Battle of Fall's river


The Political Climate

In December 1776, after completing the conquest of New York City, British Lieutenant General William Howe detached troops from his main army to occupy Newport, Rhode Island. Very desirable as a port by the Royal Navy.

At this time Newport was a key location between New York harbor and those hot headed rebels up in Boston.


When Howe sent General Cornwallis into New Jersey to chase after Washington, General Sir Henry Clinton proposed that, rather than taking Newport, his force should be landed in New Jersey in an attempt to envelop Washington's army.


Howe rejected this advice, and Clinton sailed for Newport in early December, thus occupying it. This was done without significant opposition as the American forces upon Aquidneck Island, had retreated to the main land.


Colonel John Cook's Regt. of Militia had retreated to Tiverton Heights, which held a fort ( later Fort Barton ) that overlooked approaches to Howland's ferry, now Stonebridge, and Colonel West  to the hills opposite Bristol ferry where current day Mount Hope Bridge crosses into Bristol RI. A picket guard patrolled the whole shore from Taunton River to Seaconnet point. (Current day Sakonnet Point)


This area of New England had. A heightened sense of danger, and the shores of the Narragansett Bay, Mount Hope Bay and the island became two hostile camps. The winter was passed in raids, skirmishes and projects for the invasion of Aquidneck Island, only to be one by one abandoned.


In January 1777 Clinton was given leave to return to England. He resigned the command on the Island and returned to England, and Lord Percy of lexington and Concord Fame, followed him in May, leaving the command on the island, to General Richard Prescott.


The Newport garrison came under the command of Brigadier General Sir Robert Pigot when the original commander, Brigadier General Richard Prescott, was captured(again)  in the summer of 1777 in a daring commando operation led by Continental Army Major and Warren, Rhode Island, native William Barton.


On the night of July 10–11, with 38 men men including Jack Sisson,  and six officers in five whaleboats, Lieutenant-Colonel William Barton Barton crossed Narragansett Bay, passed unobserved by three British frigates, and, landing about half way between Newport and Bristol Ferry, went to the farm house where Prescott had his headquarters. modern day Middtletown RI. The guards were surprised, the door of Prescott's room was broken in, and the general was hurried away half dressed and taken to Warwick Point, and afterward to Providence. Prescott was again exchanged, this time for General Charles Lee.


Prescott resumed his command in Rhode Island, but was almost immediately superseded by Sir Robert Pigot. Pigot is the man responsible for the raids up and down Mount Hope Bay, Narragansett Bay and the Taunton river  - these actions gave the colonist a heightened sense of danger and awareness to the movements of the British in sense the areas colonist were always on alarm.


*Prescott Farm in Portsmouth RI




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