by Robert A. Geake with Lorén Spears
Of the heroes remembered from Rhode Island who served in the Revolutionary War, perhaps none hold such a compelling, collective story as those former slaves and enlisted men who became the historic 1st “black regiment” of Rhode Island. An amalgamation of white laborers, free blacks, Native Americans, slaves, and men of mixed race, the Honorable Tristam Burges, would tell Congress in 1828 that
“No braver men met the enemy in battle, but not one was permitted to be a soldier until he had first been made a freeman”
The regiment began as a local militia, initially comprised of men who served under Colonel James Mitchell Varnum in the Kentish Guard, with a handful of free black men and Narragansett Indian men among the other enlisted white soldiers from Kent and Kings County.
In the wake of the Gaspee incident, off the shores of Warwick, Rhode Island, a group of friends, including Nathanael Greene, and James M. Varnum, a lawyer who had represented Greene’s father’s interests, began meeting regularly at the home of William Arnold of East Greenwich. Arnold was a mercantile trader with French New Guinea and Surinam, as well as the coastal trade in the colonies.
The two men formed, with a group of volunteers from Coventry, Warwick, and East Greenwich, a military company in preparation for war. They mustered on a regular basis, and kept the loose company formed as clandestinely as possible. In September of 1774, Nathanael Greene made a trip to Boston, purchasing a new musket for himself, and while there, made the acquaintance of William Johnson, a British deserter, who agreed to return with Greene to Rhode Island, and train his militia. Tensions were simmering in Kent County, that same month in East Greenwich a riot had occurred in town, with some of the inhabitants burning an effigy of Judge Stephen Arnold of Warwick, for his alleged Tory sensibilities.
With this deserter’s aid, the group began to drill and learn military tactics beyond what the young Greene could offer from his collection of military texts. In October, James M. Varnum petitioned the state to grant a charter to the militia under the name of the Kentish Guard.
Soon the militia was meeting at Arnold’s tavern, at the sign of the “Bunch of Grapes’[i] in East Greenwich, and mustering in the open; always a draw for young recruits. Nathanael Greene’s East Greenwich cousin had also joined. Christopher Greene was named a Lieutenant in the Guard, and later appointed Major by the General Assembly in May of 1775 for what was named “An army of Observation”.[ii]
The Kentish Guard would contribute two generals and at least three Colonels to the Continental Army formed to fight the American Revolution. Varnum nearly quit the Guard when the regiment balked at naming Greene its Commander. Greene however, persuaded him to honor his service to the Guard. Johnson took command, and the man who would become second in command to Washington, began his brief service as a private in the Kentish Guard.
When the “Army of Observation” was called by the General Assembly to be recruited at various points throughout the colony. Varnum was assigned Kent and King Counties as his area of recruitment, with Colonel. Thomas Church recruiting in Bristol and Newport counties, as well as Colonel Daniel Hitchcock in Providence. Recruits could sign up for a bounty of $4.00 for six-months service. The regiment was officially organized on May 8, 1775, consisting of eight companies of volunteers.
Little more than a month later, Varnum marched the regiment to Roxbury, Massachusetts where on June 14th,it was formally adopted into the Continental Army. The Regiment took part in the siege of Boston, and by late June, it was reorganized into ten companies. In July the Regiment was assigned to the brigade of General Nathanael Greene, in Washington’s main army.
On January 1, 1776, the Regiment was re-organized once again into eight companies and re-named the 9th Continental Regiment, and under this name took part in the long, grueling, campaign in New York. A year later, the Continental Army regrouped, and the regiment reclaimed its name as the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. Varnum had been named Brigadier General, and the Regiment was now under the command of Nathanael Greene’s cousin, Colonel Christopher Greene.
The following year under Colonel Greene’s leadership, the 1st Rhode Island Regiment participated in the successful defense of Fort Mercer on the Delaware River, from an attack by Hessians, known as the “Battle of Red Bank”. As mentioned, a number of free blacks had enlisted in the regiment, and William Cooper Nell attributed the victory to their valor:
“the glory of the defense of Red Bank, which has been pronounced one of the most heroic actions of the war, belonged in reality to black men…”[iii]
That same year of 1777, Brigadier-General, Varnum had written to General Washington, expressing his concern that
“The two Battalions from the State of Rhode Island being small, and there being a necessity of the State’s furnishing an additional number to make up their proportion in the Continental army, the field officers have represented to me the propriety of making one temporary battalion from the two, so that one entire corps of officers may repair to Rhode Island in order to receive and prepare recruits for the field”.
He then put forward a novel idea to the Commander, that rather than just a few blacks being integrated into a handful of regiments, that an entirely African-American regiment, be raised in Rhode Island. Varnum wrote confidently,
“It is imagined that a battalion of negroes may be easily raised there. Should that measure be adopted or recruits obtained under any other principle, the service will be advanced”[iv]
Varnum’s proposal was likely in response to the British offer of freedom for blacks who left their masters and became loyalists. Such an idea that had been introduced by black activists to the British leaders in Boston while that city lay under siege, but the official proclamation given by Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore in November 1775, had caused a tide of blacks to flood the British fort in Williamsburg, with wives, children, and grandmothers in tow[v].
Reportedly alarmed to find so many armed African-Americans when he arrived in Boston to take command[vi], Washington had grudgingly consented to let free blacks enlist in the Continental Army in the months that followed Dunmore’s proclamation[vii].
There is also some evidence that Rhode Island towns may have enacted such measures prior to Varnum’s proposal. Major Frederick Mackenzie of the British troops ensconced in Newport, would write in his diary on June 30, 1777 of “Two Negroes who came over from Narragansett this day”. The black men told the British command that the Colony was in “confusion”, that money in one county was worthless in the next, and that
“…provisions are scarce and dear, and very little corn to be had. And that they find it so difficult to raise men for the Continental Army that they enlist negroes, for whom their owners receive a bounty of 180 dollars, and half their pay, and the Negroe gets the other half, and the promise of freedom at the end of three years”.[viii]
Now Varnum’s proposal for an all-black regiment of manumitted slaves caught the eye of the Commander-in-Chief. It was a compelling argument for recruitment, and in December of that year, facing a lean winter in Valley Forge, and the loss of nearly half his army as their time of service expired, Washington passed the letter onto Rhode Island’s governor Cooke with a note, which read in part:
“Enclosed you will find a copy of a letter from General Varnum to me upon the means which might be adopted for completing the Rhode Island troops to their full proportion in the Continental army…I have nothing to say in addition…on this important subject, but to desire that you will give the officers employed in this business all the assistance in your power”.
The proposal was placed before the General Assembly, though not without opposition. Many slaveholders in Rhode Island believed that arming former slaves would lead to insurrections on many of the larger “plantations”, especially in South County. Despite these protests, the General Assembly were more inclined to favor General Washington’s request, but in doing so, also opened the door for slave owners to choose which among their slaves could enlist. In February 1778, the Rhode Island General Assembly issued the proclamation that
“…every able bodied negro, mulatto, or Indian man slave in this state may inlist into either of the said two battalions to serve during the continuance of the war with Great Britain; that every slave so inlisting shall be entitled to, and receive all the bounties, wages, and encouragements allowed by the Continental Congress…that every slave inlisting shall, upon passing muster before Colonel Christopher Greene, be immediately discharged from the service of his master or mistress, and be absolutely FREE, as though he had never been incumbered with any kind of servitude or slavery…”[ix]
The state of Rhode Island would pay each owner the assessed value of each slave who had passed muster “a sum according to his worth, not exceeding one hundred and twenty pounds for the most valuable slave and in proportion for a slave of less value”.
Governor Nicholas Cooke wrote to General George Washington, laying out the state’s plan in response to his request. ”The number of slaves in this state is not great; but it is generally thought that three hundred, and upwards, will be enlisted”.[x]
A commission of five men was appointed to value each slave after they had passed muster, and enlistments began. Within weeks, eighty-eight slaves had signed on for the regiment, the first being Cuff Greene, a slave in the service of the Governor’s son, James Greene.[xi]
Still, there were dissenters amid the Assembly who continued their arguments that there were scarce enough able-bodied black men to form a regiment, that the owners of said slaves would argue about compensation, and the expense was therefore far greater than to enlist another regiment of white soldiers. Six dissenters from the vote expressed the view that such a regiment would be looked upon with contempt by the troops from other colonies, and that the state itself, would be given the reputation of having to purchase “a band of slaves to defend the Rights and Liberties of the country”. Furthermore, they wrote, such an act would be
“… wholly inconsistent with those principles of liberty and constitutional government , for which we are so ardently contending,…and would also give occasion to our enemies to suspect that we are not able to procure our own people to oppose them in the field”.[xii]
Bowing to pressure from the opposition, the Assembly passed a resolution in May, amending the law to a temporary measure:
“Whereas by an act of this Assembly negro, mullatto, and Indian slaves belonging to the inhabitants of this state are permitted to enlist into the Continental Battalions ordered to be raised by this State…and whereas it is necessary for answering the purposes intended by the said act that the same should be temporary; it is therefore voted and resolved, that no negro, mulatto, or Indian slave be permitted to enlist into said battalions from and after the tenth day of June next, and that the said act the expire and be no longer in force…”
After the success of the appeal, only another forty-four slaves enlisted with the regiment. The official register of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment list two hundred and twenty-five men, one hundred forty of which were listed as being “negro, mulatto, or mustee”. No doubt, some listed beneath this latter category were Native American members of the Narragansett Tribe. As later documents show, Native Americans would remain part of the regiment throughout the war.
The former slaves of the1st Rhode Island Regiment would see their first action during the battle of Rhode Island, earning praise from General Sullivan in his letter to Governor William Greene, in which he described a pivotal point in the battle:
“The enemy then advanced to turn our right under fire of their ships, and endeavored to carry a redoubt a little in front of the right-wing. Major-General Greene, who commanded the right wing, advanced upon them with two or three regiments, and being reinforced, drove them back in great confusion. The enemy repeated the attempt three times and were as often repulsed with great bravery, our officers and soldiers behaving with uncommon fortitude, and not giving up an inch of ground through the whole day”.[xiii]
The commander of the Hessians, one Colonel Malsburg, wrote an account of the battle in his journal, where he recalled that his troops
“…now rushed up the hill under heavy fire in order to take the redoubt. Here they experienced a more obstinate resistance than they expected. They found large bodies of troops behind the works and at its sides, chiefly wild looking men in their shirt sleeves, and among them many negroes”[xiv].
Major Samuel Ward, who commanded the Regiment during the engagement, wrote on August 30th that
“Our loss was not very great…it has not been ascertained yet; and I can hardly make a tolerable conjecture. Several officers fell, and several are badly wounded. I am so happy as to have only one captain slightly wounded in the hand. I believe a couple of the blacks were killed, and four of five wounded, but none badly”[xv].
Ward, who had been encamped in Middletown with the Regiment since mid-August, “frequently exchanging shots with the British”, was also duly impressed with the performance of his soldiers:
“…our Picquets and the light corps engaged their advance, and fought them with bravery”.
The Regiment was sent to Bradford’s Hill, near Bristol as part of Lafayette’s division guarding the coastline from Bristol to Swansea, Massachusetts. Some of the Regiment were also stationed at Windmill Hill in Warren. Soldiers spent their days and nights patrolling the shoreline from the mouth of the Warren River down to Popasquash Point, and up to Mount Hope, Bristol Ferry, and the Narrows. They were given this duty until winter when they quartered in warehouses along the wharves in Warren, Rhode Island[xvi].
The spring brought great changes to the Regiment. In April, Samuel Ward was commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel, and reassigned to the Light Corps under command of Lieutenant William Barton in Tiverton.
By May, the Regiment had been sent to North Kingston under Washington’s orders to establish a work area for making Fascines. Colonel Greene’s request to the Deputy quartermaster asks for “the necessary tools for making fascines for one hundred and thirty men to work with”. This would seem to indicate that only a little more than half of the men Greene had commanded but a year and a half before remained in service. Washington himself wrote that the force at present “too 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”.[xvii]
As with numerous other regiments in the Continental Army, there were desertions. Perhaps some men, after having had a taste of battle, found the work of making trundles to lay paths for troops in the southern swamplands demeaning. The life of the soldiers was not easy, as John Howland recalled in a letter of 1830.
“the men had no bounty when they enlisted, and were not furnished with any clothes; we found our own clothes, and we had the promise of forty shillings per month[xviii]”. That promise, as with all governmental promises was subjective, and contingent upon the Assembly agreeing how to raise the funds needed. Others had simply returned home once their term of service had ended. In June 1780, the General Assembly passed an act requiring that the State raise an additional six hundred and ten men.[xix] In July, the Assembly passed a resolution requesting that Washington pardon all deserters from the State’s Continental Battalions, and requesting that General Heath “issue a pardon for all the deserters from Colonel Greene’s regiment who may join by a time he may think proper to fix”.
In August 1779, the General Assembly addressed the growing number of petitions for “allowances” from wounded soldiers, and the issue of pay still owed, voting that the rolls of enlistments be forwarded to the auditor of accounts. The Assembly also addressed the “distressed situation of this state in supplying troops “with articles in camp, at stated prices”, so they decided to increase their pay, setting for the first time a fixed salary based upon position in the Rhode Island regiments:
Pay of the Militia Officers and Privates per Month
A lieutenant colonel,……………………………………………..$72.00
A surgeon’s mate,………………………………………………….$35.00
By September, the state had enlisted five hundred more men, but in their desperation to fill these quotas, required all males above sixteen, who had resided in their towns for at least thirty days to register. This act resulted in one hundred and sixty boys beneath the age of eighteen enlisting, with one being but fourteen years of age. In Greene’s regiment, the rolls reflect that of these new recruits, thirty-five men were listed as being “negro or mulatto”, while twenty-eight enlistees were Native American.[xxi]
Still, it was not enough. In October, the General Assembly passed an Act requiring the raising of an additional two hundred and twenty men who would be required to enlist for three years service. Slaves, or freemen who enlisted, were expected to remain in the regiment until the end of the war. In November, an Act was passed for an additional three hundred and eight men. This time, the act excluded the enlistment of blacks and Native Americans.
On January 1, 1781 the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Rhode Island were merged into one Regiment, Colonel Christopher Greene commanding. Some of the Brigade Troops were already in Morristown, New Jersey, and the Colonel quickly prepared to march his regiment to the front lines, leaving the remaining recruitment to Lieutenant Colonel Jeremiah Olney, who issued the following order:
“Colonel Greene, intending soon to join his Regiment at Head Quarters, mustering the troops will therefore fall upon Major Flagg at East Greenwich, and myself at Providence, where attendance will be given for that purpose on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, till the whole are mustered. Negroes will not be received, nor any but able-bodied, effective men. Preference should be given as much as possible to those who have served in the Continental Army or in the State Battalions…”
Curiously enough, the Marquis Francois Jean de Chastiieu, one of Rochambeau’s generals, observed the Rhode Island Regiment at a Connecticut ferry crossing and noted:
“The majority of these enlisted men are negroes or mulattoes, strong, robust men. Those I saw made a good appearance”.
The Continental Army was stationed near Fishkill, New York, while Colonel Greene and Major Flagg were sent with the Rhode Island Regiment to an advance scouting location some ten miles distant at Pines Bridge on the Croton River. They encamped at the so-called “Rhode Island Village”, while Greene and Flagg took up residence in a nearby farmhouse belonging to the Davenport family. Their movements had not gone unnoticed however, and in the pre-dawn hours of May 14, 1781. a reported two hundred and sixty of light horse Infantry made up of loyalists under the command of Colonel James Delancey, forded the river and laid a surprise attack on the encampment. Early historian William Cooper Nell, in his book The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, would write of the bravery of the black men in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment:
“Among the traits which distinguish the black regiment was devotion to their officers…Colonel Greene, the commander of the Regiment was cut down and mortally wounded but the sabers of the enemy only reached him through the bodies of his faithful guard of blacks, who hovered over him to protect him, and every one of whom was killed”[xxii].
Colonel Henry Lee offered a different account of those events that occurred once the infantry was heard approaching:
“Greene and Major Flagg immediately prepared themselves for defence, but they were too late, so expeditious was the progress of the enemy. Flagg discharged his pistols and instantly afterwards fell mortally wounded, when the ruffians…burst open the door of Greene’s apartment. Here the gallant veteran singly received them with his drawn sword[xxiii]”
The Colonel does not mention guards of black soldiers protecting Greene, or taking the thrust of sabers for their commander, but Lee looked with disapproval on General Washington’s orders allowing slaves to enlist. He was one of the “Southern generals” who persuaded Washington to hold off on the proposition for so long. Lee was from Virginia, and like his commander-in-chief; an impressive horsemen. At the time of the attack on Greene’s encampment, Lee’s regiment, a mix of light horse and cavalry troops had already captured several outposts in South Carolina and Georgia.
Among the former slaves in the Rhode Island Regiment killed that morning were Affrica Burk, Cato Bannister, and Simon Whipple. Another, Prince Childs, would die little more than a week later from his wounds[xxiv]. All of them had been with the Regiment since May 1779. More black soldiers died that morning than white, not withstanding the success of the surprise attack, and the killing of the commanding officers. Twenty-two men were taken prisoner-the majority of them being white soldiers of the Regiment. A pair of black soldiers captured, were the wounded fifer Ichabod Northup, and drummer Prince Jenckes.
Some later accounts say that Colonel Greene was taken from the house, and due to the outrage of the British loyalists having to face black men in battle, was “dragged into the woods” where he was drawn and quartered. Another account, maintains that the wounded Colonel’s body “was strapped on a horse and started for the British lines. After a mile or so the refugees changed their minds, leaving the Rhode Islander’s bloody remains by the side of the road.[xxv]
Colonel Christopher Greene’s body was found and brought to headquarters the following day. He was buried with a solemn ceremony.
On the death of Colonel Greene, the command of the 1st Regiment of Rhode Island was given to Lt. Colonel Jeremiah Olney. By June, the Regiment was with Washington’s troops on the Hudson River. By September, they had marched with the main Continental Army to the head of the Elk River, where a fleet of transports were ready to ferry the troops to assemble for the siege of Yorktown.
Cornwallis was well fortified, with a pair of formidable redoubts thrown up before the town. By the end of the first week of October, the Continental Army had reached shelling range of these positions, but the British proved adept at quickly repairing the damage done to the redoubts through the nine days of almost constant bombardment. The British answered back with fire from a hundred pieces of cannon, and the continual exchange rendered an assault imperative.
Washington assigned the Rhode Island Regiment with Lafayette, and Colonel Hamilton, who would charge one redoubt, while French troops under Baron Vionesnil would attack the other. Lt. Colonel Jeremiah Olney, with part of his Rhode Island Battalion, were imbedded with the 1st and 2nd New Jersey Regiments, under Colonel Elias Dayton and Benjamin Lincoln’s 1st and 2nd New York Regiments. A detachment of the Rhode Island Regiment, under Captain Stephen Olney, was chosen to lead the storming column.
The detachment was determined to storm the redoubt with fixed bayonets, and marched in silence until within two hundred yards of the fort. The column halted then, and set preparations for the attack. Eight men were chosen to lead the charge with swords drawn. As the cries of the Americans reached the British lines, the tories answered the charge with a volley from their muskets. As Olney climbed the hill, and forced his way through the palisades, he was wounded by a gunshot in the arm, and in his thigh and abdomen by the thrust of the enemy’s bayonets. By then, however, his soldiers had taken the redoubt, the column having entered the fort in the breach of Olney’s charge, and the Captain regrouped his troops before being carried from the field.[xxvi]
Unknown to the black patriots leading the charge was that Yorktown had been overwhelmed with slaves seeking asylum. The population had swelled to the extent that British rations were severely depleted by the time the siege began. Smallpox had also begun to spread among them, and as the battle ensued, the Continental soldiers marching forward were met by a wave of terrified ex-slaves who had been expelled from the fort.[xxvii]
The French faced a greater resistance in taking their redoubt, and the British held out one more day, exchanging fire until their ammunition was exhausted. Thus, the 1st Rhode Island Regiment had struck the first real blow in the decisive battle of the war, but such glory was to be brief for many of the survivors of Yorktown.
After the victory, the Rhode Island Regiment, ”now thinned by the casualties of war and the diseases of the camp”, was sent with other troops to the transport on the Chesapeake. The Regiment then undertook
“A tedious passage of twenty-one days…to the Elk River, whence by easy marches they reached Philadelphia. The small-pox had broken out on the passage, and a virulent fever, unknown and uncontrollable in its character, added to the horrors of the journey”[xxviii].
From November 1781, through March 1782, more than a hundred of these survivors of the Croton River and Yorktown would succumb to disease, [xxix] including Prince Angell, who died only a few weeks after being promoted to drummer. When the long winter was through, the Rhode Island Regiments were seriously depleted, and the call came out once again from the General assembly for the officers to recruit more men.
In response, Colonel Olney issued the following commentary within his orders after the call for more enlistees from the General Assembly in 1782:
“It has been found from long and fatal experience that Indians, negroes, and mulattoes do not (and from a want of total Perseverance and Fortitude to bear the various Fatigues incident to an army cannot) answer the public service. They will not therefore, on any account be received”[xxx].
It is interesting to note Olney’s prejudice against enlisting more black and Native American soldiers into the regiment. Some of this may have been occasioned by his complaint that the troops were poorly trained and prepared for battle, certainly the short time period between recruitment and being sent into battle made for some shortcomings. At the battle of Fort Mercer, he was said to have used the flat of his sword on soldiers who fired over the parapet without aiming their muskets. Olney also felt that in their haste to fulfill the quota, the ranks had been filled by
“imposing improper persons on us for soldiers”.[xxxi]
Such caution however, may also be seen in the light of the numbers of former slaves who had died from disease in the months previous to his order. If Olney feared a new influx of black recruits, he seemed to treat those who served with him, with more than a modicum of respect.
Later that year, Olney would write an impassioned plea on behalf of one of his soldiers to General Washington:
“I beg leave to lay before Your Excellency the Case of Fortune Stoddard a Negroe Soldier of my Regmt who is now in the State of Maryland in Civil Custody in the County of Cecil, for killing one James Cuningham, who with some others bred a Riot in the Soldier’s Quarters on the 21st Decr/81, …it appears from the Sherriffs Letter the Soldier had his Tryall in June last, and was acquitted of murder but found Guilty of man Slauter, and that from the Laws of the State he will be sold to pay the Cost of Prosecution &c. Except Some person appears to Settle the Charges…it appears to me very Cruell, the Soldier should be Sold to pay the Charges, as he was in the line of duty defending himselfe and Quarters against the Insults of the Rioters-I Confess myself at a loss to know the Necessary measures to be persued for Recovering the Soldier again into Service…[xxxii]”
One officer whose opinion on utilizing slaves, especially those who had absconded to the British for his own military purposes was General Nathanael Greene, who in May of 1781, instructed General Thomas Sumter after the surrender of Fort Granby:
“Such of the negroes as were taken at this Garrison (as are not claimed by good Whiggs & their property proved,) belonging to the Tories or disaffected you will apply to the fulfilling of your contracts with the ten months Troops”[xxxiii]
General Greene also tried unsuccessfully, to convince the legislature of South Carolina to edict the raising of its own regiment of slaves during the southern campaign, and pressed the idea as well in letters to Governor John Martin of Georgia. Such legislation “Cannot fail” Greene wrote, “if adopted to fix their liberties upon a secure and certain footing”. The governor’s response was supportive, but also bluntly honest in anticipation of its passage:
“A body of blacks I am sure would answer every purpose intended; but, am afraid it will not go down with the people here, however, it shall not want my exertions to carry it into effect”[xxxiv]
Greene’s family were Quakers, and though he was “read out” of the Meeting for his involvement with the Kentish Guard, he grew up in a household led by a minister whose staunch dislike of slavery precluded many of his fellow Friends. The black servants of the household were freemen, and the same at the family forge and mill in Potowomut. A second forge in Coventry employed one hundred men, free blacks and whites working together. His father built a fourteen-room house at the Coventry forge and assigned Nathanael to oversee the works in 1770. There, Greene had acquired his leadership skills and amassed a library of military history and law books that neared three-hundred volumes.[xxxv]
Despite the Governor’s promise to push the legislation in for debate, he withheld the proposal until the last meeting of the Assembly, where it was soundly rejected.
The winter of 1782 saw extensive furloughs in the regiment, as engagements had ended and officers and privates headed home to Rhode Island. Most were required to return on April 1st. New enlistments were taken for a service of nine months only, as the General Assembly, and the nation’s Congress struggled to find a way to pay for the war. By December of that year, the regiment was discharging their “levies”, those men conscripted, drafted, or compelled to serve[xxxvi]. One hundred and sixty-four men were discharged from duty at this time. Many of these, were still waiting to be paid.
As Samuel Greene Arnold wrote,
“Great discontent in the army with respect to the half pay for life which had been promised, and which it (Congress) was supposed to commute to full pay for five years…but a graver question grew out of the poverty of the Treasury, as to how the army was to be paid at all”.
On March 1, 1783, the Rhode Island Regiment was reorganized into six companies, and renamed the Rhode Island Battalion. The newly formed battalion was then ordered to march to an encampment near Oneida lake, where they would join about five-hundred troops from New York under command of Colonel Marinus Willett.
General Washington’s plan was to attack the British trading post at Oswego on Lake Ontario. The troops were to wait until a hard freeze had taken hold, and Oneida lake could be crossed by sleigh, saving a great deal of marching time. The troops set out under cover of darkness, led by a local Indian guide. They spent a long night marching in snowshoes and found at daybreak that they were within sight of the Fort itself, and the hoped for element of surprise was gone. The attack was called off, and the soldiers returned to their camp. The march reportedly took a toll on many of the regiment. A number suffered frostbite, and some were disabled the remainder of their lives[xxxvii].
This was the last engagement for the Rhode Island Battalion during the Revolutionary War. On June 2, 1783, two hundred and forty-six men, were furloughed by Lt. Colonel Jeremiah Olney, to take effect on the 15th of the month. Only the “three-year men” who had enlisted in from 1780 were retained, and on December 25, the battalion was disbanded in Saratoga, New York.
In the aftermath of the war, we find that the debate about the formation of the Regiment, and their role in the war still took place in political circles as well as within the courts. From the beginning of the enlistment of slaves, some owners had fought the state on the issue. When the act was amended, those owners tested the state on individual cases.
A slave owned by John Brown and Nicholas Power enlisted in Colonel Greene’s Regiment as he was owned in Rhode Island. The owners contended that his place of work in Grafton, Massachusetts was his residence, and took their case before the Assembly and won the argument. Prince was discharged from the Regiment, remanded to his owners, and ordered to give back “the clothes and bounty which the slave had received from the state…and the arms and equipment which the slave had…”
A later, similar case concerning a slave purported to be from Groton, Connecticut was referred to that state’s jurisdiction. Those slaves who had enlisted and served their time were now required to petition the state for wartime pensions.
Those commanders who had led the former slaves often came to their defense when they were forced to prove their service. Lt. Colonel Olney gave nothing but praise in his disbandment order for
“those brave officers and men he has had the honour to command… their valor and good conduct displayed on every occasion when called upon to face the enemy in the field, and of their prompt obedience to order and discipline through every stage of service…”
Many of these men were still due wages, and others had fallen into poverty and petitioned the state for assistance. In June 1784, a committee was enjoined by the General Assembly to
“…draft an act providing for the support and maintenance of such negroes that were freed upon their enlisting in the Continental battalions of this State…”.
The General Assembly’s ultimate solution was to place the care for these veterans in the hands of the town from which they enlisted.
Lt. Colonel Jeremiah Olney wrote several reports for veterans to obtain their pensions from the state, including Guy Watson, who had marched to Oswego and lost several toes to frostbite. He had enlisted in 1779 and been discharged on June 28, 1783 for inability to serve due to his injuries. Still, he was not approved for a pension until 1786.
Olney also expressed his outrage to the state at the taking of John “Jack” Burrows, a private in the Regiment who was kidnapped while on a voyage to New Orleans in 1791, and kept as a slave. Listed on the 1779 roster, Burrows had served throughout the war to obtain his freedom, but his “master” still held claim to him, until Burrows won his freedom a second time in court. He led “a long, if difficult life as a free man and claimed a veteran’s pension in his old age”[xxxviii]
By May of 1793, according to the Newport Mercury newspaper, the list of pensioners from the 1st Rhode Island Regiment was one hundred and ninety-three. Many had to wait years to obtain assistance.
For the majority of these former slaves and indentured servants, the life of freedom after the war was also a life of extreme hardship. Some lived independently, on the fringes of society, existing hand-to-mouth. Others returned to the farms and villages where they had served as slaves or servants. Life as a wage laborer however was a precarious existence. Many were hired only at planting and harvesting periods, leaving them to find odd jobs or other menial labor to supplant the wages they earned from their former owner[xxxix].
Those who had served as domestic servants saw little change from the routine they had performed as a slave except for a small paycheck and a day off a week, usually Sunday when they were required to attend church with the family. Some tried to improve their lot by moving from town to town in search of better wages. Some found success, but many were “warned out” from towns in the wake of the revolution when the economy lay in turmoil.
Sometimes whole families were warned out of Providence as in the case of Comfort Eddy and his family. Eddy had come to Providence from Massachusetts and was a laborer for a Mr. Sanders, and then Jacob Whitman. He worked with several blacksmiths and then went to sea for six years, before returning to Norton, Massachusetts and enlisted with a volunteer company under Captain White and served at Bunker Hill. Eddy came to North Providence and enlisted in the regiment from Smithfield, Rhode Island and served his three years of duty. He returned to North Providence after the war and bought a house and property from Samuel Tucker. Three years later, under unknown circumstances, he removed to Providence once more and “built a small house on the burying place land”. By then he had a wife and six children, three of whom were born in Providence, two in North Providence, and one in Douglas, Massachusetts.
On April 9, 1787, the Town Council rejected the family as inhabitants of the town, and warned them to return to Smithfield, judged to be their legal place of residence[xl]. Nonetheless, by the time of his death in February 1819, his obituary reads that Eddy was ”…in this town, aged about 75 years; was wounded at Yorktown and has since been a pensioner.[xli]”
At times the dependents, widows, and children of Revolutionary War veterans were also “warned out”, as was the case with Nan Hull and Sally Saltonstall. In her “examination” before the Providence Town Council on October 8, 1785, Nancy Hull testified that she
“…came to Providence with Briton Saltonstall about New Years 1783 but was never married to him. She then had a child by him, three year old Sally Saltonstall”.
The child’s father Britton had enlisted in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment in March of 1778, and served for five full years. Saltonstall was discharged on June 28, 1783 “with a pention”, and was among those “invalids” who had received a coat in November of 1783 for their infirmaries. Some had suffered frostbite during the ill-fated Oswego Expedition. Records show that Saltonstall continued to live in the Providence area, though he was apparently unable to support his former partner and daughter. Instead, Nancy Hull and her child were removed to New York, which was “adjudged to be their last lawful place of residence”.[xlii]
Saltonstall would not receive a large payment until March of 1789, and another lesser payment a year before his death in 1816.
Another case involved widowed Eunice Phenix and her two children by Nathanial Jones.
“Nathan” Jones, as he is registered in the Regiment book, enlisted and left $100.00 in silver with his former owner Benjamin Waterman for the care of his children, should he fail to return. Jones died while with the Army on January 9, 1782. His wife Eunice died soon after.
In April 1787 however, the Town Council met to discuss the fate of the children and the town clerk was ordered to write to the Town Council of Johnston, which read in part:
“….That Nathaniel Jones a Free Negroe Man who heretofore lived in the Town of Johnston and enlisted in the Army of the United States and there died has left Two Children One of them called Katherine aged about Six Years, and the other Nabby, aged about Seven Years , born to him by Eunice Phenix, with whom he lived and is also died. Is that the children are Orphans destitute and likely to be chargeable to the Town…”[xliii]
The clerk informed the Johnston Town Council of the “representation” that Jones had left “one Hundred dollars Silver Money” for the child born in Johnston and requested that
“Your interposition and Assistance That the Money may be appropriated to the Support of the Child, or children by calling upon Mr. Waterman therefore-It is said that a Place is procured for the One which was born in this Town But the other is chargeable to the inhabitants here and being a legal inhabitant of Johnston must be first there to be provided for…”
Such a tragic outcome underscores the gamble that many took in enlisting for war in exchange for freedom.
Among those slaves who enlisted to earn their freedom were Moses and Caesar Updike, then slaves of Lodowick Updike at Smith’s Castle. They enlisted together in May 1778. The state of Rhode Island compensated owners by assessing the value of their slaves for military service. Records show that Updike was paid 92 pounds for Moses, and the maximum 102 pounds for Caesar. Both are listed on the May 1779 muster roll of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment under command of Colonel Christopher Greene.
While records for Moses are incomplete, we know that Caesar served for five years, earning an “Honorary Badge of Distinction”, an award given to soldiers who had “served at least three years with bravery”. Caesar Updike was furloughed from the Continental Army on June 15, 1783. Like many veterans, he returned to his home state and lived quietly. In the spring of 1795 he returned to Smith’s Castle, working as a wage laborer for the Updike family. He was paid in corn, shoes, and sometimes currency.[xliv] He is listed in the Rhode Island census of 1800, as living in East Greenwich. Like many other veterans, he applied for a pension that was long in coming, not receiving his until April 11, 1818. He died in Kent County on December 13, 1819.
Prince Greene was the servant of General Nathanael Greene, having worked as a laborer on the family’s Forge Farm in East Greenwich. He is listed in the 1777 military census. He married Rhoda Eldred of East Greenwich on June 21, 1778, but remained in the regiment, serving four years and six months as a private, and earning a badge of distinction. Though free after the war, he too faced years of poverty. A fiddler, Greene sometimes bargained with merchant William Arnold for violin strings in exchange for “1 evening fidlen”[xlv]. He was a fixture at events in town for many years, as one description of the black neighborhood of the 1820’s describes:
“on the infrequent holidays the young men amused themselves in the lots, playing ball, shooting at poultry…but the highest frolics were the large quilting parties. After the quilt was finished…a dance was next in order. The music was supplied by the violin of an old negroe named Prince Greene, one of the servants of General Greene”.[xlvi]
The life of one of the servants of Colonel Christopher Greene took a different path after the war. As told by historian Oliver Payson Fuller:
“Col. Greene had a negro servant…named Boston Carpenter who was one of the wonders of those times. By diligence and economy he accumulated some property in Coventry, at the foot of the ridge called, after him, “Boston hill”. He purchased his wife of Job Greene, for 4s. 6d., …to prevent her becoming chargeable to the estate of Job Greene, in case she should be reduced to poverty”.[xlvii]
Carpenter was also, by another account “a famous breaker of horses, an active mechanic and a quick, sharp man”. He lived a half mile north of the village of Anthony, and tended Job Greene’s gristmill in Centerville for many years.
Of the Narragansett men who served, the youngest was Henry Matthews who enlisted in 1779 in Newport at the age of 16. He served as a private for four years, including in the 5th Company of the Rhode Island Battalion, under Lt. Colonel Jeremiah Olney; earning one badge of distinction. Asa Babcock and John Mumford, both 18, enlisted at Westerly and South Kingstown respectively. Both served with their fellow Narragansett in the 5th Company for three years. Daniel Perry 22, enlisted at Charlestown in December 1780. Among the oldest to enlist, were Narragansett John George 39, who enlisted in Charlestown in 1780. George was one of those captured at Points Bridge in May 1781, and was not released until September when he rejoined the regiment. He served for three years, being discharged on December 25, 1783. Ephraim Charles 37, and Gideon Nocake 35, also served three years. Nearly a hundred years later, facing the committee that would eventually detribalize his people, Gideon’s grandson spoke proudly of his legacy among the Narragansett people
“My Grandfather in his time, stood second in the council for years and years. He was a member, went to the Revolutionary War, and came back, and lived and died at home”[xlviii].
The December 1935 edition of the Narragansett Dawn has a remembrance of Mrs. Lucy Miles, whose family included “male members…” who had “served as Soldiers in the Colored Regiment in the Revolutionary War”[xlix].
For these Narragansett men, their decision to join the Continental Army came amidst a time of turmoil within their tribe. One hundred years after King Philip’s War and the Great Swamp Massacre, many of the remaining Narragansett people were enslaved, indentured, or displaced from their traditional villages. Some had moved to Brothertown, New York or Wisconsin as well as to other tribal communities around the region. Those remaining in their homeland were being pushed into less desirable locations. Their way of life as they had known it was irrevocably changed.
The tribe had survived through one hundred and fifty years of broken treaties, colonization, genocide, displacement, the attempted cultural assimilation of their people, as well as enslavement and the erasure of their indigenous identity, through town records and the first euro-centric histories of the region.
Survival was utmost in mind, individual, familial, clan, community, tribal, and inter-tribal were at the forefront of the decision to join the Army. Some, as Peter Jennings speculates, may have believed that serving in the war would provide an opportunity to obtain freedoms they had not been given before. In addition, indigenous people have a long history of honor and respect for warriors. Many Native American communities had and have warrior societies that are designed with ceremony throughout. Both male and female warriors participated in ceremony at the commencement of the conflict to conduct themselves with honor, respect, and dignity.
Oral history states that Narragansett/Niantic men joined the war for freedom, for empowerment, for warrior pride, to protect their families, communities, way of life, homelands, and to provide hope for future generations.
Of these Narragansett men, who served in the Revolutionary War, the record shows that only Henry Matthews and John George applied to the state for a pension, Matthews receiving his in 1794, and George appears on the pension list, but without a recorded date of his approval. This was not perhaps an uncommonly low percentage of those who had served. As John Howland wrote of those surviving veterans in a letter to Benjamin Cowell, Esq., in 1830,
“I know of not more than six or seven now living, who have asked to be placed on the list. Poor, infirm old men, who in the prime of their youth, by the side of Washington, defended the pass at Trenton Bridge, and made these what they are now independent States…[l]”
Most of the Narragansett men like Nocake, simply returned home. Daniel Perry did the same after his discharge on December 25, 1783. He soon married a “free black woman” named Ruth, and they had a daughter, born in South Kingstown, and registered as “black”, a year later[li]. Perry is listed on the census in Washington County of 1790 and 1800 as a farmer, and a “free colored man”. A decade later Perry and his wife had moved to Kent County and were living within a household of seven people, including one child under ten who may have been a grandchild. In 1840, the year of Perry’s death, he and his wife are listed in the United States census as “free colored persons”. The couple now lived alone on their small farm, hiring one white man to assist with the work.
In this instance, with his choice to marry a free black woman, and father her children, Perry would lose his official identity as a Narragansett man. There were both written and unwritten policies throughout New England to erase Indigenous people and their communities. Terms like “colored” written in the public record was a way to assimilate and eradicate tribal communities.
Though he remained a Narragansett within his own household, extended family, and the tribe, the importance of losing such status in the government record would be realized with the state’s advances to detribalize the remaining Narragansett, beginning in 1846, and based in great part upon the tribe’s “dwindling numbers”.
Despite the legal policies that sought to determine who was Indigenous or not, the Narragansett like other Native Americans within the region made difficult choices to survive economically, while preserving their language, culture and art, their political consciousness and beliefs, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
One such circumstance was the long wait for pay and the fight for pensions for those veterans of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, Despite those efforts by some slave owners to rescind their consent for manumission, and in spite of the prejudice those black and Native Americans faced on their return to civilian life, perhaps the best-told reasons for enlistment were spoken by R.N. Harris. As an elderly veteran of the Rhode Island Regiment, he addressed the Congregational and Presbyterian Anti-Slavery Society and told the gathering
“Then liberty meant something. Then, liberty, independence, freedom, were in every man’s mouth. They were the sounds at which they rallied, and under which they fought and bled. They were the words which encouraged and cheered them through their hunger, and nakedness, and fatigue, in cold and in heat. The word slavery then filled their hearts with horror. They fought because they would not be slaves. Those whom liberty has cost nothing do not know how to prize it.[lii]”
For many, the true recognition of their service came only in death, as with this obituary for Richard Cozzens that appeared in the Providence Journal on December 24, 1829:
“COZZENS, Richard, colored, age about 80 years, a native of Africa; brought to America when very young; many years a slave in family of Matthew Cozzens at Newport; was in the Revolution 5 years, as a fifer; served in regiment, commanded by Col. Christopher Greene, and afterward, Col. Jeremiah Olney, lived in Providence since his discharge from the army in June, 1783”.[liii]
as well as the “generally loved and respected” Christmas Hunt, who died at 100, and was
“…born at Bristol, R.I. in 1722, his parents both Africans, he was a soldier of thje Revolution and retained the martial spirit,; for many years carried newspapers in his vicinity, he used (to) anniversary and parade days turn out with the Ancient Artillery of Providence, dressed in his Revolutionary uniform…[liv]”
Monuments to the 1st Rhode Island Regiment were erected at Patriot’s Park in Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1976 by the Newport chapter of the NAACP’s Bicentennial Commission, and in August of 2005, with the commemoration of their role in the Battle of Rhode Island.
The 1st Rhode Island Regiment was recognized again on February 11, 2014 with the introduction of an Act introduced by Congressman David Cicilline to the 113th Congress of the United States that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment collectively, “in recognition of their dedicated service during the Revolutionary War”. While H.R. 4505 died in Committie, Congressman Cicilline reintroduced the bill in January of 2015, as H.R. 363, and this was assigned to committee for further discussion.
Monuments and medals aside, the memorial to these men may be seen in the generations of their descendants and their accomplishments. Like their Narragansett brothers in battle, those of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment had future generations in mind when they enlisted in the battle for liberty. Theirs may be said to be the first volley fired for these freedoms, even against a cannon-fire of rhetoric wrought of fear-mongering and racism. They took the first ground in the long battle for their people-Black, and Indigenous, to change the landscape of America to reflect that promise that lies within its Declaration of Independence, that all are created equal, and have those inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
(Please note, this work is a work in progress for a book, please do not quote from, or use the work without the authors permission)
[i] Famously named for it’s wooden sign of a cluster of grapes that hung above the door. The sign resided for many years in the Rhode Island Historical Society.
[ii] Fuller, Oliver Payson, “The History of Warwick, R.I.” p. 118
[iii] Nell, W.C. “Colored Patriots of the American Revolution” (Boston, 1855) p. 126-131.
[iv] Rider, Sidney S. “An Historical Inquiry concerning the Attempt to Raise a Regiment of Slaves in Rhode Island”, Rhode Island Historical Tracts No. 10 p. 11
[v] Nash, Gary “The Forgotten Fifth: African Americans in the Age of Revolution” Boston, Harvard University Press 2006 pp. 24-27
[vi] Horne, Gerald “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America” New York, New York University Press 2014 p.237
[vii] A Virginian, Washington was acutely aware of the recurrent fear of uprising among the plantation owners of gis colony. The General was no doubt aware of Great Britain’s use of slve warriors in their struggles to retain islands of its empire, as well as the flood of slaves who escaped the Carolinas to Spanish Florida with the promise of freedom. The European power would form regiments of these former slaves, leading to fear of an invasion of the American Colonies by slave led troops under a Spanish flag. See Gerald Horne’s “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United Staes of America” for a fuller understanding of the these tensions in the southern colonies before the war.
[viii] Entry of Frederick Mackenzie , June 30, 1777 from Mackenzie, Diary of Frederick Mackenzie p. 145 See also McBurney, Christian “Spies in Revolutionary Rhode Island” p. 73
[ix] Rider, “An Historical Inquiry” pp. 11-12
[x] Letter from Nicholas Cooke, to George Washington, February 23, 1778 as printed in the Colonial Records of Rhode Island, Vol. 8 p. 526
[xi] William Greene was elected the second governor of the state in May 1778 after Nicholas Cooke stepped down.
[xii] Ibid. p. 561
[xiii] Letter to Governor Greene from General Sullivan dated August 29, 1778
[xiv] See “The Centennial Celebration of The Battle of Rhode Island at Portsmouth, R.I. August 29, 1878-Historical Tracts of Rhode Island No. 6
[xv] Ward, John “A Memoir of Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Ward, First Rhode Island Regiment, Army of the American Revolution; With a Genealogy of the Ward Family” (New York, Privately Printed, 1875) p. 13
[xvi] MacGunnigle, Bruce C. “Regimental Book Rhode Island Regiment for 1781 &c”. (East Greenwich, Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, 2011) p. xviii
[xvii] Quoted in Rider, “An Historical Inquiry…” pp. 21-22
[xviii] Cowell, Benjamin “Spirit of ’76 in Rhode Island: or Skethches of the Efforts of the Government and People in the War of Revolution” (Boston, 1850) p. 312
[xix] Acts and Resolves, R.I. General Assembly, June 1780 p. 23
[xx] Rhode Island Colonial Records 1776-1779 Vol. 8 p. 579
[xxi] See Rider, “An Historical Inquiry…” p. 26
[xxii] Nell, W.C. “Colored Patriots of the American Revolution” p. 130
[xxiii] See Fuller, Oliver Payson “The History of Warwick, R.I.” (Providence, Burlingame & Co. 1875) footnote comprising of Lee’s statements p. 120
[xxiv] MacGunnigle, Bruce C. “Regimental Book Rhode Island Regiment for 1781 &c.” pp. 59-79
[xxv] Walker, Anthony ”So Few the Brave” Newport, R.I., Seafield Press, 1981 p. 78
[xxvi] Arnold, Stephen Greene, “History of Rhode Island” Vol. II pp. 474-475
[xxvii] Nash, Gary “The Forgotten Fifth” pp. 35-37
[xxviii] Ibid. p.479
[xxix] MacGunnigle, Bruce C. “Book Register, Rhode Island Regiment 1781 &c” p.” pp.55-79
[xxx] The order, signed March 8, 1782 was printed in the Providence Gazette the following day.
[xxxi] Letter to George Washington from Jeremiah Olney, dated March 19, 1782
[xxxii] Letter to George Washington from Jeremiah Olney, 4, August 1782. The Founding Era Collection, University of Virginia
[xxxiii] Letter of Nathanael Greene to General Thomas Sumter May 17, 1781 “The Papers of Nathanael Greene” RIHS 1995 Vol. 8 pp 279-279
[xxxiv] Letter from Governor John Martin to Gen. Greene March 17, 1781, see Massey & Piecuch , editors “General Nathanael Greene and the American Revolution in the South” University of South Carolina Press 2012 p. 244
[xxxv] Despite this public stance during his lifetime, Greene as commndor, did authorize pay of captured southern slaves for re-enlisted troops, and on the same day that South Carolina rejected his request for a regiment of manumitted slaves, they awarded the General the gift of the Mulberry Grove Plantation, whereby Greene became owner of an estimated 350 slaves. At the close of the war, Greene’s debts were such that he deemed it unaffordable to manumit the population though his plantation ultimately failed. See Carbone, Gerald “Nathanael Greene”, 194-195, 218-219.
[xxxvi] MacGunnigle, “Register Book…” p. 83
[xxxvii] Rider, Sidney S. “An Historical Inquiry” p. 64. See also Acts and Resolves, State of Rhode Island, February 1786
[xxxviii] Sweet, John Wood “Bodies Politic Negotiating Race in the American North1730-1830” pp. 254-255
[xxxix] I would recommend to the reader, Joanne Pope Melish’s “Disowning Slavery”, as well as Ruth Wallis Herndon’s “Unwelcome Americans” for a fuller understanding of the times and measures meted out against the poor during this period.
[xl] Mathew, Linda L. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Providence Town Council Records, 1770-1788” Rhode Island Roots, April 2006 p. 108
[xli] Vital Record of Rhode Island Vol. 13 p. 362
[xlii] Mathew, Linda L. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Providence Town Council Records, 1770-1778” Rhode Island Roots Journal of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society, April 2006 p. 99
[xliii] Mathew, Linda L. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: Providence Town Council Records, 1770-1778” Rhode Island Roots Journal of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society, April 2006 pp. 108-109
[xliv] see Dunay, Neil, “Captives at Cocumscussoc: From Bondage to Freedom” from Cranston, T.G. and Dunay “We Were Here Too: Selected Stories of Black History in North Kingston” pp. 84-88
[xlv] See Joanne Pope Melish “Disowning Slavery” p. 242
[xlvi] Greene, “History of East Greenwich” Providence, 1877 p. 54
[xlvii] Fuller, O.P. “The History of Warwick, Rhode Island” pp. 188-189
[xlviii] Geake, Robert “A History of the Narragansett Tribe: Keepers of the Bay” (Charleston, S.C., The History Press 2011) p. 71
[xlix] Narragansett Dawn, Vol 1. December 1935, No. 8 p.190
[l] Cowell, Benjamin “Spirit of ‘76” p. 313
[li] Beaman, Alden G. ed. “Rhode Island Vital Records” (East Princeton, Massachusetts 1981) p. 133
[lii] Nell, William Cooper “The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution” p. 75
[liii] Arnold, ed. ”Vital Record of Rhode Island 1636-1880” (Providence, Narragansett Historical Register, 1903) Vol. XII p. 468
[liv] Arnold, ed. “Vital Records of Rhode Island 1636-1880 Vol. XIII p. 342