From our friends at American Battlefield Trust (ABT). To learn more about the ABT, click here.
At stake are 31 acres associated with two Southern Campaign Revolutionary War battlefields, Hanging Rock in South Carolina and Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina.
At Hanging Rock, generous battlefield preservationists like you have already secured 141 acres. These 30 acres in the part of the battlefield where the initial Patriot attack began will add significantly to the land we have saved there already.
At Guilford Courthouse, the half-acre tract at stake may be small, but it’s part of a larger strategy to deal with the modern development crowding in on this battlefield from all points of the compass. Our plan is to buy up plots of battlefield land – including small ones and those with non-historic structures on them like this one – remove all non-historic structures and restore the battlefield. The Guilford Courthouse National Military Park has generously agreed to take responsibility for demolishing and removing the house on this plot, a considerable cost that we would typically need to cover.
Best of all, matching fund opportunities will allow us to buy these 31 acres for less than a fifth of their full value! That’s right, we have a $5.20-to-$1 matching opportunity to buy these $475,000-worth of Revolutionary history for just $91,250.
Another reason this is an important moment in preservation is to help combat the misconception that the Southern Theater of the American Revolution as a minor sideshow to better-known northern battles like Bunker Hill, Princeton and Saratoga. In reality, the British Southern Campaign was critical to the fate and future of our nation – and these two battles, one in each Carolina, were critical to that campaign’s eventual outcome.
Of the Battle of Hanging Rock, noted 19th-century historian Lyman Draper later wrote that “Cornwallis was heard to say that no battle fell heavier on the British, considering the numbers engaged, the Battle of Bunker Hill excepted.”
Located on the road between Camden, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina, Hanging Rock served as one of a series of strongholds intended to maintain the British position in South Carolina. At daybreak on August 6, 1780, Patriot troops launched a surprise attack on British forces there. After three long hours, the battle ended with the victorious Americans plundering the camp while the British watched helplessly. The battle served to demoralize the British, whose forces sustained four times as many casualties as the Patriots.
The Battle of Guilford Courthouse was fought on March 15, 1781. After a stinging defeat at the Battle of Cowpens earlier that year – where his 3,300-man army was reduced to 2,550 – British General Charles Lord Cornwallis spent two months driving his men in pursuit of Nathanael Greene’s army. Cornwallis and his notorious cavalry commander Banastre Tarleton marched hundreds of miles over wretched roads, often in horrible weather – but they could never quite catch their Patriot foe. Guilford Courthouse is the place where Greene, whose main objective was to keep his army in the field and avoid a disaster, finally turned to face Cornwallis.
It’s also the place where, after one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War, Cornwallis decided to abandon the Carolinas. Despite having only 1,900 British Regulars to face 4,400 Americans, the British had managed to drive back three successive American defensive lines – yet their victory at Guilford Courthouse came at too high a cost. With his force reduced 27% by this single battle, Cornwallis would turn his attention to Virginia, beginning the last leg of his journey toward eventual surrender at Yorktown.
“By saving these 31 acres today, at two major battlefields of the Southern Campaign, you and I have the chance to preserve this land forever and expand the story of this crucial theater in the fight for our independence.”
And remember, our fight today isn’t just about these 31 acres. The Southern Campaign was a crucial chapter in our nation’s founding story, yet far too few people understand its significance. Your contribution today will help blaze the Liberty Trail to educate the public about the south’s important role in the American Revolution.