During February of 1781, Cornwallis was chasing the retreat of General Nathanael Greene and his Continental Army to the Dan River. But Greene split off a small division of men to distract the British forces while the Continental army retreated. Thus, when Lord Cornwallis reached the river, the patriots had already crossed. With no ferries available and the Dan too deep to wade, Cornwallis and his army retreated to Hillsborough. On February 17th, Captain Joseph Graham with twenty North Carolina Cavalry and Captain Richard Simmons with twenty Mounted North Carolina Militia, both acting under General Pickens, attacked and set an ambush for a British lieutenant, sergeant, twenty four privates and two loyalists at Harts Mill on Stoney Creek three miles West of Hillsborough. The British, states Graham, lost nine killed and wounded, while the remainder were taken prisoners.
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