Tag Archives: guilford courthouse

Guilford Courthouse – Beyond the battle

Guilford Courthouse - Nathanael Greene
Nathanael Greene

Tomorrow is primary day in North Carolina. Thursday March 17, 2016, is St. Patrick’s Day. But tomorrow is also the 235th anniversary of the battle at Guilford Courthouse, close to Greensboro, North Carolina. That would be March 15, 1781.

I’ve written up the battle already but somehow I keep going back to Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. It was the first Revolutionary national park created in 1917, which is amazing in itself. Most of the country might think of Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts as deserving of that honor.

Guilford Courthouse
Guilford Courthouse

But as with most eastern parks, Guilford Courthouse was saved by private money and  effort. In addition, revolutionary war parks were used to either unify the country or push sectional concerns after the Civil War.

Witness this memorial to the left, placed outside the visitor center which says “no North, no South”.

It refers to the fact that during the American Revolution, patriots set aside their sectional differences. George Washington, a southerner, led mostly northern troops. Nathanael Greene, whose statue is above, commanded southern troops.

So happy anniversary Guilford Courthouse. Once an area becomes a national park, it won’t be forgotten.


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.