Newport, Rhode Island
“The Rock on Which the Storm Will Beat” ~ Fort Adams and the Defenses of Narragansett Bay
The present Fort Adams is actually the third fortification occupy its site (known in Colonial times as Brenton’s Point – which should not be confused with the location now commonly known as Brenton Point on the Ocean Drive in Newport) at the entrance to Newport Harbor.
The first fortification on the site was an unnamed earthwork built on the night of April 6th, 1776 to protect Newport Harbor from British warships which menaced Rhode Island early in the Revolution. It was armed with one 18, one 9, one 6 and two 4 pounder cannons.
On Sunday morning April 7th the battery opened fire at about 5 o’clock AM when the fort fired on the 24 gun frigate H.M.S. Glasgow and a hospital ship which were anchored near Goat Island. Colonel Richmond of the Rhode Island militia fired 35 cannon shots at the ships in the space of half an hour. The ships cut their anchor cables and went across the passage to relative safety near Jamestown.
The earthwork also saw action at 11 PM on Wednesday, April 10th when it fired on the H.M.S. Scarborough and H.M.S. Cimetar. This action forced the ships to seek refuge beyond Rose Island towards Jamestown.
This action led to Rhode Island being temporarally free from British warships and helped pave the way for the colony’s declaration of independence on May 4th, 1776, two months prior to the other colonies. The Brenton’s Point battery was active until the British occupation of Newport started on December 8th, 1776.