I included this battle in my upcoming novel, For Love or Country, which is set to release in the spring of 2014. It's the 2nd book in The MacGregor Legacy series. While most of the story takes place in Wilmington, NC, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse is mentioned and plays a major part of the story since Lord Cornwallis leaves the battlefield and marches his war-torn, weary troops to Wilmington to rest and recover. While the Battle of Guilford Courthouse is considered to be a British victory, it caused significant damage to the British army, enough so, that the British troops never quite recovered. The battle marks a significant turn of events in the overall war in favor of the Continentals' eventual victory.
This particular battle has always intrigued me because it was fought in my hometown on New Garden Road and on part of the church grounds of New Gardens Friends Meeting, the Quaker Church where some of my ancestors attended. In fact, I have a land deed dated in 1802 showing that my family sold land where the first Guilford Courthouse was built.
After the heat of the battle, Quakers tended to the wounded on both sides of the war and even buried them together. Quakers did not believe in war and fighting to settle conflicts and tried not to take sides. Still, I like to imagine what some of my ancestors may have witnessed and what their small role might have been. I also had an ancestor who fought in the war, and I can't help wondering if he might have been there that day.
Reenactments are like gifts of time travel. We can go back and see their clothing, tools, battles, homes, furnishings, and how they did things. It's the perfect research for historical writers. My advice is to attend as many of these events as possible. Take photos, video tape the action when you are allowed, and learn as much as you can. Ask questions of experts that you otherwise would never meet.
Visiting reenactments gives you connections on a personal level. It's another way to network. Experts at these events want to teach people what they know and share their knowledge. As writers, we need to take advantage of these rare moments when they are accessible to us. For instance, at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse Reenactment, one of the reenactors held a microphone and asked certain members to come up and model their uniform while he explained different things about each uniform. It was awesome!
There are several tents where reenactors camp out and they not only sell their handmade items and historical replicas, but they also perform demonstrations showing how certain tasks were accomplished, things were made, songs are played on instruments of the day, and how food was cooked while camping outdoors. These tents are where you will meet lots of the women and children of these families.
A List of Revolutionary War Reenactments
Some of these may be a one time event, others are reoccurring You will need to check out the website and contact the hosting organization for further information.
~ March - Battle of Guilford Courthouse - Greensboro, NC
~ April - Revolution in Massachusetts - Boston, MA -
~ June - Battle of Monmouth - Manalapan, NJ
~ July - Battle of Wyoming - Lake Ariel, PA
~ September - Cantigny & The Northwest Territory - Wheaton, IL
~ September - Mount Harmon Plantation - Earleville, MD
~ October - Battle of the Hook - Gloucester, VA
~ October - Yorktown Battlefield - Yorktown, VA
~ November - Anniversary Encampment - Reddington, CT
More Resource Links
~ Re-Enactor Links
~ National Society of Living Historians
~ British Brigade Events
* Images are from the Guilford Courthouse Reenactment sponsored by the Greensboro Parks & Recreation held in March 2013. Only images are used where individuals are shown from the side, back and/or distance to prevent easy identification.