Recommended Resources on the Battle of Rhode Island and Revolutionary Rhode Island
Gloria Schmidt, December 2022
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Suggested resources on the Rhode Island Campaign and Battle of Rhode Island
This is not an exhaustive list of resources. It is a list of the sources I have found helpful as I research the Battle of Rhode Island. As I find more sources, I will add them to this list.
Books – General
Dearden, Paul. The Rhode Island Campaign of 1778: Inauspicious Dawn of Alliance. Providence, R.I. Rhode Island Publications Society, 1980. Dearden’s book is an easy-to-read introduction to the Battle.
Hattendorf, John. Mary Gould Almy’s Journal during the siege at Newport, Rhode Island 29 July to 24 August 1778. Rhode Island Society Sons of the Revolution, 2018. The author provides facsimiles and transcriptions to the diary that give the reader a unique view of the Siege.
Hattendorf, John. The Battle of Rhode Island in 1778: The Official British View as Reported in the London Gazette. Rhode Island Society Sons of the Revolution, 2021. This book gives us an official British view of the Battle. The notes provided with the text are excellent.
McBurney, Christian. The Rhode Island Campaign: The First French and American Operation in the Revolutionary War. Yardley, Pennsylvania, Westholme, Publishing, 2011. This is a well researched and authoritative book on the Siege, Battle and the fledgling French and American cooperation. Black (First RI) Regiment
Geake, Robert with Loren Spears. From Slaves to Soldiers: the 1st Rhode Island Regiment in the American Revolution. Westholme, Yardley, Pennsylvania, 2016. The Battle of Rhode Island was the first action seen by the 1st Rhode Island Regiment (aka the Black Regiment). Geake’s book provides a good introduction to the origins of the regiment and their action throughout the war.
Popek, Daniel. They “… Fought Bravely, but Were Unfortunate:”: The True Story of Rhode Island’s “Black Regiment” and the Failure of Segregation in Rhode Island’s Continental Line, 1777-1783. AuthorHouse, 2015. Available as an E-Book. This well researched book provides a wealth of information on the Regiment and especially what happened to these soldiers after the war.
Juvenile Non-Fiction Picture Book
Brennan, Linda. The Black Regiment of the American Revolution. North Kingstown, Rhode Island, Moon Mountain Publishing, 2004. Beautifully illustrated by Rhode Island artist, Cheryl Noll, this picture book is an excellent introduction for elementary school students. It covers the origins of the Black Regiment, their action in the Battle of Rhode Island and their service until Yorktown.
Bjerregaard, Marcia. First Heroes for Freedom. New York, Silver Moon Press, 2000. This story follows a fifteen year old Middletown, Rhode Island slave who is sent to join the Black Regiment just before the Battle of Rhode Island. The book is rich in details about the battle and provides an interest way to introduce the battle to middle readers.
Rhode Island Continentals
Walker, Anthony. So Few the Brave: The Rhode Island Continentals 1775-1783. Newport, Rhode Island, Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the American Revolution., 1981. Walker’s focus is on the four battalion-regiments of the R.I. Continentals – how they were formed, where they fought and the service record of the soldiers.
Newport during the Occupation
Desrosiers, Marian. The Banisters of Rhode Island in the American Revolution: Liberty and the Costs of Loyalties. 2020. Available in a Kindle edition. The author follows a prominent Newport family through the Occupation and the war. It graphically details life for Newporters under British and then French control.
Schroder, Walter. The Hessian Occupation of Newport and Rhode Island 1776-1779. Westminster, Maryland, Heritage Books, 2005. While this book focuses on the Hessian experience, it provides a wealth of general information on the Occupation and Battle of Rhode Island.
Newport before the Occupation
Elaine Crane. A Dependent People: Newport, Rhode Island in the Revolutionary Era. New York: Fordham Press, 1992. This work provides a glimpse of a pre-Revolutionary Newport dependent on maritime trade and a post-Revolutionary town that never could recover from the British Occupation.
Articles on the Battle of Rhode Island
Conley, Patrick. The Battle of Rhode Island, August 29, 1778: A Victory for the Patriots. Rhode Island Publication Society, Providence, 2005. Originally in Rhode Island History Magazine, Fall of 2004. This is a short overview of the Battle from the viewpoint that the battle was a success that has been neglected. There is a very good section on the battle leaders at the end of the article.
Articles about Newport during the Occupation
Neimeyer, Charles. Rhode Island Goes to War: The Battle of Rhode Island, 1776-1778. Journal of the Newport Historical Society, Fall 2003 to Spring 2004.
Neimeyer used diaries and other primary sources to give a picture of Newport and Aquidneck Island during the Occupation.
Primary Sources – British and Hessian Occupation
Mackenzie, Frederick. Diary of Frederick Mackenzie, giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers During the Years 1775-1781in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1930.
Mackenzie’s Diary is one of the best primary sources. He wrote about almost everything that happened during the British Occupation.
Dohla, Johann. A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution. Translated and edited by Bruce Burgoyne. Norman, Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Press, 1990. Dohla was a private in the Ansbach-Bayreuth. In July of 1778 he came to Newport and wrote quite a bit about what he found in Occupied Rhode Island. He reports on the activities until June of 1779. He describes the Battle of Rhode Island.
Primary Sources – Battle of Rhode Island
Diary of Colonel Israel Angell Commanding the Second Rhode Island Continental Regiment During the American Revolution. Transcribed by Edward Field. Providence, Preston and Rounds, 1899. Angell’s diary entries begin August 20th, 1778, so they cover much of the Siege of Newport and the Battle of Rhode Island.
The Small State Big History Blog has many articles on the Revolutionary War. Most have been reposted on this (Battle of Rhode Island) website. http://smallstatebighistory.com.
History of the American Revolution: https://www.amrevmuseum.org/learn-and-explore/for-students-and-educators
https://allthingsliberty.com/?s=Battle+of+Rhode+Island. Journal of the American Revolution.
https://guides.loc.gov/american-revolution/external-websites – Library of Congress endorsed links.
Websites for teachers:
Robert Geake. “Rhode Island in the American Revolution.”
On the Burning of His Majesty’s Schooner Gaspee in 1772
Steven Park. “On the Burning of His Majesty’s Schooner Gaspee in 1772.”
A New and Valuable Resource
Robertson, John. Revolutionary War Defenses in Rhode Island. East Providence, The Rhode Island Publications Society, 2022.
This is a reference book that provides information on defenses on Aquidneck Island and around the Rhode Island coastline. It provides excellent diagrams, maps and information on the history of the fortifications.
Robertson provides a list of sources of information, gives an authorization date, lists the work parties involved and even provides a narrative of activity and the action that the fortification saw.
About the Author
Gloria Schmidt is the Historical Research Advisor for the Battle of Rhode Island Association. She is a retired librarian and currently writes a blog on Portsmouth history – portsmouthhistorynotes.com.