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Independence Day Celebration 1777

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  • Thomas E Corey
    Independence Day Celebration July 4, 1777 The Rhode Island Militia Regiment encamped around Tiverton spent their holiday racing five whale boats up and down
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2008
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      Independence Day Celebration

      July 4, 1777

      The Rhode Island Militia Regiment encamped around Tiverton spent their
      holiday racing five whale boats up and down the Sakonet River under the
      watching eyes of local residents and possible spies. By the end of the day,
      their officers selected crews of six oarsmen and one steersman for each of
      the five whale boats. Among those selected were brothers Pardon and Samuel
      Cory of Portsmouth (John, Thomas, William, William, Colonial ancester). Lt.
      Col. William Barton reported to his superior officer Col. Stanton and
      received his orders to "proceed to the island of Newport, attack the Enimy
      where you think proper and report to me your proceeding."

      A refugee from Newport had come to see Col. Barton to report that the
      British Major General Robert Prescott was not quartered in Newport but five
      miles north and about a mile inland from Coddington's Cove in the
      comfortable home of John Overing, a well-to-do Tory. A troop of Dragoons and
      a company of infantry were camped nearby, but only one sentry patrolled at
      night. Lt. Col. Parton proposed to lead a small band of men to capture
      General Prescott.

      On July 5, 1777 the five boats whose crews included Col. Barton, two
      lieutenants, two non-commissioned officers and thirty-three privates
      secretly left on a dark moonless night. A severe thunderstorm developed and
      they spent the next twenty-six hours battling the storm to row the ten miles
      to Bristol.

      The storm continued for four days and the men continued on south along the
      western shore of Prudence Island. Thru the British fleet of eleven ships of
      war and many transports, the silent men rowed single file with their oars
      muffled. Arriving at Coddington's cove, they pulled their boats onto the
      beach leaving one man in charge of each boat while the remainder set off
      overland through a blackberry patch, a field of rye and up a shallow dry
      creek bed until they were close to their target. Climbing out of the creek
      bed they found the dragoons camped about a hundred yards on one side and the
      infantry camped on the other. Silently they made their way to the house
      capturing a surprised Redcoat sentry, then entering the house they quickly
      captured the sleepy General Prescott in his night shirt. Allowing the
      General time to pull his pants and grab his jacket they hurried him barefoot
      back the same way they had come. By daybreak they had succeeded in rowing to
      Warwick. The prisoner asked for some shoes as his feet were sore and
      swollen. Barton obtained a pair and gave them to Samuel Cory to put on the
      General's feet. Samuel Cory, having many friends and neighbors who had
      suffered from Prescott's harsh treatment, wasted no sympathy on him as he
      crammed his feet into the ill-fitting shoes. When General Prescott
      complained, Samuel replied "He had been ordered to put on the shoes not to
      see if they fit, and that's what he intended to do."

      Gen. Prescott was taken to General Washington's headquarters where he was
      exchanged the following year. As the story was repeated throughout the
      colonies, the men involved became regarded as heros and provided a much
      needed lift to the spirits of the weary Patriots. This daring exploit came
      to a successful conclusion with no bullets fired and no injuries to Col.
      Barton's men.

      From "Patchwork History of Tiverton, R.I. 1976 Bicentennial Edition.
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