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Cross Of The Dan Commemoration Set

“While Cornwallis keeps his present position, like a bear with his stern in a corner, I can not attack him except but by tooth and nail.”

So stated Colonel Otho Williams, commander of the American “light force,” in a March 6, 1781, letter to General Nathanael Greene, describing Cornwallis’s tactics at that time. 

After losing the race to the Dan River in February 1781 and having destroyed their supplies to speed their movements, Lord Cornwallis and his British army returned to North Carolina, tired, hungry, and cold.

Meanwhile, General Greene and his southern American army had continued across the Banister River.  There they camped “at Halifax Court House” for rest and resupply and to gather more Virginia militia troops.

Then the American recrossed the Dan and also moved back into North Carolina, ready for a fight with the British.

These Patriot forces continued to skirmish with the British for a few weeks, but Lord Cornwallis would not take the bait as he waited for a full engagement with Greene at the Battle of Guildford Court House (present day Greensboro). 

Actions known as Hart’s Mill, Pyle’s Defeat, Clapp’s Mill and Weitzel’s Mill sent a clear message to the British that the Patriots would rather fight than remain loyal to the king.

North Carolina historians and authors, Jeffery Bright and Stewart Dunaway, will discuss these events with their presentation after lunch on Saturday at The Prizery in South Boston. 

Bright of High Point, N.C., is a past president of the Alamance Battleground Chapter of the North Carolina Society, Sons of the American Revolution.  He is the assistant to the president of Alamance Community College, where he has worked for over 22 years. 

Dunaway is the president of the Alamance Battleground Chapter, NSSAR.  He is retired from Siemens Telecom of Florida and lives at Hillsborough, North Carolina.
Their presentation will complete the 229th anniversary Crossing of the Dan commemoration events. 

Together the two recently published a book entitled “Like a Bear With His Stern In a Corner.”  Copies of it as well as Larry Aaron’s book, “The Race to the Dan,” will be for sale and can be signed by the authors at the commemoration event on Saturday.

During the earlier morning program, national, state, and chapter officers of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution will present wreaths to honor those who helped win the American independence. 

The local Berryman Green Chapter of the Virginia DAR, and the area Dan River Chapter of the Virginia Society, SAR, are co-hosts for the program. 

Local community leaders, the Guilford Fifes and Drums, and SAR color guards, and local Junior ROTC cadets also will participate in the day’s activities.

The Saturday events begin at 10 a.m. in the Chastain Theater in The Prizery with the guest speaker, Gary L. Sandling, vice president of Visitor Programs and Services at Monticello.

Sandling will speak on Thomas Jefferson as governor of Virginia during the British invasions of Virginia in 1781. 

Following the morning program in the Chastain Theater, guests will make a pilgrimage down to the Boyd’s Ferry site on the Dan River for additional ceremonies.

Then a catered lunch will be provided in the banquet hall of The Prizery for those making advance paid reservations, followed by the presentation by Bright and Stewart which is open and free to all.

Reservations can be made for the lunch by sending a $12/person payment, made to the “Berryman Green Chapter, NSDAR,” to Anne Raab, P. O. Box 515, Halifax, VA 2558.

For more information contact Anne Raab at 434-470-1350 or Douglas Powell at 434-476-2483.

These Saturday activities follow a Thursday evening program by the Halifax County Middle School sixth grade players for the public at 7 p.m. 

The public is encouraged to attend this free presentation followed by a night pilgrimage down to the ferry site. 

On Friday all sixth grade students travel to The Prizery for similar programs.  They previously toured the exhibit in November and have been writing essays relating to the local event since that time.