the new Bank of America. British ships attacked them as they passed the Cape Canaveral area. The Alliance’s commander, Capt. John Barry, defeated the HMS Sybille in the last official naval confrontation of the war. In 2001, Commodore Barry was recognized by the 107th  Congress as the first flag officer of the United States Navy for his defeat of the Sybille that March day long ago.

You, too, can toast the maritime hero’s achievement and get a fascinating look at our area’s role in the War of Independence during the free Veterans Center festivity.

"This will be the best celebration yet," Weaver said.

Pomp and circumstance will be in abundance with more than 30 organizations marching with flags. Larry Guzy, president general of the Sons of the American Revolution, is expected to attend, as is the Naval Ordnance Test Unit commander, plus an honor guard and a ceremonial deck team.

"Firing the deck guns in salute over Sykes Creek is special," Weaver said.

For more information, call 321-453-1152.