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River heroics

South Boston News
Members of the Guilford Courthouse Militia led the march to Constitution Square where memorial wreaths were presented by members of various chapters of the Sons of the Revolution and the Daughters of Revolution. (SOMcL photo) / February 19, 2018
Halifax County’s place in Revolutionary War history was celebrated anew Saturday at the 237th anniversary commemoration of The Crossing of the Dan.

Guests packed the upper floor banquet room at The Prizery for a program that included a keynote speech by Mike Cecere, historian, teacher and author, who gave a detailed history of the coming of the war to Virginia.

Cecere, who is also a re-enactor with the 7th Virginia Regiment, has written 13 books on the American Revolution, with most of the volumes focusing on the role that Virginians played in the war.

The Crossing of the Dan has been hailed by historians as an important military stratagem that contributed to Cornwallis’ defeat at Yorktown. British troops were foiled in their pursuit of American General Nathanael Greene, who used the river crossing on Feb. 14, 1781 to escape the clutches of advancing Redcoats. The campaign exhausted British troops and allowed the American forces to refortify in friendly territory north of the river in Halifax County.

Greene’s forces got a week of rest and food rations in preparation for dogged attacks on British forces as the fighting shifted back to Guilford Court House. The British sustained heavy losses before turning east towards Wilmington, N.C. and, later, Yorktown.

Welcoming guests to Saturday’s program was Michel Geisinger, president of the Dan River chapter of the VASSAR. He also recognized local officials and offered words of welcome for visitors who came from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and other areas.

Dennis Witt, chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, noted that the event commemorates the sacrifices made by ordinary citizens on a soggy day much like Saturday, more than two centuries ago. Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy, representing Halifax Mayor Kristy Johnson and Halifax Town Council, observed that after Greene’s army forded the Dan at Boyd’s Ferry — in sight of The Prizery — soldiers spent a week encamped around the Town of Halifax, where they were treated to a wholesale supply of food and welcomed by the local population.

South Boston Town Manager Tom Raab also offered his town’s greetings, pointing out that the Crossing of the Dan in South Boston was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

Cadets of the Danville Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol under the direction of Col. David King, commander of the Tunstall High School JROTC, presented the parade of flags.

Following the program, the program concluded at Constitution Square as representatives of various chapters of the Sons of Revolution and Daughters of the Revolution presented memorial wreaths. The parade of flags also moved to the Square.

Due to the dampness at the Boyd’s Ferry park site on the Dan, guests were not encouraged to visit the banks of the river where the crossing took place.

The event ended with the lunch sale of Brunswick stew made by the Virgilina Volunteer Fire Department.

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