The Patriot Resource - American Revolution


Continental General Nathanael Greene
Nathanael Greene Born: July 27, 1742; Potowomut (Warwick), Rhode Island
Died: June 19, 1786; Savannah, Georgia

Battles: Trenton, Guilford Courthouse



Early Life: 1742-1775
Nathanael Greene was born in Potowomut (now Warwick), Rhode Island on July 27, 1742 to Nathanael Greene and his second wife, Mary Motte. The Greene family owned a farm, grist mill, sawmill, ironworks, warf, warehouse, dam, forge and anchorworks, as well as engaged in coastal trading. His father was also a respected minister in the Society of Friends (Quakers). As a youngster, Nathanael would only be taught reading, writing and business math, because of the Quaker beliefs concerning education.

Nathanael convinced his father to retain a tutor to teach him Latin and mathematics in spite of the Quaker view of higher learning. He was an avid reader and was guided by Ezra Stiles, who would go on to become president of Yale. Following his father's death in 1770, Greene often missed Quaker Meetings. From 1770 to 1772, he was a deputy to the Rhode Island General Assembly. Nathanael's cousin, Rufus Greene had commanded the Fortune, when it was seized for smuggling by the HMS Gaspee on June 9, 1772.

On July 5, 1773, Greene and his cousin, Griffin Greene, were suspended from the Society of Friends for visiting a place of pleasure, which could have been a brothel, but just as easily as minor as a tavern. On September 30, 1773, he attended a military parade and was 'put from under the care" of the Quakers. On July 20, 1774, he married nineteen year old Catharine Littlefield of Block Island, Rhode Island and they moved into a home in Coventry, Rhode Island.

In August 1774, East Greenwich County formed a militia unit that ended up be called the Kentish Guards. Nathanael Greene had been one of the principals in its formation, but on October 25, the militia did not elect Greene as an officer because they considered his stiff knee as a disqualification. It was only with the threat of resignation from James Mitchell Varnum that the matter ended. Though deeply hurt, Greene remained and served as a private. In 1775, Greene again served as a deputy to the Rhode Island General Assembly.


Revolutionary War: 1775-1776
Following Lexington and Concord in April 1775, an Army of Observation was established by the Assembly of Rhode Island. On May 8, 1775, Nathanael Greene was given command as a brigadier general of the state troops and led them to Boston to participate in the siege..He missed the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, because he was in Rhode Island petitioning for more supplies. On June 22, 1775, he became the youngest brigadier general commissioned by the Continental Army. On July 4, 1775, Greene met General George Washington outside Boston, Massachusetts, and they immediately hit it off. Greene would name his first born after Washington. Later that same month, Greene was given command of Prospect Hill.

Following the British evacuation of Boston on March 17, 1776, Greene led his brigades to New York on April 1, 1776. During Maj. General William Howe's subsequent invasion of New York, General Washington gave Greene command of Long Island in April 1776, overseeing the Brooklyn defenses. He was promoted to Major General on August 9, but missed the Battle of Long Island on August 27, because he was in bed with a fever.








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