Guilford Courthouse National Military Park Greensboro, N.C. Visited: October 31, 2005 NPS Site Visited: 277 of 353 NPS Website
WHAT IS IT? Site of a bloody March 15, 1781 Revolutionary War battle won by the British forces commanded by General Cornwallis.
BEAUTY (6/10) Battlefield endangerment purists probably won’t like it here because much of the Battleground lays outside the Park boundaries, victims of development. There are also lots and lots of monuments. Monuments and statues honoring everyone from War heroes like Nathanael Greene (hence Greensboro) to North Carolina’s Declaration of Independence signatories to a woman who lost her son in the battle to the countless people who made the Guilford Courthouse NMP possible.
But we liked it. The Park occupies a lovely narrow bit of public green space wedged between the suburban sprawl of Greensboro. Its humble acreage creates a cozy, well-trod feel. The Battlefield was manageably walked and easily completed in less than two hours.
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE (8/10) “Another such victory would ruin the British Army,” was the response of Charles James Fox, head of Parliament’s opposition party, when informed of the results at Guilford Courthouse. He was, as they say over there, spot on.
In fact, the British Army never got a chance to win again. Their “victory” came at a high cost: the loss of the American colonies. General Cornwallis lost ¼ of his 1,900 men and was forced to retreat to Yorktown, Virginia where he would surrender his Army seven months later.
The Site claimed Guilford Courthouse as the most important Revolutionary War battle fought south of Philadelphia. We agree. We also agreed when the same thing was said at Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Fort Moultrie, Moore’s Creek and Yorktown... but we really agree this time.
CROWDS (8/10) We saw hundreds of Greensboro-ians enjoying the beautiful day at their National Park. No, they were not touring the battlefield, they were picnicking, running, walking and utilizing the grounds more as a pleasant City Park than a Battlefield. Seeing non-history-buff-type people was nice, especially after walking mile after lonely rural mile through the Carolina’s other Revolutionary War parks.
EASE OF USE/ACCESS (5/5) The sprawl of Greensboro, N.C. has completely engulfed the once separate village of Guilford Court House. The Park is located just off U.S. Route 220, about three miles northwest of downtown. An isolated 2¼-mile auto tour, populated with more joggers than cars, circles the battlefield. Numerous paved and unpaved trails weave around the battlefield meeting at unexpected angles.
CONCESSIONS/BOOKSTORE (5/5) The Guilford Courthouse NMP is so extensive and chock full o’ titles that we openly wondered, “are you sure this wasn’t a Civil War battle?” You know, because the Civil War-related bookstores are all great. OK, maybe this is only funny to us; we have been to a lot of battlefields.
COSTS (4/5) Free. An in-depth Revolutionary War education is cheap.
RANGER/GUIDE TO TOURIST RATIO (3/5) Rangers are posted at the entrance desk armed with answers. The fully self-guided Museum is bound to generate questions.
TOURS/CLASSES (8/10) When did “electric maps” become “fiber-optic battle presentations”? Guilford Courthouse’s fiber optic presentation is encased in a soundproof glass booth. We felt like we were on a quiz show.
The tremendous map is par for the Guilford Courthouse’s educational course. An excellent and new Museum examines the southern campaign of the Revolutionary War at great length with skilled panels and original artifacts. The Museum also included a tactile map of the Battlefield, combined in its display with a Braille recap of the different stages of the fight. Amazing stuff.
If the free NPS exhibits do not satiate your 18th-century appetite, the Tannebaum Historic Park is less than a ¼ mile away.
FUN (7/10) Guilford Courthouse NMP offers the best learning experience of the seven Carolina NPS Revolutionary War Parks. We came here last, which was not a bad choice. The Museum tied together everything we had learned over the course of our whirlwind tour.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND? (7/10) March 18-19, 2006 marks the 225th Anniversary of the Battle that won the Revolutionary War. If you are in Greensboro on that date, you should definitely enjoy the festivities. Why would you be in Greensboro then, you ask? Well, that date coincides with Greensboro’s hosting of the 2006 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The first round games are on the 16th, second round on the 18th. We say go to the second round games and enjoy history on the 19th. Go Hoyas!
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