GUILFORD COURT HOUSE, Battle of, 15 March 1781; in results one of the decisive battles of the Revolution. Cornwallis at Hills boro proclaimed that he had conquered North Carolina, and called on the well-disposed to rally around him; Greene, awaiting reinforcements near the Virginia border, perceived the neces sity of showing the patriots they were not abandoned, and advanced across the Dan. After some days of fencing and recruiting, Greene halted for battle at Guilford Court House. He had about 4,400 men, but 3,000 were militia; and of his Continental regulars, only the Virginians and the First Maryland were veterans, the Second being new. Cornwallis had 2,213 trained troops. Greene posted his first militia line in an open field, to thin the British front before giving way; the second in a wood 300 yards back; the regulars on a rise 400 yards to the rear, near the court house. Their front was convex: the Virginians on the right, then in succession Singleton's artillery, Gunby and Howard's First Maryland and Ford's Second Maryland on the left. Lee's Legion and Campbell's riflemen guarded the left flank; William Washington's cavalry, Lynch's rifles, and the rtmnant of the Delaware regiment, the right flank. The British routed th first militia after it fired one or two volleys; but only drove the second from the wood after an obstinate and murderous combat. Ad
vancing against the hill, their left was riddled by a withering fire, and then broken by a bay onet charge of the First Maryland; but their right crushed the second and captured two cannon. The first faced about and checked it; Washington in turn pierced the British line and retook the pieces. The first steadily crowded back their opponents with the bayonet: and Cornwallis only stayed the tide of defeat by ordering his artillery to open on the Mary landers through his own ranks, checking the pursuit at heavy loss to himself. Reforming, the British moved forward and with double the number of real troops, carried the hill and held it against every assault. Toward evening Greene after five hours' conflict withdrew, leaving his artillery on the field because the horses were killed. The American loss was 79 killed and 184 wounded and about 1,000 militia dispersed to their homes. Cornwallis lost 93 killed, 413 wounded, and 26 missing— 532 in all, or a quarter of his entire force. He announced a victory to Parliament, but Fox declared that "another such victory would destroy the British and, in fact, Cornwallis had to fall back on Wilmington, abandoning his hold on the Carolinas, except two or three places on the coast, and shortly going to Virginia and capture.