Revolutionary War Fortifications of Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s Revolutionary War history may not share the luster of nearby Massachusetts’, but the smallest colony was the site of one of the largest battles of the war. The town of Newport occupied a strategic location on the Atlantic coast, and it was occupied and defended by American, British, Hessian, and French troops at different times throughout the war. This led to the construction of several batteries and redoubts in and around Newport. This system of fortifications was tested in 1778 during the Battle of Rhode Island, the first coordinated campaign by the new American and French allies. The battle ended indecisively, which is perhaps the reason it is not mentioned with the same reverence as Bunker Hill or Yorktown. Although the battle has been largely erased from memory, the fortifications still exist.

Fort Barton, Tiverton

The remains of Fort Barton stand on a rise 110 feet above sea level that is capped by an observation tower offering a commanding view of Narragansett Bay. During the early years of the American Revolution, the fort occupied a strategic highpoint…

Butts Hill Fort, Portsmouth

Butts Hill Fort is the largest remaining Revolutionary War fortification in southeastern New England. In 1776, when the Americans built a small battery there, the area was also known as Windmill Hill after a succession of mills, beginning in 1668,…

Green End Fort, Middletown

In 1778, when the British built a defensive line of earthworks to protect Newport from the besieging American troops, the Battery at Green End stood near the southern end of that line. A sinuous mound of earth and a grassy open area with a steep…

Tonomi Hill, Newport

In June of 1776, on the highest point of ground in Newport, the Americans erected a signal beacon and a small fortification. This high point is known as Tonomy Hill, a shortening of Miantonomi, the name of the sachem of the Narragansetts when Newport…

North Battery, Newport

In early 1776, the residents of the Point neighborhood in Newport awoke to see the British frigate HMS Scarborough anchored just offshore. With the threat of war suddenly looming, the town hastily threw up a semi-circular earthwork fort at the…

Conanicut Battery, Jamestown

In May of 1776, the Americans hastily built an earthwork battery in a large field on the west side of the Beavertail peninsula on Conanicut Island. British diarist Frederick Mackenzie later described the fortification as a "Battery or Redoubt…