Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse / Edition 1

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"On 15 March 1781, the armies of Nathanael Greene and Lord Charles Cornwallis fought one of the bloodiest and most intense engagements of the American Revolution at Guilford Courthouse in piedmont North Carolina. Although victorious, Cornwallis's army was so badly damaged that he was forced to retreat to Wilmington to resupply and refit. Declaring the conquest of the Carolinas to be impossible, Cornwallis made the fateful decision to march into Virginia, eventually leading his army to surrender at Yorktown, clearing the way for American independence." "In the first book-length examination of the Guilford Courthouse engagement, Lawrence Babits and Joshua Howard - drawing from hundreds of previously underutilized pension documents, muster rolls, and personal accounts - piece together what really happened on the wooded plateau in what is today Greensboro, North Carolina." The authors explain or discount several myths surrounding this battle while giving proper place to long-forgotten heroic actions. They elucidate the actions of Continentals, British regulars, North Carolina and Virginia militiamen, and the role of American cavalry. Their detailed and comprehensive narrative extends into individual combatants' lives before and after the Revolution.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

On March 15, 1781, Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene and Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis faced each other in the largest battle of the American Revolution's southern theater. Cornwallis's force of roughly 2000, mostly British regulars, drove off Greene's larger force of over 4000. But Babits (history, East Carolina Univ.) and Howard (research historian, North Carolina Office of Archives and History; coauthor, Fortitude and Forbearance: The North Carolina Continental Line in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783) argue that Cornwallis's significant losses of over a quarter of his men led him to withdraw from North Carolina and attempt an invasion of Virginia that ultimately led to his defeat and surrender at Yorktown. The current work serves as the battle's only full-length monograph. Included are descriptions and analyses not only of the battle but also of events leading up to it, such as the engagement at Cowan's Ford. All the while, the authors provide extremely detailed depictions of the various military encounters, using all of the resources at their disposal to determine exactly what transpired at every point. Complete with endnotes, this is professional history written in an approachable manner. Recommended for public and academic libraries with Revolutionary War collections.
—Matthew J. Wayman

From the Publisher
Provides an unprecedented level of research and detail. . . . This account of Guilford Courthouse is a welcome and much-needed addition to the body of Revolutionary War military history, and will be the foundation upon which all future research into this engagement is based.—The Journal of Military History

The authors have discovered new pieces to the puzzle and have achieved perhaps the best synthesis to date. . . . A masterful job. . . . A major addition to the scholarship, and for students of the American Revolution, particularly the Southern Campaign, it is a must-read.—Journal of America's Military Past

A fine, professional account. . . . A remarkable story . . . Babits and Howard do an excellent job of summing [the battle] up.—Wilmington Star News

This book will clearly have value to historians trying to understand the critical Southern campaign. And there will be readers—serious military history buffs, battlefield re-enactors—who will treasure the detail.—journalnow.com

[A] masterful microhistory of the engagement . . . employing a truly impressive array of primary sources. Babits and Howard have cleared away two hundred years of conjecture and brought the battle of Guilford Courthouse closer to historical reality.—Journal of Southern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807832660
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2009
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence E. Babits is professor emeritus of history at East Carolina University.

Joshua B. Howard is an independent scholar.

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Table of Contents

Introduction The Strategic Situation 1

1 The Race to the Dan 13

2 From the Dan to Guilford Courthouse 37

3 Greene's Army 52

4 The British Army Advances 79

5 The First Line 100

6 The Second Line 117

7 The Battle within a Battle 129

8 The Third Line 142

9 The Aftermath 170

10 The Guilford "Crossroads" 190

Epilogue 214

App. A Order of Battle 219

App. B Battle Casualties 223

App. C Postwar Location of Pensioners by State of Service 227

Glossary 229

A Note on Sources 235

Notes 239

Bibliography 269

Index 289

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    Excellent account of Guilford Courthouse

    Great book. This is a professional account of what actually took place at the battle, and highlights many lesser known events as well as challenging the accepted story. I was impressed to find that Cornwallis ordering his artillery to fire into the "melee" at the end of the battle was likely just myth.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    These two writers weave a grand story to fill in the facts from an event obscured by the mist of time.
    I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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