Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Visting Guilford Courthouse National Park


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.

Reproduction uniforms

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.


  1. It looks lovely. I'll have to make the time someday. Thank you for the "tour!"

  2. Certainly a battlefield that, like so many, needs time to allow one to walk it and take it all in. Interesting to note the ravines you mention.

  3. Thanks for a very informative tour for your readers and some useful photos; greatly enjoyed it and sorry you did not have longer there. Chris

  4. Nice report. Guildford CH is a great park. I visited a few years ago and found my self extremely jealous of the locals who were able to use it for their daily walks/runs.

  5. I was surprised that the New Garden Road, which ran right down the middle of the battlefield, no longer exists, or at the least, has been reduced to a mere hiking trail.

    The park also needs to draw from the Gettysburg park's decision to cut down the non-historical parts of the forest undergrowth and new trees that didn't exist at the time of the battle. Such a move would improve the interpretative quality of the park.

  6. Enjoyable battlefield to visit in the middle of a residential area. Superb statue of Greene .Should be a Guards' monument. What's wrong with Mrs. Fritiz? Hates American history?

    1. She likes American history and enjoys listening to me tell the tales of where we are visiting. She particularly likes the stories about the civilians involved in various events.

  7. Nice stuff Jimi - Guildford CH is one of my favourite AWI battles. I wrote a scenario for it, that our group played, about twenty years ago and it went really well - must give some of those historical refights another go sometime - we also did Bunker (Breeds) Hill and Brandywine and possibly Eutaw Springs

  8. V interesting. Great That Mrs. Fritz would even go. Hell would freeze over before Lindsay accompanied me to any soldier museum etc.


  9. Served as part of the Wake Forest University Army ROTC staff 1986-89. Conducted numerous terrain walks with students/cadets at Guilford Courthouse. Students would describe the actions of their assigned units at various points along the three lines. This occurred after the participants had fought the battle using miniatures (tactics class). The combination of simulation, walking the ground, and needing to be the "expert" on a particular unit really put the experience into context.

  10. Excellent photos. I sometimes visit battlefields myself but can't make such good photos as you have done. I especially love to see that the forest is still looking untouched on your photos. Thank you for all the impressions!