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Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse Hardcover – March 15, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Provides an unprecedented level of research and detail. . . . This account of Guilford Courthouse is a welcome and much-needed addition to the body of Revolutionary War military history, and will be the foundation upon which all future research into this engagement is based.--The Journal of Military History

An extraordinarily detailed narrative. It also fills a gap in literature on the war by showcasing a consequential but comparatively understudied Carolina battle.--Raleigh News & Observer

Babits and Howard admirably demonstrate how meticulous research in under-utilized primary sources yields new insights and substantive corrections on long-accepted accounts of the past.--Military History of the West

[A] masterful microhistory of the engagement . . . employing a truly impressive array of primary sources. Babits and Howard have cleared away two hundred years of conjecture and brought the battle of Guilford Courthouse closer to historical reality.--Journal of Southern History

The authors have discovered new pieces to the puzzle and have achieved perhaps the best synthesis to date. . . . A masterful job. . . . A major addition to the scholarship, and for students of the American Revolution, particularly the Southern Campaign, it is a must-read.--Journal of America's Military Past

THE most definitive description of any engagement of the American Revolution. . . . Will prove to be one of the most thorough works of the 21st century dealing with the American Revolution. . . . Superbly written, edited, and researched, and . . . sets a comprehensive standard that will change the expectations of analysis, source materials, and writing of military history.--Northwest Ohio History

A read through this work will bring an understanding of the events of the day, how they relate to the larger events of the [Revolutionary War], and a sense of what the world was like at that time.--Southern Pines Pilot

This book will clearly have value to historians trying to understand the critical Southern campaign. And there will be readers--serious military history buffs, battlefield re-enactors--who will treasure the

A compelling read. . . . Great details from unexpected sources. . . . Another step forward in giving the Revolutionary War its due.--Greensboro News & Record

Detailed and comprehensive.--McCormick Messenger

The definitive, unbiased account of this important and largely ignored battle of the Revolution. . . . This book is one of the best ever written on the American Revolution.--The North Carolina Historical Review

Babits's and Howard's most excellent work will be invaluable to any reader interested in the long playing out of Cornwallis's contest with Greene, or in the relationship between battles, campaigns, and the overall strategy by which the American Revolution was decided." --Georgia Historical Quarterly

The battle's only full-length monograph. . . . Professional history written in an approachable manner.--Library Journal

Illustrations and maps enhance the work. . . . A welcome addition to the library of any serious student of the American Revolution.--On Point

This book will give you a clearer understanding of this battle than you will find anywhere else. . . . Extremely readable. . . . Maps are crystal clear and very well

A fine, professional account. . . . A remarkable story . . . Babits and Howard do an excellent job of summing [the battle] up.--Wilmington Star News


It is surprising that such a significant and dramatic event has avoided detailed treatment for more than 225 years, but we are fortunate that historians of the caliber of Babits and Howard have undertaken the task. This is certainly the best and most complete account of Guilford Courthouse produced to date, and it serves as a model for future battle histories dealing with the War of Independence.--Gregory J. W. Urwin, Temple University

|The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a pivotal engagement in the Revolutionary War, has long awaited a first-rate treatment. It is here. In Long, Obstinate, and Bloody, historians Lawrence Babits and Joshua Howard have produced the definitive account of the battle, coauthoring a thoughtful and meticulously researched book that explores the armies, commanders, soldiers, and weaponry in the battle as well as the significance of this all-too-often neglected clash.--John Ferling, author of Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1st edition, edition (March 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807832669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807832660
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Christian Thoma on March 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Battle of Guilford Courthouse (GC), like pretty much all of the southern campaign, has typically gotten short shrift when discussing the history of the American Revolution (AR). The recent spike in interest in the AR has led to a better appreciation of what happened in the south and long-ignored chapters are finally being told.

That it took so long for GC to receive a full-length treatment is frankly shocking, as it is one of the most important battles of the AR -- important enough to have been butchered in The Patriot (starring Academy Award winner Heath Ledger). But what's past is past, and we finally have a book (not to slight Another Such Victory, but it was more pamphlet than book). So how did Babits and Howard do?

The Good:
--Details, details, details! As best as can be ascertained by the authors, we know where everybody was in the battlefield, and often know where they moved as the battle progressed. This results in a few surprises (see The Interesting below), but more importantly makes sure the reader always has a sense of order through the chaos of battle.

--Academic rigor. Bibliography, notes, and maps are solid. Index is actually useful.

--Readability. You can easily follow the action, and the authors' style doesn't detract from the book (as frequently happens in history books).

--Did I mention that GC deserved this treatment a long time ago?

The Bad:
--The details may bog the reader down, especially when the authors go through the order of battle. Since the maps do a good job of listing troop positions, I would recommend that during the chapters on the troop makeup, pay more attention to the who of the companies rather than the where.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert G. Brooking on March 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Babits and Joshua Howard have delivered the most thorough and readable account of the monumentally important Battle of Guilford Courthouse. While I do not agree with every conclusion, Long, Obstinate, and Bloody has set the baseline for all future Revolutionary War battle histories - 5 ENTHUSIASTIC STARS!

Another quite knowledgeable reviewer has noted that "for some reason" Babits and Howard think that Washington "deserted" his position along the northern flank, and says that he has never seen any evidence to support that. First, I cannot fine a single statement to support this claim. Instead they postulate that due to the lack of a road along the northern flank heading towards the courthouse, and the heavy brush, it is possible that Washington's dragoons themselves were unable to operate in the terrain and were therefore positioned at the courthouse. On the southern flank there was a road running roughly east-west, which the authors demonstrate Lee probably used to extricate his dragoons. The authors simply point out that it is unknown if such a road existed to the north, but the presumed lack thereof may suggest that Washington's dragoons were actually not deployed on the flank. As the authors suggest (this is not a definite statement, but a suggestion) "A more likely interpretation. . ." (62, 122-123). And here is a strength of their work. Rather than blindly following the traditional analysis or boldly and carelessly bucking the trend in every instance, the authors offer tangible alternatives when concrete proof is lacking. I think that they are simply offering this as a possible explanation of how Washington ended up along the third line. Perhaps the other reviewer overlooked page 217.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Brett Abbott on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Battle narratives are very difficult to write well, but Larry Babits and Joshua Howard have written an excellent account of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Plowing through countless original documents and thoroughly documenting their account the authors have given me a much clearer account than any other I have read of this crucial battle. As Wellington said, battles are impossible to get right, there are always too many things going on and most accounts are written or assembled long after the event, what the authors have done is to pull together a cohesive and readable narrative from all the available sources and I was impressed by the level of detail they achieved. Are their still points that can be debated? Certainly, I suspect Mr. Babits and Mr. Howard would be the first to say so, but I know of no better account of this hard fought battle and I found it a joy to read. The Southern Campaign was a long and bloody affair and it is often overlooked as an important part of the American Revolution, hopefully this book will help draw attention to this critical phase of America's march to independence.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. Coss on March 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I enthusiastically endorse this scholarly work by Dr. Babits and Mr. Howard. Their research methodology, alone, and their efforts to deconstruct accepted but mythical aspects of the battle--the Peter Francisco account and the British artillery firing into melee, just to name two--makes this book a must-read for anyone interested in the period. Babits and Howard base many of their ideas not simply on intellectual conjecture, but on primary source documentation. I especially applaud them for their work with pension records and muster rolls. Wading through a database of nearly 1,000 pensions in order to establish and corroborate details of the battle is not easy work. The revelations that come of such meticulous research are what make this work special. Is the book provocative in places? Of course. That's what happens when new, primary source research is utilized by professional historians. The authors don't appear to claim that they have all the answers; Babits and Howard offer some new ideas, substantiated through solid scholarship, with the hopes that the book will engender discourse and a fuller understanding of the battle. Rather than offering my viewpoints on specific details and espouse how I think Babits and Howard should have written the book, I will judge this work for what it is: the most definitive account of the battle to date. I can work through the levels of detail they provide in order to find an extraordinarily insightful book that challenges my understanding of the battle, the myths it created, and the human experience in war.
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