NATHANAEL GREENE had a busy happy boyhood. His
home was in a little Rhode Island town. His Quaker
father was a preacher and a miller, and an anchorsmith as
well. He owned a gristmill, a flour mill, a sawmill, and
a forge. And, better than all, he had eight sons.
In the elder Nathanael Greene's opinion, his mills,
his fields and his forge furnished a good school for his
boys. Of other learning they had little. They were
taught to read that they might read the Bible, and taught
to write and cipher as a help in business.
Theirs was a simple, healthy life with work and play
all mixed together. Many a field was plowed in testing
who could turn the deepest furrow. Many a harvest was
gathered in proving who could cut the widest swath, or
shape the best and firmest stack of new-mown hay. Then,
too, there were Jolly husking bees, for the love of which
a boy would gladly tramp six good miles.
Well content with such a life, Nathanael Greene
reached the age of fourteen. But now a chance
acquaintance, talking of college life, showed him how meager his
learning was; and he began to think and wonder about
things that he had never considered before.
At last his new thirst for knowledge led him to ask
his father for more schooling, and a new master was
ar-  ranged for. Under his guidance Nathanael studied Latin
and geometry, and laid the foundation for the good general
education which he finally acquired through his steady
perseverance. Thus the boy came to early manhood, in
the years when his country needed the help of every strong
arm and active brain at her command.
At Covington, about ten miles from his home forge,
the elder Nathanael Greene owned a second forge; and
in 1770 he decided that one of the sons should leave the
old home, move to Covington and take charge of the
smithy there. Nathanael was chosen. It was a great
event when his neat two-story house was finished, and he
went to live in it. Hardly had he learned to feel at home
in his new surroundings when he was chosen a member
of the General Assembly
of Rhode Island. This
was the beginning of his
Soon came the
stirring times of the tea tax,
the Boston Tea Party
and the closing of Boston's port. All
Covington was aroused; and in
1774 Nathanael Greene
had a hand in organizing a military company,
which was called the
Kentish Guards. Greene
joined the company as a private. But as he was
a soldier without a gun, he resolved to go to Boston and
Even for an enemy there was a certain fascination in
 the well-trained British redcoats. And while in Boston,
Greene went both morning and evening to see the
regulars drill. Strong, vigorous, broad-shouldered and
full-chested was this Rhode Island recruit, whose keen eyes
watched every move, from under his wide-brimmed Quaker
What he saw must have pleased him well, for before
he left Boston he had engaged a British deserter to go
back with him to drill the Kentish Guards. Having
bought his musket, he was in doubt as to how he could get
his gun out of Boston. At last a farmer agreed to hide it
under the straw in his wagon. And following the wagon
at a safe distance, Greene set out for home.
IN WASHINGTON'S ARMY
IN April, 1775, a messenger rushed into Providence
with the news of Lexington and Concord. A few days
later the Rhode Island Assembly voted to raise an army
of fifteen hundred men, and Nathanael Greene was chosen
brigadier general and placed in command of the fifteen
hundred. In due time he led them to join the American
forces; and so it was that Greene was already in the army
that waited before Boston to welcome Washington, when
he came to be its chief.
Washington was quick to see Greene's sterling
qualities, and a close and lasting friendship grew up between
the two. In the battles of Trenton, Princeton,
Brandywine, and Germantown, Greene led a division of
Washington's army. And while at Valley Forge, he accepted
the position of quartermaster general, to please
Washington. Thus the Commander-in-chief came to know his
friend's value both in the camp and on the field of battle.
Was it not natural, then, that, when the English turned
 their attention to the South, Washington's choice for
commander of the Southern Department was Nathanael
Greene? But Congress did not see with Washington's
In carrying the war to the South, the English reasoned
somewhat in the following way: We have not been very
successful so far. These northern colonies are surely
strong in their rebellion. However, the South does not
seem equally determined. Would it not be our wisest plan,
therefore, to subdue the southern colonies first? Then,
if worst comes to worst, and we are obliged to make terms
with the North, at least we shall still have a foothold in
The conquering of the South was to begin with Georgia.
In December, 1778, an expedition attacked Savannah;
and with three men to our one the British found the city
an easy prey. A few more minor victories followed, and
the English soon claimed Georgia as their own.
Till the end of 1779 the conditions were practically
unchanged. But early in 1780, the English reopened
their southern campaign with vigor. This time South
Carolina was attacked; and a mighty army advanced
against Charleston, and completely surrounded it. It
would have been a waste of life for the American force,
gathered to protect the city, to have risked battle with
such an army. Even the citizens of Charleston petitioned
that terms be made with the British. They were
accordingly made, and the city surrendered. The English at
once sent detachments to take possession of Camden, and
other points throughout the State.
THE SIEGE OF CHARLESTON.
At this time Congress put Gates in command of what
was left of the southern army, even though Washington
had recommended Greene. Puffed with pride over his
stolen victory at Saratoga, Gates had dreams of promptly
 defeating the English. He determined to surprise them
at Camden before Lord Cornwallis could reach there.
But Lord Cornwallis got to Camden first, prepared a
warm welcome for Gates, and even advanced to meet him.
When the battle began, the English came on with such a
rush that the Virginia troops threw down their loaded
guns and took to their heels. Seeing them disappear,
others did the same; and the troops that did stand their
ground were soon routed. Nor was General Gates left
behind in the headlong flight. Deserting his artillery, his
baggage, and his few stanch followers, he covered sixty
miles before night.
Although the Americans won a brilliant victory at
King's Mountain in October, the disaster at Camden had
convinced Congress that, after all, General Gates was not
much of a success as a commander.
 Washington was now asked to suggest some one to take
the place of Gates. Thoroughly convinced that Nathanael
Greene was the man of all men, Washington again
unhesitatingly recommended him.
IN THE SOUTH
IN December, 1780, General Greene arrived in North
Carolina and took command of the American forces.
These forces were so small that Greene himself said
they seemed but "the shadow of an army." And they
were a disheartened, discouraged, unpaid, and poorly fed
the man who
them was the
the Americans had, Washington alone excepted. His very presence
soon inspired his forlorn troops,
and they took heart once more.
MAP OF GENERAL GREENE'S CAMPAIGN IN THE SOUTH.
Before he had been long in
the camp, General Greene sent
part of his men, under Morgan, to
threaten the English in the northern part of South Carolina. Then
General Cornwallis, in his turn, sent out a detachment to
drive Morgan back. Morgan heard that the English were
coming, and he waited for them at Cowpens.
 Here, on the 17th of January, 1781, he was attacked by
the British. But so well had he planned his defense, and
so bravely did his men do their part, that the English were
terribly and utterly defeated.
Cornwallis was astonished. More determined than
ever that Morgan should be crushed, he hurried against
him before Greene could come to his aid. However,
Morgan did not intend to be crushed, and started north
before Cornwallis could get to him.
Here was General Greene's chance. His army was
far too small to risk meeting the English in open battle.
He must find some other way of getting the best of them.
And what other way could be better than to tire them out
by leading them a long, merry chase, all the time coaxing
them farther and farther from their base of supplies?
With all speed, therefore, he hastened to join Morgan;
and together they retreated, while Cornwallis followed in
hot pursuit. Across the State of North Carolina went the
Americans; and a few hours behind them came the British.
Realizing that more than one river lay in his path, Greene
had wisely ordered boats to be mounted on light wheels
and taken along on the retreat. When a river was reached,
it was an easy matter to put the wheels into the boats
and carry the army safely to the opposite shore.
At last Greene and his men came to the Dan River,
which was too deep for Cornwallis and his men to ford.
Once in Virginia, General Greene received reinforcements
until he felt his army could hold its own with the English.
Then he went back into North Carolina once more, bent
on battle with his enemy.
Cornwallis, too, was willing and anxious to meet the
Americans. And on March 15th the two armies came
together at Guilford Court House. It was a furious
and bloody battle. General Greene was defeated. But
 though the English loudly boasted of their victory, they
had paid dearly for it. So heavy had been Cornwallis's
losses that he dared not stay where he was. He
retreated therefore nearly as fast as he had come, and made
his way to Wilmington on the shore of North Carolina.
From Wilmington, Cornwallis marched into Virginia.
Meanwhile, General Greene had begun his campaign to
retake South Carolina and Georgia. It was no simple
 matter; but by patient, tireless effort, he at last won back
the conquered southern states.
In marching into Virginia, Cornwallis was unconsciously
marching toward his surrender. Finally he went to
Yorktown. Washington came and shut him in, and the
Revolution was over.
TOUCHING OFF THE FIRST GUN AT THE SIEGE OF YORKTOWN.
Soon after its close, the State of Georgia gave General
Greene a plantation; and to this Georgia plantation he
moved with his family. But his pleasure in his new home
was to be short. In June, 1786, he died of sunstroke, at
the age of forty-four.
His boyhood in the forge, the mill, and the field, had
given him strength. His efforts to become a scholar had
broadened his mind. Vast common sense and good tact
were his by nature. A lasting patriotism came to him
from seeing his country oppressed. These were what he
had to give America, and he gave them with all his heart
and all his energy. Great is the honor due Nathanael Greene.