The Battle of Rhode Island Association

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Dr. Robert A. Selig to Speak in Portsmouth

April 20 @ 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Print from George Moutard Woodward, “The Beauties of War!” S. W. Fores, 1799

The Battle of Rhode Island Association Lecture Series sponsored by the Rhode Island Senate Legislature and the General Society of Colonial Wars continue as we partner with the Portsmouth Historical Society and the Varnum House Museum to bring a series of lectures from historian Dr. Robert A. Selig in Portsmouth and East Greenwich.

On Saturday, April 20th, at 1 PM at St. John’s Lodge No. 1, 81 Sprague St. in Portsmouth. Dr. Selig will present “Rochambeau’s Engineers at Butts Hill Fort, July 1780-June 1781” a translation of the Comte De Rochambeau’s Orderly Reports pertaining to Butts Hill Fort. This research was funded by the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. After the lecture, a brief tour of nearby Butts Hill Fort will be available.

On Sunday April 21st at 1:30 PM, at the Varnum House Museum, 57 Peirce St., East Greenwich. Dr. Selig will present “The Culture of Death: Military Burial Practices during the American War of Independence”. Battlefield clean-up is a topic rarely covered by historians, yet following almost any military engagement, there are corpses to dispose of. But who is responsible for the disposal of corpses? Can we tell who buried whom? When does the burial take place? How many hours, days, months later? Where are the corpses buried? Individually or in mass graves? In natural crevices? Naked or dressed? Officers and other ranks together or separate? How long do they remain in the ground? Are they ever found? Who would dig them up and why? Can we identify them? Based on primary sources as well as recent discoveries of the remains of Revolutionary War soldiers, this illustrated talk by historian Dr. Selig will provide answers to these and related customs and usages surrounding military burial practices during the American War of Independence.

Dr. Selig is a historical consultant who received his Ph.D. in history from the Universität Würzburg in Germany in 1988. He has published several books on the American War of Independence and is a specialist on the role of French forces under the Comte de Rochambeau during the War. In 2022 the French government recognized his contributions by awarding him the National Order of Merit. He serves as a project historian to the National Park Service for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail Project (WARO). For this project he researched and wrote surveys and resource inventories for the nine states (and the District of Columbia) through which American and French forces marched in 1781 and 1782.



April 20
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
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St. John’s Lodge No. 1
81 Sprague Street
Portsmouth, RI 02871 United States
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