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To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan

Nathaniel Greene and his troops crossing the Dan River.
Florida Center for Instructional Technology (https://etc.usf.edu/clipart/
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Nathaniel Greene and his troops crossing the Dan River.

This week on Walter Edgar's Journal, author Daniel Waters talks with Walter Edgar about a compelling chapter of the American Revolution. Waters is author of the book, To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan (2021, Westholme).

“In the most barren inhospitable unhealthy part of North America, opposed by the most savage, inveterate perfidious cruel Enemy, with zeal and with Bayonets only, it was resolv’d to follow Green’s Army, to the end of the World.” So wrote British general Charles O’Hara about the epic confrontation between Nathanael Greene and Charles Cornwallis during the winter of 1780-81. Only Greene’s starving, threadbare Continentals stood between Cornwallis and control of the South—and a possible end to the American rebellion.

Daniel Morgan’s stunning victory at Cowpens over a superior British force set in motion the “Race to the Dan,” Greene’s month-long strategic retreat across the Carolinas. In constant rain and occasional snow, Greene’s soldiers—tracking the ground with their bloody feet—bound toward a secret stash of boats on the Dan River. Just before Cornwallis could close his trap, the Continentals crossed into Virginia and safety.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.