Col. William Barton

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William Barton

Birthdate: (83)
Birthplace: Warren, Bristol County, Rhode Island
Death: October 22, 1831 (83)
Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States
Place of Burial: Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Capt. Benjamin Barton and Lydia Barton
Husband of Rhoda Barton
Father of William Barton; George Washington Barton; Robert Carver Barton; John Brown Barton; Anna Maria Cushman and 5 others
Brother of Seth Barton; Phebe Barton; Nathan Barton; Richard Barton; Amos Barton and 2 others
Half brother of Benjamin Barton, Esq.; Richard Barton; Nathan Barton; Phebe Barton; Amos Barton and 2 others

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About Col. William Barton

William Barton (1748–1831) was an officer in the Continental Army during the American War of Independence who retired with the rank of colonel. He later served as adjutant general of the Rhode Island militia.

DAR Ancestor #: A007137

Barton was born in Warren, Rhode Island on May 26, 1748. He worked as a hatter in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1771, he married Rhoda Carver. In 1775, he enlisted in the Continental Army as a corporal. He fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. On August 2, 1775 he was appointed the adjutant of Richmond's Rhode Island Regiment. He was promoted to captain on November 1, 1775.

"In July of 1777, Barton chose thirty eight elite soldiers, some from the 1st Rhode Island, the all-black regiment which was also under his command and went on an amazing adventure which produced one of the most daring captures of the war."

As as a major in the Rhode Island state troops, he planned and led a raid on British headquarters, capturing Major General Richard Prescott. On the night of 10 July, with 38 men in four whaleboats, Barton crossed Narragansett Bay, passed unobserved by three British frigates, and, landing about half way between Newport and Bristol Ferry, went to the farm house where Gen.Prescott had his headquarters. The guards were surprised, the door of Prescott's room was broken in, and the general was hurried away half dressed and taken to Warwick Point, and afterward to Providence. For this exploit, the Continental Congress gave Barton a sword and passed a resolution honoring his service.

Barton was promoted to lieutenant colonel on November 10, 1777 and was made colonel of Stanton's regiment of the Rhode Island Militia with "rank and pay of colonel in the Continental Army" upon the resignation of Colonel Joseph Stanton, Jr.. He served until the end of the war.[1]

Freemason: Became a member of St. John's Lodge, Providence, Rhode Island in 1779.[1]

In 1783 Barton became an original member of the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati.


Revolutionary War Continental Army Officer. Growing up in the small town of Warren, Rhode Island, he was educated to an average level and worked as a miliner. When men were needed against the British was sounded, he left to fight with the local state forces that were called to defend Boston and was in the infantry during the battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill. He stayed in the Rhode Island militia and advancd well up through the ranks to Lieutenant Colonel . Soon after this last promotion Barton became infamous for a most daring exploit. After the British occupation of Newport in December of 1776 it became aparent that the English army was going to try to take either Providence or Boston next. The shortest distance between the Island of Aquidneck (where Newport is located) and mainland Rhode Island is Howland’s Ferry, Tiverton. Rhode Island received aid from Massachusetts to fortify a structure to protect the small waterway, which established a strategic defense. The fort constructed was named Tiverton Heights Fort, and Barton and his troops were among the first to hold this fort. In July of 1777, Barton chose thirty eight elite soldiers, some from the 1st Rhode Island, the all-black regiment which was also under his command and went on an amazing adventure which produced one of the most daring captures of the war . Barton had learned through his own spies that the commanding general of the British Newport Garrison, one Major General Richard Prescott, was staying at the Overing house. He and his small troop left Tiverton in four whale boats, they evaded British ships by using local water routes. The party landed in Portsmouth and followed a brook south to newport to the Overing House.They overpowered the General's guards,stormed the house, broke down the bedroom door of the cornered Prescott, and took him captive. For this deed congress gave Barton a sword, and he was brevetted colonel. Proud of this capture, it's said in later battles Barton would draw the splendid sword and intimidate his enemies by announcing that he was " the man who took Prescott". He was wounded and disabled in 1778, eventually retiring at the rank of General. Barton later participated in the Rhode Island convention that would adopt the federal Constitution. The fort in Tiverton from which he executed his amazing deed of valor has since been re-named "Fort Barton".

Bio by: R. Digati

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Col. William Barton's Timeline

May 26, 1748
Warren, Bristol County, Rhode Island
December 16, 1771
Age 23
Providence RI
December 20, 1773
Age 25
February 6, 1776
Age 27
July 20, 1778
Age 30
November 18, 1780
Age 32
December 19, 1782
Age 34
Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States
April 3, 1785
Age 36
March 5, 1788
Age 39
Rhode Island, United States