The BoRIA Post

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

December 29th, 2023

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Members of the RI Society of Cincinnati during a September visit and briefing at Butts Hill Fort in Portsmouth.

The Battle of Rhode Island Association (BoRIA) recently received notice that we were awarded two grants from the Society of Cincinnati. The Society of the Cincinnati is the nation’s oldest patriotic organization, founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army who served together in the American Revolution. Its mission is to promote knowledge and appreciation of the achievement of American independence and to foster fellowship among its members. The Massachusetts’s chapter granted BoRIA $5000 and the Rhode Island chapter granted BoRIA $2500 both amounts going towards historical research and lectures throughout Rhode Island. The Society has supported our efforts since inception and we’re honored and thankful to once again receive these generous grants. We also received a generous donation of $10,000 from The Sachem Foundation, a private foundation based out of Providence. This support will continue the ongoing efforts of the Butts Hill Fort Restoration Committee to improve the six acre fort grounds, and directly support our efforts to protect, maintain and stabilize the historic Revolutionary War earthworks themselves. Lastly, we would like to thank all of you for your generous support over the last year. Everything helps as we spread the word about Rhode Island’s Revolutionary War history, BoRIA, and our efforts at Butts Hill Fort in Portsmouth RI. Your attendance to our lectures and events help tremendously. Thank you for following us on our Social Media sites and sharing our posts as well. We’re very excited for 2024 and the things we have planned.

Past Events

Dr. Friederike Baer Lectures on Hessians in Rhode Island

The Battle of Rhode Island Association wrapped up it’s 2023 BankNewport Lecture series with our partners at the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum as we hosted two lectures from Author Dr. Friederike Baer on Hessians in Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War. Speaking to crowds at the Aldrich House in Providence and at the Varnum Memorial Armory in East Greenwich. Dr. Baer illuminated the origins and stories of the German Soldiers who were in Newport during the war. The East Greenwich lecture was filmed and the the link to the video is below.

Friederike Baer is Associate Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University, Abington College. She holds a Ph.D. in early American history from Brown University. Her work has been supported with research grants from the American Philosophical Society, Library Company of Philadelphia, University of Michigan Clements Library, and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). For her most recent book, Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War (2022), she was awarded the 2023 Society of the Cincinnati Prize. For more information about her research please visit https://friederikebaer.com/

Original & Shared Articles

DAR Memorial in honor of those who fought in the Battle of Rhode Island – Image by R. Schmidt

“Lafayette, on his visit to Rhode Island in 1824 told the late Mr. Zachariah Allen as he rode with him in a carriage across the border from Connecticut – ‘In this state I have experienced more sudden and extreme alternations of hopes and disappointments than during all the vicissitudes of the American war.’” I came across this Lafayette quotation about his experience in Rhode Island while I was researching the memorial stone in front of the Portsmouth Historical Society. This quotation was included in a speech by Congressman Sheffield at the 1910 dedication of a Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial marking the site of an early skirmish during the Battle of Rhode Island. The story of the Rhode Island Campaign of August 1778 is filled with hopes and disappointments so we can imagine what those “extreme alternations of hopes and disappointments” might be.

A woman delivering supplies at a fort in 1782 (New York Public Library)

The popularity of spies in the Revolutionary War, led by AMC’s TURN cable television series and the bestselling book George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution, the impact that spies had on the outcome of campaigns and other aspects of the war has sometimes been exaggerated. I focus on two examples in my book, Spies in Revolutionary Rhode Island. The first example deals with the Culper Spy Ring and was the subject of an earlier article. This article deals with the second example, the British spy Ann Bates.

Featured Item

Commemorative Coin #4

Brigadier General James Mitchel Varnum, celebrated in the fourth coin of a series commemorating Rhode Island’s contributions to the American Revolutionary War, epitomizes commitment and leadership. A Brown University alumnus, Varnum’s military journey began with his election as captain of the Kentish Guards, a militia in East Greenwich, during the pre-war tensions of 1774. His leadership in this unit, which included future Continental Army officer Nathanael Greene, was a precursor to his significant role in the Continental Army, demonstrating his influence in nurturing military leadership.

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