Nathanael Greene

Nathanael Greene

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Nathanael Greene was a major general
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 of the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. When the war began, Greene was a militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

, the lowest rank possible; he emerged from the war with a reputation as George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

's most gifted and dependable officer. Many places in the United States are named for him. Greene suffered financial difficulties in the post-war years and died suddenly of sunstroke in 1786.

Before the American Revolutionary war


Nathanael was the son of a Quaker
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 farmer and smith. Nathanael was born on Forge Farm
Forge Farm
Forge Farm is an historic farm at 40 Forge Road in Warwick, Rhode Island and is one of the oldest farms in Rhode Island.The farm was founded in 1684 by the Greene family. It was the birthplace of General Nathanael Greene. The farm was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974....

 at Potowomut
Potowomut, Rhode Island
Potowomut is an isolated neighborhood and a peninsula in Warwick, Rhode Island. It borders the Town of East Greenwich to the southwest, North Kingstown to the southeast, and Greenwich Bay on all other sides....

 in the township of Warwick, Rhode Island
Warwick, Rhode Island
Warwick is a city in Kent County, Rhode Island, United States. It is the second largest city in the state, with a population of 82,672 at the 2010 census. Its mayor has been Scott Avedisian since 2000...

, on August 7, 1742 new style
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

. His mother, Mary Mott, was his father's second wife. Though his father's sect discouraged "literary accomplishments," Greene educated himself, with a special study of mathematics and law. The Rev. Ezra Stiles
Ezra Stiles
Ezra Stiles was an American academic and educator, a Congregationalist minister, theologian and author. He was president of Yale College .-Early life:...

, later president
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 of Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, was a strong influence in the young Nathanael's life.

In 1770, Greene moved to Coventry, Rhode Island
Coventry, Rhode Island
Coventry is a town in Kent County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 35,014 at the 2010 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of . of it is land and of it is water...

, to take charge of the family-owned forge (foundry), just prior to his father's death. There, he was the first to urge the establishment of a public school and in the same year he was chosen as a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly
Rhode Island General Assembly
The State of Rhode Island General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. A bicameral body, it is composed of the lower Rhode Island House of Representatives with 75 representatives, and the upper Rhode Island Senate with 38 senators...

, to which he was re-elected in 1771, 1772 and 1775. It is debatable that he was a member of the General Assembly since there is no mention of his participation in his personal papers and because there were several of his contemporaries with the same name from Rhode Island. He sympathized strongly with the "Whig," or Patriot
Patriot (American Revolution)
Patriots is a name often used to describe the colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. It was their leading figures who, in July 1776, declared the United States of America an independent nation...

, element among the colonists.

Marriage


In 1774, he married Catharine Littlefield Greene, also known as "Caty", of Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

.

Militia


In August 1774, Greene helped organize a local militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 which was chartered as the Kentish Guards that October. His participation in the group was challenged because he had a pronounced limp
Limp
A limp is a type of asymmetric abnormality of the gait. Limping may be caused by pain, weakness, neuromuscular imbalance, or a skeletal deformity. The most common underlying cause of a painful limp is physical trauma however in the absence of trauma other serious causes such as septic arthritis,...

. At this time he began to acquire many expensive volumes on military tactics and began to teach himself the art of war. In December 1774, he was on a committee appointed by the assembly to revise the militia laws. It has been speculated that his zeal in attending to military duty led to his expulsion from the Quakers in 1773.

Boston



On May 8, 1775, he was promoted from private to Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 of the Rhode Island Army of Observation formed in response to the siege of Boston. He was appointed a brigadier
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 of the Continental Army by the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 on June 22, 1775. Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 assigned Greene the command of the city of Boston after it was evacuated by Howe
William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe
William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC was a British army officer who rose to become Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American War of Independence...

 in March 1776. Letters of October 1775 and January 1776 to Samuel Ward, then a delegate from Rhode Island to the Continental Congress, favored a declaration of independence.

New York



On August 9, 1776, he was promoted to be one of the four new major generals and was put in command of the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 troops on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

; he chose the place for fortifications, and built the redoubts and entrenchments of Fort Putnam
Fort Putnam
Fort Putnam was a military garrison during the Revolutionary War at West Point. Built by a regiment of Colonel Rufus Putnam's 5th Massachusetts Infantry, it was completed in 1778 with the purpose of supporting Fort Clinton, which sat on the edge of the Hudson River about a 3/4 of a mile away...

 (the site of current day Fort Greene Park
Fort Greene Park
Fort Greene Park is a municipal park in Brooklyn, New York, comprising 30.2 acres .The park includes the high ground where the Continental Army built Fort Putnam during the American Revolutionary War. The site was chosen and the construction supervised by General Nathanael Greene...

) east of Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Heights is a culturally diverse neighborhood within the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Originally referred to as 'Brooklyn Village', it has been a prominent area of Brooklyn since 1834. As of 2000, Brooklyn Heights sustained a population of 22,594 people. The neighborhood is part of...

. Severe illness prevented him from taking part in the Battle of Long Island
Battle of Long Island
The Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn or the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, fought on August 27, 1776, was the first major battle in the American Revolutionary War following the United States Declaration of Independence, the largest battle of the entire conflict, and the...

. Greene was also a Rhode Island Freemason and bore a masonic jewel, the gift of his Masonic Brother the Marquis de Lafayette, on his person throughout the whole of the revolution.

Greene was prominent among those who advised a retreat from New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. He also advocated the burning of the city so that the British might not use it. He justified this by asserting that the majority of property was owned by Loyalists. While Washington agreed with this, the proposal was rejected by Congress. He was placed in command of Fort Lee
Fort Lee, New Jersey
Fort Lee is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough population was 35,345. Located atop the Hudson Palisades, the borough is the western terminus of the George Washington Bridge...

 on the New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 side of the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

. On October 25, 1776, he succeeded General Israel Putnam
Israel Putnam
Israel Putnam was an American army general and Freemason who fought with distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolutionary War...

 in command of Fort Washington
Fort Washington (New York)
Fort Washington was a fortified position near the north end of Manhattan Island and was located at the highest point on the island. The Fort Washington Site is listed on the U.S...

, across the river from Fort Lee. He received orders from Washington to defend Fort Washington to the last extremity, and on October 11, 1776, the Congress passed a resolution to the same effect; but later Washington wrote to him to use his own discretion. Greene ordered Colonel Magaw
Robert Magaw
Robert Magaw was a lawyer from Carlisle, Pennsylvania who served as a colonel in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.Robert was born in Philadelphia, PA, in 1738...

, who was in immediate command, to defend the place until he should hear from him again, and reinforced it to meet General Howe's attack. Nevertheless, the blame for the losses of Forts Washington and Lee was put upon Greene, but apparently without him losing the confidence of Washington, who himself assumed the responsibility.

At the Battle of Trenton
Battle of Trenton
The Battle of Trenton took place on December 26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, after General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton, New Jersey. The hazardous crossing in adverse weather made it possible for Washington to lead the main body of the...

, Greene commanded one of the two American columns. After the victory there, he urged Washington to push on immediately to Princeton
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

, but was overruled by a council of war.

Philadelphia



At the Battle of Brandywine
Battle of Brandywine
The Battle of Brandywine, also known as the Battle of the Brandywine or the Battle of Brandywine Creek, was fought between the American army of Major General George Washington and the British-Hessian army of General Sir William Howe on September 11, 1777. The British defeated the Americans and...

, Greene commanded the reserve. At Germantown
Battle of Germantown
The Battle of Germantown, a battle in the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War, was fought on October 4, 1777, at Germantown, Pennsylvania between the British army led by Sir William Howe and the American army under George Washington...

, Greene's command, having a greater distance to march than the right wing under Sullivan
John Sullivan
John Sullivan was the third son of Irish immigrants, a United States general in the Revolutionary War, a delegate in the Continental Congress and a United States federal judge....

, failed to arrive in good time: a failure which Greene himself thought would cost him Washington's trust. But when they arrived at length, Greene and his troops distinguished themselves.


At the urgent request of Washington on March 2, 1778, at Valley Forge
Valley Forge
Valley Forge in Pennsylvania was the site of the military camp of the American Continental Army over the winter of 1777–1778 in the American Revolutionary War.-History:...

, he accepted the office of Quartermaster General
Quartermaster general (USA)
The Quartermaster General of the United States Army is a general officer who is responsible for the Quartermaster Corps, the Quartermaster branch of the U.S. Army. The Quartermaster General does not command Quartermaster units, but is primarily focused on training, doctrine and professional...

. His conduct in this difficult office, of which Washington heartily approved, has been characterized as "as good as was possible under the circumstances of that fluctuating uncertain force." However, he had become Quartermaster General on the understanding that he should retain the right to command troops in the field. Thus we find him at the head of the right wing at Monmouth
Battle of Monmouth
The Battle of Monmouth was an American Revolutionary War battle fought on June 28, 1778 in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The Continental Army under General George Washington attacked the rear of the British Army column commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton as they left Monmouth Court...

 on June 28, 1778.

Rhode Island



In August, Greene and Lafayette commanded the land forces sent to Rhode Island to co-operate with the French admiral d'Estaing
Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing
Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector, comte d'Estaing was a French general, and admiral. He began his service as a soldier in the War of the Austrian Succession, briefly spending time as a prisoner of war of the British during the Seven Years' War...

, in an expedition (the Battle of Rhode Island
Battle of Rhode Island
The Battle of Rhode Island, also known as the Battle of Quaker Hill and the Siege of Newport, took place on August 29, 1778. Continental Army and militia forces under the command of General John Sullivan were withdrawing to the northern part of Aquidneck Island after abandoning their siege of...

) which proved unsuccessful. In June 1780, Greene was in command at the Battle of Springfield. In August, he resigned the office of Quartermaster General after a long and bitter struggle with Congress over the interference in army administration by the Treasury Board and by commissions appointed by Congress. Greene had vehemently argued with Congress over how to supply the Continental Army. Congress was in favor of having the individual states provide equipment, which had already proven to be ineffective since the federal government held little to no power over the states. A month before Washington appointed him commander of West Point, it fell to Greene to preside over the court which, on September 29, 1780, condemned Major John André
John André
John André was a British army officer hanged as a spy during the American War of Independence. This was due to an incident in which he attempted to assist Benedict Arnold's attempted surrender of the fort at West Point, New York to the British.-Early life:André was born on May 2, 1750 in London to...

 to death.

Command in the South



The Congress had been unfortunate in the selection of commanders in the South. It had chosen Robert Howe
Robert Howe (soldier)
Robert Howe was a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.-Early life:His great-grandfather was James Moore, colonial governor of South Carolina...

, and he had lost Savannah. It had chosen Benjamin Lincoln
Benjamin Lincoln
Benjamin Lincoln was an American army officer. He served as a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War...

, and he had lost Charleston. In the summer of 1780, near Camden, South Carolina
Camden, South Carolina
Camden is the fourth oldest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina and is also the county seat of Kershaw County, South Carolina, United States. The population was an estimated 7,103 in 2009...

, on August 16, the British attacked Horatio Gates'
Horatio Gates
Horatio Lloyd Gates was a retired British soldier who served as an American general during the Revolutionary War. He took credit for the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga – Benedict Arnold, who led the attack, was finally forced from the field when he was shot in the leg – and...

  army, which broke and ran in wild confusion. This defeat effectively ended the American Southern Army as a cohesive fighting force. It left the way clear for Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis KG , styled Viscount Brome between 1753 and 1762 and known as The Earl Cornwallis between 1762 and 1792, was a British Army officer and colonial administrator...

 to pursue his goals of gathering southern Loyalists and taking the war to Virginia. He planned then to use his southern ports to move men and material into the interior of North and South Carolina.

When Gates' successor was to be chosen the Congress decided to entrust the choice to Washington. On October 5 it resolved "that the Commander-in-Chief be and is hereby directed to appoint an officer to command the southern army, in the room of Major General Gates." Washington delayed not at all in making his selection. On the day after he received a copy of the resolution, he wrote to Nathanael Greene at West Point, "It is my wish to appoint You." The Congress approved the appointment, gave Greene command over all troops from Delaware to Georgia with extraordinarily full powers, "subject to the control of the Commander-in-Chief"; effectively becoming the second-in-command of the entire Continental Army. Greene took command at Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte is the largest city in the U.S. state of North Carolina and the seat of Mecklenburg County. In 2010, Charlotte's population according to the US Census Bureau was 731,424, making it the 17th largest city in the United States based on population. The Charlotte metropolitan area had a 2009...

 on December 2. Brig. Gen. Isaac Huger
Isaac Huger
Isaac Huger was a planter and Continental Army general during the American Revolutionary War.-Life and work:...

 of the South Carolina Continentals was appointed his second in command. He was one of the dependable leaders in the state.

The strategic retreat


The army was weak and badly equipped and was opposed by a superior force under Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis KG , styled Viscount Brome between 1753 and 1762 and known as The Earl Cornwallis between 1762 and 1792, was a British Army officer and colonial administrator...

. Greene decided to divide his own troops, thus forcing the division of the British as well, and creating the possibility of a strategic interplay of forces. Starting with the success at the Battle of Kings Mountain
Battle of Kings Mountain
The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive battle between the Patriot and Loyalist militias in the Southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War...

 in 1780 under then Colonel William Campbell
William Campbell (general)
William Campbell was a Virginia farmer, pioneer, and soldier. One of the thirteen signers of the earliest statement of armed resistance to the British Crown in the American Colonies, the Fincastle Resolutions, Campbell represented Hanover County in the Virginia House of Delegates...

 (he would later be appointed as a Brigadier General in 1781) the campaign changed. The entire British force was captured or killed (100% of all opposing forces). A new strategy led to General Daniel Morgan
Daniel Morgan
Daniel Morgan was an American pioneer, soldier, and United States Representative from Virginia. One of the most gifted battlefield tacticians of the American Revolutionary War, he later commanded troops during the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.-Early years:Most authorities believe that...

's victory of Cowpens
Battle of Cowpens
The Battle of Cowpens was a decisive victory by Patriot Revolutionary forces under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, in the Southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War...

 on January 17, 1781, where nearly nine-tenths of the entire British force were killed or captured. Many of the same forces who were at King's Mountain also came to Cowpens.

With over 800 prisoners Morgan began a strategic retreat, moving north towards Salisbury
Salisbury, North Carolina
Salisbury is a city in Rowan County in North Carolina, a state of the United States of America. The population was 33,663 in the 2010 Census . It is the county seat of Rowan County...

 where he was joined by Greene at Cowan's Ford
Battle of Cowan's Ford
The Battle of Cowan's Ford was a battle in the Southern Theater of Cornwallis's 1780–1782 Campaign that eventually led to the British Army's surrender at Yorktown during the American Revolutionary War...

 on the Catawba River
Catawba River
The Catawba River is a tributary of the Wateree River in the U.S. states of North Carolina and South Carolina. The river is approximately 220 miles long...

 where a force of Patriot Militia fought a small engagement against Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis KG , styled Viscount Brome between 1753 and 1762 and known as The Earl Cornwallis between 1762 and 1792, was a British Army officer and colonial administrator...

's forces. Greene then wrote to Huger to direct his troop movement from Guilford Courthouse
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, at 2332 New Garden Road in Greensboro, North Carolina, commemorates the Battle of Guilford Court House, fought on March 15, 1781. This battle opened the campaign that led to American victory in the Revolutionary War. The losses by the British in this...

. Arriving on February 9 at Guilford, Greene summoned his field officers to a council of war of his chief officers and put forward the question of whether the army should give battle. It was voted that for the time being, the army should continue retreating to gather more forces, and defer engagement with Cornwallis.
On the tenth he wrote to Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

 requesting troops, "If it is possible for you to call forth fifteen hundred Volunteers & march them immediately to my assistance, the British Army will be exposed to a very critical and dangerous situation."

"In all probability you will find me on the North side of Dan River. I must repeat it, the present moment is big with the most important consequences, & requires the greatest & most spirited exertions."

The race to the Dan River



Greene at this same time formed a special light corps to be commanded by Col. Otho Williams to cover the main army’s retreat. In a letter to George Washington on February 9, he described the "light army" he had formed under Williams as composed of: "cavalry of the 1st and 3rd Regiments and the Legion amounting to 240, a detachment of 280 Infantry under Lieut. Col. Howard, the Infantry of Lieut. Col. Lee's Legion and 60 Virginia Riflemen making in their whole 700 men which will be ordered with the Militia to harass the enemy in their advance, check their progress and if possible give us opportunity to retire without general action." Also saying "I called a Council, who unanimously advised to avoid an action, and to retire beyond the Roanoke immediately. A copy of the proceedings I have the honor to inclose." The re-united army only numbered two thousand and thirty-six men, including fourteen hundred and twenty-six regulars. Col. Edward Carrington
Edward Carrington
Edward Carrington was an American soldier and statesman from Virginia. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Continental Army, serving as Quartermaster to General Nathanael Greene’s Southern campaign...

 joined the command, with the report that boats had been secured, and secreted along the Dan River
Dan River
The Dan River flows in the U.S. states of North Carolina and Virginia. It originates in Patrick County, Virginia, and crosses the state border into Stokes County, North Carolina. It then flows into Rockingham County. From there it goes back into Virginia. It reenters North Carolina near the...

 in Virginia, so as to be collected on a few hours' warning. The British army was at Salem, only twenty-five miles from Guilford. This was on the tenth of February.

By the fourteenth, Greene's army had outrun the British and crossed the Dan River at Irvine's ferry in Halifax County, Virginia with boats being delivered from Boyd's ferry in Halifax and from Dix's ferry in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Cornwallis got the news in the course of the evening. The river was too high to cross without boats, and every boat was on the farther shore. Greene had won the race.

"This American retreat, which extended across the breadth of North Carolina, is considered one of the masterful military achievements of all time." Dennis M. Conrad, Project Director and Editor, The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

In a letter to General John Butler, Greene writes "I have some expectation of collecting a force sufficient in this County to enable me to act offensively and in turn race Lord Cornwallis as he has done me."

Battle of Guilford Court House



After only a week's encampment at Halifax Court House, Greene had sufficient promises and reports of help on the way to recross the river. Greene and the main army re-crossed the Dan River into North Carolina on the 22nd. Greene then pursued Cornwallis and gave battle on March 15, 1781, at the Battle of Guilford Court House
Battle of Guilford Court House
The Battle of Guilford Court House was a battle fought on March 15, 1781 in Greensboro, the county seat of Guilford County, North Carolina, during the American Revolutionary War...

 in North Carolina, on ground he had himself chosen. Greene was defeated, but inflicted a great loss of men to Cornwallis. Three days after this battle, Cornwallis withdrew toward Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington is a port city in and is the county seat of New Hanover County, North Carolina, United States. The population is 106,476 according to the 2010 Census, making it the eighth most populous city in the state of North Carolina...

. Greene's generalship and judgment were again conspicuously illustrated in the next few weeks, in which he allowed Cornwallis to march north to Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 and himself turned swiftly to the reconquest of the inner country of South Carolina. This he achieved by the end of June, in spite of a reverse sustained at Lord Rawdon
Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings
Francis Edward Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings KG PC , styled The Honourable Francis Rawdon from birth until 1762 and as The Lord Rawdon between 1762 and 1783 and known as The Earl of Moira between 1793 and 1816, was an Irish-British politician and military officer who served as...

's hands at Hobkirk's Hill
Battle of Hobkirk's Hill
The Battle of Hobkirk's Hill was a battle of the American Revolutionary War fought on April 25, 1781, near Camden, South Carolina...

 (2 miles north of Camden
Camden, South Carolina
Camden is the fourth oldest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina and is also the county seat of Kershaw County, South Carolina, United States. The population was an estimated 7,103 in 2009...

) on April 25. From May 22-June 19, 1781 Greene led the Siege of Ninety-Six
Ninety Six, South Carolina
Ninety Six is a town in Greenwood County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 1,936 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Ninety Six is located at ....

, which ended unsuccessfully. These actions helped force the British to the coast.

Greene then gave his forces a six weeks rest on the High Hills of the Santee River
Santee River
The Santee River is a river in South Carolina in the United States, long. The Santee and its tributaries provide the principal drainage and navigation for the central coastal plain of South Carolina, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean approximately from its farthest headwater on the Catawba River...

, and on September 8, with 2,600 men, engaged the British under Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart
Alexander Stewart
Alexander Stewart may refer to:* Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland , Scottish magnate* Alexander Stewart , Scottish prelate, Bishop of Ross...

 at Eutaw Springs
Battle of Eutaw Springs
The Battle of Eutaw Springs was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, and was the last major engagement of the war in the Carolinas.-Background:...

. Americans who fell in this battle were immortalized by American author Philip Freneau in his 1781 poem "To the Memory of Brave Americans." The battle, although tactically a draw, so weakened the British that they withdrew to Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, where Greene penned them during the remaining months of the war.

Greene's Southern Campaign showed remarkable strategic features. He excelled in dividing, eluding and tiring his opponent by long marches, and in actual conflict forcing the British to pay heavily for a temporary advantage; a price that they could not afford. However, he was defeated in every pitched battle he fought against the British during his time as southern commander. He was greatly assisted by able subordinates, including the Polish engineer, Tadeusz Kościuszko
Tadeusz Kosciuszko
Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko was a Polish–Lithuanian and American general and military leader during the Kościuszko Uprising. He is a national hero of Poland, Lithuania, the United States and Belarus...

, the brilliant cavalry officers, Henry ("Light-Horse Harry") Lee and William Washington
William Washington
William Washington , was an officer of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, who held a final rank of Brigadier General in the newly created United States after the war...

, and the partisan leaders, Thomas Sumter
Thomas Sumter
Thomas Sumter nicknamed the "Carolina Gamecock" , was a hero of the American Revolution and went on to become a longtime member of the Congress of the United States.-Early life:Thomas Sumter was born near Charlottesville in Hanover County, Virginia in 1734...

, Andrew Pickens
Andrew Pickens (congressman)
Andrew Pickens was a militia leader in the American Revolution and a member of the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina.-Early life:...

, Elijah Clarke
Elijah Clarke
Elijah Clarke , born in Anson County, North Carolina, was a soldier and officer with the Continentals and considered a hero of the American Revolutionary War. Afterward he was elected to the Georgia legislature. In 1794 he organized the Trans-Oconee Republic, several settlements in counties of...

, and Francis Marion
Francis Marion
Francis Marion was a military officer who served in the American Revolutionary War. Acting with Continental Army and South Carolina militia commissions, he was a persistent adversary of the British in their occupation of South Carolina in 1780 and 1781, even after the Continental Army was driven...

.

Post-war activities


North and South Carolina and Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 voted Greene liberal grants of lands and money, including an estate, "Boone's Barony," south of Edisto
Edisto, South Carolina
Edisto Island is one of South Carolina's Sea Islands, the larger part of which lies in Charleston County, with its southern tip in Colleton County. The Charleston County part is a census-designated place. The population was 2,301 at the 2000 census...

 in Bamberg County
Bamberg County, South Carolina
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 16,658 people, 6,123 households, and 4,255 families residing in the county. The population density was 42 people per square mile . There were 7,130 housing units at an average density of 18 per square mile...

. This he sold to meet bills for the rations of his Southern army. After twice refusing the post of Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

, Greene settled in 1785 on his Georgia estate, "Mulberry Grove
Mulberry Grove Plantation
Mulberry Grove Plantation, located north of Port Wentworth, Chatham County, Savannah, was once a thriving rice plantation, notable for the location where Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin....

", in Chatham County 14 miles above Savannah
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

. He died at 43 years old on the estate on June 19, 1786, of sunstroke
Hyperthermia
Hyperthermia is an elevated body temperature due to failed thermoregulation. Hyperthermia occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate...

.

Greene was singularly able and, like other prominent generals on the American side, a self-trained soldier. He was second only to Washington among the officers of the American army in military ability, and the only general, other than Washington and Henry Knox
Henry Knox
Henry Knox was a military officer of the Continental Army and later the United States Army, and also served as the first United States Secretary of War....

, to serve the entire eight years of the war. Like Washington, he had the great gift of using small means to the utmost advantage. His attitude towards the British was humane and even kindly: he even generously defended Gates, who had repeatedly intrigued against him, when Gates's conduct of the campaign in the South was criticized.


Quotations


  • "I am determined to defend my rights and maintain my freedom or sell my life in the attempt."
  • "It had been happy for me if I could have lived a private life in peace and plenty, enjoying all the happiness that results from a well-tempered society founded on mutual esteem. But the injury done my country, and the chains of slavery forging for all posterity, calls me forth to defend our common rights, and repel the bold invaders of the sons of freedom." Nathanael Greene to his wife, Catharine Littlefield Greene.
  • "We fight, get beaten, and fight again."
  • "Learning is not virtue but the means to bring us an acquaintance with it. Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful. Let these be your motives to action through life, the relief of the distressed, the detection of frauds, the defeat of oppression, and diffusion of happiness."
  • "Permit me then to recommend from the sincerity of my heart, ready at all times to bleed in my country's cause, a Declaration of Independence, and call upon the world and the Great God who governs it to witness the necessity, propriety and rectitude thereof."
  • "We are soldiers who devote ourselves to arms not for the invasion of other countries, but for the defense of our own, not for the gratification of our private interests but for public security"
  • "I hope this is the dark part of the night which is generally just before day."
  • "I wish we could sell them another hill at the same price we did Bunker Hill."

Memorials



There are countless cities, counties, and parks named in honor of Nathanael Greene across America. In addition, there have been four Coast Guard revenue cutters
United States Coast Guard Cutter
Cutter is the term used by the United States Coast Guard for its commissioned vessels. A Cutter is or greater in length, has a permanently assigned crew, and has accommodations for the crew to live aboard...

 named for him. There was also the Navy's USS Nathanael Greene
USS Nathanael Greene (SSBN-636)
USS Nathanael Greene , a fleet ballistic missile submarine, was one of three ships of the United States Navy to be named for Major General Nathanael Greene , who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War....

, a James Madison-class nuclear submarine (decommissioned in 1986). Other vessels include an Army cargo ship, hull number 313 (1904), Liberty class steam merchant (1942), which was sunk by a U-boat during World War II, and a 128-foot Army tug, USAV MG Nathanael Greene (LT 801), which is still in service today.

A monument (under which his remains are interred) to Greene stands in Johnson Square in Savannah (1829). His statue, with that of Roger Williams
Roger Williams (theologian)
Roger Williams was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636, he began the colony of Providence Plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities. Williams started the first Baptist church in America,...

, represents the state of Rhode Island in the National Hall of Statuary
National Statuary Hall
National Statuary Hall is a chamber in the United States Capitol devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans. The hall, also known as the Old Hall of the House, is a large, two-story, semicircular room with a second story gallery along the curved perimeter. It is located immediately south of the...

 in the Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

 at Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

; in the same city there is a bronze equestrian statue
Major General Nathanael Greene (Brown)
Major General Nathanael Greene is a bronze equestrian statue, by Henry Kirke Brown.It is located in Stanton Park, Northeast, Washington, D.C., in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.The inscription reads:SCULP H.K. BROWN R. WOOD AND CO...

 of him by Henry Kirke Brown
Henry Kirke Brown
Henry Kirke Brown was an American sculptor.-Life:He began to paint portraits while still a boy, studied painting in Boston under Chester Harding, learned a little about modelling, and in 1836-1839 spent his summers working as a railroad engineer to earn enough to enable him to study further.He spent...

 at the center of Stanton Park. A small statue of Greene by Lewis Iselin, Jr. is part of the Terrace of Heroes outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States. It is located at the west end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. The Museum was established in 1876 in conjunction with the Centennial Exposition of the same year...

.

He is also memorialized by an equestrian statue designed by Francis H. Packard at the site of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse near what is now Greensboro, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Greensboro is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the third-largest city by population in North Carolina and the largest city in Guilford County and the surrounding Piedmont Triad metropolitan region. According to the 2010 U.S...

, the city named after him. Greeneville, Tennessee
Greeneville, Tennessee
Greeneville is a town in Greene County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 15,198 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Greene County. The town was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene. It is the only town with this spelling in the United States, although there...

 is also named after him. In 2006, the city of Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
-Law and government:The city of Greenville adopted the Council-Manager form of municipal government in 1976.-History:The area was part of the Cherokee Nation's protected grounds after the Treaty of 1763, which ended the French and Indian War. No White man was allowed to enter, though some families...

, also named for him, unveiled a statue of Greene designed by T. J. Dixon and James Nelson at the corner of South Main and Broad Streets.

In 2000, a six-foot tall, bronze statue of Greene by sculptor Chas Fagan was unveiled in St. Clair Park, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Greensburg is a city in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, United States, and a part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area. The city is named after Nathanael Greene, a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War...

.

As part of Greensboro, North Carolina's bicentennial celebration, the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation commissioned sculptor Jim Barnhill, a city native and associate professor at NC A&T University, to create a bronze statue of Nathanael Greene which was dedicated on March 26, 2008. This eleven and a half-foot tall statue is mounted on a brick and marble pedestal inside a roundabout at Greene and McGee Streets.

Primary sources

  • The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. University of North Carolina Press
    University of North Carolina Press
    The University of North Carolina Press , founded in 1922, is a university press that is part of the University of North Carolina....

    :
Vol. I: December 1766 to December 1776. ISBN 0-8078-1285-4.
Vol. II: January 1777 to 16 October 1778. ISBN 0-8078-1384-2
Vol. III: 18 October 1778 to 10 May 1779. ISBN 0-8078-1557-8.
Vol. IV: 11 May 1779 to 31 October 1779. ISBN 0-8078-1668-X.
Vol. V: 1 November 1779 to 31 May 1780. ISBN 0-8078-1817-8.
Vol. VI: 1 June 1780 to 25 December 1780. ISBN 0-8078-1993-X.
Vol. VII: 26 December 1780 to 29 March 1781. ISBN 0-8078-2094-6.
Vol. VIII: 30 March 1781 to 10 July 1781. ISBN 0-8078-2212-4.
Vol. IX: 11 July 1781 to 2 December 1781. ISBN 0-8078-2310-4.
Vol. X: 3 December 1781 to 6 April 1782. ISBN 0-8078-2419-4.
Vol. XI: 7 April 1782 to 30 September 1782. ISBN 0-8078-2551-4.
Vol. XII: 1 October 1782 1783 to 21 May 1783. ISBN 0-8078-2713-4.
Vol. XIII: 22 May 1783 to 13 June 1786. ISBN 0-8078-2943-9.

External links