- Last Updated on 08:08 AM 01/08/14
- BY Special to the Gazette
The Crossing of the Dan, a nearly forgotten episode of the American Revolution that occurred at South Boston, received recognition from the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution as a major historic event in the fall.
The unanimous decision came at a national leadership conference held in Louisville, Kentucky, during a meeting of the Historic Sites, Celebrations and Reenactments Committee.
According to Dr. Phil Williams, immediate past president of the Virginia Society SAR, “Elevating the Crossing to national historic status will add a new dimension of awareness to the story of the Revolution and the critically important role of saving General Nathanael Greene’s Army during the Southern campaign of 1781 and how that led to the victory at Yorktown.”
Local residents and those in surrounding areas played a major role in Greene’s strategic retreat and subsequent actions against British forces under General Cornwallis.
The annual commemoration held in South Boston during February each year is marked with a number of activities, including a reenactment plus a wreath laying ceremony at the site of the Crossing.
The 223rd anniversary commemoration is scheduled to take place Feb. 20-22 when South Boston and the county are expected to see a marked increase in participation by SAR members across the nation, as well as members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Children of the Revolution (CAR), according to Society President Barbara Bass.
Berryman Green Chapter, NSDAR, Dan River Chapter Virginia Society, SAR, Halifax County Historical Society, Town of South Boston and Halifax County Middle School are co-hosting the 233rd Anniversary Commemoration and invite the public to attend and participate.
Free public events are planned for Thursday night, Feb. 20, and Saturday morning, Feb. 22, at The Prizery located at 700 Bruce St. in South Boston.
The “Retreat to the Dan” began in January 1781, following an American victory at Cowpens in South Carolina and became a “Race to the Dan” across North Carolina and into Virginia.
The race was won by General Nathanael Greene with his “Crossing of the Dan” on Feb. 14 at Ivin’s and Boyd’s ferries on the Dan River.
This tactical retreat saved the American Southern Army and was one of the turning points in the war.
The historical significance of the event places the Dan River crossing on a unique list of landmark sites of the American Revolution, and the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution has elevated the event to national prominence.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Chastain Theatre, the sixth grade Crossing Players, Singers and Musicians from Halifax County Middle School will present the story through verse and song for the community.
The evening’s activities will include recognition of the DAR essay contest winners.
On Friday, Feb. 21, the program will be repeated for sixth grade students.
Travis Bowman, portraying Hercules of the Revolution, will address the students.
On Saturday, Feb. 22, at 10 a.m. the SAR and DAR will host the annual Crossing of the Dan Commemoration program in the Chastain Theatre. It will include greetings and the presentation of wreaths by SAR, DAR and local officials, recognition of the sixth grade essay contest winner and the keynote address delivered by Patrick Henry Jolly.
Following the morning program, guests are invited to visit the outdoor exhibit at the Boyd’s Ferry site on the Dan River.
A Brunswick stew lunch will be available at the river for a cost of $5. Reservations for lunch are not needed.
A dramatic re-enactment of the Crossing of the Dan by British and Colonial troops will culminate the day’s activities. A replica of a ferry boat will transport troops across the river as muskets and cannons fire.