Guilford Courthouse – Win or Loss?

Guilford Courthouse - Nathanael Greene
Nathanael Greene


Who would have thought that there would be a National Park Service Unit commemorating or remembering a loss? Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro does just that.

I left Asheville in snow on this Sunday morning and traveled to Greensboro to see the park before doing another section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. That’s one of the benefits of section hiking. I can see what’s around the trail.

I had studied the website carefully about the battle of Guilford Courthouse during the Revolutionary War. The short version of the battle is the following:

The British weren’t doing too well up north so they decided to go south where they felt there would be more local support for the British cause. They were wrong. Lord Cornwallis chased the Patriots all over the South – Cowpens and Kings Mountain, both in South Carolina and now in Guilford County, a small hamlet in North Carolina.

Guilford Courthouse - fields

On March 15, 1781, about 1,900 British regulars met General Nathanael Greene with 4,000 men, both Continental soldiers (professional army) and militia (volunteers, mostly from the south). The Americans slaughtered the Brits – the British lost a quarter of their men and a third of their officers. But the Brits took over the land around the Guildford Courthouse.

“So was it a victory or defeat for the Patriots?” I asked Ranger Dan Kahl.

“Well,” Ranger Dan said. “I’m a military man. The British took control of the land so they won. But with the British loss of life, it’s not so clear.”

Nancy Stewart, the Eastern National salesperson, added. “The British said that it was a ‘victory with all the hallmarks of a defeat’ .”

Guilford Courthouse - British soldierI walked around the 2.5 mile battlefield punctuated by monuments.

The picture above is of Nathanael Greene, the American General. But there’s also a monument to the British soldier on the left.

Walking around you can see how the fields and trees would make fighting difficult. Hills and dales, and small streams.

So what happened to the land between the battle and the National Park unit? Wait till the National Parks Traveler article comes out.


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