Nathanael Greene in DC’s Stanton Park

On Capitol Hill in Washington, DC’s in Stanton Park you won’t find a statue of Edwin Stanton, but you will find one of Nathanael Greene.

Greene was from a prosperous Quaker family from Rhode Island. And he is probably one of the most under-recognized figures from the revolutionary period.

Greene was an avid learner but his interest in military affairs resulted in his expulsion from his Quaker meeting.

Greene was an overachiever. He joins the Continental Army as a private and in less than a year he is promoted to general.

Green served under Washington in New York and New Jersey. He endured Valley Forge and served for a time as Quartermaster. Washington was so impressed with Greene he made it known that if something were to befall him, he wanted Greene to take his place as commander.

Washington ordered Greene to take over command of the southern army. There he used unconventional tactics to wear down the British. He divided his army and took the British on a wild goose chase through the south as they tried to catch him.

Greene knew the kind of war he was fighting. He said, “We fight, get beat, and rise again to fight.” Greene’s tactics in the south inflicted serious losses on the numerically superior British army. Eventually, they leave the field.

All across the south, you’ll find towns and counties named for Greene.

Greene is broke at the end of the war. He used his own money to feed and supply his troops during the war and an unscrupulous middleman did not use the money given by the government to pay the vendor, leaving Greene on the hook for the bill.

Because of these financial difficulties he moves south after the war to try his hand at farming on a plantation given to him by the state of Georgia. While he did speak against slavery earlier in his life, he did enslave people on his plantation.

Greene dies of sunstroke at age 43. Had he lived, his talent probably would have taken him to the same stature as Alexander Hamilton.

Greene’s wife Caty has an interesting story in her own right. Catherine Littlefield was born into a wealthy Rhode Island family. When the war breaks out Caty doesn’t wait at home for her husband. She joins him in the field as much as possible. Legend has it she was quite the flirt and the troops loved her. She was not pleased about moving to the south. The death of Nathanael could have broken a lessor person, but Caty keeps the plantation going. And befriends a man named Eli Whitney who, allegedly with Caty’s help, invented the cotton gin on her plantation.

David Shaw

When not showing visitors the District (that’s what residents call Washington) I enjoy reading, grilling, and traveling. I’ve been to nineteen countries and every state except Idaho and Nebraska. I am a Certified Master Guide of the Guild of Professional...

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Duration
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Group Size
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