On March 15th, 1781 — almost exactly 238 years ago, American Revolutionary War soldiers marched through Guilford County, heading towards what is now the land of Battleground Courthouse. On their way there, however, they not only marched through the Guilford College woods, but through the adjacent forests of what is now Price Park.
Not a whole lot is known about what exactly these soldiers did while on the specific land of Price Park. While this leaves a lot to the imagination, I think through a general knowledge of history and the Revolutionary War, some interesting and reasonable conclusions can be drawn.
I do not believe it is extremely likely that these soldiers were stopping to admire the beauty of the land around them. They were on their way to battle, and ultimately death for many. For this reason I don’t particularly criticize them for forgetting the natural world, but to me it is strange to imagine being in a state of mind which so much hinders the human’s experience within the natural world.
The word “march”, to me, implies something much more violent and destructive than “walk”. Interestingly, this is the world that has been used in history to describe this March 15th event. With this in mind, it makes me wonder, did these soldiers contemplate if, or what, organic matter suffered beneath the stamping uniform boots? These grasslands are just one, relatively minute example of things that may have suffered in the soldiers’ wake. I wonder how much dry wood was chopped, how many trees were killed, to produce fire and warmth given the season.
I also wonder if they set up camp at Price Park, or just marched through, barely observing or experiencing anything other than anticipation and somewhat self absorbed thoughts. If they did set up camp — what was their experience of the land? Would they have been able to take in its qualities in the dark? Did they know which plants could be eaten, and which would cause sickness or even death?
Clearly, many questions come to mind when I think about these American soldiers within Price Park years ago. It is strange for me to imagine what the land may have looked like, not to mention how one could just march straight through it so authoritatively — without much curiosity or desire to learn more. I wonder if any of these soldiers ever returned to Price Park, and if so what memories it brought up. Likely any memories it would have evoked would not be pleasant ones, as they were on their way to battle. In that respect, there are lots of things beyond my imagination or knowledge.
In all, the soldier’s experience at Price Park was in all likelihood very different from my own. When I go to the park, it is a destination for me. While there I am able to find some sort of peacefulness, and my goal is to learn more about its natural elements, what they are and what they can be used for, the animals who inhabit it, and even the human history, like that of these Revolutionary War soldiers.
I doubt the soldiers were able to find peace upon the grasslands of Price Park, or amongst the Eastern Meadowlarks. I wouldn’t imagine they were too curious about the human history there either, and even more absurdly, about the healing properties of the Chinese lespedeza, which could aid the wounds they likely accumulated.
These people, in 1781, were willingly risking their lives to claim a land — a natural world — which, in reality, they paid little to no respect for during this march to battle.