The Varnum Continentals are named for Major General James Mitchell Varnum (1748-1789), commander of one of George Washington’s Continental Army Brigades and a respected attorney, legislator and jurist. In 1907, a group of young men chartered the Varnum Continentals “to perpetuate the customs, uniform and traditions of the period [of the American Revolution], and thereby, and in other ways, to encourage patriotism in the people.”
The “Varnum Continentals” chartered in 1907 as a non-profit historic and patriotic organization, owns both the Varnum House Museum and the Varnum Memorial Armory & Military Museum, each of which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1913, the Continentals built the Varnum Memorial Armory at the corner of Main and Division Streets in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The medieval-style Armory houses a large drill hall, meeting rooms, and an extensive military museum. In 1939, the Varnum Continentals purchased the Peirce Street mansion that was built in 1773 by General Varnum as his own residence, and where he entertained such historic figures as General Lafayette.
On December 31, 1992, Governor Bruce Sundlun formally reactivated “Varnum’s Regiment” of May 4, 1775, as a unit of the Rhode Island State Militia. The Varnum Continentals militia marching unit participating in parades and also as an honor and color guard at many local and regional civic and military events, to continue the rich heritage of the American Revolution and its outstanding leaders as exemplified by James Mitchell Varnum.