With the reorganization of the Rhode Island line Christopher Greene became Colonel of the Rhode Island Regiment as it was called. Col. Angell having less seniority but greater experience nonetheless, was retired along with Major Thayer and Capt. Tew.
The physical consolidation of the Regiments took place on February 17th with the arrival of Greene in camp. With Greene was Angell who had returned to Rhode Island in November to work out the details and get pay for the troops.
Greene's first duty was to command the guard at Pines Bridge over the Croton River. Croton River formed the northern border of a no-man's land New York City and American held Highlands. This area today encompasses Westchester County, N.Y.
Of particular concern was the action of DeLancy's Loyalists whom often conducted guerrilla type raids in the area. Many of the R.I.R. guards at the bridge were former soldiers of the 1st R.I. whom had easy duty in Rhode Island for the past two years. Perhaps for this reason the guard was slack at the bridge.
On the night of May 14th DeLancy's Loyalists struck the Rhode Island position. Col. Greene was dragged from his tent and slashed with the sword. Major Flagg also received the same fate along with several soldiers. Col Greene was lashed to one of DeLancy's horses and was carried back towards British lines. For some unknown reason, perhaps his body hindered their movement or he cried in agony too much, the Loyalists cut him from the saddle and left him on the road to die.
As one party of Loyalists struck at Greene's camp another struck at Lt. Greenman's position and took him prisoner along with the guards. Greenmen spent the next year in confinement on Long Island.
With the death of Col. Greene command of the Regiment was transferred to Lieut. Col. Jeremiah Olney. Olney was never promoted to the rank of Colonel probably because the Regiment was small compared to other unit. In fact, after Greene's death the unit was rarely referred to as the Rhode Island Regiment but as Olney's Battalion. A battalion in Von Steuben's manual being half a regiment.
During the spring and summer the Rhode Island line remained in the New York area. The Light Infantry company which had left the area before the consolidation was in Virgina with Lafayette.
During July the Rhode Island Light Infantry played an important role in a skirmish along the James River near Green Spring. This action along with those of Gen. Nathaniel Greene of the Southern Division helped steer Cornwallis's army to Yorktown.
With news that Cornwallis was boxed in at Yorktown, Washington began the march that would seal the fate of the enemy. Leaving West Point at the end of August, Washington brought with him the Rhode Islander's. In face the only New England unit that was at Yorktown was Olney's Battalion. The rest of the New England force remained in New York as a threat to the British force in the city.
Swiftly and quietly moving down the seaboard, Olney's Battalion arrived at Yorktown on the 1st of October. Joined by Rochambeau's French army the allied force greatly outnumbered the British. The only hope for Cornwallis was if the British fleet could rescue him. As fortune would have it the French fleet under deGrasse defeated the British and sealed Cornwallis's fate.
As the days wore on the Americans moved their siege lines closer towards the British, boxing them in against the river. On the night of the 14th the Light Infantry, led by Captain Stephen Olney's company, stormed the British Redoubt #10. Olney, armed with a spontoon, was one of the first to enter the redoubt. During the storming he was wounded several times by British bayonets. As Olney mounted the parapet he was heard to cry out, "Captain Olney's company form here!" This phrase was spoken perhaps as an intimidation to the defending British that their redoubt had fallen and that further resistance was futile. On the other hand Olney may have well become separated from his command and in this exposed position he was in dire need of help.
As it turned out several of Olney's men were right behind him and helped ward off the British attempts to kill their commander. Olney's use of the spontoon during the storming of Redoubt #10 is regarded as the last use of this type of weapon in American history. Within fifteen minutes the redoubt was secure and the Light Infantry looked left to the action at Redoubt #9.
The French mounted an assault on Redoubt #9 at the same time as the Light Infantry began their assault. The French met stiffer resistance than the Americans and took an hour longer to complete the mission.
With the successful capture of the redoubts the Americans and French began digging a second series of parallels closer to Yorktown. Cornwallis realized that escape was impossible and to hold out any longer would serve no purpose. On the 18th of October Cornwallis surrendered and the next day the Crown forces marched out of Yorktown and laid down their arms before the French and American armies.
The surrender of 7000 men at Yorktown was the death knell for British aims to hold onto the former colonies. It was recognized that it was all over for the British but until a peace treaty was signed Washington had to maintain an army in case negotiations broke down.
Following Yorktown, Olney's Battalion marched north to Philadelphia where they arrived in early December. The battalion was quartered in various barracks throughout the city. While at Philadelphia disease spread thru the garrison. Greenman, who was recently exchanged, arrived in town and noted "the Regiment very Sickly & much reduced with Deaths." For the officers of the battalion the winter was spent attending various parties and celebrations.