The Battle of Guilford Court House was a fought on this day in 1781, at a site which is now in Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina, during the American Revolutionary War. A 2,100-man British force under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis defeated Major General Nathanael Greene’s 4,500 Americans. The British Army, however, lost a considerable number of men during the battle with estimates as high as 27%. Such heavy British casualties resulted in a strategic victory for the Americans.
The battle was the “largest and most hotly contested” battle of the American Revolution’s southern campaign and led to the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Before the battle, the British appeared to have had great success in conquering much of Georgia and South Carolina with the aid of strong Loyalist factions, and thought that North Carolina might be within their grasp. In fact, the British were in the process of heavy recruitment in North Carolina when this battle put an end to their recruiting drive. In the wake of the battle, Greene moved into South Carolina, while Cornwallis chose to march into Virginia and attempt to link up with roughly 3,500 men under British Major General Phillips and American turncoat Benedict Arnold. These decisions allowed Greene to unravel British control of the South, while leading Cornwallis to Yorktown and eventual surrender to General George Washington and Lieutenant General Comte de Rochambeau.