Deep River Meeting House

Final British Camp before the Battle

Location


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Coordinates: 36.0313, -79.9641.

Type: Stop
Tour: Guilford Battle
County: Guilford

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The coordinates take you in the east entrance to the grounds of the Deep River Meeting House. Park in the front lot and walk to the cemetery.

You might want to read “What to See” below and stand “in” the original meeting house before continuing. It can be seen from a vehicle in the driveway, however.

Mug saying "More than a minute-man," with a drawing of a Continental officer

 
Mug saying, "Do Whig Out!" on a parchment scroll

Description

After six weeks of alternately chasing and avoiding each other in early 1781, from near Charlotte to today’s South Boston, Va., the main Continental and British armies were finally about to meet. The British “Redcoats” of Lt. Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis camped here around the Deep River Meeting House for two nights, starting the afternoon of Tuesday, March 13.

Photo of an empty, grassy area within a cemetery
Site of original meeting house (AmRevNC photograph)

The camp probably extended at least a mile to the south (to the other side of the current meeting house from the cemetery) and some distance east and west. Cornwallis’s headquarters tent was several hundred yards to the south, where the retail center is today across Wendover Avenue. For two days the British grind and take grain at three mills in this area.

Three of the men die of illness here and are buried north of the cemetery of that time—the peace-loving Quakers did not want soldiers buried amongst their dead.[1] Ironically, due to the graveyard’s expansion over the years, they probably are now!

On Wednesday evening, scouts inform Cornwallis the Continental Army has occupied the grounds around Guilford Court House 12 miles away. He stirs the army immediately to action. At 2 a.m., his small baggage train is sent off with the wounded to a mill to the southeast. Before dawn on Thursday, the cavalry moved northeast perhaps where Wendover Avenue runs now (to the left) toward the Great Salisbury Road, today’s New Garden Road.[a] The rest of the army left at 5:30 a.m. for what became the battles of New Garden and Guilford Court House.[2]

Photo looking up a wide suburban road with trees on the right side
Exit route of the British toward Guilford Court House (AmRevNC photograph)

What to See

Walk along the cemetery edge of the driveway and align yourself with the front of the current church building. Look right, and you will find a marker for the southwest corner of the first meeting house.

Built in 1758, the original meeting house was a frame building that looked like a barn, with separate rooms inside for men and women. It was here when the British arrived.[3]


[1] Opperman, Langdon, Deep River Friends Meeting House and Cemetery, National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form (National Park Service, July 1995) <https://files.nc.gov/ncdcr/nr/GF0504.pdf.

[2] In addition to the other footnoted sources, “Stop” information comes from one of two guidebooks; NCpedia; the online essay for the relevant North Carolina Highway Marker; and related Sight pages (see “About Sources“).

[3] Opperman.

[a] Babits, Lawrence, and Joshua Howard, Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

Hannah Blair | Guilford Battle Tour | Caldwell Homesite