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.