According to Benjamin Cowell, no state furnished more men during the Revolution in proportion to its population than Rhode Island. Cowell no doubt had his facts right, for he had been engaged in the prosecution of claims growing out of the War of the Revolution and had collected, in consequence, a large number of documents substantiating proof of the Revolutionary service. Names of soldiers and sums due each were originally gathered for the benefit of claimants; later, this information was put to use as the basis for Spirit of ’76 in Rhode Island.
The principal distinction of this work is that it provides authoritative lists of officers and men with references to rank, regiment, dates of service, and money due. It is the very best published evidence of Rhode Islanders’ participation in the War. In addition to the valuable rolls of officers and men, Cowell provides a history of Rhode Island in the Revolution, a survey of legislation affecting the Rhode Island war effort, and biographies of prominent Rhode Island officers.
Included in our reprint is James N. Arnold’s Analytical and Explanatory Index, originally published in Volume XII of Vital Record of Rhode Island in 1901. This index, now joined with its parent work for the first time, is an alphabetical list of every soldier mentioned in the Cowell work, with page references and designations of the soldiers’ rank, company, dates of service, and money due.