Life on Aquidneck Island during the British-Hessian Occupation, 1776-1779: A Reading List

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 10:20am -- amateus

Life on Aquidneck Island during the British-Hessian Occupation, 1776-1779: A Reading List


The 2017 Fall Life of the Mind Salon Series concludes on Wednesday, November 8 when Fred Zilian, adjunct professor at Salve Regina University, examines life on Aquidneck Island during the British-Hessian Occupation. For almost three years occupying forces held sway over Newport, and island conditions were tense, militarized, regimented, and dangerous.  Daily life greatly differed between citizens who were loyalists and those who were patriots.


This reading list will suppliment the Salon, utilizing texts and diaries of men who served with the Crown Forces during the occupation. The General Orders to the soldiers on the island have been transcribed by local author Don N. Hagist, and are available to read. Other readings explore the Battle of Rhode Island, and the effects before, during, and after the critical campaign.




General Orders, Rhode Island: December 1776-January 1778

By, Don N. Hagist


A record of British General Orders issued in Rhode Island,, this book offers an insiders' view of basic rules, policies and regulations regarding the food, sanitation, travel, etc. that were in place during the occupation of Rhode Island. Most of the orders apply to all of the troops in the garrison, and some apply to Rhode Island inhabitants as well. The book also contains a useful chronologyof military actions.





By, Frederick Mackenzie


Frederick MacKenzie was an officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd Regiment of Foot) during the years 1775 - 1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. MacKenzie was promoted to the rank of Captain in the fall of 1775, and promoted to Major in August 1780. He served as Deputy Adjutant for part of the time the Fusiliers occupied New York. Volume I is 311 pages, Volume II is 426 pages. The two volumes comprise the following postings of MacKenzie: Volume I 1. Boston, 1775 2. Long Island, 1776 3. Rhode Island, 1777 4. Newport, Rhode Island, 1778 Volume II 5. Rhode Island 1778 6. New York, 1781 7. New York, 1781 8. New York, 1781




  Spies in Revolutionary Rhode Island

By, Christian McBurney


Espionage played a vital role during the American Revolution in Rhode Island. The British and Americans each employed spies to discover the secrets, plans and positions of their enemy. Continental navy lieutenant John Trevett dressed as an ordinary sailor, grew out his beard and went from tavern to tavern in Newport gathering intelligence. Metcalf Bowler became a traitor on the order of Benedict Arnold, as he spied for the British while serving as a Patriot leader in Providence. Disguised as a peddler, Ann Bates spied for the British during the Rhode Island Campaign. When caught, one spy paid with his life, while others suffered in jail. Author Christian M. McBurney, for the first time, unravels the world of spies and covert operations in Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War.




Kidnapping the Enemy: The Special Operations to Capture Generals Charles Lee and Richard Prescott

By, Christian McBurney


In Kidnapping the Enemy: The Special Operations to Capture Generals Charles Lee and Richard Prescott, Christian M. McBurney relates the full story of each of these remarkable raids, the subsequent exchange of the two generals, and the impact of these kidnappings on the Revolutionary War. He then follows the subsequent careers of the major players, including Lee, Barton, Prescott, and Tarleton. The author completes his narrative with descriptions of other attempts to kidnap high-ranking military officers and government officials during the war, including ones organized by and against George Washington. The low success rate of these operations makes the raids that captured Lee and Prescott even more impressive.




The Rhode Island Campaign: The First French and American Operation in the Revolutionary War

 By, Christian McBurney


The Rhode Island Campaign: The First French and American Operation of the Revolutionary War unravels one of the most complex and multi-faceted events of the war, one which combined land and sea strategies and featured controversial decisions on both sides. Many prominent patriots participated, including Nathanael Greene, Marquis de Lafayette, John Hancock, and Paul Revere. Most important, while the campaign's failure led to harsh criticism of the French in some quarters, leaders such as Greene, Lafayette, and George Washington steadfastly worked to ensure that the alliance would remain intact, knowing that the next joint operation could well succeed. Relying on in-depth research from American, French, British, and German original sources, author Christian McBurney has written the most authoritative book on this fascinating episode in American history.




The Battle of Rhode Island, August 29, 1778 : a Victory for the Patriots

By, Patrick T. Conley


An Essay provdied by Conley on the Battle of Rhode Island. Delivered in 2003 at the Bristol Statehouse and Courthouse.




A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution

By,  Johann Conrad Döhla (Author), Bruce E. Burgoyne (Editor)


This unique diary, written by one of the thirty thousand Hessian troops whose services were sold to George III to suppress the American Revolution, is the most complete and informative primary account of the Revolution from the common soldier's point of view. Johann Conrad Döhla describes not just military activities but also events leading up to the Revolution, American customs, the cities and regions that he visited, and incidents in other parts of the world that affected the war. He also evaluates the important military commanders, giving readers an insight into how the enlisted men felt about their leaders and opponents.


The Despot's Heel: British occupation of the Bay, Island and Town, December 1776-October 1779

By, Anthony Walker


Text written by Tony Walker on the British Occupation of Newport, decribing the three years Crown Forces Occupied Aquidneck Island.


The Hessian Occupation of Newport and Rhode Island, 1776-1779

By, Walter K. Schroder


Who were the Hessians? Where did they come from? Were all Hessians truly Hessians? Were they mercenaries or auxiliary troops of the British? This well-researched historical narrative answers these questions and more as it vividly portrays the events of the Rhode Island campaign, which lasted from December 8, 1776 to October 25, 1779. Information gleaned from source diaries and unit journals, originally recorded in German, provide a wealth of insight into the daily life of the German soldiers who were committed to the Rhode Island campaign. In light of modern travel and technology, it is difficult to imagine the perilous two-month journey across the Atlantic to America that was just the beginning of the hardships, dangers, and fears to be experienced by these eighteenth-century German soldiers. The 1776 occupation of Newport, troop movements, raids and incursions, the Treaty of Paris, the 1778 siege of Newport, the Battle of Rhode Island, and much more are examined in detail. A bibliography and an index add to the value of this work.



Newport, the French Navy, and American independence

 By, John B. Hattendorf


Mr Hattendorf has written a wonderful and insightful book on the importance of the French Navy during the American Revolution. Their involvment in America begins before the French Occupation of Newport, starting with the Siege of Newport in 1778. A great read describing the difficult, and uncertain times of Rhode Island in the Revolution.


A Dependent People: Newport, Rhode Island in the Revolutionary Era

By, Elaine Forman Crane


His work tells a story about the sea, an American colonial town, and the British. It relates how Newport's dependence on the Atlantic Ocean dominated nearly every aspect of its existence. Newport learned early from its watery surroundings that its survival and prosperity were inextricably linked to commerce. Dependent on a thriving trade, Newporters were willing to explore and combination of routes which suggested a successful return in voyage and investment.

Newport's single-minded commitment to commerce produced a society in which people were also dependent on each other. Merchant and dockworker, sailmaker and rope-walk owner developed symbiotic relationships as a result of their common efforts to ensure the success of each voyage. Dependency also extended to social networks where the affluent took responsibility for other members of the community.

Because of their dependence on unobstructed trade, Newporters had evaded British customs for generations, using methods which cast some doubt on their commitment to the law. Thus, when it became clear in 1764 that Britain would go to great lengths to enforce new duties, the stage was set for confrontation. In the end, events outstripped the ability of Newport to chart its own course as the violence escalated. The Revolution prematurely ended Newport's golden age and destroyed the town both physically and spiritually. A dependent people had gained independence but at a cost only a few could foresee.



The Diary of Mary Almy

By, Mary Almy


If you click on the link above, you will be able to read the Diary of Mary Almy, a loyalist woman who was in Newport during the French and American attempt to retake Aquidneck Island from the British in 1778. Her account, written for her husband Benjamin who is serving with the American Army, describes in vivid detail the French Fleet arriving and cannonading Newport, and Mary's attempt to keep herself and her family alive. The original diary is located in the vaults here at Redwood Library.