November, 26, 2021
There are several ways to enjoy this park. One is to attend a ranger-led walking tour. Another is to take the driving tour or to walk the trails along which the fighting occurred. Finally, you can spend some time in the visitor center and museum. As usual, we did everything, spending much of the day there.
Shortly after we arrived a ranger-led walking tour was about to begin. The tour took about an hour and covered much of the battlefield.
The battle took place on March 15, 1781. Although outnumbered by more than two to one, at the end of the day the British Army under General Cornwallis held the field while the American Army under General Nathaniel Greene had retreated 15 miles. Because they held the field this was, technically, a British victory, but a very costly one. A little over six months later, Cornwallis would find himself trapped at Yorktown, VA.
Before this became a National Park, the land was owned by the Guildford Battle Ground Company. The company erected monuments that had nothing to do with the battle. Some of the information they had about the battle turned out to be wrong. Our tour guide clued us in as to what was accurate and what wasn’t.
General Greene placed his troops in three lines. He put North Carolina militia in the first line. Knowing they would not be able to hold off the British long, he only wanted them to unleash a few well aimed volleys then retreat to Greene’s second line. Unfortunately, these troops weren’t disciplined enough to do that and many of them scattered into the woods.
A second line of more reliable Virginia militia engaged the British, who eventually broke through and encountered the third line, where savage fighting occurred.
The museum had a very nice collection of artifacts – personal items such as spectacles, a razor, and looking glass (mirror); mess items like forks, tinderlighters (to start campfires), and canteen; leisure items like pipes, dice, dominoes, a quill pen and inkwell.
They also had a large collection of weapons and accoutrements including swords, sabers, pikes, muskets, bayonets, powder horns, musket balls, and cannon balls.