A Student of History

March 5, 2006

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, 1781

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 6:36 pm

Starting today I am posting some links and other info including background on the Battle fo Guilford Courthouse. The battle was fought March 15, 1781 in North Carolina, and the 225th Anniversary of this contest is being observed in many great ways coming up soon.  The official site for the battle is at the NPS’s webpage, http://www.nps.gov/guco/. However, a list of all activities for the weekend, including the battle reenactments, is at http://www.march1781.org/.  Note that the reenactment is NOT at the National Military Park! However, at the NPS Viz Center there is a lecture each evening for 3 or 4 nights leading up to Saturday by historians, including John Buchanan, author of The Road to Guilford Courthouse

For a rivetting account of a Virginia militiaman’s account of the battle, see Odell McGuire’s webpage here.  Its the story of a Rockbridge County (Va.) militia soldier’s story of going to the battle and his experiences therein. Here is a sample:

Standing in readiness, we heard the pickets fire; shortly the English fired a cannon, which was answered; and so on alternately till the small armed troops came nigh; and then close firing began near the centre, but rather towards the right, and soon spread along the line. Our brigade major, Mr. Williams, fled. Presently came two men to us and informed us the British fled. Soon the enemy appeared to us; we fired on their flank, and that brought down many of them; at which time Capt.Tedford was killed. We pursued them about forty poles, to the top of a hill, where they stood, and we retreated from them back to where we formed. Here we repulsed them again; and they a second time made us retreat back to our first ground…


From Brigadier General Charles O’Hara, Commanding the Brigade of Guards: “I never did, and hope I never shall, experience two such days and Nights, as these immediately after the Battle, we remained on the very ground on which it had been fought cover’d with Dead, with Dying and with Hundreds of Wounded, Rebels, as well as our own–A Violent and constant Rain that lasted above Forty Hours made it equally impracticable to remove or administer the smallest comfort to many of the Wounded.  In this situation we expected every moment to be attacked, there could be no doubt, that the Enemy must be very well informed of our loss, and whatever their loss might be, their numbers were still so great, as to make them very formidable; and they had only retired eighteen Miles from us, fortunately for us they did not, or even follow’d us, when we march’d but at a very respectable distance, or have ever fired a Single Shot since the affair of the 15th.”
[“Letters of Charles O’Hara to the Duke of Grafton,” George C. Rogers, Jr., ed.  
South Carolina Historical Magazine, v. 65, 1965, p. 177-178]


  1. Like your site. Good info, but I believe it was the Botetourt County militia that was the most heavily involved militia from Virginia during the battle of Guilford Courthouse.
    I’m trying to relocate Odell McGuire’s homepage, but no luck. Any ideas?

    Comment by Joanne — October 7, 2006 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  2. How do you define “heavily involved?”

    Comment by John Maass — October 9, 2006 @ 1:09 am | Reply

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