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Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, at 2332 New Garden Road in Greensboro, North Carolinamarker, commemorates the Battle of Guilford Court House, fought on March 15, 1781. This battle opened the campaign that led to American victory in the Revolutionary War. The British lost a substantial number of troops at the battle, a factor in their surrender at Yorktown seven months later.

Battlefield preservation

In 1886, David Schenck conceived the idea of making the Guilford Courthouse site a park. The following year, he chartered the non-profit Guilford Battle Ground Company to advance his efforts. From an early date, he apparently foresaw a turnover to the federal government, and when Congress finally established Guilford Courthouse as a national military park, the GBGC turned over its at no charge.

However, the GBGC period would leave a mixed legacy. First, Schenck's philosophy was not to preserve the terrain in its approximate historical state, but to beautify the landscape.

Contrasting National Park Service maps reflect the changing official historiography of the battle.
This 1998 map still adheres to the interpretation inherited from Schenck.
A current map shows a larger battlefield.
In particular, the American third line has been moved back, and the last shots of the battle have been placed further south, in Greensboro Country Park.
Second, he adopted an interpretation of the battle that encompassed a much smaller area than that indicated by contemporary accounts. It is believed that his limited funds, coupled with landowners who exploited his interest by charging top dollar, influenced his historical downsizing. This has misled historians, and caused markers and monuments to be placed in the wrong spot. It also hampered efforts to acquire land or resist development in areas outside the Schenck interpretation, as the expanding city of Greensboro approached and then encircled the park.

Today, the National Park Service has rejected the Schenck interpretation, and hopes to bring the battlefield in harmony with historical evidence. However, the area outside the current park boundary has largely been overrun. A revived Guilford Battleground Company supports preservation efforts for Guilford Courthouse National Military Park and nearby Tannenbaum Historic Park, where British forces assembled for their advance. Meanwhile, many Greensboro residents find the park, which lies on a bicycle path and adjoins Greensboro Country Park, a convenient place for jogging and cycling, and typically outnumber visitors touring the battlefield.

Administrative history

The military park was established on March 2, 1917. It was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service August 10, 1933. As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the military park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

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