Located in eastern Windham County, the city of Sterling borders Rhode Island to the east. Sterling was originally part of Voluntown but was incorporated as Sterling in 1794. The town was named for John Sterling, the first settler. Le Comte de Rochambeau, Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, passed through the Sterling and camped here during the American Revolutionary War on his way from landing at Narragansett Bay to joining George Washington's troops on the Hudson River in 1781. In 1800 the city opened its first mill on the Quantock River. That mill, known as Potter's Mill, produced cotton textiles. In the mid-19th century, a quarry opened in the town, which is still an active industry today. Within the city is the Sterling Hill Historic District, listed on the National Register in 1986.