Cavalry After Action Report
Guilford Court House 2004
by Dan Murphy

At camp near Cane Creek, in North Carolina's back country
The Ides of March, Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Four.

To his Excellency General Washington,

    It gives me great joy to report of the actions of the past few days.  Our troop rode into Guilford county at dusk on the 12th of March and encamped beside a busy country road which bordered the main encampment of our army.  Once the horses were cared for, rations were issued to the men, they being both plentiful and inspiring to the spirit.

   We awoke the next morning and performed a scout of the surrounding countryside, a rich, rolling country of mostly heavy woods surrounding a large lake with an occasional clearing.  On the scout we encountered some fellow Continentals but saw no signs of the King's men.  Upon our return to the main encampment I was informed by General Blevins that a large force of the King's troops was rumored to be advancing down the New Garden Road.  He immediately formed the army and marched them in the expected direction of the enemy advance with our troop of horse covering the army's left flank.     Thankfully, our earlier scout had covered much of the same ground and we enjoyed a firm knowledge of the surrounding terrain.  The main army went into position in a small clearing which sloped away into a heavy wood line.  General Blevins wisely placed a heavy force of skirmishers in the woods to guard the approach to the field, while keeping two entire regiments of Continental Infantry posted on the field proper.   I posted our troop on the left flank of the Continentals within a tree line before a large swamp of strange 'new fescue' water.   After what seemed an intolerably long wait, a scattering of shots broke out from deep within the woods to our front.  The firing increased, and we got our first view of the enemy - Hessian Jagers moving through the trees.  Our skirmishers gave several well directed volleys which seemed to momentarily stall the enemy. The issue might have ended here but the enemy sent in reinforcements of British Light Infantry and Hessian Grenadiers, which moved on our left flank forcing our skirmishers back out into the clearing.

   The firing now became general and enemy artillery soon joined in.  The Light Infantry and Grenadiers now advanced out into the swamp before us which was particularly vexing as they were able to negotiate the fetid 'fescue waters' while our horses could not.  Without our support, our riflemen were pressed back by the greater enemy numbers, nonetheless we were able to make several flank attacks against them from the edge of the swamp, stunning their advance long enough for our riflemen to regroup at the edge of the swamp where they formed a new line.

    The fighting began to rage on our right, with the enemy pressing General Blevin's force to the rear.  A troop of enemy horse now came charging forward and we quickly drew swords and advanced against it, striking the enemy troop on their right and driving them back in confusion.  We rallied back and again the enemy troop charged, and again we drove them back, briefly surrounding half their numbers.  At this point I must direct his Excellency's attention to the conduct of my men, at all times they exhibited the greatest valor and performed their duties with uncompromising heroism.

   However, the weight of the enemy's greater numbers and artillery now forced General Blevins to retire from his position. The withdraw was carried out in an orderly manner and we made several fires against the enemy before joining the retreat.

   The following morning we were joined with two new recruits who we equipped from the troop's stores.  Again I was directed to post the troop on the left of the main army.  We returned to the same field of the previous day's fight and General Blevins again set his troops in both the wood line and the clearing, although this time he was able to post a piece of artillery on the immediate left of his line of Continentals posted in the field.   As before, the fight was first joined in the woods and we were once again posted near the 'fescue' swamp.  Apparently, the repeated exposure to the swamp's noxious fumes had a negative effect on the mind of my mount and he was given to several fits of distraction whilst in range of the 'fescue' vapors.    As the fighting increased in the woods we moved forward and directed a volley at the enemy within.  We rallied back and the enemy began a general advance all along our line.  My troop made several charges at the enemy, stunning them with our fire on every occasion.  General Blevin's Continental's now proved their worth, standing in the face of superior numbers and trading volleys and momentarily checking the enemy advance until the enemy was forced to commit their entire force of reserves.  My troop sailed forth, firing into the British right flank with the hope of riding through their ranks, but our path ahead lay blocked and we were quickly flanked by a force of Hessian Grenadiers and I found it necessary to rally the troop back to our starting point.  Now the enemy artillery opened with a vengeance, mowing down our Continentals and forcing a general retreat along our lines.

   We continued to cover our army's left flank, contesting the Grenadier's advance and fired a final volley into their very faces before quitting the field.  Though our army was forced from the field we left it positively littered with enemy dead and wounded, and it is my particular opinion that another such victory would ruin the British army.

   Again, it is only proper that I direct his Excellency's attention to the conduct of my troop.  The men were positively fearless in the face of the enemy, particularly the new recruits, doing all that was asked of them and their conduct was ceaselessly gallant and beyond reproach.   It was my sincere pleasure to lead them.

I remain your most humble and obedient servant,

Cpt. Daniel Murphy
3rd Continental Dragoons

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