The Historical Society’s collections include information about the history of military conflicts from the beginning of the state to the present day, but especially for the period prior to and including the Civil War. This guide focuses on records of military service. For general resources search the online catalog and reading room card catalog. Online resources and material not at the RIHS are included at the end of this guide. Resources under each section are listed in the suggested order of use.
Additional sources for official records for Rhode Islanders in the military from the Revolutionary period to the present are the Rhode Island State Archives or the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The Reference Division has histories, regimental histories, and/or registers of Rhode Island or New England soldiers for the following wars. The amount of material available for each war varies:
- King Philip's War (1675-1676)
- King William's War (see also Quebec Expedition, 1690)
- Queen Anne's War (1702-1713)
- King George's War (1744-1748)
- French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War) (1755-1762)
For more information, consult the following:
- Chapin, Howard M. Rhode Island in the Colonial Wars.1920, 1994.
Combines separate lists of RI soldiers who participated in King George’s War and the French and Indian War.
Reading Room: E199 .C46 1994
- Pierce, Ebenezer W. Peirce's colonial lists: Civil, Military and Professional Lists of Plymouth
and Rhode Island Colonies. 1881.
Reading Room: E263 .M4 1881
- Colonial Militia Collection
Finding aid available in the Reading Room or online at www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss673sg1.htm.
MSS 673, subgroup 1
No single published source lists all Rhode Island Revolutionary War soldiers. In addition to the resources below, consult Jenckes, Civil and Military List of Rhode Island, described under General Resources.
- Cowell, Benjamin. Spirit of ’76 in Rhode Island. 1850.
Reading Room: E263 R4 C83
- Chamberlain, Mildred M., transcriber. The Rhode Island 1777 Military Census. 1985.
Reading Room: HA 612 1777 .M64
- Heitman, Francis. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution. 1914, 1932, 1973.
Reading Room: CT 218 H4 1967
- Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR Patriot Index. 2003.
Reading Room: E255 .D36 2003
- White, Vergil (compiler). Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files. 1990.
Reading Room: E255 .W55 1990
- Newman, Debra L. List of Black Servicemen, Compiled from the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records. 1974.
Reading Room: E269 N3 N48
- Revolutionary War Military Records
A card index in the Reading Room includes the names of Rhode Island soldiers who appear in our Revolutionary War Military Records.
Finding aid available in the Reading Room or online at www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss673sg2.htm.
MSS 673, subgroup 2
- White, Vergil (compiler). Index to War of 1812 Pension Files.
Reading Room: E359.4 .W45 1989
- The Nebraska Society of United States Daughters of 1812. Heroes of 1812. 1930.
Reading Room: E351.6 N34
- War of 1812 Military Records
Finding aid available in the Reading Room or online at www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss673sg3.htm.
MSS 673, subgroup 3
The main resource listing Rhode Island men who served in the Civil War is the Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations For the Year 1865 (1893). Each volume of this two-volume set is indexed with the soldier's name and the regiment and company / battery in which he served. The records include rank, place of residence, date of enlistment, details of service, and conditions under which the soldier's service ended. The Report also includes brief regimental histories. In addition to the sources listed below, consult the Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System Database
- Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Rhode Island . . . For the Year 1865.
Reading Room: UA43 R4 1865a
- Names of Officers, Soldiers and Seamen in Rhode Island Regiments or Belonging to the State of Rhode Island, and Serving in the Regiments of Other States . . . Who Lost Their Lives in the Defence of Their Country in the Suppression of the Late Rebellion. 1869.
Reading Room: E528.3 N17
- Bartlett, John Russell. Memoirs of Rhode Island Officers Who Were Engaged in the Service of Their Country during the Great Rebellion of the South. 1867.
Reading Room: CT 9750 B281
- Civil War Military Records
Finding aid available in the Reading Room or online at www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss673sg4.htm.
MSS 673, subgroup 4
- Smith, Joseph Jenckes. Civil and Military List of Rhode Island, 1647-1850. 1900-1907.
Reading Room: F78 .S65
- Rhode Island Newspaper Collection
The Library is the repository for the Rhode Island Newspaper Project and has a microfilm collection of almost every Rhode Island newspaper ever published.
Reading Room Microfilm Cabinets
- Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903.
Reading Room: CT 219 H4
- Military Manuscript Collections
In addition to the collections for specific wars listed above, the Library holds collections relating to: the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery, the First Light Infantry, the Kentish Light Artillery, the Westerly Militia, and the First Machine Gun Battery. For more information, see www.rihs.org/msssubgde.htm#govtmil.
- Rhode Island Colonial War Servicemen, 1740-62
This online database lists over 3800 Rhode Island men who served in colonial wars.
Available through Ancestry.com
- Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System Database
- National Archives Guide to Research in Military Records
Federal records of military service are usually held by the National Archives. This guide outlines methods for accessing those records.
- The Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database
Searches for graves can be limited by war.
Reading Room Computer Station and http://rihc.info (in process)
- The Rhode Island State Archives
The State Archives holds many military records. Microfilm copies of a number of them can also be found at the Church of the Latter Day Saints’ Rhode Island Family History Center in
Warwick (phone: 401.463.8150).
- Archives of the Rhode Island National Guard
Includes RI military records from World War I to the present day.