Harnett County comprises the Dunn, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is a part of the greater Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Combined Statistical Area, which had a 2013 estimated population of 2,037,430.
Harnett County was formed in 1855 from land given by Cumberland County. It was named for American Revolutionary war soldier Cornelius Harnett, who was also a delegate to the Continental Congress. The first settlers came to the region in the mid-1720s, and were followed by Highland Scots immigrants. The Scots settled in the foothills, where land was more affordable, rather than in the rich alluvial soil area of the coastal plain. After the defeat by the British of Bonny Prince Charles at Culloden, Scots immigrants came up the Cape Fear River in ever increasing numbers and settled in western Harnett County. British immigrants had settled primarily along the banks of the Cape Fear River in the coastal area, generally from Erwin to Wilmington.
During the American Revolutionary War, many of the Scots were loyalists. in their defeat in scotland, they had been forced to take ironclad vows that prohibited taking up arms against the British. some rebels considered them traitors to the cause of independence. public executions of suspected spies occurred. One site near Lillington was the scene of a mass execution of "Scots Traitors."
harnett county was generally not a site of warfare during the Civil War, but one of the last battles took place at Averasboro near Erwin. General william Sherman's army, on its March to the Sea, defeated the army of General Hardee and proceeded eastward. The centennial celebration of that event was held at the site of the battlefield in 1965.
Harnett County was formed in 1855 from Cumberland County. It was named for the Revolutionary War Patriot, Cornelius Harnett, delegate to the Continental Congress. The first settlers came in the mid 1720's, followed by the Highland Scots. After the defeat by the British of Bonny Prince Charles at Culloden, the Scots came up the Cape Fear River in ever increasing numbers and settled in western Harnett County. Many in this area today have Scottish ancestry.
Lillington, the county seat, on the Cape Fear River is named in honor of Alexander Lillington, another Revolutionary patriot. Lillington, Dunn, Coats, Angier, and Erwin are the leading trading and commercial areas.
Averasboro Battleground in souteast Harnett County is the site of a Confederate attack on Sherman's Army (March 15, 1865) and is marked by a grove of large oak and beech trees.