The Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS) and Varnum Continentals have joined forces to save and bring home a unique piece of Rhode Island American Civil War and African American history! It will soon be on display at the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum. This is an excerpt from an upcoming issue of the “Rhode Island History Journal”:
“Written just two weeks after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, this letter was sent to Governor William Sprague (1830–1915) from Lorenzo Thomas, Adjutant General, inviting Rhode Island to contribute ‘an infantry regiment of volunteers of African descent’ to fight for the Union. Hundreds of black men volunteered for service from Rhode Island and served mostly in the 14th Heavy Artillery regiment, which ultimately joined the astonishing 74% of Northern black men of military age who enlisted as soldiers and sailors to fight for the Union.
The RIHS acquired this letter at auction with the generous support from the Varnum Continentals, which owns both the Varnum House Museum and the Varnum Memorial Armory & Military Museum.”
The Varnum Continentals look forward to hosting this amazing exhibit of national importance at the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum!