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Major General George Sears GREENE

Major General George Sears GREENE

Male 1801 - 1899  (97 years)

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  • Name George Sears GREENE 
    Prefix Major General 
    Born 6 May 1801  Apponaug, Kent, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    _UID 7EBB4DC9B91A41CDAE7EEAF5E699583A4C3D 
    Died 28 Jan 1899  Morristown, Morris, New Jersey Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I17084  My Genealogy
    Last Modified 24 Apr 2011 

    Father Caleb GREENE,   b. 17 Jun 1772, Apponaug, Kent, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Dec 1853  (Age 81 years) 
    Mother Sarah Robinson GREENE,   b. 12 Oct 1774, Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Jan 1838, Apponaug, Kent, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 63 years) 
    Married 8 Mar 1795 
    Family ID F6457  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Mary Elizabeth VINTON,   b. 16 Feb 1805, Providence, Providence, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Dec 1832, Fort Sullivan, Hancock, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 27 years) 
    Married 14 Jul 1828  Pomfret, Windham, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Mary Vinton GREENE,   b. 3 Jun 1829, Pomfret, Windham, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jun 1832, Fort Sullivan, Hancock, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 3 years)
     2. George Sears GREENE,   b. 17 Dec 1830, Apponaug, Kent, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Oct 1832, Fort Sullivan, Hancock, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 1 years)
     3. Francis Vinton GREENE,   b. 10 Aug 1832, Pomfret, Windham, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Feb 1833, Fort Sullivan, Hancock, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
    Last Modified 20 Feb 2017 
    Family ID F8231  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Martha Barrett DANA,   b. 27 Oct 1809, Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Dec 1883, Morristown, Morris, New Jersey Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years) 
    Married 21 Feb 1837  Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    +1. George Sears GREENE, Jr.,   b. 26 Nov 1837, Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    +2. Lieutenant Samuel Dana GREENE,   b. 11 Feb 1840, Cumberland, Allegany, Maryland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Dec 1884, Portsmouth, Rockingham, New Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 44 years)
    +3. Major Charles Thruston GREENE,   b. 5 Mar 1842, Brookside, Calvert, Maryland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    +4. Anna Mary GREENE,   b. 19 Feb 1845,   d. Yes, date unknown
     5. James John GREENE,   b. 4 Sep 1847,   d. 8 Dec 1847, Brunswick, Cumberland, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
    +6. Major General Francis Vinton GREENE,   b. 27 Jun 1850, Providence, Providence, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 May 1921, New York City, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years)
    Last Modified 20 Feb 2017 
    Family ID F8232  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 6 May 1801 - Apponaug, Kent, Rhode Island Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 14 Jul 1828 - Pomfret, Windham, Connecticut Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 21 Feb 1837 - Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 28 Jan 1899 - Morristown, Morris, New Jersey Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    George Sears Greene.jpg
    George Sears Greene.jpg
    Greene House.jpg
    Greene House.jpg

    Histories
    Greene Memorial House
    Greene Memorial House

  • Notes 
    • A civil engineer and a Union general during the American Civil War. He was part of the Greene family of Rhode Island, which had a distinguished military record for the United States. His greatest contribution during the war was his defense of the Union right flank at Culp's Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg. As a civilian, he was a founder of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Architects and was responsible for numerous railroads and aqueduct construction projects in the northeastern United States.

      Born in Apponaug, Rhode Island, one of nine children of Caleb and Sarah Robinson Wicks Greene. His family had roots in the founding of Rhode Island and in the American Revolutionary War, including General Nathanael Greene, George's second cousin. Caleb was a financially shrewd ship owner and merchant, but the Embargo Act of 1807, which prohibited U.S. vessels from carrying goods to other countries, and the War of 1812 left his family in financial difficulties. Young George attended Wrentham Academy and then a Latin grammar school in Providence and hoped to attend Brown University there, but his impoverished father could not afford it, so he moved to New York City and found work in a dry goods store on Pearl Street.

      In the New York store, Greene met major Sylvanus Thayer, superintendent of the United States Military Academy, who recommended him to the Secretary of War for appointment to the academy. Greene entered West Point at age 18 and graduated second of 35 cadets in the class of 1823. (Classmates of Greene's included future Union Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas, Joseph K. Mansfield, David Hunter, Dennis Hart Mahan, and Albert Sidney Johnston.) Top graduates of the academy generally chose the Engineers as their branch, but Greene decided on the artillery and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery regiment. However, due to his excellent academic performance, he stayed at the academy until 1827 as an assistant professor of mathematics and as a principal assistant professor of engineering. One of the students he taught during this period was Cadet Robert E. Lee.

      In the summer of 1828 Greene married Mary Elizabeth Vinton, sister of his best friend at West Point, David Vinton. Elizabeth gave birth to three children over the next four years: Mary Vinton, George Sears, and Francis Vinton Greene. While assigned to Fort Sullivan in Maine in 1833, tragedy struck Greene's family: Elizabeth and all three of their children died within seven months, probably from tuberculosis. To ease the pain on his mind and to escape the isolation and loneliness of peacetime Army garrison duty, he immersed himself in study of both the law and medicine, coming close to professional certification in both by the time he resigned his commission in 1836 to become a civil engineer.

      Greene built railroads in six states and designed municipal sewage and water systems for Washington, D.C., Detroit, and several other cities. In New York City, he designed the Croton Aqueduct reservoir in Central Park and the enlarged High Bridge over the Harlem River. He was one of twelve founders in New York City of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Architects. While on a trip to Maine for railroad surveying, he met Martha Barrett Dana, daughter of Samuel Dana, a prominent Massachusetts politician. They were married in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on February 21, 1837. They had six children together, including four sons who volunteered for the Union during the Civil War, one daughter, and one son who died in infancy.

      The Battle of Gettysburg was the highlight of Greene's military career. On July 2, 1863, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade shifted almost the entire XII Corps from the Union right to strengthen the left flank, which was under heavy attack. Greene's lone brigade of 1,350 New Yorkers (five regiments) was left to defend a one-half-mile line on Culp's Hill when an entire Confederate division attacked. Fortunately, Greene had previously demonstrated good sense (as befits a civil engineer) by insisting that his troops construct strong field fortifications, despite a lack of interest in doing so from his division commander, Geary, and corps commander, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum. In Greene's finest moment of the war, his preparations proved decisive and his brigade held off multiple attacks for hours. He was active the entire engagement rallying his men to defend their positions in the darkness. Brig. Gen. Alpheus Williams, acting corps commander on July 2, commended Greene for his "skill and judgment" in this defense, especially in his using the "advantages" of his position. Late at night, the rest of the XII Corps returned to Culp's Hill. The fighting resumed the next morning and raged for over seven hours, but the Union troops held Culp's Hill. They regained some of the lost ground and thwarted renewed Confederate attacks. The battle for Culp's Hill included the two oldest generals in each army, Greene at 62 and Brig. Gen. William "Extra Billy" Smith at 65.

      The desperate fighting on the Union right flank was as important as the more famous defense of the Union left flank on July 2, by Col. Strong Vincent's brigade on Little Round Top. In fact, given that the Union line was only 400 yards from the vital Union supply line on the Baltimore Pike, it can be argued that it was more important. However, Greene's contribution to this critical battle have never been widely heralded, principally because of a dispute between Meade and Slocum over the filing of their official reports. But a member of Greene's brigade wrote:

      Had the breastworks not been built, and had there only been the thin line of our unprotected brigade, that line must have been swept away like leaves before the wind, by the oncoming of so heavy a mass of troops, and the [Baltimore] pike would have been reached by the enemy.