“I never saw such fighting since God made me. The Americans fought like demons.”
That’s what British Commander Lord Charles Cornwallis said about the rebels at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781.
The leader of those American soldiers was Greensboro’s namesake, Major Gen. Nathanael Greene. And the battle took place along a path from Lawndale Drive eastward to New Garden Road.
Greene commanded 4,500 militia and Continentals, and Cornwallis’s troops numbered about 2,000.
After two and a half hours of intense fighting, Greene pulled his soldiers off the field. His retreat preserved the strength of his army, and although Cornwallis technically won the battle, he lost 25 percent of his army. So the day was a battle win for Cornwallis but a strategic win for Greene.
Each year in March, the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department sponsors a two-day re-enactment of the battle at Country Park at 3905 Nathanael Green Drive.
Re-enactors dressed in period-appropriate uniforms and weapons stage the battle each day to give spectators a close-up look at what it would’ve been like in 1781. Other re-enactors set up military encampments, hold firearms demonstrations, perform music of the era, and more.
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park was the first Revolutionary War Battlefield preserved by Congress and is just a 10 minute drive from downtown’s shops and eateries. One of these eateries honors Greene’s namesake; Natty Greene’s brewing, with a brewpub location on Elm Street, pays homage to the Major Gen. Each bottle and can boasts his name.
If looking to continue the tour of Greensboro by vehicle, a quick drive to North Carolina A&T University will deliver history buffs to the February One sculpture, which honors the Greensboro Four.
On Monday, Feb. 1, 1960, four young black men walked down Elm Street into the Woolworth’s store and sat down at the lunch counter. At that time, the store’s official policy was to serve only whites at the lunch counter. But the four N.C. A&T students — David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan) and Franklin McCain — refused to give up their seats. The young men had decided to stage a nonviolent protest.
The four freshmen each requested a cup of coffee. The manager asked the students to leave, but they sat peacefully until the store’s closing time.
The next day, more than 20 students joined the sit-in. By the third day, more than 300 people took part in the protest against segregation. Although the Feb. 1 sit-in in Greensboro wasn’t the first one, it inspired students all across the South to stage their own sit-ins as part of the civil rights movement.
Commissioned in 2001 by James C. Renick, former university chancellor, the sculpture took artist James Barnhill a year to complete. The monument is based on the iconic photograph of the four men exiting Woolworth’s and is a historical site to behold.
If you’re looking for something to see that doesn’t involve getting in the car, visitors will be excited to explore Guilford County’s many public parks and gardens, featuring trails, fun activities for kids, beautiful landscaping, and of course, plenty of nature to admire.
One of the top spots for families to enjoy is Greensboro’s newest public garden, Gateway Gardens, an 11-acre site at 2800 E. Lee St. near Barber Park open from sunrise until sunset. The city began planning with Greensboro Beautiful, a nonprofit group of volunteers, in 1999, and it opened to the public in 2011.
It’s truly a fun place to visit, with whimsical discoveries and public art throughout.
Visitors walk through an alphabet archway as they enter The Michel Family Children’s Garden. Here, they’ll see a stage shaped like a giant book, the William A. Stern maze with giant butterflies overhead, a vegetable garden with benches shaped like fruit, a plant tunnel, and an arbor flanked by huge carrot sculptures.
Other areas include the Visitor Center, with an 1,800-square-foot patio, and The Heritage Garden and Plaza, which is surrounded by an 8,000 square foot stone terrace and features a 25-foot bronze fountain. The Rain Garden has an overlook and a walled pond, and the Great Lawn provides an open space to enjoy a picnic, fly a kite, or toss a ball.
In addition to Gateway Gardens, there are seven regional public parks in Guilford County with picnic shelters, pools and aquatic centers, day camps, historic buildings, sports fields, golf courses and tennis courts, biking and equestrian trails, fishing, campsites, and more.