August 9, 1778

The Battle of Rhode Island began on August 9, 1778, when 11,000 Continental line troops and militia crossed Howland’s Ferry to reinforce the state militia in preparation for an attack on the British in that state. Meanwhile, the French fleet under d’Estaing blocked the small naval force at Narragansett Bay. When a larger British fleet arrived to challenge the French, they prepared to do battle, but a hurricane (August 13–14) scattered the ships and severely damaged both fleets. The French sailed to Boston for repairs, leaving the Americans without naval back-up or the anticipated French landing troops. The Americans attempted to withdraw, the British troops attacked on August 29. The 1st Rhode Island, a black regiment, took part in the action. After a twelve-day siege, the Americans realized they could not penetrate the British lines without naval back-up from the French. They were forced to withdraw, leaving the British in place.

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