Monday, September 21, 2009

Americans Invade Rhode Island

One of my favorite local runs is the loop around Nanaquaket Pond starting at Stone Bridge. There's something especially refreshing about running by the water and this run offers plenty of water views... of the northern end of the Sakonnet River and of Nanaquaket Pond, an almost-landlocked saltwater pond.

As I said, the run starts at Stone Bridge. Or at least it's where there used to be a stone bridge. Unfortunately, back in 1954 a hurricane came through here and demolished our stone bridge which connected Tiverton (on the mainland) to Aquidneck Island
(aka Rhode Island just to confuse it with the colony and future state of the same name). Now, all that remains of the bridge are two stone piers.

Way, way back before anyone built a bridge here, there was a ferry crossing, known as Howland's Ferry, the site of an important event in the Revolutionary War. I'm sure you must have heard of it.

Anyway, back in the summer of 1778 the British were occupying Newport over on Aquidneck Island. I expect they were doing what tourists always do in Newport... hanging out at the beach, visiting the mansions, getting stoned in the bars on Thames Street etc. etc.

Meanwhile the Americans (aka the good guys) were camped in Tiverton doing whatever American soldiers do when they have too much time on their hands. On 9 August 1778 the brave General Sullivan led 11,000 American troops across the Sakonnet River at Howlands Ferry and marched to attack the dastardly British in Newport.

Unfortunately the aforementioned General Sullivan didn't have access to Accuweather and didn't know that a hurricane was about to hit the area. (What is it with this place and hurricanes? Did I make a wise decision to move here?)

The Americans were relying on the French fleet to land some more troops to help in their attack on Newport but the Frenchies got spooked by the hurricane and buggered off to Boston to mend their petits bateaux. In the ensuing Battle of Rhode Island (you must have heard of it) the British, with some unfair help from a few German Panzer Divisions, drove the Americans off Aquidneck and back to sunny Tiverton.

A completely unbiased local historian has written of the Battle of Rhode Island, "Even though the Americans totally failed to take the island, and were in full retreat when the battle occurred, it is often considered an American victory." Yeah right.

Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes, I was telling you about my run. But there is even more history on the rest of my route, so I will save that story for another day...


Dan said...

History is interesting. I used to enjoy going to the east coast on business trips and visit the locations of some of the battles that occurred during the revolutionary war and farther south the civil war also.Drat those German ancestors of mine that messed things up!

Tillerman said...

Thanks for the encouragement Dan. I was a little afraid that by seguing from sailing to running and from that to local history I might be boring my regular two readers.

Dan said...

You have not bored me, don't know about the other guy.

You probably notice that I launch off into a lot of non-sailing related stuff. I have warned my two readers that that can happen. I was suprised when I did not post for a couple weeks and one of my friends thought his computer was broken because he could not find any new posts from me.

Greg and Kris said...

abu graibh = what american soldiers with time on their hands do; or maybe it's 'who' they do

tillerman said...

Very cynical of you Greg. But there was indeed a lot of prisoner abuse during the Revolutionary War, though mainly by those dastardly British if you can believe what you read on the Interwebs.

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