W3R® Heritage Tour in Rhode Island 

History / Maps / Tours: auto and other / Pearls along the way

Latest changes: 2011-06-01: add NPS maps / 2011-07-28: add pearls / 2013-06-05: fix history link /

Historical Overview

In 1780 July a squadron of French warships and transports delivered some 5,500 men of the French Expeditionary Force (FEF) at Newport RI.

In 1781 March General Washington came from near Dobbs Ferry NY to Newport to review the French fleet and army and to confer with General Rochambeau.

Eleven months later, in 1781 June the troops were transported by boat to Providence and camped there for several days before marching west to camp in Coventry and then to march west through CT to join the U.S Continentals near Dobbs Ferry NY.

When the French army returned north in 1782 they retraced the route to Providence, but rather than continuing to Newport they went to Boston, where they embarked for the Caribbean Islands.

For more details see French arrive in RI in 1780, French march from RI in 1781, and French return through RI in 1782.

Consider the economic benefit to Newport from housing and provisioning the French army and fleet, then the trail that the French troops took north to Providence and then west to CT.

A Note about "Official" W3R Routes
NPS Historic Map for RI-CT [TIFF file]
NPS draft tour maps for all states

W3R Heritage Auto Tour of Rhode Island

Handy four-page auto tour guide [PDF] with the history and tour directions as shown below.
The Boy Scouts of Rhode Island took six hikes [PDF] which might be good for family weekend outings.

1. Go north from Washington Square in Newport RI to the Mount Hope Bridge

Base map is [*] © 2005 DeLorme (www.delorme.com) Street Atlas USA®

2. Go north from the Mount Hope Bridge to East Providence

Base map is [*] © 2005 DeLorme (www.delorme.com) Street Atlas USA®

3. Go west through Providence and south to Cranston (4x larger scale)

Base map is [*] © 2005 DeLorme (www.delorme.com) Street Atlas USA®

4. Go west from Cranston to the border with CT

Base map is [*] © 2005 DeLorme (www.delorme.com) Street Atlas USA®

Pearls along the Necklace -- Nearby Revolutionary-Era Sites

Further information on most of the site below is available at visitrhodeisland.com. Use their search function.

COVENTRY: General Nathanael Greene's Home. Greene was General Washington's greatest general.
COVENTRY: Waterman Tavern (ca. 1744), is located at ??. Rochambeau and troops camped at this location for several nights before moving on to Connecticut. The troops occupied a large field (now occupied by homes) across the road from the tavern. Rochambeau and his officers stayed in the tavern itself. This building is now a private residence.

CRANSTON: Joy Homestead (ca. 1754), located at 156 Scituate Ave., puts on an annual Rochambeau Strawberry Biscuit Tea on June 18 each year to commemorate the day in 1781 when General Rochambeau passed by leading the French army on the way west to New York and then south to Yorktown.

EAST GREENWICH: General James Mitchell Varnum House, 57 Peirce St. Varnum served as a Brigadier General in the Continental Army.
EAST GREENWICH: Varnum Memorial Armory, 6 Main St., was built in 1913 in medieval style. It contains Military weapons and artifacts from the 16th century to the present.

MIDDLETOWN: Prescott Farm is where British General Richard Prescott was captured by patriot forces

NEWPORT: Belcourt Castle, 657 Bellevue Ave, is a Louis XIII-style castle built in 1894. It has a full-size gold Coronation Coach and the largest collection of antiques in Newport.
NEWPORT: Brick Market Place (c.a. 1762) and Old State House (c.a. 1741). Both buildings are in what is now called Washington Square. Here, Gen. George Washington reviewed the French troops at Long Wharf / Market Square in 1781.
NEWPORT: Fort Adams State Park on Harrison Ave has a reproduction of the Providence, a l0-gun, 110-foot-tall topsail sloop. This was the first ship commissioned by the Continental Navy and the first military command of John Paul Jones.
NEWPORT: Green End Fort is located off Vernon Street. The redoubt still exists, located at the northwest corner of Green End Pond on Miantonomi Ave. This fort was at the eastern end of British defensive lines around Newport.
NEWPORT: Hunter House, 54 Washington Street, located near the Goat Island Causeway, was the Revolutionary War headquarters of French Admiral Charles Louis d'Arsac de Ternay until he died (in Newport). It was built in 1748 and has famous Townsend-Goddard furniture, silver and portraits of the period.
NEWPORT: Military Museum of the Artillery Company of Newport, 23 Clark Street, contains a fine collection of historic weaponry. The Artillery Company -- part of the Rhode Island Militia -- was chartered in 1741 and is the nation's oldest military organization in continuous service under its original charter. Their Military Museum contains a fine collection of historic weaponry.
NEWPORT: Wanton -Lyman-Hazard House, 17 Broadway, was built in 1675. It is the oldest restored house in Newport. It has housed colonial governors, Tories, and patriots. It is located near Washington Square, site of the Newport Stamp Act Riot of 1765.
NEWPORT: White Horse Tavern, 26 Marlborough Street, was built in 1673. It is the oldest operating tavern in America.

PORTSMOUTH: Battle of Rhode Island site. Encompassing about 356 acres, the battlefield retains all of the major physical features that figured significantly in the 1778 battle.
PORTSMOUTH: Memorial to the First Rhode Island Regiment, at the intersection of West Main Road (Rhode Island Route 114) and Rhode Island Route 24 on West Main Road. This regiment had a high proportion of soldiers of African ancestry. The regiment played a key defense role in the 1778 Battle of Rhode Island and accompanied the French troops on the 1780 march to Yorktown.

PROVIDENCE: The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library is the foremost American collection of material devoted to the history and iconography of soldiers and soldiering, including watercolors, gouache renderings, and hand-colored engravings of French and Spanish uniforms during 1775-1783.
PROVIDENCE: The Jeremiah Dexter House is a farmhouse built in 1754 and located on the corner of Rochambeau Avenue and North Main Street in Providence RI. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In November 1782 Rochambeau's French army's encamped on the farm on their triumphant return from the victory at Yorktown. As Providence grew up around the Dexter farm, this great event was commemorated in naming Rochambeau Avenue after the French general whose timely aid to the American side was so instrumental in their gaining ultimate victory in the Revolutionary War.
Further information from Preserve Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE: State House - home to the Rhode Island General Assembly during the Revolutionary War period, Rhode Island's own Declaration of Independence was signed here on May 4, 1776, two months before the Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain.
PROVIDENCE: Stephen Hopkins' House,15 Hopkins Street. Hopkins was a ten-time governor of Rhode Island and a signer of the Declaration of Independence

SAUNDERSTOWN: Gilbert Stuart Birthplace - Stuart was one of the principal portrait artists of the Founding Fathers

TIVERTON: Fort Barton - an observation post and staging area for the Americans' 1778 attempt to retake Aquidneck Island, where Newport is located

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