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 Albert S Greene

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Albert S Greene

  • Birth 3 Aug 1838
  • Death 8 Mar 1896 District Of Columbia, USA
  • Burial Adams, Jefferson County, New York, USA
  • Memorial ID 93419160

ALBERT SIVILLIAN GREENE
The subject of this sketch was born August 3, 1838, on the farm of his father, Joseph Langford Greene, 1 3/4 miles east of Adams village. He attended the school district at what was known as the Fox schoolhouse, until he was 13 years of age, when he was transferred to a private school, known as the Adams Seminary. At 17 he decided to take a course in civil engineering at the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute. About Dec. 1, 1855, he passed his examination, commenced his studies and continued them until his graduation with honors, in June, 1859.
In December, 1859, he applied to the Navy Department for permission to be examined for his fitness for appointment to the engineer corps of the navy. In January following he was examined and was specially commended, and on February 17, 1860, received his appointment as a third assistant engineer in the U.S.Navy. He continued in the service, going through the grades of second and first assistant, and the two grades of chief engineer, that of relative rank of lieutenant commander, in which latter he was serving when retired, on August 9, 1893, having been in continuous active service for 33 1/2 years.
As a boy, he was noted for his studious habits, rarely missing a recitation at school until his final graduation, except for a couple of weeks, when sickness prevented his attendance.
When a boy, he manifested a decided taste for mechanical pursuits, building all his own wagons, sleds, traps, etc. As he grew older, he spent much of his time, when not in school, in a machine shop, where he built a complete steam engine; so that when he entered the navy he was not only a theoretical , but also a practical engineer. During his course at the Polytechnic Institute, visits were frequently made to the larger shops and manufactories about the city, and extensive notes and drawings were made; in fact this formed a part of the course in which Mr. Greene was intensely interested.
In his first examination for promotion in the navy, from third to second assistant, he was placed at the head of his class (all promotions at that time depending on a competitive examination); but some time later, owing to much dissatisfaction in the class, a commission was ordered to re-arrange the positions of the officers, and he was placed No. 6 in the class; on his next promotion, he passed through the same experience, being placed at the head of his class on his examination, and later being put down to No. 7 by a commission. At the next examination, however, he was again placed at the head of his class, which position he held until his retirement. In the course of his duty in the navy, he visited all parts of the world where ships of war go, excepting only the East India station.
On his admission to the service, he was detailed for, and later ordered to, the first ship fitting out for the Mediterranean squadron, which was the U.S.S. Susquehanna; but an emergency occurring which required the presence of a man-of-war in the Gulf of Mexico, the ship was ordered there for about four months previous to going to the Mediterranean.
Leaving Vera Cruz, the ship went by way of Key West and the Madeira Islands, direct to Gibraltar, arriving there early in December, 1860. It was here that Mr. Greene first heard of the election of Abraham Lincoln as President. From Gibraltar the ship proceeded directly to the Italian coast, to Spezzia, which is now the great Italian dock-yard, but at that time was an American naval station. Here the ship was quarantined for about three weeks, owing to the illness of one of her officers. After being released from quarantine, the ship sailed along the Italian coast, visiting Genoa, Leghorn, Naples, then Messina, Sicily, where a quantity of supplies for the Christians in Palestine were taken on board, and the ship sailed for Beirut, Syria, where the supplies were delivered to the agents. While the ship was in port, Chief Engineer Greene was one of a party of 12 officers and 50 men, to make a journey to Jerusalem, but owing to severe floods and bad weather, was unsuccessful in reaching their destination, but did make a landing at the Bay of Acre, at a place called Haifa, at the foot of Mt. Carmel, and visited Nazareth, Mount Tabor, the Sea of Galilee, Canal of Galilee, and all the adjacent points of interest. From this point he proceeded to Alexandria, Egypt, where he visited Cairo, the Pyramids and Suez on the Red Sea. From Alexandria they proceeded along the Barbary coast and to Valette, Malta, and after short stay, sailed to Messina, Sicily, reaching there early in March 1861. During the stay in this port, he witnessed the closing battle of the Neapolitan War, in which Garibaldi took such a prominent part - the last struggle for a united Italy independent of the Pope - the bombardment of the citadel by the Sardinian fleet, and by the Sardinian batteries, south and west of the city, and he has now in his possession a fragment of a ten inch shell which exploded at his feet while he was witnessing the battle.
After the capture of the citadel by the Sardinians, the Susquehanna sailed along the Italian coast to Naples and to Genoa, where news was received of the outbreak of the rebellion and the firing on Sumter. On receipt of this news, it was expected that the ship would be ordered home, although the cruise was scarcely begun, and she sailed at once for Leghorn, where orders were received directing the ship to return to the United States, also preliminary orders to deliver the same to the two other ships of the squadron. To accomplish this, it was necessary for the ship to visit Naples, Messina, Malta and the City of Cagliara, on the island of Sardinia, from which point she sailed directly to Cadiz, Spain, where coal was procured for the home voyage. The Susquehanna arrived off Sandy Hook early in June 1861, and every pilot-boat communicated with brought conflicting orders. Finally, after laying off and on for a day, decisive orders were received to proceed to Boston. On arriving in Boston, the Captain, the late G.R.Hollins, and several other officers put aside their uniforms, and, without awaiting any reply to their resignation, which they had sent in, went over the side, and were next heard of in the Confederate service.
The ship having been refitted by an increase in her armament, etc., was ordered for blockading duty on the North Atlantic station; but when off the port of Hampton Roads, had the misfortune to break her paddle shaft, which, of course, disabled her; the wheel of the broken shaft was secured in the wheelhouse, the engine adjusted, and she proceeded into that port with one wheel and one engine, and remained there two weeks, until ordered to return to Philadelphia for a new shaft.
While these repairs were being made, Mr. Greene was detached and ordered as an assistant in the office of the Engineer-in-Chief in the Navy Department in Washington, D.C., the president of the board that examined him having, in the meantime, been appointed Engineer-in-Chief. Mr. Greene remained in this office, employed on the design of the machinery of war ships, and on the trials of a large variety of such machinery of every class of design, and on experimental duty, until December, 1868, when he was ordered to the South Pacific Station, on board the United States steamer Nyack, and visited all the ports of the west coast from Juan Fernandes to Panama andf the Gallapagos Islands.
It was during this cruise that the well remembered earthquake of August, 1868, occurred, and his ship was the first to make the port of Arica, Peru, immediately after that city was destroyed, when every vessel in the harbor was wrecked or swept on shore. His ship remained in this port for about two months, with steam up and everything ready to put to sea at a moment's warning. Earthquake shocks were felt at frequent intervals, and three or four of heavy force were felt nearly every day. Just before leaving this port the ship was coaled from the wreck of the U.S.S. Wateree, which was as upright as though afloat, three-quarters of a mile inland and about four miles away from the landing. The coal was brought to the landing on mules' backs, and taken on board in the ships' boats. Sufficient coal was taken on board for five days' steaming. In this earthquake, which was felt along the entire west coast of America, both North and South, the greatest force seemed to be concentrated at Arica, a city of 30,000 inhabitants, which was entirely destroyed, not a single building left standing. The custom-house, a massive structure of granite, was swept away like a paper house; the railway embankment, with tracks, cars, and locomotives, were all swept out to sea as if they were without weight. This condition extended over a distance along the shore of about five miles, and two locomotives were carried out to sea a distance of a thousand yards and were left standing upright on the bottom where they could be plainly seen from the ship's boats when they were being pulled ashore. Many lives were lost by falling walls and by drowning. The wife of an Americal Naval officer, Mrs. M.L. Johnson, was killed by a falling wall. All the officers and crew serving aboard the U.S.S. Fredonia, except three who were on shore at the time, were drowned. Two little American girls, whose father and mother (named Dyer) were both drowned, were brought home by a bother officer, and were left at Watertown, New York.
In 1869 and 1870, while attached to the U.S.S. Nyack, chief engineer Greene participated in the Panama survey for the Isthmus Canal, and here contracted the Isthmus fever. He returned home by way of Marquisas and the Sandwich Islands, reaching San Francisco in March, 1871.
After this cruise, he remained on shore for nearly a year, when he was ordered to the U.S.S. Mahopac. After six weeks he was detached from the Mahopac and remained on waiting orders for two months, when he was ordered to the U.S.S. Nantasket, then serving in the West Indies. He served on this ship for three months, visiting various ports of the West India Islands, when the ship returned home and he was detached and placed on "waiting orders" for three months, after which he was ordered to the U.S.S. Nipsic, serving in the West Indies; he visited many ports among the Islands during the ten or eleven months of the cruise, when the ship, being unfit for further service, was ordered home and put out of commission. When he joined the Nipsic she had been lying in port for six months, without once moving her anchor, because she was unable to do any steaming, owing to her worn-out machinery. Three days after Chief Engineer Greene joined her she got under way, and steamed almost constantly for ten months.
After being detached from the Nipsic, he was ordered to duty on the Examining Board at Washington, of which Commodore W.E. LeRoy was president; he served on this board three months when he was detached with the highest commendation from Commodore LeRoy, and ordered to superintend government work being constructed at the Washington Iron Works, Newburg, New York, which duty continued for about a year.
After about a year of this duty he was detached and ordered to the U.S.S. Benicia, then to Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, but as she was under orders to proceed to San Francisco, Cal., he was directed to delay reporting until her arrival. This ship cruised on the Pacific coast from Puget Sound to Mexico, Central America, and Panama for a year, when all her officers and crew were transferred to the U.S.S. Lackawanna, and continued the cruise for a year and a half additional, at which time Chief Engineer Greene was detached and ordered as a member of the examining board for the examination of engineer officers for promotion. He remained on this board for about four years, when he was detached and ordered to the U.S.S. Quinnebaug, then serving in the European squadron. He visited all the principal ports in Europe, the Mediterranean Islands, the Barbara coast and the west coast of Africa, and the Egyptian Coast, also the Cape de Verde, the Canary and the Madeira Islands.
During this cruise in 1882, he was at Alexandria, Egypt, at the time of the English attack upon the Egyptians, and witnessed the bombardment of the city, as well as many skirmishes with the Egyptians, in which the English were defeated. The fleet, assembled for the attack on the Egyptian forts, was probably the strongest known to modern times.
After the ending of the Egyptian war, his ship returned to Italy, by way of Smyrna, Constantinople and the Grecian Islands, and finally made an eight months' cruise on the West coast of Africa, returning by way of England, reaching Leghorn, Italy, where extensive repairs were decided upon. While these were being made, Chief Engineer Greene was invalided home.
After a few months he reported himself ready for duty, and was ordered as a member of the examining board for the promotion of engineer officers and continued on this duty for 2 1/2 years, when he was detached, and received various orders for a year.
He made several trials of novel machinery, including a trial of Mr. John M. Forbes' steam yacht Shearwater; trials of two Herreshoff steamers, named Our Mary and The Lily; he also made a trial of a patented system for the burning of crude petroleum for the production of steam in locomotive boilers, and in 1888 was ordered to the U.S.S. Mohican, on the North Pacific Station. This ship was undergoing repairs when an emergency occurred, requiring the immediate presence of a war-ship at Samoa, when all the officers of the Mohican were transferred to the U.S.S. Vandalia, which sailed at once for Samoa, stopping on the way at the Sandwich Islands for coal, and reached Samoa on the 20th of February, 1889. On the 15th of March, the great Samoan hurricane commenced, and on the next day, Chief Engineer Greene was, with others, swept overboard by the seas, (the ship having struck the rocks) and barely reached the shore alive. He was one of the first officers swept over overboard, and had a life-and-death struggle in the water for more than three hours, when he finally reached the shore on a plank, in a completely exhausted condition physically, but with all his mental faculties as clear as ever. It was to this latter fact that he attributes his escape with his life, as he understood every move he made and had a reason for each action. No other person had such a serious experience at the time, or escaped after so long and desperate a struggle in the terrific seas he had to contend with. Several other officers were swept overboard from about the same place and near the same time as himself, including one who was an acknowledged athlete and and expert swimmer, but he was drowned before he could swim 15 yards. Forty-three persons were drowned from the ship Vandalia, which number included the captain, the paymaster and the marine officer.
After the storm, an officer was dispatched to Aukland, New Zealand to charter a steamer to bring the wrecked people home. After considerable difficulty they found a comfortable one, the "Rockton," of about 1,500 tons, and on June 1, about 600 of those wrecked took passage in her, and in 21 days reached San Francisco. Many of the people, especially the officers, had but a scant supply of clothing, and that only such as could be procured in a tropical island, where the natives are always scantily clad, and they suffered more or less when coming into a cold climate off San Francisco. As soon as the ship arrived, it was necessary to procure suitable clothing, and time was allowed for that purpose. The officers were led to believe, by dispatches received, that it was the intention of the Navy Department to order all the officers home at once, but other councils prevailed, and only two of the Vandalia's officers received such orders. Chief Engineer Greene was among those detained at San Francisco, or rather at the navy yard at Mare Island, but he was ordered home five months later. After a short time to visit his family, he was ordered as a member of a board to investigate the Thompson system of electric welding. After the completion of that duty he was ordered to Chicago as inspector of steel shafting for the Monadnock, which was completed late in June, 1890. At the request of Hon. John W. Noble, Secretary of the Interior, Chief Engineer Greene was ordered to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to superintend the erection of the government hot water works there. He was employed eleven months on this duty, when he was ordered to the League Island Navy Yard, where he remained about a year, during which time he was doing inspection duty at Erie, Pa., for over three months, serving on the examining board and a variety of other duties until September, 1892, when he was ordered to the U.S.S. Charleston, in California. He immediately joined his ship and made the cruise around the Horn to Hampton Roads, Virginia, February, 1893, and took part in the naval review and celebration of that Spring.
Chief Engineer Greene is a firm believer in law and order, alike for all, for those high in authority as well as subordinates, and in the course of his service has succeeded in having several branches of law and of wrong to himself and associates corrected, and still hoped, though on the retired list, to have other corrections made, where the plainest of laws are persistently ignored. He is a member of the military order of the Loyal Legion, and of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was retired after an examination by a board of naval surgeons, who decided that he was incapacitated for active duty from causes incident to the service; and recommended his retirement on three-quarters' pay. His home is in Adams, where he usually spends his summers, but the severity of the winter causes him to seek a more southern latitude during that season.


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  • Created by: Little Macomber
  • Added: 10 Jul 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 93419160
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Albert S Greene (3 Aug 1838–8 Mar 1896), Find A Grave Memorial no. 93419160, citing Adams Rural Cemetery, Adams, Jefferson County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Little Macomber (contributor 47283732) .