Monday, November 30, 2009

The Guilford Courthouse Park Experience

Well, this is it, ladies and gentlemen. This is my last post about the journey of HSS 105. For my Greensboro project, I decided to analyze the relaxing, yet mysterious area of Guilford Courthouse Park. This area has a reputation that only a few other locations can have. It was the site of a major battle in the American Revolution. This battle was so major that it was known as the ultimate turning point for the War. Still, we all know about the battle. Or do we? This is only one aspect that I will tackle today along with a few other "mysteries." I will cover 5 big aspects. First, I will give a brief background of the park itself and a little bit of the battle itself. Second, what is the connection between exercise and the history of the battle? Third, we will see why there are certain monuments in the park. Fourth, we will see why the memorial was placed at the battle site (or was it?). Finally, we will solve the mystery of Tannebaum Park and why it is around the area of the battle site.
First, we will cover a brief history of the park. The battle took place on the Guilford Court House area on March 15, 1781. In one corner, we have the Dean of Mean, the Britain Destroyer, the Ravager of the Colonies, please welcome General Cornwallis! (cheer) In the other corner, we have the Defender of the Carolinas, the one and only General Nathaniel Greene! Both men met with their armies at the site and planned to do their battle. Little did Gen. Cornwallis know that Gen. Greene had Col. William Washington and his fighters, the Dragoons, flank the British Army on the side to make the battle tougher for the British. The battle lasted and lasted, but in the end, Gen. Nathaniel Greene had to sound a retreat. He was so depressed because of the loss, but he realized something. He may have lost the area, but he put a big dent in the Britain Army. He killed more troops, wasted more of their ammunition, and destroyed their overall morale. This soon led to the surrender of Cornwallis in the Battle of Yorktown. Over time, the site lost its caliber and was soon forgotten. It was nearly lost to progression until two powerful men saw the site and wanted to fix this. Then, Judge David Schneck and Joesph Morehead formed the Guilford Battle Ground Company, with Schneck being the first President around 1880. Now, before we go on, we know that the Morehead name was very powerful and knoeing this, with a Morehead at the head, who knows what could happen? Anyways, the battlesite was made into a local park in 1887. Other monuments were placed such as Monument Row, a row of monuments that were important to David Schneck, Morehead, and even Morehead's wife.

In 1893, Governor Holt placed a memorial for an unknown hero of the battle, Major Joesph Winston and his troops. They still fought against the British troops even after the retreat was called. Their bout was unsuccessful of course, but it was memorable. Then, in 1915, the Nathaniel Greene monument was erected to attract people to the park and to symbolize the person who Greensboro was named after. Then, in 1917, the park was endorsed by the National Park Association, making it the national park we know today.

Next, we have our exercise dilemma. What is the connection? Well, as I entered the visitor center, I ran into a older man in a Continental Army uniform who was publicizing about the movie within the park. He told me all about the history, when I asked him about the exercise aspect, he gave me a sad look. This park was about walking and enjoying history. Over time, people became bored with history and found a new value: staying in shape and looking good. Therefore, running came into play here at the park. As you can see, when values change, some are left behind and some are adopted. Why? Well, when running became popular at the park, more people came to the park. Then, more people came to the city. So, the running was allowed to promote tourism in Greensboro. Therefore, there is no real connection between the park and exercise except the fact that exercise has taken away from the realization of the history of the park. It's sad to think about, is it not?

Continuing, we move on to our third mystery. What is with the monuments in this park? We have monuments that have nothing to do with the battle or even North Carolina. Well, let us start with the most obvious of the monuments, the Signers monument. This monument represents three powerful people, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn. These people were three signers of the Declaration of Independence, one of the major reasons we started this revolution. This monument specifically is a statue of a Congressman stating his point and the graves of two of the signers, Hooper and Penn. Hewes' body was lost over time. These people were buried here in 1894. Anyways, this is a symbolic monument to the cause that the men who died here fought for.

Next, there is the tombstone of Major John Daves. As you can see, this monument and other monument like this (Maryland troops monument) are here to signify the people that died here. Their graves are actually on this battlesite. Thje officers had a bit more decoration for their grave markers.

There is the Maryland troops monument as well. The bones of these troops were found by Schneck in 1888 and identified as troops from Maryland. Still, why would you see a Maryland monument down in North Carolina? This shows that the park is known nationally. It is not a local landmark. It is nationally renowned and the other states want to show their part in the battle. Also, you see that the value of history in other states is very high. Therefore, you see the great monuments from the other states you see today.

Finally, there are a few specific monuments that resemble the untold heroes of battle. For instance, there is a monument for the great Col. William Washington and his troops that flanked the British Army and killed many of the troops. Also, there is the monument to Major Winston, who tried to resist the British despite the retreat being sounded. A little side note, in Monument Row, there are a few monuments that represent the Morehead and Schneck respresentation in the battle. There are a couple "show off" monuments that show descendants of David Schneck, Joesph Morehead, and even Morehead's wife.

Continuing on, we have the connection between Tannebaum Park and Guilford Courthouse Park. Why are they near each other and why is this one continued with the GC Park? Well, this spot was the Hoskins Farm Estate (7.5 acres of farmstead are left as a park), where the Hoskins worked their hardest to make a living. Still, there's a bigger reason for the park itself. This is the area where the British began their march to the battle. If you can see the map, then you can tell that the battle took place from that area to nearly the other side of County Park. This is a monumentous area because this was the starting point of the army that got smacked around by the Continental Army. It is very essential to see where the enemy began as well the heroes. So, the Guilford Battle Ground Company saved this part of history to continue history and the knowledge of it. As of 1985, it became a local park. Coming up in a couple of years, it will soon become a national park as well.

Now, the big mystery awaits us. Why was the memorial placed right at the battlesite instead of a different area unlike War Memorial Auditorium or Memorial Stadium? Well, the reason that the park was placed right at the battlesite is because the park is the only big monument for the Revolutionary War. There are other little areas such as the statue of Greene in the traffic circle, but this is the only big and old memorial for the battle. War Memorial Auditorium is for World War II and it was built in 1959. Therefore, why would they build it near the battlesite of aother war? Same for Memorial Stadium which was for World War I commemoration. The only war that is not represented here is the Civil War. Why is it not represented in Greensboro? Well, I do not know that reason but mabe it was because we were a part of the Confederacy which was not well taken during the Radical Reformation after the Civil War.

Now, there is the big mystery. Was the battle site really there or is it a few miles down the road? Now, the battlesite was actually at that area, but there is a new twist. The park only covers 25% of the actual battlefield. Let's look back at the map. The park only covers around the 2nd and 3rd lines. There is more to the battlefield than meets the eye. Why was the battlefield not bought out all the way? Well, there are other areas that came into play such as Guilford County Park. Also, back in the time when the park was first created, the battlefield was considered to be much much smaller. Therefore, the Battle Ground Company only bought that much of the battlefield. Tannebaum Park was set apart in the 1980s, so it was not considered part of the park at the time.

So, as you can see, the mysteries have been solved. We found out that exercise was not part of the park's true meaning, the history of the park itself, Tannebaum's connection with GC Park, why the park is at the actual site (just a quarter of it, but the actual site), and what the monuments represent in the park. Enjoy!! Thanks for being so supportive throughout this whole experience.

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