Spirit up the people, to annoy the enemy in that quarter. —MAJ. GEN. NATHANAEL GREENE to BRIG. GEN. DANIEL MORGAN, 16 December 1780
The battle of Guilford Courthouse was not preordained. Instead it resulted from strategies that had been initially put in play during the first stages of the American War of Independence. At the beginning of the conflict, longstanding political and economic differences between the Piedmont and the Tidewater marred relationships and divided the Carolinas. In both North and South Carolina, Whigs gained quick control, establishing new governments in 1775–76. Exiled loyalists nevertheless promised the British a massive outpouring of support to coincide with the arrival of regular British troops in the South. The British believed that once their armies arrived, the loyalists in hiding would rise up and reestablish royal government. Those loyalists who rose, however, were defeated in minor skirmishes at Great Bridge, Virginia, and Moore's Creek Bridge, North Carolina, and when the British actually did arrive, at Charleston, South Carolina, in June 1776, they were defeated as well. With these victories, the Whigs considered the southern colonies secure after 1776. They were wrong.
Two years later the British returned. A surprise attack on Savannah in late December 1778 carried the town in less than an hour. Within two months,