This monument to Major Joseph Winston was erected at the Guilford Courthouse battlefield in the mid-1890s…click for full size

On this day in 1781, the British army under the direction of Lord Charles Cornwallis, defeated the Continental army under Major General Nathanael Greene in battle near Guilford Courthouse. It was the largest and most hotly contested battle of the closing Southern campaign. After the battle, Lord Cornwallis , having lost nearly a third of his troops, echoed Plutarch’s quote of king Pyrrhus by stating that another such victory would ruin his army. Guilford Courthouse was the last major battle before the finale at Yorktown.


Major Joseph Winston and Major Jesse Franklin are buried side by side on the Guilford Courthouse battlefield. Franklin, of Surry County, was a line commander in the Continental army and later governor of North Carolina.

Winston, a Virginian who lived most of his life in Surry County, commanded the Surry Militia, which fought at King’s Mountain and Guilford Courthouse. He later served in the state legislature and the US Congress. He represented Surry County at both constitutional ratification conventions. And, of course, the town of Winston was named for him.