Willard Greene

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Photos from the Past

Willard H. Greene

Dr. Willard H. Greene, the last of a Rhode Island group of five brothers, all of whom saw service in the Civil War and a practitioner of medicine in Providence since the close of the war, died Sunday afternoon at the Rhode Island Hospital from a complication of diseases and old age. Dr. Greene had been ill for almost a year, but his condition did not become critical until last Wednesday, when he was taken to the hospital.

He was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island on August 1, 1832 to Samuel Greene and Ruth Capron. Samuel Greene, was working at that time in the Slater Mill in Pawtucket. The family consisted of five boys and three girls, and at the outbreak of the Civil War, all five brothers enlisted. Two brothers entered Rhode Island companies as surgeons, two entered as privates, while the fifth, who happened then to be in California, raised a regiment of his own and was chosen as Captain.

Dr. Willard H. Greene, in early life, practiced dentistry in Bristol for four years and then attended Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had no sooner graduated than the Civil War broke out and he immediately enlisted in the 12th Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry. He later served as medical officer with Battery I, First New York Artillery, at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, and at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

On General Sherman’s campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, he served as Acting Assistant Surgeon of the Army of the Cumberland, and shortly after was Assistant Surgeon of the 14th United States Colored Infantry under General Corbin, on duty at Post Hospital, Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was mustered out of federal service at Nashville, Tennessee on March 26, 1866.

He returned to Providence after the war and for 20 years conducted a drug store on Eddy Street and practiced medicine at the same time. After selling his drug business, he gave his entire attention to his medical business and had an active practice up to the time he was taken to the hospital.

He was a member of Arnold Post, No. 4, Grand Army of the Republic, and at one time was its Commander. He also was a member of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to St. Johns Commandery, No. 1, Knights Templar, and was a member of the Rhode Island Medical Society.

Funeral services were held in his late home, 28 Potter Avenue. A delegation from the Arnold Post was inattendance. Reverend William H. Easton officiated at the services. Interment was in the soldiers’ plot at Bristol. He was survived by his widow, Emma L. Greene, whom he married in 1893, and two sisters, Mrs. Sarah Mason of South Attleboro, and Mrs. Ellen Featherston of Pasadena, California.

None of the five Greene Brothers was wounded during the Civil War. Daniel H. Greene, who died at the Soldiers’ Home in 1913, was confined in Libby Prison for a considerable time and returned to Rhode Island with health greatly impaired. He enlisted in the 4th Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, participated in the battle of Newberne, under General Burnside, and was taken prisoner at the explosion of the mine in front of Petersburg, Virginia.

Surgeon Jerome B. Greene, who served in the 5th Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, returned to Providence and practiced medicine until his death 1911. He served at Newberne, North Carolina, through the yellow fever epidemic and at the second battle of Bull Run.

Edward W. Greene was a member of the First Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, serving at the first battle of Bull Run, and also in the 29th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at the seven days’ fight in front of Richmond, Virginia under General McClellan. He returned to Pawtucket after the war, where he conducted a grocery store until his death. Captain Henry A. Greene, who raised and was Captain of the First regiment, California Volunteer Infantry, died around 1903. He also served three years in New Mexico fighting the Indians and commanded a company in the Second Regiment, Hancock’s Veteran Reserve Corps.

The picture below shows Willard H. Greene and his brothers ( Captain Henry A. Greene, Daniel H. Greene, Jerome B. Greene, and Edward W. Greene), of who also served in the Civil War. Photograph and information submitted by Sebastian Nelson, Department Historian, Department of California and Pacific, SUVCW.

Source: 1915. Obituary: Dr. W. H. Greene, War Doctor, Dead, Last of Five Brothers Who Served with Union Army. Practiced Here Many Years, Was Acting Surgeon of the Army of the Cumberland on Gen. Sherman’s Campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta – Also Served Under Gen. Corbin, Providence Daily Journal (December 21, 1915), Providence, Rhode Island.

Left to Right: Willard H. Greene, Daniel H. Greene, Jerome B. Greene, Edward W. Greene, Henry A. Greene
Circa (after) February 1865