Tag Archives: history

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

Overview

Even in the wake of Patriot victories at Kings Mountain and Cowpens, the British army was not giving up their southern colonies without a fight.  Major General Nathanael Greene was in charge of the Continental Army in the southern theater and his troops were aggressively pursued by British General Charles Cornwallis.  Although he lost the battle on March 15, 1781, Greene’s name was later applied to the nearby town of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Highlights

Museum, film, Hoskins Farm, Major General Nathanael Greene statue

Must-Do Activity

Start at the National Park Service visitor center, watch the short film, then make stops along the 2.25-mile auto tour.  You will learn the story of what took place on March 15, 1781, when Greene’s defensive position at Guilford Courthouse was attacked by British forces.  While the Patriots withdrew they only suffered 7% casualties, compared to the British who lost 28% of their army, leading them to eventually retreat to Yorktown, Virginia.  After the battle, Greene continued to fight, leading his men against overmatched backcountry outposts of British troops such as the one at Ninety Six, South Carolina. 

Best Trail

In addition to the auto tour route, a paved bicycle path wends through the battlefield.  The lovely 229-acre Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is heavily utilized for recreation by the local people of Greensboro.  As such, you are allowed to walk your dog in the park. In the summer, you can also walk around Hoskins Farm, though its buildings are closed, as is the old Colonial Heritage Center.

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Many monuments line the pathways that cut through 229-acre Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, with the equestrian statue of Major General Nathanael Greene being the most prominent.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/guco/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

The city of Greensboro operates a campground with showers south of town.

Explore More – Which British politician remarked, “Another such victory would destroy the British Army” following the battle at Guilford Courthouse?

Cowpens National Battlefield

Overview

In 1780, there were 8,000 British troops in South Carolina and Georgia, but none were as feared as the 270 cavalry under Colonel Banastre Tarleton.  Following an attack at Waxhaws where his men inflicted 75% casualties on the retreating Patriots, he became known as “Bloody Ban” and a slaughter of surrendering soldiers was known as giving “Tarleton’s quarter.”  After the major American victory at nearby Kings Mountain, the British were also defeated here on January 17, 1781 as they retreated to Yorktown, Virginia. 

Highlights

Museum, Battlefield Trail, U.S. Memorial Monument, Robert Scruggs house

Must-Do Activity

The fiberoptic map in the National Park Service visitor center provides a good understanding of this 20-minute battle.  Following the Patriot victory at Kings Mountain, Colonel Tarleton was sent to capture a Patriot army under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan.  On January 17, 1781, Morgan used his militiamen to sucker in the aggressive Tarleton, instructing them to fire two shots then retreat towards the lines of trained infantry and cavalry under Lieutenant Colonel William Washington (George’s second cousin).  The British took the bait and lost 80% of their force (110 killed, 229 wounded, and 600 captured), though Tarleton escaped. 

Best Trail

The Battlefield Trail partially follows the historic Green River Road and is 1.25 miles roundtrip from the visitor center.  The auto tour route closes at 4:30 p.m. but after hours parking is available at the trailhead off Highway 11, which also accesses the Battlefield Trail.  It is part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which has 87 of its 330 miles publicly accessible, starting in Tennessee.  There is also a 2-mile nature trail near the picnic area.

Instagram-worthy Photo

A 1932 monument marks the beginning of the Battlefield Trail.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/cowp/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Kings Mountain State Park is 30 miles east of the park next to Kings Mountain National Military Park.

Explore More – What locally grown fruit provided the inspiration for the painted water tower in Gaffney, South Carolina?

Kings Mountain National Military Park

Overview

In 1780, the conclusion of the Revolutionary War was anything but decided with the British army firmly entrenched in New York City, Charleston, and Savannah.  General Charles Cornwallis commanded 2,200 troops in the colony of South Carolina and his plan was to meet up with Major Patrick Ferguson’s 1,100 men near Charlotte, North Carolina.  Many historians consider the events that took place here on October 7, 1780 the beginning of the end of the war that culminated less than a year later at Yorktown. 

Highlights

Museum, film, Battlefield Trail, U.S. Monument, grave of Major Ferguson

Must-Do Activity

Though the museum in the National Park Service visitor center is small, it is well done and very informative.  You will learn that throughout 1780, a ragtag band of Patriot militia dogged Major Ferguson, forcing him to make a stand 39 miles south of his destination at Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780.  When the Loyalist force finally surrendered, the enraged Patriots gave them “Tarleton’s quarter.”  Killed during the fighting, Major Ferguson was the only person in the battle born in the British Isles (in Scotland).

Best Trail

Start at the visitor center, then walk the 1.5-mile Battlefield Trail.  It is part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which has 87 of its 330 miles publicly accessible, starting in Tennessee.  Just be sure to be out of the park before the gates close for the night.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The 83-foot tall U.S. Monument was dedicated in 1909 by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Peak Season

Late summer when 18th-century military encampments occur on select weekends.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/kimo/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

There is one backcountry campsite on the grounds, which requires free registration at the visitor center.  Neighboring Kings Mountain State Park offers 119 campsites and many miles of trails.

Explore More – What earlier event provoked the Patriots to give “Tarleton’s quarter” after the Loyalists surrendered?

George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

Overview

Perhaps less well-known today than his brother William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, during the American Revolution George Rogers Clark’s fame was on par with that of George Washington.  A beautiful 80-foot tall granite memorial was built on the site of Fort Sackville (in present day Vincennes, Indiana) in the 1930s to commemorate Clark’s achievements.

Highlights

Memorial building with statue and murals, Vigo statue, film

Must-Do Activity

After watching the 20-minute film in the visitor center, go inside the circular memorial with 16 columns in classic Greek style to see a bronze statue surrounded by seven murals.  George Rogers Clark was one of the early pioneers in Kentucky and after war broke out he led 150 local men west to convince French settlers on the Mississippi River to join the patriots.  With the assistance of the French, he defeated the British at Fort Sackville on February 25, 1779.  After the 1783 Treaty of Paris, much of this territory would become part of the fledgling United States of America. 

Best Trail

There are no trails, but you can walk or drive a few blocks to visit the home of President William Henry Harrison and the old Indiana Territory capitol.

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Francis Vigo was a French merchant who tipped off Clark that Fort Sackville was lightly guarded and then provided financial support for the mission.  His statue sits on the banks of the Wabash River.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

The memorial closes daily at 4:45 p.m.

https://www.nps.gov/gero/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Only 2 miles north of Vincennes, Indiana, the county-operated Ouabache Trails Park offers campsites with electric and water hookups.

Explore More – His bronze statue is larger than life, but the real George Rogers Clark stood what impressive height by eighteenth-century standards?

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Saratoga National Historical Park

Overview

Saratoga National Historical Park was the site of two 1777 Revolutionary War battles at Freeman’s Farm on September 19 and Bemis Heights on October 7, which together are considered the turning point in the war.  Following this decisive victory when 6,000 British soldiers surrendered, the French King officially entered the war on the side of the Americans, providing the equivalent of $1.4-billion in aid by war’s end. 

Highlights

Museum, film, Neilson Farm, Boot Monument, Bemis Heights, the Great Redoubt

Must-Do Activity

Start at the National Park Service (NPS) visitor center where displays describe the two separate battles that took place here.  The 10-mile driving tour has ten stops that provide more details.  Do not look for Saratoga, New York on maps today, it was renamed Schuylerville in honor of a Revolutionary War general.  Nonetheless, since 1883 it has been home to the 155-foot tall Saratoga Monument commemorating these battles.

Best Trail

There are a few short trails accessed along the driving tour, but you should at least plan to park and climb the stairs at Breymann Redoubt.  At the top, an unmarked monument draped with a boot commemorates the leg injury suffered in the fighting by General Benedict Arnold, whose name would go down in history synonymous with his later traitorous actions downstream at West Point. 

Instagram-worthy Photo

The American defensive location at Bemis Heights was chosen by Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish engineer serving in the Continental Army, to block the British army from moving south down the Hudson River.  It still provides commanding views of the valley.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/sara/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Not far north on Interstate 87, Moreau Lake State Park offers a campground with running water.

Explore More – Although France had not officially entered the war at the time, how many muskets had they donated to the American cause by the beginning of the Battles of Saratoga?

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