Rhode Island's Role in the War

Rhode Island's Role in the War

The Brave Volunteers of Rhode Island; The Hero of Rhode Island;
Honor to Rhode Island Men; Richmond’s Song for the Times

Rhode Island furnished 25,236 fighting men to the Union Army, of which 1,381 died (Dyer’s Compendium). On the home front, Rhode Island, along with the other northern states, used its industrial capacity to supply the Union Army with materials needed to win the war. Major General Ambrose Burnside, the most influential Rhode Island army officer, was a general in the Rhode Island state militia. He rose to command of the Army of the Potomac before his disastrous defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. His star-crossed field duty ended during the Siege of Petersburg with another fiasco for which he took the blame, the Battle of the Crater. He is honored in “The Hero of Rhode Island” due to his leadership in several battles. Burnside was able to strike back and declare victory in later assaults at Roanoke and Newbern.

William Sprague IV was Governor of Rhode Island from 1860-1863. As the Civil War approached, Sprague promised the president the support of Rhode Island. Believing that the war would last only two days, he accompanied a detachment the First Battle of Bull Run. The Confederate victory made it clear to Sprague that the war would last longer than he originally predicted.

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