The Pawtuxet Rangers (Second Independent Company for the County of Kent) were chartered by the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations on October 29, 1774. There were two types of military units during the Revolutionary War – independent chartered commands (like the Rangers) and Continental Regulars. In the years before the beginning of the War for Independence, busy seaports like Pawtuxet were at the heart of the economy. Rhode Islanders began to resent British actions such as the Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765) and the Townsend Acts (1767). These acts stifled the maritime trade of towns like Pawtuxet. Some Rhode Islanders reacted with acts of defiance like the burning of the Gaspee in Pawtuxet in 1772. The Rangers first duties were to defend the bustling town of Pawtuxet, but they were expanded to include the construction and manning of a fort and the protection of 400 miles of the Rhode Island coastline from the Royal Navy.

With the British Occupation of Aquidneck Island (Rhode Island), the Rangers were kept busy. Besides guarding Pawtuxet, they were on duty on Prudence Island, Newport, East Greenwich, Bristol and Warwick Neck.

One pension request from a veteran Ranger states: “It was the duty of said company always to be in readings to march to whatever station it was commanded either by the Governor or the General of the Army having the command in Rhode Island. It also had the principal charge of a fort built in said village of Pawtuxet to repel incursions of the enemy which were very frequent during the time the British were in possession of Newport. While Rhode Island was in the theater of War, frequent & daring incursions were made all along the shores of Narragansett Bay by the enemy for the purpose of plunder and this Corps never failed to be among the foremost to repel them.”

Members of the Rangers served in the Battle of Rhode Island, the Battle of Saratoga and the Siege of Boston.

During the War of 1812 the fort at Pawtuxet Neck was re-established and the Rangers were on duty again. Around this time the Company asked for a name change to the Pawtuxet Artillery Company. In 1841-42, the Pawtuxet Artillery was ordered to vigilantly guard the community during the Dorr Rebellion. They contended with incidents such as a barn being set on fire and the theft of muskets. The state appropriated money for an armory because there was an attempt to steal the cannons. The armory was built in 1843.

The unit was reactivated in 1972 when the Gaspee Days Committee wanted a local fife and drum corp to be hosts for celebrations. The Pawtuxet Rangers militia company was formed in 1974 and the charter was transferred to it. Today they still operate under the original charter of 1774. Even though It is now under the direct command of the Rhode Island National Guard, the Pawtuxet Rangers still retain their independent charter while they voluntarily assist State functions when requested.

The primary mission of the company today is to perpetuate history by participating in school programs, parades, battle reenactments, encampments, ceremonial programs and more.


The website of the Rangers has a thorough history

The history was compiled with the help of local historian Henry A.L. Brown.