On March 15, Greene had divided his force into 3 separate lines of infantry supported by cavalry and artillery. Each line of battle was perpendicular to the New Garden Road, which ran through Greene's lines west to east before intersecting with the road from Reedy Fork behind the Americans. Guilford Courthouse sat within a T-intersection formed by the junction of these roads.
The first line, behind a rail fence with the woods to their back, was made up of about 1,000 North Carolina militia, commanded by Brig. Gen. John Butler and Col. Thomas Eaton. In the center of the line was 2 small artillery pieces on the road. They could fire on the British while they crossed the open fields. The first line's left flank was supported by Lee's Legion and Campbell's Continentals. The right flank was supported by Lt. Col. William Washington's cavalry and Col. Charles Lynch's Riflemen.
The second line, about 350 yards behind and further east in the heavy woods, was made up of 1,200 Virginia militia with a mixture of previously discharged Continental veterans. Here, they would provide cover for the first line. The third line, another 500 yards further to the rear on a slight rise near the courthouse, was the main line of battle consisting of 1,400 Continentals from Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland on the west side of the road.
Cornwallis approached the American positions from the west along New Garden Road about midday. In his ranks were slightly less than 2,000 men. About 4 miles west of Guilford Courthouse, some of Greene's advance guard of cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. Henry Lee, and dismounted infantry skirmished by using some harassing fire against the approaching British. A running battle eastward broke out.
At 1:00 P.M., the British crossed Little Horsepen Creek (1/2 mile beyond the creek was the American positions) and deployed for their attack. Cornwallis brought his artillery to the front to counter the American artillery fire. He then divided his army int...