#2 A Defeat on Ragged Earth

A Revolutionary Community in the Backcountry

In Guilford County, former regulators rallied to the call of a new revolution. At the start of the American Revolution (1775-1776) it is estimated that a mere one third of American Colonists supported the Revolution, though in the backcountry those demographics were likely skewed more toward rebellion. The North Carolina Backcountry, it seemed, unleashed into a breeding ground for revolutionaries. By 1775, many North Carolinians sought outright independence from British rule.

Not to be confused with the Regulators before them, who rebelled against a select few corrupt colonial officials in North Carolina, this new rebellion sought cross-colonial, self-determined sovereignty. On May 19, 1775, revolutionary officials in the city of Charlottetown (known today as Charlotte), North Carolina published the Mecklenburg Resolves, otherwise known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a direct response to the battles of Lexington and Concord; the Resolves stood as a call to action.


Treading Through A Hornets Nest

During the British Southern Campaign in the American Revolution (1780-1782), the British plowed through an incredulous South, capturing cities and farms alike. The American Continental Army experienced defeat after defeat by British General Cornwallis, though as the campaign dragged along, the tides of battle shifted to the Americans, the turning point being the Battle of Kings Mountain in October 1780, where under-organized American Militias overwhelmingly defeated the British.

During the winter of 1780, the tattered British Army marched northward, toward an unwelcoming populace. The support that the British Army once received from the colonists seemed to have evaporated. One British officer remarked that the march through the North Carolina Backcountry was akin to “treading through a hornet’s nest.” During Cornwallis’s march, he engaged Continental General Nathaniel Greene, who evaded and deplenished Cornwallis’s Army culminating in a climactic confrontation.


Long, Obstinate and Bloody

Image result for battle of guilford courthouse
Above is water color created by Don Troiani in celebration of the Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence.


On March 15, 1781, Cornwallis and Greene’s armies met on patches of woods and farmland surrounding the Guilford County Courthouse. Greene’s Army was composed of approximately 4,400 militiamen, largely hailing from Virginia and North Carolina. Cornwallis’s army consisted of 2,000 men, who, by the battle at Guilford were starving and destitute; at first it seemed the revolutionaries’ war of attrition succeeded. Ultimately, at the end of the two-hour skirmish, Cornwallis’s men defeated Greene’s army in a display of costly warfare, ending in one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution.



Another Such Victory Shall Ruin Us

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse stands as the beginning of the end of the American Revolution. Around the time of the battle, a British official remarked that “another such victory would ruin the British army,” which was a sentiment that rung true. Cornwallis’s army continued to push northward, culminating in his entrapment and surrender at Yorktown by General George Washington in the Fall of 1781. The Battle of Guilford Courthouse immortalized General Greene as a Revolutionary hero, despite the fact that he lost the battle.


Dirty Water and the Road Most Taken

The idea of getting out of bed and making my way over to the lake wasn’t appealing as I woke up this morning, but as I rolled out of bed I knew that it had to be done. Throwing on a coat so that I could handle the nip of the fresh morning wind, I hopped in my car and made my way down to the lake. As I pulled up, I noticed something that I haden’t seen in my previous two journeys to the lake: a dirty, mucky surface covering the brown depths of the water below.

Murky Waters of the Guilford College Lake

Photo Taken By Me

I’m still not quite sure what caused this, as the new color was very distinct from anything I had seen at the lake before. It’s been raining these past few days on and off again, and my best guess is the combination of runoff and water movement swirling up minerals in the water. Regardless, it was an interesting new viewpoint of the lake, and it accompanied me as I continued my journey around the outer edge. If I’m being honest, I much prefer the calm, deep blue surface that is characteristic of the lake, and hopefully it will have returned to normal by my next visit. Having already examined the beach part of the lake’s outer rim in one of my previous blog posts, I chose to begin walking down the prominant gravel path just to the left of the lake from my perspective, following it to the edge of the woods.

French Drain?

Photo Taken By Me

While walking leisurely, I noticed the two pipes running from the lake to a rock system on the other side of the path. At first glance, I figured two things: these were drainage pipes, and they were man-made. Upon returning to my house after my visit to the lake, I did some further research into the pipes, and I’m pretty sure that this is a french drain system, where the drainage is spilled out into the rock field, filtering it and stopping oversaturation of the soil below the rocks. Although the drain does provide a blemish in the otherwise-clean, in my opinion, landscape near the lake, it undoubtably serves an important purpose for the health of the lake

Into the Woods

Photo Taken By Me

As I finished examining the drain, I wandered to the place where I ended my journey for today: the mark where the gravel path ended and the forest began. Although I had planned to go further into the woods today, the murkiness and mystery of the waters of the lake had drawn me in, and I was short on time. The entrance to the woods provides a place of remarkable contrast for me to write about; the scenery changes from that of man-made beauty to that of nature, with man’s creations filling in the gaps. With leaves crunching on the otherwise-quiet morning ground around me, I was able to stand at the border and take in the contrast, and it’s something that I look forward to exploring from the other side in my next blog post. However, I had to head home, and with one last look I jogged back to my car, bringing a conclusion to my most recent venture to the lake.