15 March 1781, the Revolutionary War rages on in the South. Major General Nathanael Greene of the Continental Army, with a contingency of over four thousand Continentals and American militia, fiercely defends the grounds surrounding the Guilford Courthouse. Lord Charles Cornwallis, General of the seasoned British Army is fast on his heels. The Continentals and militia are doing everything they can to slow the British from advancing to no avail. Eventually forces on each side converge and a battle ensues. After a few hours of heated battle Major General Greene is outflanked by the British and forced to retreat. While Major General Greene lost this battle, he was able to save his forces to fight another day. This tactical victory proved to be costly for Lord Cornwallis who suffered great losses of not only military provisions, but of his men.
Eight months later, after leaving the Carolinas to concentrate efforts on Virginia, the weakened army under Lord Cornwallis surrendered to the French and American forces led by General George Washington. The Battle of Guilford Courthouse proved to be a pivotal moment in the American Revolution. An short but excellent overview of the battle from Armchair General Magazine may be found here.
12 March 2016, 235 years after that battle, on the same grounds where soldiers fought for their independence from Great Britain, a battle rages on again. This time, however, enough time has passed for old wounds to heal. We are no longer at odds with Great Britain; in fact, we are now allies. This reenactment gives us a taste of a soldiers life over 200 hundred years ago and the many challenges they faced fighting for their beliefs.
I stopped for a Carolina dog on the way to the battle at Mike’s Chicago Dog & More! in Asheboro. Happily I got there early and was the first person in the door! I munched on my hot dog and spoke with the server for a few minutes before the owner Mike arrived. This is a great place to chat and visit and you can’t beat their food! With a belly full of ‘dogs I started back on the road to the Revolution.
Parking was scarce at the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. The first stop was the Hoskins Farmstead. This home and the surrounding buildings were used as the staging area for the British soldiers. Oddly enough, this site is separated by the park by a small neighborhood. On the way to the Hoskins home I met British soldiers marching to the battle site.
On the way to the battlefield, about one mile away from the Hoskins Farmstead, I caught up with a contingency of British soldiers on their road march. Off in the distance was the encampment of Henry Lee III (Robert E. Lee’s daddy), also known as “Light-Horse Harry Lee,” and his dragoons. Continuing the march towards the battlefield I eventually split from the British and made my way up the hill to the field in search of a good photo spot.
There were easily about 1000 people watching this reenactment. The battle was pieced out for reenactment purposes so viewers could get an idea of how the battle played out, so it moved a little slower than the actual battle. The narrator, who was clad as a British officer, ironically looked very much like the actor that played Cornwallis in the movie The Patriot. He did a wonderful job explaining the battle and breaking down events as they unfolded on the field. We know that the English won the day, but that win cost them dearly and led to their eventual surrender in Virginia several months later.
Additional photos from the battle and the encampments are below. For more information on the reenactment click on the link here.