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Site of Battle of Rhode Island

Portsmouth, Rhode Island
County of Newport.
National Register Number: 74002054
Resource type: Site.
Property type: Defense - battle site. The threat level was Watch in
Congressional District: RI-1 Certified Local Government: NO

Statement of Significance (as of designation - May 30, 1974):
The Battle of Rhode Island was the first joint American and French operation to result from the alliance of 1778. Its goal was to trap the British that had occupied Newport since December of 1776. American forces invaded Aquidneck Island and advanced south to Newport, besieging the British forces. A hurricane damaged the French fleet that was lying off Newport in support of the American effort, causing it to retire to Boston for repairs and forcing the Americans to abandon the siege and retire northwards, with the British in pursuit. Actions were fought at numerous locations, the sharpest engagement taking place on August 29, with the First Rhode Island Regiment distinguishing itself by fighting off an attempted British flanking action. This encounter is unique in the history of the American Revolution, since it is the only engagement fought during the war in which black Americans participated as a distinct racial group. Encompassing about 356 acres, the battlefield retains all of the major physical features that figured significantly in the battle.

A new golf course has been constructed on the site, under review of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission to insure that critical elements of the site were protected. In addition, a plan for interpretation of the site is now being developed, and transportation enhancement funding has been awarded to study and re-design the monument area of the battle site. Despite these efforts, the pristine, agricultural nature of the site is being altered by residential development, a business park, and major highway construction.

Recommendation/Change since last report:
Pursuit of conservation easements, local ordinances, and other similar measures are urgently needed to protect this Landmark.

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