George S. Greene

George S. Greene

Gen. John Sedgwick ("Papa John")

The beloved commander fo AOP 6th Corps, was probably as close to a father figure in the treatment of his troops, while still carrying out the duties of the professional soldier that he was.

Gen. George S. Greene ("Pop Greene")

This steely no nonsense Regular who defended Culps Hill gave off a father/grandfatherly appearance only, in comparison to Sedgwick.

Peter: I'm a little confused with this reference. I have been studying John White Geary's White Star Division (2nd Division 12th Corps) for about 6 years now, to include publishing a professional article on the Battle of Wauhatchie (near Chattanooga on October 28-29 1863) where Greene was wounded, and I have never seen a first person or primary source account that called Greene "Pop". From what I know of his personality, I doubt that anybody would have called Greene that.

Greene was also not a regular. Greene did graduate from West Point with the class of 1823, but he resigned his commission in 1835, and left the service on June 30, 1836. From 1836 until the start of the Civil War he served as a civil engineer throughout the northeast (he built railroads in 6 states, including Virginia).

He received a commission as Colonel with the 60th NY Volunteers on January 18, 1862, and was promoted to Brigadier General in April 1862.

Is it possible you've confused Greene with Brigadier General Alpheus S. Williams of Michigan, who commanded the FIRST division of the 12th Corps, and also the 12th Corps upon occasion at Gettysburg. Williams' nickname was "Paps" or "Pop".

Doug Cubbison

p.s. Incidentally, Williams is incorrectly referred to as a Major General in the National Park Service Visitors Center exhibit on Meade's July 2nd Council of War!DRC

peter thorson

My recent nickname post that ref. the "Pop" nickname attachment to Gen. George S. Greene was based upon Wayne E. Motts article "To Gain A Second Star:The Forgotten George S. Greene", page 68, Issue #3, of Gettysburg Magazine.

It is also my understanding based upon the ref. article, that Gen. Greene was a graduate of the Class of 1823 at West Point. My personal opinion is that based upon his graduation from the academy and pre-Civil War service, even if just garrison duty qualifies him in my mind as a "Regular". Peter Thorson (Doug Cubbison White Star Consulting) says:

Brigadier General George S. Greene entered West Point in 1819, and graduated in 1823. The best biography of Greene is a commemorative volume issued by the State of New York when his monument was dedicated on Culp's Hill. It is entitled "Services of Brevet Major General Greene". 1823 is the graduation date listed in this volume, and is also the graduation date listed on his monument on Culp's Hill at Gettysburg. Greene has never had a comprehensive biography prepared for him, although I understand that one may be in preparation, which I am eagerly looking forward to.

I think that a description of Greene from Lt. George K. Collins of the 149th New York Infantry is appropriate: "He was a West Point graduate, about 60 years old, thick set, five feet ten inches high, dark complexioned, iron gray hair, full gray beard and mustache, gruff in manner and stern in appearance, but with all an excellent officer and under a rough exterior possessing a kind heart. In the end the men learned to love and respect him as much as in the beginning they feared him, and this was saying a good deal on the subject. He knew how to drill, how to command, and in the hour of peril how to care for his command, and the men respected him accordingly."

I have never been able to ascertain where Mr. Motts came up with that nickname ("Pap" or "Pop") for Greene, as it appears in no first person accounts that I have encountered to date. The only thing close to a "nick name" for Greene was the result of a dress parade that he put the brigade through on June 4, 1863. The weather was hot and sultry, but Greene's family was visiting him, and he put on a Brigade dress parade for their benefit. I quote from Collins' excellent regimental of the 149th New York: " One of the movements being performed in double quick delighted the daughters, and one of them said, 'Papa can't you trot them around again? It looks so funny. The father was said to have replied, 'Of course I can; ain't I General?' General Greene, although a very kind man, had the bad habit of attending personally to the discipline of men on the march, in this way he got into many personal altercations with them. At such times they usually reminded him of all the little unpleasant things they knew about him, and so for a long time after this review you could hear it shouted upon the march, "Papa, can't you trot them around again? It looks so funny. Of course I can, ain't I General?'"

Greene is generally credited with convincing his division commander, John White Geary, to construct breastworks on Culp's Hill. It is interesting that although a graduate of West Point in the day of flintlock muskets, that Greene had come to appreciate firepower and fortifications. If you walk the trace of Greene's Brigade's breastworks on Culp's Hill, you can appreciate how good of an eye the man had for terrain. Meade's official report of the Battle of Gettysburg essentially ignored the entire 12th Corps and its contributions, apparently Meade had absolutely NO IDEA of what was happening on his right flank. It is apparent that he never personally inspected that flank, to the best of my knowledge. In any event, although this error was later corrected by Meade, as a result Greene's role at Gettysburg has been largely ignored until recently.

When Greene died, he was buried in Warwick, Rhode Island with a boulder from Culp's Hill placed above his grave. I guess that kind of says it all.