The Battle of Rhode Island

The Aftermath of the Battle of Rhode Island

A diary entry by Israel Angell gives us a glimpse of the aftermath of the Battle of Rhode Island

August 30th. “A Cloudy morning and the wind very high it rained a Considerable in the night the Enemy Remained on their Ground this morning two English friggats Came up yesterday to prevent our retreat but could do but little they Still Remained here. I was Relieved this morning and got Some provisions and being much worn out for the want of sleep went to a hous and took a good knap there was a Cannonade kept up to day and Some small arms from the Sentries at night we Recd orders to Retreat off the Island which we did without the loss of anything, this Retreat was in Consequence of an Express from Genl Washington informing Gen Sullivan that the Brittish Ships of war and transports had sailed from New York Some days before.”

The diary entry tells us:

-That the troops were worn out.

-They had had little to eat and had not slept.

-The enemy remained in its position overnight and two English frigates stayed in position.

-On the day after the battle a cannonade was kept up and there was occasional gunfire at sentry positions.

-The Americans received orders to retreat because the British ships were on the way.

August 30th was also a day to tend to the dead and wounded.

-Sullivan listed the American casualties as 30 killed, 138 wounded, and 44 missing.

-Pigot reported that British forces sustained 38 killed, 210 wounded, and 12 missing.

-American General Sullivan ordered a hundred men to bury the American dead.

-The wounded were transported to mainland hospitals in Providence, Bristol and elsewhere.

Disposition of British French and American Forces Aquidneck Island French Map August 1778 (Library of Congress)
Disposition of British French and American Forces Aquidneck Island French Map August 1778 (Library of Congress)

A diary entry by Israel Angell:

August 31st, 1778. “Our retreat off the Island was completed by three o’clock this morning it is Supos’d that the Enemy attempted a Retreat last Evening but after finding that we Had Retreated they Returned to their ground as it was late in the morning before they took possession of the forts we left …………..After we had Crost at howlands ferry we Encampt about a mile from Sd. ferry where we tarried this day at Night……”

On the night of August 30/31, American forces departed Aquidneck Island and moved to new positions at Tiverton and Bristol.


Diary of Colonel Israel Angell: Commanding the Second Rhode Island Continental Regiment During the American Revolution, 1778-1781.

Christian McBurney’s book on the Rhode Island Campaign.

Paul Dearden’s book The Rhode Island Campaign of 1778.

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