Rhode Island. General Assembly. Joint Special Comm.

The remains of Major-General Nathanael Greene online

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speaker who has preceded me, this spot is ever
to be kept as it is, and can never lose its identity
as the ' Old Cemetery ' by which name it was
known for years. The avarice of future genera-
tions can never cause streets to be opened
through this sacred spot, and no portion of
it can ever be used for the erection of any pub-
lic building or stately mansion.

" It seems strange that this vault has never
had an inscription placed upon it, to show the
precious treasure it contained. This, however,
cannot be attributed to any want of appreci-
ation of past generations of the great services
rendered by the gallant general, as the granite
shaft erected to his memory in Johnson Square
successfully rebuts any such presumption.

" We accept this tablet, feeling assured that
future generations will regard this spot as
sacred, in that it, for so many years, contained
the mortal ashes of one who played so conspic-
uous a part in our forefathers' fight for liberty."

Then the pall bearers took up the bier and
moved to the waiting caisson, while the visitors
and guests took places in the procession, which
moved in the following order to Johnson Square,
where the ceremonies were to take place :

Alderman Robert L. Colding,
Savannah, Ga.



Chief Marshal :
Colonel Jordan F. Brooks.
A ids :
Col. G. T. Cann, Capt. G. B. Pritchard,

Capt. C. A. L. Cunningham, Lieut. T. H. Gignilliatt,
Mr. A. B. M. Gibbs, Mr. C. W. Saussy, Mr. F. M.
Butner, and Mr. W. P. Baldwin.
Col. Peter W. Meldrim, First Cavalry, G. S. T.,
commanding the parade ; staff, Capts. Abram Minis,
A. Gordon Cassels, and W. G. Harrison.

United States Artillery Band from Fort Getty, Sul-
livan's Island, S. C, under the leadership of Chief
Musician Coitz.

United States Coast Artillery from Fort Screven,
Tybee Island, Ga., under command of Lieut. -Col. A.
C. Taylor, Lieut. W. G. Peace, Adjutant. Regiment Band.
First Regiment Infantry, G. vS. T., under command
of Col. G. A. Gordon ; staff. Col. J. H. Estill, Capt.
Walter E. Coney, Capt. F. W. Garden, Capt. J. G.
Jarrell, and Lieut. A. A. Morrison.
Middleton's band.
First Battalion Heavy Artillery (Savannah Volun-
teer Guards), G. S. T., under command of Major W.
\V. Williamson ; staff, Lieut. H. L. Richmond, Lieut.
W. G. Austin, Lieut. John D. Carswell, Lieut. J. W.
INIotte, Jr., and Lieut. Craig Barrow.

Lawton Cadets, under command of Capt. Gustave

Georgia Hussars, under command of Capt. W. W.
Gordon, Jr.


Chatham Artillery, under command of Capt. George
P. Walker, acting as a special escort for the remains.

Second Division :

Georgia Society, Sons of the American Revolution,

Hon. Walter G. Charlton, President.

Society of Colonial Wars.

Representatives from Patriotic Societies.

Third Division :
Mr. Frank M. Butner, Aide, in charge.

First Carriage. — Miss M. M. Morel, Miss E. M.
Johnstone, Miss Francis Nightingale, Mr. P. H. Skip-
with, Jr.

Second Carriage. — Mrs. R. T. Waller, Mr. George
W. G. Carpenter, Mr. R. T. Waller.

Third Carriage.— Gov. C. D. Kimball, Hon. Asa
Bird Gardiner, Rev. C. K. Nelson, Gen. W. W. Gordon.

Fourth Carriage.— Judge Emory Speer, Judge
Samuel B. Adams, Hon. A. O. Bacon, Hon. R. E.

Fifth Carriage. — Judge Pope Barrow, Judge T. M.
Norwood, Judge Henry McAlpin, Hon. W. G. Charlton.

Sixth Carriage. — Hon. H. F. Horton, C. H. How-
land, Esq., R. Iv. Colding, Esq., F. F. Jones, Esq.

Seventh Carriage. — Hon. J. E. Banigan, Hon. J.
S. Brown, W. R. Leaken, Esq., Mr. J. M. Barnard, Jr.

Eighth Carriage. — Hon. F. W. Greene, Hon. F. T.
Easton, Rev. C. H. Strong, Mr. F. D. Bioodworth.

Ninth Carriage.— Edward Field, Esq., G. C. Night-
ingale, Esq., Col. W. P. Thomassen, A. D. Harden,


Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Carriages. — For the
Mayor and Aldermen of Savannah.

Thirteenth Carriage. — Members of the Park and
Tree Commission.

Fourteenth Carriage. — Mr. George W. Wylly, Mr.
G. Noble Jones, Mr. D. E. Huger Smith, Mr. Wil-
liam Bearing.

Fifteenth Carriage. — Mr. J. A. G. Carson, Dr. T.
P. Waring, Col. George A. Mercer, Hon. William

Sixteenth Carriage.— Mr. S. E. Theus, Mr. G. H.
Remshart, Mr. Charles Ellis, Capt. G. M. Gadsden.

Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twen-
tieth Carriages. — Contributors to the fund for defray-
ing the expenses of the ceremonies.

The roiite of march was on Abercorn street
to Liberty, to Bull, to the monument.^ The

1 This monument was erected in Johnson Square by a com-
mittee composed of John Spellman, John Stevens, W. B. Bul-
loch, J. V. Bevan, R. W. Habersham, A. Porter, James P.
Screven, William Gaston, Alex. Telfair, A. B. Fannin, and J.
Bond Read, funds having been provided for such a purpose
from the proceeds of the "Greene and Pulaski Monument
Lottery. " The corner-stone was laid with Masonic ceremonies
by General Lafayette, while on his visit to Savannah, on March
26, 1825; four years later the shaft was erected.

Two monuments were proposed by the promotors of this
lottery. The "Greene" monument, however, was the first
built, and served for many years as a memorial to both Greene
and Pulaski. On October 11, 1853, the corner-stone to the
Pulaski monument, on Monterey Square, was laid, since which


streets along the line were filled with eager
spectators, who viewed the procession with
marked interest.

When the troops reached that portion of Bull
street between York and Congress, they were
drawn up in line, while the carriages passed
before them, to enable the occupants to review
the troops.

time the first shaft has been designated the " Greene " monu-

Although it had been standing since 1829, the "Greene"
monument had no tablets on it, or any inscription Avhatever.
On May 10, 1871, Alderman Ferrill introduced a resolution,
which was adopted, to secure an estimate of the cost of
suitably inscribed plates. There the matter stopped until
on August 20, 1879, when a committee of three was appointed
to take into consideration the unfinished condition of the
monument and devise some method for its completion, the
Georgia Historical Society being asked to co-operate.
Nothing further was done for nearly four years.

In March, 1883, General Henry Jackson, president of the
Georgia Historical Society, wrote to council requesting
the appointment of a committee to act with a committee from
the Historical Society relative to the completion of the monu-
ment. Mayor Lester and Aldermen Wilder, Thomas, Hanley,
and Mell were appointed. On July i, 18S5, Aldermen Duncan
and Hamlet were appointed to fill vacancies on this committee.
On September 23, a communication was received from the
joint committee transmitting a resolution from the Georgia
Historical Society requesting an appropriation of $500 by
council, the other $500 necessary for the memorial tablets to
be raised by private contributions. October 7 an appropria-


On the east side of Johnson Square the car-
riages were stopped, and their occupants, alight-
ing, made their way to the platform erected near
the monument. There they took the seats-
that had been reserved for them, and the ex-
ercises began, the troops remaining massed on

tion of $500 was made. In the next July the tablets were un-
veiled with appropriate ceremonies, the Chatham Artillery
firing the salute. Part of the $500 appropriated by the city
was returned by Treasurer D. R. Thomas of the Monument
Tablet Committee.

The tablet on the south side has a has relief full length
figure of General Greene, while the tablet on the north side
has this inscription:

" Major-General



born in Rhode Island

died in Georgia 1786.

Soldier, Patriot,
and friend of

This shaft
has been reared by the
People op Savannah

in honor

of his great services

to the

American Revolution."

^ See Appendix I.


Bull street. Throughout the long programme
the troops had to stand ; not a sound from the
scene of the exercises reached them, and they
were in total ignorance as to what might have
been transpiring ; yet the order was complete as
though they were drawn up for inspection.

In the square and all about it were crowds
of people. The steps and portico of Christ
Church were thronged, as were the windows,
the piazzas, and even the roof of the Screven
house. Windows of other neighboring build-
ings offered their contributions of interested

General William W. Gordon had charge of
the formal exercises. The Rt. Rev. Cleland
K. Nelson, bishop of Georgia, offered prayer
as follows :

" Lord have mercy upon us. Christ have
mercy upon us. Lord have mercy upon us.

" Our Father Who art in heaven^allowed be
Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be
done on earth, As it is in heaven. Give us
this day our daily bread. And forgive us our
trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass
against us. And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil. Amen.


" Almighty and everliving God, we yield unto
Thee most high praise and hearty thanks, for
the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all
Thy saints, who have been the choice vessels
of Thy grace, and the lights of the world in
their several generations ; most humbly be-
seeching Thee to give us grace so to follow the
example of their steadfastness in Thy faith, and
obedience to Thy holy commandments, that at
the day of the general Resurrection, we, with
all those who are of the mystical body of Thy
Son, may be set on His right hand, and hear
that His most joyful voice: ' Come, ye blessed
of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for
you from the foundation of the world.' Grant
this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only
Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

" O God, Whose days are without end, and
"Whose mercies cannot be numbered ; make us,
we beseech Thee, deeply sensible of the short-
ness and uncertainty of human life; and let
Thy Holy Spirit lead us through this vale of
misery, in holiness and righteousness, all the
days of our lives : that when we shall have served
Thee in our generation, we may be gathered
unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good
conscience ; in the communion of the Catholic


Church ; in the confidence of a certain faith ;
in a comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy
hope ; in favor with Thee, our God, and in
perfect charity with the world. All which we
ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Then the remains were placed in the vault
that had been formed beneath the flag-stones
on the south side of the monument. The
artillerymen, serving as pall bearers, brought up
the receptacle, and workmen lowered it into
the vault.

At the conclusion of this part of the cere-
mony, Mrs. Edward Karow, regent of the
Savannah Chapter of the Daughters of the
American Revolution, unveiled a bronze tab-
let^ which Savannah Chapter had caused to be
placed upon the monument, indicating the place
of burial of the remains, and addressing Alder-

1 The design of this tablet is a wreath of laurel tied at the
top with a ribbon ; within the scroll formed by the ends of
the ribbon is the insignia of the Daughters of the American
Revolution, the wheel and the distaff, below this, partly
covered by the wreath, is a tablet, on which is inscribed:

"To commemorate the re-interment of the remains of
Major-General Nathanael Greene, beneath this shaft, on
November 14, 1902. This tablet was erected by the Savannah
Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution."

Mrs. EinvARD Karcjw,
Savannah, Ga.

Regent, Savannah Chapter, Daughters of the iVmerican



man Robert L. Colding, representing the
municipality, said :

" Sir, as regent of the Savannah Chapter
of the National Society of the Daughters of
the American Revolution, I have the honor to
entrust to your care this tablet, which we have
placed here in commemoration of these solemn
and impressive rites — a symbol of our love
and veneration for Major-General Nathanael
Greene, the patriot soldier of Rhode Island, the
saviour of the South from British tyranny.
Savannah is fortunate to hold within her bosom
the precious dust of this great captain of the
Revolution, while his immortal spirit will for-
ever animate the hearts of Americans with a
deathless love of liberty."

In accepting the tablet on behalf of the city,
Alderman Coldinor said :


" Mrs. Karow, to you and the ladies you
represent, I can only say, in behalf of the citi-
zens of Savannah, whose humble representative
I am upon this occasion, that we accept the
beautiful tablet you have placed upon this
monument, and desire to thank you for your
kind thoughtfulness.


" The ashes of an oak in a chimney are no
epitaph of that to tell me how high or how
large that was ; it tells me not what flocks it
sheltered while it stood, nor what men it hurt
when it fell. The dust of great men's graves
is speechless, too. It says nothing, it dis-
tinguishes nothing^. As soon the dust of a
wretch whom you w^ouldst not, as of a prince
whom thou couldst not, look upon, will trouble
thine eyes if the wind blow it thither ; and
when the whirlwind has blown the dust of the
church-yard into the church, and the man
sweeps out the dust of the church into the
church-yard, who will undertake to sift those
dusts again, and to pronounce. This is the
patrician ; this is the noble flower, and this the
yeoman ; this the plebeian bran ?

" The world, with its throbbing pulse, and
quickening pace, passes rapidly; alas, too
rapidly, in its efforts to advance over the graves
of the departed with scarce a glance of recog-
nition. It does not for a moment pause to
inquire if the sleeper, in an unmarked and un-
kept grave, in his day and generation added
to the sum of human happiness ; whether as a
gallant warrior he illustrated his country's
honor upon battlefields; whether by his wise

Base op Greene Monument, Johnson Square, Savannah, Ga.

Showing tablets and the tribute from Rhode Island on the occasion of the
re-interment of the remains of Gen. Greene, November 14, 1902.



counsel he assisted in shaping his country's
destiny ; or whether, as a poor wretched vaga-
bond, he lived and died amidst the shadow of
obscurity and want.

" It is, therefore, eminently proper that the
ashes of the illustrious patriot whose memory
we all revere should rest beneath this granite
shaft, erected to his memory by a grateful
people in recognition of distinguished services
and sterling worth.

" He, whose remains are to find a permanent
resting place beneath this spot, although he
passed away over a century ago, yet, in the
deeds he \Vrought and in the example he has
left us as a legacy, is one of the brightest gems
in the crown of our country's glory.

" We accept this gift. May the trust be well
reposed and the confidence secure."

At this point in the exercises, His Excel-
lency Governor Kimball, of Rhode Island, ad-
vanced, while the tribute from Rhode Island
was placed upon the monument. This con-
sisted of a large wreath of bronze galex, crossed
with cycus palms, tied with rich purple ribbon
on which were embossed in gold the arms of
the State. Standing upon a tripod, the wreath


occupied a place at the base of the monument
throughout the ceremonies.

" America " was then rendered by the band,
after which Hon. Asa Bird Gardiner, L.L.D.,
L. H. D., president of the Rhode Island So-
ciety of the Cincinnati, the orator of the occa-
sion, delivered the address.^

Mr. Chairman and Ladies and Gentlemen :

We are assembled here to-day, with official
representatives from the States of Rhode Island
and Georgia, to render final honors to the re-
mains of Major-General Nathanael Greene,
now about to be deposited under this beauti-
ful monument erected many years ago by
patriotic citizens to commemorate his splendid
military services in the eight years of war for
American independence.

The limits of this address will permit but
brief reference to Nathanael Greene's life and
services. /

1 Nathanael Greene, an address by Hon. Asa Bird Gardiner,
L.L. D., L. H. D., president of the Society of the Cincinnati
in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at
Savannah, Ga., November 14, 1902, on the occasion of the
re-interment of the remains of Major-General Nathanael
Greene, and of his eldest son, George Washington Greene,
under the monument in Johnson Square.

Hon. Asa Bird Gardiner, LL.D., LH.D.



He belonged to a family of great antiquity
and respectability in Northamptonshire, Eng-
land, and was descended from a cadet branch
which, early in the reign of Henry VHI, had
its seat at Bowridge Hill, Gillingham Parish,

His first ancestor in America, from whom he
was the fifth in descent, was Surgeon John
Greene, who married Joan Tattershall, at St.
Thomas church, in Salisbury, November 4,
1 619, being styled "Gentleman" in the church
records — and came, with his family, to Boston,
in the ship " James," from Southampton, where
he arrived on June 5, 1635.

In the following year Surgeon John Greene
became one of the historic founders, with Roger
Williams, of the colony of Providence Planta-
tions ; and ever since the family of Greene has
been one of the highest in respectability and
distinction in the State of Rhode Island and
Providence Plantations.

Nathanael Greene, Jr., v^^hose memory we
to-day honor, was the second son of Nathanael
Greene, Sr., who was a preacher in the Society
of Friends and also the owner of a large farm,
grist, flour, and saw mill and of an anchor


He was born in Potowomut, Kent county>
Rhode Island, on July 27, 1742, old style, or
August 7, 1 742, new style ; and his earlier years
were passed alternately on the farm, in the
mills, and at the forge.

By his own exertions he acquired a thorough
knowledge of Euclid, and at the same time did
his daily tasks so well that his father gave him
a latin master from whom he obtained a good
knowledge of logic, belles-lettres, and the

As a latin scholar he became remarkably
proficient, and took particular pleasure in read-
ing in the original the latin poets — particu-
larly Horace.

In 1760 he studied law, in order to follow up
more intelligently a law suit in which his father
was engaged, and commenced by familiarizing
himself with Blackstone's Commentaries.

From Plutarch and Rollin he obtained his
knowledge of Greek and Roman history, and
from Hume and Rapin his acquaintance with
English history.

Such unusual diligence and perseverance in
acquiring an education by his own efforts gave
him a local reputation in that particular ; and
when he removed to Coventry, Rhode Island,


in 1770, where a branch of the iron works had
been established, his reputation as an unusually
scholarly and thoughtful man followed him.

One of his first acts in his new home was to
take measures toward the establishment of a

In the same year he was elected a deputy
from that town to the Rhode Island Colonial
General Assembly, where he at once took a
prominent position, and was afterward chosen
to the same office in 1771 and 1775.

Foreseeing, with profound knowledge of
political events, that the dispute between Great
Britain aAd the thirteen American colonies
must ere long be brought to the arbitrament of
the sword, he sought to prepare himself for the
clash of arms.

For this purpose, although a conforming
member of the Society of Friends, whose tenets
forbid war, he purchased, when in Boston, of a
British deserter, a flint-lock musket, still pre-
served in Rhode Island, and, on October 21,
1774, became a private in the Kentish Guards,
an independent uniformed infantry company
chartered by the colony, and diligently set to
work not only to learn the school of the soldier


and company, but the art of war including
grand tactics and logistics.

Soon his associate members, as well as the
deputies in the colonial legislature, discovered
that there was no one in the colony as well
posted on military subjects or who exhibited
sounder judgment or greater sagacity.

On April 22, 1775, he was chosen by the
colonial legislature one of a committee to pro-
ceed to Connecticut and consult with the
General Assembly of that colony on measures
of common defence.

His action, in joining the Kentish Guards,
so contrary to the principles of the Society of
Friends, resulted in his dismission therefrom
after a deputation had waited upon him with a
view to induce him, by persuasion and remon-
strance, to quit his military associates.

On May 8, 1775, the Rhode Island General
Assembly appointed him to be brigadier-gen-
eral of the Rhode Island " Army of Observa-
tion," comprising three regiments of infantry
and a company of artillery ; and on June 2,
1775, he proceeded to the siege of Boston and
witnessed the battle of " Bunker Hill," al-
though not engaged.

On June 22, 1775, the Continental Congress


at Philadelphia appointed him a brigadier-gen-
eral in the Continental line and, on June 30,
took the Rhode Island Brigade onto the regu-
lar Continental establishment.

At once his brigade took first rank in dis-
cipline and efficiency, and it was the only bri-
gade at that memorable siege which was fully
supplied with camp and garrison equipage and
properly subsisted.

The siege terminated, on St. Patrick's Day,
March 17, 1776, by evacuation of Boston by
the British army under General Sir William
Howe ; but during the long months in canton-
ments, Washington learned to have the most
perfect confidence in and regard for Greene.

It was at this early period in his military
career that Colonel Timothy Pickering, who
had been present at a general court-martial of
which Greene was president and had listened
to his remarks and questions, made the pro-
phetic statement that he was a man of " true
military genius."

On April i, 1775, pui-suant to General
Washington's orders, he marched with his bri-
gade, via Providence to New York city to assist
in its defence against the expected arrival of
the British army from Nova Scotia, and was a


few days later assigned to fortify Brooklyn

On August 9, 1776, he was promoted by
Congress to be a major-general in the Conti-
nental army.

Taken violently ill with camp fever on
August 15, 1776, he had to relinquish com-
mand on Long Island.

Later he was in the battle of Harlem.
Heights, September 16, 1776, and bore a con-
spicuous part, and afterward in the battle of
White Plains.

Already the whole Continental army began
to recognize that Greene possessed consum-
mate military ability.

It was at this time, on October 2, 1776, that
the Honorable William Duer, one of the Com-
mittee on Correspondence of the New York
State Convention, wrote to Lieutenant-Colonel
Tench Tilghman, aide-de-camp to Washing-
ton, concerning Greene, and said : x

" I am much mistaken if he is not possessed
of that Heaven born genius which is necessary
to constitute a great general."

He was with Washington in his retreat
through the Jerseys, and, in the passage of the


Delaware river, mid ice, snow, and sleet, and
memorable capture of the Hessians at Tren-
ton, December 26, 1776, he commanded the
left wing of the main Continental army.

On January 2, 1777, his division bore the
brunt of the fight at Assunpink bridge, Tren-
ton, against Earl Cornwallis, and the next day
participated in the battle of Princeton, and
thence marched with the army to the Heights
of Morristown, which forced the British to
evacuate all the Jerseys except New Brunswick
and Am boy.

So impressed had Washington become with
his prudence and capacity, that, on March 18,
1777, he sent him to Philadelphia to confer
with the Continental Congress relative to ex-
change of prisoners of war, the forwarding of
supplies, and matters which he did not dare
trust to paper ; and in his letter of intro-
duction, addressed to the president of Congress
he said, as to Greene, as follows :

" He is an able and good officer in the esti-
mation of all who know him ; he deserves the
greatest respect."

On May 12, 1777, General Washington sent

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Online LibraryRhode Island. General Assembly. Joint Special CommThe remains of Major-General Nathanael Greene → online text (page 8 of 14)