Mrs Gen Geo. Washington MorrisTown NJ ---------------------
Mrs Washington My dear Madame I exceeding- ly regret my in- ability to accept your kind invita- tion for Friday evening next - a severe cold con- fining me to the house. Present my compliments to his ??? Excellency the General and ---------------------
the ????? ????? and believe me Your most humble and abt Servant Natl G???? Paulus Hook Feb 19-1780
When this note was written, Major General Nathanael Greene was the 3rd Quartermaster General. The letter was written from Paulus Hook, a part of what is now known as Jersey City. On August 19, 1779, Col. Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee led a successful assault on the British at Paulus Hook, killing 50 and capturing 158. Colonel Lee attended the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University. His son was the famous Confederate General Henry E. Lee.
Later, on October 8, 1780, after Nathanael Greene resigned because of despute with Congress on July 26, George Washington appointed him General to replace General Gates in the south. Greene was second in command to Washington.
General Washington lived and made his headquarters at the Ford Mansion in Morristown during the winter of 1779-80, the coldest winter in recorded history. New York harbor froze to a depth of 18 feet. Martha Washington arrived in Morristown by sled to spend the winter in Morristown..
Is this note authentic? Does the signature match that of Nathanael Greene? We have seen a signature of Nathanael Greene that does not appear to match the above signature. Another site at http://mep.cla.sc.edu/mepinfo/Greene/greedoc1.htm shows an actual letter from Nathanael Greene. Feedback received on December 4, 2002, from Roger Parks of the Rhode Island Historical Society confirms that the handwriting is not that of Nathanael Greene.
The note appears to be a response to an invitation. There is no mention of a wife of the sender in the note. One web site suggests that Catherine or "Kitty" Greene spent the winter with her husband in Morristown. The web site does not mention which winter they spent in Morristown. The first winter encampment was 1776-77. George Washington was very fond of Catherine and is reported to have danced continuously for three hours with her at a dance in 1789. A son, Nathanael Ray Greene, was born in Morristown on January 27, 1780.
Our research indicates that there was a First Officers' Dance Assembly held in Morristown around the date of the note. We will research this further
On February 22, 1780, George Washington would have celebrated his 48th birthday. In the note Nathanael Greene writes "Present my compliments to his Excellency the General." Presumably, this is to compliment him on his reaching his 48th birthday.
Very few letters to or from Martha Washington have survived to this day. If this letter is genuine, it would be rare.