The diary of Frederick Mackenzie gives us a remarkable record of what was happening in Portsmouth during the British Occupation of Aquidneck Island (December 8, 1776 to October 1779).

Mackenzie provides a very readable account of what was going on with the American side as well as the British and Hessian. He spent much of his time in the Portsmouth area. A short time after he arrived he provided this glowing account of Quaker Hill before the destruction began.

There is a hill about 7 miles from Newport, and on the Eastern side of this Island called Quaker Hill, from there being a Quaker meeting-house on it, from whence there is a very fine view of all the N. part of the Island, and the beautiful bays and inlets, with the distant view of towns, farms, and cultivated lands intermixed with woods, together with the many views of the adjacent waters, contribute to make this, even at this bleak season of the year, the finest, most diversified, and extensive prospect I have seen in America. The Ships of War are in such positions as to make it appear as if they were placed there only to add to the beauty of the Picture. In the beginning of summer this must be a delightful view, and I should think hardly to be equalled in America, or any other country. 

Mackenzie comments on troop movements throughout his diary, but in one particular place he gives us a detailed account of the stations of the British and Hessians. As you will see from the map I have marked, the troops were stationed throughout Portsmouth.

June 13 1778

The following are the present stations of the troops on this Island. – Bunau’s Regt – At Windmill hill: ( Butt’s Hill). This Regt furnishes all the posts at the North End, in front of a line drawn from their right & left to the Shore.

22d Regt At Quaker hill on the East road, their right to the Seconnet. They furnish the posts on the East shore, from Ewing’s, as far as McCurrie’s. (Our McCorrie Beach area know as Sandy Point at that time.)

43rd Regt On the left of the West road, near Turkey hill: four Companies with their right to the W. Road; and four Companies, 200 yards to their left. They furnish the posts on the West shore, from the left of Bunau’s Regt as far as the Creek of Layton’s Mills (Lawton Mills).

A Detachment of 80 Hessians from the three Battalions in Newport, at Fogland Ferry (End of Glen Road). This detachment furnishes the post at Fogland, and Patroles as far as little Sandy-point, on their right (Little Sandy Point is what we call Sandy Point today).

54th Regt At the Blacksmith’s on the E. road. Their right to the road, and to that which leads up from Lopez’s house (Aaron Lopez’s house and bay (Greenvale area today); furnishing the posts from Sandy point to Black point.

All the abovementioned Troops report to General Smith, and furnish a chain of post and patroles from Black point on the E. side, round to Layton’s (Lawton’s) Creek on the West.

Later in the summer he writes of Hessians moving from their encampment at Bowler’s House to Mr. Overing’s House (Overing – Prescott House at the Portsmouth Middletown line). The 54th Regiment moves to the artillery redoubt at Bristol Ferry, Common Fence and Howland’s Bridge. The rebels had guns on Gould Island in hopes of covering a retreat through Howland Neck. The frigate Sphinx is moored off Arnold Point.

I have placed numbers on the Blaskowitz Map to give you an approximation of the encampment areas mentioned.

  1. Windmill Hill (Butts Hill)
  2. Bristol Ferry
  3. Howland Bridge
  4. Common Fence
  5. Unmarked
  6. Howland Neck
  7. Quaker Hill
  8. Arnold Point
  9. McCurry (McCorrie Point) called Sandy Point in those days
  10. Turkey Hill
  11. Fogland Ferry (end of Glen Road)
  12. Lopez Bay (Greenvale area)
  13. Metcalf Bowler’s House
  14. Overings House (Prescott)
  15. Layton (Lawton) Mill Creek
  16. Black Point

From Diary of Frederick Mackenzie Giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Years 1775-1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York, Volume II