Gen. Nathaniel Greene
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GEN.-NATHANIEL-GREENE-1

 

GEN.-NATHANIEL-GREENE-1Nathaniel Greene was, in the opinion of historians, after Washington, the ablest of the American Revolutionary heroes. His mental qualities singularly resembled those of the Commander-in-chief,-the same calm judgment, the same originality, energy, perseverance, and capacity of adapting himself to circumstances. W'hen Washington, year after year, stood on the defensive, and when Greene made his memorable retreat through North Carolina, there were many who openly charged them with incapacity but both of these great Genemls, conscious of their superior insight, persisted in the course they had laid down for themselves, and tinally triumphed. As the war progressed the natural daring of Greene became tempered with prudence. Nothing can exceed in boldness the resolution he took to abandon Virginia to Cornwallis, yet it was based on the
soundest rules, and cventually wrought the downfall of that General, and the emancipation of the Carolinas.

 

Nathaniel Greene was born at Warwick, Rhode Island, on the 27th of May, 1742. His family were Friends or Quakers, in which denomination his father was a preacher and Greene himself contiuued a member of that sect until he was disowned in consequence of his assuming arms. His education was self.acquired, and he worked in his father's blacksmith shop, along with his father, until he was elected by the people of Warwick to represent them in the General Assembly of Rhode Island.

 

At the breaking out of the War of Independence the Legislature chose Greene to command the troops, with the rank of Brigadier-General. In Augus~ 1776, Greene was commissioned a Major-General. He was with the army at Trenton and Princeton, sharing in that enterprise so fortunate for the American cause. About the time of the battle at Gennantown, Washington appointed him to the duties of Quartermaster-General. These duties he performed while still retaining his rank in the line.

 

Everything had gone wrong for the patriots in the South. The British considered the war as finished there, when Greene, ordered thither by Washington, appeared upon the scene. He found the army in a most wretched condition; a mere skeleton of military force, having been wasted away by sword, famine and desertion. Many of his companies were worse than Falstaff's famous battallion, for they were not only ragged, but almost literally naked.

 

The next month after Greene's arrival, the brave General Morgan having joined him, was fought the battle of Cowpens, January 17. 1781, one of the fiercest of the war. The proud and courageous Tarleton was beaten by a force smaller than his own, two-thirds of whom were raw militia. On March 15, 1781, occurred the battle of Guilford Court-House. without decisive results for either side. His next conflict was with the forces under Lord Rawdon, at Camden, with like result as the previous battle.

 

The British, having received reinforcements. took the offensive but in turn they were attacked by General Greene, in the battle at Eutaw Springs, September 9, 1781. Greene's
army was victorious, and the consequences were favorable to the American cause; the British, who had so long lorded it over the Carolinas, were forced to keep themselves in Charleston. To the difficulties that at this time embarrassed General Greene, was added that of a dangerous plot among a few of his men, whom privations had made reckless. The purpose of it was to deliver up their brave General to the British. The conspirators, about twelve in number, were severely punished when the plot was fortunately discovered.

 

The happy moment at last arrived, when, aided by the favor of Heaven, America compelled Great Britain to recognize her Independence. Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown,
October 19th, 1781, virtually ended the war. The armies retired from the tented field to their homes to cultivate the arts of peace. General Greene now revisited his native State,
being everywhere received with enthusiasm. In October, 1785, he removed with his family to his estate near Savannah, Georgia. His life as a planter, however, was brief. He died suddenly June 19, 1786, in his forty-fourth year, leaving a 'wife and five children.

General Greene, like every other man who has achieved an eminent place among his fellow-men, had his detractors. He, however, lived down envy and malice, and rose triumphant over all who assailed him. He possessed an undeviating honesty and integrity of character, worthy the best ages of the world. He claimed no lineal honors-he had no adventitious supports.

 

THE BATTLE OF GUILFORD COURT-HOUSE


General Gates, the victor at Samtoga, had yielded his laurels to Cornwallis, at the fatal fight of Camden. The war in the South needed a more prudent and not less courageous
warrior. General Greene was therefore appointed to the command. The debris of Gates' army awaited hint at Charlotte, North Carolina. Here he found it; but it was a wreck indeed, -few in number, feeble in spirit, and wanting everything necessary to proper performance. To examine into the nature of the country he designed to penctrate,-to ascertain the objects and resources of his enemy,-to find or make the resources essential to his own troops, and to discipline them for active and immediate service, required and received his instant attention. His people were dispirited; his enemy exulting in repeated conquest. To avoid precipitate conflict with the latter, without still farther depressing the morale of the former, required the talents of superior generalship. Greene brought these to the work before him. It was fortunate that he was admirably sustained by his own officers, and the peculiar abilities of the partisan captains which the South furnished for co-operation with him. With Marion, Sumter and Pickens, of the Carolina troops; and Morgan, Williams, Howard, Lee and Carrington, of the regular service, he might well found his hopes upon a resource which would scarcely fail him, the material of war being still so greatly wanting. He soon entered the region of bloody debate and peril. A detachment. under Morgan, was sent across the Catawba, while Greene, with the main army,

encamped upon the Pedee.

 

His presence and proceedings were very soon productive of the most admirable effects. His appearance in Carolina was followed by results of the most encouraging character.
Marion and Lee carried Georgetowll by surprise, though they failed to hold it and Morgan, after some small successes against the Tories, met and defeated Tarleton, in the bloody and brilliant battle of the Cowpens. Greene soon appeared in the camp of Morgan, on the banks of the Catawba. Mean· while, Cornwallis had destroyed his baggage, to facilitate his movements, and was preparing to cross the same river. His objects were unknown; but Greene endeavored to anticipate them. He drew his army together and hastened its march towards Salisbury. "There is great glory ahead," he writes in one of his letters "and I am not without hopes of ruining Lord Cornwallis, if he persists in his mad sheme of pushing through the country." The aim of the British general was not long doubtful The waten; of the Catawba, by which the two annies were separated, swollen by receut rains, now began to subside. The fords were practicable. Greene determined to dispute the passage with his militia, and to retard and harass the progress of the enemy, with whom he was not yet sufficiently strong to engage in equal battle. Cornwallis effected the passage of the Catawba, in a rain storm, and under the
American fire. A sharp conflict ensued. The British suffered sevetely; but tbe death of General Davidson, who commanded the militia, had the effect of dispiriting and dispersing them. Greene retreated upon Salisbury.

 

Cornwallis urged the pursuit with vigor, sending General O'Hara forward to prevent the Americans from passing the Yadkin. But the pntdence of Greene, by which boats had been secured in advance, enabled thcm to effect the passage before the British appeared in sight. The whigs of Salisbury were bringing up the rear, when 0' Hara's advance broke upon them. A sharp skinnish followed, in which both parties claimed the victory. But the Americans gained their object. They threw the river betwcen them and their pursuers, without loss to themselves, baffied the efforts of 0' Hara to seize upon their boats, and, in the delay thus caused to the pursuit, the Yadkin, swelled by successive rains beyond its bounds, effectually saved the Amcricans from farther aunoyance. It was in vain that the British opened with a fierce cannonade upon the camp of Greene. Their bullets tore the shingles from the roof of the cabin in which he sat, writing his dispatches, but without disturbing his composure or injuring his person.

 

Cornwallis continued the pursuit, as soon as he could cross the river, in the hope of cutting ofT his adversary from the upper fords of the Dan. The maneuvres which followed
from this chase have been justly considered among the most masterly that had been. exhibited during the American war. Greene's great merit was that Fabian policy which had so frequently saved Washington. On the roth of Febuary, the two armies lay within twenty-five miles of each other. Nearly one month had been consumed in this protracted pursuit, and the eyes of the nation were drawn upon the rival armies. To crush his adversary without impediment, Cornwallis had destroyed his baggage. This showed a rare and stern resolution, at all hazards to effect his object. But one river lay between the British general and Virginia. ;rhis crossed, and the South must be detached from the confederacy, certainly for the time, possibly forever. Greene felt the vast importance of the trust and his genius rose with its pressure, and proved equal to its exigencies. We cannot pursue these beautiful details of progress, as exquisitely nice and as admirably calculated as any work of art, by which a series of the most masterly maneuvres, and occasional skirmishes of great spirit, placed the Americans in safety on thc northern banks of the Dan, and finished this remarkable retreat and pursuit. Your retreat," said
Washington, is highly applauded by all tanks." Tarleton, an enemy, writes: "Every measure of the Americans, during their march from the Catawba to Virginia, was judiciously

designed and vigorously executed." And the retreat, thus made in the immediate presence of a far superior foe, was made by troops many of whom had never seen battie,-raw
militia, in fact,-without adequate clothing, without supplies, in the depth of winter, and under inclement skies. The genius of their commander supplied deficiencies, soothed discontent encouraged hope, and converted a dispirited militia into confident and veteran soldiers.

 

Greene soon obtained supplies and reinforcements. Recrossing the Dan, it was now the turn of Cornwallis to retreat. Pickens advanced with a strong body of militia all the left flank of the enemy. Caswell, with a subsidy from the North Carolina militia, made a similar demonstration from the opposite direction. The two armies lay sullenly watching each other, when the British columns suddenly began their retreat from the banks of the Dan. Bodies of picked men from the American army followed his movements, at once to harass his progress, and ascertain his objects. These were doubtful. At one moment he seemed to threaten Pickens, at another the magazines all the Roanoke; but,
suddenly turning his back upon the Dan, he moved towards Hillsborough, a region filled with loyalists, whence he issued his proclamation calling upon the faithful to repair to his
standard. But the time had come when, as he himself expressed it, the friendly had grown timid, and the hostile inveterate. Greene watched and followed all his movements,
determined to prevent his flight to the coast-a purpose which his proceedings seemed to indicate. The delay of a few days, he well knew, would be fatal to the British. The
American partisans were closing around them. The army of Greene was receiving daily accessions i and .several smart skirmishes, in which the British suffered great losses, bad
encouraged their adversaries with fresher hopes. Greene was not yet strong enough to give battle to Cornwallis i but circumstances made it necessary that he should keep the field and exhibit equal boldness and activity. His light troops were continually employed in beating up the British quarters, harassing their march, cutting off their supplies,-doing everything, in _short, but pitching their standards before them in the plain. It became the policy of Cornwallis to force him to retreat or fight. A war of mancuever followed, and the result of this struggle at length brought Greene to Guilford Court-House, within fourteen miles of the British position.

 

A battle was now nearly inevitable, and, yielding somewhat to popular opinion, Greene was prepared to wait for it, if not to seek it. It was on the 15th of March, 1781, that he drew up in order of battle. The ground was chosen with regard to the nature of the American troops. It was broken and irregular. The first line of Greene was drawn out on the
skirts of a wood, and at right-angles with the road by which the enemy was approaching. It consisted of raw and untrained militia from North Carolina, who had never crossed
arms with an enemy. But they were practiced marksmen. They were commanded by Generals Butler and Eaton. The second line, arranged about three hundred yards behind the
first, consisted of raw troops also, Virginians, led by Stevens and Lawson. Both of these lines extended across the road. About four hundred yards behind the second line, the Continentals were placed under Huger and Williams. They presented, in conformity with the aspect of the ground they occupied, a double front-two regiments of Virginia regulars, under Greene and Rudford, on the right, and the First and Second Maryland on the left, under Gunby and Ford. A corps of observation, composed of the dragoons of the First and Third Regiments, Lynch's Riflemen, and a detachment of light infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel William Washington, covered the right flank. Lee, with his legion, supported by detachments of light infantry and riflemen, increased the securities of the left, and both of these corps occupied the woods at the extremities of the first line.The artillery, with the exception of two pieces, under Captain Singleton, which were pushed forward, commanding the enemy's first approaches, was posted with the regulars on the hill, near the Court-Honse.

 

The van of the British army came under the fire of Singleton's pieces about one o'clock in the day. A brisk cannonade from the royal artillery answered them, until the

British had formed their line of battle. They were ranged in a single line, and without a reserve, They advanced under cover of the smoke from their artillery, and the militia yielded to the charge of the bayonet, delivering a partial fire only. The enemy, pressing forward upon the second line, were suddenly checked by a sharp fire from the corps of Washington  and Lee. To dislodge these was necessary to the British progress. Concentrating a sufficient force for this object, Cornwallis drove them slowly before him, suffering severel under their fire, and making his way only with the bayonet. The battle now began with double spirit. The Virginia militia met the tide of conflict manfully, undismayed by its tonnents and the bad example of the North Carolinians. The fire told with deadly effect upon the assailants, whom nothing saved but the flight of the first line of the Americans and their own admirable discipline. The right wing of the Americans gradually yielded, but with ranks still unbroken. The British followed up their advantage with the bayonet, and the retreat of the wing, which still held together, became general throughout the line. Retreating to the third line, they took post on the right of the Marylanders. On the left, where the militia was supported by the corps of Lee and Campbell, the action still continued.

 

The eye of Greene was cheered by the prospect, wilh all its disadvantages. By this time the whole of the British army, with the exception of its cavalry, had been brought into
action. It had suffered to a considerable degree, in all its divisions, from the American fire. The line was dismembered, some of its corps were scattered and, with his third line
fresh, and as yet untouched, the American general had every reason to think that the victory was within his grasp. The veteran regiment of Gunby was the first to feel the British
fire, as General Webster, with his division, flushed with thesuccess already won, advanced upon the third line of the Americans. Discipline met discipline. They were received by a steady blaze of fire, general and well~directed, under which they reeled, stunnned and confounded, and before they could recover from the shock, the A mericans were upon them with the bayonet. The rout was complete. Had the cavalry of Greene been present, or could he have ventured to push forward another regiment to follow up the blow, the conflict would have been finished in victory.

 

But the battle was still raging on the left, and had assumed all aspect unfavorable to his fortunes. Stevens, who commanded the left wing of the Virginians, bad been disabled his militia, after a gallant struggle, had at length yielded to the push of the veteran bayonet, and, still delivering their fire from tree to tree, as they withdrew, were winding through the woods to the rear of the Continentals. Their retreat left the column of Leslie free to hasten to the support of that of O'Hara, who was now hurrying to the assault upon the Secoud Regiment of Maryland. It was their shame and Greene's misfortune, that this latter body failed to follow the brilliant example just given them by that of Gunby,-failed in the moment of trial, and, breaking at the first rude collision with the enemy, scattered themselves in confusion through the field. Gunby's regiment again interposed to check the progress of the British. Wheeling to the left upon the advancing guards of the enemy, they compelled a renewal of the contest Fierce and wild was the encounter. Gunby's horse was shot down; Howard succeeded to the command. At the moment of the greatest peril, when the strife was at its worst, Washington with his cavalry dashed through the British ranks, smiting terribly on every side. The charge of the bayonet, led by Howard, rendered the shock irresistible, and Stuart, the commander of the guards, being slain, they sought safety in Right, suffering dreadfully under the close pursuit of Howard and Washington, who gave them no breathing moment to reunite their broken ranks.

 

Cornwallis beheld the peril of the day. The field could be saved only by an expedient, at once bold and terrible. He did not sruple to use it. The ground was covered by his favorite but flying troops. The Americans were close upon their footsteps. All was about to be lost, when the stern but sagacious Briton commanded his artillery to open upon the
mingled masses, thongh every bullet told equally upon friend and foe. " It is destroying ourselves," remonstrated 0' Hara. Very true," was the reply of Cornwallis, " but it is necessary that we should do so, to arrest impending destruction." The expedient was successful; the pursuing Americans paused from the work of death; but one-half of the British battalion was cut to pieces by their own artillery.

 

As the British rallied, Greene seized the opportunity to recall his troops, and retire from a field at once of defeat and victory. The laurel had been within his grasp more than once during the conflict. The premature flight of the first line, before their fire had well told upon their assailants-the unhappy panic of the Second Regiment of Maryland-had lost him the day. But for these events the victory was beyond all question. To Cornwallis, who had narrowly escaped captivity in the couflict, it was sl1ch a victory as that of Pyrrhus. It left him undone. The fruits of the battle of Guilford inured to the Americans. The remaining force of Cornwallis showed a diminution of one-fourth of its strength, and its progress was encumbered by his numerous wounded. It soon became necessary that he should retreat from the barren field that he boasted to have won. Greene pressed upon his retreating footsteps. But the flight of Cornwallis was too precipitate and, after having contributed, by an eager pursuit, to quicken further his movements, Greene forbore the chase, and prepared to contemplate a new enemy and another field of action.-J. T. HEADLEY.

 

THE BATTLE OF EUTAW.
Hark! 'tis the voice of the mountain, And it speaks to our heart in its pride, As it tells of the bearing of heroes Who compassed its summits and died! How they gathered to strife as the eagles, When the foeman had claw bered the height, How, with scent keen and eager as beagles, They hunted him down for the fight. Hark! through the gorge of the valley, "Tis the bugle that tells of the foe ; Our own quickly sounds for the rally, And we snatch down the rifle and go. As the hunter who heal'"S of the panther, Each arms him and leaps to his steed, Rides forth through the desolate antre, With his knife and his rifie at need. From a thousand deep gorges they gather, From the cot lowly perched by the rill, The cabin half hid in the heather, 'Neath the crag where the eagle keeps still, Each lonely at first in his roaming,"Till the vale to the sight opens fair, And he sees the low cot through the gloaming, When his bugle gives tongue to the air. Thus a thousand brave hunters assemble.For the hunt of the insolent foe, And soon shall his myrmidons tremble 'Neath the shock of the thunderbolt's blow. Down the lone heights now wind they together, As the mountain-brooks fiow to the vale, And now, as they group on the heather, The keen scout delivers his tale: The British-the Tories are on us, And now is the moment to prove To the women whose virtues have won us, That our virtues are worthy their love! They have swept the vast valleys below us With fire, to the hills from the sea ; And here would they seek to overthrow us,In a realm which our eagle makes free! " No war-council suffered to trifle With the hours devote to the deed; Swift followed the grasp of the rifle, Swift followed the bound to the steed; And soon to the eyes of our yeomen, All panting with rage at the sight, Gleamed tbe long wavy tents of the foeman, As he lay in his camp on the height. Grim dashed tltey away as they bounded, The hunters to hem in the prey, And, with Deckard's long rilles surrounded, Then the British rose fast to the fray; And never with arms of more vigor Did their bayonets press through the strife, Where with every swift pull of the trigger, The sharp-shooters dashed out a life! 'Twas the meeting of eagles and lions; 'Twas the rushing of tempests and waves , Insolent triumph 'gainst patriot defiance, Born freemen 'gainst sycophant slaves ; Scotch Ferguson sounding his whistle, As from danger to danger he flies, Feels the moral that lies in Scotch thistle, With its .. touch me who dare" and he dies An hour, and the battle is over; The eagles nre rending their prey; The serpents seek flight into cover, But the terror still stands in the way: More dreadful the doom that on treason Avenges the wrong of the state; And the oak tree for llIany a season Bears fruit for the vultures of fate!

W. GILMORE SIMMS.

 

GEN.-NATHANIEL-GREENE-1