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History Bytes

History Bytes: Private Bernardo Cardines

This post is contributed by Matthew Baldwin McCoy, State Coordinator for the Rhode Island World War One Centennial Commission

The centennial of America’s participation in World War One provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon the contributions to our country made by immigrants from other nations. One such example is that of Private Bernardo Cardines, an immigrant from Venafro, Campobosso (Isernia), Molise, Italy, who emigrated alone to America in 1909 at the age of fourteen years old. He would later give his life in the service of our country.

When American entered the Great War on April 6, 1917, Bernardo Cardines was employed as a tailor in Newport, Rhode Island. Like other men between the ages of 21 and 31, he registered for the Selective Service on June 5, 1917. He was drafted and inducted into the newly formed National Army.

Private Cardines was assigned to Company M, 310th Infantry Regiment, 155th Infantry Brigade, 78th Division (National Army) at Camp Dix, Wrightstown, Burlington County, New Jersey, for training with other inductees. On May 20, 1918, he and his fellow soldiers boarded the S.S. Northland at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to make the journey to France. The troopship arrived safely in Folkstone, England, on June 5, 1918. After spending a few days at a rest camp in England, he and his fellow soldiers of the 78th Division (National Army) arrived in Calais, France, to join the American Expeditionary Forces led by General John J. Pershing.

Private Cardines’ division participated in the St. Mihiel offensive from September 12 – 16, 1918. After that operation, the 78th Division assumed the responsibility for a defensive area known as the Limey Sector. Private Cardines was one of thirty-one soldiers initially listed as missing in action on September 22, 1918, after they had conducted a raid on a German held position near Thiaucourt. It was later determined by the American Expeditionary Forces that he had been killed in action during the raid.

Private Cardines’ remains were eventually found and initially buried in France. At his father’s request, they were later moved to a cemetery in his home town of Venafro. He rests there today, a hero who made the supreme sacrifice for the United States.

On September 20, 1936, the City of Newport, Rhode Island, renamed Basin Field in honor of Private Bernardo Cardines. The baseball field is one of the oldest baseball fields in the United States. On September 29, 2017, the Rhode Island World War One Centennial Commission will re-dedicate Cardines Field as part of its commemorative events related to the on-going World War One centennial. The re-dedication is an important reminder of the service and sacrifice that immigrants are willing to make to become Americans.

For more information about the re-dedication ceremony, please contact Matthew McCoy at riww1cc@gmail.com.

Images courtesy of Matthew McCoy

History Bytes: The Rochambeau Spoon

During the Comte de Rochambeau’s visit to Providence in 1780, he was the guest of Deputy Governor and Mrs. Jabez Bowen. As a token of appreciation, Rochambeau gave them a sterling silver stuffing spoon, engraved with the Rochambeau coat of arms. The spoon was later donated to the Newport Historical Society and is one of our most treasured possessions.

In 1970, the Newport Historical Society and the Gorham Silver Manufacturing Co. of Providence entered into an agreement to produce silver plate reproductions of the spoon. Sold mostly through the Tilden-Thurber jewelry stores, the spoon was a bargain at $24.95. Every year the Newport Historical Society receives phone calls from people who have stumbled across these reproductions as “ancient family heirlooms.” Unfortunately, the authenticity of these priceless keepsakes is somewhat diminished by the “GORHAM” stamp on the underside of the spoon, and the anchor hallmark flanked by the letters EP (electroplate).

History Bytes: President James Monroe’s Visit to Newport

Two hundred years ago today, on June 28 1817, Newport hosted a visit by President James Monroe as he travelled through New England. The president arrived from Stonington, Connecticut on the famed U.S. Revenue Cutter VIGILANT accompanied by Capt. John Cahoone, Oliver Hazard Perry (most noted for his heroic role in the Battle of Lake Erie), and other dignitaries. Salutes were fired from Fort Adams and Fort Wolcott as the schooner toured the harbor. Later, President Monroe visited Tonomy Hill with its commanding view of the town and bay, and attended a reception with Rhode Island governor Nehemiah Knight and a welcoming committee.  The following day, President Monroe attended services at the Episcopal, Baptist, and Congregational churches. He later paid a special visit to William Ellery, one of four surviving signers of the Declaration of Independence. At the end of the day, the president visited manufacturing sites at Fall River, then sailed to Bristol and Providence.

Image:  Building contract for the Revenue Cutter Vigilant dated 1812, drafted and signed by William Ellery, as well as Capt. John Cahoone and ship builder Benjamin Marble.