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American Revolutionary War
Continental Regiments

Rhode Island Regiments in the Continental Army

The Connecticut Line was a formation within the Continental Army. The term "Connecticut Line" referred to the quota of numbered infantry regiments assigned to Connecticut at various times by the Continental Congress, the size of its allocation determined by the size of its population in relative to that of other states.

In the course of the war, 27 infantry regiments were assigned to the Connecticut Line.

This included the eight provincial regiments of 1775, Wooster's Provisional Regiment (formed by consolidation of the remnants of the original 1st, 4th, and 5th Regiments), the five numbered Continental regiments of 1776, the eight Connecticut regiments of 1777,  Webb's Additional Continental Regiment, which later became the 9th Connecticut Regiment, and four new regiments created by consolidation in 1781.

On 21 April representatives from Massachusetts met with the Connecticut Committee of Correspondence in the home of Governor Jonathan Trumbull at Lebanon. Trumbull sent his son David to inform Massachusetts that a special session of the Connecticut assembly would meet as soon as possible.

While some Connecticut militia units marched to Boston on hearing of Lexington, most followed the advice of the governor to wait until the assembly could act. The wisdom of this course was confirmed by news that although Israel Putnam had asserted a loose hegemony over the volunteers, a formal command structure was needed before they would become effective.

The special session convened at Hartford on 26 April, and the next day the Connecticut Assembly ordered that six regiments be raised, each containing ten companies. Officers were appointed on 28 April and arranged on 1 May.

At the time the assembly believed that these 6,000 men represented 25 percent of the colony's militia strength; they were obligated to serve until 10 December.

The companies were apportioned among the several counties according to population. Connecticut's regimental structure followed a somewhat older model than that chosen by the other colonies and was considerably larger.

Connecticut placed generals in direct command of regiments, as Massachusetts did, but followed Rhode Island's example in having field officers command companies. This left generals filling three roles at the same time-that of general, colonel, and captain. Rather than assigning an extra lieutenant to each field officer's company, as Rhode Island did, Connecticut merely designated the senior lieutenant in each colonel's company as a captain-lieutenant.

On the other hand, the Connecticut organization called for each company to contain four officers rather than the three the other New England jurisdictions provided. The assembly appointed Joseph Spencer and Israel Putnam brigadier generals and David Wooster major general. It assigned supply responsibilities to Joseph Trumbull, another of the governor's sons, by appointing him commissary general.

After a recess the assembly reconvened on 11 May and remained in session for the rest of the month, passing legislation that resolved a number of logistical, administrative, and disciplinary problems. It defined the regimental adjutant as a distinct officer.

It also appointed Samuel Mott as the colony's engineer, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and ordered him to Fort Ticonderoga.

This session created a Committee of Safety, also known as the Committee of Defense or the Committee of War, which served for the rest of the war as the governor's executive and advisory body. The assembly considered, but rejected, reorganizing the six regiments into eight to bring the size of these units more into conformity with that of the regiments from the other colonies.

Another special session (1-6 July) added two more regiments, but these were smaller than the earlier ones. The assembly reduced the number of privates in these regiments by nearly a third, while retaining their same organization and superstructure, and then ordered both to Boston.

Deployment of the Connecticut regiments followed a pattern established during the colonial period. In the Imperial Wars the colony had been responsible for reinforcing its neighbors, supporting New York on the northern frontier around Albany and assuming primary responsibility for the defense of western Massachusetts.

In 1775 Spencer's 2d and Putnam's 3d Connecticut Regiments, raised in the northeastern and north-central portions of the colony, naturally marched to Boston. Samuel Parsons' 6th, from the southeast, followed as soon as the vital port of New London was secure. Benjamin Hinman's 4th, from Litchfield County in the northwest, went to Fort Ticonderoga, where the county's men had served in earlier wars.

The 1st regiment under Wooster and the 5th Regiment under David Waterbury, from Fairfield and New Haven Counties, respectively, in the southwest, prepared to secure New York City.

News of the battle of Bunker Hill led Governor Trumbull to place the men in Massachusetts temporarily under the command of General Ward. At the same time the 1st and 5th regiments were ordered into New York, subject to the orders of the Continental Congress and the New York Provincial Congress.

Search Connecticut Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 from The National Archives: These documents include muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns, and other miscellaneous personnel, pay, and supply records of American Army units, 1775-83.

Search Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served from Connecticut in the American Army During the Revolution from The National Archives: NARA M881. Compiled service records of soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783.

Search the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files of Connecticut Veterans from The National Archives:: NARA M804. The records in this collection include entire pension files for soldiers and sailors who served in the Revolutionary War. Unlike selected service records, which were typically chosen subjectively for genealogical content, these records reveal more details about each veteran's history and service, as well as more information about his family, state of health, and life after the war.

1st Rhode Island Regiment

  • The Regiment was authorized on May 6, 1775 in the Rhode Island Army of Observation as Varnum's Regiment.
  • Organized on May 8, 1775 to consist of 8 companies from kings and Kent Counties.
  • Adopted on June 14, 1775 into the Continental Army.
  • Reorganized on June 28, 1775 to consist of 10 companies.
    It was assigned on July 22, 1775 to Greene's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Reorganized and redesignated on January 1, 1776 as the 9th Continental Regiment, to consist of 8 companies.
  • Greene's Brigade redesignated on August 12, 1776 as Nixon's Brigade.
  • Nixon's Brigade redesignated on December 22, 1776 as Hitchcock's Brigade.
  • Reorganized and redesignated on January 1, 1777 as the 1st Rhode Island Regiment.
  • Relieved on January 13, 1777 form Hitchcock's Brigade.
  • It was assigned on March 12, 1777 to the Highlands Department .
  • It was assigned on July 10, 1777 to the Rhode Island Brigade, an element of the Highlands Department .
  • Rhode Island Brigade relieved on September 14, 1777 from the Highlands Department and assigned to the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on January 2, 1778 from the Rhode Island Brigade and assigned to the Eastern Department.
  • Reorganized in spring 1778 at Providence with negro enlisted personel.
  • Consolidated on January 1, 1781 with the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment and redesignated as the Rhode Island Regiment, also relieved from the Eastern Department and assigned to the New Hampshire Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on June 18, 1781 from the New Hampshire Brigade and assigned to the 2nd Connecticut Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relived on August 28, 1781 from the 2nd Connecticut Brigade and assigned to Hazen's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relived on September 24, 1781 from the Hazen's Brigade and assigned to New Jersey Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on December 22, 1781 from the New Jersey Brigade and assigned to the Middle Department.
  • Relieved on May 15, 1782 from the Middle Department and assigned to the Main Continental Army.
    It was assigned on August 29, 1782 to the 2nd Connecticut Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on October 28, 1782 from the 2nd Connecticut Brigade and assigned to the Northern Department.
  • Reorganized and redesignated on March 1, 1783 as the Rhode Island Battalion, to consist of 6 companies.
  • Reorganized on June 16, 1783 to consist of 2 companies.
  • Disbanded on December 25, 1783 at Saratoga, New York.

Engagements

2d Rhode Island Regiment

  • The Regiment was authorized on May 6, 1775 in the Rhode Island Army of Observation as Hitchcock's Regiment.
  • Organized on May 8, 1775 to consist of 8 companies from Providence County.
  • Adopted on June 14, 1775 into the Continental Army.
  • Reorganized on June 28, 1775 to consist of 10 companies.
  • It was assigned on July 22, 1775 to Greene's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Reorganized and re-designated on January 1, 1776 as the 9th Continental Regiment, to consist of 8 companies.
  • Greene's Brigade re-designated on August 12, 1776 as Nixon's Brigade.
  • Nixon's Brigade re-designated on December 22, 1776 as Hitchcock's Brigade.
  • Reorganized and re-designated on January 1, 1777 as the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment.
  • Relieved on January 13, 1777 form Hitchcock's Brigade.
  • It was assigned on March 12, 1777 to the Highlands Department .
  • It was assigned on July 10, 1777 to the Rhode Island Brigade, an element of the Highlands Department .
  • Rhode Island Brigade relieved on September 14, 1777 from the Highlands Department and assigned to the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on July 19, 1778 from the Rhode Island Regiment and assigned to the 1st Massachusetts Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army
    Relieved on July 21, 1778 from the 1st Massachusetts Brigade and assigned to the Rhode Island Brigade, an element of the Eastern Department.
  • Reorganized on June 1, 1779 to consist of 9 companies.
  • Relieved on November 17, 1779 from the Rhode Island Brigade and assigned to Stark's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Consolidated on January 1, 1781 with the 1st Rhode Island Regiment and re-designated as the Rhode Island Regiment.

Significant Campaigns and Battles

Church's Rhode Island Regiment

  • The Regiment was authorized on May 6, 1775 in the Rhode Island Army of Observation as Church's Regiment.
  • Organized on May 8, 1775 to consist of 7 companies from Newport and Bristol Counties.
  • Adopted on June 14, 1775 into the Continental Army.
  • Reorganized on June 28, 1775 to consist of 10 companies.
    It was assigned on July 22, 1775 to Greene's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Disbanded on December 31, 1775 at Roxbury, Massachusetts

Engagements

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Colonel William Richmond's Regiment of Rhode Island State Troops

(November 1775 - January 1777)

  • The Regiment was authorized on October 31, 1775 in the Rhode Island State troops as Richmond's Regiment.
  • Organized in November 1775 to consist of 8 companies.
  • Adopted in November 1775 into the Continental Army and assigned to the Eastern Department.
  • Reorganized on January 8, 1776 to consist of 12 companies.
  • Companies 1 through 8 Were discharged at New London, Connecticut upon their return from Long Island November 6, of 1776
  • Artillery Company was discharged on December 1, 1776.
  • Companies 9 through 12 Were sent to bolster Col. John Cooke's R.I. forces then assembled at Newport, R.I and discharged January 1777.

UNIT ENGAGEMENTS

While Most of the engagements were generally small in scale, number of participants and duration. Perhaps most are now forgotten. There were however contests that involved numbers over two hundred as on Prudence Island and at Setauket.

  • January 13, 1776 Prudence Island, Rhode Island. The British landed on the Island on the 12th drove off a company of militia and began burning homes, barns and confiscating supplies. On the 13th, the Regiment engaged the British raiding party of over two hundred for three hours near the Farnham Farm. They were successfully led by Captain William Barton of the 6th Company. The British force was driven back to its ships loosing 14 dead and suffering many wounded. Four of the Regiment were wounded, one mortally wounded and one was taken prisoner.
  • April 6th, 1776 New Port, Rhode Island. Place two 18 pound cannon in range of Captain Wallace's fleet which force the fleet to weigh anchor and leave the harbor.
  • April 7, 1776 New Port, Rhode Island. Engaged H.M.S. Glasgow and a hospital ship from Fort Brenton's Point, Rhode Island.
  • April 10, 1776 New Port, Rhode Island. Engaged H.M.S. Scarborough and H.M.S. Cimetar from Fort Brenton's Point, Rhode Island as the two ships entered the bay.
  • April 14, 1776 New Port, Rhode Island. Engaged H.M.S. Scarborough and H.M.S. Cimetar from Fort Brenton's Point, Rhode Island as the two ships exited the bay.
  • October 28, 1776 Mastic [Setauket]. Assisted William Floyd, a member of Congress from New York, to help his family flee, from Mastic Long Island to Connecticut in conjunction with Lt.-Colthere they capture H.M. Sloops Princess Mary and Lily that lay at dock, bearing cargoes of cordwood destined for the British Army in New York.
  • November 2, 1776 Brookhaven [Setauket]. In company with New York Continentals led by Lt.-Col. Henry B. Livingston, conducted an amphibious landing at Brookhaven [Setauket] and captured 23 of Oliver DeLancy's Loyalist Brigade and their commanding officer, Captain Jacob Smith. The Loyalists lost six killed and an unknown number of wounded. Richmond's Regiment lost one killed, and had five wounded.

Rhode Island State Troops

  • October 31st, 1775 (R. I. General Assembly authorizes the raising of a 500 man regiment)
  • November6, 1775 (Eight Companies are raised)
  • December 22nd, 1775 (began active duty in Newport, R.I., building fortifications)
  • January of 1776 (Enlarged by four Companies to conform to the Continental Regimental Army structure - now 763 men)
  • (Designated as State Troops, part of the Eastern District Command of the Continental Army for 1776)
  • January 8th, 1776 (Bristol R.I. - 3rd Company led by Captain Job Pearce is called to alarm as Captain Wallace's fleet approaches.)
  • January 13th, 1776 (Prudence Island, R.I.- Battle of Farnham's Farm)
  • February 1776 (9th Company led by Captain Josiah Gibbs ordered to Quidnessett Neck to relieve a number of minute men at this post)
  • April 6th, 1776 (Newport R.I. - Fort at Brenton's Point, engage H.M.S. Rose and tender)
  • April 7th, 1776 (Newport R.I. - Fort at Brenton's Point - Engage H.M.S. Glasgow and hospital ship)
  • April 11th, 1776 (Newport R.I. - Fort at Brenton's Point - Engage H.M.S. Scarborough and H.M.S. Cimetar as they enter Bay)
  • April 14th, 1776 (Newport R.I. - Fort at Brenton's Point - Engage H.M.S. Scarborough and H.M.S. Cimetar as they exit Bay)
  • April 21, 1776 (Col. Richmond writes Admiral Hopkins upon receipt of ordnance and warlike stores from the Continental ship Cabot.
  • April 22, 1776 (Newport R.I. - Work at Fort Brenton's Point complete; Begin repairing fortifications on Fort Island, Newport Harbor)

In Continental Service

  • May 11th, 1776 (Continental Congress passes resolve Richmond's Regiment is taken into Continental pay)
  • May 11th, 1776 (Regimental officers to receive Continental Commissions)
  • June 20th, 1776 (Providence, R.I. - Ordered by Commodore Hopkins to disembark from Continental ship Columbus commanded by Capt. Abraham Whipple)
  • July 20, 1776 (Newport R.I. - Adjutant, Ensign John Handy reads the Declaration of Independence from the gallery in front/over the Court House steps.)
  • August 10th, 1776 (Newport R.I. - Col. Richmond writes General Washington advising of latest intelligence)
  • September 7th, 1776 (Officer Commissions in Continental Army are approved by the Continental Congress)
  • October 21st, 1776 (Captain Job Pearce, now privateer of a sloop of war, arrives at Newport with a prize of 300 tons)
  • October 28th, 1776 (Mastic, N.Y. - Assisted William Floyd and family, member of Congress NY, to flee Long Island to CT
  • October 29th, 1776 (New Haven, C.T., Col Henry B. Livingston's Return of Effectives indicates the Regiment has 320 men remaining)
  • November 1st, 1776 (Captain Job Pearce, arrives in the west passage of the Narragansett, with a another prize, a large brig)
  • November 2nd, 1776 (Setauket, Long Is., N.Y. - Secret mission ordered by Gen. Washington, planed by Col. Henry B. Livingston)
  • November 6th, 1776 (New London, C.T. - First 8 Companies enlistments expire. They are discharged) (The remaining four Companies are sent to bolster Col. John Cooke's R.I. forces then assembled at Newport, R.I.)
  • December 1st, 1776 (Artillery Company's enlistment expires and Company is discharged.)
  • December 7th, 1776 (Newport R.I. - Evacuate Fort at Brenton's Point. Move to mainland and points elsewhere)
  • January 1777 (The remaining four Companies enlistments expire and the unit is officially dissolved.)
  • 12 Companies of Foot -Companies 1 through 8 serving from November 1775 through November 1776 (Discharged at New London , C.T on November 6th, 1776, after return from Long Island, NY.) Companies 9 through 12 serving from January 1776 through January 1777 (Discharged January 1777, following the British & Hessian invasion of Rhode Island)
  • 1 Artillery CompanyServing from December, 1775 through December, 1776 (Discharged on December 1, 1776)
Officers of Richmond's Regiment at its inception were as followsOfficers of Richmond's Regiment in Aug 1776
  • Regimental:
    • Colonel - William Richmond
    • Lieutenant Colonel. - Gideon Hoxie
    • Major - Benjamin Tallman
  • 1st Company - Capt. Caleb Gardner
    • Lieutenant - Benjamin Fry
    • Ensign - Jonathan Wallen
  • 2nd Company - Capt. Peter Church / Billings Throope
    • Lieutenant - Caleb Carr
    • Ensign - Peleg Heath
  • 3rd Company - Capt. Job Pearce
    • Lieutenant - Malachi Hammet
    • Ensign - Benjamin Burlingham
  • 4th Company - Capt. Thomas Wells 2nd
    • Lieutenant - Augustus Stanton
    • Ensign - Peleg Berry
  • 5th Company - Capt. Christopher Manchester
    • Lieutenant - Walter Palmer
    • Ensign - Jona. Deval, jr.
  • (Colonels) 6th Company - Capt. William Barton
    • Lieutenant - Charles Lippitt
    • Ensign - Squire Fiske
  • (Lt. Cols.) 7th Company - Capt. Peter Wanton
    • Lieutenant - James Wallace
    • Ensign - John Rogers
  • (Major's) 8th Company - Capt.-Lt Charles Dyer
    • Lieutenant - Zerobabel Westcoat
    • Ensign - Roysel Smith
  • Artillery Company November 1775
    • Captain - Edward Spaulding
    • Captain Lieutenant - William Bull
    • 1st Lieutenant - Joshua Sayer, jr.
    • 2nd Lieutenant - Ebenezar Shearman
    • Fire Worker Lt. - Timothy Brown
  • Regimental:
    • Colonel - William Richmond (Oct 1775)
    • Lieutenant Colonel. - Caleb Gardner (Major Feb 1776)(Lt Col Aug 1776)
    • Major - Benjamin Tallman (Nov 1775- Jan 1776)(Aug 1776)
    • Adjutant - Benjamin Stelle
    • Quarter Master - Ens. John Handy
    • Surgeon - John Bartlet
    • Surgeons Mate - Isaac Ross Bliven
  • 1st Company - Capt. Benjamin Fry (Feb 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Jonathan Wallen (Feb 1776)
    • Ensign - Edmund A. Smith (Feb 1776)
  • 2nd Company - Capt. Caleb Carr (Feb 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Samuel Stevens (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - Samuel Hicks (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - James Clarke (Aug 1776)
  • 3rd Company - Capt. Malachi Hammet (Aug 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Stephen Hopkins (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - Jeremiah Pearce (Feb 1776)
  • 4th Company - Capt. Thomas Wells 3rd (Aug 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Peleg Berry (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - John Pearce (Aug 1776)
  • 5th Company - Capt. Christopher Manchester (Nov. 1775)
    • Lieutenant - Walter Palmer (Nov. 1775)
    • Ensign - Peleg Simmons, jr (Aug 1776)
  • (Colonels) 6th Company - Capt. Abimlich Riggs (Mar 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Squire Fiske (Mar 1776)
    • Ensign - Harry Alexander (Aug 1776)
  • (Lt. Cols.) 7th Company - Capt. James Wallace (Aug 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Jonathan Deval jr. (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - Benjamin Burroughs (Aug 1776)
  • (Major's) 8th Company - Capt.- Royzel Smith (Aug 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Ebenezer Macomber (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - Joseph Springer (Aug 1776)
  • 9th Company - Capt. Josiah Gibbs (Jan 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Phillip Arnold (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - Elisha Parker (Aug 1776)
  • 10th Company - Capt. Lemuel Bailey (Aug 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Benjamin Church (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - Phillip Palmer (Aug 1776)
  • 11th Company - Capt. Benjamin Diamond (Jan 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Phillip Traffan (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - Benjamin Steele (Aug 1776)
  • 12th Company - Capt. Samuel Phillips (Jan 1776)
    • Lieutenant - Benjamin West (Aug 1776)
    • Ensign - John Handy (Aug 1776)

Unit History

On October 31st, 1775, just before the official ouster of Governor Joseph Wanton, the Rhode Island General Assembly authorized a regiment of eight companies totaling 500 men to be raised to protect Rhode Island. There were already well lead and organized bands of militia in Rhode Island. However, unlike other New England colonies that relied upon such forces to protect themselves, Rhode Island chose to raise a regiment that would be employed full time for its defense.

During late 1775 and into the spring of 1776 the Royal Navy conducted raids up and down the Narragansett Bay. They bombarded Bristol on Oct 7, 1775 and landed foraging raids on Prudence Island and Conanicut Island. They burned buildings, carried away live stock, slaves, impressed sailors, took supplies, anything they fancied. They threatened to bomb Newport on at least one occasion holding the town under threat until supplies and provisions were provided the fleet. The leader of the British fleet in Rhode Island waters was the notorious Capt. James Wallace. A name every Rhode Islander knew since his arrival aboard the H.M.S. Rose in 1774.

Most of Rhode Island's soldiers were with Washington outside of Boston and unable to help defend their homes. The militia system was not very effective against these raids because the British did not venture to far inland and away from the support of their ships. Although some of the militia units in Rhode Island were very probably the best trained, well led and equipped units of their kind in all the union, they were often too few and too late to confront their tormentors. When they did get the chance they certainly gave a very good account of themselves to the great displeasure of their British and Hessian adversaries.

The eyes on shore were always watching the Royal Navy ships and word spread quickly but it did take time to assemble a response to an incursion. This is precisely why William Richmond's and Henry Babcock's (later k/a Christopher Lippitt's) Regiments were formed. They were full time soldiers organized to meet a full time threat. The two regiments fortified many positions around Newport harbor and engaged the Royal Navy when any opportunity arose. Their very effective efforts coupled with the Continental Navy, scheduled refitting in Halifax and the assembling of the British Army for the invasion of New York, saw the Royal Navy leave the bay. It was not until later in the year, December 7th, when the British would return but in doing so, they occupied the Island of Newport in 1776.

William Richmond Esq. was the commanding officer. Like many others of his age in the community he possessed prior military experience. Almost all had an assignment with some militia duty. During the French and Indian War in North America, Richmond served initially as a Lieutenant under his brother, Col. Barzillai Richmond. He was to see action as part of the British expedition commanded by William Johnson, ordered to capture Fort St. Frederic during 1755. Richmond was later promoted in 1756 to the rank of Captain serving under Colonel Joseph Champlin who then commanded the Kings County Regiment. After his French and Indian War service he became one of ten Assistants to Gov. Stephen Hopkins at the convention of the Governor's Council as the supreme ordinary of the English colony of Rhode Island held in Newport, in May of 1760. By 1770 he was serving as a Rhode Island Colony Assistant, representing the town of Little Compton.

As Colonial tensions intensified with Great Britain, he was not only vocal but active in his support of the rights of Rhode Islanders. He is somewhat suspected to be among those with his brother Barzillai Richmond who boarded and set fire to His Majesty's armed schooner H.M.S. Gaspee on June 9, 1772. In 1775, he became a member of the Committee of Safety and was as ardent a patriot, in the cause of Liberty, as one could be. He was chosen by the General Assembly to serve as a field officer in October 1775. The regiment would become known as Richmond's Regiment, named after its commander, as was then the custom. The agreed upon term of enlistment for this regiment was one year from November 1775, through November 1776. They would be under the overall command of the States Governor, Nicholas Cooke. The State of Rhode Island provided money for its raising, training, equipment and payroll.

The Lieutenant Colonel assigned to the Regiment was Gideon Hoxie. The Major, Benjamin Tallman. Caleb Gardner the 1st company commander, also served as Major after Tallman left the regiment to supervise the building of the Continental Navy ship Warren. Tallman returned to the regiment in August of 1776, at which time Gardner had become Lieutenant Colonel, as Gideon Hoxie resigned. The Regimental Staff included: William Barton and later Benjamin Steele as Adjutants and Nathan Miller served as the Commissary. John Handy served as Quartermaster and later as an Adjutant. The Paymaster's name appears to be lost to the passage of time. The Surgeons mates in the Regiment were Isaac Ross Bliven, Joseph Rhodes, Ebenezer Richmond, the Colonel's nephew and John Chace. Joseph Pratt is indicated as being the Drummer and Drum-Major for the Regiment. He was a veteran of the Army of Observation at Boston having served in Thomas Church's Regiment, as a private.

An Artillery company was attached to Richmond's Regiment and it was commanded by Captain Edward Spaulding and later by Captain Robert Elliot who replaced him after Spaulding's resignation in March of 1776. The enlistments for the Artillery Company ran from December 1, 1775 through December 1, 1776.

It is likely that the dress of the unit was what was worn by the individual at the time of entering service. Some members would have had the means to purchase one or perhaps they got into old French and Indian War uniforms. Perhaps because of its dress they are often referred to as, or stated to be Militia, by witnesses and some historians. It is in all likelihood probably what they looked like.

Richmond's Regiment began active duty December 22nd, 1775, and began building and manning fortifications primarily in Newport but also elsewhere. They also assisted in erecting firing platforms at various locations such as Quidnessett Neck that suited engagement with Captain Wallace's squadron of approximately 13 to 16 vessels.

The British raids caused extreme concern for the population of Rhode Island. Many atrocities were committed against the various communities' inhabitants. The coastal communities were especially susceptible to such occurrences but by no means were British actions restricted to land. The British also interrupted the States shipping, firing upon ships that failed to heave too, boarded ships confiscating needed supplies declaring it contraband, used impressment to fill out their crews and blockading others in harbors effectively interrupting Rhode Island's maritime commerce.

In accordance with the restructuring of the Continental Army in the field for 1776, Richmond's Regiment was expanded during January of 1776 by the addition of four new companies. It now fielded a total of 12 companies with the number of effectives being approximately 763 men. The four additional company's enlistments would also be a year running from January 1776 through January of 1777. The Regiment was part of the Eastern District Command structure for the Continental Army and designated as being "State Troops" meaning they were primarily to be used in the role of State defense.

A second Regiment of State Troops was raised in January of 1776 and was commanded by Col. Henry Babcock who was appointed its commander in February. The enlistees in

this regiment would receive “two month's pay in advance, and we were to find our own clothes. Pay for a private was 40 shillings per month.” It is likely that at least the additional four companies of Richmond's Regiment signed under the same or similar terms.

Prudence Island, located in the center of the Narragansett Bay, became the first punitive target of Captain Wallace for the New Year. The H.M.S. Glasgow and H.M. Sloop Swan landed a raiding force of approximately 200 Soldiers and Royal Marines on January 12, 1776. The British drove off a company of militia and began confiscating supplies, carrying away live stock, and burning numerous homes and barns. They continued their plunder and burning into the following day of the 13th until they were challenged by Captain William Barton leading a contingent of Richmond's Regiment of State Troops and others near the Farnham's Farm. The contest raged for three hours near the farm until the British were compelled to retire. Being driven back to their ships they left behind 14 dead and suffered many wounded. Four of Richmond's Regiment were wounded and one was taken prisoner. Private Job Greenman, of the 2nd Company led by Captain Billings, was wounded in the battle suffering the loss of the use of his left knee and leg. He continued in active service and appears on one of the few remaining muster rolls dated October 10, 1776. His Captain, Billings Throope was not so fortunate. He was mortally wounded and passed away from his wounds on January 24, 1776. After this attack, there were almost no structures left on the island. Soon thereafter, the remaining residents and livestock not previously evacuated were relocated to the mainland. The Island never fully recovered from the effects of the raid which destroyed its economy and saw most of its population, unfortunately, never return.

Since the beginning of the year of 1776 and for some months previous, Captain James Wallace commanding the H.M.S. Rose had his way throughout the Narragansett Bay. This changed during the month of April. On April 6th, 1776, “American troops, with two row-galleys, bearing two eighteen pounders each, arrived from Providence. (The British fleet was then anchored about a mile above New Port.) Two eighteen pounders, brought by the provincial troops, were planted on shore in view of the enemy, and without any works to protect them. These, commanded by Captain Elliot, with the row-galleys under Captain Grimes, promised Wallace such great and immediate danger, that he weighed anchor and left the harbor with his whole squadron without firing a shot. " Soon afterward, the H.M.S. Glasgow, of twenty-nine guns, came into the harbor and anchored near Fort Island, having been severely handled in an engagement with Admiral Hopkins off Block Island. ” The engagement off Block Island occurred on the same day that Captain Wallace was challenged by Richmond's Regiment and left Newport. “Hopkins, with his little fleet, was on a cruise eastward, having left the Capes of the Delaware in February, visiting the Bermudas, and was now making his way toward Massachusetts Bay. On the 4th of April (1776), he fell in with a British schooner on the east end of Long Island, and took her. About one in the morning of the 6th he fell in with the Glasgow, of twenty-nine guns and one hundred and fifty men. The American brigantine Cabot, Captain Hopkins, and the Columbus, Captain Whipple, raked her as she passed. The American brig Annadona and sloop Providence were also in the engagement, yet the Glasgow escaped and fled into Newport Harbor, whither Hopkins thought it not prudent to follow. ”

The Glasgow's troubles were not yet over. She entered the Narragansett Bay and anchored near Fort Island and within the range of the cannon placed on Brenton's Point at the entrance to Newport Harbor, “On Sunday morning April 7th the battery opened fire at about 5 o'clock AM when the fort fired on the frigate H.M.S. Glasgow and a hospital ship which were anchored near Goat Island. Colonel Richmond of the Rhode Island militia fired 35 cannon shots at the ships in the space of half an hour. The ships cut their anchor cables and went across the passage to relative safety near Jamestown. ”
On April 10th, 1776, the Battery at Brenton's Point, was called again to action as two of his Majesties ships were entering the Bay during darkness. “11PM , Wednesday, fired on the H.M.S. Scarborough and H.M.S. Cimetar. This action forced the ships to seek refuge beyond Rose Island towards Jamestown.” On the14th of April the two ships returned and a brief exchange of gunfire ensued as the two ships forced their way past and out to the sea. After this engagement the Narragansett Bay was temporarily free from British warships.

On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island declared her independence from Great Britain, two months prior to the other colonies. Soon after the Continental Congress retroactively accepted the two Rhode Island State Regiments into the Continental Army for 1776. As a result, the Regiments now fell under the direct command of General Washington and the Continental Congress. In four months time, this would present a real problem for the defense of Rhode Island.

Many still held mixed emotions about the cause for Liberty and breaking from the Mother Country. Such vacillation would continue for the rest of the year until it was realized that Britain meant to subdue them without compromise. They were now on their way. In a portent of what was to arrive …Writing from New Port Rhode Island on August 10th, Colonel William Richmond advised General Washington by letter, of the following:

New Port Island Aug. 10th day 1776

Sir,

This morning arrived Captain Harris who brings us the following intelligence. That Thursday last he fell in with a fleet and distinctly counted 153 sail, 17 of which he took to be ships of war. The rest transports about 15 leagues S. W. S. from Nantucket Shoals their course W. N. W. close to the wind about the latitude of Sandy Hook. The said morning 10 O'clock saw 9 sails supposed to be part of the same fleet. I thought it my indispensable duty to give your Excellency the earliest intelligence by express, of so important a piece of news as without doubt they are destined for New York.

I am with respect your

Excellency said obedient humble Servant Col. William Richmond

Commandant.

In August the Regiment's officers received commissions in the Continental Army as ordered by the Continental Congress. By this time there had been numerous changes in those holding officer positions since the Regiment was originally raised in November of 1775. Many officers had declined further service in the Regiment knowing they would have to leave Rhode Island. The disaster suffered by the Continental Army at the Battle of Long Island on August 27th, proved their point.

Following the evacuation to Manhattan Island General Washington ordered the two Regiments of State Troops in Rhode Island to join the main Army in New York. Governor Cooke was less than enthusiastic over the loss of these two regiments from the States defense. Should there be an invasion or another raid there would be no troops left, except Militia to defend a penniless Rhode Island, who could not afford to pay even them.

The Regiments were made ready and Lippitt's marched to New York on September 13th and arrived in camp at Harlem Heights on Oct 2, 1776. Richmond's Regiment would be initially held back by Governor Cooke because 8 of the 12 Companies enlistments would expire in November of 1776. It seemed nonsensical to send them there for only two months. In response to Governor Cooke's concerns regarding the defense of Rhode Island, Congress ordered a neighboring Massachusetts Regiment to Rhode Island to replace Lippitt's Regiment. But this was all the assistance available to be spared Rhode Island. Upon the Massachusetts Regiments arrival in Rhode Island, Richmond's Regiment immediately began its march to New York following that of Lippitt's.

Richmond's Regiment was again delayed, in Connecticut while en route to New York. Governor Cooke offered the Regimen an early exit out of their service commitments if they agreed to join the Continental Navy or signed on as a Privateer. General Washington agreed to allow the men to leave for those purposes as service in same was desperately needed. After those who left for said services, subtracting desertions and those with sickness the Regiment was reduced to a little less than 50% of its' of its original compliment. Many of the Regiment had been sailors before their enlistment and some of the officers owned ships already in such service. Privateering was by far, a much more profitable venture than service in the Continental Navy or Army. It should not be surprising that many left the Regiment to serve their country in this capacity.

The Regiment remained in Connecticut eventually joining with two other regiments of New York Continentals led by Col. Henry B. Livingston. The Regiments engaged in evacuation efforts of persons and equipment from Long Island and participated in an amphibious landing and attack upon the North Shore of Long Island.

The crossing to the North Shore of Long Island was made in whale boats during a foul, cold and stormy condition. Their arrival on November 2, 1776, was soon detected but they continued to approach the shore and were fired upon. Despite loosing surprise they landed and aggressively moved inland seeking the opposition and a hot battle soon commenced. In the short engagement, they were matched against a force from Oliver DeLancy's Loyalist Brigade led by Captain Jacob Smith (of Smithtown, L.I.). Captain's Smith's force was overwhelmed at or near the Mill Pond at Setauket. The Rhode Islanders captured Captain Smith and twenty three others. The Loyalists lost six killed and an unknown number of wounded. Richmond's Regiment lost one killed and had five wounded. There were no other losses. Seventy-five muskets were also captured by the Regiment and these along with the prisoners were taken back to Connecticut. The American regiments continued with their mission and retired before British reinforcements could arrive.

The men of the first eight Companies were discharged at New London, Connecticut upon their return from Long Island. The Artillery Company was discharged on December 1. The remaining four companies now numbered only about "100 souls" and were sent to bolster Col. John Cooke's forces then assembled at New Port. Here they remained until the British landings forced them to evacuate New Port. Unfortunately, the Americans had not fortified and manned the West Passage into the Narragansett Bay as they did so well the Eastern. On December 7, 1776, Commodore Sir Peter Parker in command of a British fleet including seven ships of the line, four frigates, and seventy transports, sailed unopposed up the West Passage and around the northern end of Conanicut Island. The following day he landed six thousand troops unopposed near Coddington Cove on Rhode Island. These troops under the command of Major General Henry Clinton marched into the town of New Port beginning a three year long occupation of the city of New Port and Rhode Island.

The remaining men of Richmond's Regiment were discharged a short time later and those who would rejoin the Army for 1777 had their names given to the General Assembly. Among the recommendations for officers for the following year appears Captain Josiah Gibbs, commander of the 9th Company. Private Francis Bates jr., of Captain Gibbs Company, "together with others like minded" traveled North to Fort Ticonderoga joining the forces there under the command of General Arthur St. Clair. With that, the Regiment melted away into history. A small part played in a large and eight year long, American Revolution.

  1. .The three Regiments of Col. James Varnum, Col. Daniel Hitchcock and Col. Thomas Church.
  2. With cannon captured by the first US Marine amphibious landings in Nassau, in the British Bahamas.  Gifts from Admiral Esek Hopkins and the fledgling Continental Navy.
  3. By the early spring of 1776, the financial burden of maintaining four regiments in the field proved too much for the Rhode Island legislature to sustain.  Almost all of the specie had been drained from the colony which began issuing paper money.  This necessitated the General Assembly's requesting of the Continental Congress that Richmond's Regiment and Lippitt's Regiment be taken into the Continental pay.  Congress agreed and by May 1, theses regiments were receiving their pay from the Continental Congress.
  4. He was the Regimental Adjutant with the rank of Captain during 1775 and early 1776.  Barton was born in Warren and had a hatter's shop in Providence.  In May of 1776 Barton would be appointed Brigade Major of the two State Troop Regiments in R.I. (Richmond's and Lippitt's Regiments)Joseph Jencks Smith, "Civil and Military List of Rhode Island. 1647-1800", Preston and Rounds Co., 1900It was Major Barton who planed and led the daring raid that captured the British General Richard Prescott  from the Overing house where he was staying overnight as a guest, on the night of July 9-10th, 1777.  It was the second time Prescott was captured having been previously taken in the fall of Montreal to the American forces in 1775.  Williams, Catherine R.; Life of Barton and Olney; Providence, RI -New York: Wiley & Steel, Albany: Oliver Steele and Washington City: Stationer's Hall; 1839.
  5. The Colonel's nephew, son of his oldest brother, Barzillai Richmond. Ebenezer also served in Col. Thomas Church's Regiment, one of the three regiments Rhode Island sent to Boston under the command of Major General Nathaniel Greene, from September 21, 1775 into December.  Col Church's Surgeon and surgeon's mate had joined the Canadian expedition led by Arnold.
  6. John Bartlett, who enlisted in the Continental Army on Jan. 15, 1776, was officially assigned to Richmond's Regiment as the Regimental Surgeon on August 19th, 1776.  He replaced John Chace in February of 1776.
  7. Pennsylvania Society Sons Of The Revolution, Roll of Ancestors, Decennial Register, 1888-1898
  8. Quidnessett Neck is located on the western most side of the western passage into the Narragansett Bay across from Prudence Island.
  9. Impressment is the boarding of a vessel, abducting one or more of its sailors and forcing them into the service of the British Navy against their will.  The rights of the individual are completely ignored in such a circumstance.  Although a long standing tradition it was never accepted as a legitimate act.  It was considered an open violation of the rights of free born Englishmen and was passionately hated by all sailors.
  10. He was later replaced by Lt-Col. Christopher Lippitt of Cranston , R. I., officially in May, due to an illness.  The loss was an unfortunate one as Colonel Babcock was a very experienced officer.  He was born in Rhode Island in 1736.  He was a son of Chief Justice Babcock, of Rhode Island, was a graduate of Yale.  A Captain at the age of eighteen served under Colonel Williams at Lake George. He was A Major in 1756, Lt-Colonel in 1757, and in 1758 a Colonel of a Rhode Island regiment that took part in the unsuccessful attempt to capture Fort Ticonderoga. There he was wounded in the knee. He was with Sir Jeffrey Amherst, in 1759 when the Fort was taken.  He lived in Stonington, CT, during February of 1776, was made commander of the troops at Newport, Rhode Island.  He was relieved of duty for conduct unbecoming of an officer on account of insanity.  He passed from this life in 1800.
  11. Edwin M. Stone; “The Life and Recollections of John Howland, the late president of the Rhode Island historical Society" 1857; p.53.
  12. For Casualties see Arnold, Samuel Greene - History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, D. Appleton & Company, New York 1860; Vol II -1700-1790 -Chapter XX page 366.
  13. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. William B. Clark, editor, Vol 3, ps. 767,801 and 882. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1968-1976 and List of Invalids: Records of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, pages 162 to 167.
  14. These “provincial troops” were the R.I. State Troops.  According to the Ezra Stiles diary, Col. William Richmond's regiment was involved with firing the cannon at the H.M.S. Glasgow.
  15. Captain Robert Elliot, in the Company of Artillery assigned to Richmond's Regiment.
  16. The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, Vol. 2.
  17. Lossing, Benson J., Pictorial Field Book Of The Revolution, Volume I. Chapter XXVII., 1850.
  18. Lossing, Benson J., Pictorial Field Book Of The Revolution, Volume I. Chapter XXVII., 1850.
  19. The Brenton's Point battery would remain active in American hands until abandoned when the British occupied Newport later in December.
  20. Cullum's Historical Sketch of the Defenses of Narragansett Bay and The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, Vol. 2 p 5.
  21. Ibid Ezra Stiles, Vol. 2 pg. 8.
  22. His Majesties forces arrived in New York with 30,000 professional soldiers eager to fight.
  23. Caleb Gardner, Captain and commander of the 1st Company was the Co-owner of privateer Revenge, and others during Revolution and Master of Providence-based privateer, Flying Fish, in 1779.  Job Pearce, Captain and Commander of the 3rd Company was Master of the Providence-based privateer, Greenwich, and others.
  24.  See letter of Henry B. Livingston to his father Robert Livingston, date unknown.
  25. Six of the prisoners were black.  (The British were very active in recruiting blacks on Long Island.)
  26. Naval Documents of the American Revolution, Vol 6 page 983.
  27. See letter of Governor Cooke to William Ellery dated November 30, 1776.

Lippitt's Rhode Island Regiment

  • The Regiment was authorized on January 8, 1776 in the Rhode Island State Troops as Babcock's Regiment.
  • Organized on January 18, 1776 at Newport to consist of 12 companies.
  • Redesignated on May 1, 1776 as Lippitt's Regiment.
  • Adopted on May 11, 1776 into the Continental Army and assigned to the Eastern Department.
  • Relieved on September 14, 1776 from the Eastern Department and assigned to the Main Continental Army.
    It was assigned on October 14, 1776 to McDougall's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on November 10, 1776 from McDougall's Brigade and assigned to Nixions Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army
  • Nixion's Brigade re-designated 22 December 22, 1776 as Hitchcock's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Disbanded on January 18, 1777 at Morristown, New Jersey.

Significant Campaigns and Battles