Poem written by Elisha P. Bosworth dated April 9, 1855 for Franklin E. Bosworth
Kind friends, if you'll please listen I'll tell you about the boys Who made that overland journey From Michigan to Illinois.
You recollect the snowstorm The day we cleared the port, It did its best to stop us But fortune cut it short. At noon we reached the plank road Then for the south-west away We steered in hopes of finding Down there a summer day. That night we stopped at Chambers And Joe built us a fire With such accomodations One need never to tire. Next noon we got to Nortons And sure as I am a sinner Says Ralph, "Lisp here they are human Let's stop and take some dinner." And so we did by jingo It didn't lack for spice For we had the girl for waiter Whom Richard thought so nice. The sky was darkly overcast By Squalls and sunshine parted When Uncle West bade us goodbye And for the depot started.
We went through Schoolcraft, Three Rivers,Constantine, Mottsville, Bristol Elkhart, Miswak, and the South Bend Where Ralph was like a pistol (off) From there I had to drive alone Through mud my slow way picking, And soon it got so awful bad that it nearly left me sticking.
I passed through many varied scenes Got frightened once by fire But found myself next morn unharmed Ready to wade the mire. Saturday night I reached the State Line And there stayed over Sunday Studied the catechism all day Took Illinois on Monday. For half the day there still was mud And once a snowbank frightful But after that the roads were good The weather quite delightful. Tuesday night found me safe home And all the people healthy They've corn and wheat and hay to spare Even those not counted wealthy.
Since then I've plowed and sowed some wheat And harrowed it in truly And should the weather still be fine It will be growing duly. We need a rain to sprout the grain And set the grass to growing To fill the bogs and please the frogs And keep the mills a going. I expect sometime next month to get A real Old Northeast blow. About the time our corn is up It'll cover it with snow. Please write when you expect a thaw And if it comes in season I'll make a fire to help you on Or else there'll be a reason. The nights are very frosty yet But folks are sowing oats I rather think you will wait a spell Lest they might want two coats. But then we will let the steel plows slide And get the ground all ready
For sowing on and dragging in Then we can take it steady. I guess that now I'd better stop So write as soon as maybe, And let me know how all get on From Grandpa to the baby. Goodnight: Give my respects to all Tell Mary to be nice And wipe her nose and keep it clean This writes your servant, Lish. ring the summer of 1777, the two RI regiments peaked in strength at 600 men combined. At this point, Christopher Greene managed to join his regiment. In October and November of 1777, the RI units fought in the battle at Red Bank. After the battle, Greene evaded the British and got the two RI units back to Valley Forge for winter camp.
In camp, the RI offlcers, concerned about the very low numbers in the ranks, came up with the idea of raising a regiment from slaves. Washington wrote Gov. Cooke of Rl asking his opinion of the scheme. The governor expressed cautious optimism and said 300 men could be expected. So the troops of the 1st RI were transferred to the 2nd RI, numbering 400 as a result. This regiment served at Monmouth under Lee.
Greene and his staff were sent back to RI to raise a black regiment to fill the ranks of the depleted 1st RI. The General Assembly voted that every able bodied Negro, Mulatto and Indian slave could enlist for the duration of the war. Bounties and wages would be the same as those of free men. Once enlisted and approved of by the officers of the regiment, the recruits would be free. At this time, there was a Black and Indian population of 3,331 in Rhode Island. The scheme, which did compensate owners, produced less than 200 men. Seeing how expensive the plan was becoming, the Assembly cut off recruiting of slaves on June 10, 1778.
This incarnation of the 1st RI first saw action in the battle of Rhode Island in August 1778. The Continental troops that fought in the battle (1st and 2nd RI; Sherburne's, Webb's and Jackson's and Livingston's) remained in RI for the winter of 1778-79. On October 25, 1779, the British evacuated Newport, RI.
All the Continental units in RI were ordered to march. However, at the last minute, the 1st Rl was told to stay in the state and guard the wharves and streets of Newport. The 1st RI remained home into 1780. In July of that year, Rochambeau arrived in Newpon with 4,000 French troops. An officer with Rocharnbeau, von Clausen, provides us with a description of one of the Black soldiers wearing a cast-off French waistcoat with long sleeves and red cuffs, as well as the waved helmet with bluish plumes.
In October of 1781, Congress reconstructed the army again. The 1st RI, the 2nd RI, and Sherburne's battalion were all merged into one regiment called the 1st Rhode Island. Greene maintained command, with subordinates Jeremiah Olney and Ebenezer Flagg. Sherburne, Isreal Angell and Ward were all forced to retire. The merger took place at West Point. Although authorized for 650 men, the actual strength was about 450 men.
In May of 1781 the 1st RI was stationed along the Croton River, north of Manhattan. On the 14th, a raiding party of Delancey's refugees surprised the Rhode Islanders at two points. To make the story shorter, Greene and Flagg were killed. Lt. Colonel Jeremiah Olney assumed command. Coggeshall Olney and John Dexter were promoted to major and made his subordinates. Though the official designation was still the 1st RI, it became known as Olney's battalion.
The 1st RI was one of the first to head south to Yorktown. It was brigaded with New Jersey troops under Colonel Dayton, and placed in Lincoln's division. Stephen Olney's light infantry detached from the regiment and were given to Lafayette's Division of Light Infantry. In February of 1782, the regiment numbered 31 offlcers and 413 men. The regiment was disbanded in November 1783 when Congress decided to consolidate all regiments with less than 500 men and the state refused to spend additional recruiting money.