Nathanael Greene

Mon, 11/07/2016 - 3:03pm -- lwhite

Nathanael Green was born on August 7th 1742 in Rhode Island to his father (also named Nathanael Greene) and his second wife Mary Mott. Greene is most known for being one of the top generals of the American Revolution and for being a close friend to General George Washington. In 1770, Greene moved to Coventry Rhode Island where he established a public school and became a member of the General Assembly of Rhode Island. Before the war broke out, Nathanael Green worked as a blacksmith and was also known to take part in community affairs.

Growing up in a Quaker family, Greene was taught through Quaker ideas. However, the few books he was allowed to read were not enough for this intellectual. Nathanael Greene was not only inspired by the books that he read outside those allowed by his faith, but also by other learned men – including Ezra Stiles a Congressional Minister who gave Greene guidance during his stay in Newport, Rhode Island.  Greene was a self taught military strategist whose actions eventually went against traditional Quaker beliefs. There was an instance where Nathanael Greene was kicked out of a Quaker meeting because he had attended a military parade. Soon after this incidence, he left the Quaker faith as they were pacifists who did not support war – something that Greene felt passionate about.

Nathanael Greene helped to create the Kentish Guards – a military unit that Greene also became a member of. In July of 1774 Greene married Catherine (Caty) Littlefield of Rhode Island who was known to be quite the fitting match for young Nathanael. Together, they had six children that survived passed infancy. Greene eventually took command of the Rhode Island militia which soon turned into him becoming the youngest Brigadier General of the Continental Army. Greene led the army’s troops into Boston, Massachusetts where he first met George Washington and where Washington first became impressed by Greene. Once Washington witnessed how proficient of a leader Greene was, he gave Greene command over Boston after the British left. Greene was an excellent strategist and Washington recognized this.  There was even a rumor that if George Washington were to die, Greene was to succeed him. Washington and Greene had such a close relationship that Greene named his first son after the commander in chief of the continental army – George Washington Greene.

Greene was able to arrange supply depots for the army’s trek to Trenton and during the Battle of Trenton, Greene showed expert battlefield commanding. Washington also noticed how well Greene was able to handle Congress, and in 1778, Greene was appointed as quarter master general. Eventually, Greene was given command of the Southern Department of the Continental Army. Due to the failures of previous generals, the Southern Campaign was not going well. However, with Greene’s help, his army was able to make the British into less of a daunting force.  Greene also spent time at Valley Forge with Washington and his army and endured the brutal cold along with army soldiers. Nathanael Greene, George Washington, and Henry Knox were the only generals to serve for the entirety of the Revolutionary War.

After the American Revolution, Greene was given Mulberry Plantation by the state of Georgia. It was at Mulberry Plantation where Eli Whitney refined the cotton gin. However, the war brought with it some financial troubles for Nathanael Greene. Greene was forced to sell some land in order to help pay some of his debts. Unfortunately, Green died in 1786 at the age of 44 – most likely due heat stroke.

There is an obelisk dedicated to Nathanael Greene – one of America’s top generals – in Savannah Georgia.