Rhode Island Reading Room
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This section contains articles of genealogical and historic interest on Rhode Island in general, from old Rhode Island books and newspapers. If you would like to contribute please e-mail me with information.

The Fayetteville Observer, issue of July 18, 1901:

Discovery of the Remains of General Greene

For nearly a century the place where the body of General Nathaniel Greene, of the Revolution, was interred, has been a mystery. Or, rather, we should say, where it lay, for the place of original interment was not so uncertain.

On the 19th of June, 1786, he died on his plantation, Mulberry Grove, a few miles from Savannah, and the next day his body was brought down the river to the city, where it was received on the banks by the military and municipal officials. The State of Georgia, at the close of the Revolution, confiscated the estate of Lieutenant-Governor John Graham and gave it to General Greene. It was in a vault in the Savannah Cemetery originally belonging to the Graham family, but which was used as an appendage to the confiscated estate for the interment of General Greene, that the body was actually deposited. This vault passed into the possession of the Mossman family, relatives of the Grahams, and it was given out by some one, or was the common belief, that the Mossmans had had the body secretly removed to one or the other of several spots that were named in the current gossip.

In 1819, the city council of Savannah {next line can not be read} and locate the body of General Greene. There is no record of a report of this committee, and it is supposed that it never entered upon its duties, because of the prevalence at Savannah of yellow fever that year. And so the matter drifted until 1900, when the Society of the Cincinnati of Rhode Island, of which state General Greene was a native, appointed their president, Col. Asa Bird Gardiner, and several Savannah gentlemen, a committee to find the remains, appropriating a sum of money to defray the expenses of the search. Work was begun in March, and the remains have just been discovered in the Graham (or Mossman) vault where they were originally deposited, being identified by the coffin plate lying near by, which, after being cleaned of rust, was found to bear this inscription:

Nathaniel Greene,

Obit June 19, 1786

Age, 41 Years

A singular circumstance is revealed in the long narrative concerning these events, which we find in the Atlanta Constitution, contributed by Mrs. William Harden, Registrar of the Savannah Daughters of the American Revolution, viz: that there was not at that time (1786) a minister of the gospel in Savannah. Says Johnsonís biography of General Greene, describing the funeral:

"Early on Monday, the 19th, he expired. On the morning after his death his corpse was brought down by water and received on the riverbank by the military and municipality of the place. The citizens all followed in procession to the graveyard, which, to the honor of Christianity, is in that place common to all sects, or all mankind, and the funeral ceremony of the Church of England was read over the corpse by the Honorable William Stephens, as there was not at that time a minister of the gospel in the city. The body was then placed in a vault, but the identical vault still remains a subject of inquiry."


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