Battle of Guilford Court House
About the Battle of Guilford Court House
The battle of Guilford Court House took place in North Carolina, 15th March, 1781. It proved to be one of the most pivotal wars to the American Revolutionary War Victory (1775-83). Even though British troops scored a tactical victory at the Gilford Courthouse under Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis, over the American forces, which were under General Nathanael Greene, they suffered a great deal in the war.
The British lost many soldiers and later on, Cornwallis abandoned his campaign for the Caronalis and took his army to Virginia where he Surrendered to General George Washington, 1732-99), following the Battle of Yorktown, a major land tussle of the war
Background of the war
The revolutionary war, which began in April 1775, led to a series of major battles that occured in the northern colonies especially for the first three years. The French entered the war supporting the Americans in 1778 and the British shifted their attention to a campaign in the South as they hoped to enlist the support of American colonists who were loyal to the British monarchy.
At first, the campaign was successful as the British army seized major ports of Charlestown South Carolina in May 1780 and savannah Georgia in December 1778. In the process, they devastated the American soldiers in the south. Following the fight of Yorktown, Charles Cornwallis, refused to attend the official surrender celebrations claiming he sick. He sent brigadier General Charles O’Hara.
In the fall of 1780, the tide for the Americans began when a patriot militia defeated a loyalist army at the battle of Kings Mountain near South Carolina, present day, Blacksburg. Later on in the year, General George Washington appointed Major General Nathanael Greene to lead the army into the south. As a new commander, he decided to divide his army to force the larger British army under Lieutenant Charles Cornwallis to fight them especially on multiple fronts. This was also a strategy for Greene to rebuild his army and it paid off on January 17, 1781, when Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeated British army led by Colonel Banastre Tarleon at Cowpens, South Carolina.
Following the fight at Cowpens, Cornwallis pursued the Continentals across North Carolina, before halting at Dan River with his troops. During the stop, the Continentals escaped to Virginia. Greene went further to build, his troops to face off against General Cornwallis. Greene’s army returned to North Carolina and camped near Guilford Courthouse.
Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781
On March 15, 1781, British soldiers (1,900) under the leadership of Cornwallis went on offensive against 4400 and 4500 Continental and Militia troops. The battle went on for two hours before Greene’s troops retreated thus, giving the British army a tactical win. Greene’s army remained intact but more than 25 percent of Cornwallis men died captured or got wounded in the fight. Charles James Fox, a British statesman in 1749-1806 said that one such battle would ruin his British army.
The aftermath of the battle of Guilford Courthouse
General Cornwallis did not pursue Greene’s troops. The British commander abandoned his campaign for the Carolinas and later led his army into Virginia. On October 19, 1781, following a three weeks blockade by French and American forces at Yorktown, General Cornwallis surrendered to French Commander Jean-Baptise-Donatien de Vimeur, General Washington and Comte de Rochambeau.
The Battle of Yorktown was therefore, the last major significant land battle of the American Revolutionary War. It was officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 where the Great Britain officially recognized the United States independence.
The battle was pivotal in the American Revolutionary War and at present, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, is the first of its kind. It is a the first national park established at the war site and preserves the heart of 1781 battlefield on a 220 acre land. There are 28 monuments on the battlefield, and is a memorial with two graves of the North Carolina’s Declaration of Independence signers, John Penn and William Hooper.
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