Happy Birthday Nathanael Greene

U.S. #785 pictures Greene, George Washington, and Mount Vernon.

Revolutionary War commander Nathanael Greene was born on August 7 (July 27 by the Old Style calendar), 1742, in Potowomut (Warwick), Rhode Island.

Raised in a Quaker family, Greene focused his studies on mathematics and law. He was later expelled from the Quaker church, which opposes war.

U.S. #UX90 honors Greene’s role in the Battle of Eutaw Springs.

In 1770 Greene took over his family’s foundry in Coventry, Rhode Island. While there, he was the first person to push for the creation of a public school. From 1770 to 72, and in 1775, Greene served with the Rhode Island legislature. In 1774, when trouble with Great Britain became imminent, he organized the Kentish Guards, a military group. A stiff knee prevented Greene from serving as an officer, but he did serve in the ranks.

Item #93126 commemorates Greene taking command of the Southern army.

After the Battle of Lexington, the Kentish Guards set out to aid the Boston patriots, but were recalled by Rhode Island’s loyalist governor. However, Greene and three others continued on to Boston. Greene took part in the siege of Boston. By 1776, he had achieved the rank of major general, commanding the army of occupation in Boston.

U.S. #1689 pictures The March to Valley Forge by William Trego.

Greene fought at the historic battles of Trenton, Brandywine, and Germantown, and served with General George Washington during the winter at Valley Forge. In 1778, he became the quartermaster general, but resigned in 1780 due to unfair political investigations of the quartermaster department.

Item #47010A – Proof Card marking Greene’s 249th birthday.

In December 1780, Greene replaced the command of General Horatio Alger Gates after the defeat at Camden, South Carolina. Greene’s leadership marked a turning point in the war in the South. The Continental Army inflicted heavy casualties against the British at the Battle of Guilford Court House in North Carolina in March 1781. By the end of the year, Greene’s forces had pushed the British back to Charleston and Savannah.

After the war, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia all awarded Greene large tracts of land and money for his service, some of which he donated to his Southern army. Greene served as president of the Society of the Cincinnati and was twice offered the post of Secretary of War. He refused the post and retired to his estate in Georgia, where he died on June 19, 1786.

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  1. Never won a battle, but still won the campaign in the South by inflicting more casualties on the British than he lost. By doing so at Guilford Court House he helped set up Washington’s success at Yorktown by compelling Cornwallis to withdraw to the coast to regroup and resupply. One of the forgotten heroes of the war.

  2. What a life the man led. After 42 years some of us are just getting started. That man had done it all.

  3. Nathaniel Greene was known as the Revolutionary General who never won a battle. If the last army on the field at the end of the battle was the winner, maybe Gen Greene was the winner because although he yielded the field after the battle, the enemy left the ground due to the heavy loses suffered.And that is how General Greene’s Southern Continental Army gained control of North and South Carolina

    1. I respectfully suggest (and ask) that you increase the resolution for all photos and illustrations–especially for the larger views.


  4. An interesting comment that General Greene never won a battle and yet is celebrated for his leadership. It can be noted that general George Washington won only three battles: Trenton and Princeton in 1776-1777 and Yorktown in 1781…four if you count the British withdrawal from Boston in 1775. Both men along with the other officers and veterans of the Continental Army were there at the surrender of the British at Yorktown. Maybe it’s like a boxer who loses most of the rounds in a fight, but wins by a knockout in the fifteenth round.

  5. I just read a quote attributed to General Nathanael Greene during the southern campaign, “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.” I suggest that sums up the leadership of General Greene and perhaps that of the whole Continental Army in the Revolutionary war.

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