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To Win By Losing, or The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Part I

General Cornwallis of Great Britain
faced a problem that he couldn’t resolve,
he’d won at Camden, they’d captured Charlestown,
but still the southern colonies wouldn’t fall.

Instead he faced a string of reverses,
lost at King’s Mountain and then at Cowpens,
and couldn’t stop the rebel irregulars,
like the damn Swamp Fox they called Marion.

Worse still, Nathaniel Greene was still out there,
and he was proving a hard nut to crack,
he wouldn’t give battle, would strike and move,
kept the rebel southern army intact.

Cornwallis’s force bled from attrition,
he knew the war couldn’t keep on this way,
when he learned that Greene was at Guilford Courthouse
he cut his baggage loose and made his play.

The man knew he was sure to be outnumbered,
but his professionals were worth two rebs,
and anytime they had faced bayonets
the colonials had just turned and fled.

But Nathaniel Greene had fought redcoats before,
seen their tactics in the thick of the fight,
he knew what his men could and could not do,
when he arrayed his men, he did it right.

He knew militia could not last for long
if both sides faced off for a slugging match,
that was playing right into British hands,
he’d seen the results of fighting like that

So he broke his people into three lines,
put his best frontier sharp-shooters up front,
asked them to take just three or four shots,
then they’d get the hell out of there and run.

Behind them was a line of militia,
who’d received orders to do much the same,
finally, at the back, regular troops,
there and waiting, ready to inflict pain.

It was March 15, 1781,
when the British approached Greene’s prepared men,
Tartleton and Lee fought in a skirmish,
it came to nothing, so Lee fell back then.

Cornwallis pushed forwards to a broad field
with a fence running along the far side,
Greene’s riflemen were awaiting them there,
Cornwallis then opted to barrage the line.

It was a short cannonade to soften,
then he pressed his men forwards in a charge,
but rifles were better than mere muskets,
and opened up upon them from afar.

With their rifles resting right on the fence
they could pick targets with accuracy,
rippled holes right into the big British lines,
inflicting on them heavy casualties.

These riflemen had shot off three volleys,
before the Redcoats could even fire,
when the British finally could shoot back,
they watched the patriot line retire…

CONCLUDES IN PART II.

Copyright © David Welch

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