The Musician and the Cavalry Officer

from the September 5, 1895 Newport Daily News

John Rogers was born on a Farm off West Main Road in Middletown in 1839. One of the earliest records we have so far is the 1860 United States Census, which lists him as a 21-year old music teacher, still living on the family farm.

1860 United States Census

On April 17, 1861, John enlisted as a private in the Rhode Island 1st Infantry and was “slightly” wounded (according to his obituary, dated 10/15/1910) at the Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. After three months of service he enlisted in the First Rhode Island Cavalry. He was quickly promoted to sergeant and “later for bravery in action was promoted to Captain of his troops” (from the above mentioned obituary)

He was eventually promoted to Lt. Colonel and commanded the First RI Cavalry.

His obituary lists some of the over 50 battles he fought in, including Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Cedar Creek, and Petersburg.


1863 Enlistment Record
1865 United States Census

After the Civil War, he worked in Chicago briefly, and by 1870, had returned to the family farm in Middletown to resume his life as a music teacher.

1870 United States Census

He ended up buying the city music store in the early 1870s and would run the store into the 1900s. John Rogers Music store, originally known as the City Music Store would sell pianos, sheet music, and anything musical!

Newport Daily News, June 15, 1874
Newport Daily News, March 9, 1876
Newport Daily News, September 5, 1895

Colonel Rogers, as he was known in the city, was an accomplished musician, serving as the organist at a number of churches in Newport. He would often accompany recitals in Newport as well.

Newport Mercury, November 25, 1893
Newport Mercury, April 2, 1905
Fall River Herald, August 14, 1902

John Rogers died in 1910 while on vacation in Littleton, RI. Read his obituary and another article talking about his life below.


William G. Hammond

Discover the life of William G. Hammond, organist, choirmaster, and composer, and his life in Newport and beyond.

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The City Drummer

Read the story of City Drummer Benjamin Lawton’s Revolutionary War service in his own words!

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Historic Music of Newport is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Help support our mission to preserve Newport’s rich musical heritage!

P.O. Box 539
Newport, RI 02840

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