A mixed-unit of African Americans, American Indians, and white colonists fended off wave after wave of British infantry in this little-known Revolutionary War battle.
Click to expand photos
The Battle of Rhode Island was fought on August 29, 1778 between American and French forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene and Brig. Gen. John Glover, and British and Hessian forces commanded by Sir Robert Pigot, Maj. Gen. Francis Smith, and Friedrich Wilhelm von Lossberg on Aquidneck Island, Rhode Island during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a tactical draw, but ultimately ended in British victory when the Americans withdrew, failing to retake the island
In the winter of 1776, British troops seized control of the strategic town of Newport, Rhode Island and fortified Aquidneck Island. In the spring of 1778, as France entered the war on the American side, Maj. Gen. John Sullivan was appointed overall command of American troops in Rhode Island. He hatched a plan for a joint Franco-American land and sea invasion to retake Newport.
While American militia were mustering and organizing for the fight, Sir Robert Pigot withdrew his men from their fort on Butts Hill into the island’s interior. As the Americans moved into position, French commander Comte d’Estaing informed them his fleet would be unable to assist due to damage from storms and skirmishing. Without French support, hundreds of American militiamen went home. The remaining units arrayed themselves across the island to block the British from retaking the high ground.
West Side Diner, at 1380 Westminster Street in Providence, Rhode Island, is a classic art deco, stainless steel 1947 Kullman model diner. Walter Scott began the first lunch cart/wagon service in Providence, Rhode Island in 1872, the precursor to modern diners and fast food establishments. Joseph and Mary Poirier opened this diner in 1947 on Atwells Avenue and operated it until 1955.
Like many diners, it had many owners and many names over the years, including Top Hat, Krystal’s, and El Faro. It closed in 1999, but a man named Jon Özbek saved it from the wrecking ball. It was restored and moved to its current location in 2011. It reopened two years later with new owners and a new name, the West Side Diner. It was added National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.
Swan Point Cemetery, at 585 Blackstone Boulevard in Providence, Rhode Island, is a private rural cemetery established in 1846. It was one of the country’s first rural cemeteries, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It encompasses 200 acres and is the final resting place for approximately 42,000 of the city’s former residents. Swan Point contains many beautiful bronze and white marble sculptures.
Monument to William Clarke Sayles (1855-1876), son of William F. and Mary W. Sayles. William Francis Sayles was a textile manufacturer, state senator, and trustee of Brown University. His son, William, died as a young man at the age of twenty. He is portrayed as a scholar wrapped in robes in this bronze statue.
This hauntingly beautiful white marble moment is dedicated to Mary Waterman (1850-1860) and William Comstock (1857-1860), children of Byron and Harriet Sprague. Their epitaph reads, in part: “Farewell darlings we have laid you side by side beneath this sod, buds of earth all fadeless blooming in the garden of our God.” Byron Sprague was a businessman and real estate mogul.
Monument to Col. John Stanton Slocum (1824-1861) in Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Blvd in Providence, Rhode Island. Slocum commanded the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment and was killed on July 21, 1861 at the First Battle of Bull Run. The 2nd RI was deployed in Burnside’s Brigade, which initially drove Confederate forces back during the opening phase of the battle.
A stone monument deep in the Rhode Island wilderness marks the site of the bloodiest battle of King Philip’s War.
Click to expand photos
The Great Swamp Fight (or Great Swamp Massacre) was fought on December 19, 1675 between New England forces and their native allies commanded by Governor Josiah Winslow, Major Samuel Appleton, Governor Robert Treat, Major William Bradford, and Chief Uncas, and the Narragansett Tribe commanded by Chief Canonchet in the Great Swamp in present-day Washington County, Rhode Island during King Philip’s War. The battle was a major colonial victory, resulting in the near-destruction of the Narragansetts.
In the summer of 1675, after a breakdown in relations with New England colonists, Metacom (King Philip), sachem of the Pokanoket Indians (the same tribe that helped the Pilgrims survive their first winter), began to raid English settlements. The New England Confederation raised an army in defense, and after several raids and counter-raids, decided to strike the neutral Narragansett tribe in Rhode Island before they could join forces with Metacom.
On the chilly day of December 19th, an Indian guide led approximately 1,000 New England militia and 150 Pequot Indians through the frozen Great Swamp to a wooden palisade, which the Narragansetts had fortified for the winter. Their initial attack was poorly coordinated and beaten back, but after a long struggle, they overwhelmed the defenders and burned the fort. The Narragansetts attempted to escape, but hundreds including women, children, and the elderly, were killed. The colonists lost 70 killed and 150 wounded.
Modern Diner at 364 East Avenue in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. This early-twentieth century Sterling Streamliner was the first diner to be placed on the National Register for Historic Places, and is one of two Sterling Streamliners still in operation. It’s easy to see the diner’s origin in dinning railroad cars in this early model.
The writer H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), born in Providence, Rhode Island, had a huge indirect influence on my interests. His pulp-fiction horror and sci-fi stories, though obscure in his own time, subsequently inspired horror films, music, art, games, and other literature. H.P. Lovecraft’s 1928 short story “The Call of Cthulhu” even inspired an instrumental on Metallica’s album Ride the Lightning (1984) called “The Call of Ktulu”. In fact, Lovecraft inspired so much derivative material, I’m familiar with much of his work without previously having read any of his original stories.
Lovecraft died in poverty and obscurity. He was an elitist and Anglophile who hated modernity. Never-the-less, by the late 20th Century his influence had grown so much that Brown University erected a small plaque in his honor in 1990. It sits outside John Hay Library at 20 Prospect Street in Providence, Rhode Island.
Lovecraft is buried in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island. His name was originally inscribed on the Phillips family monument (his mother’s family) but in 1977 fans erected a separate headstone for him.