Nathanael Greene papers  1762-1852 (bulk 1780-1785)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Nathanael Greene papers (approximately 5100 items) contain Greene's military and personal correspondence during American Revolution, with the bulk of the collection documenting his command in the Southern Department (1780-1783). Included are Greene's communications with George Washington; the Continental Congress; the War Board; many state governors, such as Thomas Jefferson; and Continental Army officers and subordinates. Also present are various military documents, such as returns, memoranda, and expense reports, and personal letters with his wife Catherine and friend Charles Pettit.

The majority of the collection has been published in the Rhode Island Historical Society's The Papers of General Nathanael Greene (1976-2005). Much of the published material, however, is abstracted, and hundreds of the collection's letters and documents were left out of the volumes. Many of the unpublished items are documents (memoranda, returns, expense reports etc.) and letters to or from persons other than Greene, though occasionally Greene letters and drafts were omitted.

The Correspondence and Documents series (4720 items) contain Greene's incoming and outgoing communications, documenting his military leadership, decision-making, and activities during the American Revolution. A prolific letter writer, he communicated with governors of the southern states, merchants selling to the quartermaster's department, complaining civilians, British officers, and, during his later years, business associates. During the war, he reported regularly to George Washington, the president of Continental Congress and certain committee members, and the Board of War. Also important are the letters to and from his fellow and subordinate officers in the quartermaster's department, the militia of the southern states, and the regular southern army, such as Ichabod Burnet, Mordecai Gist, James Gunn, Isaac Huger, Henry Knox, Henry Lee, Francis Marion, Israel Putnam, Arthur St. Clair, and Otho Holland Williams, among many others. In addition to letters, the series contains orders, memoranda, intelligence reports, expense accounts, and official letters. Of note are two letters from General Rochambeau to Greene written in Washington's cipher with contemporary translations (February 26, and April 6, 1782).

Although the bulk of the collection concerns military affairs, personal and family letters are also present, including 96 letters between Greene and his wife Catherine (Caty) Greene, and 70 letters from Greene's friend Charles Pettit of Philadelphia. Catherine also received letters from army officers and other prominent government figures, as well as from admirers, family, and friends.

The Household and Personal Accounts series (232 items) contains receipts and bills for Greene and his family, covering 1779 to 1786.

The Letters and Memo Book of Nathanael and Catherine Greene series (119 items) contains two volumes of letters to and from Nathanael and Catherine Greene, and one memo book. Letters fall into four categories: letters from Nathanael to Catherine Greene, letters from Greene to various recipients, letters to Greene, and letters to Catherine Greene. These letters concern both personal and military matters and include letters to Catherine after Greene's death. In addition to the letters, the volumes are illustrated with engraving portraits of the following contributors: Nathanael Greene (9 portraits), Edward Carrington, Thomas Jefferson, Mordecai Gist, Henry Lee, Alexander Martin, Robert Morris, Otho H. Williams, Henry Knox, Tobias Lear, Samuel Livermore, Edward Rutledge, Littleton W. Tazewell, and Anthony Wayne (2 portraits). The memo book (22 pages) contains Greene's notes on personal accounts throughout 1776. Many entries record debts incurred by Greene while in military service. Also present is an index of the letters, with abstracts, created by George H. Richmond for an auction.

The Battle of Cowpens Letters series (17 items) consists of 15 letters and two engravings (January-June 1781). These comprise Greene's retained copies of letters to generals Daniel Morgan, Thomas Sumter, and Francis Marion concerning the American victory at the Battle of Cowpens (January 1781), and the failed siege of Fort Ninety-Six (May-June 1781). The engravings are of Greene in military dress and of a neoclassical memorial celebrating Greene with the subtitle "a patriot, a hero, a friend."

The First Overtures for the Cessation of Hostilities in the American War of Independence Made by the British to General Nathanael Greene, 1782 series (16 items) is a volume containing letters and documents to and from Greene concerning Britain's peace proposals in 1782. Included are letters from Greene to various British and American officers, with details on receiving peace documents and discussing terms of peace. Each item is transcribed. Also present is a facsimile of the volume with photostats of each item.

The Last Will and Testament series (4 pages) comprises a contemporary copy of Greene's will from October 11, 1785. The will contains Greene's signature and seal.

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