Nathaniel Greene: Strategist of the American Revolution
by Theodore Thayer

Greene was from a Quaker family in Rhode Island. His father owned an iron mill and was a leader in the local Friends Meeting House. Greene taught himself about law, military strategy, and the classics by reading. He felt inferior to college-educated men, who could read Latin and Greek, even though he knew as much about other things and he was extremely intelligent.

He was for the Revolution from the beginning and served in the army for the entire war. He was kicked out of the Society of Friends when he joined the RI militia. He disagreed with the Quakers on violence and nationalism, but he retained his belief in the ultimate importance of honesty, fidelity, hard work, and other moral principles. His knowledge of military strategy and his good judgment were recognized early, and he was promoted from private to general as soon as the war started. He became GWs most respected advisor and was assigned by GW to handle the most crucial matters. For a couple years he was quartermaster for the army as well as top advisor to GW on military strategy.

He believed in a strong central government for collecting taxes and unifying the states to conduct war. He had a low opinion of the Continental Congress and wanted them to give GW dictatorial powers over military decisions. He was put in charge of the army in the South, which at the time was on the verge of extinction. He brilliantly managed to keep the southern army going and to wear down the British and Tory loyalists in the southern campaign. He kept the long-range goal of victory in view all the time and did not worry about appearances or glory. He summed up his military approach by saying,

We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.
He was the best strategist on either side during the revolutionary war.

Year Read: 2001


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