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The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas Paperback – July 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0471327165 ISBN-10: 0471327166

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (July 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471327166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471327165
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Most of us are familiar with the role that North and South Carolina played in the American Civil War: if nothing else, every grade-schooler knows the significance of the 1861 bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. But to popular historian John Buchanan, "that tragedy is of far less interest than the American Revolution. The Revolution was the most important event in American history. The Civil War was unfinished business." And the Carolinas, Buchanan convincingly argues, were the most critical theater in that conflict, with their wild Back Country seeing "a little-known but savage civil war far exceeding anything in the North."

The Road to Guilford Courthouse is no less than a tour de force of pop military scholarship, an exhaustive battle-by-battle account of the Crown's grinding march to wrest the Carolinas from the resourceful Rebels. Beginning with Colonel William Moultrie's valiant defense atop the palmetto ramparts of Fort Sullivan against an outnumbering force of British men-of-war to the final "long, obstinate, and bloody" exchange at Guilford Courthouse, Buchanan meticulously recounts each skirmish, battle, and shift of strategy in the campaign. Relying on copious primary and secondary sources, he brings the combatants to life, from the worthy but somewhat obscure, such as Nathanael Greene, whom George Washington considered to be his successor should he fall, to soon-to-be legends such as Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. --Paul Hughes

From Booklist

This outstanding popular military history covers the American Revolution in North and South Carolina. More divided than any other region between patriot and Tory, the Carolinas were the scene of a two-year British campaign (1780^-81) to raise the country for the crown. Lord Cornwallis began well by taking Charleston but subsequently found himself facing an assortment of American generals who could not win but refused to submit. Cornwallis was also hindered as much as helped by the Tories, whose militia efforts were never as successful as those of their patriot counterparts. Eventually, lack of supplies rather than actual defeat drove Cornwallis into Virginia and on the road to Yorktown. Buchanan writes with superlative clarity and considerable wit, providing character sketches better than many novelists', while maintaining balance in judgment and thoroughness in research (the annotated bibliography is valuable to beginning and entrenched students of the Revolution alike). Altogether, an accomplishment of the same high order as Robinson's Good Year to Die (1995) and McPherson's Civil War historiography. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys reading history.
Cody Harris
One of my fifth great grandfathers was with the South Carolina militia and fought at Rocky Mount.
Terri Dawn
The author does an excellent job of revealing the major commanders to the reader.
Wayne A. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on August 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is very well written and thoroughly researched. If the reader is looking to gain an understanding of a critical area of Revolutionary War operations in the Carolinas -- an area that has not received its due in history -- this book will more than satisfy.
Although often beating General Washington in the middle colonies, the British had certainly not subdued the Revolution in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York. They looked to Charleston and the Carolinas as an area where British arms could provide succor to loyalists and take those states and Georgia out of the war.
The British won many battles, including the taking of Charleston and the capture of 5,000 rebels. But they could not win hearts and minds nor subdue the countryside. Rebel militia, aided by some of the finest Continental units sent by Washington, were married with a master strategy and excellent generaliship to bloody, thwart and ultimately force a stragetic defeat on British arms. This was done by volunteers, milita, who though often broke when confronted by the bayonets of regular troops, were led by enough able colonels that their guerilla attacks significantly drew upon British strength.
The hero of the story is Gen. Nathaniel Greene, who was an excellent strategist. He mastered geography, his troops and militia commanders and drew Cornwallis hundreds of miles away from his base withoug exposing his weaker force to major battle until he was ready to strike upon fields of his own choosing. Greene never won a battle which he personnaly commanded, but won the war.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Bill Peeples on January 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
In many ways I was raised to be the stereotypical southern white male amateur historian: the only war that mattered was the Civil War. The important battles were Chancellorsville & Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain & Gettysburg. The generals who mattered were R.E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson, Beauregard & A. P. Hill. All the action was in our own backyard.
The American Revolution was but a footnote in our elementary and high school texts. At college in Davidson, North Carolina (where the college itself was named for a militia general, constructed on land once owned by him!), the War of Norther Aggression took top status.
The Revolution was fought by a southernor, George Washington, on yankee battlefields: Lexington & Concord, Trenton & Saratoga, Valley Forge & Bunker Hill. The actions at Kings Mountain, Cowpens, and Yorktown were mere skirmishes which had little influence on the outcome of the war.
I am loath to admit that Hollywood changed my perspective. After seeing Mel Gibson's "The Patriot" on opening day, a childhood interest in my ancestor, Francis Marion, was rekindled. I hastily began burying my nose in every book I could find on the subject.
Now, six months and three dozen books later, I can say with conviction that if I had to pick one book as my solo source for what I could learn about the American Revolution in the south, it would be "The Road to Guilford Courthouse".
Buchanan does a masterful job setting the stage. His research into the backgrounds of all the players is thorough, and his analysis fair and balanced. He understands completely the lay of the land at the time, both figuratively and literally, and he presents it well.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kevin F. Kiley on July 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a book on the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, this isn't it. Fewer than 25 pages are dedicated to it near the end of the book.
However, this is one of the best campaign studies on Greene's southern campaigns that I have ever read. The author's treatment of the campaign as a whole is masterful, and of the Retreat to the Dan in particular, is superb. He presents to the reader what could be a very confusing chain of events, and puts them in logical order to give a sequence that is easy to follow and highly informative.
This is military history at its best and it gives a more than clear picture of the campaign that led directly to Yorktown and American (and French) victory over the British.
Nathaniel Greene was one of the most effective and talented commanders this country has ever produced. Never winning a battle, but always winning his campaigns, he is an American Turenne, and one of the American commanders the British feared.
This volume belongs on the bookshelf of every military history enthusiast of the period.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bill Baehr on October 8, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I became interested in the Revolutionary War in the Carolinas after viewing the movie, "The Patriot". I found the cruelty by the British, that was portrayed in "The Patriot", hard to believe, so I wanted to learn more about the war in the Carolinas. This book was what I was looking for. It is well documented and the presentation and conclusions of the author make more sense than the movie--the British not as cruel and the Americans are not as innocent. It's a great history and a good read.
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