Bio of Greenlief Thurlow Stevens
As found in REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF MAINE
A Collection of Biographical Sketches.
Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher
1893

MR. STEVENS was born in Belgrade, Me., August 20, 1831, being the youngest son of Daniel and Mahala (Smith) Stevens. His grandfather, William Stevens, came from Lebanon, in York County. and settled in Kennebec County about the year 1796, and on the farm, then a wilderness, where the subject of this sketch was born. Greenlief was educated in the public schools of Belgrade and at Titcomb Belgrade Academy and Litchfield Liberal Institute. He taught school successfully several years, after which he read law with Hon. Samuel Titcomb of Augusta, and was admitted to the Bar in Cuinberland County in 1860. Subsequently he entered the Senior class, Law Department of Harvard University, where he graduated in July, 1861, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Laws. While at Harvard he was a pupil of the eminent jurists, Washburn, Parker, and Parsons.

After graduation he returned to Maine, and on December 14, 1861, was commissioned First Lieutenant in the Fifth Maine Battery. In May, 1862, he took the field, having spent the winter in drill, serving successively under Generals McDowell, Pope, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Meade, Grant, and Sheridan. He commanded the battery at Fredericksburg, and at the battle of Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863, was wounded by the fragment of a shell. June 21 Lieutenant Stevens was promoted to Captain of the battery, and at the battle of Gettysburg, July 2, received another wound, a musket ball passing through both legs below the knees. In the fall of 1863 Captain Stevens returned to his command, before his wounds were healed, and participated in the operations of the Army of the Potomac at Mine Run, and in 1864 was under General Grant in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court-house, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. July 10, 1863, he was detached with his battery from the Army of the Potomac, with the Sixth Corps under General Wright, and proceeded to Washington for its defense, it being threatened by Early's army. February 14, 1865, he was appointed Major by brevet "for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Cold Harbor, June 3, battle of Winchester, September 19, and battle of Cedar Creek, Va., October ig, to take rank from October 19, 1864."

A little knoll, a spur of Cuips Hill, on the battle field of Gettysburg, where Captain Stevens posted his battery by direction of General Hancock in person, on Julyr. 1863, after the repulse of the First and Eleventh Corps, and which was so gallantly held by Captain Stevens and his battery, preventing the enemy's further approach, has been christened and known in history as "Stevens' Knoll."

The Cannoneer, in describing the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, under Sheridan, said:

"At the time when Getty's division was fighting in its second pesition, Stevens, who had apparently been retiring in the interval between the right of Getty and the left of Wheaton, formed his battery on the knoll opposite the right flank of Wheaton's brigade and opened a tremendous tire of canister on that part of the enemy's line which was advancing to envelop Warner. These must have been Kershaw's troops, but there was another rebel division coming up still beyond Kershaw over the ground vacated by the first division. This, according to Early's account was Gordon's division, and one brigade of it started to charge Stevens' battery. According to the best information immediately after the battle or since, there was no infantry of the first division within supporting distance of Stevens at that moment, as that division was then forming at from oiie-third to one-half a mile in his rear. But he stood his ground and repulsed the charge of Gordon's troops, who did not get more than half way up the acclivity of the knoll he was holding, and who, according to General Early's account, 'recoiled in considerable confusion."

On a request for promotion, written without Captain Stevens' knowledge, General Wright, commanding the Sixth Corps, indorsed:

"The gallant and important services rendered by Captain Stevens, of which I was personally cognizant, make it my duty to bring his merits before tile authorities of his State, and ask for him at their hands such acknowledgment in the way of promotion as it is in their power to bestow."

General Sheridan indorsed on the recommendation of General Wright: "Highly approved."

Describing the great crisis in the battle of Winchester, the New York World's field correspondent said:

"The moment was a fearful one. Such a sight rarely occurs more than once in any battle as was presented on the open space between two pieces of woodland, into which the cheering enemy poured. The whole line, reckless of bullets, even of the shell of our batteries constantly advanced. Captain Stevens' battery, Fifth Maine, posted immediately in their front, poured its fire unflinchingly into their columns to the last. A staff officer, riding up, warned it to the rear to save it from capture. It did not move, the men of the battery loading and firing with the regularity and precision of a field day. The foe advanced to a point within two hundred yards of the muzzles of Captain Stevens' guns."

General Tompkins, Chief of Artillery, Sixth Army Corps, said:

"However trying the circumstances, Captain Stevens has always been found equal to the occasion."

At the close of the war Major Stevens was mustered out of service with his battery July 6, 1865, having served three years and five months. This battery lost more men in killed and wounded in the three great battles of Chancellorsvilie, Gettysburg, and Cedar Creek than any other battery in a like number of battles in the War of the Rebellion, either volunteer or regular (see "Regimental Losses in the American Civil War," by William H. Fox, pp. 463, 464).

Major Stevens turned to his profession, at the close of the war, in which he was eminently successful, being engaged in nearly every case in his vicinity. In 1875 he was a member of the Maine House of Representatives, and in 1877 and 1878 a member of the Senate, the latter year serving as chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary. In 1888 he was elected Sheriff of Kennebec County for the term of two years. and re-elected in 1890. In 1892 he was chosen by the people Judge of the Probate Court for Kennebec County, a highly responsible position, and one vested with great discretion, which he now holds. He is also a member of the Maine Gettysburg Commission, taking an active part in procuring and locating the Maine monuments on that historic field.

He married Mary A. Veaton, a school-mate of his youth and a daughter of Richard Yeaton, 2nd, an enterprising citizen of his native town. They had four children, Jessie, Don Carlos, Ala, and Rupert, one only of whom is now living, Don Carlos, a Unitarian minister, located at Fairhaven, Mass.


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