1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 Papers of Col. Christopher Greene (1737-1781)

 Soldier of Warwick, Rhode Island

 Papers, 1776-1781

 Size: 0.5 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 455

 Processed by: Harold Kemble ca 1985 and finding aid by Lori Salotto, November 1999


©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Col. Christopher Greene (1732-1781) was born at Occupessatuxet, Warwick, Rhode Island to Judge Phillip Greene and Elizabeth (Wickes) Greene. He married his third cousin, Anna Lippit (b.1735), the daughter of Jeremiah and Welthian (Greene) Lippit on May 6, 1757 and they had nine children. When his father died in 1761, Christopher inherited the family's mill estate and ran the business until he became an officer in the Revolutionary Army. He also served several successive terms in the colonial legislature until the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

            Christopher Greene was chosen, at the commencement of the Revolutionary War, as a lieutenant in the Kentish Guards, which was established by the colonial legislature as a way to select the "top" youth for military office. From there the legislature appointed him a major with the Army of Observation, under the command of his third cousin, General Nathanael Greene.

            In 1775 he was put in charge of a Continental regiment in Cambridge under the command of Benedict Arnold. This regiment was attached to the Army of Canada under General Montgomery. During an attack upon Quebec, Greene was captured. He spent eight months in captivity before being exchanged. Upon his return he was promoted to Major in Col. Varnum's First Rhode Island Regiment and in February of 1777 he became its commander. He was then chosen by General Washington to take charge of Fort Mercer and was promoted to Colonel.

            Colonel Greene died on May 14, 1781 when a group of Loyalists surrounded his headquarters on the Croton River in New York. From one account of the attack "his body was found in the woods, about a mile distant from his tent, cut, and mangled in the most shocking way."


Clarke, Louise Brownell. The Greenes of Rhode Island with Historical Records of English Ancestry, 166-168. New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1903.

Cowell, Benjamin. Spirit of '76 in Rhode Island, 263. Boston: A.J. Wright, Printer, 1850.

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Scope and content:

            This collection contains two orderly books, 1776 to 1779 and miscellaneous papers of Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Greene of the First Regiment, Rhode Island Infantry during the Revolutionary War. Found in the miscellaneous papers is a letter to Col. Greene from the French General Lafayette, as well as a letter telling of Col. Greene's death (box 1, folder 2).

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            This collection comes from a variety of sources. The orderly book dated July 1777 to June 1779 was purchased by John Skinner in 1907. The orderly book dated October 1776 to June 1777 was part of a gift given by John Howland in 1845. The letter to Col. Greene from the French General Lafayette dated 1780 was a gift from Mrs. Samuel Ames in 1906. Several miscellaneous dates have an unknown provenance.

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Processing note:

            An inscription from 1783 referring to "General Greene" (Nathanael) was transferred to the Nathanael Greene Papers (Mss 464). A note to "William Greene Sir" dated November 25, 1781 from John Gardner was transferred to William Greene Papers (Mss 469). A "Book of Returns," dated July 24, 1777 to July 29, 1780, was transferred to MSS 673 sg2 (Revolutionary War Papers) in September, 2000.

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Box 1, Volume 1: Orderly book, October 5, 1776 to June 11, 1777

Box 1, Volume 2: Orderly book, July 12, 1777 to July 22, 1779

Box 1, folder 1: Miscellaneous papers

            Account between the State of Rhode Island and Col. Christopher Greene, 1777-1778

            Account record of sugar deliveries, 1778

            Letter about the capture of the sloop George, 1779

            Letter from the Marquis de Lafayette, 1780

            Receipt, 1781

            Letter about Col. Greene's death, 1781 

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First Rhode Island Regiment

George (sloop)

Lafayette, Marquis de (1757-1834)

Orderly books (1776-1779)

United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783

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