On this day in 1781, the largest, most hotly-contested battle of the Revolutionary War's Southern Campaign was fought at the small North Carolina backcounty hamlet of Guilford Courthouse.
Major General Nathanael Greene, defending the ground at Guilford Courthouse with an army of almost 4,500 American militia and Continentals, was tactically defeated by a smaller British army of about 1,900 veteran regulars and German allies commanded by Lord Charles Cornwallis. After 2 1/2 hours of intense and often brutal fighting, Cornwallis forced his opponent to withdraw from the field. Greene's retreat preserved the strength of his army, but Cornwallis's frail victory was won at the cost of over a quarter of his army.
Cornwallis would later comment, "I never saw such fighting since God made me. The Americans fought like demons."
The battle proved to be the highwater mark of British military operations in the Revolutionary War. Weakened in his campaign against Greene, Cornwallis abandoned his campaign for the Carolinas and would it lead to his at surrender at Yorktown.