In 1774 Rhode Island issued a charter for the Kentish Guards, a militia group. Their purpose was to protect East Greenwich and Kent County from looting Brits as the tension between the colonies and Britain escalated before the Revolutionary War.
Two hundred and 40 years later the Kentish Guards are still active as one of the oldest militia groups that predates the country itself. The guards went on to fight in the Revolutionary War led by General Nathanael Greene, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the Dorr Rebellion and World War II. The organization now works within a ceremonial capacity, performing at parades and making public appearances at events. They still work under their original charter from 1774.
One hundred and 50 years after the Civil War, a lot of historical research after the Kentish Guards have finally received battle streamers from the nation for efforts in the Civil War. The Kentish Guards fought in 14 major engagements during the Civil War for Company H of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment.
Together with a National Guard historian from Massachusetts, The Kentish Guards issued a letter, containing all the historical research, to the adjutant general of Rhode Island, then MG Robert Bray, for approval of the battle streamers.
The Kentish Guards, who have 40 active members, are planning a ceremony this fall to unveil the battle streamers. They are looking for descendants of the Civil War soldiers to attend the ceremony.
Warren Kaye, the Colonel Commanding Officer of the Kentish Guards, said, “This is more than Kentish Guards history, this is Rhode Island’s heritage. Rhode Island was the first state to send troops in support of Lincoln. We should celebrate that history.”
Kaye has been searching for descendants of the guard through ancestry.com and has found some of the descendants, but many of the soldiers are still not represented.
“We want to honor the members that served in the Civil War,” Kaye said. “Because the men can’t be there themselves it would be an honor to have their families there. We had to do a lot of research to prove the Kentish Guards were in so many battles and so many of us fought. We would like to share the accomplishment of finally receiving the battle streamers with more people.”
Lt. Alan Shippee, the youngest member of the guards at 20 years old, said, “It is an honor those men should have received right after the war. The families should be there in recognition of the sacrifices their ancestors made. The history should be honored and kept alive.”
Kaye said one of the greatest honors of his life to have his name next to the 59 previous Colonel Commanding officers. He would like other families to be honored by the work done by the Kentish Guards.
For more information on the Kentish Guards visit their website at www.kentishguards.org. If you believe you may be related to one of the Civil War soldiers listed below please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Lt. Colonel Paul Ferrara at email@example.com.
The following is a list of those members of the Kentish Guards who fought in the Civil War and whose descendants have not been contacted: Charles W. Greene, Beriah S. Brown, Thomas Foy, R.C.Gardiner, George H. Groves, John F. Eddy, George L. Nason, James T. Weaver, Charles E. Bagley, Thomas W. May, Luther Baker, Thomas Byrnes, James E. Wilcox, John Greene, William W. Brown, William J. Jencks, William H. Card, Dennis Gallagher, John T. Andrew, John Curry, John Glenwright, Lowell H. Kenyon, Christopher Rodgers, Henry Burlingame, Peleg W. Card, Daniel Greene, James A. King, Thomas Ray,, William Blanchard, John F. Card, Francis C. Greene, William H. Knight, James T. Rose, Charles Blanchard, Jasper Dodge, Jeffery H. Gardiner, James Kalane, Joseph G. Skinner, Sylvester C. Baker, Thomas W.D. Durfee, John Holden, George H. Matthewson, Benjamin W. Sherman, Patrick Byron, Daniel Daily, Ambrose Hadley, Leonard L. Moffitt, David R. Steventson, Robert Binns, Charles Duke, Aldrich I. Huling, Patick McGetrick, Benoni Sweet, Frederick W. Bliss, George B. Dunn, Thomas Henessey, James McNiff, John B. Simmons, Oliver P. Brown, Henry Fregberg, James B. Hathaway, Lyman Nicholas, E.M. Thompson, Dennis Breen, Thomas E. Fitch, Albert C. Holmes, Daniel W. Nicholas, Edward A. Thompson, Thomas W. Brown, Martin V. B. Gorton, Russell B. Johnson, Cyril H. Nicholas, Jeremiah Tourgee, Nicholas H. Cory, Ezra Greene, John Jerard, William Potter, Thomas. T. Woodmansee, John G. Gardiner and John M. Pickford.