Nathanael Greene, an American soldier, horn at Potowhommet, Warwick co., R. I., May 27, 1742, died near Savannah, Ga., June 19, 1786. His father had a farm and a forge, and was a leading preacher among the Quakers. Na-thanael was trained to manual labor, but picked up more than ordinary knowledge of history, geometry, law, and moral and political science. In 1770 he was chosen a member of the general assembly for Coventry, whither he had removed to take charge of another forge; and from that time he took an active part in public affairs till the close of the war. He was the first to establish a public school in Coventry, and for engaging in military exercises was expelled from the society of Friends. In 1774 he joined the Kentish guards as a private. In July of the same year he married Catharine Littlefield of Block island, and in May, 1775, was appointed by the general assembly to command as brigadier general the Rhode Island contingent in the army before Boston. He joined his command at Roxbury on June 3, and from that time remained in active service without a day's furlough till the final disbandment of the army in 1783. At Boston his brigade was distinguished by its discipline, and he won the love and confidence of Washington from the beginning of their intercourse.
After the evacuation of Boston he was intrusted with the defence of Long Island, but was stricken down by a fever a few days before the battle there. In September, 1776, he was made major general, and appointed to the command in New Jersey. At Trenton he led the division with which Washington marched in person, and with Knox was for following up the advantages of that brilliant surprise by advancing directly upon the other detachments of the enemy. He took an equal part in the battle of Princeton. At the Brandy wine he commanded a division, and by a rapid march and successful stand preserved the army from destruction. At German-town he commanded the left wing which penetrated into the village. On March 2, 1778, he accepted, at the urgent solicitation of Washington and the committee of congress, the office of quartermaster general, stipulating that he should retain his right to command in action. He held this position until August, 1780. At Monmouth, in 1778, he commanded the right wing. He took an active part in the attempt upon Newport, commanding the right wing in the battle of Tiverton heights.
On June 23, 1780, he checked with two brigades and a small body of militia the advance of a corps of 5,000 of the enemy, in the brilliant battle of Springfield. He was in command of the army during Gen. Washington's visit to Hartford in September, 1780, when Arnold's conspiracy was discovered, and sat as president of the court of inquiry upon Major Andre. On Oct. 14 of the same year he was appointed to the command of the southern army, which he found on his arrival, Dec. 2, in a state of utter disorganization and want. On the 20th he advanced to a well-chosen camp on the banks of the Pedee, and began a series of operations which in less than a year stripped the enemy of nearly all their hard-won conquests in the Carolinas and Georgia, and shut them up in Charleston and its immediate neighborhood. The events of this year were the battle of the Cowpens, won by (Jen. Morgan at the opening of the campaign; a brilliant retreat from the Catawba to the Dan; the return into North Carolina, in which Gen. Greene maintained his position for two weeks within striking distance of a superior enemy, in such a manner as both to avoid an engagement and cover the roads by which his reinforcements were com-ing; the battle of Guilford Court House, in which he lost the field, but gained the end for which he fought; the pursuit of Cornwallis to the Deep river; the daring advance into South Carolina; the battle of Hobkirk's hill, a second defeat followed by the results of victory; the siege of Fort Ninety-six, raised by the advance of Lord Rawdon, but followed by the immediate evacuation of the post and the retreat of the enemy toward the west; the drawn battle of Eutaw Springs, the hardest fought field of the revolution; and the advance upon Dorchester, spoken of by Washington as "another proof of the singular abilities of" Gen. Greene. Congress presented him with a medal for the battle of Eutaw Springs, and two of the cannon taken from the enemy for his general services.
The Carolinas and Georgia made him valuable grants of property. After passing a year in Rhode Island, he removed to Mulberry Grove on the Savannah river, where he died of sunstroke. A monument was voted by congress, but never erected, and all traces of his burial place have been lost. He left two sons and three daughters, and an estate seriously embarrassed by his efforts in 1783 to feed and clothe his army.