Then and Now

Civil War camps in Warwick


While the battles were raging in the South, Warwick was the site of two camps. One, in Apponaug, was used to train recruits in the use of a high-powered cannon. The other, Camp Ames in the Spring Green section, was the camp for the 3rd Rhode Island Volunteers, later called the 3rd R.I. Heavy Artillery. They left for the battlefield on Sept. 7, 1861, where they were engaged in a number of battles.

This group was led by Col. Charles R. Brayton of Apponaug. He greatly distinguished himself in the Civil War and became a popular local hero. He was promoted to brigadier-general and, as a reward for his wartime record, was made the United States pension officer after the war. This appointment was made available to him by U.S. Senator Henry B. Anthony. Brayton used this position to rally war veterans to Sen. Anthony’s party and, together, Brayton and Anthony controlled Rhode Island politics for years.

Warwick’s pride in the war was stimulated by the heroic actions of members of the Greene family. This family, which produced a number of great heroes in the Revolutionary War, contributed to the Civil War as well. The most famous family member was George Sears Greene, who was 60 years old when the war began. Greene, a West Point graduate who had served in the Army from 1823 to 1836, recognized the need for trained officers and enlisted as a colonel. By the spring of 1862, his talents earned him the rank of brigadier-general. Greene was made famous at Gettysburg when he led a heroic defense of Culp’s Hill, which saved the Union Army from disaster.

In the years following Gettysburg, Greene played an important role at the Battle of Wauhatchie at Lockout Mountain, near Chattanooga. Again shunning the safety of a behind-the-lines position, he was severely wounded when a rifle ball passed through his face and damaged his upper jaw. Greene recuperated quickly and, undaunted, returned to fight beside his men, again placing himself in danger on a number of occasions.

While George Sears Greene was distinguishing himself as a fighting general, his sons were also fighting in the war. One, Samuel Dana Greene, was the executive officer on board the Monitor and took part in the classic battle with the Merrimac in 1862. Another son, Brevet Major Charles T. Greene, was at the Battle of Rhinegold, Ga., where he lost his right leg by a cannon shot. Warwick was well represented by the Greene family.

After the final surrender at Appomattox on April 8, 1865 ended the war, the conquering heroes retuned to Warwick that was visibly altered by the increased demand for textiles. Warwick was entering a new era. By the time the Civil War ended, the Republican Party was firmly entrenched in Rhode Island and many of its leaders either came from Warwick of had direct connections with the town. During the early part of the century, John Brown Francis, John Waterman, Christopher Rhodes and William Sprague were most influential, but in the period following the Civil War the undisputed leaders were Henry B. Anthony, Charles Brayton, Nelson W. Aldrich and, to a lesser extent, John R. Bartlett.

Bartlett was the son-in-law of Christopher Rhodes, one of the influential business and political figures of the early 19th century. Bartlett had earned a reputation as a leading writer and politician by the mid-19th century. He was the Rhode Island Secretary of State from 1855-72. Among his most noteworthy accomplishments was that he helped create the boundaries for the state of Arizona and was primarily responsible for the establishment of the Providence Athenaeum.

During the Civil War, Bartlett was acting-governor from 1861-62, while Gov. Sprague took leave to command the Rhode Island troops encamped in Washington and in the First Battle of Bull Run. While Secretary of State, Bartlett became deeply interested in the history of Rhode Island. For 10 years Bartlett occupied himself in arranging and editing the state records. The result of this work is the 10-volume reference classic, "Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."


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