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This Day In History: America And France Join Forces For The Battle Of Rhode Island

August 29, 2016

This day in history, August 29, 1778, The Battle of Rhode Island, also known as the Battle of Quaker Hill and the Siege of Newport, took place.

Continental Army and militia forces under General John Sullivan’s command were withdrawing to the northern part of Aquidneck Island after abandoning their siege of Newport, Rhode Island, when the British forces in Newport came out from a defensive position to attack. They were supported by Royal Navy ships and began attacking the retreating American forces

The battle ended inconclusively, but the Continental forces afterward withdrew to the mainland, leaving Aquidneck Island in British control. The battle took place in the aftermath of the first attempt at cooperation between French and American forces following France’s entry into the war as an American ally.

The operations against Newport were to have been made in conjunction with a French fleet and troops. These were frustrated in part by difficult relations between the commanders, and a storm that damaged both French and British fleets shortly before joint operations were to begin.

The battle was also notable for the participation of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, a locally recruited segregated regiment of African Americans as well as Native Americans and European-American settlers. It was the only major military action to include a racially segregated unit for the Americans during the war.