Also shown is a 1943 MP-40 submachine gun.
This Rhode Island Civil War Artillery officer’s frock coat and pants belonged to a member of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Capt. James E. Chace. His unit was a storied regiment with a lot of combat experience in many of the biggest battles of the Eastern theater. At Gettysburg, Chace was a member of Battery G as a Lieutenant. He later became a Captain in Battery B.
The shoulder board on this frock coat shows that it was originally for a Lieutenant and then a single bar was later added to make it right for a Captain. So, it is quite likely this jacket was a witness to the great Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. So far, we’ve spent about 8 hours cleaning these items. They were both covered in moth cocoon remnants and waste. It’s tedious work; removing the waste without also removing fragile fabric or making existing holes bigger. It requires great care and slow progress. But the result is very rewarding.
The First New England Cavalry was the brain child of Rhode Island Governor William Sprague IV, who wanted all New England states to contribute to a new cavalry regiment in the Fall of 1861. The unit ended up being comprised of only two states: two Rhode Island battalions and one battalion from New Hampshire.
After just a few months, the federal government made them change their name to the First Rhode Island Cavalry, as only state units were allowed at the time (much to the outrage of the New Hampshire men in the unit). Documents having the cavalry’s original name are extremely rare. And here we have an enlistment document for a man who went on to become the First Rhode Island Cavalry’s regimental quartermaster.
Also in this gallery is a carte de visite (photograph) of Rhode Island’s “boy governor” William Sprague IV (circa 1861) when acting as Aide de Camp of General Ambrose Burnside, head of the Rhode Island Brigade. Sprague was the only acting Rhode Island governor to fight and lead men in battle, and had his horse shot out from under him at the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861).
On the night of July 9, 1777, Barton’s Raiders captured the British Commander-in-Chief, General Prescott, in Middletown, RI. At the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum, we have a sword that is purported to be the one taken from Prescott on that night.
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Historic Linden Place in Bristol, RI, hosted the the Rhode Island State Government’s announcement of the latest State Cultural Facilities Grant and State Preservation Grant recipients. Among the $3.8 million awarded for awarded for capital preservation work at 33 museums, cultural art centers, and public historic sites, the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum was awarded $43,450 to help pay for a major window restoration project that will not only be more aesthetically pleasing, but they will also help conserve energy, contribute towards collection preservation, and improve the Armory’s overall structural integrity.
Administered by the R.I. Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and the R.I. State Council on the Arts, the grant programs require applicants to provide matching funds for their projects.
Governor Gina Raimondo forwarded her congratulations. “The arts and history are part of what makes Rhode Island special,” Governor Raimondo said. “They attract visitors to our state and contribute significantly to our economy. These capital improvement grants will create jobs, both during and after construction, and expand programming opportunities for Rhode Islanders and visitors alike, all of which contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of our state.”
“Our cultural infrastructure is critically important to our state’s economy,” said Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the State Council on the Arts. “These museums, galleries and performance spaces serve Rhode Islanders, attract visitors to our state, and contribute to the local economy in many significant ways.”
“Rhode Island is recognized nationally as a leader in historic preservation and the arts,” said Edward F. Sanderson, Executive Director of the R.I. Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, “These state grants are investments that build on our strengths.”
The Varnum Continentals deeply appreciate this investment in the Varnum Memorial Armory and can’t wait to get to work on this exciting and much-needed restoration project. We’ll post images as the work progresses so that everyone can watch the progress on this critical project.
Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission
The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission is the state agency for historical preservation and heritage programs. The Commission operates a statewide historical preservation program that identifies and protects historic buildings, districts, structures, and archaeological sites. The Commission also develops and carries out programs to document and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Rhode Island’s people. Visit www.preservation.ri.gov for more information.
Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders. Visit www.arts.ri.gov for more information.