Step back in time with a visit to the the Artillery Company of Newport; the oldest military unit operating under its original charter in the United States!
The Artillery Company of Newport was the first chartered independent unit in the Rhode Island Militia. The Artillery Company of Newport was chartered in 1741 by the Rhode Island General Assembly. That’s during the reign of King George II, by the way – and they’re still serving to this day.
Let that sink in a moment. It’s not often you find a U.S. military unit that’s 276 years old (and counting)!
With that kind of longevity, one might assume that the unit has seen a wide variety of conflicts, and you’d be correct. The Company has served in wars as far back as the French and Indian War and as recently as World War I. Individual members of the Newport Artillery Company have served in every war the United States has ever engaged in.
Things have slowed down for the Company since WWI. Direct threats to the continental U.S. of the type the Newport Artillery is designed to deal with have been few and far between. Though still the senior unit of the Chartered Commands of the Rhode Island Militia, the Company now primarily participates in ceremonial military and historic events. These include color guards and honor guards, and cannon salutes for official state and local ceremonies. It wouldn’t be a true Independence Day in Newport without the Company’s traditional 21 gun salute in Washington Square.
The Artillery Company of Newport also runs a military museum out of The Newport Artillery Company Armory. The Museum of the Artillery Company of Newport contains one of the most extensive collections of historic artifacts. In fact the museum collections represent over one hundred countries throughout the known world.
Visitors are treated to an array of historic cannon, ranging from 1798 to WWII, and including four bronze cannon cast by Paul Revere. You’ll also see a letter written in 1794 by George Washington, military uniforms worn by historic world leaders, Civil War artillery pieces, and so much more.
What would you expect to find in the “closet” of an Artillery Company after 276 years of continuous service? Come find out!
Artillery Company of Newport
23 Clarke Street, Newport, RI 02840
Learn more about the Artillery Company of Newport by visiting them at www.newportartillery.org or following them on Facebook.
The Museum of the Artillery Company of Newport is open weekends until Columbus Day, 10am to 2pm, and Wednesdays, 4pm to 7pm or by appointment: (401) 846-8488.
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