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The official newsletter of the Battle of Rhode Island Association featuring news, events and Rhode Island history. Learn more at

August 25th, 2023

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Rev. Dr. Roderick Terry Centennial Celebration

The Artillery Company of Newport fire a salvo from the Paul Revere made cannons at Butts Hill Fort. (Photo:: D. Swanson)
The Henry Knox Color Guard Massachusetts Sons of the American Revolution, Photo : D. Swanson
The Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums Photo : D. Swanson
Portsmouth Town Historian Jim Garman, Photo : D. Swanson
Rhode Island Senator Linda L. Ujifusa

BoRIA Celebrates the Centennial Anniversary
of the saving of Butts Hill Fort

On a sunny Saturday morning of August 19th 2023, the Battle of Rhode Island Association (BoRIA) came together with the Portsmouth Historical Society to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Roderick Terry’s conservation efforts to save Butts Hill Fort and other historical landmarks in Rhode Island. The public came out to witness the event held at Butts Hill Fort. An opening salvo of cannon fire from the Paul Revere made cannons manned by the Artillery Company of Newport (ACN also participated in 1923) led into The Henry Knox Color Guard from the Massachusetts Sons of the American Revolution presenting the colors as the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums played the nation anthem. Several speakers addressed the crowd under the tent on the parade grounds of the fort. Portsmouth Town Historian Jim Garman recapped the origins of the fort and historian Michael J Simpson provided some backstory on the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Roderick Terry and how he came to save the fort. Rhode Island Senator Linda L. Ujifusa and Portsmouth Town Council Member Charles J. Levesque addressed the crowd . Craig Clark BoRIA member and President of the Portsmouth Historical Society unveiled the 3rd Commemorative coin featuring the likeness of the Rev. Dr. Roderick Terry. The event was filmed for our YouTube page and will be available later.

BoRIA Receives Legislative Grant and citation from
RI House of Representatives as well as citations
from the Lt. Governor & RI Senate

(L to R) Col Paul Murphy USAF (Ret) BHFRC Chair, accepting citations with Rep. Michelle McGaw and Rep. Teri Cortvriend. (Photo: D. Swanson)

At Saturday’s Terry Centennial Event at Butts Hill Fort, the Battle of Rhode Island Association was honored to receive a legislative grant for the amount of $3000.00 from the RI House of Representatives along with an official proclamation from the legislature congratulating BoRIA on our rededication of Butts Hill Fort. Rep. Michelle McGaw stated “It is with great pleasure that Rep. Cortvriend and I have been able to secure a legislative grant to support the work that The Battle of Rhode Island Association is doing to preserve this important piece of Rhode Island and American history. Both Rep McGaw and Rep Teri Cortvriend have been ardent supporters of our efforts since our inception including volunteering at a few of our cleanups. Rep. Cortvriend also noted ” educating Rhode Islanders and visitors alike about the historical significance of the fort and the events that took place in this area during the American Revolution. It is wonderful to see the ongoing transformation of the site.” BoRIA also received a citation from Lt. Governor Sabina Matos noting the centennial celebrations as well as BoRIA’s commitment to Butts Hill Fort and our efforts in expanding the knowledge of RI’s unique Revolutionary War history.

Upcoming BoRIA Events

BoRIA Lecture Series:
Conserving Byfield’s Flag, the Oldest in America with
Maria Vazquez, Textile Conservator

9/20/2023 -6pm-8pm - Innovate Newport, 513 Broadway, Newport RI

At the end of his life, Town Founder Nathanial Byfield donated his Colonel’s flag to Bristol, where it was paraded at the head of the town’s 4th of July parade for almost forty years. The flag’s survival is a small miracle. In the 1880s, the flag was packed away in a closet of the Burnside Building, not to be seen again until 2019. Join textile conservator Maria Vazquez to learn about the rediscovery, conservation, and preservation methods used on the oldest complete flag in America.

Maria Vazquez has a Master’s degree in Textile Conservation from the University of Rhode Island. She has appeared on multiple PBS specials, including one documenting the conservation she performed on the oldest and most complete flag in North America, the Byfield Flag. She is currently Vice President of the Varnum Memorial Armory in East Greenwich, RI, and works full-time as the Collections Manager for the Naval War College Museum, in Newport, RI

The Byfield Flag Image Courtesy of The Varnum Armory

Upcoming BoRIA Partner Events

“The Backstory of the Black Regiment: Soldiers’ Ties to Community and Kin”

Lecture by Peter Fay, Patriots Park Commemoration by NAACP Patriots Park, Portsmouth, RI August 27, 2023, 3 pm

Philo Phillips of North Kingstown was 27 when his owner sold him into the state’s Black Regiment. Now a soldier, he marched and fought for his life and freedom. However, like many soldiers, he was not alone. His wife accompanied him throughout the war as a “camp follower”, furnishing food, laundry, and nursing. She also earned income as a washerwoman for other soldiers. After the war, he was impoverished, and his wife was blind. He sought and found help from the Black community, and years later the Providence Gazette commemorated the death of this “respectable man of color” at age 75.

Soldiers’ lives depended on their comrades in battle. But Mr. Fay will uncover the stories of women and others whose support was crucial to the Black Regiment’s success during the privations of war and its aftermath.

For Info, contact

Original Articles

Privilege & Preservation: The Reverend Doctor Roderick Terry,
“An Apostolic son of a millionaire” & the Historical Landscape of Rhode Island

An original article written and researched by Michael J. Simpson which tells the story of Reverend Dr. Roderick Terry and his vision for Butts Hill Fort and the legacy of the Battle of Rhode Island.

Life on Aquidneck Island during the British Occupation, 1776-1779

Aquidneck Island today is a truly beautiful island with remarkable natural beauty: the ocean, the beaches, sea breezes, meadows and marshlands, the ubiquitous fieldstone walls, and the many open spaces and farmlands in Portsmouth and Middletown.


Butts Hill Fort

Butts Hill Fort (or Windmill Hill) evolved along the way. The British called this area Windmill Hill because it was a traditional site for a windmill. The Americans called this area “Butts Hill” after the John Butts family that held the land when the war began. The outlines you see at the Fort date from the improvements made by the Americans and French masons from 1780 to 1781. It is at this point that the fortifications at Butts Hill became Butts Hill Fort.

Featured Item

Commemorative Coin No. 3

Our Commemorative Coin Series, designed by graphic designer, BHFR volunteer and BoRIA advisor, Maureen Daniels of Portsmouth and made by Signature Coins of Winter Park, Florida. These two-inch coins feature the Battle of Rhode Island logo on the front and unique artwork for each series on the back! The series will continue until the 250th anniversary of the Battle in 2028, be sure to collect them all!

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