As the American forces were preparing for an attack on Aquidneck Island in Spring of 1778, the British forces were active in trying to crush the Rebel capability to transport troop across the river from Tiverton. British soldier Frederick Mackenzie’s diary shows that they were well aware of the impending invasion.

May 19, “The intelligence received from all quarters agree in stating that an attack on this Island is intended, and will probably be soon attempted.”

May 22, “The Rebels are certainly preparing for an attack on this Island; and the General having intelligence of the situation of their boats, is making arrangement for the destruction of them.”

The Rebels would need to reach Rhode Island (Aquidneck) by boat and the British planned to attack shipyards, lumber mills and military stores. On May 25, 1778, Mackenzie records that the 22nd Regiment, Companies of the 54th, Notenius’s Company of Hessian Chasseurs, ..etc. (500 men in total) moved to Arnold’s Point in Portsmouth. They embarked in flatboats and landed at the mouth of the Warren River. Campbell’s men were divided into two columns. In the town of Warren itself they burned down the Baptist meeting house and other buildings, ransacked homes and property. The other group of Campbell’s men headed to the Kickemuit River. By the Kikemuit Bridge they found and burned 125 boats, large batteaux capable of carrying 40 soldiers. They found a sloop loaded with military stores, a store house, and a corn mill and they burned them. They also burned houses, a bridge and gun carriages. They spiked cannons and set fire to new Privateer Sloop as well as magazines of gun powder.

Campbells troops returned by way of Bristol. About 300 Rebels were assembled behind walls, trees and houses. They burned houses, a church, ammunition magazines and twenty of the principal houses. The British boats came round from Papasquash Point to the Bristol Ferry. The British ships Flora and Pigot covered the British troops as they crossed over from Bristol Ferry.

Mackenzie writes: “69 Rebel prisoners were brought over from Bristol to Windmill Hill” (Butts Hill Fort).

Having raided Warren and Bristol and destroying American flatboats, Campbell’s forces made their way back to Newport on their own flatboats.

The raids certainly delayed the American troops as they prepared for the Rhode Island Campaign.

The next blog will cover the British Raid at Fall River.


Diary of Frederick Mackenzie, Vol. 1

Map: “Plan of the adjacent coast to the northern part of Rhode Island, to express the route of a body of troops under the command of Lieut Colonel Campbell of the 22d: Regiment to destroy the enemies batteaux, vessels, galley &c &c &c which was accomplished May 25th 1778 / laid down and drawn by Edwd Fage, lieutt. of artillery.”. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed November 09, 2022.