Battle of Rhode Island Original Articles

Rochambeau and the Marquis

Rochambeau’s Engineers at Butts Hill Fort July 1780 – June 1781

Butts Hill Fort was built early in the American War of Independence to protect the northern approaches to Newport, Rhode Island. Within days of his arrival in July 1780, the comte de Rochambeau sent his engineers to supervise and assist American forces in rebuilding and strengthening the fort.

Figure 5 - Positions of British and American Armies on August 29, 1778

Siege of Newport

Historians differ on when to mark the beginning of the Siege, but I am using August 9th, 1778, as the start of the Siege. This is the date the Americans transported their soldiers by ferry from Tiverton to Aquidneck Island and set up camp in Portsmouth. We tend to focus on the battle, but the siege portion of the Rhode Island Campaign includes the dates of August 9th to August 28th when the American leaders decide to execute a planned retreat. This retreat marked the end of the Campaign.

Almy Hill battle site. Photo by Jim Garman.

Seth Anthony Remembers the Battle of Rhode Island

In researching Revolutionary Rhode Island, I came across a book by Judge Benjamin Cowell. Cowell was born in 1781, so he wasn’t a Revolutionary War veteran, but he made it his aim in life to help Rhode Island veterans get their pensions. He began recording the stories these old soldiers had to tell to justify their service. Cowell began to gather eyewitness accounts, speeches, letters, rosters, and every piece of information he could find on Rhode Island’s role in the War for Independence. In 1850 he gathered all this material into a book “Spirit of ’76 in Rhode Island.”

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