Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Rhode Island Revolutionary Rolls, 1899

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, May 2010

Summary Information
Title: Rhode Island Revolutionary rolls
Creator: Cushman, Sara E.
Inclusive dates: 1899
Extent: 1 volume
The Rhode Island Revolutionary rolls contain copies of general abstracts, muster rolls, and pay abstracts for the 1st and 2nd Rhode Island Regiments in the Revolutionary War.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:


Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Rhode Island Revolutionary Rolls, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


On January 1, 1777, the 1st Rhode Island Regiment was organized, commanded by Colonel Christopher Greene. Most of the officers and men came from the 9th Continental Regiment, who in turn had come from Varnum’s 12th Continental Regiment. By 1778, Rhode Island faced difficulties recruiting enough soldiers to meet the quota set by the Continental Congress. On February 14, the Rhode Island Assembly voted to allow "every able-bodied negro, mulatto, or Indian man slave" to enlist; the reward for service would be freedom from slavery. Approximately 140 African Americans volunteered, and were mustered into the 1st Rhode Island Regiment over the course of the Revolutionary War. The public dubbed it the "Black Regiment," although it was never exclusively African American. The regiment saw action at the Siege of Boston and the battles of Red Band and Rhode Island.

The 2nd Rhode Island Regiment was organized on January 13, 1777, from Hitchcock's Regiment, after the death of Colonel Daniel Hitchcock. The regiment fought at the battles of Monmouth, Rhode Island, and Springfield (New Jersey). From 1781-1783, the 1st and 2nd combined to form the Rhode Island Regiment.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Rhode Island Revolutionary rolls are an 1899 copy of documents relating to Rhode Island regiments involved in the Revolutionary War, contained in a 59-page, oversize volume.

The first 12 pages contain 12 "General Abstracts" of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, commanded by Israel Angell, covering January 1778-May 1780. These list officers with their rank, dates and amount of pay, term of service, and casualties. A new abstract was generated every one to two months during the period. Following this are muster rolls (with names, dates appointed, ranks, and remarks) for several companies in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment: Elijah Lewis' Company (January 1777-December 1779, pp. 14-34); Thomas Coles' Company (July 1779, p. 35), the 4th Company (July 1779, p. 36), the "second Company of foot" (July 1779, p. 37), and Captain E. Slocum's Company (July 1779, p. 38).

Pages 39-51 comprise pay abstracts for Squire Millard's Company, Waterman's Regiment, 1776-1777 (pp. 39-45); Thomas Rice's Company, Waterman's Regiment, 1776-1777 (p. 46); and Amos Green's Company, Noyes' Regiment, 1777 (pp. 47-50). The final documents in the collection are muster rolls for Olney's Regiment (1781) and for staff and officers not attached to any company.

Subject Terms

    • African Americans--History--18th century.
    • United States. Continental Army. Rhode Island Regiment, 1st.
    • United States. Continental Army. Rhode Island Regiment, 2nd.
    • Rhode Island--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Participation, African American.
    Genre Terms:
    • Military records.
    • Muster rolls.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Rhode Island Revolutionary Rolls,  1777-1781 (copied in 1899) [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Freneau, Philip. An historical sketch, to the end of the revolutionary war, of the life of Silas Talbot: esq. of the state of Rhode-Island, lately commander of the United States frigate, the Constitution, and of an American squadron in the West-Indies. New-York: Printed by G. & R. Waite, for H. Caritat, 1803.

    Howland, John. Notices of the military services rendered by the militia, as well as by the enlisted troops, of the state of Rhode-Island, during the Revolutionary war. [Providence? 1832].

    Related Materials

    The Clements Library has many items related to Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War, including:

    • The David Bradish orderly book
    • Several items in the Schoff Revolutionary War Collection
      • 1777 August 21: Burton Muster Roll (Rhode Island)
      • 1778 Nov: Burton Muster Roll (Rhode Island)
    • The Nathanael Greene papers

    Smith, Joseph Jencks., and James N. Arnold. Civil and military list of Rhode Island. 1800-1850: A list of all officers elected by the General assembly from 1800 to 1850. Also, all officers in revolutionary war, appointed by Continental congress, and in the regular army and navy from Rhode Island, to 1850, including volunteer officers in war of 1812 and Mexican war, and all officers in privateer service during colonial and revolutionary wars, and the war of 1812 ... Compiled from the records. Providence, R.I.: Preston and Rounds Co., 1901.