Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Re:The 1st Rhode Island at The Battle of Monmouth

Sergeant Becton,
Wow, you are correct.  Rich Walling missed the June muster roll for Captain Thomas Arnold's detachment.  I took a quick look at it (we have a print from the National Archives microfilm), and was able to find most of the names from Louis Wilson's list.  At least half of the privates and one musician were African Americans.  It is very clear that most of them were at Monmouth (although two were left sick at Valley Forge and perhaps one of those on command was with the baggage at Rocky Hill).  Rhodes is noted "sick at Englishtown," and Moses Wickes "sick Princetown."  (Was Moses Wickes left at Princetown on the march to Monmouth--or sent back to the Princeton hospital after the battle?)  Sick could mean "sick" or lightly wounded.  Capt. Arnold is listed as "Wounded Absent."
We also have a print of the July muster for essentially the same detachment.  This time, however, it is listed as Capt. Jona. Wallen's Company.  Capt. Thomas Arnold is listed after Wallen as "sick # Englishtown."
In Major-General Nathanael Greene's letter to his brother, Jacob Greene, 2 July 1778, he notes "I had like to have forgot to mention that the Rhode Island Troops were in Action and behavd very well.  Capt Arnold is wounded in the Leg."
What is uncertain is whether Capt. Arnold's detachment fought with Varnum's brigade at the hedged fence (most likely) or were part of a battalion of picked men (temporary light infantry).  Maj. Simeon Thayer, 2nd RI, was wounded while serving as major of a battalion of picked men led by Col. Joseph Cilley, 1st NH.  Cilley had men from 20 different regiments with him.  Washington had sent Cilley's and Parker's battalions of picked men to attack the British right as it withdrew from the field at the end of the day.
I would love to have more particulars on these men.  Do any of the primary sources reveal more about the Battle of Monmouth?  What about the other men in the detachment?  Which are WASPs, which are Native Americans?
Antiquary Garry

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

1st Rhode Island at Monmouth

It is generally believed that the First Rhode Island regiment did not serve at the battle of Monmouth in June 1778. It is a fact that after the Valley Forge encampment and retraining, the First Rhode Island Regiment returned to the Highlands Army in New York and New England .

What aroused my curiosity were the wounds of Captain Thomas Arnold who lost his right leg and of Richard Rhodes, newly freed African Soldier wounded in the arm.

These men were both members of the First Rhode Island and should not have been at that battle.

The First Rhode Island created a detachment, on 1 June 1778 ,Windsor Fry and others were detached to Captain Thomas Arnold and fought at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey, on 28 June 1778. On 1 July some of them moved to Captain Johnathan Wallen’s company.

The Second Rhode Island Regiment and Captain Thomas Arnold's detachment from the First Rhode Island, fought at the Battle of Monmouth. White, Black and Red soldiers served in his detachment.

The list of Africans who served in Arnold’s detachment and company in June of 1778 comes from the list of Louis E. Wilson of Smith University. It was included in a presentation during a Seminar and Exhibit called "Forgotten Patriots" offered by the DAR at their Headquarters in Washington D.C. January 11, 2003.

  • Edward Anthony, Transferred from the Second Rhode Island in May
  • Hampton Barton
  • Ebenezer Caesar
  • James Carpenter (Enslaved) New Recruit
  • Prince Childs (Possible escaped Slave)
  • James Dailey Enlisted 1776 in 9th continental
  • Abraham Demos Enlisted in the Militia in September 1776
  • William Frank Enlisted April 20, 1777 in the Militia Transferred in May.
  • Windsor Fry Enlisted 1775
  • James Greene New recruit
  • Frank Gould (Enslaved) enlist January 14, 1777 in 2nd RI Transferred in May
  • Robert Howland New recruit
  • Cuff Peckham Transferred from 2nd RI in May
  • John Jehu Pomp Enlisted March 1777
  • Richard Dick Potter Enlisted March 1777
  • Thomas Reynolds Enlisted January 1777
  • Richard Rhodes (Enslaved) New recruit
  • James Robillard Fifer Transferred from the 2nd RI
  • George Rogers
  • George Sambo Enlisted March 1777
  • Thomas Spencer
  • Solomon Wanton Enlisted in Militia in January of 1777 the 1st RI
  • Pomp Watson Enlisted May 23, 1777
  • Primus Watson (Enslaved) New Recruit
  • Prince Watson
  • Moses Wickes Transferred from 2nd RI
  • Jesse Willis New recruit May 1778
  • Frances Tefift Transferred from the 2nd RI
  • Cato Vernom (Enslaved) April 24, 1778


  • Captain Thomas Arnold
  • Heitmen’s (1914) p.76 "Thomas Arnold"
  • Valley Forge Muster list 1777-1778.
  • Records of the State of Rhode Island ed, John Russell Bartlett Vol X 1784 to 1792
  • Providence Press Company (1865) p.166
  • Private Dick, a.k.a. Richard Rhodes Pension Application 3, April 1818.W2206.448
  • Black Courage 1775-1783 Robert Ewell Greene DAR (1984) p.5
  • Rhode Island Archives (Folder R) Minorities in the Revolution
  • Valley Forge Muster list 1777-1778.
  • Some Observations of the Black regiment of Rhode Island in the American Revolution p.158
  • Hoyt's Index to Revolutionary War Pension Application
  • Pension S2970 and W22060 Catherine
  • Lewis Wilson List p.45,
  • Private Windsor Fry Rhode Island Archives (Folder F) Minorities in the Revolution "Windsor Fry"
  • Lewis Wilson List p.45,
  • Doctor Stone
Hopefully this is enough information for you to look into and form your own opinion . Black Courage and Heitman’s list of Revolutionary War Officers will be the easy to get. It is possible that Stryker or Smith may have mentioned Captain Arnold and Private Richard Rhodes as being wounded.

Joseph P. Martin talks about Colonel Joseph Cilly of New Hampshire, rallying Varnum’s troops for the counter attack on pages 126-130. Not George Washington.

Sgt. Joe Becton

First Rhode Island Regiment

Captain John Dexter’s Company

" I joined the army to obtain my freedom"