The Battle of Rhode Island:
Timelines and Maps

Action in the Battle of Rhode Island took place along what we call East and West Main Roads. It was the East Road and West Road to them. Sometimes there were two or more actions going on at approximately the same time. This brief timeline is an approximation.

For clarification the British and Hessian leaders are noted with a (B) and the American leaders are noted with an (A).

August 29, 1778

August 29th, 1778
Dawn
Captain Mackenzie (B) saw empty American works. He travels to Pigot’s (B) headquarters to inform him of withdrawal. Pigot decides to hamper the retreat.
August 29th, 1778
6:30 AM
General Prescott (B) moved out with the 38th and 54th Regiments to occupy fortifications at Honeyman’s Hill in Middletown.
6:30 AM
6:30 AM
Brigadier General Smith (B) marched toward Quaker Hill by East Road with 22nd and 33rd Regiments with the flank companies of the 38th and 54th.
6:30 AM
6:30 AM
On West Road Captain von Malsburg (B) and Captain Noltenius (B) with Hessian Chasseurs advanced toward Laurens (A). Behind them came Major General von Lossberg (B) leading two Anspach battalions.
6:30 AM
7 AM
Von Malsburg (B) spotted Laurens (A) and Talbot (A) with their Light Corps behind stone walls to the south of Redwood House. Americans were driven back up West Road.
7 AM
7 AM
Livingston’s men (A) attacked Smith’s men (B) from behind stone walls on East Road.
7 AM
7 AM
Commander Pigot ordered von Huyne’s Regiment (B) and Fanning’s Regiment (B) to support von Lossberg (B) on West Road.
7 AM
7 AM
Pigot orders Prescott to sent 54th Regiment and Brown’s Regiment to reinforce Smith (B) on East Road.
7 AM
8 AM
Von Lossberg (B) sent troops toward Lauren’s positions on three sides.
8 AM
8 AM
Coore’s and Campbell’s troops (B) ran into group of Wade’s (A) pickets by the intersection of East Road and Union Street.
8 AM
8 AM
British moved down Middle Road and East Road toward Quaker Hill.
8 AM
8:30 AM
Von Lossberg (B) comes to aid of the Hessian Chasseurs.
8:30 AM
8:30 AM
Laurens (A) and his Light Corps was forced to retreat across Lawton’s Valley to the works on a small height in front of Turkey Hill.
8:30 AM
8:30 AM
Lauren retreats to Turkey Hill. Laurens was told to retire to the main army as soon as possible.
8:30 AM
8:30 Am
Hessian (B) attackers arrived on top of Turkey Hill.
8:30 Am
9 AM
Wigglesworth’s Regiment (A), Livingston’s Advanced Guard (A) and Wade’s pickets (A) waited for the British at intersection of East Road, Middle Road and Hedley Street.
9 AM
9 AM
Quaker Hill was the scene of intense fighting.
9 AM
9 AM
Americans retreated toward Butts Hill and Glover’s (A) lines.
9 AM
9:30 AM
From top of Quaker Hill, Smith (B) could see the strength of Glover’s position.
9:30 AM
9:30 AM
Smith was under orders not to begin a general engagement, so he decided against a frontal assault. Smith withdrew forces to the top of Quaker Hill.
9:30 AM
10 AM
Von Lossberg’s (B) troops arrived at Turkey Hill.
10 AM
10 AM
Americans had positions on Durfee’s Hill and Butts Hill.
10 AM
10 AM
Samuel Ward (A) and the 1st Rhode Island Regiment (a.k.a. the Black Regiment (A)) held an artillery redoubt. His men repulsed von der Malsberg’s (B) men.
10 AM
11:30 AM
Von Lossberg (B) ordered von der Malsburg’s men (B) to try to attack Ward’s (A) 1st Rhode Island Regiment’s position again.
11:30 AM
11:30 AM
British ships Sphynx, Spitfire, and Vigilant shelled the American positions from the West shore of the Island, but they did little damage. Denison Map from 1778 (below) shows the British naval attack,
Denison Map 1778 shows British Naval Attack
11:30 AM
11:30 AM
The Americans held their position.
11:30 AM
1 PM
British ships planned to attack American positions.
1 PM
1 PM
General Greene’s (A) men dragged cannon down to the beach near Ward’s (A) position (near Portsmouth Abbey today) and forced the British ships to retreat.
1 PM
2 PM
Pigot (B) reached Quaker Hill to observe the action.
2 PM
2 PM
Pigot ordered Landgrave (B) and Ditfurth Regiment (B) to march to von Lossberg’s (B) troops.
2 PM
4 PM
General Glover (A) saw movement in the British lines and ordered Tyler’s Connecticut militia (A) and Titcomb’s (A) Brigade of Massachusetts militia to positions behind stone walls (maybe Freeborn Street), but the British did not engage.
4 PM
7 PM
Landgrave (B) and Ditfurth (B) Regiments arrived at von Lossberg’s lines.
7 PM
7 PM - 3 AM
There was sporadic artillery fire and light skirmishing. Musket and cannon shots were heard for seven hours.
7 PM - 3 AM
7 PM - 3 AM
The Battle of Rhode Island was basically over.
7 PM - 3 AM
7 PM - 3 AM
The Americans and British forces retired to their lines.
7 PM - 3 AM

There are various casualty counts. Pigot’s (B) official report lists 38 killed, 210 wounded and 12 missing. Sullivan (A) listed 30 killed, 137 wounded and 44 missing. Troops estimates at the beginning of the battle suggest the British had around 6,500 troops and the Americans around 7,700 men. (From Christian McBurney’s book on the Rhode Island Campaign).

Resources:

The timeline was pulled from McBurney’s Rhode Island Campaign and Dearden’s The Rhode Island Campaign of 1778. 

 

Maps: 

Dr. Abbass’ proposal to restore Butts Hill Fort 2009.

Denison Map, 1778, Massachusetts Historical Society.

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