Book on Battle Coincides With Anniversary
Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse
By Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard
UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 2009, $30
Every Tar Heel child who passes through the seventh grade in state schools is taught that there were several significant battles fought during the Revolutionary War in the Old North State.
Among the most famous were the Battle of Kings Mountain and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. But that's about all most students learn.
What they don't learn is the critical nature of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and the impact it had on the outcome of the war -- which was considerable. Had British troops, which actually claimed the field on that day, won a more decisive victory, or more importantly, lost fewer men in the conflict, the overall outcome of the war might have been much different.
Considering its relative import, Guilford Courthouse is a fairly dim star in the pantheon of Revolutionary War engagements.
"Long, Obstinate, and Bloody" is a detailed, scholarly revealing of the results of the authors' intensive research. Babits and Howard covered every known document relating to the battle.
The battle was fought partially in thick forest, and there were a number of conflicting reports about how it unfolded. No one person had a clear view of any significant portion of the battlefield. This book should help set the record straight, if for no other reason than its exhaustive approach to collaborating resource material, pension records, and other information. The book title, for example, comes from a phrase used in a British officer's official report on the conflict.
Tucked away in the northern part of Greensboro, the national battlefield is worth a visit. There are displays and artifacts that attempt to tell the story.
But as any student of history knows, it takes more than a few maps to understand the nature of things. A read through this work will bring an understanding of the events of the day, how they relate to the larger events of the war, and a sense of what the world was like at that time.
As an interesting aside, there are some fascinating people involved in this battle, including a number of men whose names are attached to the towns and counties of North Carolina. Greensboro is named for the commanding general of the Continental Army Nathanael Greene. One of Greene's officers, Joseph Winston, was honored by a village that renamed itself Winston. Winston was a neighbor to the Moravian community named Salem, where Patriots were sent to recover after the battle.
Today is the anniversary of the battle, March 15, 1781. That's 228 years ago today. If you're interested in North Carolina or Revolutionary War history, Greensboro's history, it's a fine piece of work, if a little scholarly in nature.
And sometime when you're in the neighborhood, visit the battlefield and honor the Americans who fought there and helped bring the war to an end.
Contact Pat Taylor at email@example.com.
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