The Kentish Guards were formed in the Colony of Rhode Island in 1774, right on the cusp of the Revolutionary War. The original task of the Kentish Guards was to protect the town East Greenwich, and they were chartered by the Colony of Rhode Island on October 29, 1774.
In the American Revolutionary War, the Kentish Guards distinguished themselves several times, including the 1775 Siege of Boston. One of the original officers of the Kentish Guards were Nathanael Greene, who would later become one of the most famous military leaders of the Revolutionary War.
The Kentish Guards have also been military active after the end of the Revolutionary War. They served guard duty at the old Fort Adams in Newport during the War of 1812, and quelled a riot in Pawtucket during the Dorr Rebellion in 1842. During the American Civil War, the Kentish Guards enlisted as Company “H” of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, and saw extensive service in the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. With the Amery of the Potomac, the Guards fought in 14 of the major battles of the Civil War, including the First Batte of Bull Run and the Battle of the Wilderness. The Kentish Guards also recruited and supplied the officers for Company “H” 7th Rhode Island Volunteers, which saw service with the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the Ohio.
The Kentish Guards still exist and the organization is a part of the Centennial Legion of Historic Military Commands, Inc.
When the National Guard system was formed around the turn of the 20th century, the Kentish Guards were invited to join, but elected to decline. By operating under their old charter, the Kentish Guards have preserved their right to elect their own officers and have a strong control over their own affairs.
The National Guards operate under their own charter and the laws of the state of Rhode Island, and are subject to inspection by the Adjutant General and the command of the Governor.
When East Greenwich celebrated its tercentennial in 1977, the Kentish Guards were called upon to control traffic.
In 1994, the Kentish Guards were activated by the Governor of Rhode Island to perform ceremonial duties in connection with the commissioning of the USS Rhode Island.
The Kentish Guards are on call for local emergencies.
The Kentish Guards Militia and Fife and Drum Corps are available for events and are a popular addition to various functions due to their ability to provide ceremonial and historic elements to gatherings.
On Rhode Island, the Guards are often called upon by state, civic and educational organizations.
The annual cannon and musket qualification and competition
Each year, the Kentish Guards participate in the annual state-run cannon and musket qualification and competition that is held for all the historic militia companies.
Commanding Officer: COL Warren S. Kaye
Executive Officer: LTC Theodore Aschman II
Joining the Kentish Guards
The Kentish Guards are continually accepting new members. If you would like to participate, you can contact them by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joining the Kentish Guards Fife and Drum Corps
The Kentish Guards Fife and Drum Corps is still active and is accepting new members, ages 14 and over. Prior musical experience is not necessary, but helpful. For more information, contact email@example.com .
The Kentish Guards enlisted their first two fifers and first two drummers in 1774. They maintained a military band from 1937 to 1977. The regimental-sized fife and drum corps was established in 1966.
Visiting the Armory
The Kentish Guards Amory is open to visitors on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm.
This armory was built in 1843, founded by $1,000 that the Kentish Guards had received from the General Assembly in recognition of their service.
Built in the Greek Revival style, the armory is of great historic and architectural value, and has been included in the National Register of Historic Places since 1971. It is the only armory of its kind built in the United States on the cusp of the Mexican War, and it has not changed much since 1843.
Inside the armory is a picture gallery, including pictures of former members of the Guards.
The original 1774 charter is displayed on a wall.
Directions to the Kentish Guards Armory
Address: Kentish Guards Armory, 1774 Armory St., East Greenwhich, Rhode Island
The building is located at the corner of Pierce Street and Armory Street in East Greenwich.
If you are driving from the north, take 95 South through Providence to the Rte 4 South split, and take the first exit, Rte 401, Division St. East Greenwich. There will be a ramp, and at the end of this ramp, bear to the right. On Division street, continue through several sets of lights. At the fork, bear left onto Division street. When Peirce street appears on your right, turn onto Pierce street. Follow until the corner of Pierce street and Armory street, where you will see the armory on your left.
If you are driving from the south, take 95 North towards Providence. Take exit 8 for Route 2 South, Quaker Lane East Greenwich. There will be a ramp, and a the end of this ramp, bear right. At the set of lights by the Showcase Cinemas, make a left turn to get onto Division street. Continue on Division street through several sets of lights. When you reach the fork, bear left onto Division street. Continue until you have Pierce street on your right. Turn right onto Pierce street, and continue until you have the Armory on your left-hand-side.
The Kentish Guards uniform
The original 1774 uniform for the Kentish Guards was strongly inspired by English military uniforms. A red coat with green facings and silver trim was worn together with pants and a white vest.
Since then, the uniform has been changed several times, reflecting the changing trends in military uniforms.
The contemporary parade uniform is based on a uniform worn by the Kentish Guards from the 1790s to just before the War of 1812.
- The coat is dark blue, with red lapels and white trim. The coat tails have white false-turnbacks.
- The vest is white.
- The pants are dark blue with red piping.
- The leggins are dark blue with red piping, which makes them blend with the pants.
- The helmet is a bear fur crested light infantry helmet.
The Fife and Drum Corps wear the same uniform, but without any helmet. Instead, they wear black bicorn hats with black cockades fasted by a brass KG button.
The Kentish Guards company flag
The Kentish Guards company flag is white, with a canton in the upper left corner.
The white part of the flag represents Rhode Island.
The canton is red and adorned with a federal eagle, sixteen stars and stripes, and the Rhode Island anchor.
The current Kentish Gards company flag was adopted between 1796 and 1803.