America's Civil War

TRUE GRIT

In 1907, a monument honoring Union Maj. Gen. George Sears Greene was dedicated on Culp’s Hill at the Gettysburg National Military Park. It was on that ground that Greene and his New York brigade had secured the northern end of the Army of the Potomac’s fish-hook battle line at a critical point of the July 1863 battle. Although the Little Round Top stand by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine tends to receive more credit for the Federal victory at Gettysburg, Greene’s actions on Culp’s Hill on July 2-3 were just as important—maybe more so.

Speaking at the Culp’s Hill dedication, Colonel William F. Fox paid tribute to the general’s leadership and the trademark tenacious fighting spirit of his men not just at Gettysburg but throughout the war. “Greene’s division [at Antietam] was not only actively engaged, but made a record for hard fighting, good generalship, and effective service that has received favorable mention from every historian of that famous field,” recalled Fox, a Civil War veteran and author of the three-volume New York at Gettysburg and Henry Slocum and His Men. “General Greene has become so well known by reason of his brilliant achievement at Gettysburg that there is a tendency to overlook or forget the good work accomplished by him and his division at Antietam.”

What Fox intimated that day at Culp’s Hill remains true. There is a regrettable propensity to overlook or forget altogether the accomplishments of George Greene and his men at Antietam on September 17, 1862—nine months prior to Gettysburg.

Born May 6, 1801, in the small village of Apponaug, R.I., George Sears Greene was an 1823 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and remained at West Point as an assistant professor until reassigned in 1827. After service at posts such as Fort Sullivan in Maine—where in 1833 his wife of five years and three children died of disease—Greene resigned from the Army in

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