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Crossing of the Dan program to be held via Zoom

SoVaNow.com / February 01, 2021


A historical moment meets history in the making: the annual Commemoration of the Crossing of the Dan in South Boston will take place this year via Zoom.

In a nod to the pandemic, the organizers of the annual event will hold a virtual celebration of the Revolutionary War stratagem that helped save a struggling American army and set the stage of Cornwallis’ eventual surrender at Yorktown.

The 240th Commemoration of the Crossing of the Dan will take place Saturday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. via Zoom, with featured speaker Michael Cecere, an author and historian who has written extensively on the Revolutionary War.

His overview of the campaign, Race to the Dan: ‘Pushed with Great Expedition’ is published in the Journal of the American Revolution.

Despite the limitations placed on the event by the pandemic, Anne Raab of the Berryman Green Chapter, Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution said this year’s celebration will include many of the ingredients of past commemorations, such as Halifax County Middle School sixth graders taking part in a historical program and the return of the ferry boat replica, which will be placed on display at the South Boston – Halifax County Museum.

The Crossing of the Dan exhibit, previously located in the top floor banquet room of The Prizery, has been relocated to the museum. Raab said the Zoom program will begin with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. to celebrate the opening of the new museum exhibit.

“They have totally renovated that space as you walk into the museum,” said Raab of the relocated Crossing of the Dan exhibit, which is nearing completion after six months of work.

Museum staff and volunteers with the Sons of the American Revolution have taken down the rock wall at the entrance to the museum, installed hardwood flooring and track lighting, and opened up the interior so that the Crossing of the Dan exhibit becomes one of the first things that visitors will see when they step inside the museum.

“It’s just going to be lovely when it is finished,” said Raab, who added the move should enhance public awareness of the history of the Crossing of the Dan.

“One of the reasons we’re excited about the museum exhibit is because it will be so accessible to bring school groups to the museum,” she said.

The Zoom event is being planned by Sons of the American Revolution state and local chapters, with Mike Geisinger heading the local committee. The Virginia SAR organization “is doing a lot of Zoom events with quarantining restrictions in place and trying to follow the Governor’s [COVID-19] guidelines,” said Raab.

“This is not the way we wanted to spend the 240th,” she said, but “it is what it is. It’s going to be just fine.”

This is the first year that the event will be centered around the museum, where the ferry boat will be placed on display. Now in its 15th year, the Crossing of the Dan commemoration started at Berry Hill Resort, before the organizers moved the event to The Prizery overlooking the historical river passage on the Dan.

On Feb. 14, 1781, Gen. Nathanael Greene’s American army crossed the Dan ahead of the pursuing British army in ferry boats similar to the one that will go on display at the museum. By successfully slipping out of the grasp of the Redcoat army, the American forces were able to regroup while their adversaries wasted precious time and resources in a futile pursuit. The Crossing of the Dan preceded the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown eight months later.

The annual commemoration is hosted by the Dan River Chapter, Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution, Berryman Green Chapter, Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution, Halifax County Historical Society, South Boston – Halifax County Museum, and the towns of South Boston and Halifax, Virginia.

To register to take part in the Zoom call, contact Jeff Myers, secretary, Dan River Chapter, VASSAR via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Registrations must be submitted by Monday, Feb. 15. A Zoom meeting number, and password will be e-mailed on Feb. 18.

For more information on the Crossing of the Dan, go to the Dan River Chapter website: danriversar.org



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