Although in winter quarters the Regiment did nor lay idle. On the 15th of January the 2nd R.I. was part of Lord Stirling's "Staten Island Expedition." The men crossed the frozen river and raided the island for supplies as the supply situation in Morristown was very poor.

In February supplies reached Morristown which were immediately issued to the men. Greenman wrote that this supply ended the nearly naked condition of the men that had existed for nearly two months. Following the resupply the Regiment stood for inspection. Records show that the 2nd R.I. was composed of 261 men in nine companies, one of which was Light Infantry.

Each man had a musket, bayonet, scabbard and sling in good condition. Cartridge boxes, bayonet belts and knapsacks were also issued to each man. Of interest is that one out of five men had a gun worm but only one out of fifty had a pick and brush.

The clothing was as follows: each man had a coat, waistcoat, woolen overalls, a shirt, stock, shoes, a hat and woolen socks. Only 48 blankets were on hand. In storage the 2nd R.I. had another 100 coats, waistcoats, woolen overalls, hats, shirts, shoes, woolen socks, stocks and some epaulets. The equipment in storage was enough to completely outfit another 55 men.

Early in May, Sherburne's Additional Regiment was disbanded. The men were ordered transferred to Regiments from their home states. By this action the 2nd R.I. picked up a few more soldiers to fill its thin ranks.

As spring wore on the British began making moves on American supply depots in New Jersey. The 2nd R.I. was sent to delay a British column that was marching towards Springfield, N.J. with intent of marching through to the main depot in Morristown.

The key to stopping the British was the defense of the bridge over the Rahway River. Here the 2nd R.I. was placed. If the British could pass through here they could capture all the supplies at Morristown that could not be moved because of the lack of wagons and horses.

The 2nd R.I. stripped the bridge of its planks and then greased its runners. While waiting for the attack Stephen Olney noted that there was a road parallel to the river some 20 rods to their rear. If the enemy got to this road the 2nd R.I. would be trapped.

The British moved down the main road to the bridge. As they neared it an American cannon that was just behind the R.I. line fired, turning back the British. Three times the enemy tried to reach the bridge and three times they were turned back. On the fourth attempt British artillery succeeded in silencing the lone American cannon and the infantry reached the bridge. A few British managed to cross over on the greased runners but they were rewarded with Rhode Island lead once they reached the far bank. Realizing crossing the bridge was an impossibility the British tried to wade across the Rahway, which was about 4 feet deep. Four hundred jaegers raced up and down stream along the banks and crossed over. The British crossed over on either side of the bridge. Rhode Island volleys stopped the British but the Hessians were swarming in on both flanks.

Finding his escape route nearly cut off, Olney retreated to an orchard that was near the road. Here the 2nd R.I. formed into platoons and fought from behind the trees. Olney held this ground against the enemy that outnumbered him 5 to 1. Soon the Regiment began to run out of cartridges and began to fire loose ball. Cries of "Wadding!" were heard on the battlefield.

A messenger was sent to the rear who came across Pastor James Caldwell. Caldwell rushed to his church and grabbed the hymn books which contained songs written by an English clergyman Isaac Watts. Returning to the front Caldwell passed the books out to the Rhode Islander's and Jersey troops, crying out, "Give 'em Watts, boys!"

Far outnumbered the 2nd R.I. was unable to hold the ground. Just before the 37th Foot flanked the Rhode Islander's, a bullet tore through Olney's left arm. Binding his wound, Olney ordered his men back along the road just before the 37th Foot cut off the route. The 2nd R.I. fell back to a second bridge that also crossed the Rahway. Here the Regiment, with 1 out 4 of its men dead or wounded, staggered across the bridge. The British quickly followed but found that the route was not only blocked by the Rhode Islander's but by the 2nd New Jersey and the local militia.

The 2nd New Jersey took on the bulk of the fighting with the 2nd R.I. in support. Slowly the America force retreated from the bridge to fortified positions in the nearby Short Hills. Finding the opposition too strong and with many of their own men exhausted and wounded, the British decide that to continue would be folly. In typical British style the enemy set fire to Springfield and hastily retreated to the safety of Staten Island.

The Battle of Springfield was a victory for the Americans but it nearly destroyed the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment. Taking 25% casualties was unheard of in the 18th century yet the Regiment did. Usually if a force took 10 or more percent casualties its organization would be in such disarray that it could not effectively continue.

Following Springfield the Regiment marched north to Tappan, N.J. Olney writes that the Brigade was inspected by von Steuben and that "my Reg't was the first for Inspection, and the Baron was Exceedingly pleased with the mens array being in the best Order."

A week later the Light Infantry company was sent off to camp where they were outfitted and drilled under the direction of Lafayette.

No military action occurred during the fall but of particular interest was the arrival of Rochambeau in Rhode Island and his subsequent meeting with Washington.

While the Regiment remained in Tappan discovery was made of Benedict Arnold's attempt to hand West Point over to the British. Arnold escaped capture but his British accomplice, Major Andre, was not so fortunate. Lt. Greenman writes, "this day went to the Execution of Major Andre Adjt. Genl. to the Brittish army ... who was found Guilty of being a Spy."

The 2nd Rhode Island soon garrisoned West Point which the men found quite comfortable. As all good things this was not to last. Six weeks later the Regiment was ordered to the Continental Village which was across the river from West Point. Here news was received of Congress's resolve to reduce the size of the army.

The resolve directed the two Rhode Island Regiments to consolidate into one. The senior officers would hold rank and junior officers would be discharged from the service. By November the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, under Col. Christopher Greene, left their station in Newport and marched for New York.

To return to the Chronology of 2nd RIR.
last modified 1/20/03