In December 1774, the Rhode Island Assembly voted to move almost all of the cannons in Newport’s Fort George to Providence in order to, as the governor stated, “prevent their falling into the hands of the King.” The Assembly also formed a new “Train of Artillery,” a military company assigned to use those cannon to defend the colony. Oddly, however, the train’s commanders were from Boston. Within a few months, Rhode Island’s artillerists became one of the most respected units of the new Continental Army.

On Thursday December 8, 2016 at 5:30pm the Newport Historical Society will host author J.L. Bell to explore this topic during the talk The Launch of Rhode Island’s Revolutionary Artillery.

This lecture will explore how the conflict over Rhode Island’s artillery signaled a decisive break with royal authority during New England’s move toward war.

J. L. Bell is the author of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War (Westholme, 2016), as well as numerous papers, articles and book chapters. He maintains the popular blog, offering daily readings about Revolutionary New England, and is an associate editor of The Journal of the American Revolution. He has been elected a Fellow or Member of the American Antiquarian Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. John has spoken at many Revolutionary War sites in greater Boston and elsewhere, but this will be his first historical talk in Rhode Island.

The Launch of Rhode Island’s Revolutionary Artillery takes place at the NHS Resource Center, 82 Touro Street, Newport, RI, and costs $5 per person, $1 for NHS members, active and retired military with ID. Reservations suggested as space is limited; call 401-841-8770. Copies of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War will be available for purchase, a book signing will follow the lecture. This program is generously sponsored by the Newport Harbor Hotel.

Since 1854, the Newport Historical Society has collected and preserved the artifacts, photographs, documents, publications, and genealogical records that relate to the history of Newport County, to make these materials readily available for both research and enjoyment, and to act as a resource center for the education of the public about the history of Newport County, so that knowledge of the past may contribute to a fuller understanding of the present. For more information please visit

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).