UNITED TRAIN OF ARTILLERY

HISTORY

Compiled in substantial part by the efforts of Bob Scappini with contributions by Joe Giammarco.

According to Tom Jones, Company of military historians, “The reorganization and expansion of the Rhode Island Militia in 1774 included the information of two new volunteer companies, the Train of Artillery and the Providence Fusiliers.” The General Assembly, in its vote of December of 1774, stated:

 “Whereas the Preservation of this colony in Time of War, depends under God, upon the military skill and discipline of its Inhabitants, and especially upon the Skill and Discipline of Artillery Companies; and whereas a number of the Inhabitants of the Town of Providence to wit: Daniel Tillinghast, John Crane, Christopher Whipple, Elihu Robinson, Joshua Hacker, William Wheaton, and William Earl, has offered themselves to begin and with such others as are, or shall be added to them, to form themselves into a Company by the name of Train of Artillery in the County of Providence; and by their humble petition prayed this Assembly to grant then a Charter with such Privileges, and under such Restrictions and Limitations as this Assembly might think proper.

 Wherefore this Assembly in order to give all due encouragement to so laudable a design, have ordained, Constituted, and granted, and by these Presents do Ordain, Constitute and Grant That the Petitioners beforenamed, together with such others as shall be hereafter added to them not exceeding the Number of one Hundred, excl8usive of Officers be, and they are hereby deemed a Company by the Name of the Train of Artillery for the County of Providence and by that Name shall have perpetual Succession and shall have and enjoy all the Rights, Powers and Privileges in this Grant herein after mentioned.”

 (The grant then went on to enumerate those powers.) In April of 1775, responding to the Boston alarm, the Train of Artillery presented to the American forces around Boston, four brass field pieces with gun crews and powder.

Dispatches from the siege of Boston noted the military bearing and professional conduct of the men in the Train.

In April of 1775, the Assembly further strengthened the Train by merging the Train with the Providence Fusiliers:

 “Whereas, the Company of the Train of Artillery, and the Company of Fusiliers and other Inhabitants of the Town of Providence proffered a petition unto this Assembly, praying that the charter, with said petition be presented for uniting the said companies into one be granted; that Daniel Tillinghast Esq., may be appointed Colonel, Daniel Hitchcock Esq., Lieutenant Colonel, John Crane Esq., Major, Levi Hall, Captain of said united companies; and that forty pounds lawful money be granted to said company for the furnishing of prisoners, to draw the cannons or field pieces; and said petition being duly considered.  It is voted and resolved that the same be granted, and the sum of forty pounds therein mentioned be paid out of the General Treasury.”

 The uniting of the two companies created the largest military unit in the colony. The artillery was now to be supported by five light infantry companies.

They included the following officers:

 Company A Capt. Joshua Sayer’s Coy.

Nathaniel Gladding, Capt.-Lt.

Rhodes Packard, 1st Lt.

William Ham, 2nd Lt.

Edward Price, Lt. – Fireworker

Company B, Capt. Jabez Westcott’s Coy.

Philip Morse, Capt. – Lt

Thomas Carlile, 1st Lt.

Ezekiel Burkett, 2nd Lt.

Cyrus Manchester, Lt. – Fireworker

Company C, Capt. Samuel Sweet’s Coy.

John Warner, Capt.- Lt.

William Comstock, 1st Lt.

Elijah Babbitt, 2nd Lt.

William Page, Lt. – Fireworker

Company D, Capt. Gideon Westcott’s Coy.

Samuel Angell, Capt.-Lt.

Amos Jillson, 1st Lt.

Uriah Westcott, 2nd Lt.

Benj. Bickford, Lt. – Fireworker

Company E, Capt. Ebenezer Adam’s Coy

John Garcia, Capt.-Lt.

Joseph Crandall, 1st Lt.

John Proud, 2nd Lt.

William Fiske, Lt. – Fireworker

          The United Company had 1 major, 1 Captain, 3 lieutenants, and 2 sergeants, 4 corporals, 2 bombardiers, 4 gunners, 4 musicians, 74 matrosses and 1 conductor (logistics). William Donnison was named Adjutant and George Richards, Quartermaster.

          During the siege of Boston, the Rhode Island artillerymen were employed in detachments to man various batteries. According to Christopher Ward, “The War of the Revolution”, on July 8 1775 Lt. Col. John Crane, commanded tow Rhode Island guns as the American forces successfully attacked a British outpost. Crane and the other Rhode Island officers were billeted in Roxbury during the siege

          In September of 1775, according to the April 23, 1875 ??  edition of the Providence Journal, the United Train of Artillery met for a new election of officers. This election was necessary because Daniel Hitchcock and John Crane, along with other noncommissioned offers had “gone into the army for the defense of the rights of mankind..." At this election, Daniel Tillinghast was chosen as Colonel, commencing a command that was to last for over twenty years, Levi Hall was selected for Lt. Col., Elihu Robinson, Major, Robert Taylor, Captain, Daniel Stillwell, Lt-Fireworker, and William Denison, Clerk.

The unit was a part of a reorganization in 1776, becoming absorbed into Knox’s Massachusetts’s Artillery Regt.. The reason for the reorganization was due to the casualties suffered by the UTA at the Battle of Long Island. The UTA with four guns and supporting infantry was assigned to the right flank. The UTA guns were to move in conjunction with Snallwood’s Marylander’s and Haslet’s Delaware. During the battle, the right flank was attacked by element so the 42 Highlanders, Grenadiers, 33rd West Ridings, Hessians and the 71st Scots. William Birkhimer states in “Historical Sketch of Organization, Administration, Material, and Tactics of the Artillery, United States Army”, that a two gun battery under Banajah Carpenter fount “gallantly and with fair effect until Starling was overwhelmed and Carpenter killed.” The surviving gun crews removed their peic4es to a distance away form the enemy and continued harassing fire until ordered to withdraw to the beach where they were ferried across the river.

The United Train of Artillery also served at the Battle of Saratoga and the Battle of Rhode Island. According to J.J. Richards in “Rhode Island’s Early Defenders and Their Successors”, the UTA saw a considerable service against British operations during the occupation of Newport.

After the War of Independence, the UTA continued to serve.  In the War of 1812, the UY+TA say just over 100 days of state service. In the 1830’s the UTA helped maintain order in the face of riots in Providence and also played a major role in the Dorrite Rebellion. Since its earliest inception, the United Company of the Train of Artillery has been known as the Untied Train of Artillery, in spite of several name changes. In  1843, the UTA changed its name to The Providence Artillery. In 1869, they became Burnside’s Zouaves. Finally in 1870, the company returned to its original name, The United Company of the Train of Artillery and served into the Twentieth Century. The United Train of Artillery’s Veteran organization was active until about 1950.