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General Greene I (Revenue Cutter)

(Revenue Cutter: 85 tons; length 50' (keel); beam 18'10"; depth of hold 8'6"; complement 35; armament 10 four-pounder guns)

General Nathanael Greene, born in Warwick, R.I., 7 August 1742, was elected to the colonial assembly in 1770 and became a strong champion of colonial liberty and an early advocate of independence. He commanded the militia during the siege of Boston; and served with Washington at Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Valley Forge. He rendered outstanding service as Quartermaster General (1778-80), then took command of southern forces in the Carolinas campaign. By cunning strategy, he divided the forces under Cornwallis and turned the tide in the Carolinas. In this feat he was aided by his lieutenants, notably Daniel Morgan, Light-Horse Harry Lee, and partisan bands under Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens. When he sold his estates to honor personal notes given to secure supplies for the Continental Army, the grateful people of Georgia voted to give him a plantation.

The first General Greene was a revenue cutter built by Messr Crispin & Ashton, Philadelphia, Penn., in 1797. She was fitted out at Philadelphia in the summer of 1798 to operate under orders of the Navy during the Quasi-War with France. Commanded by Captain George Price, USRCS, she put to sea in late July and first searched for armed French ships between Cape Henry and Long Island Sound.

After putting in at Chester, Penn., to refit, General Greene received 10 Marines and sailed for New York in December, there to receive provisions and join cutter Governor Jay. Sailing from New York in January 1799, the two revenue cutters escorted store ship America south to Cuba, where General Greene joined Capt. Stephen Decatur in Delaware off Cuba on 8 February to escort American merchantmen engaged in the Havana trade.

The two ships jointly captured the fast schooner Marsouin (Porpoise) on 5 March 1799. The French privateers' commission having expired, Commodore Decatur condemned the schooner and sent her into port for fitting out with the squadron. The ships then remained cruising off Havana on the lookout for a French cutter and two schooners, all three reputed with money from past American prizes on board. As put in a letter to the Connecticut Courant newspaper, "We are continually on the look out for these gentlemen, and have not the least doubt before the cruise is over, we shall have the whole or part of them, and so clear this coast of these plundering pickaroons so ruinous to our commerce." Unfortunately, the revenue cutter sailed for home without accomplishing that purpose, arriving in Philadelphia in early May.

On 20 May 1799, General Greene was reported too small to be useful in the Navy and she resumed operations under the Revenue Cutter Service at Philadelphia, Pa., shortly thereafter.

23 October 2007

Published: Fri Jul 10 09:22:53 EDT 2015