A soggy tribute to Portsmouth’s ‘Black Regiment’

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PORTSMOUTH — It was teeming rain, but that didn’t stop The Newport County branch of the NAACP from holding its annual tribute to the “First Rhode Island Regiment, The Black Regiment” Friday morning at Patriots Park.

The ceremony was kept short due to the weather and the scheduled wreath-laying did not take place.

Paul Gaines, former Newport mayor and Patriots Park development project coordinator, made some brief remarks about the Continental Army unit that fought here during the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Rhode Island.

Patriots Park, located at the intersection of routes 114 and 24, contains a memorial to the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, which became known as the “Black Regiment” after Rhode Island, which was having trouble recruiting enough white men to meet troop quotas, enlisted slaves to serve in the unit.

The regiment was a contingent of slaves, freedmen and Native Americans who valiantly stopped the advances of the Hessian forces at the site of the park on Aug. 29, 1778 during the Revolutionary War.

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