This past weekend I was in Raleigh, North Carolina to attend my nephew's wedding. I padded the trip with two extra days so that I could visit several battlefields in the area: Guilford Courthouse and Bentonville. Mapquest indicated that both trips would be approximately 90 minutes of travel, to and fro, but that must have been in Dog Time Years as both trips seemed much much longer. I want to thank Mrs. Fritz for putting up with me on the battlefield tours.
We arrived at the Guildford CH visitors center around 4PM and discovered that the park closed down at 5PM, so we didn't have a whole lot of time to see everything in a patient and measured manner.
My initial impression of the battlefield is that it had way more undulating up and down terrain than I would have imagined. There were some significantly deep ravines between the three lines depth of the American deployment. I had not been aware of this. The second impression was that the ground had more woods than I would have guessed, however, in this case, it is probably due to lots of forest undergrowth and new trees that didn't exist there in 1781.
Here are some links to useful web sites that provide the background and history of the battle of Guilford Courthouse:
Guilford CH National Military Park
American Battlefield Trust web site
British Battles Web Site - Guilford CH
The visitors' center offers a 30-minute film to get you oriented, a small collection of real and reproduction artifacts, and a book/gift store. I bought a T-shirt and a couple of books about the battle.
Here are some pictures that I took of the museum inside the visitor's center.
|Reproduction American 3-pound cannon in the Visitor's Center.|
|I am standing next to the 3-pounder to convey an idea of the size of the cannon relative to a person.|
|Museum's collection of fire arms.|
First American line of defense (North Carolina militia):
|An example of some of the battlefield markers and displays.|
This one highlighted the first American line of defense.
The second American defensive line (Virginia militia):
|This picture and the one above give you a sense of how thick the forest is in |
the area of the second American defensive line. The thinner trees are obviously
new growth that weren't there in March 1781. There would not have been
any leaves on the trees at the time of the battle.
Third (and final) American defensive line (Maryland and Delaware Continental troops):
|Trail marker for walking along the Third Line.|
|Artist's interpretation of how the Guildford Court House might have looked.|
|Close, wooded terrain along the third American line.|
|A pair of American 6-pound cannon at their position on the third line.|
|Looking down the barrel of the cannon after it has been sited and ready for firing.|
|Proof that Der Alte Fritz was there.|
|Cannon barrel markings.|
|American 6-pound cannon. Big carriages with wheels that are as high as my shoulders.|
At the end of the line, back to the barracks:
|I think that this is part of the Third Line Trail. Stay on the path and avoid the snakes.|
|Information signs at the park entrance.|
Well there you have it - a quick tour of the Guilford Courthouse battlefield park. I wish that I had more than an hour to visit, particularly after a two hour drive from suburban Raleigh, North Carolina. The park is definitely worth the time to visit. There are lots of hiking trails and one would have a better idea of how the battle unfolded by walking the trails rather than making the car drive through the park.