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Revolutionary War Site Warwick

  • 3275 Post Road Warwick, RI 02888
  • P. (401) 738-2000

Warwick was founded in 1642 by Samuel Gorton when Narragansett Indian Chief Sachem Miantonomi agreed to accept 144 fathoms of Wampumpeague for what was known as "The Shawhomett Purchase". This included the present day towns of Coventry and West Warwick. However, the purchase was not without dispute. The two sachems of the area, Sacononoco and Pumham, stated that Miantonomi had sold the land without asking for their approval. The two sachems took their case to Boston, Massachusetts where they placed their lands under Massachusetts rule. In 1643 Massachusetts sent a militia force to Shawomett to arrest Gorton and his followers. After a tense standoff, all but three of the Gortonists surrendered to the Massachusetts force. This event caused the other three towns on Narragansett Bay (Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport) to unite and get a royal charter allowing the towns on Narragansett Bay to form the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. In 1648, Gorton was granted a Charter by Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, Lord Admiral and head of the Parliamentary Commission on Plantation Affairs. Because of this, the name of the settlement was changed from Shawhomett to Warwick. While Massachusetts continued to lay claim to the area, it made no further effort to enforce it. In 1772, Warwick was the scene for the first violent act against the Crown. In what was to be called the Gaspée Affair, local patriots boarded HMS Gaspée, a revenue cutter charged with enforcing the Stamp Act 1765 and Townshend Acts in Narragansett Bay, where smuggling was common. It was here that the first blood of the American Revolution was spilled when the commanding officer of the Gaspée, Lt. Dudingston, was shot in his crotch while resisting the taking of his ship. The Gaspée was stripped of all cannon and arms before being torched. During the Revolution, Warwick militiamen participated in the battles of Montreal, Quebec, Saratoga, Monmouth, and Trenton, and were present for the surrender at Yorktown