Thursday, April 2, 2009

Remembering The Battle of Guilford Courthouse

This step back into history with this Commemorative Moment is brought to you by the James Waldrop Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in Fayetteville, GA.

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse took place on 15 March 1781, 228 years ago, at the site of modern-day Greensboro, North Carolina.

It was a rather strange event, in which the British won the battle, but only by deliberately shelling and killing many of their own troops. It was also strange in that, even though it was a victory for Lord Cornwallis, he felt compelled right afterwards to abandon the Carolinas to the Patriots.

It was an American defeat that marked the last gasp for the British in the war.

The American commander, General Nathaniel Greene, had been running from Cornwallis to give his little army time to rest and refit in Virginia. In March of 1781, he thought it was time to cross back into North Carolina and give his lordship a fight.

The two armies met at Guilford Courthouse. The battle went back and forth, but finally, the Americans and British were all mixed up in hand to hand combat, and it appeared that the American Patriots were about to get the better of the fight. Desperate, Lord Cornwallis ordered his artillery to open fire on the tangle of men with grapeshot, which, of course, would cut down friend and foe alike. It worked, and the Americans broke off the fight, but many British soldiers were cut down by “friendly fire” from their own side. General Greene pulled out his army, leaving the field to Cornwallis, but saving his own force to fight another day, which they did. They went on to re-conquer the south from the British.

Cornwallis, meanwhile, found himself with a victory, but in the middle of hostile country, with very few supplies left. It was the beginning of the end for him and the British. He decided to abandon the Carolinas and move from Guilford Courthouse to rest and refit at a little Virginia seaport named Yorktown. The rest, as they say, is history.

References: George Washington’s War by Robert Leckie
The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan

By Susan Sloan
James Waldrop Chapter DAR
Fayetteville, GA

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