UNCLE JACOB'S CIVIL WAR
An Attempt to Comprehend the Military Service of Jacob
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(NOTE: The author of this otherwise unpublished work, Charles Howard, died November 3rd, 1998, in Hamilton, Virginia.)
Jacob Lyman Greene was my great granduncle, one of three brothers to my great grandfather George Frye Greene, father of Alice Blanchard Rideout Greene who married my grandfather Charles Henry Howard.
Uncle Jacob was born in North Waterford, Maine, August 9, 1837, the second surviving son of the family of Captain Jacob Holt and Sarah Walker Frye Greene.
Uncle Jacob's older brother was William Warren who became a noted surgeon of his day and had the curious distinction of being buried at sea in 1881 upon his sudden death aboard the Cunarder Parthia on a return voyage from a professional gathering in Europe. Three years after Jacob came my great grandfather George Frye who remained on the family farm until his untimely death from a farming accident in 1883. It was from him that my father, Henry George Howard, received his middle name. Three years after George came Samuel, born deaf/mute, who was to achieve notice in Canada as a teacher of the deaf. His older sister Sarah, the second surviving child of the family, born in 1835 became deaf/mute as the result of a childhood illness.
Captain Jacob Holt Greene's military title was largely honorary, stemming from his being an officer in the town militia, an important social organization of the day. In daily life, he was a farmer and cabinet maker, having learned the latter trade from a fellow townsman, Deacon William Warren.
If Captain Greene's military career was largely honorific, this was not so of his father, an officer in the American Revolution. Lieutenant Thomas Greene of Rowley, Massachusetts, was said to have led his regiment to victory at the Battle of Bemis Heights (Saratoga) when his captain "showed white feather". He led his company in advance of the Patriot line to become the first to enter the British entrenchments.
Lieutenant Thomas Greene, with his wife and eight children, left the family farm in Rowley in 1788, embarking on a schooner from Newburyport to Portland in the then District of Maine, narrowly escaping shipwreck during the voyage, and then journeying overland through the wilderness via Indian trails to the present day site of North Waterford. With horse, cow, dog, and considerable furniture, the family made its way in the middle of winter "over the ponds" that stretch from Sebago Lake on up through Bridgton and Harrison, some fifty miles above Portland, to become among the first settlers of their town.
Sarah Walker Frye, the wife of Captain Jacob and therefore Uncle Jacob's mother, was a granddaughter of General Joseph Frye of Fryeburg, Maine, original grantee and pioneer settler of that town on the Saco River. Originally of Andover, Massachusetts, Joseph Frye was at the siege of Louisburg, and participated at the surrender upon Montcalm's capture of Fort William Henry on Lake George in 1757, in the French and Indian War. He was honored with the rank of Major General in the American Revolution and served for a time at Cambridge under General George Washington. From him my great-grandfather Greene received his middle name.
Thus it was not without precedent that Uncle Jacob should have embarked upon a military career of his own when his country was torn apart by civil war.
Having gone to the University of Michigan to study law, Uncle Jacob ultimately became a friend of the youthful George Armstrong Custer and the Boy General chose him to be his assistant adjutant general, or AAG, today's equivalent of chief of staff, following the Battle of Gettysburg, when the new commander finally had time to collect a staff.
This gave Uncle Jacob a higher profile than the two cousins and another great grand uncle that I count among my other Civil War ancestors.
This, plus the circumstance of my own arrival in the Washington, DC, area in January of 1986, placing me within reach of all of Uncle Jacob's battlefields and campgrounds, conspired to encourage this study of Uncle Jacob's Civil War.
It is not a lengthy account because there is not much material available; no diaries, no letters. But there is more evidence than I expected to find, and it has its moments of interest. I have added a little background to the story as it goes along in order to provide setting and context, but have tried to avoid writing anything close to another history of the Civil War. That has been done - is still being done - by many who are far more competent than I.
Uncle Jacob's Civil War career was brief, interrupted by a year and a half of illness and recovery and nearly a year as a Confederate prisoner, but its brevity was made up for in excitement.
Upon disbandment of the volunteer service in 1866, Uncle Jacob's older brother, Dr. William Warren, persuaded him to leave the military and seek his fortune in the insurance business, which he did with great success, becoming president of Connecticut Mutual Insurance Company twelve years later, in 1878, a position he held until his death March 29, 1905 at age 68.
Uncle Jacob performed his duties as did so many others, but history does not show that he changed the course of a battle or even a skirmish. Nonetheless, he is family and family that I treasure my closeness to. That is reason enough for me to be keenly interested in his story.
If you are curious too, I'll tell you what I know....
GREENE, JACOB L., Lapeer. First Lt. 7th Inf'y, Aug. 7, 1861. Resigned Jan. 30, 1862, and honorably discharged.
-Robertson, Michigan In the War, p. 839
Jacob Lyman Greene, recently graduated from the University of Michigan law school, enlisted in Company G of the 7th Michigan Infantry as a private in June of 1861, and was commissioned 1st lieutenant the following August 7th. His commission, signed by Governor Blair of Michigan, is still extant.
The 7th Michigan was mustered on August 22, 1861, and left for Washington, DC, via the Fort Wayne School of Instruction on September 5.
G Company was from Lapeer, Michigan, and was known as the Lapeer Guard. Its officers, all from Lapeer, were James H. Turrill, captain; Jacob L. Greene, first lieutenant; and Charles M. Walker, second lieutenant. Walker, a young lawyer, was also regiment quartermaster. Turrill would be killed at the Battle of Antietam.
In battle formation, Uncle Jacob, as one of three company officers, would act as one of the file closers, his position of march being two paces behind the rear rank opposite the center of the fourth section of the company.
The regiment was attached through March of 1862, to Brig. General Frederick W. Lander's brigade of Stone's Division, Army of the Potomac, commanded by the hapless Charles P. Stone, who would be arrested and imprisoned for 189 days (but never charged) in the fallout from the Balls Bluff disaster.
Stone's Division was called a Corps of Observation and was tasked with guarding the Potomac between Point of Rocks and Edwards Ferry, five miles below the up-river end of Harrison's Island.
From Edwards Ferry to Washington a full division commanded by Major General Nathaniel P. Banks guarded the river. A regiment under Col. John W. Geary - not under Stone's command - guarded the shore from Point of Rocks upriver to Harper's Ferry.
The 7th Michigan was assigned to performance of guard duty along the upper Potomac near Edwards Ferry beginning October 22, and moved downriver to Muddy Branch, located about a third of a mile above Lock No. 22 on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and 20 miles from Washington, on December 4, 1861.
Edwards Ferry is directly opposite the mouth of Goose Creek over on the Virginia side of the river, at Lock No. 25 on the C & O Canal, four and a half miles below Poolesville, Maryland.
The tragic attack at Balls Bluff took place on October 21, 1861. The 7th Michigan was part of a Union force numbering about 1600 men located on the Virginia side of the Potomac opposite Edwards Ferry during and after the attack and was peripherally involved in the operation.
Balls Bluff was notable for the death of the leader of the ill-conceived attack, Col. Edward D. Baker, a leading United States congressman and close friend of Abraham Lincoln, and the wounding, for the first time, of young Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. It took place on a high bluff at the Virginia side of the Potomac, opposite the upper end of Harrison's Island. Confederate troops surrounded Baker's men on all sides and literally forced them over the edge of the cliff into the river. Blue uniformed bodies floated down river past the nation's capitol for several days afterward. The Union objective had been to force the Confederates out of Leesburg.
What would otherwise have been a forgotten skirmish in terms of the scale of the operation, became a major disaster significant for the founding of the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, a group of meddling radicals who would plague President Lincoln and the nation for the duration of the conflict.
At one o'clock in the afternoon on Sunday, October 20, the day before the Ball's Bluff attack, General Stone proceeded to Edwards Ferry with Brig. Gen. Willis A. Gorman's brigade, the 7th Michigan, two troops of cavalry, and some artillery and threw a few shells across the river, but did no damage. Sixteen hundred men were sent across the river at Edwards Ferry, and remained there until after the attack. Col. Nathan "Shanks" Evans, CSA, on the Virginia side of the river, was not impressed.
The 7th Michigan were given entrenching tools and told to dig. They were, fortunately, not called upon to fight, for they were armed with the so-called "Belgian rifle", a converted flintlock so unreliable as to prove more of a threat to the rifleman than to the enemy.
On the 22nd Evans skirmished a bit with Gorman's men, then withdrew up Goose Creek to Carter's Mill and dug in. Gorman's brigade was ordered to withdraw.
And thus ended military activity for the year in this sector of the Potomac.
Jacob Greene was honorably discharged from the Michigan Volunteers on January 28, 1862, for what became a long and debilitating illness.
GREENE, JACOB L., Monroe. Capt., 6th Cav., July 14, 1863. Capt. and Ass't Adjt. Gen. U. S. Vol's, Sept. 21, 1863. Maj., July 11, 1865. Bvt. Lt. Col. U. S. Vol's, Mar. 13, 1865, "for distinguished gallantry at the battle of Trevillian Station, Va., and meritorious service during the war." Mustered out Mar. 20, 1866, and honorably discharged.
-Roberston, Michigan In the War, p. 839
It is highly improbable that in his year and a half absence from military service Jacob Greene had time to become a failure in the insurance business as Monaghan records in his Custer biography.
Uncle Jacob was not, in fact, enticed into the insurance business until his brother, Dr. William Warren Greene, then in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, encouraged him to go to Pittsfield and leave the army for that field of endeavor in 1866.
There is just a suggestion of evidence among the documents from Jacob Greene's Connecticut Mutual trunk that he may have tried his hand at law practice during his convalescence in Monroe.
It is interesting to note that Custer was at home in Monroe, Michigan, with illness through the winter of 1861-62.
Perhaps it was at this time that Custer and Uncle Jacob became friends.
In late June of 1863, the Army of the Potomac was pursuing Lee's Army of Northern Virginia toward Pennsylvania.
Captain Custer was serving in the 5th U. S. Cavalry when, on the rainy evening of June 26, he returned to General Alfred Pleasanton's headquarters on the northeast side of Frederick, Maryland, after placing sentinels, to find himself promoted to brigadier general. He was placed in command of the "Michigan Brigade" of Judson Kilpatrick's 3rd Cavalry Division at the tender age of 23.
The house where this took place still stands, on the east side of U. S. Highway 15 heading towards Gettysburg.
Two days later General George Gordon Meade replaced Joseph Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac, just three days before the Battle of Gettysburg would start.
Thus it was that Custer had little chance to put together his staff until after the battle.
Return to the War
The first documented evidence of Jacob Greene's return to the field comes from Custer himself, in a letter he wrote from Hartwood Church, "Headquarters, Michigan Brigade", on August 13th, 1863, to Annette Humphrey, Captain Greene's fiancee (during the time when Judge Bacon had forbidden direct correspondence between Custer and Libbie):
My staff are all able and efficient officers, and also refined and companionable gentlemen. Captain Greene is doing admirably. I expected him to make a good Adjutant-General, but he succeeds beyond expectation. I tried him the other day, took him where bullets flew thick and fast. I watched him closely. He never faltered, was as calm and collected as if sitting at his dinner.
August of 1863 was a time of intense heat that particular summer, harder perhaps on horses than on men.
The tiny settlement of Hartwood Church lies north of the Rappahannock River along and just off the north side of today's U. S. Highway 15, about six miles west of Interstate 95, northwest of Fredericksburg along the road to Warrenton. The small red brick Presbyterian church from which the community took its name still stands and is still in use.
The triangle of countryside between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan extending back to the base of the Blue Ridge became something of a no-man's land in the summer and fall of 1863. Whoever held a position on this ground was in danger because his back was to a river.
Action of and against Lee's Army of Northern Virginia concentrated generally in this area following Gettysburg and continued to the end of the year's fighting which culminated in Meade's Mine Run campaign in late November.
In a series of skirmishes prior to Lee's Bristoe Campaign, Custer was wounded on September 13 battling Stuart's cavalry at Greenwood Hill near Culpeper, and absent from the field until October 8th, a Thursday. Jacob Greene apparently went on extended leave at this time, returning two or three weeks after Custer returned to his brigade.
Of his own return to the field, Custer writes to Nettie Humphrey on October 12, from Morrisville, Virginia, "Headquarters, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division Cavalry Corps", as follows: (Morrisville is on the road to Warrenton midway between Hartwood Church and Bealeton Station on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad.)
I was not with my Brigade 48 hours before we were engaged with the enemy. On Saturday I met their entire cavalry, at James City, with my entire command. We were quite successful, but had to fall back, next morning, in obedience to orders. Our entire army was falling back to the north side of the Rappahannock, the rebel cavalry trying to outflank us. Our cavalry had to cover the movement. Yesterday we passed through the greatest cavalry battle ever witnessed on this continent. The entire force of rebel cavalry under General Stuart attacked two Divisions - Buford's and Kilpatrick's - of ours, commanded by Pleasanton in person.
Oh, could you but have seen some of the charges that were made! While thinking of them I cannot help but exclaim "Glorious War!"
The rebels greatly outnumbered us and had us completely surrounded. Their strongest force was placed directly between us and the ford we intended to cross. We had either to cut our way out or surrender - which we had no intention of doing. I was first to discover our situation, and so informed General Pleasanton that something had to be done and quickly. I volunteered to take my brigade and cut an opening to the River. He assented: "Do your best!" I then formed the 1st and 5th Michigan in two columns, ordered them, "Draw sabres!" then spoke a few words to my command...told the band to strike up "Yankee Doodle." I told them the situation frankly, of the great responsibility resting on them, and how confident I was that they would respond nobly to the trust reposed in them.
You should have heard the cheers they sent up.
I gave the command "Forward!" And I never expect to see a prettier sight. I frequently turned in my saddle to see the glittering sabres advance in the sunlight. I was riding in front, Captain Greene's sabre in my hand. Captain Judson and Lts. Colensis and Granger by my side, and close behind me my new battle-flag so soon to receive its baptism in blood. Then came my orderlies, and behind them the regiments.
After advancing a short distance I gave the word "Charge!" - and away we went, whooping and yelling like so many demons.
My cap was so small I could not wear it, and was compelled to ride without it. This wa about 2 pm. From then till after dark it was charge upon charge. Sometimes entire Divisions would charge.
For a long time success seemed uncertain, but we finally opened a way to the river and began crossing, the rebels pressing, until ten at night.
I had two horses shot under me within fifteen minutes.
Lt. Granger's horse was shot, and his bridle cut close to his wrist. You may judge how desperate our position when I tell you that General Pleasanton drew his sword and advanced with the charging columns. After the battle, speaking to my men, he said, "Boys, I saw your flag far in advance among the rebels." My color bearer had his horse shot.
Heavy cannonading is going on to my right. A general engagement is expected to-morrow or in a few days. Give my love to Libbie, and tell her I thought of her so often during the battle yesterday.
Once again Lee crossed the Rappahannock and moved toward Bristoe Station and Manassas. In order to protect himself from being outflanked, Meade was forced to retreat with his army back to Centreville and Manassas.
On the 19th of October, having advanced from camp on the Bull Run battlefield, Custer's brigade is involved in a very close affair at Bucklands Ford, where the Warrenton Pike, today's U. S. Highway 29, crosses Broad Run between Gainesville and New Baltimore. The next day Custer writes Nettie Humphrey from Gainesville as follows:
Under very distressing circumstances I turn to you and her for consolation. It is for others that I feel. Yesterday, October 19th, was the most disastrous this Division ever passed through. We moved at daylight to attack the enemy. I had the advance and drove the rebels three miles. Then their entire cavalry under Generals Stuart and Fitzhugh Lee made a stand and prepared to charge my advance. They had the advantage in position. As soon as I discovered their immense superiority I sent a staff officer to Genl. Kilpatrick asking for assistance, but failed to get it, altho the other brigade was 3 or 4 miles in the rear, doing nothing. I then took my battery and 4 regiments, and succeeded in turning the enemy's flank so effectively as to drive him from his position. I followed for about a mile, then placed my command in position to await the arrival of the remainder of the command. Genl. Kilpatrick soon rode up and complimented me: "Well done, Custer. You have driven them from a very strong position!" (I was aware of that, myself.) All wd have been well if Genl. K had been content to let well enough alone. My scouts had informed me of heavy columns of infantry moving around on both my flanks, evidently intending to cut me off. I informed Genl. K. of this and advised him to guard against it, but he did not believe me, and ordered me to halt until the last Brigade passed me, then to follow it, on the road to Warrenton. Scarcely had the first brigade passed when the enemy made a vigorous attack from the direction I had forseen, bringing both infantry and artillery against me, at the same time throwing a column between the first Brigade and mine, thus cutting me off from the main body. I held my ground until the last moment. The rebel infantry had charged my battery, nearly capturing the guns. Nothing but to retreat, which I did in good order. Now comes my trouble. Genl. K. without my knowledge, had detached Major Clark and one battalion of the 5th Michigan to skirmish in the woods. Had he given the order, as he should have done, through me, we should not now have to regret the loss of the Major and his entire battalion. Aside from this my Brigade has suffered but little in loss of men. One Genl. K's staff officers ordered my Headquarters wagons to follow the other brigade, altho I had ordered them to go to the rear. As a consequence my wagons were captured along with those of Genl. K. and those of the 1st Brigade. Among other things Captain Greene's desk with his reports and my official reports of Gettysburg and other engagements & monthly and tri-monthly reports, &c. &c.So that yesterday was not a gala day for me. My consolation is that I was not responsible, but I cannot but regret the loss of so many brave men...all the more painful that it was not necessary.
This action, to be known henceforth as "The Buckland Races", was the final clash of Lee's post-Gettysburg Bristoe Campaign, a campaign which almost became 3rd Manassas. One of Lee's divisions makes an uncoordinated attack on Union forces at Bristoe Station and is bested, forcing Lee to retire across the Rapidan. Military activity begins to wind down for the season much to the consternation of Congress and President Lincoln.
Winter Camp 1863-64
Custer records Captain Greene's return vividly in a letter to Nettie Humphrey written from camp at Bristoe Station, the next hamlet on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad below Manassas Junction:
On Sunday night in front of the fire Captain Judson exclaimed, "That's Captain Greene's voice and Jim Chistiancy's laugh!" And he bade the sentry challenge them:
"Who goes there?"
"Advance and give the countersign."
"Haven't got it. I want to see General Custer!"
All the staff started up to welcome back these brothers-in-arms. Captain Greene and I spread coats on the ground beside the fire, and talked till the servants were astir at five, preparing breakfast. Of course we did not mention any special person in Monroe. Oh, no. A certain Brigadier enquired about the price of corn, the crops, the weather, &c.
It is obvious from this that Jacob Greene spent part if not all of his absence in Monroe, Michigan, probably on extended leave. Just when he returned is a bit difficult to determine. Custer notes his return as "Sunday night", but his letter is dated November 1, 1863, which itself is Sunday. So Captain Greene either returned on the previous Sunday, October 25th, or Custer's letter is dated incorrectly in Merington and Greene returned on November 1st. I tend to favor the latter.
Young Jim Christiancy, who returns with Jacob Greene, is the wayward son of a highly respected Monroe attorney, former State senator, and judge, Isaac P. Christiancy. The elder Christiancy had asked Custer to take the boy onto his staff in the hope that service life would straighten him out. By early February of 1865, the distraught father has given up on the boy and writes Custer a touching letter voicing his despair which is reprinted in Lawrence Foster's little booklet Custer Slept Here.
Pressure from the Government forces General Meade to stage the fruitless Mine Run campaign in late November - early December. Meade sought to manuever Lee out of his position on the Rapidan by moving down river to out flank Lee's army, but Lee, observing Meade's movements from Clark Mountain, is too wily and wins the race downstream. Custer's brigade screens the upper fords on the Rapidan River, Raccoon Ford, Jacob's Ford, and Germanna Ford, then goes into winter camp at Stevensburg.
The camp is spread out along the south side of the Germanna Road, today's Virginia Highway 3, east of Culpeper beyond Pony Mountain, also known as Slaughter Mountain for the farmer who lived on its slope, and generally in front of Stony Mountain. Custer set up headquarters in a farmhouse at Stevensburg that exists to this day, set well back from the north side of Highway 3 just a short distance east of the U. S. Highway 29-15 bypass around Culpeper, a structure known today as the Barbour house. Custer named his encampment "Camp Libbie".
Custer and his staff were photographed on the front porch of this house in February of 1864. Jacob Greene is prominent on the front steps. The picture was probably taken before Custer's marriage to Libbie as she does not appear in the picture.
Their marriage took place in the First Presbyterian Church at Monroe, Michigan, on February 9th. Libbie's schoolmaster, the Rev. Boyd performed the ceremony. Uncle Jacob was Custer's Best Man. Nettie was a bride's maid. The Custers' honeymoon included an audience with President Lincoln.
The Albemarle County Raid
The newly wed Custer returned from Michigan to lead a diversionary raid to Charlottesville in late February and early March intended to draw attention away from the controversial Kilpatrick/Dahlgren raid to Richmond in which young Ulric Dahlgren lost his life with mysterious orders calling for the assassination of President Davis and his Confederate cabinet supposedly found on his body.
Custer biographer Monaghan notes Custer's aide de camp George Yates, "Adjutant Greene with his flute" and artist Al Waud among those marching with Custer at the head of the column on the Albemarle County raid.
The men set out from Stevensburg at 2 o'clock in the afternoon on February 28th. The weather remains cold and wet through most of the raid. There are skirmishes at Stanardsville and at Burton's Ford. Since Captain Greene is known to have participated in this raid, it may be of interest to read Custer's description. Therefore his official reports submitted to Capt. E. B. Parsons, Acting Assistant Adjutant General, Cavalry Corps, are included herewith:
I have just arrived at this point with my entire command. I will send a full report of my operations. My command is now being fed. I will probably return to Culpeper to-night. My horses are very much worn. I found Charlottesville and the bridge over the Rivanna guarded by four batteries of artillery, two brigades of cavalry, and a very large force of infantry. This will be sufficient reason for my not having destroyed the railroad bridge, but I destroyed the fine frame bridge over that stream, within two miles of the railroad; captured and destroyed a large camp of the enemy, after driving them from it; captured six caissons and forges; burnt three flouring mills filled with grain; captured 1 standard bearing the Virginia State arms; captured about 500 horses, 2 Government wagons, one loaded with bacon, and on my return was cut off by a large force of cavalry under Generals Stuart and Wickham. My command cut its way through without losing a man, except for a few wounded. The enemy had several killed, a large number wounded, and we captured over 50 prisoners. Since yesterday morning I have marched 100 miles.
Headquarters Third division, Cavalry Corps.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the late expedition into Albemarle:
I left Pony Mountain with my command at 2 p. m. Sunday, the 28th ultimo, and marched to the vicinity of Madison Court-House, where I arrived about 6 p. m., and bivouacked until 2 a. m. the following day, at which hour I marched on the road leading to Stanardsville. A small picket of the enemy was driven in a few miles north of Banks' Ford on the Rapidan. Nothing further was seen of the enemy until we arrived at Stanardsville, where a mounted force of about 20 men was encountered. After the exchange of a few shots they fled in the direction of Orange Court-House. From Stanardsville I took the road leading to Charlottesville. From prisoners picked up along the route I learned that Fitzhugh Lee's division of cavalry was encamped in the vicinity of Charlottesville, having been sent there to obtain forage and recruit his command. The pickets of the enemy were met about 6 miles from Charlottesville, and, when forced to retire, fell back in the direction of that place. We succeeded in driving the enemy before us until we reached a point about 2 miles beyond the Rivanna River, and within 3 miles of Charlottesville. Here I discovered a superior force of the enemy's cavalry, supported by four batteries of artillery, in position, and a very heavy force of infantry (which I have since learned was Early's division). To satisfy myself concerning the enemy's strength and position I ordered captain Ash, of the Fifth U. S. Cavalry, with two squadrons of his regiment, to charge the enemy's right flank. Captain Ash drove the enemy back very gallantly, and succeeded in capturing 6 caissons filled with ammunition, 2 forges and harness complete, besides destroying the camp of the enemy. Learning the vast superiority of the numbers of the enemy, compared with my own, and the strength of his position, I determined to withdraw my command, which I did deliberately and in good order. After recrossing the Rivanna I burned the bridge over that stream; I also burned a large flour mill at that point, as well as two other mills at different points on my route. I retired on the road leading to Stanardsville. When 16 miles from Charlottesville I fed my command and bivouacked until daylight. Through a misunderstanding 500 men of my command, under Colonel Stedman, Sixth Ohio Cavalry, marched all night and recrossed the Rapidan before daylight, thus reducing my command to 1,000 cavalry and one section of artillery.
At daylight on the morning of the 1st I resumed my march on the road to Stanardsville, at which point a small picket of the enemy was posted. Here I destroyed a quantity of Government stores, consisting of bags, caps, saddles, leather, muskets, flour, and whiskey. Taking the road from Stanardsville to Madison, I continued my march without interruption until a point was reached at which the road branched in two directions, one branch leading to Burton's Ford on the Rapidan, the other to Banks' Ford. Here a brigade of rebel cavalry was drawn up, under command of Generals Stuart and Wickham. My advance guard, composed of one squadron of the Fifth U. S. Cavalry, under Captain Leib, was charged by the First and Fifth Virginia Cavalry, led by Stuart in person. At first the charge, being unexpected, was partially successful, and forced the advance guard back upon the main body, but the entire regiment (Fifth U. S. Cavalry), being sent forward under Captain Arnold, gallantly repelled the charge of the enemy and drove them back in great disorder, capturing over 20 prisoners and recapturing those of our own men who had been taken in the first charge by the enemy. Without giving the enemy time to rally his scattered forces, I hurried forward my entire command, halting only long enough to allow Lieutenant Porter to place his guns in position and fire a few rounds after the retreating enemy. A portion of the enemy took the road to Banks' Ford, while the main body took the road leading to Burton's Ford. I pursued this latter force until he was driven across the South River, at a point near to Burton's Ford, on the Rapidan. A portion of my command crossed the South River and drove the enemy to the Rapidan. Here I placed my guns in position, and made other demonstrations as if determined to cross at Burton's Ford. The enemy, mistaking my real intentions, concentrated all his forces at this ford, for this purpose withdrawing them entirely from Banks' and the upper fords. Before he could detect my movement I faced my command about and moved rapidly to the road leading to Banks' Ford, at which point I crossed the river without molestation. The enemy discovered the change in my movements, but too late to profit thereby. A force of 500 cavalry, which had been hurried up from Burton's Ford to intercept us, only arrived in time to see my rear guard safely across the river.
My command returned to its camp without having suffered the loss of a man. While on this expedition it marched upwards of 150 miles, destroyed the bridge over the Rivanna River, burned 3 large forges, with harness complete; captured 1 standard bearing the arms of Virginia, over 50 prisoners, and about 500 horses, besides bringing away over 100 contrabands. A large camp of the enemy was also captured and destroyed near Charlottesville.
The conduct of the officers and men of my command was all that I could desire.
Official confirmation of Jacob Greene's commission as Assistant Adjutant General with the rank of Captain of Volunteers was issued by certification signed by Lincoln and Stanton dated March 8, 1864. The 16" x 19" certificate was found in Greene's Connecticut Mutual trunk.
Enter U. S. Grant: The Overland Campaign
(Charles included no narrative for this section, only some photocopied period photos and sketches; source unknown.)
The Yellow Tavern Raid
Following prolonged action at Todd's Tavern while the battle of the Wilderness raged nearby to the northwest, General Phil Sheridan, commanding Meade's cavalry, believed his force had been misused at that time and on the advance to Spotsylvania Court House, and sought General Grant's authority to make a raid toward Richmond to "whip [General JEB] Stuart."
Permission was given and a large force, including Custer's brigade, set out from Spotsylvania, moving southeast to the Fredericksburg - Richmond Telegraph Road, then down toward Richmond, in an effort to draw JEB Stuart's cavalry into battle.
Sheridan's force consisted of about 10,000 mounted men and 6 batteries of horse artillery. General Wesley Merritt's 1st Division was in the lead, James H. Wilson's division followed that, and David McMurtry Gregg's division brought up the rear. The marching column at a slow walk, stretched out over 13 miles.
At Jerrold's Mill, where the road crossed the Ta River, Sheridan moved southwest toward Chilesburg and the North Anna River.
At Beaver Dam Station on the Virginia Central Railroad, Custer's brigade, in the lead, liberated 378 Union prisoners on their way to Richmond and captured two wagon supply trains. The station and all its outbuildings, plus all the supplies that could not be carried away, were torched.
The next morning before leaving, Sheridan's entire cavalry division set to work destroying ten miles of railroad.
Then the force marched southeast through Negro Foot to Mountain Road and Ground Squirrel Bridge over the South Anna River.
Stuart hurried east to Hanover Junction, then south on the Telegraph Road to get between the Union troopers and Richmond.
About 10:00 am on May 11th, Stuart reached Yellow Tavern with horses and men exhausted. Yellow Tavern was 2 miles north of the outer Richmond defense line, near the point where the Mountain Road on which Sheridan advanced joined the Telegraph Road, and became the Brook Turnpike leading into Richmond.
Stuart, already outnumbered 3 to 1, decided on a flank attack, fighting his men dismounted, thereby depleting his ranks another 25%, every fourth man becoming a horseholder for the men fighting dismounted. Stuart, too tired to think well, assumed a defensive posture, not having enough men to take the offensive.
In the middle of the ensuing fight at Yellow Tavern, on the Telegraph Road, Private John A. Huff of Company E, 5th Michigan Cavalry, Custer's brigade, fatally wounded JEB Stuart with a pistol shot.
Private Huff, age 48, was himself mortally wounded just a few days later at Haw's Shop, on May 28.
No record of Uncle Jacob's whereabouts on this raid has surfaced as yet.
General Grant gives the following account of the Yellow Tavern Raid in his Memoirs:
On the 8th of May, just after the battle of the Wilderness and when we were moving on Spottsylvania I directed Sheridan verbally to cut loose from the Army of the Potomac, pass around the left of Lee's army and attack his cavalry:...to cut two roads - one running west through Gordonsville, Charlottesville and Lynchburg, the other to Richmond, and, when compelled to do so for want of forage and rations, to move on to the James River and draw these from Butler's supplies. This move took him past the entire rear of Lee's army. These orders were also given in writing through Meade.
The object of this move was three-fold. First, if successfully executed, and it was, he would annoy the enemy by cutting his line of supplies and telegraphic communications, and destroy or get for his own use supplies in store in the rear and coming up. Second, he would draw the enemy's own cavalry after him, and thus better protect our flanks, rear and trains than by remaining with the army. Third, his absence would save the trains drawing his forage and other supplies from Fredericksburg, which had now become our base. He started at daylight the next morning, and accomplished more than was expected. It was sixteen days before he got back to the Army of the Potomac.
The course Sheridan took was directly to Richmond. Before night [J. E. B.] Stuart, commanding the Confederate cavalry, came on to the rear of his command. But the advance kept on, crossed the North Anna, and at Beaver Dam, a station on the Virginia Central Railroad, recaptured four hundred Union prisoners on their way to Richmond, destroyed the road and used and destroyed a large amount of subsistence and medical stores.
Stuart, seeing that our cavalry was pushing toward Richmond, abandoned the pursuit on the morning of the 10th an, by a detour and an exhausting march, interposed between Sheridan and Richmond at Yellow Tavern, only about six miles north of the city. Sheridan destroyed the railroad and more supplies at Ashland, and on the 11th arrived in Stuart's front. A severe engagement ensued in which the losses were heavy on both sides, but the rebels were beaten, their leader [Stuart] mortally wounded, and some guns and many prisoners were captured.
Sheridan passed through the outer defences of Richmond, and could, no doubt, have passed through the inner ones. But having no supports near he could not have remained. After caring for his wounded he struck for the James River below the city, to communicate with Butler and to rest his men and horses as well as to get food and forage for them.
He moved first between the Chickahominy and the James, but in the morning (the 12th) he was stopped by batteries at Mechanicsville. He then turned to cross to the north side of the Chickahominy by Meadow Bridge. He found this barred, and the defeated Confederate cavalry, reorganized, occupying the other side. The panic created by his first entrance within the outer works of Richmond having subsided troops were sent out to attack his rear.
He was now in a perilous position, one from which but few generals could have extricated themselves. The defences of Richmond, manned, were to the right, the Chickahominy was to the left with no bridge remaining and the opposite bank guarded, to the rear was a force from Richmond. This force was attacked and beaten by Wilson's and Gregg's divisions, while Sheridan turned to the left with the remaining division and hastily built a bridge over the Chickahominy under the fire of the enemy, forced a crossing and soon dispersed the Confederates he found there. The enemy was held back from the stream by the fire of the troops not engaged in bridge building.
On the 13th Sheridan was at Bottom's Bridge, over the Chickahominy. On the 14th he crossed this stream and on that day went into camp on the James River at Haxall's Landing. He at once put himself into communication with General Butler, who directed all the supplies he wanted to be furnished.
Sheridan had left the Army of the Potomac at Spottsylvania, but did not know where either this or Lee's army now was. Great caution therefore had to be exercised in getting back. On the 17th, after resting his command for three days, he started on his return. He moved by way of White House. The bridge over the Pamunkey had been burned by the enemy, but a new one was speedily improvised and the cavalry crossed over it. On the 22nd he was at Aylett's on the Matapony, where he learned the position of the two armies. On the 24th he joined us on the march from North Anna to Cold Harbor, in the vicinity of Chesterfield.
Sheridan in this memorable raid passed entirely around Lee's army: encountered his cavalry in four engagements, and defeated them in all: recaptured four hundred Union prisoners and killed and captured many of the enemy; destroyed and used many supplies and munitions of war; destroyed miles of railroad and telegraph, and freed us from annoyance by the cavalry of the enemy for more than two weeks.
From May 26th through May 30th, 1864, Lee and Grant faced each other briefly in a series of skirmishes along the Totopotomoy River, in maneuvering from positions along the North Anna River to Cold Harbor.
Sheridan led a movement south with Torbert's and Gregg's cavalry divisions, and Russell's 1st Infantry Division of the VI Corps. By early on the morning of the 27th, two ponton bridges had been laid across the Pamunkey River, and Hanover Town was occupied. The rest of the army then followed, with Wilson's 3rd Cavalry Division forming the rear guard.
On the 27th, Custer's brigade drove a rebel cavalry brigade from Hanover Town to Crump's Creek and then toward Hanover Court House.
On the next day, Custer's brigade, screening army movements, fought, dismounted, in heavy action at Haw's Shop [now known as Studley].
On May 29th, 1864, Custer wrote from Hanover, Virginia, to Libbie in Washington:
I am well and unhurt. We had a fight yesterday.... Our Brigade lost heavily but was victorious. The 5th Mich. Cavalry lost 5 officers. Captain Greene was struck on the head by a spent ball but was not injured. My horse was shot from under me, the handsome one you rode.
In early June of 1863, a worried Judge Bacon wrote from Monroe, Michigan, to his daughter Libbie Custer in Washington, DC:
Do not fail to telegraph if anything happens to Armstrong, Greene or Nims. Be calm, submissive and composed is the wish and prayer of your father.
After each battle in the Overland campaign, Grant sidled away - never retreating, just pushing around Lee's right flank deeper into Virginia.
The costly battle at Cold Harbor beginning May 31st marked Grant's last attempt to break through the Confederate lines to take Richmond. The conflict changed from a war of maneuver to a war of entrenchment and siege.
A diversionary raid was ordered by General Grant after abandoning Cold Harbor to cross the James River to attack Petersburg. The plan was for Sheridan to move westward to join forces with "Black Dave" Hunter at Charlottesville after wrecking the Virginia Central Railroad all the way from Hanover Junction, the present day settlement of Doswell, Virginia. The intent was to destroy Lee's supply line from the northwest.
Hunter's advance was stopped at Lynchburg, causing his retreat into West Virginia, in which he marched his troops right out of the war. Sheridan got no further than Trevilian Station, a location on the Virginia Central east of Gordonsville, and just to the west of Louisa Court House. Sheridan's raid occurred from June 7 through the 28th.
The expedition was partially successful. Sheridan destroyed the railroad, but Lee sent cavalry after the raiders, and a fierce fight developed at Trevilian Station.
Custer and Pennington with one brigade were caught between the divisions of Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee.
Custer managed to cut his way out as usual, but lost his headquarters wagon. "Adjutant Greene and his flute were captured," he wrote in a letter to Libbie afterward; so were Johnnie Cisco with Custer's three spare horses, and Eliza, Custer's negro cook, with her antique carriage and cooking outfit.
Custer lost 416 men - more than at Haw's Shop and Cold Harbor combined.
After dark, Eliza and Johnnie managed to escape to Union lines.
Johnnie Cisco, described in Monaghan as a "cadaverous waif", had "attached himself to headquarters and waited on table, washed Armstrong's clothes and slept with the general's dog."
Eliza was a runaway slave girl Custer hired to cook for his mess. She claimed that she "jined up with the Ginnel" to try "this freedom business." Some accounts suggest that the resourceful Eliza was a little too much for the Confederates to handle, so that she was quietly allowed to slip away.
In his official report of operations of the First Cavalry Brigade, from the Rapidan to the James, May 4 - July 1, 1864, Custer included the following under the date of June 11:
Capt. J. L. Greene, my assistant adjutant general, was here [Trevilian Station] taken prisoner.
On June 21st, Custer wrote from White House Landing a long letter to Libbie in Washington that included the following:
Under a tree, near the famous "White House" on the Pamunkey...we crossed this morning, but have been unable to advance from it more than two miles, as the enemy have us completely hemmed in. We have been fighting all day....
The main incidents are: Little fighting till near Louisa Court House, when our two divisions met the entire rebel cavalry....I was ordered to go to Trevilian Station, there to form a junction with two other brigades. I carried out instructions to the letter, but the others were three hours behind time.
....Never has this Brigade fought so long or so desperately.
Five caissons belonging to Pennington's Battery followed my headquarters wagon & Eliza's carriage, drove too far from our lines, and were taken. Eliza was taken upward of two miles when she made her escape, and after dark got back to our lines. Johnny who takes care of my horses, and several orderlies were taken. Captain Greene is a prisoner, at Genl. Hampton's headquarters. A prisoner here said that as his spurs were taken from him Capt. G said "You have the spurs of General Custer's Adjutant-General."
Tell Jim [Christiancy] that, after all my joking about it, the rebs have taken Captain Greene's flute!
Would you like to know what they have captured from me? Everything except my toothbrush. They only captured one wagon from me, but that contained my all - ....
I was struck twice by spent balls, on the shoulder, and arm. Bruise and swelling soon passed away.
Captain Greene was taken first to Libbey Prison in Richmond, then to Macon, Charleston, and Columbia. He was not officially exchanged until eleven months after his capture, just two days before Lee's surrender at Appomattox.
But life did not hang in suspension during all that time.
Libby Prison was a converted warehouse situated on the James River at Richmond, that formerly belonged to Libby & Sons, ship chandlers. Only officers were held here and some historians say that it was second only to Andersonville in being the most notorious prison in the Confederacy.
By May of 1864, it had become only a temporary shelter, following threats from a series of Union cavalry raids which forced the Confederate government to send inmates further into the interior, to a new prison in Macon, Georgia.
Such would be the fate of Jacob Greene after his capture by Wade Hampton's cavalry at Trevilian Station on June 11, 1864. Captain Greene would not only be transshipped from Libby to Macon, but would be taken on to a prison at Charleston, South Carolina, as well.
At Charleston Greene was supposedly among the Union officers placed under Union fire by rebel authorities during a Union bombardment of that city.
He was afterward removed to a prison at Columbia.
According to the Connecticut Mutual memorial book, Captain Greene was not paroled until December 9, 1864, having refused earlier parole over an issue regarding unequal treatment of black prisoners.
A combination of documents from Uncle Jacob's Connecticut Mutual trunk together with other notices trace out the following chronology of Captain Greene's adventures following capture and imprisonment. Some of them tend to raise more questions than answers:
October, 1864, letter written by Libbie Custer, then rooming in Washington, DC, to her husband at an unspecified location in Virginia, quoted in part. The path of love is sometimes rocky. I have no further explanation regarding that portion of the letter germane to this study:
....We went to see Booth - Brutus Booth from California - in Richard III. It was rather tiresome tho the man did well and showed cultivation. That magnificent scene where Richmond stands before his tent and prays on the eve of battle was quite spoiled after hearing McCullough last winter.
I have heard from Nettie that she has dismissed Jacob, and I am glad. He is unworthy of such a pearl. Oh, and John R is married at last to that sweet Frankie M. But she must be lacking in sense to marry him.
November 12, 1864, Standing Order #60: Transfers troops from their regiments to Battery B, 2nd U. S. Artillery, for temporary duty.
December 9, 1864: Jacob Greene is paroled on this date, according to Connecticut Mutual memorial book.
December 19, 1864, Standing Order #455: From the War Department. Greene is granted a 30 day leave as a paroled prisoner of war, after which he will report to Camp Parole in Annapolis.
December 25, 1864: A photograph is taken of Custer, his staff, and family members on the porch of the M. Y. Mason house at Winchester, Virginia, Custer's headquarters at the time. Jacob Greene appears in this picture looking rather the worse for wear following his imprisonment. Others in the picture include Libbie Custer and her father and mother, brother Tom Custer, Lt. Jim Christiancy, Col. Whitaker, Baron Sieb, Lt. Nims, Capt. Lee, Lt. Norvell, Surgeon Woods, Mrs. Woods, Orderly Joe Fought, H. Mail, and Miss Richmond.
January 12, 1865: Marriage certificate of J. L. Greene and Mary Annette Humphrey, Monroe, Michigan. This certificate is in possession of the grandddaughter of Jacob's brother George Frye Greene.
January 16, 1865, Standing Order #24: Orders Greene to report to Maj. Gen. Kautz for duty as soon as he receives official notice of his exchange as POW Greene at Camp Parole. Kautz is cavalry commander of Ben Butler's Army of the James of notorious Bermuda Hundred campaign fame.
January 21, 1865, Standing Order #33: Greene's leave is extended another 30 days.
February 13, 1865, Standing Order #74: Greene is ordered to report to Custer after receiving notice of his exchange as parolee. Custer by this time is commanding the 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps. Middle Military District. A printed copy identified as S. O. #71 is attached to this.
February 20, 1865: Capt. Greene writes a letter requesting proper quarters at Camp Parole suitable to his rank. Endorsement at bottom by a Captain Powers answers that no such quarters are available. On reverse side of letter is an order directing Greene to report to Annapolis for assignment to muster out parolees.
February 27, 1865, Custer, marching with a column of 9000 horse, sets out from Winchester, Virginia, toward Waynesboro in pursuit of General Jubal Early and his Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley. Monaghan writes the following in his Custer biography:
Custer led the 3rd Division. Adjutant Greene had been exchanged since his capture at Trevilian Station and was with him again, still carrying the flute about which Armstrong liked to joke. Edward A. Paul, the New York Times correspondent, also accompanied the column....
The first day they advanced 30 miles up the pike, going through Strasburg and bivouacking at Woodstock....
Custer's 3rd Division, 1500 strong, reached Harrisonburg in three days, Waynesboro at noon in pouring rain March 2nd, chasing the rebels out.
March 6, 1865: Letter to Captain Greene from War Department declaring that Greene is to consider himself exchanged, effective immediately.
March 20, 1865, letter to Libbie in Washington, DC, written by Custer from White House Landing, Virginia, which says, in part:
Mr. Stahl will bring you a set of chessmen captured in General Early's headquarters wagon - probably belonging to him. I am learning to play. It is a beautiful game, much like a battle. If you will learn, it will be a great source of pleasure to us hereafter.
Tell me what you hear of Captain Greene - whether he has been exchanged. I miss him greatly.
I long for the return of peace. I look forward to our future with earnest hope. Our state may be far below our present one. We may not have the means for enjoyment we now possess, but we shall have enough and to spare. Above all, we shall have each other.
April 6, 1865, Standing Order #81: From Hdq., District of Annapolis, relieving Greene from duty mustering out parolees and ordering him back to Custer for assignment to duty. On the reverse is a request by Greene to be allowed to remain in Washington until April 8th on important personal business.
The Victory Parade
That Jacob Greene was very much active and back in Custer's Third Division is attested to by the following documents in Greene's trunk found at Connecticut Mutual in 1986:
May 12, 1865: Greene's note on the back of an envelop to Col. Coppinger urging him to hurry and catch up to Custer.
May 19, 1865: Note from Lt. Henry Baker notifying Greene of the forwarding of a receipt of a communication addressed to Maj. Weir.
May 20, 1865, General Order #27: From Hdq. Army of the Potomac. Printed version of instructions for Victory Parade.
May 21, 1865: Letter to Custer from G. W. Gordon re: marching of troops in the coming Victory Parade.
May 21, 1865: Instructions for Victory Parade in Washington.
May, 1865: Order (not otherwise dated in trunk inventory) for proper cavalry formation during Victory Parade in Washington. On the back is written the following:
The last order made by me at the Headqrs. of the glorious old 3rd Cav. Division.
-(signed) J. L. Greene, A. A. Genl.
On the other side of this are signatures of AAG's of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Brigades as they received and read this order.
After the grand review of the Army of the Potomac in Washington, DC, Greene was ordered to New Orleans with General Custer.
They proceeded up the Red River to Alexandria, Louisiana, where a division of cavalry was formed, then to Texas, where Custer was commander of the Cavalry Division of Texas and commander of the cavalry of the division.
Monaghan indicates in his Custer biography that Greene entered civilian life after the war, failed at selling life insurance and returned to the army to join Custer on his Texas adventure:
At Hempstead, Texas, they established permanent camp. This was on the Brenham - Galveston Railroad....
To headquarters also came big, jolly Nettie Humphrey, now Mrs. Jacob Greene. Her husband had tried selling insurance at the end of the war but was glad to get back under the army umbrella and serve as assistant adjutant general for Custer. The Greene's tent was pitched near the Custers', and soldiers constructed a "bowery" connecting them. Both families were together much of the time. Armstrong scratched away on his letters and reports while the women chatted over their sewing and Emmanuel [Custer's father] read aloud to himself. When Jacob Greene's flute began to squeal and the brass band added to the din, fidgety Custer seemed best able to concentrate!
-Monaghan, Custer, pp. 260-261
How Monaghan arrived at the part about Uncle Jacob selling insurance at the end of the Civil War is a mystery, since there simply was not time for such a thing to occur before Custer and his cavalry were ordered to Texas.
Jacob Greene served as Chief of Staff of both of Custer's commands, as noted above, until April 20, 1866, when, at his own request, he was honorably discharged and mustered out.
At the urging of his brother Dr. William Warren Greene, he entered the insurance business, first becoming an agent in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and eventually becoming, in 1878, president of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company, a position he retained until his death, March 29, 1905, at age 68.
Just what Custer, and the rest of General Phil Sheridan's army, were doing in Texas is ably and concisely described by General U. S. Grant in the "Conclusion" chapter of his Memoirs, from which I quote below:
The conduct of some of the European states during our troubles [the Civil War] shows the lack of conscience of communities where the responsibility does not come upon a single individual. Seeing a nation that extended from ocean to ocean, embracing the better part of a continent, growing as we were in population, wealth and intelligence, the European nations thought it would be well to give us a check. We might, possibly, after a while threaten their peace, or, at least, the perpetuity of their institutions. Hence, England was constantly finding fault with the administration at Washington because we were not able to keep up an effective blockade. She joined, at first, with France and Spain in setting up an Austrian prince [Maximilian] upon the throne in Mexico, totally disregarding any rights or claims that Mexico had of being treated as an independent power. It is true they trumped up grievances as a pretext, but they were only pretexts which can always be found when wanted.
Mexico, in her various revolutions, had been unable to give that protection to the subjects of foreign nations which she would have liked to give, and some of her revolutionary leaders had forced loans from them. Under the pretence of protecting their citizens, these nations seized upon Mexico as a foothold for establishing a European monarchy upon our continent, thus threatening our peace at home. I, myself, regarded this as a direct act of war against the United States by the powers engaged, and supposed as a matter of course that the United States would treat it as such when their hands were free to strike. I often spoke of the matter to Mr. Lincoln and the Secretary of War, but never heard any special views from them to enable me to judge what they thought or felt about it. I inferred that they felt a good deal as I did, but were unwilling to commit themselves while we had our own troubles upon our hands.
All of the powers except France very soon withdrew from the armed intervention for the establishment of an Austrian prince upon the throne of Mexico; but the governing people of these countries to the close of the war to throw obstacles in our way. After the surrender of Lee, therefore, entertaining the opinion here expressed, I sent Sheridan with a corps to the Rio Grande to have him where he might aid Juarez in expelling the French from Mexico. These troops got off before they could be stopped; and went to the Rio Grande, where Sheridan distributed them up and down the river, much to the consternation of the troops in the quarter of Mexico bordering on that stream This soon led to a request from France that we should withdraw our troops from the Rio Grande and to negotiate for the withdrawal of theirs. Finally [A. F.] Bazaine was withdrawn from Mexico by order of the French Government. From that day the empire began to totter. Mexico was then able to maintain her independence without aid from us.
France is the traditional ally and friend of the United States. I did not blame France for her part in the scheme to erect a monarchy upon the ruins of the Mexican Republic. That was the scheme of one man [Napoleon III], an imitator without genius or merit. He had succeeded in stealing the government of his country, and made a change in its form against the wishes and instincts of his people. He tried to play the part of the first Napoleon, without the ability to sustain that role. He sought by new conquests to add to his empire and his glory; but by the signal failure of his scheme of conquest was the precursor of his own overthrow.
Like our own war between the States, the Franco-Prussian war was an expensive one; but it was worth all it cost her people. It was the completion of the downfall of Napoleon III. The beginning was when he landed troops on this continent. Failing here, the prestige of his name - all the prestige he ever had - was gone. He must achieve a success or fall. He tried to strike down his neighbor, Prussia - and fell.
I never admired the character of the first Napoleon; but I recognize his great genius. His work, too, has left its impress for good on the face of Europe. The third Napoleon could have no claim to having done a good or just act.
To maintain peace in the future it is necessary to be prepared for war. There can scarcely be a possible chance of conflict, such as the last one, occurring among our own people again; but, growing as we are, in population, wealth and military power, we may become the envy of nations which led us in all these particulars only a few years ago; and unless we are prepared for it we may be in danger of a combined movement being some day made to crush us out. Now, scarcely twenty years after the war, we seem to have forgotten the lessons it taught, and are going on as if in the greatest security, without the power to resist an invasion by the fleets of fourth-rate European powers for a time until we could prepare for them.
Many events occurred during the brief extent of Custer's expedition to Texas, some of them controversial. During this time Jacob Greene's duties were varied as well. In her Custer Story, Merington relates the following special task, of great interest to this writer, twenty years a Texan himself:
Custer's command at this time [writes Merington] was larger than at any period during the Civil War. His jurisdiction extended over a vast territory. In January, 1866, he dispatched the valuable Assistant Adjutant General Captain Jacob Greene as an intelligence agent to ascertain the temper of the people in remote districts toward the new order of things and toward the practicability of withdrawing the troops. Mingling with all kinds of people who did not suspect his mission, Captain Greene made a fair survey.
Captain Greene's report:
The German element in general is loyal and attached to the government. They and others of like stamp are keenly apprehensive of the designs of participants in the Rebellion, or sympathizers with its aims. These dissidents deem it due their self-respect to accomplish by political power what they failed to do by arms. They are submitting to what is forced on them with an intense hatred.
A minority - but a large one - boast of their intention to "pay the Yankee back." They say, "We'll run the nigger ourselves." And "The nigger must clear out." This attitude complicates the withdrawal of the troops. The Government has admitted the Freedman to his natural rights as a human being - but he is without legal rights under the legislation of the State in which he finds himself, and is, therefore, without protection or defence where the power of the Government constantly enforced.
Self-interest no longer demands consideration for the negro. As Freedman he is disliked, despised. Murders of negroes are frequent, and actual slavery exists in regions remote from the troops.
A war of races, indiscriminate murder an destruction of property - every outrage would result were Government protection now withdrawn. This is feared by many who were active in the Rebellion, but who are fair-minded enough to consider the matter truthfully.
Organized plots against the Government; demonstrations against those who were accepting defeat and conforming to authority; unbridled outlawry - to suppress these things in Texas and Louisiana had been Custer's task [Merington continues]. It was made more difficult because of the elements of discontent in his own command. That he fulfilled his assignment with success is evidenced by letters from persons of all affiliations. Provisional Governor Hamilton testified to his "wise and efficient conduct of an affair as much administrative as military."
Custer's term was completed in March, 1866, and he was mustered out. His pay as major general in the Volunteers - $8,000 - ceased. He automatically reverted to rank and rating in the Regular Army at $2,000 a year, with a small allowance for living quarters.
Most discussions of Custer deal with Custer as icon, robbing him of all humanity and creating a ridiculous figure. He would not recognize himself in the serious discussions of my Civil War round table companions. I suspect he, no less than anyone else discoursed upon with knitted brows and pointing fingers, would be positively astonished. Monday morning quarterbacking and the television sound bite have obliterated our senses. In knowing nothing, we delude ourselves into thinking we know everything.
Such discussions are a dreadful bore.
"Custer was our dumbest general." I hear this Custer icon the most. I will invariably hear it at any museum display of Custer artifacts and this is the usual theme of the Monday morning quarterbacks. Everyone has forgotten why Custer's demise on the Little Big Horn was considered such a tragedy at the time it happened. He was remembered not because he was dumb or incompetent, but because he had emerged from the Civil War a hero.
Custer's illegitimate Indian child is another myth of Custer the icon. This is the price paid for subjecting yesterday's figures and events to today's values. Many historical figures of national prominence have been convicted on circumstantial evidence of having mistresses. Every boy-meets-girl drama on television ends up under the sheets so it must have been true forever. I was raised in an era when marital fidelity was not only possible, but probable and morality and manners were grounded in reason, not prudishness. That we have been able to dismiss politeness, respect, and integrity so easily witnesses to the fact that we have made yet another icon out of manners and morals.
Yet another myth may be that of Custer the monster. Colonel John S. Mosby accused Custer of ceremoniously executing some of his rangers. The executions did occur. Who ordered them was the subject of as much, if not more, controversy at the time than down through the years to this day. Mosby, the highly competent, severely honest lawyer, would not back down from his charges against Custer, any more than he would back off from his support of JEB Stuart and his famous ride around the Union army before the Battle of Gettysburg. Two of Mosby's own close associates in their memoirs tried to dissuade him from his charges against Custer and history has pretty much disproved his defense of the hapless Stuart. I have no proofs to offer here, no glib conclusions. I only wish to remind that war is an ugly business involving millions of men in countless activities of infinite subtlety from which only a few deeds are selected for us to remember as history. Ergo, we make more icons.
Did Grandmother Alice or her brother ever meet Uncle Jacob? All who could have told me sleep now. Grandmother Alice was taken by the great flu epidemic of 1918 and I never knew her except in the wistful and loving memories of my father and his brother, both of them gone now, as well. Uncle Ed, grandmother's brother - and actually my father's uncle - who I knew so well and was a special favorite of mine, I never had the presence of mind to ask when he was alive. He passed away at age 82 in 1958, still keen of mind. There was so much he could have told me if I had but thought to ask, but youth had other things on its mind.
I do know that Uncle Jacob's son Jacob Humphrey and wife (there were no children) kept in touch by correspondence and visited Uncle Ed and his family on at least one occasion. This led to a picnic up on cousin Ed Haskell's hillside farm outside South Paris, Maine, and Uncle Ed took his big camera along, set it on his tripod, rigged a string to the shutter release, and took a picture of the family all together. The farm was a clearing south of town on a hillside above the Grand Trunk Railway mainline from Portland. We could see it in the distance across the fields from the back porch of our own house in South Paris. I can still see that clearing in my mind's eye, but the clearing itself disappeared long ago, swallowed once more by the forest from which it was cleared many decades before. Even the railroad has changed: It no longer reaches as far as Portland and has a different name now.
Many haunts so familiar to me in my early years in South Paris are gone now and so it is with the passing of one generation to another to another. Extreme youth finds the world fixed firmly in place, the permanent gift of its forebears. Old age finds everything metamorphosing and dissappearing, with reality displaced by a sense of dislocation and a loss of place in the world.
Of everything it is written: This too shall pass.
Meanwhile, poor, pathetic humankind tries to save and to savor what it can. Old battlefields and campfires become quiet, beautiful parks and cemeteries, or are obliterated by interstate highways and shopping malls and apartment towers.
I have tried here to save something I never knew. I stroll the hills and hummocks of the Virginia Piedmont and the Loudoun Valley and the Shenandoah, raising the ghosts in the landscape and searching for the sounds of skirmish and bivouac. What was that youthful cavalryman, my Uncle Jacob, really like? What did he say? What did he sound like when he said it? What did he really look like? Can I hear his flute in the evening twilight? Was it he who first put the sound of the "Garryowen" in friend Custer's ear? Does the receipt for Spencer carbine ammunition found in Uncle Jacob's old trunk anticipate a day of hunting with Custer on the plains around Hempstead, Texas, or some more serious purpose?
One of the principal sources used in this study was a collection of Custer correspondence edited by Marguerite Merington and first published in 1950 as The Custer Story; The Life and Intimate Letters of General George A. Custer and His Wife Elizabeth. The following is a selected list, in chronological order, of those letters from the first appearance of Uncle Jacob at the front up until the time of his capture at Trevilian Station together with, here and there, some inserted commentary.
August 13, 1863
September 4, 1863
October 12, 1863
October 20, 1863
November 1, 1863
February 9, 1864
February 28, 1864
March 8, 1864
March 28, 1864
April 16, 1864
April 23, 1864
May 1, 1864
May 1, 1864
May 4, 1864
May 9-11, 1864
The expedition started toward Fredricksburg early in the morning. About dark Merritt's division crossed the North Anna. Custer's brigade proceeded on to Beaver Dam Station where the station, two locomotives, three trains, ninety wagons, and eight to ten miles of track and telegraph wires are destroyed. - from Sheridan's memoirs, Merington, p 96.
May 14, 1864
May 16, 1864
May 29, 1864
June 21, 1864
Herewith are two letters written by a distant cousin of the Rideout Greenes to Charles Howard's Great Grandmother Greene less than a year after Jacob Greene was invalided out from his infantry regiment. They were written from army encampments in Maryland, up the Potomac River from the nation's capitol and not far from where the 7th Michigan had been stationed during Uncle Jacob's service in that regiment.
It is doubtful that Mark Richardson or Jacob Greene ever knew each other. The letters appear here only because they shed some light on camp life on the Potomac and give some idea of the illnesses that threatened the lives of the men.
The second letter was written at the time of the Battle of Fredricksburg. Jacob Greene's by then former infantry regiment, the 7th Michigan, played a crucial role in the early phases of that campaign by implementing the bridging of the Rappahannock to enable General Ambrose Burnside's forces to establish a toe-hold in the town itself.
Gen. Grover's Head Quarters Nov. 9
Dear Cousin [Miss Deborah Rideout, Portland, Maine]
I have been thinking of writing to you for sometime [sic] and as I have plenty of leisure time and have seen a little of war I hope my letter will be interesting to you. If it is then I shall have some inducement to write again perhaps. I hope this will find you in better Health than when I left Portland, although I tho't your appetite was very good than for a sick Person (I must joke a little you know) as for myself my health is much better than it was at Camp Lincoln for I have not been sick a Day since I left and I have been exposed to all sorts of Weather besides, but it seems to agree with me first rate.
Our trip from the Camp to Washington was very Pleasant and thus I enjoyed much at Fall River Mass we took the Boat for Jersey City we passed right close to the Great Eastern and I had a good view of it we also had a good view of N. Y. City and surrounding Country and I was so much taken up with sight seeing that I forgot all about eating and by the time we landed at the City begun to feel as though a little dinner would do me some good. and was much gratified to find that the Citizens was in rediness [sic] for us with a Warm Dinner and at it we went in true Soldier style.
We arrived at Baltimore next having spent most of the Day there and I improved the time by running around the City it is a very fine town but the Citizens do not seem to have that friendly feeling towards the Soldiers that other Citys [sic] do. I was much disapointed [sic] in Washington for I expected to find something nice but I must say it is one of the meanist [sic] Cities that I ever was in although the Public Buildings are very fine. I visited the Capitol and spent all of one Day in it and then I did not see half that I wanted to although I saw some of the most splendid Paintings and Statuary that I ever saw and was well Paid for my trouble.
We are now encamped on the Potomac about 80 miles up the River from Washington and are in Gen. Grovers Brigade we are in camp on a Slave Holders Plantation and I find that his Rail Fence makes first rate camp fires. The other day I saw 12 large Turkeys come into our camp (Turkeys and Hens are very tame down here). The weather has been very Pleasant most of the time till last Saturday it came of [sic] cold and Sunday there was nearly 4 inches of Snow on the Ground which gave me rather a cold idea of the Suny [sic] South but it is all of[f] now and the weather is warm again. I rec.d a letter from Jennie she said that she had written you about my pictures that was left there You may keep one if you wish to and give all the rest of my Cousins one that wish it. Bertha must have one certain and then send the rest to Jennie if you will tell Bertha I appreciate that Present she gave me for it is just what I need. I will close now excuse Poor Writing for I do not have a very convenient Place to write
love to all
P. S. if you think it is worth an answer I should like to hear from you or any of my friends. if you write you had better do so soon for there is a rumor that we are going to Texas but cant be certain
Direct to Co. C 23 Me Rg.t
The above letter, addressed to Miss Deborah Rideout, care of Dr. Henry T. Cummings, Portland, Maine, was written in 1862 by Mark Richardson, a cousin, then serving in the Union Army, 23rd Maine Regiment, USV, encamped at Poolesville, Maryland.
The date of the letter, Nov. 9, 1862, corresponds to the day Union General Ambrose E. Burnside arrived in Warrenton, Virginia, to take over command of the Army of the Potomac from General George Brinton McClellan, about a month and a half after the Battle of Antietam, fought some 30 miles further up the Potomac outside Sharpsburg, Maryland.
The entire face of the envelope was hand decorated with a large American eagle, wings outstretched, carrying a banner in its beak bearing Miss Rideout's address. In the lower righthand corner was the return address, M. L. R., Co. C, 23 Me. Rg.t, and on the back of the envelope, a three cent stamp postmarked Washington, DC.
According to Dyer's Compendium, the 23rd Maine was organized September 29, 1862, at Portland, Maine, for nine months service. It left for Washington, DC, on October 18th and was attached to General Cuvier Grover's Brigade in the defenses of Washington. The regiment first encamped at East Capitol Hill until October 25th when it was assigned to guard duty along the Potomac River, first at Seneca, Maryland, at which place this letter was apparently written, then to Edwards Ferry in December, and finally Poolesville, from April 19th to May 5th of the next year when it returned to Washington. The regiment was next moved to Alexandria on May 24th, then back to Poolesville on June 17th, and then Harper's Ferry where it was mustered out of service on July 15th, 1863.
The regiment was transferred to the command of A. B. Jewett in February of 1863, then to General J. P. Slough's Brigade in the Defenses of Alexandria in June. It lost 56 enlisted men by disease.
In a chapter on "Maine Regiments" in the Civil War in the second volume of the Maine Historical Society's three volume centennial edition of Maine, A History, (1919), it is noted that the 21st through the 28th regiments were enlisted for 90-day service only, and of these, the 23rd, 25th, and 27th never saw battle. The 23rd was noted as containing an unusually large number of "men of culture and means".
Miss Deborah Blanchard Rideout married Mr. George Frye Greene of North Waterford, Maine, on November 25th, 1874, to become the great-grandmother of the compiler of this history. She was 25 years old when she received the above letter.
A Joshua Howard of Hanover, Maine, was a member of Co. B of the 23rd Maine. He was the grandson of Phineas, the founder of Howard's Gore Plantation and brother of Asa, this compiler's great-great-great grandfather. Asa assisted his brother in the founding of Howard's Gore Plantation, later a part of the town of Hanover. It is interesting to speculate as to whether Joshua and Mark ever met. Joshua was mustered in as a sargeant and came out of the service as a second lieutenant.
Camp Grover Dec. 14, 1862
I recd your kind letter in due time and you may rest assured that it was read & received with much pleasure by me. I did not expect one quite so soon but it came just the right time and was such a good one that I must thank you most kindly for it, and only wish that I could return the complement by writing as good a one, but my gift does not lie in writing down my tho'ts. I much rather sit down and talk with my friends than to write.
When I wrote to you last I expected to have been on my way to Texas ere this but here we are in just about the same place as before we have moved our Reg't about 4 miles from our old Camp so that our Brigade is all together now. and I rather think we shall stay here all winter as our Reg't is not able to move at present on account of the measles which are among us and a good many of our men are sick with them. They go quite light and the sick are doing well at present. I think I was quite fortunate in having them last fall although I tho't it was very hard at the time but we cannot always tell what is for the best although it may seem hard at the time I find it is far different to be sick here than it would be at home with kind Friends to care for You. and I think that I am among the favored ones in enjoying such good Health as I have since I have been here in Camp. we have quite a numb. sick with typhoid Fever and is generally fatal. our location is very Pleasant and it is a splendid country around us but it wants a few Yankee farmers down Here and it would soon be a different looking Place from what it is now I have not seen a Church nor even a School House since I left Washington so you can judge for yourself that it lacks the enterprise of old Maine. and the Farm houses have an old look and a great many of them are built of Logs and are wretched things for a civilized man to live in now days [sic]. we are enjoying fine warm weather now it does not seem much like a winter in Maine especially last winter and I can hardly realize that it is so late as this [?] but we have something worse than snow that is mud every where one goes it is nothing but mud, mud. but I am getting use to it and can get along with it quite well
I suppose that thanksgiving passed with its usual amount of pleasure & happiness I could not be there to enjoy it. but still I know that I should not be forgotten on that Day and that many friends would wish him a Place at their Thanksgiving Dinner and I know that I could have done justice to most any dinner on that Day for hard work [?] is a fine thing to give one an appetite.
We have got news tonight that Richmond is taken but it is to good news to be true but the Soldiers have great faith that it will soon be ours if not all ready and think if we are succesfull that it will end the War I do hope it may prove so.
I rec'd a Letter from Jennie last week She was well and said she was going to write You. The pictures came all right and I am obliged to You for sending them to her. she was much Pleased with them I got her Picture last week. I have just finished a sketch to Day of part of our camp the Capt tho't it was very Nice and was bound to have it but I did not give it up and am going to send it to Jennie I wish had more time I should like to draw more but my time is pretty well employed during the Day I can hardly get time to do any thing for myself for the Boys are teazing to do something for them all the time and I hate to refuse them but it keeps my [sic] employed and I think I fare the better for it.
Now Cousin I hope you will answer this poor apoligy [sic] for a letter as promtly [?] as you did the other and not take ------- by me and neglect it although I will write often if there is anything of importance takes [sic] place You need not be affraid [sic] of getting your letters to [sic] long. where is Bertha and how shall I direct a letter to her. My love to all Now please write soon and tell any of my Cousins to write and not wait for Me to write them
from your aff Cousin
what is your N. G. address.
A second letter addressed to Miss D. B. Rideout, New Gloucester, Maine, from Mark Richardson of Company C, 23rd Maine. This time the envelope is postmarked "Georgetown, D. C." and cancelled January 14 . The postage stamp has been removed. Both front and back of the envelope are covered with more of Mark Richardson's artwork. With the letter is another piece of Mark's art work, a patriotic design decorated with an eagle carrying a banner on which is written "Union For Ever". A flag decoration suspended from the eagles claws opens up to reveal a little verse bordered with a star, crossed rifles and various other items of military gear. The verse is as follows:
My country's cause to serve
The rumor reported in this letter of the taking of Richmond is an interesting one as this letter is dated the day after General Burnside's series of disastrous assaults on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, Virginia, 60 miles north of Richmond. The capitol of the Confederacy would not fall into Union hands until early April of 1865.
According to Dyer's Compendium the 23rd Maine is now camped in Maryland at Edward's Ferry, 6 or 8 miles up the Potomac River from its previous camp at Seneca.
A reading of the text of this letter indicates that Miss Deborah Rideout replied to Mark Richardson's letter of November 9th, and Mark Richardson is, in turn, responding to that.
This letter is in the possession of Mrs. Alexander Malcolm, nee. Kathryn Greene, of Elmhurst, New York, and Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, granddaughter of the addressee. (In March, 1999, the letters are held by Stanley Malcolm.)
Every effort has been made to make accurate copies of the original letters. In all fairness to Mark Richardson it must be noted that some, if not all, of the apparently misapplied capitalizations and more than a few of the perceived grammatical errors may derive from misinterpretation of Mark's handwriting. There is neatness and pride in it, but it is carefully crafted penmanship of 130 years ago, different in many inflections from what we are familiar with today.
From The Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut
Colonel Greene Dies of Apoplexy
Recently operated upon at Baltimore,
Colonel Jacob L. Greene, president of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company, died very suddenly yesterday morning at his home in Woodland street. He had been in the house for a few days, but was so far recovered that on Tuesday evening he told Vice-President John M. Taylor that he would meet him at the company's office next morning. Early in February it was found that the colonel would be much benefitted by a serious surgical operation. At once, with characteristic bravery he determined to have it performed. He went to Baltimore to Johns Hopkins Hospital about the middle of February and there was successfully operated upon. His recovery was considered by medical men remarkable for its promptness and thoroughness, and he, himself, on his return to this city last week was enthusiastic upon the benefits he had received. He attended and presided as usual at the weekly meeting of the Connecticut Mutual directors last Friday and was noticeably cheerful. The next day he experienced a slight attack of nervous dyspepsia and his physician, Dr. E.K. Root, put him on light diet and kept him quietly at home. Friends called there and were seen by him and, as said before, he told Vice-President Taylor, who was there Tuesday evening, that he would be down town Wednesday morning. He felt badly yesterday morning and Dr. Root was telephoned for, but before he reached the house the colonel was unconscious, dying in a few moments. It is supposed that he suffered an attack of cerebral apoplexy and except for the severe strain that his system had recently undergone there appears to be no reason for connecting his death even indirectly with the operation of a few weeks ago.
Mrs. Greene was, of course, overcome by the dreadful shock, but later she rallied. The colonel's son, Jacob H. Greene has been on an extended trip through the West and was due to arrive at Jersey City at 6 last evening. Efforts were made to reach him on the cars and his brother-in-law, John H. Buck, went to New York to meet him and break the news to him there.
Colonel Greene's funeral will be attended at Trinity Church at 3:30 o'clock tomorrow afternoon and the interment will be in Pittsfield, Mass., on Saturday morning, the body being taken there on the 9:00 o'clock a. m. train from this city.
Jacob Lyman Greene was born at Waterford, Me., August 9, 1837, the son of Captain Jacob H. Greene and Mrs. (Frye) Greene. The races in both lines of descent represented in him have been distinguished through many generations for enterprise and courage, for physical vigor, for intellectual force and for positive conviction and strong religious views.
On the paternal side, his great-grandfather, Lieutenant Thomas Greene, was a pioneer settler of the town of Waterford, Me., moving from Rowley, Mas., with his family of eight children, at a time when the region was a wilderness, with no openings or roads, and no paths to guide the traveler but the Indian trail. He had been an officer in the French and Indian war of 1755, and in the army of the Revolution. History relates of him that he was famous for his courage and enthusiasm in battle; and tradition has it that he once led his regiment to victory after its commander had fled. Colonel Greene's father was a man of staunch character, and maintained a decidedly and constantly religious life, punctiliously attending public worship on the Sabbath, with his whole family, undeterred and undaunted by the heat of summer or the cold of winter, and unprevented by the distance to be traveled, or the badness of the roads. On the maternal side Colonel Greene's great-grandfather was General Joseph Frye, who was the original grantee and the pioneer settler of the beautiful town of Fryeburg on the Saco River, Me. It was from him that the town received its name. General Frye belonged to a family many of whom were distinguished. He was born in Andover, Mass., in 1711, was justice of the peace, representative in the General Court, and otherwise useful in the affairs of his native town. He served in the French and Indian war, and was at the siege of Louisburgh. He was the colonel of a Massachusetts regiment at the capture of Fort William Henry, on Lake George, by Montcalm, in 1757. He was a major general in the Revolutionary War, and served for a time with the troops at Cambridge, under General Washington. He died at Fryeburg at an advanced age.
Colonel Greene's mother was born in Fryeburg in the house built by her great ancestor. She was a lady of affable character, winning and graceful in manner and intelligent, loving children and loved by them, and particularly devoted to the welfare and advancement of her own. The place of Colonel Greene's birth was five miles from any village or church, and about a mile from the nearest district school house. But it was in the midst of natural scenery as grand and as inspiring as any that New England can boast, even in her most favored localities. At an early age he showed a strong disposition for study, and sought every opportunity within his reach for intellectual attainment. The Michigan University at that time opened its doors without cost, so far as tuition was concerned, and the young student turned his steps thitherward. There he completed his course of studies , and engaged in the practice of law at Lapeer, Mich. Hardly had he begun his profession when the war broke out. The blood of a noble ancestry burned within him, impelling the consecration of himself to the Union cause. He enlisted as a private in the Seventh Michigan Infantry in June, 1861, and was soon afterward made a commissioned officer. His regiment was ordered to the School of Instruction at Fort Wayne, where it was filled up, and in August was sent to the front. Colonel Greene served until the spring of 1862, advancing to the first lieutenancy of his company. In 1862 he suffered a long and exhausting illness, prostrating him for an entire year. He recovered, however, during the summer of 1863, and returned to the field, serving for two months as a volunteer aid on General Custer's staff. Meanwhile he was appointed a captain in the Sixth Michigan cavalry, but did not join the command. He accepted an appointment as assistant adjutant general on Custer's staff, and served with him until the battle of Trevellyan Station, where he was captured, June 11, 1864. He was in Libby, Macon and Charleston prisons. While at Charleston he was one of the Union officers placed under the Union fire by the rebel authorities. He was afterward removed to Columbia, where he was paroled and transferred to the Union lines. He was not able, however, to secure an exchange until April 8, 1865. In the meantime he was at Annapolis, Md., mustering paroled prisoners. Immediately after his exchange, he returned to the front, joining Custer at Burksville Junction, April 10. After the grand review of the Army of the Potomac at Washington, General Custer was ordered to New Orleans. Colonel Greene accompanied him up the Red River to Alexandria, where a division of cavalry was organized. Thence Custer advanced into Texas, having been made Commander of the Cavalry Division of Texas, and of the cavalry in the department, with headquarters at Austin. Colonel Greene was made chief of staff in both commands.
Meanwhile he had been promoted to the full rank of major, and was brevetted lieutenant colonel for distinguished gallantry. When Custer was mustered out as a major general of volunteers, Colonel Greene applied for his muster out, and finally received it in April, 1866, one year after the close of the war. He spent the next four years at Pittsfield, Mass., where his brother, Dr. William Warren Greene, resided. At Pittsfield, Colonel Greene became assistant secretary of the Berkshire Life Insurance Company. He began his insurance career as an agent of the company named, but his executive ability soon manifested itself and he was asked to take a position on the office staff. He came to this city June 1, 1870, as assistant secretary of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. He was made secretary in April, 1871, and president of the company in March, 1873, succeeding the late President James Goodwin.
Colonel Greene's brevet was given for "distinguished gallantry at the battle of Trevellyan Station, and for meritorious and faithful services during the war."
Colonel Greene had made many public addresses. He was the orator of the day at the Grant Memorial exercises in this city and his address was pronounced a fine example of eloquence and power. He was the grand marshal of the parade at the dedication of the Memorial Arch, and of the Sound Money parade in 1900 which proved such an object lesson and was influential in promoting the election of President McKinley. He had talked before Hartford audiences and elsewhere on topical subjects and on many occasions when his oratorical efforts were of the highest order. He was ever ready to speak in the interests of the poor and oppressed and always took a high stand for personal and civic morality. He was a graceful speaker and a polished writer. As a presiding officer, Colonel Greene was particularly effective, adding dignity and grace to the proceedings. When President Roosevelt visited this city on Friday, August 22, 1902, Colonel Greene was the chairman of the citizen's committee, rode with the President in the automobile during the parade, and presented Mr. Roosevelt to the immense audience in the evening at the Coliseum. He was grand marshal of the parade last May, Grand Army Day, when the Society of the Army of the Potomac and the Grand Army were the guests of the city. He also officiated in a similar capacity and made one of the principal addresses at the inauguration ceremonies of President Luther of Trinity College last October. Colonel Greene was always ready and willing to give his services in any representative capacity on any public occasion, and always acquitted himself to the satisfaction of those interested, and the great pleasure of his audience.
All through his career in this city, Colonel Greene had been prominently identified with the Episcopal Church. He was a member of Trinity Church and a liberal contributor to all its agencies. He was senior warden of the church, a leading member of the Church Temperance Society, the treasurer and a trustee of the Bishop's Fund. He was a trustee of Trinity College for over ten years and for the past eight years had been secretary of the board. Yale conferred on him the degree of LL. D. in 1898, and a similar honor was conferred on him by Trinity in 1904. The colonel had been for many years a trustee of the Berkeley Divinity School at Middletown.
In military associations, Colonel Greene was the president of the Army and Navy Club of Connecticut in which he took much interest, a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, the Society of the Army of the Potomac, the Society of Colonial Wars and Robert O. Tyler Post, G. A. R., of this city. He was also a member of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, trustee of the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Watkinson Library, the Church Home; a member of the Monday Evening Club of this city, the Hartford Club, the Hartford Golf Club, Century Association of New York, ex-president of the Charity Organization Society, a member of the Yale Alumni Association of Hartford and the D. K. E. Club.
In the realm of finance Colonel Green's sagacity and business capacity was fully appreciated. He was vice president and a trustee of the Connecticut Trust and Safe Deposit Company, a director in the Hartford Fire Insurance Company, the Phoenix National Bank, the New York Dock Company, a vice-president of the Society for Savings, and had a high reputation as a financier of good judgment.
Colonel Greene was a lover of art and all that was beautiful in art and nature. In recognition of his good taste and judgment in artistic matters, he was appointed a member of the state commission of sculpture.
Colonel Greene was raised in Masonry in Old Mystic Lodge of Pittsfield and was a member of Berkshire Chapter, Royal Arch Masons and of Berkshire Commandery, Knights Templars of Pittsfield.
He was also warden of the Borough of Fenwick and a member and an officer of the Connecticut Civil Service Reform League; a member of the American Historical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Colonel Greene is survived by his wife, who was Miss Caroline S. Barrow of Pittsfield, Mass., a daughter, Mrs. H. B. Richards of Buffalo, N. Y., and a son, Jacob Humphrey Greene, one of the assistant secretaries of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. Mrs. Richards is on her way to Hartford and is expected here this morning.
Jacob Lyman Greene is buried in the cemetery at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in Lot 204 that was deeded to him on September 12, 1878. The burials in this plot include the following:
Mary A. H. Greene - 1868
Jacob L. Greene - 1905
Caroline S. Green - 1912
Mary W. Lee - 1877
Thomas J. Barrows - 1839
Inscriptions from monument in Fryeburg Cemetery, copied June 27, 1982, by Charles Howard. On the front face of the monument is the following:
Gen. Joseph Frye,
On the face around the corner to the right of the above face is inscribed the following:
Gen. Frye served his town and state with fidelity in civil life, and his country with distinction in the field. In recognition of his military services as Col. at the surrender of Fort William Henry to Montcalm in 1757, Commander of the forces of Mass. Bay, at the capture of Louisburgh 1758, he received from Mass. a grant of this township which bears his name.
The other two sides of the monument bear names of succeeding generations of Fryes. The latest date on the monument is 1907.
Sarah Walker Frye, 1797-1873, a granddaughter of General Frye, married Capt. Jacob Holt Greene of North Waterford, Maine, in 1829, and was the mother of Jacob Lyman Greene, Civil War AAG to General Custer and later president of Connecticut Mutual Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, 1878-1905. Jacob Greene was great granduncle of Charles Howard and Jacob Greene's brother George Frye Greene was Charles's great grandfather.
There are two principal sources that form the core of this study:
One is a collection of Custer correspondence entitled The Custer Story, The Life and Intimate Letters of General George A. Custer and His Wife Elizabeth, edited by Marguerite Merington. A number of these letters mention Greene and many, especially prior to Custer's marriage to Libbie Bacon, were written to Annette Humphrey, who was to become Jacob Greene's wife.
The other source is an inventory of documents found in an old trunk that belonged to Col. Greene, discovered in an attic at the home offices of the Connecticut Mutual Insurance Company at Hartford in 1986. Jacob Greene was president of this company for twenty seven years beginning in 1878 and lasting until his death in 1905. The old trunk contained military records and papers of Col. Greene.
Sources Mentioning Col. Greene
William Cahn, A Matter of Life and Death, The Connecticut Mutual Story, Random House, New York, 1970.
Alonzo Cooper, In and Out of Rebel Prisons, Time-Life Collector's Library of the Civil War, 1983 reprint of 1888 edition.
Directors of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company, Jacob Lyman Greene Memorials, Hartford, 1905.
Cyrus Townsend Brady, Indian Fights and Fighters, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1971 reprint of 1904 edition.
John M. Carroll, Custer In the Civil War, His Unfinished Memoirs, Presidio Press, San Rafael, California, 1977.
John M. Carroll, Custer In Texas, Sol Lewis and Liveright, New York, 1975.
Elizabeth Bacon Custer, Tenting On the Plains, or General Custer in Kansas and Texas, Corner House Publishers, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1973 reprint of 1887 edition.
Lawrence A. Frost, The Custer Album, A Pictorial Biography of General George A. Custer, Bonanza Books, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1984 reprint of 1964 edition.
Lawrence A. Frost, Custer Legends, Bowling Green University Popular Press, Bowling Green, Ohio, 1981.
D. Mark Katz, Custer In Photographs, Yo-Mark Production Company, Inc., Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1985.
J. H. Kidd, Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman, With Custer's Michigan Cavalry Brigade in the Civil War, Time-Life Collector's Library of the Civil War reprint of 1908 edition.
Marguerite Merington, editor, The Custer Story, The Life and Intimate Letters of General George A. Custer and His Wife Elizabeth, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1987 reprint of 1950 edition.
Jay Monaghan, Custer, The Life of General George Armstrong Custer, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1971 reprint of 1959 edition.
Jno. Robertson, Adjutant General, compiler, Michigan In the War, W. S. George & Co., State Printers and Binders, Lansing, Michigan, revised edition, 1882.
Gregory J. W. Urwin, Custer Victorious, The Civil War Battles of General George Armstrong Custer, Farleigh Dickinson University Press, Rutherford, New Jersey, 1983.
Adjutant General's Office, United States Army, Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the United States Army for the Years 1861, '62, '63, '64, '65, Part 5. Ohio-Michigan, Ron R. Van Sickle Military Books, Gaithersburg, Maryland, reprint of 1865 edition.
Selected Sources Relevant to Jacob Greene's Story
Byron Farwell, Ball's Bluff, A Small Battle and Its Long Shadow, EPM Publications, Inc., McLean, Virginia, 1990.
Lawrence A. Frost, Custer Slept Here, Garry Owen Publishers, Monroe, Michigan, 1974.
Martin F. Graham and George F. Skoch, Mine Run: A Campaign of Lost Opportunities, October 21, 1863 - May 1, 1864, H. E. Howard, Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia, 1987.
Thomas F. Hahn, Towpath Guide to the C & O Canal, Georgetown (Tidelock) to Cumberland, American Canal and Transportation Center, Sheperdstown, West Virginia, 1987.
Brevet Lieut. W. J. Hardee, Hardee's Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, for the Instruction, Exercises and Manoeuvers of Riflemen and Light Infantry, C & D Jarnagin, Corinth, Mississippi, reprint of 1862 edition.
William D. Henderson, The Road To Bristoe Station, Campaigning With Lee and Meade, August 1 - October 20, 1863, H. E. Howard, Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia, 1987.
Kim Bernard Holien, Battle At Ball's Bluff, Leesburg, Virginia, October 21, 1861, Moss Publications, Orange, Virginia, 1989.
J. Michael Miller, The North Anna Campaign, "Even Unto Hell Itself", May 21-26, 1864, H. E. Howard, Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia, 1989.
Margaret T. Peters, compiler, A Guidebook to Virginia's Historical Markers, The University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1985.
James I. Robertson, Jr., Civil War Sites In Virginia, A Tour Guide, The University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1982.