Little Rhody and the Other 49
Guest Speaker: Roberta Mudge Humble
Monday, December 9, 2013
We all know Rhode Island is the best! This informative and entertaining presentation by
Roberta Mudge Humble touts Rhode Island and offers an eye and earful on the other 49 states
as well. The talk illustrates the exceptional character of America while the colorful images on the screen make the 50 states "pop" ... especially Rhode Island in all its fascinating facets.
RI native Roberta Mudge Humble originally created this presentation for the National Conference of Secretaries of State, and she has presented it around the country. She also gave the address before the US Naval Academy Alumni Association.
Mrs. Humble is a professor in the English Department of the Community College of Rhode
Island and the author of several books that show off Rhode Island's firsts, bests, and uniques. Her community service is dedicated to historic armories, primarily the Westerly Armory, and the US military. She has received an Education and Advocacy Award from the RI State Preservation Commission for bringing forth armories into the realm of preservation.
Enjoy a special menu of beef Burgundy, oven roasted potatoes, carrots, pasta, rolls & butter, dessert and coffee – all for $15. Social hour begins at 5:45, followed dinner at 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP to John Adams at 508/735-4283 or 401/886-9078 or by email at JWADAMS148@aol.com by Friday, December 6.
10th Annual Colonial Yuletide at Varnum House Museum
The Varnum Continentals will host its 10th annual Colonial Yuletide Celebration in the
Varnum House Museum, 57 Pierce St., East Greenwich, RI, 02818. The museum will feature
festive holiday decorations and host guided tours by local Girl Scout Troops dressed in period costume. It's a fun family event and a great way to introduce neighbors and friends to the Varnum House. A $5.00 donation per person is requested.
Date: Saturday, December 14th
Time: 4 – 8 p.m.
Historic East Greenwich Hill & Harbor Scenes – Great for holiday gifting!
As part of our Art at the Armory Exhibit earlier this season, the Varnum Continentals released archival fine art reproductions of two beloved paintings from the Varnum House Museum collection. The original oil paintings from which the fine art prints were created were painted ca. 1860 by Dr. Daniel Howland Greene, physician, local historian, and artist. Greene wrote the History of the Town of East Greenwich and Adjacent Territory: From 1677 to 1877.
These fine art prints, on canvas, will be available at Greenwich Gallery (B&H Framing), at 514 Main Street, East Greenwich. The prints are available in two sizes: 16 X 20 and 24 X 30 and may be purchased stretched and ready-to-frame or rolled in a tube, suitable for shipping. Prices range from $125 to $250. Each comes with a certificate of authenticity.
To purchase your print, please visit Greenwich Gallery or call John Adams at 508/735-4283 or
Proceeds from the sale of these prints will help with the cleaning and restoration of artwork in the collections of the Varnum Memorial Armory and Varnum House Museums.
USS Washington – Another Rhode Island Contribution to the Revolutionary War
By Varnum Member & Trustee Brian Wallin
At our recent Art at the Armory event, this writer had a chat with East Greenwich resident Charles Andrews, who passed along some personal research that gives another insight into Rhode Island as the birthplace of the American Navy.
Seems that back in 1775, the Rhode Island General Assembly voted to finance construction of two small ships to protect colonial trade from the British. Our own Bruce MacGunnigle cites one as the sloop Katy (a model of which sits in the Armory Museum). The other vessel, according to Charles Andrews, was an unusual armed craft called a "row galley," the Washington. He believes it was at first captained by a Warwick resident, Oliver Gardiner, whose 1750 home on Post Road just north of the East Greenwich-Warwick line, still stands. An interesting connection to the Varnums is that the Gardiner House was also the residence of our own Howard V. Allen for a number of years.
Following the Declaration of Independence, both ships were put into service in the Continental Navy. According to historians, the Katy and the Washington engaged the British in Narragansett Bay and were successful against much larger warships.
The row galley was about 50 feet in length and was propelled by 30 oars (15 to a side), plus a small sailing rig. They had a crew of sixty officers and men. Galleys typically were armed with an 18-pound cannon forward, many swivel guns and perhaps a cannonade in the stern. Of shallow draft, row galleys would have been well suited to Narragansett Bay and coastal waters around Boston and New York.
By the time the Washington was commissioned into the Continental Navy, Oliver Gardiner was no longer its captain. In October of 1776, the Washington, another galley (Congress), and more than a dozen other small American warships were sent up the Hudson River to take on the British. The Washington served as flagship for Lt. Col. Benjamin Tupper who attacked two larger British warships, the Phoenix and the Rose. The Americans were under the overall command of Benedict Arnold.
Tupper's fleet scored some hits on the larger British ships, but soon was overwhelmed, losing several ships. Under cover of darkness, the Americans slipped between the blockading British ships and managed to get as far south as Split Rock Mountain when the British caught up with them. They surrounded the Washington, scored several broadside hits and inflicted casualties, forcing the Americans to surrender the galley.
Benedict Arnold was aboard Congress, which was also badly damaged. She was run aground and burned to prevent her capture. Only four of Arnold's original fleet managed to return to Fort Ticonderoga. While the American defeat cost them control of Lake Champlain, the naval engagement did delay further British invasion plans until the following year, when they moved south to meet eventual defeat at Saratoga. The little Washington and the other small craft of the fledgling American fleet bought time for the Americans to build a larger armed force and helped contribute to final victory in the War.
Regrettably, there is no substantive evidence as to the final fate of the Washington following her surrender to the British although it is possible she may have been taken south to Manhattan following her capture.
-- Saturday, December 14 -- 10th Colonial Yuletide at the Varnum House Museum. The Varnum Continentals will host its 10th annual Colonial Yuletide Celebration in the Varnum House Museum, 57 Pierce St., East Greenwich, RI, 02818. A $5.00 donation per person is requested. The museum will feature festive holiday decorations and host guided tours by local Girl Scout Troops. As a special treat, these guest tour guides will dress in period costume! In addition, members of the Varnum Continentals will attend the event in full Revolutionary War-era uniforms. Built in 1773 by General James Mitchell Varnum, the museum contains a wide variety of rare, early American furniture, letters, books, musical instruments, children's toys, and other antiques. For more information, call 401-884-1776 or email email@example.com.
Varnum Continentals Membership Calendar
-- Tuesday, December 3, 2013 -- Executive Committee Meeting
-- Monday, December 9, 2013 -- Steak Fry/Member Meeting
-- Monday, January 6, 2014 -- Board of Trustees Meeting
-- Monday, January 13, 2014 -- Steak Fry/Member Meeting
-- Monday, February 3, 2014 -- Executive Committee Meeting
-- Monday, February 10, 2014 -- Steak Fry/Member Meeting
-- Monday, March 3, 2014 -- Executive Committee Meeting
-- Monday, March 10, 2014 -- Steak Fry/Member Meeting
-- Monday, April 7, 2014 -- Board of Trustees Meeting
-- Monday, April 14, 2014 -- Steak Fry/Member Meeting
-- Monday, May 5, 2014 -- Executive Committee Meeting
-- Monday, May 12, 2014 -- Steak Fry/Member Meeting
-- Monday, June 2, 2014 -- Executive Committee Meeting
-- Monday, June 9, 2014 -- Steak Fry/Member Meeting
-- Monday, July 7, 2014 --Board of Trustees Meeting
-- Monday, August 4, 2014 -- Executive Committee Meeting
-- Monday, September 1, 2014 -- Executive Committee Meeting
-- Monday, September 8, 2014 -- Steak Fry/Member Meeting
-- Monday, October 6, 2014 -- Executive Committee Meeting
-- Monday, October 13, 2014 -- Varnum Continentals Annual Meeting
House Museum (1773), 57 Peirce Street, East Greenwich, RI 02818-3338
Varnum Memorial Armory, 6 Main Street, East Greenwich, RI 02818-3827