Timeline of the Formation and Service of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment

- Part 3 -

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Compiled by Robert A. Geake



Three Privates of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment were promoted to Corporal: Private Prince Limas of Captain John s. Dexter’s Company, Private Pero Mowry of Captain John Holden’s Company, and Private David Potter of Captain Elijah Lewis’ Company. These men achieved the highest rank of any of the enlisted black soldiers of the regiment.136

The winter of 1779-1780 was extremely harsh and included several deep falls of snow.137 Men seeking wood and provisions from Howland’s Ferry, were driven back by the depth of the snow drifts.

January 14

From a letter written by Col. Christopher Greene to Governor William Greene:

“…The Uncommon severity of the weather has caused me to reduce the garrison to one hundred and eighty, officers included; as well as artillery and infantry…our wood is within three or four days of being out, and being well assured there is not the least probability of being supplied from the main, I have this day ordered the racks belonging to Col. Wanton cut up and carried into the wood-yard, to be dealt out to the troops.”


From the Council of War: Whereas it hath been represented to this Council by several officers just arrived from the Continental Army under Command of his Excellency General Washington, that they are greatly distressed for want of Cloathing: and whereas there is at present a considerable Quantity of Cloathing now on Hand in the Agent Cloathiers Store in the State: it is therefore resolved that John Reynolds, Agent Cloathier be and is hereby directed immediately to send forward to the Cloathier General at Headquarters all the Continental Cloathing now on Hand…138

The Companies of Captains Thomas Cole and Elijah Lewis were sent to Providence as Newport had diminished supplies.139

February 13

From the council of War: Whereas it hath been represented to this Council that a large Quantity of Shot, Shells, and Iron have been brought off Rhode Island, and are supposed to have been carried out of the State by Lincoln of Bristol. It is hereby Resolved that Gen. Cornell and he is hereby requested to apprehend the said Lincoln and any other persons who appear to have been concerned taking the said Iron…and that he confine them until they shall give such an Account thereof as shall be satisfactory to the Attorney General…”140

The severe weather and lack of provisions brought on a rash of stealing from both military supplies and civilian stores in Newport. Colonel Christopher Greene increased the number of lashes given offenders, but as he wrote to Washington,

“….I have been very severe in punishment for stealing but almost to no purpose. There has hardly been a weeks interval, during the winter, but more or less have detected in stealing, breaking in to shops, and stores. I greatly fear they will not be broke of the detestable practice unless capital punishment takes place.”141

Col. Greene was, more specifically, writing the Commander-in-Chief concerning the repeated offenses and subsequent court-martial and death sentence handed down to Private Windsor Fry whose proceedings he enclosed with the remarks:

“The one whose trial I have sent has been several times severely whipt for stealing, to no purpose in reclaiming him. Should it be your Excellency’s opinion to punish capitally for such a crime as his, I think him as proper a subject as can be. I anxiously wish to know your Excellency’s determination in the matter.”142

Facing the death sentence, Private Fry had escaped his guard nearly a month before the letter was written. Washington approved the death sentence handed down by the Court-martial the following day in absentia; as the whereabouts of Fry were still unknown.


March 8

Letter from Governor William Greene to General Washington

“Sir – I have the pleasure to inform you that that the General Assembly in their session held on the fourth Monday of last month…did pass a resolve that this state shall raise their quota…which is eight hundred and ten men, including those already raised in Colonel Greene and Angell’s regiments…In consequence of which I am requested by said Assembly to apply to your Excellency for one of those regiments to be stationed within this state the ensuing campaign; and when you consider the former and present exertions of this state to complete the number of men apportioned to them…I flatter myself you will think this request reasonable.”143

March 23

From the Report of the Committee appointed by the General Assembly relative to the ways and means for procuring supplies for the Continental Army

“…The agent-clothier in this state having represented unto the Assembly, that he meets with great difficulty in procuring the clothing ordered by the Assembly at the last session, for the officers in the Continental Army…”144

The agent clothier was ordered to procure “a sufficient amount of linen” to make more than 900 pairs of breeches. Among other measures passed,

“It is voted and resolved, that it be recommended to Caleb Gardner, Esq. commissary of hides and tallow, in this state, to deliver to Colonel Christopher Greene, one hundred and fifty-five pair of shoes, for the use of his battalion”.


April 10

Letter from Colonel Christopher Greene to Governor William Greene

“Sir – Yesterday a flag arrived here from New York, with near one hundred naval prisoners on board. They have brought the small pox. I have ordered them to Coasters’ Harbor to be cleansed. The captain was directed in his orders, to go straight to Providence. I should not have allowed that without your directions…I propose after cleansing the prisoners, to let them go where they may please, after the commanding officer has receipted for them. The captain of the flag expects to wait for prisoners from Boston and Rutland to carry back with him…”145

April 16

Letter from Colonel Christopher Greene to Governor William Greene

“…There are eighty prisoners of war in jail here [Newport]; they were brought in last Tuesday, by Capt. Robinson, in a privateer ship, from Beverly, Massachusetts. They are detained here, while I wait to hear from Massuran, commanding prisoners for the eastern department which I expect as soon as tomorrow. Should you think proper to give any directions in regard to them, they will be duly executed.”146


May 5

From the General Assembly: Whereas it is represented unto this Assembly, by Col. Christopher Greene, that the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of his regiment, are in want of frocks and overalls; which if supplied timely, will be a considerable saving of their winter clothing, and much more comfortable for the troops in the summer months; and that John Reynolds, Esq., agent-clothier not having orders to deliver clothing for the said regiment, cannot furnish these articles so soon as may be necessary, –

It is voted and resolved, that Colonel Archibald Crary receive of the present keeper of the state’s store, and deliver to the said Christopher Greene, one hundred and five frocks, and thirty-three pairs of overalls, which are now in said store, to be applied to the aforesaid purpose…”147

May 15

Never one to shirk from details, General George Washington ordered the 1st Rhode Island Regiment to decamp and march to North Kingstown to prepare critical defenses and infrastructure that would later be used on Conanicut Island. He ordered fascines and planks for constructing breastworks and the requisition of watercraft:

“They are to be from 12 to 18 feet in length and 10 inches thick, well bound and cut square at both ends; of these kinds they may make as many as they can till further orders, and a few hundreds 6 feet long and 15 inches thick; a number of split stakes of hardwood will also be necessary to fix the Fascines…”148  He also ordered “a parcel of platform planks and several other articles necessary for the construction of works” and “all the public boats and craft collected and if they want any repairs direct the Q.M. to have it done.”

May 30

Two weeks after General Washington sent his orders, Col. Greene in Newport wrote to Governor Greene of his progress:

“Sir: In consequence of orders received from Gen. Washington to immediately set my regiment to work in making fascines, till further orders; and having yesterday found the proper stuff for the purpose in North Kingstown, have ordered the regiment there. What state troops there are, will continue to do duty here, though their number is inadequate to the security of the several kinds of stores. I shall have them put in as narrow a compass as possible, in order to make as few sentinels as will any way answer.”148-2


June 4

Col. Greene next replied to General Washington:

“Your Excellency’s orders of the 15th ultimo I received on the 30th. Have set my regiment to work as directed—The Q.M. will have twelve carpenters at work on the boats the day after tomorrow, and will I trust soon get them all repaired. We had previous to receiving orders got nearly twenty done—The Departments being out of money has caused an unavoidable delay ’till this time—It would have been almost impossible to have got carpenters to work had not the Council of War ordered money from the General Treasury—Every material mentioned in the orders we are geting together as fast as possible.”148-3


The Congressional quota for recruitment once again caused disarray among Rhode Island leaders, who were, after all, representing communities now long stretched thin by the war. The General Assembly narrowly passed an Act to raise 600 men who would serve in both Rhode Island Battalions for six-month’s time; beginning July 1st.

The Assembly also enacted that the Hon. Jabez Bowen, General James Mitchell Varnum, and Admiral Esek Hopkins be “appointed a committee to wait upon the Honorable Major General Heath, and request him to cause the privates in Colonel Christopher Greene’s regiment to be incorporated into the regiment commanded by Colonel Israel Angell, or otherwise disposed of for the best good of the service; and that Colonel Greene and his officers be appointed to command the men ordered to be raised by this act, in a corps separate and entire.”149

The General Assembly in that session also resolved that

“Tibbits Hopkins, mow confined in the jail of East Greenwich, and who was heretofore made a prisoner of war, with a party of the enemy; be exchanged for some person, an inhabitant of that state who may now be a prisoner of the enemy; that it be recommended to Col. Greene to give the necessary directions for effecting the said exchange as soon as the service will admit of it; and that in the meantime he cause the said Tibbit Hopkins to be removed to the jail in Providence, and be supplied as a prisoner of war…”150

General George Washington appointed Major General William Heath from his post in Boston to provide assistance to the French at Newport, whose arrival was expected soon.

Heath almost immediately sent a grim assessment of Providence to the Commander-in-Chief:

“I find many public stores in this place, and in a very insecure situation. A large quantity of ammunition is lodged in a wooden School House, …Another large magazine is on the Hill east of the Town. Both of these are without guards in the day time. A Town watch is said to mount in the night for their security…Colonel Greene’s Regiment of Blacks (which is very small) are all employed at North Kingstown in making Fascines as I am informed by your Excellency’s express orders. There is not in this Town even a Sergeants guard, or one sentinel planted in the day time.”151

June 21

The Book of Returns of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment lists a total of 124 privates, of those, 96 were fit for duty, 12 privates were on command, with 4 sick present, and 11 sick absent.152

June 27

From a letter written to Governor William Greene from Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward:

“In consequence of orders from Genl Heath the Blacks will march Fryday or Saturday next…”

June 29

From a letter written by General George Washington to Rhode Island Governor William Greene:

“…Col. Greene’s Regiment being to small to afford any material reinforcement, and being usefully employed where it is at present, I have thought it most advisable for it to remain until the great part of the drafts (levies) are collected; when I have desired Gen. Heath to put them in motion…Upon their joining the [Grand] army, I shall dispose of them in such manner as will make the regiments equal in point of numbers.”153


July 1

Leaving a small detachment to guard stores at Providence, Col. Christopher Greene and the remainder of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, along with four hundred and forty-seven new recruits of the Rhode Island Six Months Battalion154 encamped at the north end of Aquidneck Island.155

July 10

The French fleet of Admiral Charles Henri Louis d’Arsac chevalier de Ternay, and troops under command of General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur Compte de Rochambeau arrive in Newport. Some 5,000 troops would encamp on Aquidneck Island, with separate hospital encampments at Poppasquash Point, and likely Pest Island for those among the arriving soldiers
who had fallen ill.

From the Diary of Louis-Francois-Bertrand, the Count of Lauberdière:

“nobody disembarked on the 11th. The Count de Rochambeau…went ashore with Mr. de Bèville to reconnoiter a position. He found almost nobody to speak with, no American troops. A Quaker named Wanton approached him and loaned him some horses and offered him some tea at his house which Mr. de Rochambeau accepted. He asked if the Americans had a commander in town. Mr. Greene, Colonel of the Rhode Island Regiment , who was at Newport with a dozen men was brought to him…Greene was a relative of the governor of the state. He immediately sent an express to him to inform him of our arrival.”156

July 13-16

Bertrand recorded that camp was established in Newport

“at the most secure part of the island, at the entrance to the Neck. This is where Mr. de Rochambeau placed his camp along the city, the right adjacent to the harbor, the left going out to the east all the way to the edge of the sea, in such a way that a vessel could not appear without being seen. We just had the coast to guard; the whole region was ours.”157

The French artillery for placement in the redoubts were landed over the next few days.

July 15

The Providence Gazette posted a notice from Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward of the desertion of five members of the Rhode Island Continental Six-Months Battalion. The newspaper listed four of the men, Privates John Campbell, James Duncan, Samuel Jones, and Asa Scott. All were captured within a month’s time.158

July 19

The British Squadron under command of Admiral Mariot Abuthnot appeared off the coast of Newport. These vessels included an large number of transports with troops aboard. Bertrand would record the sudden perilous situation:

“Even though we had dug in along the coast, we were still almost unready to receive the enemy…Our vessels were not all anchored because the landing presented obstacles and everything was in turmoil. More than half of the crews aboard were not in condition to service their cannons.”

The situation accelerated the need to get the artillery into place. Rochambeau faced a major challenge. The heavy artillery had been stored in the holds of ships with the ammunition. Once those were brought ashore, crews worked to reinforce the redoubts and place the artillery throughout the night.

While the British Squadron came close to shore several times over the coming days, the firing of the newly installed artillery kept them distant, and within a few days, they had left the Bay.159

July 20-23

Steps had also been taken to protect Conanicut Island [Jamestown] from the British landing there, and leaving the right flank of their squadron on Aquidneck Island exposed to cannon fire. Rochambeau dispatched the second battalion of the Soissonnais Regiment under command of the Louis-Marie, Viscount de Noailles.160 The French battalion took possession of the heights on the narrowest part of the Island, overlooking the Point where a landing party would come ashore.161

July 26

Letter from General Lafayette to Colonel Christopher Greene


As there are some fascines prepared on the shore opposite to Cannonicut Island, (its) expedition to have them immediately brought over to Cannonicut there to be delivered to the orders of the French Commanding officer- you will therefore please to send a party of four and twenty men under the command of an intelligent active officer who will take four boats for which orders have been given to the Quarter Master, and bring the fascines to Cannonicut Island. The Quarter Master to point out to you where the said fascines are to be spread. They are much wanted at Cannonicut and must be forwarded there with the greatest dispatch.

General Heath (?) has already desired you must immediately send Two Hundred and Fifty men to the same island – he [desires] me to add that as soon as you may collect some militia you will also send them to Cannonicut as fast as you can [?] they amount to Three Hundred and Fifty men the whole to be…led by a Continental Lieutenant Colonel who will take orders from the Viscount de Noailles a French Colonel Commanding on the Island of Connonicut.

Governor Greene having been requested immediately to Call out all the militia of this state, we desire you will use your own influence to make these turn out as soon as possible. The enemy are expected… and we must hurry our preparations…..”162


August 2

In a letter to General William Heath, Lafayette expanded upon his organizing troops for the defense of the Island:

“…As to the picquets I think we might have one of the Nigros [sic] upon the Road…One other Sergeants guard with the boats, and a corporals guard with the Cannon…”163

August 3

With the reestablishment of the Corps of Light Infantry for the Grand Army, Major General Lafayette quickly departed Newport to take command. He arrived in New York by 7 August.

That month the encampment of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment and the enlisted men of the Six-Months Battalion were moved from the heights near Butts Hill fort. As Nicholas Ward of the battalion would record, the men “marched to Newport and was employed on working upon the fort at Tammany Hill for about six weeks. They were then taken to a place called Goulds Hill on the west side of Rhode Island.”164

August 13

General William Heath sent a letter and enclosed the court-martial proceedings of those who had deserted the RI Six Months Continental Battalion. Washington replied two days later that he General had his permission to “deal with the matter as he saw fit.”


September 3

General William Heath wrote to General Washington to inform him of Rochambeau’s approval of the release of the Rhode Island Continental Six Month battalion and the 1st Rhode Island Regiment under Colonel Christopher Greene to join Washington and the Grand Army in Morristown, New Jersey.

September 12

Private James Duncan was executed by firing squad before the paraded battalion. The last official ceremonial duty before departing Newport.

September 17

Colonel Christopher Greene, the 1st Rhode island Regiment, and the Rhode Island Six Months Continental battalion were transported from Newport to East Greenwich to begin preparing for the march west.

September 18

General Rochambeau and Admiral de Ternay departed Newport for a meeting with Generals Washington and Lafayette in Hartford, Connecticut. During their absence, the reinforcements to the British fleet were sighted off Long Island.

September 22

Alarmed by the recent activity and reinforcements to the Royal Navy within close proximity of Newport, General Heath ordered Colonel Christopher Greene’s battalion back to Rhode Island.165

The battalion once again encamped near Goulds Hill and worked on fortifications there as well as Butts Hill.

September 26

Following the capture of British Adjunct Major John Andre and the revelation of the treason and desertion of Major-General Benedict Arnold, General Washington recalled Major General William Heath to the Grand Army of the Republic. Colonel Christopher Greene was appointed commander of the troops on Rhode Island.


October 8

From the Diary of Louis-Francois Bertrand:

“The soldiers under canvas want to see the enemy, want to hear the cannon. In the absence of the British Mr. de Rochambeau created some and, on the eighth, he drilled the army on the point where the real enemy might land. We pretended that a fleet entered our harbor and planned a landing…

We put some 1500 men under the command of the Viscount de Vionmènil who was at Stauder’s house. It was there that our enemies first began to take possession of a few houses along the shore. Mr. de Rochambeau kept the rest of the troops with him for the imminent attack to which he joined the American Rhode Island Regiment commanded by Colonel Greene. These troops were divided into two columns. Mr. de Rochambeau personally led the left column. The Baron de Viomènil commanded the right. The grenadier and light infantry batteries formed a separate one…

The attack began with several discharges of cannon, well executed to create a complete effect of the fictitious enemy leaving their boats and forming quickly. At the same time, the column of grenadiers advanced to dislodge the enemy from the houses as they began to establish themselves there. During this musket fire, the Baron de Vomènil turned their right under the protection of a hill which concealed his movement. When he was ready and the attack fully engaed, Mr. de Rochambeau had the charge sounded. Everything advanced in good order.166 The enemy disappeared and reassembled on the seashore.”167

October 14

Col. Greene wrote to Washington requesting that if the battalion were not to be called to join the main army, that they remain in Newport working on fortifications:

“…The difficulty of getting Supplies of provisions has been such, that we have been Almost Intirely without. This has greatly retarded the completion of the very important work at Butts Hill, where the three Militia from Massachusetts State have been Imployed; Their time of Service expires the first of next month, I am confident they will not be able to put the Fort in a defencible State by that time. Should your Excellency not call my Regiment to join the Army They will undoubtable be very Usefully Imployed in making it so…”168

He also requested a reprieve for the recently captured Windsor Fry, writing that the private whom

“…your Excellency gave a Warrant for Executing Dated on the 1st Day of June last…[Fry] Was taken up and Sent to me about a fortnight Since – It is a doubt with me whether the executing him now wou’d have the same effect on the Others as if I had it on my power to have put it in Immediate execution nor do I think an example of the kind So necessary now as then – An unwillingness to take a life when it can possibly be Avoided Consistent with the general good, Induces me to beg your Excellency to pardon him. I have the Honor to be with the greatest Respect Your Excellency’s Most Obt. Servt.”169

October 21

From a letter to Colonel Christopher Greene from General Washington, Passaic Falls, New Jersey:

“I have received your favor of the 14th. I had determined not to march the Levies, attached to your Regiment, to the Army, as their term of service was nearly expired; and as Count Rochambeau expressed a wish that the Regiment might remain with him, I assured him that it should not be ordered away while he thought it of any service to him…
As I never wish to inflict a punishment, especially capital, but for the sake of example, and as you think the execution of Windsor Fry not so necessary upon that account, now, as it was before, you have my consent to pardon him.”170

October 27

From a letter to General George Washington from Colonel Christopher Greene:

“Your Excellency’s letter of the 21st I received this Day and Observe the Levies in my Regiment are not to join the Army. I wish for Instructions how they are to get their pay, as well as for those for The War and the Officers. We are exceedingly bare of Cloaths both Officers and Soldiers my Lt. Col. Has wrote to the Cloathier Genl how our Situation in that respect is and Sent him a return of Our wants…I beg the favor of your Excellency to Order a Supply-Mr. Reynolds, Agent Cloathier here, can Supply the Soldiers if he has Orders for it, he very lately informed me he had cloathing on hand. As the Officers have not received pay for a very considerable time, they are not able to purchase Cloathing If they could be Supplied from the Stores on Acct. it would be very agreeable…

By Captain Tew of Col. Angells Regt lately from the Army I was informed that Congress had in contemplation the reducing the Regiments of the Army to a less Number, and That the State of Rhode-Island wou’d have but one. If that is or Should be done, I suppose there must be Some Officers out of Command. Such of my Officers as are likely to be in that Situation wish to have early Notice of it that They may Arrange their affairs…”171

Greene then made a final plea for reassignment:

“I should be very pleased if your Excellency could Consistent with the good of the Service Order me to the Southward with Genl Greene-I have no other motive in Asking that favor than having a better Opportunity of Serving my Country than I probably can have here – It is not from any Dislike I have to the French Troops but the reverse I have been Treated with the greatest Respect and Politeness By them from the Commander in Chief and all under him…”172

Washington was polite, but frank in his reply, “When the Corps which is to form the new Regiment is fixed upon, I shall probably draw the whole to this Army. Should it fall to your lot to remain in service, I cannot suppose that you would wish to go southward without your Regiment – and I see little chance of it going to that quarter…I am very pleased to hear of your good agreement with the French Army – The General and other Officers have, in their turn, expressed their approbation of your conduct on every occasion…”173


A detachment of four French Officers was sent from Newport in November to survey the route chosen for the Continental Army to pass along its march to the Connecticut River, and then to make a diplomatic visit to West Point.

November 11

The Marquis de Chastellux recorded in his journal174

"I left Newport this day with M. Lynch, and M. de Montesquieu each of whom had a servant. I myself had three,175 one of whom led an extra horse, and another drove a small cart which I was advised to take to convey my portmanteaus, and thus avoid hurting my riding horses"176

The French Major-General would travel with his entourage including five privates on command from the 1st Rhode Island regiment along the route taken later by Continental officers. As he records, the roads along the route chosen were not always easily navigated. It was also meant to be a kind of reconnaissance mission, The Marquis seemed always to have a keen eye on the landscape, as to where encampments and fortifications might be made.

Making his way to Scituate , Rhode Island, he stayed with other officers at Angell’s Tavern. He moved on to a comfortable night at Governor Jabez Bowen’s house in Providence, but recorded at the conclusion of the following day’s journey:

November 13

“From this place to Voluntown the road is very bad, one is continually going uphill and downhill, and always with rough roads It was six o’clock & night had closed in , when I reached Dorrance’s Tavern177, which is only twenty-five miles from Providence.”178

The Marquis de Chastellux remained three days in Voluntown, albeit in the not unpleasant company of one Miss Peace, while he waited for his cart to appear. When it did, he wrote indignantly that

“It is proper to observe that my servants, proud of possessing ample means of transporting my effects, had loaded it with many useless articles; that I myself. Being apprised that wine was not always to be met with in the inns, had thought proper to furnish myself with canteens which held twelve bottles, and having taken further precaution to ask for two or three loaves of white bread from the commissary at Providence, he had packed up twenty, which alone weighed upward of eighty ponds, so that my poor cart was laden to the point of sinking.”179

Private Thomas Nichols then, with four other men of the regiment “On Command” to drive the wagons over the same rough terrain, would have endured an exhausting portage; given the Marquis’ assessment of the baggage and supplies packed for the journey. Nichols would become ill during the wagon drive, revolt with others against the wagon master, return to Greene’s encampment in Coventry, only to be sent back, and fall ill again. This was the main cause of the delay of the Marquis de Chastellux’s wagon. The wagon train’s “greatest misfortune’, as the Marquis recorded, “arose from striking on the rocks, which had broken one wheel and greatly damaged the other.”

After reducing his wagon to a smaller one, the entourage without Nichols continued on to Plainfield, Connecticut, and then to Canterbury, a village that pleased the Marquis with its elegant homes. Leaving the pleasant streets of the village however,

“…you reach the woods and a chain of hills, crossed by rugged and difficult roads six or seven miles further along, the country begins to open up again and you descend agreeably to Windham.”

November 18

Colonel Christopher Greene wrote to Washington to request the discharge of the Rhode Island Six Months Continental Battalion.180 The request was granted.

November 27

Washington wrote to Colonel Greene that if ordered by Rochambeau to march, that he only bring those remaining soldiers of the regiment serving for the duration of the war, or with three years enlistment, to West Point.181

In Rhode Island, a detachment of troops from the remainder of the regiment was sent to guard stores in Providence in December while the rest were recalled to their base encampment in East Greenwich. The few weeks given for preparation of the march passed, and Washington grew impatient for their arrival.

Responding to a query from the commander-in-chief, General Rochambeau in a letter on January 10, to “beg of your Excellency to be persuaded that I immediately gave him your Excellency’s orders for his departure, as soon as they came to hand in the beginning of December.”182

Col. Greene’s Regiment was “gone, near a month ago, from this Island. I am not knowing what can keep him…”183

It appears that there was a last minute effort to bolster the regiment after the loss of the Rhode Island Six Months Continental Battalion. While a return of money dispensed to soldiers in December shows 84 soldiers of the regiment, the receipt for clothing on December 29th lists an additional 19 soldiers of the “Black Regiment” and a few recruits.184


(136) Regrettably, their promotions were short lived. Potter was court-martialed less than a month later for breaking into stores, and Lima and Mowry were reduced in rank with the reorganization of the regiments later that year.

(137) Popek, p.

(138) RI Archives, Council of War Records, Unbound Records 1779-1781

(139) Popek, p. 300

(140) RI Archives, Council of War Records, Unbound Records 1779-1781

(141) Letter of Col. Christopher Greene to General George Washington, March 27, 1780, Library of Congress Manuscript Division, “American Memory: George Washington Papers 1741-1799” http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html. Greene also stated his opinion in the letter that the Black Regiment might be of more use if it joined the Grand Army, and that “when carried from their acquaintances and connections than among them, and the vice of stealing would be less prevalent…”

(142) Ibid.

(143) Letter of Governor William Greene to General George Washington, 8 March 1780 Bartlett, Colonial Records of Rhode Island Vol. 9, pp. 48-49

(144) Bartlett, ed, Colonial Records of the State of Rhode Island p 47

(145) Letter of Col. Christopher Greene to Gov. William Greene, Newport, 10th April 1780. Bartlett, pp. 60-61

(146) Letter of Col. Christopher Greene to Gov. William Greene 10, April 1780, Bartlett, p. 51

(147) Bartlett, Colonial Records of the State of Rhode Island, Vol. 9., p. 67

(148) Letter of General George Washington to Colonel Christopher Greene, May 15, 1780, as printed in Fitzpatrick, ed. Writings of George Washington, Vol. 18, p. 365

(148-2) Bartlett, Colonial Records of the State of Rhode Island, Vol. 9., p. 112.

(148-3) To George Washington from Colonel Christopher Greene, 4 June 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-26-02-0207.

(149) Bartlett, Records of the State of Rhode Island Vol. 9 p. 105

(150) Ibid. p. 77

(151) Popek, p. 316

(152) Book of Returns, First Rhode Island Regiment RIHS MSS

(153) Bartlett, Records of the State of Rhode Island Vol. 9, p. 151. Washington would elaborate on his evolvement of thought on desegregating the Army and imbedding troops of color with veteran white soldiers was preferable to segregated units. In a letter dated June 29, 1780 to General Heath, he wrote: ”I think it will be best to march Colo Greenes Regt. and the Levies when collected, to the Army, and upon their arrival here, so arrange and model them, as to level the Regiments. The objection to joining Greenes Regiment may be removed by dividing the Blacks in such a manner between the two, as to abolish the name and appearance of a Black Corps.”

(154) These recruits mustered in Providence and there “went through the drill…about two weeks as neare as I can tell from thence was ordered to go on the Island of Rhode Island. We landed on the north end of the Island near Butts Hill fort and pitched our tents on a height of land…our duty was to go through the manual exercise, keep up quarter guard, and work on the fort.” (Crandall, Peter pension file NARA

(155) Popek, p. 347

(156) Desmarais, Norman ed. Bertrand, Louis-Francois The Road to Yorktown: The French Campaigns in the American Revolution 1780-1783 Savas Beatie, 2021 p.

(157) Ibid.

(158) Providence Gazette July 15, 1780 p. 3 RIHS Microfilm

(159) Desmarais, ed. The Road to Yorktown, p.23

(160) Louis-Marie, viscount de Noailles, was the brother-in-law of the Marquis de Lafayette, and while a French officer, served in America under his command. He would later be the French officer who concluded the capitulation of Yorktown in 1781.

(161) Desmarais,ed. The Road to Yorktown, p. 23

(162) RIHS MSS Christopher Greene papers

(163) Idzerda, Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution Vol. 3, pp125-126. See also Popek, p. 806 footnote 53

(164) Pension deposition of Nicholas Ward, Pension File S21554 NARA M805

(165) Abbatt, ed. Memoirs of Major-General William Heath p. 233

(166) But for at least one serious accident, as Bertrand recorded: A cannoneer cleaning a piece lost an arm by the sponge. The one who was aiming it had neglected to cover the touchhole with his thumb. An ember remaining from the preceding shot ignited and the charge caught fire. Other accidents might have also happened, always caused by the cannon. Many of our navy officers, wanting to witness this drill, rented horses. They were usually poor horsemen…as three or four were thrown on the ground with each cannot shot. (Desmarais, The Road to Yorktown, pp. 41-42)

(167) Ibid.

(168) Letter to George Washington from Colonel Christopher Greene, 14 October 1780, Founders Online National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-28-02-0291

(169) Ibid.

(170) Letter from General George Washington to Colonel Christopher Greene, 21 October 1780, Founders Online, National Archives

(171) Letter to George Washington from Colonel Christopher Greene, 27 October 1780, Founders Online, National Archives

(172) Ibid.

(173) Letter from George Washington to Colonel Christopher Greene, 3 November 1780, Founders Online, National Archives

(174) Chastellux’s journal would later be published as his “Travels in North America.”

(175) These five men of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment included Thomas Nichols, who in December 1780 is listed as “On Command”, along with

(176) Rice Jr., editor, Chastellux, Marquis de Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782 Williamsburg, Institute of Early American Culture and History, University of North Carolina Press 1963 Vol. 1 p. 65

(177) The historic tavern still stands as a restaurant on Rt14A within the town of Sterling, Connecticut.

(178) Chastellux, p. 67

(179) Chastellux, p. 69

(180) While in existence but for a short period, Popek rightly asserts that the Battalion was a positive model for the integrated regiment that would be formed the following year.

(181) Letter from General George Washington to Colonel Christopher Greene, 27 November 1780 Founders Online, National Archives

(182) Rochambeau had written to Gov. William Greene in a letter dated December 4, 1780, As the two Rhode Island regiments are to be incorporated into one, by a new arrangement of the army, I would wish to unite them at West Point, for the purpose of the incorporation. If their services should be of no use to you, I should be obliged to give orders to Col. Greene to march to West Point. I beg your Excellency will give him his orders, and to relieve with other troops the posts of Providence, Butt’s Hill, and Point Judith, if you think it proper. I will send twenty-four men to guard Butt’s Hill and spare your troops that post…”(Bartlett, p. 312)

(183) Letter to General George Washington from General Rochambeau, 10 January 1781 https://www.memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html.

(184) Popek, p. 811

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