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On August 29, 1778, the First Rhode Island Infantry regiment defeated three assaults by British Troops at the Battle of Rhode Island, in Newport, Rhode Island. The First Rhode Island Infantry regiment was the first all-black unit in the United States.

From Rhode Island State Archives;

“The Battle of Rhode Island, also known as the Battle of Quaker Hill and the Siege of Newport, took place on August 29, 1778.

Continental Army and militia forces under the command of General John Sullivan were withdrawing to the northern part of Aquidneck Island after abandoning their siege of Newport, Rhode Island, when the British forces in Newport sortied, supported by recently arrived Royal Navy ships, and attacked the retreating Americans. The battle ended inconclusively, but the Continental forces afterward withdrew to the mainland, leaving Aquidneck Island in British hands.

The battle took place in the aftermath of the first attempt at cooperation between French and American forces following France’s entry into the war as an American ally. The operations against Newport were to have been made in conjunction with a French fleet and troops; these were frustrated in part by difficult relations between the commanders, and a storm that damaged both French and British fleets shortly before joint operations were to begin.

The battle was also notable for the participation of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, a locally recruited segregated regiment of African Americans. It was the only major military action to include a racially segregated unit on the American side in the war”.

Battle of Rhode Island map

More Info

Newport Historical Society’s Taylor Stoermer discussed the Battle of Rhode Island and the impact it had on the state and New England on C-Span in 2017.

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