Continental General Nathanael Greene
||Born: July 27, 1742; Potowomut (Warwick), Rhode Island
Died: June 19, 1786; Savannah, Georgia
Battles: Trenton, Guilford Courthouse
Revolutionary War: 1776-1777
While stationed at Kip's Bay in northern Manhattan, militia scattered at the sight of British and Hessian soldiers, which helped develop Maj. General Nathanael Greene's distain for the Continental Army's heavy reliance on the militia. Greene finally saw his first action on September 16, 1776 at the Battle of Harlem Heights, New York. He was next placed in command of all forces in New Jersey. On October 12, he attacked Staten Island, but withdrew when he learned that the British had landed on Throg's Neck.
Greene next made what would be his worst mistake of the war. He encouraged General George Washington to hold Fort Washington, New York, but it proved indefensible and was captured by the British on November 16, 1776. About 2,800 men and vast stores of munitions were taken. It was the worst defeat for the Continentals until Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln surrendered Charleston, South Carolina on May 12, 1780.
On November 19, 1776, the Continentals barely evacuated Fort Lee, New Jersey before Lt. General Charles Cornwallis arrived in command of over 4,000 British troops. The evacuation was so hasty that breakfasts were found still cooking and supplies and equipment had to be left behind. Fortunately, Maj. General Charles Lee had taken precautions and had removed much of the equipment and stores a few days before. Even after these twin disasters, General Washington stood by Greene. Greene next was involved in the retreat of the Continental Army across New Jersey. Greene showed himself worthy when he commanded the right wing of Washington's force during the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey on December 26, 1776. He was also involved in the Battle of Princeton, New Jersey on January 3, 1777.
While the army was in Winter Quarters at Morristown, New Jersey in March 1777, General Washington sent General Greene to the Continental Congress to plead for supplies for the Continental Army. He next went with Maj. General Henry Knox to study the terrain of the Hudson Highlands for fear that the British attack in that direction. In May 1777, Greene, Knox and Maj. General John Sullivan threatned to resign if Frenchman Trouson de Coudray were appointed by Congress over them. John Adams recommended that Greene apologize, but he refused. On August 11, 1777, Congress finally devised a solution of giving de Coudray the rank of Major General of the staff with no authority over Major Generals of the line. The whole matter ended entirely when de Coudray drown on September 15, 1777.
At the Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania on September 11, 1777, Greene led his division four miles through broken country in under an hour allowing General Sullivan to retreat. He then held the British off until nightfall, allowing the main force to withdraw. He led the left wing and largest column of the army at the Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania on October 4, 1777. In November, he was ordered to hold the Delaware River forts, but it was an untenable situation. He joined General Washington in winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1777.
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