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Young man from Halesowen who found fame and fortune in U.S. Deep South in 1833

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 28, 2014

By John Butterworth

  • Green-Meldrim House in Savannah - Charles Green's former home which is now a museum

  • A picture of the inside of the house when Federal General William T. Sherman used it as his HQ

  • Charles Green's great, great grandson Robert deT. Lawrence IV and his wife Blair

  • The original Greenwich Presbyterian Church near one of Charles' homes, The Lawn, and where he is buried

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CHARLES Green arrived in the American Deep South in 1833 aged 26 and his first job was as a clerk in Savannah before he became a partner with E P Butts cotton exporters.

When that failed he joined another cotton exporter Low, Taylor & Co. The Low family had also emigrated from the Black Country and the senior partner John Low (1799-1859) had married Charles' sister Elizabeth.

The firm prospered supplying the spinning mills of England with the bales of cotton grown and processed in the southern states.

In 1837 Charles married Catherine Jane Burroughs (1818-1844) but she died of TB aged only 26. In 1850 Charles married Miss Lucinda 'Lucy' Irland Hunton (1828-1867) and after their wedding trip to England in July 1850 the couple returned to their new home in Madison Square, Savannah, which was completed in 1856 at a cost of 93,000 dollars.

Meanwhile the firm, now Andrew Low & Co, prospered until the outbreak of the Civil War and when the Union blockaded the port of Savannah.

Returning via Canada from a business trip to Europe in November 1861 Charles Green, his sister Mrs Elizabeth Low and Andrew Low entered the USA at Detroit.

But they had been followed by detective working for the U.S. Government and on crossing the border they were arrested and charged with "making contacts on behalf of the Confederate government to arrange loans for the purchase of arms for the Southern forces."

They were taken to Fort Warren in Boston harbour where the men were imprisoned.

The detectives suspected that Elizabeth was carrying secret documents for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, but after searching her they found nothing and released her.

It is believed Elizabeth later delivered the papers to President Davis at the Capitol in Richmond and tradition says that she had hidden the documents in her hair when she arrived back in America.

Elizabeth avoided prison, but Charles and Andrew spent three months at Fort Warren and were then released due to lack of evidence.

Throughout the war Charles appeared neutral but it is thought his sympathies were with the South. It is believed to stop his house being burnt down or being vandalised and to save Savannah itself, Charles controversially invited Federal General William T. Sherman to use his Savannah house as his HQ after Confederate General William J Hardee had moved his troops out of the city in late December 1864.

Sherman accepted the offer and Charles and Lucy and their by now six children still at home moved into the servants' quarters at the back.

Immediately after the Savannah leaders' surrender in April 1865, Andrew Low & Co was dissolved and Charles joined an insurance and banking firm. Sadly, his wife Lucy died on December 26, 1867, and Charles married a third time in 1869 to Lucy's cousin, Aminta Fisher (1835-1908) of Baltimore.

In 1868 he started Charles Green & Co in Savannah and the business prospered so much that he became one of the wealthiest citizens there through cotton and ship owning. Charles Green died aged 74 in August 1881 in Maine and was brought back to Greenwich where he was buried with family members.

On his death the Savannah Morning News said: Savannah loses a valuable, influential and honored (sic) citizen and a merchant whose unimpeachable integrity made him respected throughout the commercial world."

General Sherman called Charles Green "a gentleman in the highest sense, handsome in person, and with sense which enabled him to guide his course in one of the mightiest tempests of passion which ever occurred on Earth."

Research information was taken from The Haymaket Lifestyle Magazine

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