Quaker Meeting House Site of Skirmish Prior to Guilford Courthouse

On March 15, 1781, British and American forces skirmished near the New Garden Meeting House just hours before the larger Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

In the predawn hours, Gen. Charles Cornwallis’s British army advanced north, intent on closing in on Gen. Nathanael Greene’s position near Guilford Courthouse. Greene had placed troops out in advance positions to the south and west to give him fair warning of any potential attack.

When the front line of the British army, led by Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, encountered Lt. Col. “Light Horse” Harry Lee’s troops just north of the meeting house, British and American dragoons slammed into each other in a narrow lane. Sabers clanged and shots echoed as horses and men crashed to the ground. After the initial clash, the British cavalry were pushed back, across the what’s now the Guilford College campus to the meeting house where they were joined by infantry units. The two sides exchanged fire twice more before American forces retired north towards Greene’s army.

The primary effect of the New Garden skirmishes, totaling roughly two-and-a-half hours, was that Greene had time to position his main army and prepare his men, many of whom were inexperienced militia, for battle.