Biographical Sketch from
History of the Town of Dummerston

During the last years of his life, the home of Col. Greenwood was in Dummerston. Here also was the birth-place of his wife, Eva Duncan Knight, daughter of Joel and Fannie (Duncan) Knight. Mrs. Knight was the daughter of Dr. Abel Duncan, second cousin of Judge Jason Duncan. Col. Greenwood purchased in 1873, the farm, which has been the homestead of the Joel Knight family for three generations, but his profession as a civil and mining engineer, called him from home nearly the whole time after the purchase was made. Nevertheless, he counted that it would afford him a place of rest from the hardships of his professional life whenever opportunity should favor; but rest came not as anticipated. The man who seemed to have a charmed life escaping the bullets of the enemy on many hard-fought battlefields of the late war for the Union, passing unharmed numerous attacks of Indians which he encountered during his surveys on the plains at the West in 1867-68 and 69, enduring hardship from cold and hunger which few men have ever experienced, was killed by a fatal shot from a gang of robbers and murderers in ambush, and the career of a busy life instantly terminated. The sad event occurred in Aug. 1880 and in the spring of 1882, his remains were brought from Mexico to their final resting place in the cemetery of Dummerston.

William Greenwood, his great-grandfather came from Sherborn, Mass., and settled in Dublin, N. H. in 1765. He was a carpenter by trade and was killed at the raising of a barn, June 28, 1782, aged 61. He married Abigail Death [!] of Sherborn, who d. Oct. 1, 1811, aged 91.

Joshua Greenwood, grandfather of the Colonel, married Hannah Twitchell of Dublin, Aug. 22, 1779. Asa, his father, was born in Dublin, July 1, 1797, married Dec. 31, 1821, Mrs. Lucy Evens, who died in Marlboro, N. H. Feb. 20, 1852. He married 2nd Mary Minot, and removed to Illinois in 1853, returning east in the summer of 1877, to visit friends, he died at the house of his son in Dummerston, July 16, 1877.

Col. Greenwood was born in Dublin, N. H. March 27, 1832, and married Miss Knight, May 19, 1857. He was the youngest son of the family and spent his early years, for the most part in the public schools of Marlboro, H. H., where his parents removed in 1834. Mathematics were his favorite studies and came easily to him. It was his ambition in youth to become a thorough and accomplished engineer, and that object was fulfilled. He remained in Marlboro until 1850, when he entered Norwich University (Vt.,) graduating in 1852. From a report of the Twentieth Reunion of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, we subjoin:

From the Vermont Phoenix

“In 1852, he went to Illinois and engaged in the survey of railroads till the war of the rebellion broke out. He enlisted in the 51st Reg. Ill. Vols., Jan. 17, 1862, and was commissioned 1st Lieut. Co. H of that regiment. His commission as captain of the same company is dated May 9, 1863. Soon after the battle of Stone River, Gen. Rosecrans selected Greenwood for a competent engineer to organize a topographical service, and he was directed to report to Gen. Stanley, at that time chief of cavalry for the Army of the Cumberland with whom he remained till the fall of 1865, when the 4th Corps of that division was mustered out in Texas. No officer served in the Army of the Cumberland who was present at and participated in more battles, actions, affairs, skirmishes, than Col. Greenwood. Always strong and well, though slender of form, he was always ready for duty, day and night. The great battles in which he was a most active participant embrace such names as Perryville, Stone River, Hoover’s Gap, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, three months of Atlanta campaign, an almost continuous fight, including Peach Tree Creek, the assault on Kenesaw; finally, in the last great service of the 4th Corps, the action at Spring Hill, next day the battle of Franklin, and very soon the battle of Nashville, which ended the mission of the Army of the Cumberland, in the destruction of Hood’s army. In only, 1864, (sic) when Gen. Stanley was appointed to the command of the 4th Corps, Greenwood was commissioned by the President, Lt. Col. And Inspector, to date July 28, 1864. In July, 1865, the 4th Corps landed in Texas and was posted at Victoria, Lavacca, and San Antonio. Col. Greenwood was put in charge of the Gulf and San Antonio Railroad which had been completely destroyed by the rebel general, John Magruder.  With the burned and bended railroad iron and such timber as could be gathered out of the Guadalupe lowlands, he soon had the cars running to Victoria.

"Having finished his work in Texas, he returned to Vermont and soon afterwards went West, where he was employed upon the Kansas Pacific Railroad. He was appointed chief engineer of this road, and whilst holding this position, he made surveys on the 32nd and 35th parallels, through to San Francisco. During his service for the company, he constructed 150 miles of railroad in 100 working days and the last day laid ten and one-quarter miles in ten hours, a feat, perhaps, never equaled in railroad construction. In 1870, he made the first general report in favor of three feet narrow gauge railroads, and was appointed general manager of construction of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Upon completion of the first division of this road, he was appointed General Superintendent and remained till the road was finished to Cañon City. He next went to Mexico in company with Gen. W. S. Rosecrans and Gen. W. J. Palmer with a view to constructing a national railroad in that country. Whilst engaged in this service, he visited England and the continent, in the interest of his road, but failing to get the concessions asked for from the Mexican government, he returned to New York and established himself as a civil engineer. In May, d1878, he took charge of the construction of the Pueblo and Arkansas Valley Railroad for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Company; and March, 1879, too charge of the Marion and McPerson Railroad. This is the last public work with which he was connected until he went to Mexico upon his last and fatal engagement.

"As an engineer, he had few peers in the profession. No obstacle that nature had interposed, as it were, in frolicsome mood, in the cañons and mountains of the West, deterred this engineer of science, of skill, and daring, and railroad trains now run securely where before the wild mountain sheep feared to climb. The skillful capitalists who built these wonderful railroads of Colorado well appreciated the worth of Col. Greenwood, and when the Sullivan and Palmer Companies undertook the International and Interoceanic railroads from the city of Mexico to the Pacific coast, Greenwood was called, as he had been before, as the most reliable man to locate the work.

"Whilst so employed, he was murdered near Rio Hondo 18 miles from the city of Mexico, Aug. 29, 1880. He was on his way from Hondo to the city of Mexico, accompanied by Mr. Miller, an assistant engineer, and a servant, where, as was his custom, he expected to spend the Sabbath with his family. When within some 9 miles of the city, he stopped at a wayside inn for the purpose of taking refreshments. Here there were a number of men, who l, seeing his horse, laid a plot by which they were to obtain possession of it. They accordingly rode ahead some distance, where they remained ambushed. Col. Greenwood upon arriving at a barranca, or ravine, separated from his companions and proceeded ahead of them at an increased pace, with the object of examining the locality. His companions saw him as he came from the barranca and descended upon the opposite side of the hill. They hastened in a gallop to join him, when, in a short time, they came upon his dead body lying in the road, perforated by two bullets, one through the breast and left hand, another through the right hand. A letter from P. H. Morgan, dated United States Legation, Mexico, Nov. 23, 1880, to Gen. D. S. Stanley, states that when Col. Greenwood approached where the robbers were in ambush, they rushed out upon him, hoping that the frightened horse would throw his rider, and in that way they might obtain possession of him, and, as in this, they failed, they to make sure of the horse murdered Col. Greenwood. His horse, carbine, and revolver were taken, but his watch, papers, and money were untouched. It is believed that the assassins were disturbed and only had time to make off with the articles mentioned. His body was brought to the capital and buried in the American Cemetery Sept. 1, 1880. The unfortunate occurrence created a sensation in the capital and the loss of Col. Greenwood was deeply felt. The funeral procession was attended by the whole of the Americans and Englishmen, Germans and Frenchmen and many of the representative Mexicans. Over 60 coaches formed the funeral cortege, and 150 persons followed in the sad procession. Before Mrs. Greenwood left on her return to this country she was presented with a memorial signed by forty leading Mexicans, residents of the City of Mexico. The memorial closes as follows: ‘When you return to your lonely home, tell those who will come to mourn with you that if Mexico, as all the other nations of the earth, unfortunately has her criminals, she has also, honest hearts that repel them, and authorities to prosecute them; tell your friends that if there are vile men in our society, as there are in all human societies, there are also thousands of souls that worship the good and see a brother in every worth man.  And tell them, too, that amongst us not a single tear of the widow or the orphan fails to find a friendly hand extended to wipe it away.’”

David Lufkin Mansfield, The History of the Town of Dummerston, Ludlow, Vermont: A.M. Hemenway, 1884, pp. 199-202.

General William Jackson Palmer (born in 1836 in Delaware) was colonel of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry, brigadier-general by brevet. He was awarded the Medal of Honor.