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By Butts Hill Fort Restoration Committee

On April 29, 2021, the Butts Hill Fort Restoration Committee was notified that the National Park Service has made Butts Hill Fort a location on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. 

The Trail follows the route taken by French forces under command of Lieutenant General le comte de Rochambeau as they left Aquidneck Island en route to join General George Washington’s Continental Army north of New York City.  The combined force then marched to Virginia and there defeated the British Army at Yorktown in the climactic battle of the Revolutionary War. 

Butts Hill Fort, located in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, was built in 1776 by colonial militia.  It was used by the British when they occupied Aquidneck Island and later by French forces when they arrived as allies to support the Continental Army.  During the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778, The Fort was the headquarters of the colonial forces under General John Sullivan.  The Battle is often noted for the participation of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment (The Black Regiment). Today the Fort remains the largest Revolutionary War earthwork in southern New England.

While Butts Hill Fort has been named a National Historic Landmark and has over the years been of local interest, it has been little known or enjoyed by the public because it has become overgrown with vegetation and is not easily accessible.  In January of this year the Portsmouth Historical Society formed a committee, Butts Hill Fort Restoration, to restore and maintain the Fort as a historical, educational and recreational venue.  The plan is to complete restoration by the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Rhode Island in 2028. The Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission, which oversees National Historic Landmarks for the State, has approved the Committee’s 2021 Plan.

Since its inception, the Committee, in addition to getting the Fort added to the Washington-Rochambeau Route, has received support of the Portsmouth Town Council and begun raising funds.  Early financial support has come from the Aquidneck Land Trust and the Rhode Island Society Sons of the Revolution.

Public financial support is critical to restoring and preserving this important, unique and historic site.  Your tax-free donations can be made through the Portsmouth Historical Society’s website, https://portsmouthhistorical.org/membership/membership.  See “Just Donate” at the bottom, and, in the box to designate where the donation goes, type “BHFR.”

The Committee is also seeking volunteers to help clean up the site. If you wish to volunteer or would like further information on the project, please email Seth Chiaro at seth.chiaro@gmail.com.

BUTTS HILL FORT RESTORATION is a committee of the Portsmouth (Rhode Island) Historical Society.  The mission of the Committee is to restore and maintain the Fort in order to provide a safe and accessible educational and recreational site that raises public interest in this National Historic Landmark and its role in the Battle of Rhode Island.

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