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guardian of the said George Washington Greene.

Regimental Orders, 20th June, 1786.

The Honorable Major-General Greene ( whose
memory ought to be sacredly dear to every citizen of
America, and respected by every lover of the rights of
mankind) having departed this life, the Colonel, from
a sense sufficient honor cannot be paid his remains, but
what is in the power of the regiment ought to be
done, requests the regiment to exert themselves on
the occasion.

The regiment will parade in the Church Square, the
Infantry equally divided into eight platoons, and
marched off with shouldered arms to the front of
Major Pendleton's house on the Ba}', from whence
the procession will take place : The dragoons and
Artillery will proceed in front of the regiment : When
the procession begins the Light Infantry will conduct
the Corpse, wdth reversed arms, to the left of the regi-
ment ; it being received, they file off to the right and
left, and take their former post in front of the
battalion : The whole will then march off with rever-



sed arms, the Artillery advancing firing minute guns,
till they arrive at the place of interment: The Dra-
goons will flank the corpse on the right and left, Music
playing a solemn dirge. The procession being
arrived at the place of burial, the regiment will file
off to the right and left, face inwards, and rest on
their arms, so as to let the corpse, pall-bearers,
mourners, citizens, etc., pass through : The corpse
being deposited, and funeral rites executed, the regi-
ment will close their files, march up on the right of
the vault, and give three general discharges, the
Artillery at the same time firing thirteen rounds in
honor of this truly great and good man. The regi-
ment will then march off with trailed arms to the
place of parade, shoulder, and be discharged.


Major C. C. M.
{The Gazette of the State of Georgia, Thursday,
J2ine 22, ijSd.)

Appendix D.

The Discovery oi the Remains of
Major- General Nathanael Greene
First President of the Rhode
Island Cincinnati




President of the Rhode Island State Society of the Cincinnati


Publishea by the Society


Hon. Asa Bird Gardiner, LL.D., L.H.D.,




In the session of the Rhode Island General Assem-
bly for March 19, 1901, a resolution was passed
designating June 6, 1901, as " Nathanael Greene
Memorial Day in commemoration of the services
of Major-General Nathanael Greene in securing the
independence of the United States, and for the pur-
pose of furthering and carrying out the plan for erect-
ing a statue of this eminent son of Rhode Island in
the State capitol or upon the grounds thereof."

On this anniversary of American Independence, be-
fore narrating the interesting circumstances con-
nected with the recent discovery of his remains in
Savannah, Chatham Count}', Georgia, after their lo-
cation had been lost for over 1 14 years, we may briefly
refer to his family and his services in the War of the

He was fifth in descent from Surgeon John Greene,
one of the historic founders, with Roger Williams, in


1636, of Providence Plantations, and was born in
Potowomut, Kent County, R. I., July 27, 1742, old
st5"le, or August 7, 1742, new stj'le.

In biographical dictionaries, and other books of
reference, material discrepancies are found as to the
exact date of his birth.

Thus Savage gives it as May 22, 1742; while a
number of authorities fix it on May 27, 1742, and
others place it on June 6, 1742.

The General Assembly of Rhode Island seems to
have chosen the latter date.

It remained, however, for the erudite Otis Ashmore,
Esq., superintendent of public schools in the city of
Savannah, Ga., in a paper which he read before the
Georgia Historical Society on April 3, 1899, to demon-
strate conclusiveh' that the date first above mentioned
is the actual date of Major-General Greene's birth.

From his entrj^ into the military service as briga-
dier-general of this State's colonial force at the siege
of Boston, in 1775, his military abilities were conspic-
uous, and the Rhode Island brigade was noticeable as
the best equipped, the best drilled, contingent there
present under General Washington.

It was at this early period of his military, career
that Colonel Timothy Pickering, who had listened to
his remarks and questions while presiding at a gen-
eral court martial, declared he was a man of "true
military genius."

In the following year the Hon. William Duer, one
of the Committee on Correspondence of the New
York State Convention, in a communication to Lieu-


tenant-Colonel Tench Tilghman, aide-de-camp to
Washington, dated October 2, 1776, said:

" I am much mistaken if he is not possessed of that
heaven-born genius which is necessarj' to constitute a
great general."

It would be indeed a pleasure to review here Major-
General Greene's military services if time did but per-

In October, 1777, after the battles of Brandywine
and Germantown, L,ight horse Harry L,ee, then cap-
tain in the First Regiment, Continental Light Dra-
goons, on duty at army headquarters, in a letter
remarked that Greene was " a general whose uniform
conduct had already placed him high in the confidence
of his chief and of the army."

At the battle of Monmouth he commanded the
second line, and a few days later Major James Mc-
Henr}', military secretary' to Washington, and after-
ward Secretary of War under President John Adams,
in a letter dated "Camp near New Brunswick, July i,
1778," in referring to that battle, said that Greene
"gave the most evident and unequivocal marks of
great militar}' worth, his dispositions were judicious,
his judgment cool and clear, and his braver}- always
pointed and efficacious."

I^ater, after the battle of Rhode Island, Major-Gen-
eral John Sullivan, in his report to Congress on
August 31, 177S, from his headquarters at Tiverton,
R. I., said :


" Major-General Greene, who commanded in the
attack on the right, did himself the highest honor by
the judgment and bravery he exhibited in the

In June, 17S0, he commanded the detachment of the
main Continental arm}- which fought the battle of
Springfield, against L,ieutenant-General Baron de
Knyphausen, and was thanked bj' Washington in
General Orders dated "Army Headquarters, Sufferns,
June 26, 1780."

When he relinquished the di.stasteful office of quar-
termaster-general he was, on September 30, 1780,
thanked b}- Washington, in General Orders, for the
"able and satisf actor}- manner in which he had dis-
charged the duties."

He had, on the day before, become president of the
board of fourteen general officers which sat as a mili-
tary commission and condemned Major John Andre,
adjutant-general of the British ami}-, as a spy, under
the law of nations.

On October 14, 1780, Major-General Greene was
assigned to the command of the department of the
south, and it was owing to his potential services in
that command that South Carolina and Georgia were
rescued from British domination and retained in the
number of States at the peace of 1783.

Time and again he was applauded and thanked by
Congress, and b}^ Washington, for his services in this

Marshal the Comte de Rochambeau, who knew him


well, in his memoirs paid him glowing tribute and
recognized his " brilliant talent."

Finally, when hostilities were about to cease, Wash-
ington, in General Orders from Army Headquarters
at Newburgh, dated January 23, 1783, expressed the
sense he entertained of " the extraordinary abilities,
bravery, and prudence displayed by General Greene
in conducting the operations in the southern depart-

On April 23, 1783, General Greene reviewed the
Continental forces, then encamped on James Island,
Charleston Harbor, S. C, in the presence of the
governor of the State and his suite, and members of
the legislature and many ladies, including his wife,
Mrs. Greene, and then entertained his civilian guests
at a banquet.

On this occasion one of the toasts which he gave

" May the .spirit of Union prevail in the United

The General Assembly of vSouth Carolina had pre-
viously, on January 18, 1782, "in consideration of his
important services," voted him 10,000 guineas, while
the legislature of North Carolina, on April 13, 1782,
voted him 5,000 guineas and 25,000 acres of land.

The State of Georgia, b}- resolution of its legisla-
ture, on May I, 1782, gave him 5,000 guineas and
24,000 acres of land.

This included a confiscated plantation of the Hon-


orable John Graham, Lieutenant-Governor, who had
adhered to the British.

It was termed " Mulberrj- Grove," and was situated
on the Savannah river, 12 miles above that cit}'.

It contained dwelling houses, servants' quarters,
outhouses and barns, and comprised 2,171 acres, being
a fine plantation for those days. The deed from the
State of Georgia to General Greene is dated March 5,


In concluding this necessarily brief reference to
Major-General Greene's Revolutionary services, two
or three further allusions may not be inappropriate.

On December 26, 1783, the Governor and General
Assembly of Rhode Island presented their " sincerest
congratulations" upon his return to his native State,
and remarked that he had more than justified their
expectations by his military conduct and achieve-
ments, so brilliant throughout the whole Revolution,
and that the citizens of this State in particular would
hold him dear.

On December 17, 1783, Major-General Greene at-
tended the meeting of the Rhode Island State Society
of Cincinnati, in the Senate chamber of the State
House in Providence, and was elected by his brother
Continental officers of the Rhode Island lifie their

He last presided over their deliberations at the an-
nual meeting held in the State House, Newport, R. I.,
July 4, 1785, and on October 14, in the same j'ear, set
sail for Savannah, to get his plantation in order.

Here, at Mulberry Grove, on June 19, 1786, he died


suddenly of a congestive chill, due to exposure in the
fields under a hot sun.

Brevet Major-General Anthony Wayne chanced to
be with him at his decease, and, in a hasty note to the
authorities of the city of Savannah, apprising thera of
the fact, said :

" He was great as a soldier, greater as a citizen,
immaculate as a friend. The honors, the greatest
honors, of war are due to his memory. Pardon this
scrawl, my feelings are but too much affected, because
I have seen a great and good man die."

Singular to relate, Washington, in notifying Count
de Rochambeau of the fact, used Waj'ne's identical
language, and said : " He was a great and good man

On Jul}^ 4, 1789, in St. Paul's Chapel on Broadway,
Alexander Hamilton, before the New York State So-
ciety of Cincinnati, delivered a masterful oration on
the life and services of Major-General Greene.

Said Hamilton :

" It required a longer life and still greater oppor-
tunities to have enabled him to exhibit in full day
the vast, I had almost said the enormous, powers of
his mind."

Referring to Major-General Greene's bold deter-
mination to return to South Carolina after the battle
of Guilford Court House, instead of following Lieu-
tenant-General Earl Cornwallis to Petersburgh, Va.,
where the latter was joined by the traitor Benedict
Arnold, Hamilton said :


"This was one of those strokes that denote su-
perior genius, and constitute the sublime of war. It
was Scipio leaving Hannibal in Italy to overcome him
at Carthage.

" The success was answerable to the judicious bold-
ness of the design. The enemy were divested of their
acquisitions in South Carolina and Georgia with a
rapidit}- which, if not ascertained, would be scarcely

" In the short space of two months all their posts
in the interior of the country were reduced.

" The perseverance, courage, enterprise, and re-
source displayed b}^ the American general, in the
course of these events, commanded the admiration
even of his enemies.

" In vain was he defeated in one mode of obtaining
his object ; another was instantly sub.stituted that
answered the end.

" In vain was he repulsed before a besieged fort-
ress ; he immediately found other means of compelling
the defenders to relinquish their stronghold."

On August 8, 17S6, Congress resolved that a monu-
ment should be erected in honor of his patriotism,
valor, and ability, and in 1S74 Congress decreed an
equestrian statue, which was duly erected, in 1S77, in
Sherman square, Washington.

Previously, on July 2, 1864, Congress, by resolu-
tion, invited every "State to furnish for the old hall
of the House of Representatives, two full length mar-
ble statues of deceased persons who have been citizens
thereof and illu.strious for their renown," and worthy
of national commemoration.

One of the two statues furnished by Rhode Island


was that of Xathanael Greene, and in presenting it, on
behalf of his State, the late United States Senator,
Henr}' B. Anthony, said :

"Among those who, in the Revolutionar}' period,
won titles to the national gratitude, never disavowed,
he whose statue we have placed in the capitol stands,
in the judgment of his contemporaries and b)- the
assent of history, second only to the man who towers
without a peer in the annals of America."

Archdeacon Cjtus Townsend Brad}', a graduate of
the United States Naval Academy, in the preface to
his latest romance, recenth' published, entitled
" When Blades Are Out and Love's Afield,"' says :

" Next to Washington this ' New England Black-
smith,' who so highly educated himself that, for
relaxation, he read the Latin poets, in the original, by
the light of the camp fire, stands as the most brilliant
soldier-strategist, tactician, and fighter of the Revolu-
tion. And his character was as great as his genius."

In closing this reference to this very great man, it
ma3' be said that his wonderful campaigns in the
Carolinas may to-day be studied by the military stu-
dent with even greater profit than those of Marl-
borough, Prince Eugene, Frederick the Great, or

As before remarked, Major-General Greene died
suddenly, at his plantation of Mulberry Grove, on
June 19, 1786.

On the following day his remains were taken by
boat to Savannah, where they were interred in the


Colonial cemeterj', belonging to Christ Episcopal
Church, in the very center of the then town of Savan-
nah, with imposing civil and military ceremonies.

The Georgia Gazette of June 22, 1786, gives in
detail the ceremonies at the obsequies, and mentions
the Society of the Cincinnati in Georgia at that time,
but since extinct, as the principal mourners. The
entire town united in showing honor to the remains
of this distinguished patriot, who, next to Washing-
ton, had shown himself greatest of our generals in the
War of the Revolution.

The Georgia Gazette, in referring to the place of
interment, merely used this language: "When the
military reached the vault in which the body was to
be entombed they opened to the right and left, and,
resting on reverse arms, let it pass tiirough. The
funeral services being performed and the corpse de-
posited, thirteen discharges from the artillery and
three from the musketr}- closed the scene. The
whole was conducted with a solemnitj- suitable for the

It is noticeable that the particular vault in which
the remains were depo.sited is not mentioned. These
vaults were and are brick structures, mostly with a
portion above ground, though there are a fe^vc which
are wholly beneath the surface.

The cemetery was subsequently surrounded by a
thick brick wall, of which but one side now remains,
the wall being about twelve feet high, and toward
which General Washington contributed to the erec-
tion. Several years ago Christ Church gave to the


city of Savannah the cemetery to be made into a park,
on condition that the remains there deposited should
not be disturbed by the city authorities.

Thereupon the wall was taken down on three sides
facing upon three streets, leaving but the rear wall
on an alleyway which separates the cemetery from the
police barracks, and, in lieu of trees, shrubs and
palms have been planted and walks laid out.

When General William T. Sherman's army, on its
march from Atlanta, Ga., came to Savannah, many of
the vaults were opened by the soldiers, in search of
valuables, and much wanton destruction of monu-
ments and tablets ensued, so that to-day many of the
vaults are without means of identification. There
are, however, four well-known Colonial vaults, among
others, on a line perpendicular to South Broad street,
now Oglethorpe avenue, which in one or two instances
have been believed to belong to particular people, but
there was no certainty, as there were absolutely no
marks of identification. There are also a number of
vaults antedating 1786, of which the ownership is, for
the reason stated, unknown.

It is a singular fact that thirty years after the inter-
ment of General Greene's remains their location be-
came a question of doubt. It might be supposed that
some of General Greene's immediate descendants who
were in Georgia at Mulberry Grove, with his widow,
in 1786, might have known where they had been
placed ; but, within a very few years after his decease,
Mrs. Nathanael Greene married Mr. Phineas Miller,
and removed to Dungeness house, Cumberland


Island, Ga., with her family, 120 miles distant from
Savannah, and for upward of forty years afterward
none of the Greene famil)' resided in or near Savan-

Mrs. Phineas Miller, the general's widow, died at
Dungeness House September 2, 1814, and the estate
then became the property of her youngest daughter,
Mrs. Louisa Shaw.

The condition of the climate and surroundings at
that time in Savannah were not conducive to longev-
ity, and many who had been residents there in the
Revolutionary period soon passed away.

The place where Major-General Greene's remains
were deposited was not indicated by any tablet, and
in a few years all those who had attended his funeral
were deceased.

In April, 18 19, the city council of Savannah,
probably with intent to place a tablet or erect a monu-
ment, appointed a committee to ascertain the location
of General Greene's remains.

This committee reported that circumstances pre-
vented a thorough investigation of the subject at that
time, and in November the city council, apparently
dissatisfied with the inefficienc}^ or neglect of its com-
mittee, appointed another committee, but nothing was

At that time yellow fever was raging in Charleston,
while in Savannah there were, for 1819, an unusually
large number of deaths reported of the "prevailing

The reason is, therefore, obvious wh}^ no investiga-


tion of unwholesome vaults was then made, and in the
following year, 1820, Savannah also had an epidemic
of yellow fever.

In 1821 William Johnson copyrighted his " lyife of
Major-General Nathanael Greene," a work to which
he had given special care and attention, and in the
preparation of which he had visited all the scenes of
General Greene's military operations and interviewed
man}' who had been participants with him in the War
of the Revolution.

In reference to his obsequies Johnson uses this
language (Vol. II., pp. 420-421) :

" On the morning after his decease his was
brought down by water and received on the river
bank by the militar}' and municipalit}^ of the place.
The citizens all followed in procession to the grave-
3'ard, which, to the honor of Christianity', is in that
place common to all .sects or all mankind ; and the
funeral ceremony of the church of England was read
over the corpse by the Honorable William Stephens,
as there was not, at that time, a minister of the gos-
pel in the city.

" The body was deposited in a vault, but the iden-
tical vault still remains a subject of inquir3^

" The graves and vaults are all disposed in regular
rows, and there are four contiguous vaults in one of
those rows, one of which four it is ascertained the
body was deposited in, but which of them still remains
in doubt.

" A committee was appointed in 1820 by the mayor
and aldermen to search for the remains, and deposit
them, with due solemnity, in a fit receptacle, and the
committee have made diligent researches in several of



the four designated vaults, but were prevented by
unavoidable obstacles from extending their search to

" The coffin is distinguished, wherever it lies, by a
plate of silver or brass, engraved with the name and
age in the usual manner, and it is confidently hoped
will yet be identified."

It will be perceived that the author, Johnson, was
in error as to the year when the committee was
appointed, which was 1S19 instead of 1820; neverthe-
less, he evidently had no doubt that the remains
would be found in one of the four Colonial vaults.

In a footnote to this extract the author added as
follows :

" Judge Stephens, who performed the funeral ser-
vices, has repeatedly told the author that the body lay
in the tomb of the Jones'. That tomb has not yet
been searched. But there is much evidence to prove
that it was placed at first in that of the Grahams as
an appendage to the confiscated estate conferred on
him b}"- Georgia.

" This vault afterward passed to the family of
Mossman, who married a sister of Mrs. Graham.

" From which the author's inquiries induce him to
believe that it was removed under the order of Mrs.
Mossman, but whither is unknown. There is still a
possibilitj' that it may have been removed to that of
the Jones'."

Judge William Stephens, to whom the author re-
fers, was, from 1801 to August 6, 18 19, when he died
in Savannah, aged sixty-seven years and seven
months, the United States district judge for Georgia.


When he officiated at Major-General Greene's fu-
neral, a little over thirty-three years before, he was
judge of the Superior Court for Chatham County, and
grand master of the Masonic fraternity.

It is noticeable, in Johnson's account of his inter-
view with Judge Stephens, that the latter never stated
that General Greene's remains were originally de-
posited in the Jones vault.

Probably there had been conversation on the sub-
ject of the desirability of their removal, as the Jones
family would have felt honored in such a final trans-

The Hon. Noble Wymberly Jones, who had built
the Jones vault, had been a warm personal friend of

Born in London, England, in 1724, he died in Sa-
vannah, January 9, 1805. He was a thoroughly earn-
est whig in the Revolution, and consistent supporter
of Greene in the Continental Congress, to which he
was a delegate in 1775, and again from 1781 to 1783,
and often speaker of the Georgia legislature.

No doubt Judge Stephens believed the transfer had
been made, as the vaults were close together in line.

Johnson accepted the statement that the remains
were first deposited in the lyieutenant-Governor
Graham-Mossman vault, and incorporated that im-
portant fact in his narrative, and expressed the con-
fident hope that the remains would yet be identi-

As we progress in this paper it will be learned that
the representatives of the Graham-Mossman family


always insisted that the remains had never been dis-
turbed, but were still in their tomb.

To the Hon. William Harden, of Savannah, who is
librarian of the Georgia Historical Society and secre-
tary of the Sons of the Revolution in that State, we
are indebted for most painstaking record investigation
and elucidation of this interesting subject.

It is patent that the municipal committee appointed
in April, 1819, really did nothing in the way of re-
search, or they would have been continued and a new
committee would not have been appointed. The ap-
pointment of such a committee was an indirect but

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Online LibraryRhode Island. General Assembly. Joint Special CommThe remains of Major-General Nathanael Greene → online text (page 11 of 14)