<BGSOUND SRC="http://gmierka.tripod.com/music/Johnny_Has_Gone.wma">
U. S. Major General George Sears Greene
George Sears Greene

Photo: Major General George Sears Greene
New York MOLLUS Commandery I.D.# 05520

"Rhode Island's Own"   Part Two

A Biography By: G. A. Mierka

Welcome to "Rhode Island's Own, Part Two", the Biography of Major General George Sears Greene, USV, Page of the R.I. Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (RI MOLLUS) and R.I. Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War ELISHA DYER CAMP No.7.   You can also click to the RI MOLLUS War Papers (Personal Narratives) of R.I. Civil War Officers.   Here you can link to Camp No.7. and you can aslo click to the Rhode Island State Commandery of the MILITARY ORDER OF THE LOYAL LEGION OF THE UNITED STATES (RI MOLLUS).


Donning Of The Blue:
Commanding The 60th New York Volunteers

      Colonel George Greene led his regiment as Union forces pushed north along the Potomac River to secure rail communications from western Maryland to the Ohio Valley.   By June of 1861, the Battle Cry in Congress was "On To Richmond".   Confederates under Joseph Johnston had occupied Harper's Ferry and were blocking the vital rail link west at the base of the Shenandoah Valley.   As a diversion to his main invasion, Union General Irvin McDowell sent General Patterson (a veteran of the War of 1812) west to take Harper's Ferry, open the rail link and keep Johnston occupied while he would take the bulk of his army to attack Manassas Junction in the heart of Northern Virginia.   The 60th New York became part of Patterson's slow and methodic march to Harper's Ferry.   By the time Patterson reached the important railhead, Johnston had already given him the slip and marched to reinforce Beauregard to defeat McDowell at the First Battle of Bull Run.   After the disaster at First Bull Run, Greene was among several aging men in the United States military pulled from the field.   Feeling that he was sidelined to perform duties of lesser value to the war effort Greene pestered the War Department for a new assignment in the field.   General Winfield Scott understood the value of Greene and had him promoted to Brigadier General and sent to be assigned to new duty in the Shenandoah Valley under Major General Nathaniel P. Banks.

They Didn't Think Ole Pop Had It In Him
Major General Nathaniel Banks Major General Ivin McDowell Major General John Fremont
Photos Left to Right:
Major General Nathaniel P. Banks
Union Commander Army of the Shenandoah, MOLLUS ID#09472

Major General Ivin McDowell
Attempted to link with McClellan and left Washington open to an attack by Jackson

Major General John C. Fremont, Commander Union Army of Western Virginia.

      On the morning of May 25, 1862, Brigadier General George Sears Greene arrived at the headquarters of Union Army Valley Commander, Major General Nathaniel Banks at a house just out side of Winchester, Virginia, for assignment to duty.   Upon his arrival Banks was in morning conference with his staff.   As he quietly sat waiting for Banks to see him, Greene noticed the sounds of distant cannon fire and interrupted the meeting to ask if anyone else noticed it too.   At this point in time Greene was one of the oldest officers in the Union Army.   One of the younger staff members rather rudely informed Greene that since he was of a different military generation he might not be familiar with the sounds of a modern military encampment as the cannon fire was most certainly the morning gun ceremonies or reveille.   As the sounds increased Greene once again tried in vain to get the attention of Banks and his staff.   Still curious and concerned that things were not right, Greene walked out on to the front porch of the headquarters and took notice of Union troops moving near by, seemingly in flight.   Again he interrupted the meeting to inform everyone they might want to take a look outside.   When they finally and reluctantly did, all were horrified to see the entire Union Army under Banks in a headlong rout from the field.   It was Stonewall Jackson who had moved down the Valley with his heavily reinforced Rebel Army charging and annihilating everything in sight.   Amid the chaos, Greene without a real assignment, grabbed a horse and rode off to rally as many men as he could gather.   Greene was the only Union commander to hold the field in a delaying action that day.   His heroic efforts while fighting and maneuvering his makeshift brigade in the field against Jackson allowed the rest of the Union Army to escape total disaster.   For this Banks from then on regarded Greene as one of his most able field commanders and requested he be allowed to remain with his army and given a permanent assignment.   The new youth-oriented Union High Command under McClellan baulked at the idea, but the War Department agreed.

General Goerge L. Andrews Major General Christopher Auger
Images from left to right:
Brigadier General George Leonard Andrews
MOLLUS ID# 01061, Banks's Chief of Staff
Major General Christopher C. Auger, MOLLUS ID# 00167
He and Greene caused Jackson to expose his march north at Cedar Mountain
Both men thought "Ole Pop" Greene was too old for combat
After the Shenandoah Campaign both agreed Greene was the best in their army

Fighting The Rebs
Under General Pope

      After fighting in the Shenandoah Valley Greene still remained officially unassigned.   The 7 Days Battles had not gone well for General McClellan on the James River Peninsula in southern Virginia and the War Department had turned to another Union General to try to reverse the fortunes of Mr. Lincoln's Army.   Major General John Pope who had won a short string of minor victories in the west was brought east to take command of Union forces north of the Rappahannock River in Virginia.   He was an egotistical and bombastic officer who frequently insulted his subordinates.   Pope's task was to reorganize several scattered elements of the Union army and form a new army that could move south across the Rappahannock in an attempt to catch Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army in between his army and McClellan's army somewhere in central Virginia.   Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet well understood the threat and decided to move first.   They noticed that Pope had stretched his forces along the Rappahannock far too thin and decided on a bold plan to carve them up before McClellan (still a threat on the James Peninsula) made another move on Richmond.   Lee was also concerned that if the combined strength of the two armies of Pope and McClellan merged, his Rebel Army of Northern Virginia would be out numbered almost two to one.

      At first it seemed as if Pope might pull off his strategy to catch Lee in the vice between his army and McClellan.   Pope had recaptured most of the lower Shenandoah Valley and established a line along the Rappahannock River.   But by August 1862, Lee would prove himself to be the master strategist in this game.   The first part of Lee's plan was to move Stonewall Jackson's forces on a flanking march to turn Pope's extreme right flank.   The key to the movement in Jackson's mind was to brush past the 2nd Corps of Pope's Union forces under General Nathaniel P. Banks located near Cedar Mountain.   On June 25, 1862, Brigadier General G. S. Greene was summoned to the headquarters of Banks and given command of the 3rd Brigade of Williams Division.   Greene had proved himself to be a brave and well respected field commander during the time of Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign and Banks welcomed Greene by praising his value to Pope.   "Old Man Greene" now had a permanent field command.

Jackson Attacks Cedar Mtn.
Confederate General Stonewall Jackson's assult at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862

Frustrating Jackson, Again

      Risk-takers like Jackson and Lee were not about to be trapped between two large Union forces, so Lee sent Jackson with a force of about 28,000 Confederates west of the main body of Pope's army in a march to swing around behind Pope, using the Blue Ridge Mountains as a screen.   As Jackson moved north and west of Richmond he figured to use the commanding high ground position of Cedar Mountain as his jumping off point to begin his flanking movement around Pope.   On August 9, 1862, Greene and his men again proved to be a major obstacle in Jackson's way.   Jackson prevailed in the savage Battle of Cedar Mountain, however Lee's plan was revealed causing McClellan to abandon his position on the James River near Richmond and sail his army back up the Chesapeake Bay to defend Washington and join somewhere with Pope.   At Cedar Mountain, Greene and his men stubbornly held their ground forcing Jackson to make a real fight for the mountain, against Lee's orders.   Jackson's orders were not to engage the enemy until after he had gotten his entire Rebel Force behind Pope somewhere in northern Virginia.   During the battle Greene assumed command of General Augar's Division when he was wounded and taken from the field.   Later, Auger and Banks praised Greene saying that no officer did more than Greene, "who with his little command, so persistently held in check the enemy on our left".

      Lee calculated that Jackson's costly victory at Cedar Mountain did more harm than good because the premature show of force was certain to reveil his plan to draw the fighting away from Richmond.   Fortunately for Lee, Pope completely misunderstood Lee's strategy.   Had Pope read the warning signs of a large Rebel force attacking Cedar Mountain correctly he could have upset Lee's entire initiative.   But because of Pope's misreading of the situation, Jackson was allowed to proceed in to northern Virginia to the Manassas Junction vicinity, threatening Washington and thereby spring Lee's trap, which Pope blindly fell for.   Since Pope had been a thorn in McClellan's side, he did little to assist Pope in avoiding the coming Union disaster at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run on August 29 and 30, 1862.   After the humiliating Union loss, Pope was relieved of his command and sent to command the Indian Frontier Department of Minnesota.   Pope gave few praises of the officers under his command prior to leaving in disgrace.   However, he acknowledged General Greene in the action at Cedar Mountain saying Greene, "Behaved with distinguished gallantry".

Ole Pop Showed Em How To Fight Lee
Nathaniel Banks John Pope George Sears Greene, Sr.
Stonewall Jackson Robert E. 
Lee James Longstreet
Top photos from left to right:
Major General Nathaniel P. Banks; Major General John Pope; Brigadier General George Greene;

Bottom photos from left to right:  Confederate Commanders of the Army of Northern Virginia
Lieutenant General Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson—"Ole Blue Light"
Lieutenant General Robert E. Lee, Marsh Robert; and Lieutenant General James "Ole Pete" Longstreet


      After the second disaster at Bull Run McClellan was called upon to reorganize the Army of the Potomac and pursue Lee's forces who had crossed the Potomac River and invaded Maryland, north and west of Washington.   President Lincoln was pushing for a victory on northern soil so he could issue his Emancipation Proclamation.   His cabinet ministers urged that he not take such action on the heels of a second crushing military defeat at Bull Run, so Lincoln agreed to wait.

      Emancipation was not widely accepted even by Northerners.   The politics of the issue filtered into most ranks of the Union soldiers including Greene's command.   By this time Greene was looked upon like a father by his men.   Political discussions became rather spirited among his men especially after the bloody battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, which finally turned Lee's fortunes and caused the Rebels to retreat back south the following day.   At Antietam, Greene and his men were in constant combat for nearly four hours straight.   Union casualties were very heavy at Antietam and the politics of Emancipation put many Union soldiers in an ugly mood.   However, Lincoln saw Antietam as the victory he needed to add emancipation as a new and moral dimension to the war.   Even though the North would suffer another defeat at Fredercksburg on December 13, 1862, President Lincoln kept to his promise to issue the all-important proclamation on January 1, 1863.

      In the months between Antietam and Fredericksburg the great unrest amid the ranks of the Union Army worsened.   By this time Union morale was very low.   Some units were close to a mutiny over the issue.   Northerners who were against the action of the President argued that they had willingly gone to war against the Southern States to preserve the Union and defend America's Constitution, not to free the slaves.   Discussion about the issue reached a boiling point in Greene's Brigade and all men seemed to turn to their "Fatherly General Greene" for answers.   As a "Free Quaker" George Sears Greene, like his illustrious uncle, General Nathanael Greene (of the Revolution) was nonpolitical, but very much guided by the moral principles of the issue.   One day while in camp, he gathered his men and spoke about what the American Constitution really meant to everyone and that it was only right everyone in the country should enjoy the same freedoms guaranteed by its laws.   All his men respected the wisdom in the way he explained the necessity of the President's action.   From then on the arguments about the issue in Greene's Brigade seemed to dissapear.

      After the Battle of Fredericksburg the Army of the Potomac fell under the command of the hard fighting, hard drinking, "Fighting Joe" Hooker of Massachusetts.   However, all Hooker could do was to lead the Union Army in to another disaster at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863.   Greene's Brigade saw only minor action at Chancellosville. Hooker's failures during his campaign against Lee were great, causing Lincoln to say, "My God what will the country say".   However upon taking command Hooker reorganized the army into the army corps structure that actually continued to the end of the war.   Greene and his men were assigned to Major General Henry Slocum's 12th Corps.   Greene was unknowingly headed for his finest hour as a military leader and American Patriot.

God Almighty
What is Happening To Our Poor Country


Greene Hits Jackson
The Rebals Counter Greene Give Way
The Saddest Affects of Glory      Are The Aftermath of Battle

      Many a good men lost their lives on that terrible day at Antietam, the greatest one-day battle in American History.   The images in the photographs above are not just an artist’s rendering.   They are real people, Americans, friends and neighbors, our ancestors, the parents of our grandparents and great grandparents, blue and gray.

Old Man Greene
Brigadier General G.S. Greene
George Sears Greene, as Brigadier General.
Although the cause was just, he understood the cost would be enormous.

Rhode Island's Own BY RI MOLLUS

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