1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 War of 1812 Military Collection


 Records, 1812-1815

 Size: 1 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 673 sg 3

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, September 1997

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The War of 1812 was not generally a popular one in Rhode Island. The state expected to bear the brunt of a largely naval war. The state's congressional delegation voted against war, and a privateer being fitted out in Providence was sunk in the night by unknown private citizens. Governor William Jones at one point later in the war made a tactfully worded threat of secession: "notwithstanding our respect for the laws and our strong attachment to the union of states, there may be evils greater than can be apprehended from a refusal to submit to unconstitutional laws." In 1813, the state's General Assembly appointed a committee to determine if Rhode Island's acceptance of the federal constitution could be considered invalid.

            Rhode Island's actual service in the war was more active than this political history might suggest. Governor Jones originally balked at sending the required 500 troops for federal service, claiming that final authority on any use of state militia troops rested with him rather than President Madison. However, the troops were sent, and served as part of the 25th Regiment, U.S. Infantry. In addition, the contributions of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the naval war are well known. The state militia also played a role in coastal defense. Although there was never any actual combat within Rhode Island's boundaries, state troops were responsible for garrisoning Fort Adams in Newport. Private citizens organized themselves into the Committee of Defence [sic] in September of 1814 to build fortifications in Providence and the outlying towns. A river guard was stationed in Providence and patrolled the river every night. Some British prisoners of war were kept on a prison ship in the harbor. However, the threat of invasion was recognized to be slight well before news of peace reached Providence on February 12, 1815.


Field, Edward, ed. State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century: A History (Boston: Mason Publishing, 1902), vol. 1, 296-298, 510-514.

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Scope and content:

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            The provenance of most of this collection is unknown, and only the following relevant accession records have been found:

Accession #    Donor                         Item

#1894.20         Daniel Beckwith         Muster book of U.S. Frigate Congress, 1814 - 1816

#1922.18.1-    H.P. Waters                Muster rolls of several companies of R.I. Militia, 1812-1814

#1948.20.4      Donald Babcock         Muster roll of Gladding's troops at Ft. Wm. Henry, 1814

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Processing note:

            These records were for the most part found among the Rhode Island Military Papers, and separated out as a separate collection in 1997. According to Field's 1902 history of Rhode Island, "The R.I. Hist. Soc. has a ms. volume of letters, orders, etc., on the War of 1812" (vol. 3, p. 661). There is no longer such a single volume, but all known sources relating to the war can be found in the "Related Collections" list below.

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Oversized volume 1. Muster rolls of various companies in the R.I. Militia, 1813-1814. Apparently compiled after war to establish pension eligibility. The volume begins with a complete name index. Table of contents:

            1. Capt. Sweet's Middletown Company, 8/1/1814-?

            2. Capt. Pierce's 3rd Newport Co., Fort Adams, 1/1 - 2/25/1815

            3. Capt. Pierce's 3rd Newport Co., Fort Adams, 8 - 10/1814

            4. Capt. Warren's 3rd Tiverton Co., at Brenton's Neck, Newport, 7/1- 8/2/1814

            5. Capt. Burrington's 1st Portsmouth Co., 7/6 - 7/19/1814

            6. Capt. Coe's Co., Wood's State Corps, at Fort Adams, 8/10 - 8/31/1814

            7. Capt. Cole's Light Infantry Company of Scituate, at Ft. Adams, 10/11 - 12/18/1814

            8. Capt. Cooke's 2nd Tiverton Co., at Brenton's Neck, Newport, 8/1814

            9. Capt. Gladding's Co., Wood's State Corps, at Ft. William Henry., 2/1815

            10. Capt. Perry's Newport Guards, 11 - 12/12/1812

            11. Capt. Fry's detachments of Newport Artillery, at Ft. Green, 8/31/1814 - 2/23/1815

12-13. Westerly and Charleston companies of Capts. Sheffield, Gavit, Potter, Wilcox and Lewis at attack on Stonington, 8/11/1814

            15-20. Capt. Norman's 1st Newport Co., 4/22/1813 - 10/6/1814

Oversized volume 2. Muster book of U.S. Frigate Congress, 12/11/1814 - 2/6/1816


Box 1.

Reports of the 25th U.S. Infantry Regiment, stationed at Newport, 1812-1813.

Folder 1.        7/1812             Field and staff             Guard reports

Folder 2.        8/1812             Field and staff             Guard reports

Folder 2a        8/1812             Capt. Bartlett's Co.?                Descriptive muster roll (copy)

Folder 3.        9/1812             Field and staff             Morning and guard reports

Folder 4.        10/1812           Field and staff             Morning reports

Folder 5.        11/1812           Field and staff             Morning reports

Folder 6.        2-5/1813         Field and staff             Returns

Muster rolls of Wood's State Militia, stationed at Newport, 1814-1815

Folder 7.        7-10/1814       Field and staff 

Folder 8.        7-12/1814       Adam S. Coe                          Several muster rolls

Folder 9.        7-12/1814       John Gladding            Several muster rolls, and volume

Folder 10.      8/1814             Various troops at Ft. Adams and Ft. Walcott - returns, etc.

Folder 11.      8-10/1814       Benj. Pearce                           Officer's receipts

Folder 12.      8-12/1814       Benj. Pearce                           Several muster rolls

Folder 13.      10/1814           Welcome Cole                        Officer's receipts

Folder 14.      10-12/1814     Welcome Cole                        Several muster rolls

Folder 15.      2/23/1815       John Gladding

Folder 16.      2/23/1815       Adam S. Coe 

Folder 17.       2/23/1815       Benj. Pearce 

Folder 18.      2/23/1815       Field and staff


Box 2. Miscellaneous.


Folder 1. Volume describing U.S. privateers commissioned and prizes taken, 1812-1813. Published in RIHS Publications, vol. 5, p. 145.

Folder 2. Prisoners returned by cartel brig Analostan, Aug. 1813

Folder 3. Prisoners returned by schooner Liberty, March 1814 (copy)

Folder 4. Prisoners returned by cartel Liberty, May 1814

Folder 5. Prisoners returned by cartel brig Perseverance, July 1814.

Folder 6. Prisoners returned by packet James Lawrence, July 1814

Folder 7. Prisoners returned by cartel brig Analastan, April 1815

Folder 8. Prisoners returned by cartel Perseverance, April 1815

Militia units:

Folder 9. 2nd Brigade of Militia - Correspondence, battle formations, etc, May to July 1812

Folder 10. Cumberland & Smithfield Light Dragoons - Lists, June and August 1812

Folder 11. Capt. Keech's 1st Glocester Company - Quartermaster list, 1813

Folder 12. 2nd Johnston Company - Summonses to delinquents, April to June 1813

Folder 13. Independent and exempt units of Providence militia - Meeting minutes, April 1813

Folder 14. Kentish Guards - Account with tailor for uniform, May 1813

Folder 15. Greene Association - Receipts to musicians, September 1813

Folder 16. Capt. Moses Terry's 3rd Exeter Co. - Fines collected, April 1814

Folder 17. 2nd Johnston Co. - Summonses to delinquents, October - December, 1814

Folder 18. 4th Regiment, Bristol County - Officers and staff, September and October 1814

Folder 19. Sea Fencibles - Lt. Ebenezer White - Provision return, October 1814

Providence Civil Guards:

Folder 20. Minute book and accounts, 1812-1814 (copy)

Folder 21. Miscellaneous receipts, copies of minutes, 1812-1814

Related collections:

            The following collections may also be of interest to scholars of the War of 1812:


Zachariah Allen Papers (MSS 254)    Memorandum of fortifications erected in Providence, September and October of 1814. Also related letter dated October 21. In Box 1, folder 1.


Benjamin Bourne Papers (MSS 11)   Includes a single letter by Benjamin Franklin Bourne written aboard U.S.S. United States off New London, January 9, 1814.


Nathaniel Devereux (MSS 9001-D)   "A general account of the most remarkable instances occuring from the 19th of June, 1812..." [1813]. 42 pages.


DeWolf Papers (MSS 382).                Inventory available. Includes extensive records relating to the successful privateer Yankee. Also resolutions preparing Bristol for British attack, June 1814.


William Ellery Papers (MSS 407)      Includes a letters from a friend dated June 28, 1812, offering refuge in Worcester to Ellery, a Newporter.


A.G. Greene Papers (MSS 454)         Includes a poem on the Battle of Bridgewater, 1819,


James House (MSS 9001-H)              Letter book kept as commander of Fort Wolcott, 1810-1812; and Fort Columbus, 1813.


N.R. Knight (MSS 9001-K)               Account book as clerk of R.I. Circuit Court during war, showing sales of captured goods and vessels. Indexed.


Marchant Papers (MSS 552)              Includes papers re the privateer Rosie, 1812.


Moses Norman (MSS 9001-N)          Papers re service as captain in Newport militia unit, 1813-1815, including lists of troops.


Usher Parsons Papers(MSS 604).       Inventory available. A very important collection mostly relating to his service as a naval surgeon under Comm. Perry.


O.H. Perry Collection (MSS 617)      Inventory available. A small collection of miscellany relating to the famous naval leader, including a few important letters.


Committee of Defence [sic]                Minutes of the committee organized by private citizens on

(MSS 9001-C)                                   9/19/1814 to erect fortifications around the city of Providence to defend themselves against invasion by the English fleet.


R.I.H.S. Manuscripts (MSS 9003)   Record of a meeting on 9/29/1814 of the 2nd District in Providence to recruit volunteers to erect fortifications in the city. Also includes a copy of the minutes of the Committee of Defence [sic] which defines how they divided the city into 7 districts. volume 4, page 11.


Rhode Island State Records           Warrant to Sheriff of Newport County to warn every member

(MSS 673 SG3)                                  of the General Assembly within the county to appear at a special session of the General Assembly due to the declaration of war against Great Britain, June 27, 1812.


Sessions Family Papers (MSS 712)Inventory available. Extensive papers of Providence merchant during the war.


Thames (MSS 9001-T)                       Bills and receipts re the prize ship Thames, 1812-1814.


U.S. Customs House (MSS 28)       Inventory available. Records of ports of Providence and Bristol/Warren.


J.R. Waterman Papers (MSS 790)   Includes a single excellent letter dated 10/28/1812 describing conditions of 25th U.S. Regiment in Greenbush N.Y.

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Civil Guards

Coe, Adam S. (1781-1862)

Cole, Welcome

Congress (Frigate)

Cumberland & Smithfield Light Dragoons

1st Regiment, R.I. Volunteer Infantry

Fort Adams (Newport, R.I.)

Fort Walcott (Newport, R.I.)

Gladding, John

Greene Association

Kentish Guards

Newport, R.I. - History - War of 1812

Norman, Moses

Pearce, Benjamin

Privateering - Rhode Island

Providence Civil Guards

Rhode Island Military Papers

Sea Fencibles

25th Regiment, U.S. Volunteer Infantry

Unites States - History - War of 1812

Wood's State Militia

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