The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

Battle of Guilford Courthouse
Battle of Guilford Courthouse

On December 2, 1780, Maj. General Nathanael Greene arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina to take command of what remained of the Continental forces in the south after the previous commander, Maj. General Horatio Gates, was routed at the Battle of Camden. Greene split his forces, in order to buy time to rebuild them. Brig. General Daniel Morgan led one part of the army in victory over Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens by using British expectations of militia and Tarleton's weaknesses.

Following the battle, Morgan withdrew and began retreating north. British Lt. General Charles Cornwallis, who had been slow in breaking off his pursuit of General Greene, now started his army in pursuit of General Morgan. Morgan's smaller and more mobile force managed to stay ahead of Cornwallis' forces. Morgan and Greene's forces met at Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina and headed north. That retreat is known as the Race for the Dan.

The Dan River, which was at this time of season, swollen and only safe to cross at upstream fords, was along the border of North Carolina and Virginia. General Greene continued to stay ahead of General Cornwallis, who now burned his baggage train and left stragglers behind in his haste. Cornwallis moved his army between Greene and the upstream fords, but Greene had planned for such a flight and had boats ready to carry his army across the river at a point downstream from Cornwallis' chosen position.

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