The Revolutionary War is part of our story here in Portsmouth. I have been learning about that time in our history as part of an effort to restore Butts Hill Fort. Heritage Park is another place where you can quietly imagine the Battle of Rhode Island and the fighting that took place on Turkey Hill. If you are a “Hamilton” fan you may remember the character of John Laurens, a good friend of Alexander Hamilton. Laurens was a central figure in the fight.

Seth Chiaro of the Butts Hill/Battle of RI Association penned this description of the action based on Christian McBurney’s masterful book “The Rhode Island Campaign.” As you wander around the hillside at the park, imagine this:

“Hessian troops under Captain Von Malburg pursued American Col. Laurens Regiment to Turkey Hill. Laurens men took up a strong defensive position on top of Turkey Hill. Col. Lauren sent a request for reinforcement to General Sullivan. Sullivan responded with orders to ‘fall back to the main line’. General Sullivan sent Webb’s Connecticut Regiment to support Laurens retreat. Ameican and Hessian units engaged on Turkey Hill before the Americans fell back. Laurens Regiments fell back to General Nathanael Green’s position to the right of Butts Hill. By 8:30 am the Hessians had secured Turkey Hill.”

Turkey Hill was lost and the Americans had to retreat off the island, but the Americans fought well and the retreat was successful in preserving men and weapons for another fight.

Heritage Park is located off of Hedley Street/High Point on the hill behind the Transfer Station. Walk up the hill and you will find Nathan Minese’s excellent display on the Battle of Rhode Island.