Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse

By Lawrence E. Babits; Joshua B. Howard | Go to book overview
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Leaping a ravine, the swords of the horsemen were upon the enemy, who were rejoicing in victory and safety; and before they suspected danger, multitudes lay dead.—LT. PHILEMON HOLCOMBE,Virginia militia


CHAPTER EIGHT THE THIRD LINE

The Continentals had been waiting for nearly an hour and a half, quietly scanning the fields down in the vale and the woods beyond the western slopes. Separated by nearly 600 yards from the second line, the regulars saw none of the fighting to their front and could only nervously wait, listening to the roar of battle edging closer to them by the minute. General Nathanael Greene, “well pleased with the present prospect, and flattering himself with a happy conclusion, passed along the line exhorting his troops to give the finishing blow.” Greene had good reason to be optimistic as “his continental troops were fresh, in perfect order, and upon the point of engaging an enemy, broken into distinct parts, and probably supposing the severity of the action to be over.”1

Looking west, Lt. Col. John Eager Howard recollected, “the first [Maryland] regiment under Gunby was formed in a hollow, in the wood, and to the right [west] of the cleared ground about the Court house. The Virginia Brigade under Genl. Huger were to our right. The second [Maryland] regiment was at some distance to the left of the first, in the cleared ground, with its

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