Kentish Guards history: The American Civil War

The Kentish Guards raised two companies for federal service in the American Civil War: Company H of the 2nd Rhose Island Regiment and Company H of the 7th Rhode Island Regiment.

Company “H” of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment

In April 1861, the Kentish Guards as a unit for Federal Service. On 4 June, 1861, they were incorporated as Company “H” of the Second Rhose Island Regiment. When first formed, company H of the 2nd Rhose Island Regiment had blue coats and gray pants.

The Kentish Guards had already tried to join the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, but that regiment had already reached a full compliment of men and would not admit the Guards.

Company H of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment participated in the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia with the Army of the Potomac, and fought in 14 of the major battles of the Civil War. Especially notable are their achievements in the First Battle of Bull Run, where the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers were one of only three regiments to hold their ground. At the Battle of Wilderness, the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers were the last unit out, in a battle where both sides suffered exceedingly heavy casaulties.

The First Battle of Bull Run

Early on, there was a great confusion of uniforms in the Union Army, and this was a contributing reason to the chaos of the First Battle of Bull Run. This battle ended in a panic-driven Union rout, where only three regiments held their position and prevented the enemy from advancing on the city of Washington – an advancement that would likely have proven chatastrofic for the Union.

Ezra Greene

One of the Kentish Guards volunteers was Ezra Greene, whose letters from the Civil War have been preserved and helped provide historians of a better understanding of several of the Civil War campaigns, including the Battle of Bull Run.

Ezra Green began sending letters home in April 1861, and continued through several campaigns, and through his subsequent reassignment to the US Navy gunboat “Louisville” which was on duty in the Western Theater. His letters give us insight to how life could be for a private in the Federal Army and on a Union gunboat.

Company “H” of the 7th Rhode Island Regiment

On 22 May, 1862, the Kentish Guards recruited and suppled the officers for Company “H” of the 7th Rhode Island Volunteers.

Kentish Guards in the Civil War

The following information comes from a June 1861 article in the Rhode Island Pendulum, where the enlistment for Company H is shown.

Captain: Charles W. Greene

First Lieutenant: Beriah S. Brown

Second Lieutenant: Thomas Foy

Sergeants: 1st. R.C. Gardiner, 2d. Geo. H. Groves, 3d. John F. Eddy, 4th. George L. Nason, 5th. James T. Weaver

Corporals: 1st. Chas. E. Bagley, 2d. Thomas W. May, 3d. Luther Baker, 4th. Thomas Byrnes, 5th. James E. Wilcox, 6th. John Greene, 7th. Wm. W. Brown, Drummer William J. Jencks, Fifer William H. Card, Wagoner 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, Geo.H. Matthewson, Benj. W Sherman,  Patrick Byron, Daniel Daily, Ambrose Hadley, Leonard L. Moffitt, David R. Stephenson,  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, Thos. T. Woodmansee,
John G. Gardiner, John M. Pickford