Rhode Island journalist Carbone gives a little-known Revolutionary War leader his due in this admiring biography.
Frequently dubbed Washington’s best general, Nathanael Greene (1742–86) played an active role in the Rhode Island militia during the turbulent years before the revolution. The son of a wealthy businessman, he disliked British taxes as much as the average American merchant. At the outbreak of hostilities in 1775, the state’s General Assembly appointed him commander of Rhode Island’s army. Most of Greene’s military knowledge came from books, but he was a quick learner and a natural leader. Observers at the 1775 siege of Boston noted that the Rhode Island camp stood out for its order and hygiene, as well as the professional deportment of its men. Although historians debate Washington’s military talents, they agree he was a shrewd judge of men; when he arrived to command the colonial forces he quickly approved of Greene, who at 32 became the rebel colonies’ youngest general and Washington’s right-hand man. He participated in most campaigns and was appointed to the Southern Command in 1780. Despite leading a few thousand ragged, unpaid, often unfed troops far less numerous than the enemy, Greene conducted a brilliant campaign, reversing a string of defeats to frustrate Cornwallis’s offensive and lead him to disaster at Yorktown. Receiving little support from the Continental Congress or the states, he pledged his personal fortune to obtain supplies and ended the war with massive debts that burdened him for the three years that remained in his short life. Drawing on Greene’s papers and the usual 18th-century sources, Carbone writes a straightforward biography while touching the traditional historical bases.
A lucid account of the Revolutionary War from the point of view of its most successful general.