Greene was prominent among those who advised a retreat from New York City. He also advocated the burning of the city so that the British might not use it. He justified this by asserting that the majority of property was owned by Loyalists. While Washington agreed with this, the proposal was rejected by Congress. He was placed in command of Fort Constitution (later renamed Fort Lee) on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. On October 25, 1776, he succeeded General Israel Putnam in command of Fort Washington, across the river from Fort Constitution. He received orders from Washington to defend Fort Washington to the last extremity, and on October 11, 1776, the Congress passed a resolution to the same effect; but later Washington wrote to him to use his own discretion. Greene ordered Colonel Magaw, who was in immediate command, to defend the place until he should hear from him again, and reinforced it to meet General Howe's attack. Nevertheless, the blame for the losses of Forts Washington and Constitution was put upon Greene, but apparently without his losing the confidence of Washington, who himself assumed the responsibility.
Nathanael Greene ( 7 August 1742 – 19 June 1786 ) was a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War , known for his successful command in the Southern Campaign , forcing British Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis to abandon the Carolinas and head for Virginia . When the war began, Greene was a militia private , the lowest rank possible; he emerged from the war with a reputation as George Washington 's most gifted and dependable officer.