Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guilford Courthouse in Miniature (10)

This is the tenth in a series of posts depicting the battle of Guilford Courthouse in miniature. Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9.

The second battalion of British Guards was placed in reserve at the start of the battle, but before long the battalion entered the action and on the second line it helped defeat both Lawson’s (Part 6) and Stevens’ (Part 7) brigades of Virginia militia. The Guards then pressed on towards the American third line. The units to their left and right were delayed in the woods, and when the Guards reached the third line, they were without support.

The second battalion of Guards found opposite them, in an open field, the 2nd Maryland Regiment. Although the 2nd Maryland was considerably larger, the Guards did not hesitate to attack.


The Guards Approach the Third Line (click to enlarge). The 2nd Battalion of Guards has entered the field at left and is attacking the 2nd Maryland Regiment. In the foreground, Virginia and North Carolina militia rally. In the distance, Stevens' Virginia militia and several British units approach the edge of the woods, and American light infantry clash with the British left (see Part 9).


The Marylanders’ regimental commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin Ford, reacted aggressively. According to an American staff officer (Colonel William Davie), Ford “ordered a charge, that proceeded some distance,” but the brigade commander, Colonel Otho Holland Williams, ordered them to halt and reform their line. The British meanwhile “continued to advance (at the run)”. Soon they brought the disordered Marylanders “under a heavy fire”. [1]

When the 2nd Maryland was ordered to attack again, they gave way and headed for the rear.

Lieutenant-Colonel John Eager Howard blamed this collapse on “the want of officers, and having so many new recruits” in this regiment. Howard’s own regiment, the 1st Maryland, was nearby but provided no immediate assistance. He noted, “This transaction [between the Guards and 2nd Maryland] was in a great measure concealed from the first regiment by the wood, and unevenness of the ground.” [2]

The Guards’ followed the 2nd Maryland into the rear of the American position, and in this pursuit they captured Captain Singleton’s battery of two 6-pounders.


The Guards pursue the 2nd Maryland and gain the Americans' left flank.



1. Blackwell P. Robinson (1976). The Revolutionary War sketches of William R. Davie, as cited by Lawrence E. Babits (1998). The "Fifth" Maryland at Guilford Courthouse: An exercise in historical accuracy.

2. Howard is quoted in James Herring and James Barton Longacre (1835). The national portrait gallery of distinguished Americans, Vol. 2.

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