Jamestown Historical Society

Jamestown participates in new Rhode Tour: Revolutionary War Fortifications

Courtesy of Rhode Island Council of the Humanities and D.K. Abbasss, Ph.D photo courtesy of the JHS, click here for the entire Rhode Tour story

Rhode Island’s Revolutionary War history may not share the luster of nearby Massachusetts’, but the smallest colony was the site of one of the largest battles of the war. The town of Newport occupied a strategic location on the Atlantic coast, and it was occupied and defended by American, British, Hessian, and French troops at different times throughout the war. This led to the construction of several batteries and redoubts in and around Newport.

In May of 1776, the Americans hastily built an earthwork battery in a large field on the west side of the Beavertail peninsula on Conanicut Island. British diarist Frederick Mackenzie later described the fortification as a “Battery or Redoubt with 4 embrasures” facing the West Passage of Narragansett Bay.

This system of fortifications was tested in 1778 during the Battle of Rhode Island, the first coordinated campaign by the new American and French allies. The battle ended indecisively, which is perhaps the reason it is not mentioned with the same reverence as Bunker Hill or Yorktown. Although the battle has been largely erased from memory, the fortifications still exist.

Related Articles

Jamestown Historical Society Launches Dynamic New Website

The new improved JHS website jamestownhistoricalsociety.org was unveiled last week after months of work by several dedicated JHS volunteers.

George Whitley, Rhode Island Jonnycakes

George Whitley spoke about the history of this special corn and the milling of it, and he made jonnycakes with flint corn for all attendees to enjoy.

Ceramic Pot

This small ceramic pot with its lid is believed to have come across the bay in the house that became the Bay Voyage hotel.