Just up the road from the Greensboro Science Center, is the Guilford Courthouse National Battlefield; the location of a Revolutionary War battle on March 15, 1781.
While there is nothing left of the small courthouse that once stood on the grounds, the acreage where a decisive battle between the British and the Americans once raged is now a National Park. There is a visitor’s center, complete with bookstore, theater, and museum, miles of level walking paths, and a 2 1/4 mile road that winds through the treed area where parts of the battle took place.
We chose to visit the museum first. We had picked up Jr. Ranger booklets on a visit to Greensboro the week before, knowing that we might be pressed for time on the day we would visit. The kids had done all the activities that they could do outside of the park, so we headed into the visitor’s center to complete the portions that they needed the museum information for.
Inside, we watched a short 10 minute battle shakedown in the ‘map room’. Then we watched the dramatization of the battle in the theater (shown on the hour); the 30 min show was great – a little gory, for some, at the hospital scene when they amputated a leg, but it didn’t bother us!
After these great overviews of what happened, we were preparing to work our way through the museum section. Instead, we got a great lesson from the Friday morning volunteer. This guy was really passionate about Revolutionary War details, and he gave us a whole lecture about the 3# Light Infantry Gun, also known as the ‘grasshopper gun’. It was known as the Grasshopper Gun because of the way that it would bounce up in the air, and back, when it was fired; you did not want to be in it’s path! Our gun professor showed us all the different kinds of projectiles that would be shot from the cannon, and which ones were used when, and why. He even told how when the soldiers would run out of regular ammo, they would pack shots full of broken glass and pottery, rusty old nails, anything nasty really, for close-up defenses.
We love it when we find staff passionate about the location – makes for such an interesting and engaging visit!!!
Then we were off to the museum… where the kids worked on completing their Jr. Ranger booklets… The ‘Field Musick’ display was one of the most popular ones with the littles. They had to listen to the different battleground musics, and try to figure out what tune is still used today (and for what song). While the British technically won the battle of Guilford Courthouse, it cost them a 28% soldier loss, while the Americans only lost 6% of theirs.
Here in North Carolina was a very patriotic area. If you were a British sympathizer, you kept it to yourself; Torys were hung while their farms were burned. North Carolinians were serious about their freedom. At Guilford, Nathanael Greene (whom Greensboro is named after) met up against Cornwallis and Tarlton (Bloody Tarton – who earned his moniker from his role in the Battle of Waxhaws where, a year earlier, his soldiers had slaughtered surrendering American troops).
We found it very interesting that Robert E. Lee’s father, ‘Light-Horse Harry’ Lee, had fought here (he was considered a Revolutionary War hero).
We then took the short drive around the park. You can purchase an audio tour of the park from the bookstore, otherwise, just grab a brochure, and do a quick read-aloud tour on your way through the park like we did. We saw a hawk dive and catch a squirrel and eat it, which I think the littles found most interesting! LOL! The grounds are covered in trees; it must be lovely and lush during the spring and summer here!
The grounds host 28 different monuments to commemorate the heros of the Guilford battle, as well as other patriots (like the Hooper-Pen monument; H & P were 2 NC signers of the Declaration of Independence, and are buried on the grounds).
This is the General Nathanael Greene statue. Even though Commander Greene was from Rhode Island, Greensboro was named after him in 1807 because of his leadership in the battle at Guilford Courthouse. After our tour of the grounds, it was back to the visitor’s center where the kids turned in their Jr. Ranger booklets and received their badges…
Guilford was a great roadschooing field trip!!!