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A^ t^>6x^ HI STORY ^ 

of tHE 

Battle of Blue Licks 

Bennett H. Young 

Author of "History of the Constitutions of Kentucky," President of the 
Polytechnic Society of Kentucky, Member of the Filson Club 

' He uho dies for a good cause never dies in vain ' 




1 I »-' » 




'^ 'T^HERE is no monument at the battle-field of the Blue 
K ^ Licks to commemorate the valor and chivalry of 
w those who, on its rugged hillsides and in the Valley of the 
■^ Licking, gave their lives for the protection of the settle- 
ments then scattered over the three counties into which 
Kentucky was divided. 
Q This conflict was the last battle of any consequence 

a in Kentucky between the settlers and the savages. In 
it, some of the most brilliant and courageous men who 
lived in that period of the world, poured out their blood 
for the common defense. 

An association has been organized at Carlisle, Ken- 
tucky, for the purpose of erecting a monument to the men 
^Ns^ho, on that eventful day, perished in that conflict. 
^N^x^ The history of the Battle of Blue Licks, contained 

in the succeeding pages, was written at the request and 
for the use of the Filson Club, of Louisville, Kentucky, 
as a sequel to the history of the Siege of Bryant's Station, 
and it is a part of the Twelfth Volume of the Filson 
Club Publications. 


iv Pyeface. 

By the courtes)- of the Ckih. throu<;li its president, 
Colonel K. T. Durrett. this account is published in sep- 
arate form and with the hope of creating an interest in 
an efiort to erect a fitting memorial on the battle-field. 

The officers of the 131ue Licks Monumental Association 
are: G. R. Keller. President; Bennett 11. \'oung, Vice- 
President ; F. B. Lindsay, Second Vice-President ; H. M. 
Taylor. Secretary and Treasurer ; Rev. H. M. Scudder, 
D. D., Hanson Kennedy, Thomas Hunter, J. T. S. Brown. 
R. T. Durrett, Directors, and they have undertaken to 
secure a fund for the purpose of placing over the common 
grave of the heroes who perished there a stone of lasting 
and appropriate remembrance. 


Appendix, 69 

Attack on Bryant's Station, Summary of i 

Battle of Blue Licks — Durrett's Statement and Note, . . 2 

Battle of Blue Licks — British Plan of 81 

Battle of Blue Licks — Sequel to Bryant's Station, ... 2 

Battle of Blue Licks — Boone, Colonel Daniel, Statement, . 85 

Battle of Blue Licks — Campbell, Colonel Arthur, Criticism of, 91 

Battle of Blue Licks — Todd, Colonel Levi, Account of, . 89 

Bayonet against Tomahawk, 46 

Beginning of the Battle, 43 

Black-letter Year in Kentucky, 13 

Blue Licks Battle — Caldwell, Captain, Account of, ... 78 

Blue Licks Battle — McKee, Captain Alexander, Account of, 81 

Blue Licks Battle — Logan, Colonel Benjamin, Account of, . 93 

Blue Licks Battle — Todd, Colonel Levi, Account of, . . 80 
Boone, Colonel Daniel, Account of and in the Action, 34, 37, 50, 100 

Boone, Colonel Daniel, Escape to His Own Station, . . 64 

Boone, Colonel Daniel, Account of Battle 85 

Boone, Colonel Daniel, Letter to Governor Benjamin Har- 
rison (same), 85 

Boone, Israel 100 

Boone, Samuel, lOi 

Brown, J. T. S., iv 

Bryans or Bryants not in the Station. (See Filson Club.) 

Bryant's Station, Colonel D. Boone's Story of the Siege of, 85 

Bryant's Station, Siege of, by Alexander McKee, .... 81 



Bryant's Station. Siej,'e of. by Captain Caldwell J'^ 

Bryant's Station, Siege of. by Colonel Levi Todd, ... 80 

Bulger. Captain John 99 

Burney, Simon 9^ 

Buffalo at the Blue Licks 35 

Caldwell, Captain William 4 

Caldwell. Captain Williaiii, Letter in the llaldinuind Papers, 78 
Campbell. Colonel Arthur, on the Battle of Blue Licks, 91 

Chickasaw Indian Reasons for the War 95 

Clark. Colonel. Letter to Governor Benjamin Harrison, . . 72 

Clark, General George Rogers 4- '9 

Clark, General George Rogers. Letter to Governor Benja- 
min Harrison 7' 

Cooper, Benjamin loi 

Corn, Esau (Evan.') 100 

Council of War on the Licking 3^-37 

Damage at Bryant's Station, 28 

Date of the attack on Bryant's Station 4-5 

Day's March by Kentuckians 32 

Day's March by Indians 33 

Dead of the Battle in One Common Grave on the Field. . 66-67 
Desecration of Bodies of the Slain at Blue Licks. ... 59 
Disorganization of the Militia Marching on Blue Licks. . 41-42 

Dress of Kentucky Militia 27-28 

Duncan, S. M 5*^ 

Durrett. Colonel R. T iv 

Eads, William, 100 

Elliott, Captain Matthew 23-24 

Ellis, Captain William 64. 100 

Extracts of Letters — Dissatisfaction in Kentucky Militia. 7^^-77 



Families of the Slain in the Battle, 3 

Fayette County Officers, Letter to Governor Benjamin Har- 
rison, 69 

Ferguson, Charles 100 

Field, Ezekiel 100 

Fighting Men in Kentucky Counties in 1782 4 

First Sight of the Indians at the Blue Licks 36 

First Fire of the Enemy at the Blue Licks 41-4- 

Floyd, Colonel John 4 

Folley, John, 100 

Food of the Indians at Ruddle's Station, 21 

Food Rations Prepared at Bryant's Station, 32 

Forts in Fayette County in 1782, 4 

Foster. Daniel 100 

Fry, John, 100 

Fugitives Escaped Through the Woods 58 

Girty, Simon, Not in Command, Sketches of, . . 20-21, 24-25 

Givins, Lieutenant William 99 

Graham, James (little) 100 

Graham, James, 10 1 

Grant, Squire 10 1 

Greggs, Daniel 100 

Green, Jervis 100 

Haldimand, Sir Frederick (Note) 14-15 

Harrodsburg Advised of the Siege of Bryant's Station, . . 6 

Harlan, Silas, 11, 99 

Harget, Peter 10 1 

Harris, William 100 

Ha}den, Benjamin, loi 

Hinson, Lieutenant (Hanson ?), 99 



Heroines Who Went for Water 62 

Historic Importance of Bryant's Station Siege ? . . . . 2 

Horrors of the Retreat from the Licks 49 

Horses of Kentuckians Mounted by the Pursuing Indians, 49-50 

Hunter, Thomas iv 

Indian Signs not Hidden as they Retreated toward Blue Licks, 31 

Indians did not Avoid Pursuit 32 

Indian Scouts Watched the Kentucky Militia Advance, . . 35 

Indians Under Tree Coverts at the Blue Licks 44 

Invasion of Indian Country the W^ay to Subdue Them, . 95-96 

Jealousies of Pioneer Kentuckians, 19 

Johnson, Captain Samuel, 100 

Keller, G. R iv 

Kennedy, Hanson iv 

Kentuckians Reach Licking Bottom 35 

Kentuckians Meet Defeat at Blue Licks 44 

Kentuckians Killed at Ford of Licking, 50 

Killed Crossing the Licking 50 

Killed on the Hill 90 

Killed in the Retreat 45-49 

Kincheloe's Station Destroyed 96 

Kincaid, James 101 

Kincaid, Captain Joseph 99 

Letter of Daniel Boone 7^, 85 

Letter of Colonel Arthur Campbell 91 

Letter of Captain Caldwell 78 

Letter of General George Rogers Clark 71 

Letter of Colonel S. Clark 72 

Letter of Fayette County Officers 68 

Letter of Colonel Benjamin Logan 93 

Index. ix 

Letter of Alexander AIcKee 8i, 85 

Letters of Colonel Levi Todd, 80, 89 

Letters of Andrew Steele, 74, 97 

Lincoln Volunteers the Greatest Sufferers 64 

Lindsay, F. B. iv 

List of Killed at the Blue Licks (Kentuckians), . . . 99-100 
List of Survivors of the Battle of the Blue Licks, . 100-10 1 
Logan, Colonel Benjamin, of Lincoln Militia, Sketches of, 

4, 60, 61, 65, 66, 93 

Logan's Arrival at Bryants, 60 

Logan's Start to the Battle-Field, 60 

Logan's Meeting the Fugitives 61 

Logan's Second Start to Blue Licks 65 

Logan's Final Return to Station, 66 

Logan's Letter to Governor Harrison, 93 

Logan's Account of the Battle, 93 

Marshall, Gilbert, 100 

Manner of March of Militia from Bryant's Station, . . 28-29 

May, William, loi 

McBride, Francis, 100 

McBride, Captain William, 99 

McConnell, Andrew, 100 

McCracken, Isaac, 100 

McCullough, James, loi 

McGary, Major Hugh, Sketch and Actions of, . 39, 41, "i"] , 100 

McKee, Alexander, Personal Mention of 5, 22, 23. 81 

McKee, Alexander, Account of the Battle of Blue Licks, . 81 

McMurtry, Ensign John loi 

Miller, Henry, 100 

Morgan, James, 101 

X Judex. 

Nelson. John lOO 

Netherland, Benjamin 54, 56. loi 

No Order of Retreat diven nor Required 48 

Number of Killed in Kentucky from 1775 to 17S2. 4 

Numbers of the Savage F"oes (Note) 17 

Of^cers Killed at the Blue Licks 46 

Order of Rankinj^: Command at the Battle of the Blue Licks, 42 

Overton. Captain Clouj^h 99 

Patterson, Robert 53. 'OO 

Percentage of Loss at Blue Licks 48 

Percentage of Officers at Brj-ant's and the Licks, . 7-8 

Policy. Drury 100 

Preface iii 

Prisoners Who Returned from the Blue Licks (Note). . . 58 

Prisoners Taken in 1780 by Captain Bird 97-98 

Proportion of Fighting Men Slain at the l)lue Licks. . 99. loi 

Question of Waiting for Logan's Men 17 

Rashness of Hugh McGary 41 

Report of Mortalit}- at Blue Licks 62 

Retreat the Only Course at the Licks 48 

Retreat Without Order 47 

Rose, Lewis 10 1 

Rose, James 101 

Rose, Matthias 100 

Ruddle and Martin's Stations 26 

Salt of the Blue Licks 36 

Scudder, H. M iv 

Siege and Battle Described by Andrew Steele, . 97-9^ 

Smith, James 100 

Smith. William 100 

Index. xi 

Smith, John loi 

Steele, Andrew, Sketch and Actions of, . . . 65, 76. 98. 10 1 

St. Asaph's Advised of the Siege of Bryant's 6-7 

Taylor, H. M iv 

Things Explanatory of the Licks, 1782 2-3 

Todd, Colonel Levi, Accounts of, ... 6, 7, 12, 80, 89, 100 
Todd, Colonel John, Accounts of, . . . 5, 7, 9, 10, 17, 42, 99 

Todd and Boone in Council (Note) 33 

Trigg, Colonel Stephen, Sketches of, . , . . . 10, 11, 17, 99 

Twyman, Stephen, loi 

Wilson, John • 100 

Wilson, Israel, 100 

Wilson, Henry, loi 

Wyandot Indians - .... 15. 45-46 

Young, Bennett Henderson, i 


Bennett H. Young Frontispiece 

Buffalo Trace Up the Ridge to the Hattle-Field. . Opposite 36 

Point of Attack by the Indian Ambuscade. ... " 41 

The Ford of the Licking " 33 

The Battle of the Blue Licks: a Sequel to the 
Siege of Bryant's Station. 


Member of the FiUon Club. 

" I ^HERE is nothing more glorious or more heroic in all 
■*• Kentucky's history than the siege of Bryant's Station, 
nor is there any thing more tragic or more dreadful in that 
same history than the Battle of the Blue Licks. The one 
was the sequel to the other. Hardly had the plaudits of the 
pioneers for the women of Bryant's Station died on the 
stillness of the sultry August air ere summer breezes 
carried the story of the awful carnage and destruction 
at the Battle of the Blue Licks, from the valley of the 
Licking, by the buffalo traces, to the settlements on the 
Kentucky River. 

The learning, the eloquence, and the scholarship of 
our distinguished President have placed in attractive and 
charming narrative the story of Bryant's Station. You 
have heard with delight his beautiful and thrilling account 
of the sublime courage of the jiioneer Kentucky women 
on the i6th of August, 17CS2, and now to iw^^. has been 
assigned thei task of giving this club some account of 
that terrible battle, which so left its impress on Kentucky 

2 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

hearts and homes that a century has not been able to 
efface it.* 

Before enterinj^ upon the liistory of the battle it is 
necessary to deal with a few historical facts and charac- 
ters, so that you may more fully understand what tliat 
battle meant, and what was its cost to the people of 

The slain represented one thirteenth of the fighting 
men in the three counties into which the State was then 
divided. They were related to nearly all the families 
within Kentucky's borders, and comprised in an unusual 
ratio the enterprise, the leadershi}\ and the courage of 
Kentucky defenders and settlers. The sacrifice that day 
made was the most costly which on an}- single occasion 
war's demand had ever exacted from the infant territory. 

* There has been more written about the Battle of the Blue Licks than 
any other event in Kentucky history. It is impossible to reconcile all the 
statements in these many accounts. A correct story of this battle has only 
become possible since 1882. The issue of what is known as "The Calendar 
of the Virginia State Papers " and the copying for the Canadian Archives the 
Haldimand Papers in the British Museum have unfolded all the facts about 
this event, parts of which had remained concealed for over one hundred years. 

The publication of the third volume of the Virginia Calendar was made 
in 1883. Here first became public the Kentucky contemporaneous accounts 
of the Battle of the Blue Licks. The papers most important and interesting 

Letter of Andrew Steele to Governor Harrison, dated Lexington, Ken- 
tucky, August 26, 1782. Virginia Calendar, volume 3, page 269. 

Report of Colonel Benjamin Logan to Governor Harrison, dated Lincoln 
County, August 31, 1782. Virginia Calendar, 3, page 280. 

The Battle of the Blue Licks, 5 

It was not so much that they had died. Its commonnesB 
had robbed death of its terrors to the Kentucky pioneer. 
In the seven years immediately preceding this battle nine 
hundred people had been murdered in their homes or 
gone down to death in the storm of battle. In this 
period as many had died by violence as now lived in 
the State. It was the suddenness of the calamity which 
gave it so many horrors. It came when every heart was 
full of pride at the heroic defense of Bryant's Station. 
When removed from the din and excitement of battle 
the offering appeared so useless and so reckless, and 
it did more to excite public fear, to unsettle public 
confidence, and stimulate public alarm than the dreadful 
array of all the deaths which had marked all the years 
since 1775. 

Letter of Levi Todd to Governor Harrison, dated Lexington, Kentucky, 
September ii, 1782, Virginia Calendar, volume 3, page 300. 

Report of civil and military officers of Fayette County to Governor 
Harrison, dated Lexington, Kentucky, September 11, 1782. Virginia Calen- 
dar, volume 3, page 301. 

Daniel Boone's letter to Governor Harrison, giving an account of the 
battle, dated Fayette County, Boone's Station, August 30, 1782. Virginia 
Calendar, volume 3, page 275. 

Report of Major William Caldwell, the British Commandant, dated Waka- 
tamiki (now Zanesfield, Logan County, Ohio), August 26, 1782. Haldimand 
Manuscripts, Series B, volume 123, page 297. 

Also report of Captain Alexander McKee, wlio was in command of the 
Indians, dated same place, August 28, 1782. Haldimand Manuscripts, Series 
B, volume 123, page 302. 

All these jiapers are given in full in the appendix to tliis article. 

4 TJic Battle of the Bine Licks. 

In 1 7^2 there were onl)- ;ibout a thousand fighting 
men in the entire State. Om- hundred and fift}- of these 
were in Fayette County; tliat is. all of the territory east 
of the Kentucky River and its middle fork. Five hun- 
dred more were in Lincoln County, substantially hounded 
east and nt)rth 1)\- the Salt and Kentucky rivers; and 
the remainder were in JefTerson County, principally in and 
around the then town of Louisville. The vast territory 
comprised within Fayette County had only five forts within 
its boundary. Savage invasion had caused the remainder 
to be evacuated, and now only Lexington, McClellan's, 
McConnell's, Bryant's, and Boone's were left to assert the 
demands of the whites for the ownership of the land. 

General George Rogers Clark was at Louisville; he 
was the ranking officer in the territor)-. He had built 
the fort at the Falls of the Ohio, and constructed a row- 
boat, on which were a few pieces of artillery. The boat 
could be pulled up and down the Ohio River by fifty 
oarsmen, to the point where danger was most imminent. 

John Todd was commander in Fayette, Benjamin 
Logan in Lincoln, and John hMoyd in Jefierson County. 

There has been quite a difference of opinion as to the 
exact date upon which Caldwell, McKee, and Elliott, the 
British officers, accompanied by Simon Girty. George 
Girty, and the Indian allies, appeared before Bryant's 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 5 

Station. Levi Todd and Daniel Boone both say that 
the Indians appeared on the morning of the i6th of 
August. Colonel John Mason Brown has it on the 15th. 
Alexander McKee, one of the British officers, says they 
arrived at Bryant's Station on the i8th. Major Cald- 
well, the British commander, says it was on the morning 
of the 15th. It is not probable that Caldwell and McKee, 
in their wilderness campaign, were able to keep very 
accurate diaries, and a careful calculation backward from 
the day of battle demonstrates that it was the i6th of 
August when Caldwell and McKee, piloted by Simon 
Girty, assailed the place. They had surrounded it during 
the previous night. They came like the pestilence that 
walks in the darkness, unexpected and unseen. They had 
marched along the buffalo traces or stolen through the 
forests without having given to any one any notice of 
their intention. They had crossed the Ohio River at the 
mouth of the Licking, a place where at this season it 
was fordable, and in a little over two day's time they had 
reached Bryant's Station; no spy or scout had brought 
tidings of the coming storm, and when the morning light 
dawned on the i6th of August, as the men in the fort 
were about to emerge from the gates for the purpose of 
succoring Hoy's Station, the crack of Indian rifles spoke 
to tell them that they themselves were besieged. 

6 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

Before the smoke of the first discharge had ascended 
so as to clear the scene for conflict, two gallant and 
courageous men had broken through the Indian cordon 
and, with the swiftness of the wind, carried the story to 
Lexington that Bryant's Station was in peril. 

Colonel John Todd, the county commandant, was 
in Lincoln County, but Major Levi Todd, his l)rother. 
instantly dispatched messengers to all the stations west 
of Lexington, and called upon the men of Lincoln to 
come quickly to the rescue of the beleaguered fort. By 
the night of the i6th the hard riding pioneers had car- 
ried the news to Harrodsburg, and a little later to St. 
Asaph's or Stanford, and when the sun arose on the 
morning of the 17th the men of Lincoln, under Trigg, 
Harlan, McBride, and the Bulgers, were well under way 
toward Lexington in response to the call of their com- 
rades, and when, on Saturday night, the gates at Bryant's 
Station were closed one hundred and thirty-five of the 
bravest and most gallant of the men of Lincoln were 
within its walls ready for consultation and to set out for 
the punishment of the invaders. With the haste of a 
rapid courier John Todd had hurried from Lincoln to his 
own county, and was there now, ready for action as well 
as for counsel with those who had come to help his ]ieo- 
ple in their dire distress. 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 7 

One hundred and thirty-five men from Lincoln and 
forty-seven from Fayette had now assembled. Fully one 
third of them were officers who in many a combat and 
on many an expedition had shown their skill and their 
courage. In those days, cowards did not come to Ken- 
tucky. Men who faced the dangers and difficulties of 
pioneer life were not only heroic, but they were fearless, 
and of all the band assembled there that night there was 
not a single officer or soldier whom death could alarm, 
or who was not ready to face an Indian foe on any call. 

White men then in Kentucky were brothers; the peril 
of one was the peril of all, and none hesitated to rush to 
the defense of any station or cabin where the savage foe 
had come; and the camp-fires which Caldwell and his 
Indians had left kindled had not died out ere the chivalry 
and comradeship of the pioneers had brought them to the 
spot where danger and peril were thick on every hand. 

The situation was one which called not only for cour- 
age but for sagacious counsel. This Saturday night, 
sultry and warm, and rendered even more so by the 
wooden inclosure surrounding this little army, was spent 
in large part in the preparation and consultation for 
the morrow's work. 

A council of war was called, and by the lamps sup- 
plied with bear's grease, in the cabins and fort, these 

8 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

soldiers and these ofTicers gathered for the purpose of 
determininfi tliat wliich was the wisest and best under all 

The women and children joined in the excitement oi 
the hour, and lonj^ after darkness brooded over the fort 
they mingled with the new comers and told them of the 
incidents, dangers, and trium]-)hs of the siege. The day 
and night of this beleaguerment had made heroes of even 
the tots who clung to their mothers' hands, and the story 
of the courage and daring of all who had battled within 
the wooden station was rehearsed with sympathetic hearts 
and to appreciative ears. The night had well advanced 
before any had sought repose on the rude beds of the 
pioneer cabins, or rested themselves within the open square 
bounded by the palisades. 

John Todd, Stephen Trigg, and Daniel Boone were 
the ranking officers, and around and about them stood 
men who had spent a full share of their lives in this 
wilderness, encompassed by the dangers which Indian 
warfare everywhere introduced, and with an experience 
which not only rendered them courageous and self-reliant 
but conscious of superiority as warriors and men. 

What a jiicture for a painter was presented that 
night! The oldest and Ijcst versed of all in Indian war- 
fare was Daniel Boone, who was then about fifty years of 

The Battle of the Bhte Licks. 9 

age.* Thirteen of these years he had hunted and fouglit 
in Kentucky. Twice captured by the Indians, thoroughly 
educated to all their methods and wiles; even then, his 
record for skill and daring was unequaled by any man 
in all this country, where every man was skilled and daring. 
He had already given a brother and a son to die for 
Kentucky's freedom, and he came with another son in 
his company, and was ready to go where danger was 
greatest and foes were thickest. 

Loved and respected by all, and chief in command, 
was John Todd, who, though only thirty years old, had 
already made a profound impression upon all men with 
whom he had come in contact. He had been in the ^rreat 


struggle at P'^mt Pleasant in 1774, and endured its baptism 
of blood; he had ridden beside General Andrew Lewis as 
his Adjutant General in the Scioto campaign; he had been 
a member of Henderson's Legislature at Boonesborough in 

* The date of Boone's birth is stated so differently that it is iiupussible 
to give his exact age. Collins says he was boru in 1731; Flint, 1746; 
American Biography, 1735; Marshall, 1746. John M. Pick, who visited 
Boone and gathered biographic facts from his own lips, in his life of him, 
in the thirteenth volume of the Spark's Series, gives his birth in February, 
1735. In the genealogical chart of the Boone family, made out by James 
Boone, the birth of Daniel is given July 14, 1732. Boone himself, while 
dictating to John Filson, his first biographer, the events of his life, does not 
seem to have thought the date of his birth of sufficient importance to be 
recorded, and hence it does not appear in Filsou's History of Kentucky 
in 1784. 

lo The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

1775; he had been one of tht- men who had risked their 
lives to go after powder in I77(); he had explored South- 
western Kentucky as far as Bowling Green in 1775; he 
had been one of the judges at the first court of (juarter 
sessions in Kentucky in 1775; he had been elected to the 
House of Burgesses in 1777 and 1780 and 1782; he had 
been with George Rogers Clark at Kaskaskia and Vin- 
cennes in 1778 and 1779; he had been valiant and true 
and brave in all these years of campaigning, of fighting, of 
danger, of surveying, and of legislating. He was the most 
brilliant and l^est educated man in that distinguished 
assemblage, and, aside from rank, its recognized leader. 

Beside Todd was Stephen Trigg. Onl}' three years 
before he had come to Kentucky as a member of the 
Court of Land Commissioners, but when he came he left 
all behind him; he made Kentucky his home, and he was 
ready now to give up his life for its defense. With a high 
degree of intelligence, with a splendid physique, and with 
a chivalrous bravery, he had become noted for his activity 
as an Indian fighter, and was now Lieutenant-Colonel of 
Lincoln County. He had been one of the trustees who 
laid off Louisville, and had also been elected a mem- 
ber of the House of Burgesses as a representative from 
Kentucky County. He had been a Justice of Lincoln 
County; he was a member of a court organized in Har- 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 1 1 

rodsburg in 1781, and no man commanded more of the 
confidence and admiration of these hardy pioneers than 
Stephen Trigg. 

Close by him stood Silas Harlan. He had emigrated 
to Kentucky eight years before, and none had been more 
active in war. He had commanded a company of spies 
with Clark in the IlHnois campaign in 1779. Six feet two 
inches in height, of magnificent bearing, Clark had said of 
him that he was one of the bravest and best soldiers that 
ever fought by his side. In 1778 he had built a stockade 
on Salt River, seven miles from Harrodsburg; he was one 
of the men who went with James Harrod for the five 
hundred pounds of powder which had been brought down 
the Ohio River for the succor of the pioneers. They 
started out on the 7th of January, 1777, passing by George- 
town and Blue Licks, and they had been successful in 
their efforts to transport this most important of all supplies 
into the Kentucky forts. He had signed the protest of 
the pioneers against Henderson and Company to the 
Virginia House of Burgesses in 1775. He came to Ken- 
tucky with James Harrod in 1774, and in courage and in 
experience he had no superior. 

Then close by him was Major Levi Todd. While 
less brilliant and not so well educated as his brother 
John, he was yet a real soldier. He had settled a station in 

12 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

Jessamine Count)', nut far from Xichulasville, in 1779, and 
had moved in 1780 to Lexington for safety. He had been 
captain of the company from Lexington and Bryant's 
Station in Bowman's expedition in 1779; he had been clerk 
of the court of sessions at liarrodsburg in 1777. and sheriff 
of the county. In the absence of his brother he had hur- 
ried the messenger forward with tidings of the assault 
on Bryant's Station. It was liis inspiration and noble 
examjile that had nerved the seventeen horsemen to break 
through the Indian lines and enter tlie fort during the 
afternoon of the i()tb. He himself was on foot, and had 
been driven back to Lexington, but now he was at Bryant's 
again to endure all and bear all that awaited his fellow- 
countymen and their allies. 

McGary and the Bulgers and McBride were there too. 
They had seen nearly all that was to be seen of the battles 
in and about Kentucky, and though less known to history 
they were not wanting in that same high courage which 
marked the other leaders. 

The year 1782 may be justly styled in Kentucky 
"The Black Letter Year. " Only seven years had elapsed 
since the permanent settlement of the Commonwealth, 
reckoning permanent settlement from the time when 
women and children came into its borders, showing that 
the men who brouj/ht them had determined to establish 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 13 

here their domestic shrines. It was hardly two years 
since the territory had been divided into three counties. 

Aheady the influx of white men into these hunting 
grounds had alarmed the braver and more enterprising 
Indians of the Northwest, comprising now Ohio, Indiana, 
Michigan, and Wisconsin. The Southern Indians, less 
warlike, in their trading with Henderson had received a 
golden anodyne, and these looked with but little concern 
on the peopling of Kentuck}' with the pale-faced race. 

Twenty-two months before Ruddle's and Martin's sta- 
tions had surrendered to Colonel Bird and his Canadian 
and Indian army, backed by two pieces of artillery, and 
Fayette was now to bear the brunt of other Indian inva- 
sions. Before the leaves had budded on the trees in 
1782 the news of Estill's defeat had sent a gloom and 
despondency through the souls of all the pioneers, and 
scarcely had the horrors of this event passed from the 
minds and hearts of the settlers when Captain Holder's 
misfortune, in his defeat at the Upper Blue Licks, pre- 
f pared the public mind for another chapter of woes, and 
these were to be the forerunners of the most horrible 
of all that had come into the lives of the struggling 

In the months preceding 1782 a new enemy had come 
to make incursions into Kentucky, and the name of these 

14 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

Indian warriors soon became a by-word and terror to its 
inhabitants. * 

The Wyandot Indians were oftenest discovered making 
assaults on the Kentucky cabins and forts, and by their 
courage and cunning and skill and their cruelt}' they 
made the terrors of wilderness life more disquieting than 
ever before. 

These Wyandots were a part of the Indians compos- 
ing the Western Confederacy: they had been knovs-n as a 
fragment of the Six Nations. They had fought the 
Mohawks in earlier days, and a centur}- and a half before 
the\- had lost their prestige temporarily in a great battle 
fought in canoes on Lake Erie, near Long Point and had 
been compelled to move further wesL But before the 
close of the Revolution they had forged their way back 
east^vardly and had repossessed themselves of their old 
lands on the Sandusky River. The \-icissitudes of one 
hundred and fifty years of war had thinned their ranks, 
but had increased and perfected their valor. They had 

♦Haldimakd Papers. — The future historian of this period must draw 
much of his material from the Canadian archives. The Haldimand collection 
is invaluable to him who deals with the stor>- of the conflicts in the countn- 
west of the Ohio. 

Sir Frederick Haldimand was a British Lieutenant General. He was 
bom in Neufchatel, Switzerland, in 17 iS, and died in 1791. He joined the 
British army in 1754. ^° ^777 ^^ *'** made a Lieutenant General, and 
in 1778 succeeded Sir Guy Carleton as Governor of Canada. He held 
this office until 17S4. He was a severe and arbitrary man. His nephew. 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 15 

been chosen as the chief natign among the members of 
the Western Confederacy, as the tribe worthy to have 
the most distinguished of all honors, the possession of the 
great calumet, the emblem of the co-operation and the 
pledge of the confederacy. They had this to commend 
their past prowess and guarantee their future gallantry, 
and they had demonstrated that this honor was worthily 

It was the men of this tribe who most loudly called 
for war on the white settlers of Kentucky-, and doubtless 
in the minds of their ablest leaders the dream had been 
nourished that if the white men could be driven from 
Kentucky that land would become the possession and the 
home of the warlike Wyandots, who for so many hundred 
moons had found no abiding place, and whose wanderings 
and vicissitudes should at last find a solace and rest in 
that land of buffalo, cane thicket, and salt springs, which, 
in obedience to the call of the Great Spirit, produced all 
that savage life and savage desire could suggest 

or grand nephew, William, bequeathed General Haldimand's Papers to the 
British Museum. They cover two hundred and thirty-two volumes of man- 
uscript. The papers included in the years from 1778 to 1784 are peculiarly 
valuable to the Kentucky reader. These papers have been copied for the 
Canadian archives, and their contents throw much light on the transactions 
with the British and Indians. It was General Haldimand who permitted 
and approved the use of the Western and Southern Indians against the 
settlers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky, and first gave British 
official sanction to their savage atrocities. 

1 6 The Battle of t lie Blue Licks. 

Earnest discussion, calm deliberation, thoughtful coun- 
sel consumed a large share of that eventful Saturday night, 
and the small hours of the morning were upon these 
sturdy warriors before they found opj^ortunity to seek 
repose for the labors and trials of the morning. The great 
and all-absorbing question was, should these men now 
assembled await the coming of Colonel Logan before pur- 
suing the enemy. 

All understood that the commandant in Lincoln County 
had heard the news of the Indian invasion, that messen- 
gers were dispatched to every station, calling upon the 
militia to hasten to St. Asaph's and prepare to march to 
the relief of their friends in Fayette. It could not be 
more than a day, they said, until he would come, and 
with these reinforcements they would be able to cope with 
any enemy who might invade Kentucky. 

Up to this time there had been no very accurate knowl- 
edge of the number of men engaged in this incursion. 
There were supposed to be anywhere from four hundred 
and fifty to six hundred, but the men who assembled at 
Bryant's Station that night never calculated danger and 
never feared Indians, it mattered not how great the dis- 
parity in numbers.* 

*The Kentucky historians in their statements of participants in the battle 
put the number of whites and Indians at from four hundred to six hundred 
and fifty. Tliat they outnumbered the whites even the British commanders 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 17 

Some historians have ascribed base motives to Colonels 
John Todd and Stephen Trigg in arriving at the conclu- 
sion to march the following morning in pursuit of the 
fleeing savages, and charged the fear of Logan's ranking 
them and thus securing the glory of a victory when the 
battle should be fought as the reason for haste. No greater 
injustice was ever done to the memory of brave men. 
Logan did not outrank Todd. They marched because they 
were confident they were able to cope with the enemy, 
notwithstanding his superiority in numbers. They believed 
that the welfare of the settlements and the future main- 
tenance of the white men in Kentucky depended on prompt 
and effective punishment of the Indians who had assaulted 
Bryant's Station; and these patriotic and statesmanlike 
views brought them to the determination that the best and 
wisest thing to do was to make a vigorous pursuit at once. 

in their reports admitted. Caldwell says he crossed the Ohio with three hun- 
dred Indians, and that one hundred of them left him the day before the 
battle. He says nothing of the white troops he had with him. These 
have always been estimated at sixty. Caldwell exaggerates the number of 
Kentucky slain, placing it at one hundred and forty-six, and his own loss 
seven killed and ten wounded. If he thus mistakes the killed it is not 
unreasonable to believe that he also underestimates the number of his troop. 
Weighing all the conflicting statements, I put his force at about three hun- 
dred — nearly double the number of Kentuckians engaged. 

McKee says that the British and Indians were not much superior to 
the whites in number. He gives the white force at two lumdred. He also 
states that there were upwards of one hundred and fifty Kentucky whites 

1 8 The Battle of flic Blue Licks. 

In these the darkest days of Kentucky history, here 
and there cropped out tlie jealousies and ])ickerings which 
are sure to arise in all human relations.* 

The promotion of General George Rogers Clark to the 
position of Brigadier - General in the Continental Army, 
thus making him the ranking officer in Kentucky, and his 
efforts to build \\\> Louisville and the Jefferson County 
forts and strengthen the Ohio River defenses, and the 
drafting of the militia of Fayette and Lincoln to do 
a part of the work on the Ohio, had caused Logan, 
Boone, Trigg, and others to feel that too much was 
being done for Jefferson, and that much of this was at 
the expense of the safety of the forts in Fayette and 
Lincoln, f 

The great military mind which foresaw the benefits of 
breaking British power in the West, and that planned the 
Vincennes Campaign and the capture of Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernor Hamilton, and that constantly unjjed the capture of 
Detroit, looked deeper into military jiroblems than the 
militia commanders of Lincoln and Fayette, and with his 
masterful genius for war decided that the safety of Lin- 
coln, Fayette, and all Kentucky lay in so arranging as to 
prevent the passage of the Ohio, or in case the passage 
was made, by a system of scouting to discover the enemy's 

* Sec Appcudix A. | See Appendix \\. 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 19 

intentions and route and give timely warning to all large 
stations so as to make vigorous and safe defenses.* 

In carrying out this, the true and only sure means of 
defense, General Clark had come into contact with the 
methods and views of the Central Kentucky leaders, and 
already mutterings of dissent and dissatisfaction had begun 
to cross the mountains and to knock at official doors in 
Virginia, and when the stor}^ of Blue Licks was told, it 
bore along with its harrowing details a full share of com- 
plaint and criticism of General Clark, f 

The militia of Jefferson could not come to the succor 
of Lincoln and Fayette, and it was not unnatural that 
the men of these two counties when drafted and forced to 
go to the Ohio River's defense, as had been done for two 
summers past, felt that they were bearing unjust burdens 
and were forced to do double work for the common defense. 

Daniel Boone wrote: "I trust about five hundred 
men sent to our assistance immediately, and them to be 
stationed as our County Lieutenant shall see most nec- 
essary, may be the saving of this our part of the country; 
but if you put them under the direction of General Clark 
they will be little or no service to our settlement, as he lies 
one hundred miles west of us and the Indians northeast, 
and our men are often called to the falls to guard th(Mn.";J: 

* See Appendix C. | See Appendix D. ]; See Appendix E. 

20 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

On this Saturday night, twenty miles away, at the old 
site of Ruddle's Station in l-^ourbon County, a far different 
scene was enacted. Here Caldwell and his Canadian 
Rant^ers. with McKec and liis Indians ])y Hinkston Creek, 
had gone into camp. 

The failure to take Bryant's Station, the loss of the 
men, and the distress of the wounded they were hearing 
to their own country, filled all hearts with a sense of 
humiliation. They camped at a spot full of great memo- 
ries to some of thi; company. Alexander McKee and 
Simon Girty had been present two years ago when brave 
Isaac Ruddle had been forced by Bird's artillery to sur- 
render, and the spot could but awaken a recollection of that 
dreadful day, when McKee's and Bird's promises to give 
British jirotection were so ruthlessly and cruelly broken, 
and when the Indian thirst for blood had shattered Bird's 
pledges, and in his very presence the helpless women, 
children, and wounded had been slain before the eyes of 
British officers — men who wore the uniform t)f the most 
enlightened nation of the world. .\s the highest expression 
of studied cruelty, they had brought with them Nicholas 
Hart and other prisoners taken at this station, and as they 
slept amid the wreck and ruins of this once strong fort 
and loved home, or lay bound by the side of Indians, 
guarded by a watchful sentinel to jirevent even the ])ossi- 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 2 1 

bility of escape, they must have had emotions that the 
human soul can with difficulty even attempt to fathom. 

A wierd scene passed before their vision, as at night- 
fall the savage army prepared for its rest. The march of 
a score of miles since the morning, encumbered with 
plunder and burdened with the wounded, had fitted all 
for soundest repose. Meat brought from the slaughtered 
cattle at Bryant's was broiled, corn taken from its wasted 
fields was cooked, and the wearied and disappointed sav- 
ages, after stationing double lines of pickets, laid themselves 
down to rest. 

The four white leaders were not so soon to sleep — a 
curious quartette that now gathered to discuss the future 
of the campaign, and to map out the plan for the mor- 
row's march. 

The commander of all was Major William Caldwell. 
Born in Ireland, he had drifted to America before the 
Revolution and made his home in Pennsylvania. He had 
refused to espouse the cause of the Colonies, and became 
a refugee loyalist. 

He went to Detroit, united his fortunes with England, 
and enlisted in Butler's Rangers, an organization com- 
posed in part of Canadians, but mostly of refugees like 
himself. He had fought with his Rangers against Colonel 
Crawford, and received a severe wound, but, recovering, 

2 2 The Battle of the Blue Lieks. 

he had organized the forces jTjathered for the attack on 
Wheehni^, in August, 17S2, and, to revive the disappointed 
hopes of the great Indian army of eleven hundred l)raves, 
had undertaken this raid into Kentucky and the siege of 
Bryant's Station. He hated the American people because 
they were rebels, and he used his savage allies as a ]:)art 
and parcel of the means required in the war to restore 
English supremacy over the American Colonies. 

By his side sat Alexander McKee, whose hatred of 
the men of Kentucky was intensified by his treachery and 
broken parole at Pittsburgh, and quickened l)y the recol- 
lection of the confiscation of two thousand acres of land 
in 1 7S0, which land had been surveyed for him on the 
Elkhorn in 1774. 

He was a born Pennsylvanian ; liad l)een a Justice of 
the Peace for Westmoreland County in that State in 
1771 and 1773; he had kept up a traitorous correspond- 
ence with the British, and finally, on March the 28th, 1778, 
escaped with Matthew Elliott, Simon Girty, and others, 
to the Indian tribes, and then made his way to CTeneral 
Hamilton at Detroit, where he had been rewarded with a 
captain's commission, and had been assigned t(j the work 
of inciting the savage tribes t(j make war on the Amer- 
ican settlements in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky. 
He was cruel, l)ut he was brave. He had been in charge 

The Battle of the Blitc Licks. 23 

of the Indians at the capture of Ruddle's and Martin's 
stations. His soul was black with the recollections of 
his broken faith to those who trusted him in their hope- 
less helplessness on the day of that surrender. Now and 
then a gleam of mercy broke through and over his soul. 
Here and there he had helped a captive boy or girl, 
yet he had urged his savages to repeated raids and mas- 
sacres. He had been at Floyd's disaster in September 
of the previous year, had fought with his red allies against 
Crawford three months before at Sandusky, and now had 
command of the Indians on this incursion into Kentucky. 

With these was Matthew Elliott, possibly a little less 
brutal but none the less brave or enterprising than his 
two companions in his efforts to murder the white men 
against whom his British masters ordered him to hurl his 
savage corps. Ireland mothered him, but he emigrated 
to Pennsylvania and removed to Fort Pitt as an Indian- 
trader before 1774. He was captured in 1776 by some 
Wyandot Indians in Ohio, and carried a prisoner to Detroit, 
but he had been released and returned with dispatches to 
Alexander McKee in 1778. He escaped from Pittsburgh 
with McKee and Girty, and from that hour became an 
implacable foe of the white men. 

His voice with the Indians (over whom his influence 
extended) was only second to that of McKee, was always 

24 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

for slaughter and rapine. He devoted his hfe to }iur- 
suading the savages to make war on his race. He betrayed 
no trust in his escape to the wilderness when he took up 
his abode among his ])rutal allies. Here and there a 
merciful act cropped out of his long line of destruction. 
He never hunted the rear in any engagement. He led 
his red men in battle, and always kept well up to the front 
in every conflict, and it was only at the Battle of the 
Fallen Timber, with Wayne, in 1 794, twelve years later, 
that he ever failed to lead where he called upon his Indian 
troops to go. 

Sullen and thoughtful, but not apart, sat another man 
whose histor}' has run a full course in human infamy. He 
was then just forty-one years of age, about five feet nine 
inches in height, with black hair, deep, piercing eyes, short 
neck, heavy frame, with round, full face, and with a great, 
deep, hideous scar across his forehead, made there by 
Brant's sword a year before, but with a frame muscular, 
strong, and agile, a deep chest which betokened great 
strength and endurance, and with a countenance which 
said, "I know not fear nor shame." A curious life this 
man had led. He had been born in 1741. in Pennsyl- 
vania, on the Susquehanna, near where Harrisburg now 
stands. His father had been killed by Indians, and he 
himself had been captured by the Senecas at fifteen years 

The Battle of the Blite Licks. 25 

of age, and at this early period of life he had witnessed 
the torture at the stake of his step-father by his captors, 
and he had lived among them until he was twenty -one 
years of age. He had been a scout and spy for Lord 
Dunmore. He had been a lieutenant in the American 
Army, and his company had fought the British in 1777, 
at Charleston, in the assault on P'ort Sullivan. He had 
been an Indian - trader and interpreter at Fort Pitt for 
years, and had, at last, under the influence of his present 
vis-a-vis, McKee, deserted the American cause and fled 
with him to the Indians in March, 1778. He had led 
numerous marauds into Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsyl- 
vania. He had given Kenton (an old friend), then a 
captive prepared for the stake, his life in 1778. In 1779 
he learned that a price was on his head, and this turned 
his heart to hate. He could neither read nor write, but 
he was shrewd, strong, and brave. He had seen and 
acquiesced in the cruel massacre of Ruddle's and Martin's 
stations; he had witnessed the tortures of Colonel William 
Crawford, and had refused to give him help or give him 
death, and day in and day out for four years past he 
had guided his savage confederates to the white man's 
abode, and with profoundest satisfaction witnessed the 
murder of women and children and the torture of men of 
his own color with a complacency which nmst have pleased 

26 The Battle of the Blue Lieks. 

even the devils in hell. He h:i(I probably made the tra- 
diticmal s]ieech ]Hit in liis mouth by white men at Chilli- 
cothe, urging an invasion of Kentucky. He had insisted 
on this incursion into the State, had attempted to persuade 
the people at Bryant's Station to trust the mercy of himself 
and associates, and now his soul was filled with chagrin 
and distress at the unsuccessful termination of the maraud. 
This man was Simon Girty. and to him and his three 
superior officers came now the discussion of the succeed- 
ing wt)rk of the army of savages who now lay about the 
cleared space of Ruddle's Station in deepest sleep. Even 
his cruel soul did not catch a whispering from Fate of 
the great and complete revenge which would fill his heart 
and life before two suns again should set. He had no 
command. England never honored him with a military 
office. He was the counsellor and guide of the Wyandot 
warriors who comprised more than a majorit}' of the 
Indians now in the detachment, and he inspired their 
savage action and instigated their most cruel deeds, and 
on the march and in the camp his soul was bus}' with 
schemes for murder and revenge.* 

*Thc hate of border white people for Simon Girty f,'«ive him a promi- 
nence in the history of the Indian wars which was nndeserved. Brown, 
Ranck, McClung, Collins, Marshall, and otiiers have made him a greater 
reputation than he was entitled to. He was never any thing but an inter- 
preter. Two yc.irs before this battle he had gone to live among the 

The Battle of the Bltie Licks. 27 

When the sun was well up on Sunday morning the 
Kentucky soldiers were formed in line. The}' were all 
mounted. Accounts differ somewhat as to the numbers. 
Colonel Robert Patterson said one hundred and forty- 
four; Steele says one hundred and eighty-two; Boone, 
one hundred and eighty-one, and Logan, one hundred and 

A motley band in many respects was that little army of 
whites as on that August Sabbath morning it emerged from 
Bryant's Station, in linsey or buckskin hunting - shirts, 
buckskin moccasins, buckskin breeches, and coonskin caps. 
The mounts all differed in color and size; most generally 
their horses were fourteen and a half or fifteen hands 
high, pony built, and each man carried his provisions in 
his haversack or saddle pocket, and every man carried his 
trusty rifle, his knife, tomahawk, and his patchen pouch 

Wyandots by order of the British officers, but he held no commission, like 
McKee and Elliott, and it was years after the affair at Blue Lick before he 
acquired any great influence with the Indians. 

McKee and Elliott commanded all the Indians on this raid. Simon 
Girty and his brother George were both along more to interpret and to 
encourage the Indians than to command them. Simon Girty acquiesced 
in torture at the stake, and there was no cruelty his word and example 
would not encourage, but he was ignorant and besotted, and never had either 
the genius for or the opportunity of command, and the speech at Old 
Chillicothe against the Long Knives claimed to have been made when this 
incursion set out is in large measure the creation of the brilliant imagination 
of early writers of pioneer history. (See Butterfield's History of the Girtys, 
Robert Clarke & Company, 1893. Pages 19J-4, 198, 200, 205, and 208.) 

28 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

and powder- horn, willi a full suj)))!)' of powder and 
bullets, with hero and there a stray gun flint wrapped in 
a rag or in tow, so as to be full)' jirepared for any emer- 

The scenes of desolation around the fort were enough 
to insjiire the keenest desire for revenge. Three hundred 
dead cattle, one hundred and fifty hogs, many sheep, flax, 
hemp, jKjtatoes, vegetables of all kinds ])ulled uji, a large 
one-hundred-acre corn-field nearly all cut down, and on 
every side the touches of savage desolation warmed their 
hearts and nerved their arms for the coming conflict. Every 
man jiressed more tightl)' his riile and his knife, ajid each 
felt the impulse of (juick and noljle hope to wipe out in 
the red man's blood the wrongs now jMctured to the 
mind of every S(jldier joining in the j)ursuit, and each 
vowed with siKtnt oath to repay in kind the wanton and 
useless wreck which abounded everywhere in the helds 
and cabins about the station. 

A few men who were not mount(;d, or who were not 
able to make tlie journev. or wIkj had been told off to 
pn^tect the; f(^rt, slo(xJ out in the open space in front of 
th(; fort, and these, with ihe women and children, with 
hearts full of dread and uncertaint), and yet with cheer- 
ful exclamations and tendi;rest affection, waved adieu to 
these warriors who were now going forth, as they hoj)ed. 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 29 

to punish the savages who had wrought this destruction 
to their homes and their property. 

It was not difficult to find the road on which the 
departing enemy had marched. They had taken what was 
known as the middle buffalo trace, leading along near 
where Paris and Millersburg now stand to the salt springs 
at Blue Licks. It was easy to follow these roads which 
the buffalo, the pioneer engineers of the great West, had 
laid down as best for travel. Once having ascertained the 
route which the Indians pursued, the marching was rapid. 
Vedettes and the advance guard kept a careful lookout, 
while the main body pressed on behind, and toward the 
middle of the afternoon, near the site of Millersburg, on 
the banks of Hinkston Creek, the Kentucky Army came 
upon the place where the previous night the camp-fires of 
the Indians had been built. Here, to the eyes of the 
experienced Indian fighter, were signs that boded no 
good to the pursuers. In many places on the line of the 
trace the trees close to the road showed the marks of the 
Indian tomahawk. From the official reports, only within 
the past few years made known to the public, it was 
apparent that Caldwell and McKee anticipated pursuit. 
They knew the spirit and })olicy of these Kentucky set- 
tlers, and they rightly judged that as .soon as the soldiers 
from Lincoln could rush to the help of the men of Fayette 

30 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

an army would march on their trail, and in battle, and, 
if need be, in death, avenge the depredations of the past 
week.* But those who were pursued were men inured to 
war's worst horrors. Of late they had drunk deeply of 
white man's l^lood and j^lutted their souls in shameless 
revenge. The smoke of the fires which burned Crawford 
and his companions had hardly lifted its hideous pall from 
the earth, and the ])lood stains from the successful forays in 
Virginia and Pennsylvania were not yet washed from their 
garments. The\' had met the white man before and had 
vanquished him, and they were not afraid to face him 
again, even in equal combat if the occasion required. There 
were white men and red men with them who had assailed 
and defeated Estill and Holder, and the recollection of 
these victories made them careless of the pending conflict 
which the Kcntuckians were anxious now to force. 

It would have been impossible to have deceived the 
men who were following the trail as to what these signs 
meant, and they hafi already resolved to punish the foe; 
and there was no one in all the army of one hundred and 
eighty-two men who suggested for one single moment the 
idea of a change in the j^lans wliich had been jirepared 
for forcing a battle upon the invaders. 

There was something to the Kentucky pioneer dearer 

* See Appendix I". 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 31 

than life, and that was his own consciousness as well as 
his reputation for unflinching courage. 

This sight of the camping-ground of the Indians quick- 
ened the marching, and a little while after sundown the 
pioneers rested a brief while and decided upon a plan of 
battle when the foe should be overtaken, which all now 
judged could not be many hours delayed. The enemy 
might be found at any moment, and the method of battle 
was fully explained to all. Half of the men mounted 
were to ride hard upon the Indians, and the other half 
dismounted would follow close behind and attack the sav- 
ages at short range when their formation should be broken 
by the dash of the horsemen. All understood and all 
were ready to carry out the orders. After a brief rest, 
the command was again given to mount, and near mid- 
night they went into camp hard by the site of the little 
town of Ellisville in Nicholas County.* 

All the indications showed that on the morrow they 
would likely fmd those for whom they were searching, 
and none doubted that when the conflict came they would 
execute prompt vengeance upon those who had killed their 
comrades and wantonly wasted their property and broken 
in upon the quietude of their homes. 

Since leaving Bryant's Station in the morning they 
had marched thirty-three miles, which, considering the 

*See Appendix G. 

S2 Th^. Battle of tfu Blue Ucks. 

ckaxskcua (A ikte re the ntcessstj ior cantion. as 

w^ -laxy ride. 

. '.Hy i*<^i<«i r^uMeri m^ cu^ .Vv ^jcAdn^ The food wJuch 
hit/i been prepay ' .- .-^g women at 

the i^^rt »erv' . i-'-r;^ U*<;« even-r^u' ::.fux^ The horses 

they tied t/> i;«e .imbs of the trees or small saplings. 
ArfAind ti'ievi the - 'rpt while pickets well out in 

t>ie wfxxlA ^u^LTdtyfi U.fs i>; umbers of the wearied riflemen. 
Ere the ray» (A the rising sun had lifted their beauteous 
light alx/ve the hf/riz/m the camp was aroused and the 
march rfTnf:¥/(^L 

T>ie enemy in front of them i^iad showed no haste in 
thirir j<Airney t/^> their own land. Leaving on the mom- 
inj/ of tb'; ijih, they harl f:amped some twenty miles 
away. During the <^l;iy of the i8th they had marched 
alx/ut eight/i*;n rriileH more, and now, on the morning of 
the {'jl)\, they were only three miles in advance of their 
purKuerfi, on the *;ast. sirh; of tlie Licking, at the point 
where the MayHville and Le-xington road now crosses 
that !)tr«--'ini ov'tr a Kuspension l;ri<'lrje. * 

'I'll' M'l rrirn h;i'I not sliown any disposition to run 
aw;iy l»'*ni tlx: lijdit whirli th»- wliit*; ni<-n w(;n* so anxious 
to hrinji; ,il»oiil. I h«y nnr l« rstoofl w«-ll Un- courage and 
n()|/« iiio;iit.y ;r, vvrll ;r. iIm- |»roni|>Lilude of the white men 
In pnni'.li inv.r.ion, ;iikI yd th«:y flid not .ivoid a conflict. 

* Si;«j A|i|i< ii'lix 1 i. 


The Battle of the Blue Licks. 33 

The contending armies had slept within four miles of 
each other — neither aware of the other's presence and 
neither afraid of the other. 

Forming in line and riding in the narrow trace, which 
rarely exceeded seven or eight feet in width, two or three 
abreast, the pioneers soon struck a little branch, along 
which the trace wound its way to the bottom of the Lick- 
ing River. About a mile from the ford the trace left the 
hillside and turned northwestwardly into this branch and 
followed it down to the mother stream. 

At this point some consultation was held among the 
officers, and it was here that Boone, whose great experi- 
ence and whose thorough knowledge of the country gave 
his opinion much weight, suggested that, instead of fol- 
lowing this trace and going down to the river, they should 
follow the ridge and strike the Licking two miles above, 
cross at Abnee's or Bedinger's mills, and thus come down 
to the banks of the Licking some two and a half miles 
above Blue Licks, and cross the Licking into a wide 
valley from which, a mile eastwardly, they would gain the 
ridge along which the trace pursued its way into Fleming 
and Mason counties. 

Boone, with all his woodscraft and his knowledge of 
Indian ways and Indian life, and with his splendid record 
as the best of Indian fighters and hunters, backed by the 

34 The Battle of the Bine Lieks. 

truest courage, had never possessed the (}uahty of impress- 
in*^ himself upon the men with whom he rame in contact, 
or assuming or commancHng tlieir leadership. His advice 
was disregarded.* 

The command "Forward!" rang through the woods 
and echoed along the hillsides, and down the fateful trace 
to the Blue Licks ford the cavalcade pursued its march. 
At the point where tne trace strikes the Licking the val- 
ley is a quarter of a mile wide. It is two liundred feet 
on the western side, where the Kentucky pioneers emerged 
froni the forest, and some eight hundred feet wide on the 
east side, where the foe for hours had been waiting the 
advance of the pursuers, whose presence by this time was 
thoroughly known to them. 

Men like Caldwell, McKee, and Elliott, and their Indian 
associates, were not ignorant of who were pursuing them. 
Spies had been sent back along the trace to reconnoitre, 
and it is said that an Indian conjurer had, after inquiring 
of the Great Spirit, told his red brethren that in a few 
hours the pale faces would be at the river and engage 
them in battle. 

Across the Licking the trace followed up tlie hillside 
of the ridge, which was rocky and barren of all trees and 
vegetation. For ages the bufTaloes had come to these 

* See Appendix I. 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 35 

licks to find salt. Instinct had taught them the neces- 
sity of periodical visitations to these saline springs, where 
nature had provided this essential for animal life, and for 
hundreds of years, along these narrow paths, cut out of the 
woods by the ceaseless trampings of these mighty herds 
of buffalo, had come millions of these animals to find 
health and life in the waters which gushed from the 
Licking bottom. When they had satisfied nature's call 
for salt, these herds would climb the adjacent hills to lie 
down and rest through the day and sleep through the 
night. On those eminences thousands of them would 
stand and watch the incoming buffaloes as they emerged 
from the trace on the western side, and, plunging into the 
waters of the Licking, swim across the stream and slake 
nature's demand for this necessary product, which here the 
Great Provider for all animal life had laid up in unlim- 
ited quantity. 

As the advance guard of the pioneers struck the river 
and formed in line in the narrow bottom on the west side, 
they caught sight of a few Indians hurrying to and fro on 
the bare and rocky hill a mile beyond the stream. Twenty- 
four hours of marching had now received its reward. The 
foe for whom they had sought, and for whose presence 
they had longed, was close by. But the willingness of 
the Indians to be found, their tardiness of marching, and 

36 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

their efforts to conceal their real number, so apparent 
to the true woodsman, had caused the wisest men of 
this command tt) hesitate about pressinj^' tlie conflict, wlien 
behind them, only a single day's march, were four liundred 
soldiers as brave as they, and which, added to tlieir number, 
would have made them a match for an\' Indian foe that 
ever crossed the Ohio River. 

The Colonels and Majors were called in hasty con- 
sultation. In the presence of the enemy, renewed caution 
and the highest wisdom were requisite. As these experi- 
enced fighters and gallant soldiers gathered around the 
commanding officer, Colonel Todd, the difficulties of the 
situation were quickly discussed. Boone, always cautions, 
advised delay and suggested, even though now in the 
presence of the foe. that it would probably be wiser to 
await the coming of reinforcements before forcing a battle. 
He had been frequently at the Blue Licks from his earliest 
coming to the country. He had made salt many a time 
near to the very spot where they now stood. He had once 
been captured a little way above on the Licking. With 
that memory of his, so remarkable as to be able by day or 
by night to recognize his surroundings in the woods or to 
locate the meanderings of streams or the situation of 
mountains years after he had seen them, he told his com- 
rades of the topography of the land just over the hillside 


The Battle of the Blue Licks. zj 

from whicli they had seen the Indians disappear. Along 
the neck of the hill the eyes of the pioneers could reach 
for a mile in unbroken vision ; not a single obstruction 
obscured their sight. When this hill was ascended, the 
Licking, by a tremendous swing to the north, came close 
to its side, and from its top down to the river bank led 
a ravine filled with timber and covered with thickest cane, 
while five hundred feet across on the other side flowed 
out a little stream which, passing northwestwardly, ran 
down into the Licking, one and a half miles below the ford 
where the army had just crossed. This ravine, too, was 
thickly wooded. 

Boone suggested that at this point they were likely to 
be met with an ambuscade, and prudence at least sug- 
gested that spies should be sent out who should ride 
along the barren hillside and over to the head of the 
ravines to find, if possible, the location of the enemy. 
Two volunteers quickly came forward, and in obedience to 
the orders of their superior officers they spurred their 
horses into the river and, following along a narrow bar 
which formed in the stream, quickly passing over, ascended 
the bend on the opposite side and then up the hillside. 
For a mile and a quarter they rode, prospecting carefully 
on either side, and returned in a little while with the 
tidings that they had seen no foe. But the foe had seen 


38 The Battle of tiie Bhie Licks. 

When they had returned and made their report a new 
council t)f war was called, and still it was suggested as to 
whether it was not part of wisdom to remain encamped 
on this side of the river where they now stood until 
Logan and his horsemen, quick and eager, on the march, 
should come to their help. Tliey knew that before the 
sun would set Logan would be there.* 

In the discussion on Saturday night at Bryant's Station, 
as to whether pursuit was advisable, some one unfortun- 
ately had insinuated to Major McGary, who was Major of 
the Lincoln militia, that it might be fear rather than wis- 
dom which suggested the delay until Logan's coming. 
This sting had gone deeply into his soul. That he was 
a brave man, those who knew him had never questioned. 
He is and was a unique character in pioneer history. 
He had come to Kentucky from North Carolina in 1775, 
and had known Boone while in that State. He had 
brought his wife to Kentucky, and she was one of the 

* liradford iu his Notes details the colloquy between Colonel Todd nnd 
Colonel Boone in the following words: "Colonel Todd addressed Colonel 
Boone as follows : • Skilled in Indian warfare and familiar witli the ground 
in the vicinity of this place, we require yuur opinion on the expediency of 
attacking the enemy in their present position.' To which Colonel Boone 
replied : ' I am of the opinion, and indeed fully persuaded, that the enemy 
exceed us in number fully three hundred ; that their main body is at no great 
distance ; and that they are lying in ambush. Their position is equal to an 
host shfiuld we continue our march up the river and be drawn in between 
the ravines they occupy. I therefore advise that we divide our gallant baud, 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 39 

three white women who first came to the State. He had 
gone with Clark as a captain to Kaskaskia and Vincennes, 
and in 1781 he was made major of the mihtia in Lin- 
coln County. He had helped to build the block-house in 
Louisville ; he had been a Justice of the Peace in Lincoln 
County, and onl}' a little while before he had, b}' this 
same taunt of cowardice, forced some of his comrades to 
pursue some fleeing Indians in an attack that had been 
successful, when without loss they had destroyed a large 
part of the Indian invaders. 

In the midst of these conferences, while the soldiers 
were standing in a circle around their leaders, McGary, 
always impetuous, and, as was shown by his subsequent 
declaration, malignant, his spirit burning still under the 
suggestion that lack of courage had caused his advice for 
delay at Bryant's Station, and, desiring to vindicate him- 
self in the eyes of his comrades, raised his rifle above 
his head and spurred his horse into the river, exclaiming, 

that one half march up the river on this side and cross over at Elk Creek, 
fall upon the upper side of the ravine, whilst the other half take a posi- 
tion (to co-operate with them) in another quarter. By this means the great 
advantage of their position will be changed effectually in our favor. But, 
gentlemen, whatever be your ultimate decision, I caution you against cross- 
ing the river at any rate before spies have reconnoitered the ground. ' " 

This conversation is couched in rather too lofty style for Colonel Boone. 
The use of many words betrays that the language spoken could not have been 
known to Boone, and that some man of more cultivation and education than 
he fraiiHHl the speech. 

40 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

"Delay is dastardly; let all who are not cowards follow 
me, and I will sliow them where the Indians are."* 

}^Vom a militar)- standpoint ihc }>ropfr thing to have 
done with McGary, under the circumstances, was to have 
shot him dt-ad on the spot. His insubordination, coupled 
with his rashness and his attemjit to assume command of 
the forces where he was of inferior rank, as riclily deserved 
death as if he liad witli cowardice run away in the face 
of the enemy. Yet, in extenuation of Todd and his asso- 
ciates, it must not be forgotten that the men who composed 
this command were socially equals; one third of them were 
officers hastily thrown together by the exigencies of the hour 
and the dangers surrounding the people at the endangered 
station. They were all ready and willing under any cir- 
cumstances to fight; they were also full of self-confidence, 
full of spirit, and each thoroughly conscious, not only of 
his own courage, but of a wide experience in Indian warfare. 

With a foolish pride aroused by the dread that they 
would be thought afraid to go where any man would lead, 
a considerable number of the pioneers rushed their horses 
into the river to follow the reckless and disorderly Major, 
who was now leading the entire force. 

In less than a hundred seconds the remainder had 
made their choice. They yielded their judgment to a 

* Sec Appendix J. 


The Battle of the Blue Licks. 41 

foolish taunt, and they plunged into the river, pressing 
after those who had gone before under the lead of 
McGar}\ * 

The horsemen quickly caught the inspiration and enthu- 
siasm which come to those who enter battle. In a dis- 
organized mass, each striving to find a place alongside 
the impetuous McGary, they rode across the narrow bot- 
tom for a few hundred feet, and then striking the buffalo 
trace, which led up the hill a little north of the ford, 
followed it in a northeastwardly direction. Recklessly, cour- 
ageously, and yet tumultuously hurrying forward, they 
soon reached the top of the ridge, and then descending 
for a quarter of a mile they came in sight of the two 
heavily timbered ravines which, starting a few feet apart 
on the very top of the ridge, run down north and south 
to empty their waters in the Licking four miles apart. 

When they had reached the slight depression in the 
ridge, through which in later years the Sardis turnpike 
has been built, they received a few shots from the enemy 
posted in the timber and underbrush two hundred and 
fifty feet away. 

Through the exertions of the officers some sort of 
order had been formed out of the military chaos which 
existed in the little army which had forded the Licking 

* See Appeudix K. 

42 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

but fifteen minutes before. Boone was thrown to the left 
and given command. The i)ackbone of the rid<;e along 
which the fight was to occur was about four hundred and 
fifty feet in width. Trigg was ordered to the right, and 
his route was close to the edge of the ravine which comes 
up from the bank of the Licking and reaches the top of 
tho hill close to the point where the Sardis turnpike leaves 
the Lexington and Maysville road. Todd commanded the 
center. An advance guard of twenty- five men was ordered 
forward. These were all Lincoln County men, and they 
were under the command of Major Silas Harlan, Major 
Hugh McGary, and Captain William McBride. 

Preferring to fight on foot, a majority of those who 
were not officers now dismounted. It was at once apparent 
that the enemy in full force was at hand, and that a con- 
flict was immediate and inevitable. 

The various positions had not been taken by all the 
troops before the fire from the Indian rifles quickened, 
and in less than half a minute a tremendous volley was 
poured into the advance guard, all but three of whom 
fell at this first round. 

Colonel John Todd, mounted upon his white horse, hur- 
ried the center to the support of the advance guard. They 
had not reached the sjiot where Harlan and his comrades 
had fallen before they were made a target for two hun- 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 43 

dred rifles. Out in the open, with no protection, the 
mortahty was tremendous, and the crash of this volley 
had not died, nor the smoke lifted from the surface, when 
from the ravines on the left and on the right rushed the 
savage foe. 

Protected by the trees and the underbrush, those who 
had fired had taken deliberate aim, and almost every shot 
told. Within less than three minutes about forty pioneers 
lay weltering in their blood. 

Outgeneraled, and led by a wily foe into a trap of 
death, they were not the men to run away under any fire, 
and they quickly opened upon the advancing and the con- 
cealed foes. 

The right wing was pushed back by a tremendous 
onslaught. The Indian line had been extended so as to 
outflank Trigg and his men, and they yielded to the pres- 
sure and recoiled on the left where Boone had made an 
impression on the Indian right and had driven in their 
advance line. But when the right, by the overlapping of 
the Indian left, was pushed toward Boone's rear, then the 
left wing became unsteady. At this moment it received 
a galling fire from the enemy, large numbers of whom 
were soon running back toward .the rear of the whites 
and closing in upon them like a wall of fire. Todd, Trigg, 
Harlan, Bulger, McBride, and Gordon were dead. One 

44 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

fourth of the Kentuckians had fallen never to rise again, 
and more than a dozen were already wounded. 

It was not often that the men who composed this 
command liad turned their backs to the foe, but it was 
obvious to the most casual observer that no courage could 
avail against the men who liad made this mad assault, 
and the merest military tyro could understand that the 
only chance for safety lay in flight. To remain was mad- 
ness; to flee gave some slight hope of escape. 

The pioneer soldiers had not been trained to fight as 
organized bodies. Each man had hitherto fought on his 
own hook, selecting his own tree, and using, in large 
measure, his own judgment about when it was best to 
stand together or flee, and no sooner was it thoroughly 
apprehended that the Indians were rushing to the rear 
and from both ravines were encircling the whites, than 
each man by common consent began to look out for 
himself, and at once the retreat began and immediately 
became a rout. A few had not dismounted; they rode 
hard for the ford; only a portion were able to mount the 
horses toward which they were now running, a few hundred 
feet in the rear, while nearly half of those who were fleeing 
were pursued so closely that they had no time even to 
attempt to mount, but on foot they made their way as rap- 
idly as possible to the ford. Tlieir guns had been emptied 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 45 

at the first fire; the whole action had not lasted much over 
five minutes; there had been no time to reload, nor did the 
enemy intend to give them opportunity for any such pur- 
pose, but rushed out with tomahawk and scalping-knife, 
and forced a hand-to-hand encounter. 

A new type of Indian had now come to face the 
pioneers, and he had inaugurated a different and more 
savage style of war. This was shown at Estill's defeat, 
at Holder's fight, and at Blue Licks. It required men of 
the noblest courage to throw away a rifle and rely on a 
tomahawk and scalping-knife, but these red men who 
were now fighting the Kentucky settlers were men of 
magnificent physique, and behind this had as nervy hearts 
as ever entered a human frame. They reckoned death 
of little consequence, and they had trained themselves to 
abandon trees after the first fire and to rush out to meet 
the foe face to face and end the conflict by personal en- 
counter with tomahawks. They deemed this the quickest 
and the surest way to end a struggle. It was a new sort 
of experience to the pioneer; he had not then quite 
adapted himself or accustomed himself to it. The wan- 
dering Wyandot, who had been roaming westwardly and 
now eastwardly for so many years, had schooled himself 
to this kind of battle, and he had learned that it was 
less dangerous than to stand behind trees and watch 

46 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

for an opportunity to shoot a foe who was hidden Hke 

The white man, quick to learn, soon prepared himself 
to meet this new phase of war. The use of the toma- 
hawk he could not acquire so as to be on equal terms 
with the Indian, hut the pale-face brought the bayonet 
to his help and f^ave its cold steel as a match for the 
hatchet, and in the future wars the wrongs of Estill and 
Blue Licks were amply atoned for with the blade now 
fitted over the muzzle of the rifle. 

The unprotected ridge along which the Kentuckians 
advanced at the battle-ground was four hundred and fifty 
feet wide. Colonel Todd and his associate commanders 
had no reserve line. The twenty-five men in the advance 
guard led by Harlan, McGary, and McBride were scarcely 
two hundred feet in front of the center. Taking these 
from the white force, every man of which was engaged, 
it left less than one hundred and fifty men in the line of 

*Col()iu;l Arthur Campbell, in writing to Colonel William Davies, Octo- 
ber 3, 17S2 (see Voliiine 3, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, page 337), 
says: "The method of arming and arraying our militia ought to be varied. 
The bayonet and scynieter uinst ho introduced to enable us now to face 
the Indians." 

Colonel W'ilhain Christian, in writing to Governor Harrison from Mont- 
gomery County, Virginia, on September 28, 1782 (see Volume 3, Calendar 
of Virginia State Papers, page 331), says: " Even musket men with bayonets 
would be of more use than is generally thought, as the Indians of late 
depend more upon the use of tlieir tomahawks and spears tlian their fire." 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 47 

battle. The left wing had thrown out a couple of spies 
as a skirmish line, but they quickly fell back to Boone's 
line of battle. This thin line, composed of horsemen and 
footmen combined, was one third already dead or wounded. 

It had been forced in on either side and stood on the 
ridge helpless, as the Indians on the north and south fired 
into the fleeing mass now deprived of its leaders and 
fully realizing that impetuous courage had brought them 
to almost inevitable disaster. 

No discipline could be maintained. A compact body 
only drew a more galling fire, and organized resistance 
meant a more certain destruction and increased mortality. 
A minute's delay would insure the closing of the circle 
from which escape would be impossible, and which, once 
effected, would put all the whites within an impassable 
wall composed of brave savage Indians who would shoot 
or tomahawk the entire number as quickly as blade and 
bullet could dispatch them. 

To succor the wounded only meant surer death. To 
remain together was to invite a more deliberate and cer- 
tain fire; to hesitate meant instantaneous destruction. 
No order was necessary. No command was required. 
Officers and men quickly and clearly perceived that sep- 
arate flight, each for himself, and the crossing of the river, 
to plunge into the trackless forests on the opposite shore 

48 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

of the Licking, was the only course which ofTered the 
shghtest possibihty of safety. War has horrors no courage 
or gallantry can avoid. To leave the dead and wounded 
kindred on the held, to Hee away from comrades in a 
race for life was full of terror for brave men. Hut battle 
frequently knows no sentiment, and often hushes and 
destroys every emotion, and so brother and friend on the 
ridge parted, each guided by the highest of all instincts, 
self-]ireservation, to do that which was best, each for 
himself. In an instant all by common consent began 
immediate and swiftest flight. 

They had passed over the river a few minutes before 
one hundred and eighty two strong, full of courage and 
battle's enthusiasm. They returned now, leaving a large 
portion of the men and all their leaders but one dead, 
and the whole force a band of fugitives only bent on seek- 
ing escape. They had suffered a fearful and tremendous 
mortality. Forty-one per cent were killed, wounded, and 
captured; of the captured four were subsequently tortured 
to death, and this made Kentucky's offering on this fatal 
day seventy-one of her noblest, bravest, and most heroic 

Nothing could exceed the dreadfulness of the conflict 
on the return to the river. The horsemen rode in fierce 
madness, communicating their terror to their steeds ; 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. At9 

while the despairing footmen, wearied by their long run 
under the burning rays of the August sun, with over- 
powering fear rushed down the hill in their wild race for 
life, while the enemy, with delirious thirst for blood already 
quickened by the fearful slaughter, struck down the flee- 
ing white men with their tomahawks and plunged their 
knives into their backs, and, sometimes tripping them to 
a fall, drove the blades into their palpitating hearts. 
The terror was only that which was born of the hope- 
lessness of the situation, and the fright only the fear 
which came from pursuing the only line of escape.* 

When the Kentuckians began the retreat it was the 
first impulse to reach and mount their horses ; pursuit, 
however, became so warm that many abandoned this best 
chance for flight, for the Indians ran in among them as 
they endeavored to spring into the saddle, and a number 
were killed as they attempted to rise on their steeds. 

The deserted horses were taken by the Indians, and 
on these they rode among the fleeing white men, cutting 
them down with their tomahawks, or waited to slay them 
as they iran down the hillside. Others of the Indians rode 
directly to the river above and below the ford, and then 
watched for the coming of the doomed fugitives, while 
still others yet, driving harder, crossed the stream and fol- 

* See Appendix L. 

50 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

lowed the fleeing pioneers through tlic forest or hunted 
them from their hiding places in tlie thickets. 

Boone, deserted by his soldiers, rnn forward to lind 
his son mortally wounded. He had only time to lift him 
upon his back, rush witli him into the forest skirting the 
ravine along which he had fought, and tlien, bearing him 
a little way from the scene of the conflict, swam with 
him across the river and hid him in a cave on the west 
bank, hoping that by this act of paternal devotion to save 
his child from impending death. But affection could not 
stay the crimson tide or stop the flow of his life blood, 
and beholding the death-damp on his brow, accompanied 
with the pallor which presages approaching dissolution, 
his instinct of safety forced him to leave him to die alone. 
He had done all that love could do to save his son, and 
without companionship, his soul bowed down with deepest 
sorrow, he fled into the forest. 

Into the river, speeding across the narrow bottom, 
dashed horsemen and footmen side by side, while down 
to the very banks the Indians, now rendered more daring 
by the unopposed pursuit, followed the white men to the 
brink of the water, tomahawking them and scalping them 
in the ])resence of their comrades, or shooting them down 
as tliey waded or swam the stream. 

In this moment of despair and terror and woe two 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 5 1 

real heroes appeared on the scene. Such men always 
come at the call of great occasions. Providence, having 
hitherto hidden its power, responds to the demands of 
the hour, and men, before obscure and unrecognized, in 
a moment and without warning rise to the supremest 
heights and then and there by a single act of courage or 
heroism win imperishable fame and undying renown. 

Three days before, when Simon Girty had made his 
speech to the beleaguered people of Bryant's Station, 
demanding a surrender, Aaron Reynolds climbed upon the 
ramparts to answer his proposition. 

Reynolds had not been selected as the orator to answer 
Girty, but having an abundance of self-confidence, and 
desiring to exploit himself in the presence of his neigh- 
bors and friends, in response to Girty 's inquiry if the 
garrison knew him, said that he (Girty) was very well 
known; that he himself had a worthless dog which he had 
given the name of Simon Girty in consequence of his 
striking resemblance to the man of that name. That if 
Girty or the naked rascals who were with him found their 
way into the fort they would disdain to use their guns 
against them, but would drive them out with switches, a 
great number of which had been prepared for that pur- 
pose; and that if Girty and his band remained any longer 
their scalps would be found drying upon the roofs of the 

52 TJie Battle of the Blue IJeks. 

Reynolds had been a member of Colom;! Robert Pat- 
terson's Company, who had been drawn for service in 
conjunction with General Clark on the Ohio River some 
sixty days before. His profanity had disi^usted Patterson, 
who promised Reynolds if he would quit cursing, on 
reaching the Ohio River he would give him a quart of 
spirits. At the end of four days Reynolds demanded 
the promised reward and received it, and from that day 
on was never heard to swear. 

In the retreat Colonel Robert Patterson, who with 
Boone had commanded the left, was making his way to 
the river. W'ith a few men around him he was falling 
back slowly, and attempting to hold the enemy in check 
so that the fugitives might gain time to cross the river. 
He struck the stream a hundred yards below the ford — 
savages behind them, the river in front. 

Colonel Patterson had been severely wounded in a 
march to Pittsburgh to secure powder in 1776. He had 
been fired upon by the Indians, one of his arms broken, 
and a tomahawk driven into his back. He had never 
entirely recovered from these wounds, and the long run 
from the battle-field to the river, together with his size, 
had so told upon him as to render a continuation of his 
flight inq-)()ssible. At that moment Aaron Reynolds rode 
up t<j Patterson's side, dismounted from his horse, lifted 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 53 

Patterson into the saddle, and then threw himself into the 
river and swam across, a little later to be captured by 
Indians who had crossed below and were searching for 
the whites. A few moments afterward, left alone with 
one Indian, he knocked his guard down, ran off into the 
forest, continued his journey to Bryant's Station, and 
reached there before Patterson was able to make the trip 
on horseback. He told the story of what he had done 
for Patterson, which was discredited and was not received 
until Patterson himself appeared in the fort and verified 
his statement. He was presented with two hundred 
acres of ground by his grateful friend, joined the Baptist 
Church, and became a most exemplary and useful citizen. 
The other man of the hour was Benjamin Netherland, 
and without question he was the true hero of Blue Licks. 
Robert Wickliffe, whose second wife was the only daughter 
of Colonel John Todd, in a political speech at Nicholasville 
in 1848 said that the majority of the men who escaped 
from this destructive conflict owed their preservation to 
Benjamin Netherland, and that he was a fearless man, 
fruitful in resources, and the impersonation of nobleness 
and courage. Robert Patterson, writing to Netherland in 
1826, says, "I can not ever forget the part you acted in 
the Battle of Blue Licks." In Marshall's liistor)- it is said 
of him that he presented a singular j:)henomenon, and 

54 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

that by his conduct many were saved; and Butler re- 
echoes Marshall's statement, and accords Netherland the 
honor of having saved many of the fugitives. McClung, 
in Ills Western Sketches, says, "A man by the name of 
Netherland. wht) had formerly been suspected of coward- 
ice, here displayed a coolness and presence of mind equally 
noble and unexpected. " 

Major Benjamin Netherland was born in Powhattan 
County, Virginia, in 1755. His ancestors were from Hol- 
land, and came to Virginia as part of that great Protest- 
ant host which settled along the James River in the first 
half of the eighteenth century. His father was a tobacco 
planter, and he sent his son Benjamin to Cuba and Mar- 
tinique to dispose of his crop. While there he heard of 
the conduct of the British foe in the attack which Sir 
Peter Parker was making on Charleston. He left his 
cargo and ran the blockade into Charleston and helped to 
defend Fort Moultrie against the British assault. In his 
trips to the West Indies he had become fluent of speech 
in both French and Spanish. He accompanied Lafayette 
on his journey from Charleston, in 1777, as far as Meck- 
lenberg County, North Carolina, when that officer was on 
his way to Philadelphia to tender his services to Wash- 
ington in defense of American liberty. He stopped at 
Charlotte. North Carolina, until 1781, when he took part 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 55 

in the Battle of Guilford Court-house, and after this 
drifted into Kentucky. In May, 1782, he was at Estill's 
Station, and was with Estill in the defeat at the hands 
of the Wyandots. He fought in nearly all the Indian 
battles from 1781 to 1784. He was with Clark on his 
expedition in November, 1782. He was also with General 
Harmar in his defeat, and with General Wayne in his 
victory, and assisted in the punishment of the very men 
who had perpetrated the slaughter at Blue Licks. After 
seven years' absence in Kentucky he returned to North 
Carolina and married his boyish sweetheart, Theodosia 
Bramlette, who was the daughter of a distinguished Rev- 
olutionary fighter. Colonel Bramlette. 

Netherland came to Jessamine County in 1788 with 
his bride, and settled on a farm five miles east of Nicho- 
lasville; in 1791 he moved to where Nicholasville now 
stands, and built a hotel and called it Mingo Tavern. 
This house was kept by him for forty years; it was torn 
down in 1864. I have often seen it when a boy, and I 
have now a drawing of it in my possession. Netherland 
was made the first postmaster of Nicholasville in 1801. 
He was the first Chairman of its Board of Trustees, and 
his children were the first white people born within its 
limits. He died in 1838, and was accorded a splendid 
military funeral. He was buried in his lot in Nicholas- 

56 TJie BiMe of tJic Biitc Licks. 

villi', which is now in tlu- rear of the Northern Methodist 
Church, and a simple head-stone with his name tells 
where the brave pioneer finds his last rest. His funeral 
was preached hy Hishoj^ Kavanau*^h, who was then Pre- 
siding Elder of that district. General Leslie Combs, Gen- 
eral John McCalla, Major 1). ]>. Price, and Robert 
WicklifTe were the jiall -bearers.* 

At the Battle of the Blue Licks Netherland was only 
twenty-seven years old. He was a member of Robert 
Patterson's Company from Lexington, and being finely 
mounted he gained the ford in safety and crossed the 
stream unhurt. As he reached the west bank he looked 
back over his shoulder, and his soul was stirred with 
deepest emotion and his heart filled with the grandest 
courage as he saw his comrades struggling and swimming 
and plunging into the river or rushing down the bank 
pursued by their savage enemies with unsheathed knives 
and uplifted tomahawks. He dismounted from his horse, 
and, throwing the reins over his arm. with loud, sharp, 
and commanding voice ordered the fleeing horsemen who 

* Major Netherland's experience in the liattle of the Bhie Licks justified 
liini in his subsequent love of horses. He bred a great many fine race horses 
in his day, and in a letter written by him to General John McCalla, in 1830, 
now in my possession, he begs him to come to Nicholasville on the following 
Sunday to dine with him, and promises to show him "the damndest best 
three colts in the world." I am indebted to S. M. Duncan, Esq., of Nicholas- 
ville, Kentucky, one of the State's most active and laborious historians, for 
tlie larger jiait nf the facts concerning Major Netherland. 

The Battle of the Bine Licks. 57 

were thus deserting their comrades to halt, fire upon the 
Indians, and save those who were still in the stream. 
His bravery and his splendid presence, for he was six 
feet two inches high, restored the spirit of these fear- 
stricken riders. A dozen or twenty men instanth- obeyed 
his call, and facing about with Netherland, and standing 
in line, they opened a fatal and deadly fire upon the fore- 
most of the pursuing savages. 

The counter attack was so sudden and unexpected 
that it checked the fierce pursuit of the Indians, and they 
instantly fell back from the opposite bank. Netherland 
and his men maintained their position and drove the 
Indians to cover, while the wearied and almost helpless 
footmen were enabled to ford or swim the river in safety. 
Only a few minutes were necessary for those who were in 
the stream to reach the shore. 

The footmen quickly left the buffalo trace and disap- 
peared into the thickets, each striving for himself by 
hidden and circuitous routes to reach some station. 

So soon as these distressed, wearied, or wounded foot- 
men were enabled to secrete themselves in the dense forest, 
large numbers of the Indians were seen crossing both 
above and below, but Netherland and his comrades, mount- 
ing their horses, galloped along the trace and in safety 
reached Bryant's Station that evening. 

58 The Battle of the Bine Licks. 

The j)ursuit of the Indians was feeble after crossing 
the stream. Very few persons were thereafter killed. Scat- 
tered through the woods it was with difficulty that the 
savages could find them, and after a search through a 
couple of miles they abandoned the search and returned 
to the battle-field. Here the horrors were to open anew. 
Those who were wounded were quickly tomahawked and 
scalped; their dead bodies were mutilated in every possi- 
ble way that savage cruelty could suggest; that of the 
manl}- and courageous Trigg was quartered. From their 
still warm but lifeless forms every vestige of clothing was 
removed, and the bodies left where the tomahawk or 
scalping-knife or the bullet had brought the end. Some 
of the wounded were tied hand and foot, and subjected 
to a slow death. Four were taken away to the Indian 
towns to bear the vengeance of their savage foes in the 
presence of their scjuaws and children, or were tortured 
on the battle-field. Three were spared, who returned a 
year afterward and told the story of their suffering and 
terror. * 

( )n the journey to Kentucky Caldwell, McKee, Elliott, 
and (iirty had, as said before, Ijrought a ])orti()n of the 
men who had been captured at Kuddle's and Martin's 

*Tlie throe jjiisoiiers who returned after captivity were Ensign John 
McMurty (reported killed by Major Todd and others) and Privates Lewis 
Rose and Jesse Vocuin. 

The Battle of tJie Blue Licks. 59 

stations in June 1780, and the mind stops still with 
terror when it realizes what they must have suffered as 
they witnessed the battle, and then, subsequently, the 
murder and mutilation of those they had loved and 
respected, and who had fought with them in the great 
struggle to win Kentucky for the white man. 

Nearly the whole day the Indians roamed over the 
battle-ground gathering up the guns, equipments, and 
effects of the dead white men. Here and there one was 
j:)iled close to another, and their arms entwined, and then 
in a new outburst of savage brutality new cuts and stabs 
were inflicted upon the corpses. After gloating over these 
scenes of death, outrage, and barbarity until in the after- 
noon, Caldwell marched his forces a few miles toward 
Maysville and camped, and on the day following (the 20th) 
crossed the Ohio River. 

Colonel Trigg had sent an express to Colonel Logan 
on the 17th day of August, telling him of the report of 
the attack on Bryant's, and informing Logan that he and 
such troops as he could call together had gone to the 
relief of Fayette stations. 

On the morning of the 19th Logan, with the remain- 
der of the Lincoln men, reached Bryant's Station, and 
toward the middle of the day started to follow along the 
track which Todd, Boone, Trigg, and their company had 

6o The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

gone twenty hours before. The)' were pusliing along 
the trace a few miles fn^ii Bryant's Station near one 
o'clock in tlie afternoon, when the achance guard heard 
the sounds of swiftly-going steeds, and before orders to 
halt could be given twenty-five Lincoln and Fayette men 
rode in among them. Their steeds, driven to highest 
speed, were jaded and fagged, the men themselves, some 
with bleeding limbs, and all with torn garments and 
blackened features, told in rapid speech the horrors of 
the morning's battle, and of the dread havoc at the Blue 
Licks. In frenzied excitement brother asked for brother, 
neighbor for neighbor, friend for friend.* 

The full command coming up, four hundred and 
seventy comrades formed around the wearied and excited 
fugitives, as in short and broken sentences the terrible 
repulse at the Licking was detailed to the rescuers. With 
blanched cheeks, quickened pulses, and sickened hearts 
they listened to the story of the awful tragedy, and in 
subdued and breathless suspense took in the pathetic and 
harrowing history of the day's dreadful sorrow. 

And now. during the halt, came anotlicr and another 
and still another of the escaping soldiers. With anxious 
longings and strained vision each of the new-comers peered 
along the narrow trace, or with acutest tension turned their 

* Sec Appendix M. 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 6i 

heads to catch the sound may be of others who had 
escaped from the calamity. 

A strong advance guard was thrown forward, and the 
main force was halted in the woods on either side of the 
trace, waiting to see if yet more of the fated company 
would reach friends and safety. All prepared for battle. 
None knew but that the blood-thirsty and numerous foe 
were close behind the whites who had just come in, and 
none knew how quickly they might be required to meet 
the same victorious enemy. 

Straggler after straggler, riding or running hard for 
life, pressed within the friendly lines, and each arrival 
had something worse to tell of the sweeping destruction 
of the conflict. 

Now came one who had seen the brave and brilliant 
Todd go down in death. Another was close by the superb 
Trigg as he fell under the fatal fire; and yet another 
had witnessed the heroic and courageous Harlan sink in 
the very fore-front of the advance, and yet another had 
witnessed McBride and John Bulger perish in the leaden 
storm, while others had borne Edward Bulger away with 
a mortal wound pouring out his life's blood; and yet others 
had looked on Kincaid, Gordon, Overton, and Lindsay as 
they too were stricken to earth by the murderous shots. 
Till near night Logan remained encamped, receiving each 

62 The Battle of tJie Blue Licks. 

escaped comrade with joy as he rushed under the pro- 
tection of his regiment, ;ind then he turned and retraced 
his steps to Bryant's Station. 

A few of the survivors had gone on with all [possible 
haste to tell the sad story at the station. Of the gallant 
band who had so grandly defended it, at least one fourth 
were with Todd and Boone in the Fayette battalion. It 
was already known now that Lieutenant Barnett Rogers, 
Ezekiel Field, and James Ledgerwood were dead, and 
that Jesse Yocum was missing ; Jeremiah Craig, whose 
wife and daughters were among the women who went to 
the spring for water on the i6th, had gone with Todd, 
and he had not returned. 

The rapidly-riding express emerged from the trace and 
entered the clearing. His appearance told the story of 
disaster, and with beating hearts, crushed hopes, and tear- 
dimmed eyes, the direful story was told again, and each 
with earnest questioning sought to learn who was safe. 

A change had come into the fort. The exultation of 
the 17th was changed on the 19th into deepest grief and 
humiliation. No words can paint and few hearts can 
measure the terror of the scene, and all in silent despair 
awaited for the tidings from the held of battle. 

As the shadows oi the night come, darkness only cre- 
ates new fears and arouses new apprehensions. From 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 63 

out in the stillness and gloom of the forest here and 
there comes hallooing, and a footman, exhausted, clothes 
torn to tatters, with limbs all cut and pricked, and with 
broken spirit and feeble strength calls for aid and recog- 
nition. Wives, mothers, children, soldiers, all mingle in 
common grief, and sit in hushed and earnest expectation, 
and with hearts lifted to God in prayer for mercy 
watched through the long and everlengthening hours of 
the night. 

This was the sequel to the glorious and splendid 
defense of the fort a few hours before. There were 
mothers and wives who, on the i6th, walked fearlessly to 
the spring to dip water for the besieged garrison, who 
now in abject hopelessness bewailed the absence of sons 
and husbands, whose mangled forms they pictured lying 
on the battle-field or writhing under the tortures of a 
savage foe. 

When daylight came nearly one hundred had arrived. 
With speedy foot they had run through the cane and 
timber, guided by the stars, toward a place of refuge, or 
on horseback, by the traces or circuitous paths, had found 
the friendly fort once more. 

To the experienced woodsman at dawn it was appar- 
ent that few more would come, and increasing hours 
stifled further hope. It was now certain that those who 

64 The Battle of the Blue Lieks. 

had not come had been victims in the conflict or in the 
chase. Messengers were sent to neighboring stations. 
Boone had found safet\' in his own fort; Captain Elhs 
was with him. Some liad gone to Lexington, but still 
nearly eighty were missing, and there were none brave 
enough to of^'er to go where the ruin had fallen. At 
Harrodsburg, Trigg's, and other stations, even deeper deso- 
lation was felt. The worst had come to Lincoln; Trigg, 
Harlan, the Bulgers, McBride, Gordon, were a terrible 
offering for that county to pay for the common defense. 
The cries of the widows and orphans and the sobs of 
mothers went up from every station in Fayette and half 
of those in Lincoln, and gloom, distrust, and disquietude 
brooded over the whole territory. 

During the 20th, 21st, 22d, 23d, and part of the 
Logan and his command remained at Bryant's. 

The spirit of the bravest men seemed cowed. The 
blow the savages had given was so tremendous and so 
stunning that none seemed to recover from its force. 
Andrew Steele* in his quaint words told the story thus; 
"To express the feelings of the inhabitants of both the 
Counties at this KuefuT scene of unjiaralleled Barbarities 
barre all words and cuts Description short." 

With the list of honored and brave dead and the roll 

* Sec Appendix N. 

The Battle of the Bhie Licks. 65 

of those hitherto invincible recoihng before the Indians, 
it seemed unwise again to face such an enemy, and the 
stoutest hearts hesitated before again grappUng with such 

The friends of the dead both in Lincoln and Fayette 
were now clamoring for news from the battle-field, and on 
the 24th Colonel Logan, with five hundred men, began 
the march for the Licking. On the morning of the 25 th 
they commenced the descent into the valley. Long 
before they caught sight of the hills on the eastern 
bank, where here and there vision broke through the 
dense shade of the trace, they saw high in the air great 
troops of winged scavengers swarming and sailing over 
the battle-ground, and these told in unmistakable signs 
of the shocking sights soon to greet their eyes. 

In the river, in the valley, on the hillside, on the 
ridge, it was the same terrible, harrowing sight of savage 
desecration. Brothers, relations, and friends began the 
eager search of mutilated forms, but only in a few 
instances could identity be established. A common grave 
on the field where they had died was decreed them, and 
within a few feet of where Todd, Trigg, Harlan, and 
McBride had fallen, on the side of the ridge where the 
left wing had felt the shock of the fierce storm and the 
quick assault with the blade, the thin earth was scraped 

66 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

awav. A stone wall, forty feet in len<;th and four feet 
hi'^li, was built, and in behind this the bodies of the gal- 
lant slain were sepulchered; over them were thrown rocks, 
loiis, and brush, and the stor\' of the Blue Licks was 
closed. * 

Logan marched back to ] -Bryant's Station, reaching 
there the 2(3th, and on the day before Caldwell and 
McKee had reached Wakatamiki, now Zanesfield, L(;gan 
County, Ohio, one hundred and forty-two miles distant, 
and from there reported to their British masters of their 
bloody work. 

In short season after the battle the buffaloes, driven 
farther west by the presence of the white men, ceased 
their coming to the springs to which they had so long 
journeyed. Nature, sympathizing with the sadness and 
glory which centered around this treeless eminence, 
exerted its forces to hide the nakedness and ruin and 
clothe the sterile area with beautiful evergreens. It bade 
the cedar with its never-dying leaves and unchanging 
verdure to spring from the rocky soil and stand as a 
monument to the noble heroes who rest in death beneath 
its {protecting shades in unknown and unmarked graves. 
Over the once barren hillside this beautiful tree has 
grown in such luxuriant abundance as to cover every 

* See Appendix O. 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 67 

rock and crag with its perennial freshness, and those 
who approach it now look only upon a mountain of 
never-fading green ; fit emblem of the memory of the 
brave, chivalrous, and gallant men who here died for 

Appendix. 69 


Officers of Fayette County, Kentucky, to Governor 
Harrison, of Virginia. 

(Virginia Calendar, Volume 3, page 301.) 

Lexington, Fayettk co. Septein iith, 1782. 
Sir: The Officers, Civil as well as Military, of this County, 
beg the attention of your Excellency & the H'ble Council. The 
number of the Enemy that lately penetrated into our County, 
their Behavior; adding to this our late unhappy defeat at the Blue 
Licks, fill us with the greatest concern & anxiety. The Loss of 
our worthy officers & Souldiers who fell there the 19th of August, 
we sensibly feel and deem our situation truly Alarming. We can 
scarcely behold a spot of Earth, but what reminds us of the fall of 
some fellow adventurer massacred by Savage hands. Our number 
of militia decreases. Our widows & orphans are numerous, our 
officers and worthiest men fall a sacrifice. In short sir, our settle- 
ment, hitherto formed at the Expense of Treasure & much Blood 
seems to decline, & if something is not speedily done, we doubt 
will wholly be depopulated. The Executive we believe think often 
of us & wish to protect us, but Sir, we believe any military oper- 
ations that for 18 months have been carried on in consequence 
of Orders from the Executive, have rather been detrimental than 
Beneficial. Our Militia are called on to do duty in a manner 
that has a tendency to protect Jefferson County, or rather Louis- 
ville, a Town without Inhabitants, a Fort situated in such a man- 
ner, that the Enemy coming with a design to lay waste our Country, 
would scarcely come within one Hundred miles of it, & our own 
Frontiers open & unguarded. Our Inhabitants are discouraged, 
tis now near two years since the division of the County & no 
Surveyor h;us ever appeared among us, l)ut has by appointment 
from time to time deceived us. our principal expectations of 

JO The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

stren^h are from him. during his absence from the County 
Chiimants of Land disappear, when if otherwise, they would be an 
additional strength. 

W'c t-ntrcat tht; I*2.\ccutive to examine into the Cause, and 
remove it speedily. If it is tlujught impracticable to carry the 
war into the Enemy's Country, we beg the plan of building a 
Garrison at the mouth of Lime-stone & another at the mouth of 
Licking, formerly prescribed by your Excellency, might be again 
adopted and performed. A Garrison at the mouth of Limestone, 
would be a Landing place for adventurers from the Back parts of 
Pensyl'va cS: Virg'a, adjacent to a large Body of good Land which 
would be speedily settled — would be in the Enemy's principal cross- 
ing place, not more than fifty miles from Lexington our Largest 
settlement, & might readily be furnished with provition from above, 
till they would be supplied from our Settlements here. Major 
Netherland, we expect will deliver this, he will attend to give 
any particular information that may be deemed necessary. 

Humanity towards Inhabitants destitute of Hopes of any other 
aid, will surely induce your Excellency to spare from the interior 
parts of the State 200 men, and a few pieces of Artillery for 
those purposes above mentioned. 

We are Sir, yr. Excellency's mo't ob't & 
vy: H'ble Ser'nts 

Daniel Boone. 

Levi Todd. 

R. J. Patterson. 

B. Netherland. 

Eli Cleveland. 

Wm. Henderson. 

Wm. McConnall. 

John Craig. 

Wm. McConnell. 

Appendix. 7 1 

G. R. Clark to Governor Harrison. 

(Virginia Calendar, Volume 3, page 345.) 

Cove Spring, Lincoln County, October 18, 1782. 

Sir : Yours by Maj. Walls came safe to hand the 30th 
July. Nothing could be more timely than the cloathing, for 
desertion was so common, that I believe in a month more there 
would not have been a soldier left. The works at the Falls was 
forwarded by every means in our power, until they were supposed 
sufficiently strong to withstand any attack from their Enem}- but 
not yet compleat. 

Those preparations that were made and the measure taken to 
let the Enemy know that we were fully acquainted with their 
design (which in fact we were) I believe has saved the Western 
Country, by their losing all hopes of Reducing the falls, divided 
their force, sent some to Weeling, and the main body to make a 
diversion on Fayette County. And had it not have been for that 
Imprudent affair at the blue licks, the country would have sus- 
tained very little damage. I learn Col: Logan has sent you a 
full acct. of the whole transaction. The Conduct of those 
unfortunate Gents was Extremely reprehensible. The Enemy con- 
tinue to sculk in small parties in different parts of the country 
but do little damage at present. The movements of the Enemy 
last Spring and Summer put it entirely out of our Power to Estab- 
lish the posts at the mouth of Kentucky, licking, &c. , they may 
be begun this fall. 


A late stroke of your Excellency hath added greatly to the 
strength of this Country, That of ordering the delinquents of the 
Counties to do duty with the Regular troops in this Quarter; it 

/ -^ 

The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

will have most salutary Effects altho' few Examples ma)- be 
made. . . . The works at the falls was at the Expense of a 
considerable quantity of flour, as were Obliged to make a fund of 
it. The Gallee I had built answered the desig^n Exceedingly, and 
hath been of Infinite service. Our Circumstances would not admit 
of her being as Compleat as I could have wished, but I hope to 
have her so this fall. I have di.scovered that open small boats 
will by no means answer the purpose of Cruising on the River as 
they are often liable to be ambuscaded when they came near the 
shore, or in narrow parts of the River. But those on the Con- 
struction of the Gallee, where gunnils are four feet bullet proof 
with false Gunnils that play on strong hinges, Raise her sides so 
high that she can Lay within pistol shot of the shore without the 
least danger. 

I have the honor to be D'r Sir, your Excellency's Devoted 
and very humble Serv't, &c. &c. 


Colonel S. Clark to Governor Harrison. 

(VirKiuia Calendar, Volume 3, page 385.) 

Lincoln, Ky., November 30, 1782. 

'* Colo. Todd's militia was excused from all other duty but that of 
keeping out proper scouts and spies on the Ohio and Elsewhare to 
discover the approach of the Enemy, to give time and to Imbody 
a sufficient force to Repell them, as it could not be previously 
done, not certainly knowing in what quarter they would make 
their stroke. instead of those necessary duties being done in 
which their saivaticm apparently depended, the Enimy was suf- 
fered to penetrate deliberately int<j the bowels of their Country 

Appendix. 73 

and make the attack before they ware discovered, this I believe 
is what is wished to be bhnded, and the neglect to be one of the 
principal springs to that mad pursuit and carnage of the Blue 
Licks, as the Reverse of fortune would have obliviated the former 
neglect. I must confess that I have been defitient in my duty in 
not given you an ac't of every circumstance attending this 
unhappy affair, but hope to be excused as it was onl}- owing to 
my Delicacy in affecting the memory of the gentlemen who Fell, 
not conceiving it to be of singular advantage to government, and 
knowing it would fix an Eternal Stigmy on others Characters, but 
as the Scale has turned to the amazement of many, I shall imme- 
diately collect every circumstance relative to the whole affair for 
you perutial." . . . He begs the governor not to listen to further 
complaints, and feels persuaded that if he knew ' ' the true char- 
acter of many of these Gentlemen" that he would never refer to 
them again. Gives as apology for this remark, the zeal he has 
for the public interest, and the estimate he has of his goodness. 
Referring again to the memorial from Fayette County, he adds, 
it was "to cover their misconduct, and a prelude to a Maj'rs 
Commission for a TrifBe and a Col's for a person something more 
deserving, to the prejudice of a valuable man Mr. Swearingin, 
their former Major who had been absent for some time and was 
Dayly expected, which would have prevented their design, to 
my certain knowledge they now dread the Execution of what a 
few of them were deluded to pray for again. Col: Donoldson, 
who was last spring chairman of the Committee that endeavored 
to subvert the Government and cost us soe much trouble to 
overset, since bearing an important Commission, eScc. " 

74 l^ic Battle of the Blue Licks. 

Andrew Steele to the Governor of Virginia. 

(Virginia ('alendar, Volume 3. page 303.) 

Fayette County, Kentucky, Lexington, Septeiu 12th, 1782. 

Sir: The present Important & allannin^ Crisis claim the 
serious attention & mature Deliberation of Your Excellency (5v: the 
Honorable House. The frequent Incursions & Hostile Depredations 
of a Savage Enem)' uptjn our Exterior Posts, our Dispersed Legions, 
our veteran army defeated, our Widows Tears & orphan3 cries grate 
strongly on the Ear, nay Thunder at the Door of your Council, 
not only for acts of consideration, but Protection & redress. 

To express the feelings of the Inhabitants at the Ruefull scenes 
of Barbarities daily perpetrated amongst us, barrs all words & cut 
Description short. So fatal is the stroke that a second similar to 
that we ha%e already Rec'd will close the Catastrophy & Term- 
inate the Intire Devastation of our County. I would beg leave to 
inform you that annually since the seventeen Hund'd & seventy- 
eight, an army of not less than three Hund'd Saveges Infested our 
Territories & since seventy-six. Eight Hundred & sLxty Effective 
men fell, the matchless massacread victims of their unprecendented 
Cruelty. A few of the primitive adventurers yet sur\'ive, who sup- 
plicate your Excellencies Immediate Interposition in their behalf, 
in granting them such strength, as may enable them to carrj^ on 
an offensive war, or at least Act in the Defensive with safety, for 
if some mode of preservation is not speedily adopted tlie welthy 
will forti'.with Emigrate to the Interior parts of the Settlement & 
the Poor to the Spaniards. Dreadful alternative! ! Nature recoils 
at the thought! — further, from the Jc.dous apprehension of the 
Inhabitants I am under the DisagreeahK; necessity of Informing 
your Excellency that from the Detainour of our County Surveyor 

Appendix. 75 

(from whom their greatest Expectations of strength was derived) 
they are Induced to believe you have either withdrawn that Paternal 
care which they have long Rely'd on or rather the Executive Body 
are Dubious of the authenticity of their claim to those Western 
Territories — I would also observe that the many Military Opera- 
tions hitherto Effected, or rather intended for our safety (the Seven- 
teen Hundred & Eighty Indian Expedition excluded, the Honour 
whereof is Justly due to the militia) have centered at Louisville, 
a Town distant one Hund'd miles from the Center of our County, 
to which together with Fort Jefferson, Elinois & St. Vincennes, 
may the Innormous Expence of the Western frontiers be Attrib- 
uted & not to the Counties of Kanetucky, which in competition 
would be less than a Mathematical Point. To conclude, Permit 
us, once more the Indigent Offspring of an oppulent father, if not 
Equally to share, yet to partake of your Kind patronage & Pro- 
tection & beg you would adopt such measures as your Superior 
wisdom mey suggest to Promote the Peace, welfare & Tranquility 
of your Suppliants in particular & the Interest of the Common- 
wealth in Genl. Then shall we Congratulate ourselves in having 
you the Illustrious Patron & Protector of our Lives, Laws & Relig- 
ious Liberties, when the annals of History will rank your name 
among the Bravest & Wisest Politicians & Gratitude like a Torrent 
v^ll flow from the Heart of every Kanetuckian, whilst we Experi- 
ence with what firmness you have supported our interest. Our 
universal Joy & fervent Expressions of Allegiance & Gratitude. 

These public Testimonials of our Felicities will be Too con- 
vincing Proofs to Require any argument to support them. 

The Author begs leave to subscribe himself a Friend to the 
Commonwealth & your Excellency's most obed't humbl. Servant. 

76 The Battle of the Blue Lieks. 

appp:ni)1x k. 

Extract from Boone's Letter to Governor Harrison. 

(Calendar uf Virf^inia Stutr Papers, Volume 3, paije 280.) 

See also report of Logan. " 1 am inclined to believe that 
when Your Excellency and Council become acquainted with the 
military operations in this country, that you will not think them 
so properly conducted as to answer the general interests of Ken- 
tucky. From the accounts we had received by prisoners, who 
had escaped this Spring, we were confident of an invasion from 
the Detroit Indians. Common safety then made some scheme of 
defense necessary for which purpose I was called upon by General 
Clark to attend a council, and after consulting matters it was 
determined to build a fort at the mouth of Licking, and shortly I 
received his order for one hundred men to attend this business 
with a certain number from Fayette. Before the day of rendez- 
vous, I was instructed to send the men to the Falls of the Ohio in 
order to build a strong garrison and a row galley, thus by weak- 
ening one end to strengthen another, the upper part of the coun- 
tr}' was left exposed and the enemy, intercepting our designs, 
brought their intended expedition against the frcMitiers of Fayette." 
Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Volume 3, page 281. 

See also address of Civil and Military Officers of Fayette 
County: "The executives, we believe, think often of us and wish 
to protect us. But sir, we believe an)- militar}- operations that 
for eighteen months have been carried on in consequence of 
orders from the executive, have rather been detrimental than 
beneficial. Our militia are called on to do duty in a manner that 
has a tendency to j)rotect Jefferson County, or rather, Louisville, a 
town without inhabitants, a fort situtated in such a manner that the 
enemy, coming with the desi^^u to !a\' waste our rountr\', will .scarcely 

Appendix. 77 

come within one hundred miles of it, and our own frontiers open 
and unguarded." Virginia State Papers, Volume 3, page 301. 

Nor was General Clark slow to express his dissatisfaction of 
the conduct of the officers in charge at Blue Licks. He thought 
the sacrifice the result of imprudence and recklessness, and he has- 
tened to inform the Governor of Virginia that the responsibility 
in the matter was none of his. 

See also letter of General Clark to Governor Harrison, dated 
Cove Spring, Lincoln County, October 18, 1782: "Had it not 
been for that imprudent affair at the Blue Licks the country 
would have sustained very little damage. I learn Colonel Logan 
has sent you a full account of the whole transaction. The con- 
duct of these unfortunate gents was extremely reprehensible. 
The enemy continued to skulk in small parties in different parts 
of the country, but do little damage at present." The Calendar 
of Virginia State Papers, Volume 3, page 345. 

See also letter, Clark to Governor Harrison, dated Lincoln 
County, November 30, 1782: "Colonel Todd's militia was ex- 
cused from all other duty but that of keeping out proper scouts 
and spies on the Ohio and elsewhere to discover the approach 
of the enemy, to give time and to embody a sufficient force to 
repel them, as it could not be previously done, not certainly know- 
ing in what quarter they would make their stroke. Instead of 
those necessary duties being done, in which their salvation appar- 
ently depended, the enemy was suffered to penetrate deliberately 
into the bowels of their country and make the attack before they 
were discovered. This, I believe, is what is wished to be blinded 
and the neglect to be one of the principal springs to that mad pur- 
suit and carnage of the Blue Licks, as the reverse of fortune 
would have obliviated the former neglect." The Calendar of Vir- 
ginia State Papers, i>age 385. 

yS The Battle of the Blue Licks. 


Extract of a Lettlik ikom Captain Caldwell, Dated at 
Wakitamiki, August 26, 17S2. 

(Haldimanil l*;ipers, Series H, Volume 1 2.^, paKC 2970 

When I hist h:i(i llic pleasure of writing }<)U I expected to have 
struck at Wheeling as I was on my march for that })lacc, but was 
overtaken by a messenger from the Shawnese who informed me the 
enemy was on their march for their country which obliged me to 
turn their way, and to my great mortification found the alarm false 
iuui that it was owing to a Gondals coming up to the mouth of 
Licking Creek and landing some men upon the South side of the 
Ohio which when the Indians saw supposed it must be Clark. It 
would have been a lucky circumstance if they had come on as I had 
eleven hundred Indians on the ground and three hundred within a 
days march of me. When the report was contradicted they mostly 
left us. Many of them had left their towns no ways equipped 
for war, as they expected as well as myself to fight in a few 
days ; notwithstanding I was determined to pay the enemy a 
visit with as many Indians as w.ould follow me: accordingly I 
crosseil the Ohio with three hundred Indians and rcmgers and 
marched for Bryants Station, Kentuck, and surrounded the Fort 
the 15th in the morning, and tried to draw 'em out by sending 
up a small party to try to take a prisoner and shew themselves, 
but the Indians were in too great a hurry and the whole shewed 
tofj soon. I then saw it was in \ain tcj wait any longer antl 
so drew nigh the Fort, burnt 3 houses which are part of the 
Fort but the wind being contrary prevented it having the desired 
effect. Killed upwards of 300 hogs, 1 50 head of cattle and a num- 
ber of sheep, took a number of horses, pulled up and destroyed 
their potatoes, cut down a great deal of their com, burnt 

Appendix. 79 

their hemp and did other considerable damage. By the Indians 
exposing themselves too much we had 5 killed and 2 wounded. 

We retreated the i6th, and came as far as Riddle's former 
Station, when nigh 100 Indians left me as they went after their 
things they left at the Forks of Licking and I took the road by 
the Blue Licks as it was nigher and the ground more advantageous 
in case the enemy should pursue us, got to the Licks on the 17th 
and encamped. 

On the 1 8th, in the morning one of my party that was watch- 
ing the Road came in and told me the enemy was within a mile 
of us, upon which I drew up to fight them. At half past seven 
they advanced in three Divisions in good order, they had spied 
some of us and it was the very place they expected to overtake 
us. We had but fired one Gun till they gave us a volley and 
stood to it very well for some time, till we rushed in upon them, 
when they broke immediately. We pursued for about two miles, 
and as the enemy was mostly on horseback, it was in vain to follow 

We killed and took one hundred and Forty six. Amongst the 
killed is Col. Todd the Commander, Col. Boon, Lt. Col. Trigg, 
Major Harlin who commanded their Infantry, Major Magara and 
a number more of their Officers. Our loss is Monsr. LaBute 
killed; he died like a warrior fighting arm to arm, six Indians 
killed and ten wounded. The Indians behaved extremely well and 
no people could behave better than both Officers and men in general. 
The Indians I had with me were the Wyandots and Lake Indians. 
The Wyandots furnished me with what provision I wanted, and 
behaved extremely well. 

Endorsed: — Entered in Book marked B No. 3 Page 31 Extract 
of a letter from Capt. Caldwell to Major De Peyster, dated at 
Wakitamiki Aug. 26th, 1782. 

Bo The Battle of the Blue Licks. 


CoLONKL Levi Todd to CioviiUNoK Hakuison and Council. 

'VirKioiit Calendar, Vohuii« 3, paso 300.) 

Lkxinoton, Faykttk CoiNTY, Kentccky, ScpteiiiluT iith, 1782. 

Sir: Enclosed is a ccjp}' of tlic Recoinincndations made at 
our last court; so great a change proceeds from a cause truly lament- 
able, the Loss of our County Lieutenants, and a number of subaltans 
at the late attacks, but particularly at our defeat at the Blue Licks 
when the Enemy put us wholly to the Rout — the circumstances 
& particulars are these — On the i6th of August a party of Indians 
appeared at Brjants & b}' their behavoir a large Party was sup- 
posed to lie around the Fort. An Express was sent here, my 
Brother being absent, I went with about 30 men Discovery and 
force my way into the Fort, near Bryants I was joined with about 
10 more, finding the enemy lay round, we attempted forcing our 
way. 17 men on Horseback rushed in, the greater part of rest 
being on foot were prevented and overpowered, obliged to seek 
safety by flight with the loss of one killed cS: 3 wounded, one of 
which died the ne.xt morning — I immediately despatched an Express 
to Col: Trigg the highest officer in Lincoln, demanding assistance, 
& also Notice to Colo. Jno. Todil then in Lincoln. 

The Enemy commanded by Simon Girty made an attempt to 
fire the Fort, but were prevented with much Loss. They however 
kept up a smart fire till the morning of the 17th when they went 
of? — the same evening Col: Jno: Todd & Colo. Trigg arrived with a 
party of men, wh(j with what \\c could raise soon made 170. On 
the morning of the iSth wc j)ursiu'(i on their Trail. On the morn- 
ing of the 19th we came within sight of the Enemy about ^ of a 
mile, north of the lower Blue Licks — we dismounted & began the 
attack with vigour, from our left the enemy retreated & we gained 

Appendix. 8i 

ground. Our right within a minute or two gave way & found them- 
selves to be flanked by the enemy. Our line then gradually gave 
way from our Right to our Left till the whole broke in Confusion. 
The action lasted about five minutes. Our loss as near as we can 
ascertain is sixty-six, among whom were our commanding officer Col: 
John Todd, Col: Trigg, Capts: Gordon, McBride, Kinkaid & Over- 
ton, Major Harlan, Major Bulger (who since died of his wounds) 
Mr. Jos: Lindsay & several gentlemen of note — the Enemy we sup- 
pose consisted of three or four Hundred — they took some prisoners, 
we suppose tho' very few, upwards of 40 were found, but we think a 
number more lay near the Battle ground. The Enemy must have 
suffered considerably, a great part of our men fought with much 
Resolution & Activity. The conduct of the Officers is by some cen- 
sured & charged with want of prudence in attacking at any Rate, but 
as we had no chance to know their number, we thought ours was not 
much Inferior & supposed we should by a fierce attack throw them 
in confusion & break their Lines. We are much alarmed in this 
County & fear the Consequence will be very detrimental if govern- 
ment cannot give assistance, tho' our great dependence is that if the 
County surveyor would attend, we should be strengthened with addi- 
tional settlers not a few. 

I am Sir, Your Excellency's most obedient & very Humble 
serv'nt &c. &c. 


From Canadian Archives — Colonial Offick Records. 
Series II, Volume 20, Page 288. 

Sir: My letter of the 22nd. and 23rd. of July informed you 
of the reports brought us of the enemy's motions at that time 
which was delivered by the Chiefs of the Standing Stone Village 

82 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

and confirmed by Belts and strings of Wampum in so earnest a 
manner that could not but gain credit with us. We had upon 
this occasion the greatest Body of Indians collected to an advan- 
tageous piece of ground near the Priowee Village that have been 
assembled in this Quarter since the commencement of the War 
and perhaps may never be in higher spirits to engage the enemy 
when the return of Scouts from the Ohio informed us that the 
accounts we had received was false. This disappointment not- 
withstanding all our endeavors to keep them together occasioned 
them to disperse in disgust with each other; the inhabitants of 
the country who were the most immediately interested in keeping 
in a body were the first that broke off and tho' we advanced 
towards the Ohio with upwards of three hundred Hurons and Lake 
Indians, few of Delawares, Shawnese or Mingoes followed us. On 
our arrival at the Ohio we remained still in uncertainty with 
respect to the enemy's motions, and it was thought best from 
hence to send Scouts to the Falls, and that the main Body 
should advance into the enemy's country and endeavor to lead 
out a party from some of their Forts by which we might be able 
to gain some certain Intelligence ; accordingly we crossed the 
Ohio and arrived the i8th. inst. at one of the enemy's settle- 
ments called Bryan's Station, but the Indians discovered their 
numbers prevented their coming out and the Lake Indians finding 
this rushed up to the Fort and set several out houses on lire but 
at too great a distance to touch the Fort, the wind blowing the 
contrary way. The firing continued this day during which time 
a Party of about twenty of the enemy approached a part that 
happened not to be guarded and about one half of them reached 
it the rest being drove back by a few Indians who were near the 
place. The next morning finding it to no purpose to keep up a 
fire longer upon the P'ort as we were getting men killed and 

Appendix. 83 

had already several men wounded, which were to be carried, the 
Indians determined to retreat and the 20th. reached the Blue 
Licks where we encamped near an advantageous Hill and expect- 
ing the enemy would pursue determined here to wait for them 
keeping spies at the Lick who in the morning of the 2 1 st. dis- 
covered them and at half past seven o'clock we engaged them and 
in a short time totally defeated them. We were not much 
superior to them in numbers, they being about two hundred 
picked men from the settlement of Kentucky commanded by the 
Colonels Todd, Trigg, Boone and Todd, with the Majors Harling 
and McGary most of whom fell in the action ; from the best 
inquiry I could make upon the spot, there was upwards of one 
hundred and forty killed and taken with near an hundred rifles, 
several being thrown into a deep River that were not recovered. 

It was said by the Prisoners that a Colonel Logan was 
expected to join them with one hundred men more ; we waited 
upon this ground to day for him, but seeing there was not much 
probability of his coming we set off and crossed the Ohio the 
second day after the action. Capt. Caldwell and I arrived at 
this place last night with a design of sending some assistance to 
those who are bringing in the wounded people who are fourteen 
in number. We had ten Indians killed with Mr. LeBute of the 
Indian Department, who by sparing the life of one of the enemy 
and endeavoring to take him prisoner lost his own. To our dis- 
appointment we find no provisions brought forward to this place 
or likelyhood of any for some time and we have entirely subsisted 
since we left this on what we get in the woods and took from 
the enemy. 

The Prisoners all agree in their account that there is no talk 
of an expedition from that Quarter, nor indeed are they able 
without assistance from the Colonies, and that the militia of the 

84 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

country have been employed during the summer in building the 
Fort ;it the falls and what they call a Ro\v-(ialley which has 
made one trip up the river to the mouth of the big Miami imd 
occasioned that alarm that created us so iiuich trouble. She 
carries one Six Pounder, six four Pounders and two, two Pound- 
ers and rows eighty (jars. She had at the Big Bone Lick one 
hundred men, but being chiefly draughts from the Militia many 
of them left her on different parts of the River. One of the 
Prisoners mentions the arrival (jf Boats lately from Fort Pitt and 
that letters have passed between the commanding officer of that 
place and Mr. Clarke intimating that preparation is making there 
for another expedition into the Indian Country. 

We have since our arrival heard something of this matter and 
that the particulars have been forwarded to you. A Detachment 
of Rangers with a large Party of Delawares and Shawnese are gone 
that way who will be able to discover the truth of this matter. 

I am this day favored with yours of the 6th. August contain- 
ing the report of Isaac Zeans concerning the cruelties of the 
Indians. It is true they have made sacrifices to their revenge 
after the massacre of their women and children some being 
known to them to be perpetrators of it, but it was done in my 
absence or before I could reach any of the places to interfere, 
and, I can assure you, sir, that there is not a white Person here 
wanting in their duty to represent to the Indians in the strongest 
terms the highest abhorrence of such conduct as well as the bad 
consequences that may attend it to both them and us being 
contrary to the rule of carrying on war by civilized Nations. 
However it is not impracticable that Zeans may have exaggerated 
matters greatly being notoriously known for a disaffected Person 
and concerned in sending Prisoners away with Intelligence to the 
Enemy at the time Capt. Bird came (nit as we were then informed. 

Appendix. 85 

I flatter myself that I may by this time have an answer to 
the Letter I had the honor of writinj^ to the Commander in Chief 
on leaving Detroit. 

Mr. Elliott is to be the bearer of this who will be able to give 
you any further Information necessary respecting matters here. 

I am with respect Sir, Your most obedt. and very humble 
Servant, (Signed) A. McKee. 

Shawanese Country, August 28th. 1782. Major De Peyster. 

Indorsed 5 1782 From Capt. A. McKee to Major De Peyster, 
Datd. Augt. 28th. 1782. In Govr. Haldimand's No. 5 23rd. Oct. 

Colonel Daniel Boone to the Governor of Virginia. 

(Virginia Calendar, Volume 3, page 275.) 

Fayette County, Boone's Station, August 30, 1782. 

Sir: A Circumstances of affairs Causes me to write to your 
Excellency as follows. On the i6th of this Instant, a large num- 
ber of Indians with some white men, attacted one of our fronteer 
Stations, known by the name of Bryan's Station. The seige con- 
tinued from about Sunrise til ten oclock the next Day, then they 
marched off. Notice being given to the Different Stations adja- 
cent, we Immediately collected 181 Horsemen commanded by Colo. 
Jno: Todd: Including some of the Lincoln County Militia Com- 
manded by Colo. Trigg, and having pursued about 40 miles, on 
the 19th Instant we Discovered the Enemy Lying in wait for us, 
on Discovery of which we formed our Column into one Single Line 
and marched up in their front within about forty yards before 
there was a gim fired: Col: Trigg on the right, my Self on the 
Left, Major McGary in the centre, Major Harlin with the advance 
party in the front — and from the manner we had formed, it fell 

86 The Battle of tJie Blue Licks. 

to my lot to brinf^ on the attack, which was done with a very 
heavy on both Sides: and extended back the lines to Colo: Trigg, 
where the Enemy was so strong that they rushed up and broke 
the right wing at the first fire. Su the Enemy was immediately 
on our backs, so we were obliged to Retreat with the loss of yj 
of our men and 12 wounded. Afterwards we were Reinforced by 
Colo. Logan, which with our own men amounted to 460 Light 
Horse, with which we marched to the Battle ground again. But 
found the enemy were gone off. So we proceeded to bury the 
dead — which were 43 found on the ground, and many more we 
Expect Lay about that we did not see, as we Could not Tarry to 
search verj' close, being Both Hungry and weary, and some what 
Dubious that the enemy might not be gone quite off, and by what 
discover}' we could make we conclude the number of Indians to 
exceed 400 — now the whole of our militia of this County does not 
exceed 130. By this, your Excellency may draw an idea of our 
circumstance. I know Sir, that your Situation at present is some- 
thing critical. But are we to be totally forgotten. I hope not. 
I trust about 500 men sent to our assistance Immediately, and 
them to be stationed as our County Lieutenants shall see most 
necessaiy, may be the saving of this our part of the Country, 
but if you put them under the Direction of Genl: Clarke, they 
will be Little or no Service to our Settlement, as he lies 100 
miles West of us, and the Indians north East, and our men are 
often called to the Falls to guard them. I have encouraged the 
people here in this County all that I could, but I can no longer 
Encourage my neighbors, nor myself to risque our Lives here at 
such Extraordinary hazzards. The Inhabitants of these Counties 
are very much alarmed at the thoughts of the Indians bringing 
another Campaign into our Country this fall, which if it should be 
the case, will Break these settlements. So I hope your Excel- 

Appendix, 87 

lency will take it into consideration and send us some Relief as 
quick as possible. 

This Sir, is my sentiments without consulting any person. I 
expect Colo. Logan will immediately send to you by Express. By 
whom I most humbly Request your Excellencies answer, mean- 
while I remain, Sir, 

Your Excellency's most obedient Humbl. Serv't. 
A List of the Slain — Colo. Jno. Todd, Lieuts: Rogers, 

Colo. Trigg, McQuire, 

Maj : Harlin. Hinson. 

Capts: — Gordon, Officers, lo 

" Kincade, Privates, 67 

' ' McBride, 


Wounded 12 


Hugh McGary. — McGary never himself entered into any writ- 
ten defense of his conduct in this battle. Newspapers in that day 
were unknown in the State, and his only chance to justify his con- 
duct would be by oral explanation. 

Forty years after the battle McClung in his Sketches gives the 
statement of a gentleman who had conversed with McGary as to his 
part in the action. This gentleman related that he met McGary 
several years after the battle, at one of the circuit courts, and in 
conversation McGary acknowledged that he was the immediate cause 
of the battle, and with great heat and energy endeavored to justify 
himself. He asserted that in the council at Bryant's Station the 
night before the march he strenuously urged Todd and Trigg to 
await Logan's coming, telling them the Indians would not make 

88 The Battle of the Bine Licks. 

a precipitate retreat. He said Todd scouted his advice, claiming 
that a single day lost would enable the Indians to cross the river 
and escape; that the time to strike them was while they were in 
a body; that the talk of their numbers was nonsense, the more 
the merrier, and that he was resolved to pursue at once, and that 
there were brave men enough on the ground to enable him to 
attack with effect. 

This nettled him, and he joinetl eagerly in the pursuit, and 
when they came in sight of the enemy, and Todd and Trigg 
began to talk about numbers, position, and Logan, he burst into 
a passion and cursed them for a set of cowards, and swore that 
as they had come so far for a fight they should have it, and that 
they should fight or he would disgrace them; that now it should 
be shown who had courage or who were d — d cowards, and 
that he then dashed into the river and called upon all who were 
not cowards to follow him. 

McGary spoke, the gentlemen said, with bitterness of Todd 
and Trigg, and swore they had received what they deserved, and 
he, for one, was glad of it. 

This story was wisely withheld f<jr forty years after the battle. 
McGary's subsequent conduct was not such as to restore him to 
public favor. The atrocious murder of Moluntha in 1786, when 
with Logan on his invasion of the Indian town in Ohio, stamps 
him as cruel, base, and brutal, and the declaration that in the 
presence of their troops he cursed Todd and Trigg and denounced 
them as cowards will never be credited upon either second hand 
or first hand statement of McGary. 

The failure to find his name connected in any prominent transac 
tion in the history of Kentucky during his after life is demonstra- 
tion that his conduct was condemned by those who were his 

Appendix. 89 


Extract of a Letter from Colonel Levi Todd to his Brother, 
Captain Robert Todd. 

(Virginia Calendar, Volume 3, page 333.) 

Lexington, Aug: 26th, '82. 

On the 1 6th Instant, in the morning an Express arrived 
from Bryant's Station informing us it was expected a Body of 
Indians lay round the Fort. I set off with 30 men to see if it 
was so, and before I got there (which is five miles distant) was 
joined by 10 men from Daniel Boones. I found the Place sur- 
rounded & intended to force our way in. Seventeen of the foremost 
Horsemen rushed in ; but being attacked at the mouth of a Lane ; 
the remainder, some on Horseback, and myself and Ten others on 
Foot, were forced to retreat, leaving one man killed, and having 
three wounded, one of whom died next morning, but the other 
two will recover. 

Our Brother being over in Lincoln, I sent Expresses there 
desiring assistance. In the mean time, the Indians made a violent 
attack upon Bryants Fort and continued it all day & night: and 
a storm was expected. However they met with some Loss, and on 
the morning of the 17th went off. In the Evening, our Brother, 
Col: Trigg, and Major Macgary came with 130 men. On the 
morning of the i8th we collected 182 men all on Horseback, and 
pursued the Enemy till 8 o'clock in the morning of the 19th, 
when we got sight of them forming in a Ridge in a Loop of the 
River, about three Quarters of a Mile North of the lower blue 
Lick and over the Licking. We had then pursued about 40 
miles. We rode up within 60 yards, dismounted, gave and sus- 
tained a heavy and general Fire. The ground was equally favorable 
to both Parties and the Timber good. The left wing rushed on 

90 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

& gainL(i near lOO yards of ground. But the Right gave way, 
and the Enemy soon flanked us on that side, upon which the 
center gave way & shifted behind the left wing. And immediately 
the whole broke in confusion After the Action had lasted about 
five minutes. Our men suffered much in the Retreat, many 
Indians having mounted our men's Horses, haveing open woods 
to pass through to the River, and several were killed in the River. 
Several efforts were made to rally, but all in Vain. He that could 
remount a horse was well off, and he that could not saw no time 
for delay. Our Brother received a Ball in his left Breast, and 
was on Horseback when the men broke. He took a course I 
thought dangerous, and as I never saw him afterwards, I suppose 
he never got over the River. Col: Trigg, Major Harlin, Major 
Bulger, Captains McBride, Gordon, KinKead and Overton fell upon 
the ground, also our friend James Brown. Our number missing 
is about seventy-five. I think the number of the Enemy was at 
least 300, but many of the men think five hundred. Colo. Logan 
with 500 men went to the ground on the 24th, and found & 
buried about 50 of our dead men. They were all stript naked, 
scalped & mangled in such a manner that it was hard to know 
one from another. Our Brother was not known. 

As people in different parts of the Country will be anxious to 
know the names of the Killed, I will add a List of what I can 
now remember — 

Colo. John Todd, Col: Stephen Trigg — Major Silas Hardin, 
Major John and Edward Bulger — Captains Wm. McBride, John 
Gordon, Joseph Kinkead, and Cluff Overton — Lieutenants Wm. 

Givens, John Kenncday & Rogers — Ensign John MacMurtry. 

Privates — Francis McBride, John Price, James Ledgerwood, John 
Wilson, Isaac MacCracken, Lewis Rose, Mathias Rose, Hugh Cun- 
ningham, Jesse Yoeum, William Eadds, Esau Corn, William Smith, 

Appendix. 91 

Henry Miller, Ezekiel Field, John Folley, John Fry, Val Stern, 
Andrew MacConnell, James Broown (Surgeon), William Harris, 
William Stewart, William Stevens, Charles Ferguson, John Will- 
son, John O'Neal, John Stapleton, Dan'l Greggs, Jervis Green, 
Drury Policy, William Robertson, Gilbert Marshall, James Smith, 
and Joseph Lindsay. 

Colonel Arthur Campbell to Colonel William Davies. 

(Virginia Calendar, Volume 3, page 337.) 

Washington County, Virginia, October 3rd, 1782. 

Sir : From Colonel Christian and the accounts sent by 
Major Netherland, the Executive may be fully informed of the 
State of the War in the Kentucky Country. What if it should 
be the policy of the British Ministry to drive in from the other 
side the Apalachian mountain before the signing the preliminaries 
of peace. 

At any rate they are united the Savage Tribes, and endeav- 
oring to sow the seeds of deep laid animosity, which will lengthen 
the Indian war to a longer period than most imagine. Nothing 
now will put an end to it, but a decided blow in the enemy's 
country, and a peace given them in the hour of their panic and 
misfortune, afterwards conducted by a proper Superintendency, or 
that Canada becomes ours, or our Allies. 

The method of arming and arraying our militia ought to be 
varied. The Bayonet and Scymeter must be introduced to enable 
us now to face the Indians. And Evolutions suited to the woods 
should be learned by both Foot and Horse. All our late defeats 
have been occasion thro' neglect of these, and a want of a proper 
authority and capacity in the Commanding Officers. Never was 
the lives of so many valuable men lost more shamefully than in 

92 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

the late action of the 19th of Au^njst, and that not a little thro* 
the vain and seditious expressions of a Majtjr McGeary. How 
much more hami than good can one fool do. Todd & Trig^^ had 
capacity, but wanted experience. Boone, Harlin and Lindsay had 
experience, but were defective in capacity. Good, however, would 
it have been, had their advice been followed. Logan is a dull, 
narrow body, from whom nothing clever need be expected. What 
a figure he exhibited at the head of near 500 men to reach the 
field of action six days afterwards, and hardly wait to bury the 
dead, and when it was plain, part of the Indians were still in the 
Country. Genl. Clarke is in that country, but he has lost the c(jn- 
fidence of the people, and it is said become a Sot ; perhaps some- 
thing worse. 

The chance is now against General Irvine's succeeding ; dis- 
appointed in Clark's co-operation, which he was promised, and it 
is said set out with only 1,200 men. Simon Girty can outnum- 
ber him ; and flushed with so many victories, to his natural bold- 
ness, he will be confident. 

This state of our Western Affairs calls for the united wis- 
dom and most serious attention of the Executive. 

The Carolinas are gone on with their Expedition against 
those Cherokees,* they say that gives an asylum to Tories. 

I ^\^sh they may succeed, but still dread the consequence of 
multiplying our Enemies. Two Chickasaw Chiefs have been at 
the Carolina settlement on the Shawanee or Cumberland River, 
from thence they came to our settlement on Kentucky. Peace 
arc their profession, but complain of our making settlement at the 
Iron Bank, on the Mississippi. 

I esteem your person, and like your politicks, therefore send 
you this communication, merely for your private information. 

I am, sir, with usual respect }our very humble servant, etc. 

Appendix, 93 


Colonel Benjamin Logan to Governor Harrison, giving an 
Account of the Disaster at Blue Licks. 

(Virginia Calendar, Volume 3, page 280.) 

Lincoln County, August 31st, 1782. 
Sir : I beg leave to present your Excellency & Council with 
one of the most melancholly events that has happened in all this 
Western Country. On the 14th inst., Captain Holden, from Fay- 
ette, pursued a party of Indians who had made prisoners of a 
couple of boys in his neighborhood ; he overtook them and was 
repulsed with the loss of four men. On the i6th, a considerable 
army appeared before Bryant's Station, Under the command of 
the noted Simon Girty, and many other white men ; they attacked 
the Station closely, and defeated different parties endeavoring to 
throw in assistance, but without much loss on our side. An 
Express was immediately dispatched to Col: John Todd, who at 
that time was in this County in the neighborhood of Col: Trigg. 
On the 17th, at night, I received a letter from Col: Trigg, wherein 
he informed me of what had passed. Orders were immediately 
given for every man to turn out, and on Sunday, the i8th, I 
crossed the Kentucky with a considerable detachment, & the day 
after arrived at Bryant's, where I understood the Indians had 
raised the seige & were followed by Col: John Todd, with 135 
of the Lincoln militia under Col: Trigg, and 45 of the Fayette 
under Col. Bowman. Dreading the consequences that might ensue 
from this precipitate affair, I immediately pushed within a few 
miles from Bryant's. We were met by about 25 men, who 
informed — of a total defeat at the Big Blue Licks on Licking. I 
covered their retreat, and marched back to Bryant's, where I col- 
lected 470 men, and the 24th went to the battle-ground and buried 

94 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

43— our loss in this action is 50 missing from Lincoln, and 1 5 
from Fayette, among whom are Colls: Todd and Trigg (Trigg was 
quartered). Major Harlan, Capts: McBride. Gordon, Kinkaid & 
Overton, & Lieuts: Givings, Kennedy, McMartry, Rogers & McGuire, 
and Mr. Jc^seph Lindsay, our Commissary. 

From the situation of the ground, on which our men were 
drawn up on (the plan whereof I have taken the liberty to enclose) 
I hardly know how it was possible for any to escape. I am 
inclined to believe that when your Excellency & Council become 
acquainted with the military operation, in this country, that you 
will not think them so properly conducted, as to answer the gen- 
eral interest of Kentucky. From the accounts we have received 
by the prisoners who had escaped this spring, we were con- 
fident of an invasion from the Detroit Indians ; Common safety, 
then made some scheme of defense necessary; for which purpose, 
I was called upon by Genl: Clark to attend a Council, Jind after 
consulting matters, it was determined to build a Fort at the mouth 
of Licking — & shortly I received his orders for 100 men to attend 
this business, with a certain number from Fayette. Before the 
day of rendezvous, I was instructed to send the men to the Falls 
of Ohio, in order to build a strong Garrison, and a row Galley, 
thus by weakening one end to strengthen another, the upper part 
of the country was left exposed, and the enemy intercepting our 
designs, brought their intended expedition against the Frontiers of 
Fayette. The immense expenses incurred by the state in this 
western Country, we know is enough to prevent the Government 
from giving us any further aid ; but when your Excellency and 
Council are informed that the people have never been benefitted 
by those expenditures, we still hope your compassion will be 
extended to a detached, distressed part of your country, as it is 
not in the power of the People to answer the misapi">lication of any 

Appendix. 95 

thing by a proper officer. Genl: Irwin, commanding at Fort Pitt, 
as a continental officer might probably be more assistance to this 
country could he receive proper supplies from the state of Virginia, 
than any other measure that could be adopted — As he has the 
same enemies to encounter that trouble us, and stores of every 
kind seem to be of little account to us (ammunition excepted) — 
Col: Trigg being killed there is a Field officer wanting in this 
county: however I am at a loss how to proceed on the occasion, for 
all our magistrates have been killed except three; and there can 
be no Court to send a recommendation. Col: Harod formerly 
acted as a Colonel, and who agreeable to seniority ought to have 
received a commission, is now in being & I think a very proper 
person for that purpose. 

Before I conclude I must beg leave to suggest to your 
Excellency & Council, that a defensive war cannot be carried on 
with the Indians, and the Inhabitants remain in any kind of safety. 
For unless you can go to their towns and scourge them, they 
will never make a peace; but on the contrary keep parties con- 
stantly in your country to kill; and the plunder they get, answers 
them instead of Trade. Some days past, a white man, one Mr. 
Simon Burney, with his Indians, arrived at this place in company 
with two warriors, with talks from the Chickasaws nation — wherein 
they inform us of their desire to conclude a peace, and the reasons 
that urged them to war; which was Genl: Clarke's settling Fort 
Jefferson on their Hunting Grounds, without consulting them first, 
and are now enquiring for him. They own they have done mis- 
chief in this, as well as the infant settlement on Cumberland. 
Should your Excellency & Council think proper to hold a treaty 
with these People, Col: John Donelson, who has before served as 
an Agent for the state is willing to transact any business of that 

96 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

Since uiiting the fore^oinp^ lines, I have received certain 
information that Kinchelow's Fort in Jefferson was burned, and 
37 souls, made prisoners. Your Excellency & Council will please 
to indulfje nie a few moments longer, when I take the liberty to 
add the situation of 470 persons who surrendered themselves 
prisoners of war to a British Officer, then in command from 
Detroit, with a great number of Indians. As well as I recollect 
these unhappy people were captured in June 1780. And from 
authentick intelligence that we have received, they were actually 
divided in the most distressing manner that could be invented. 
Many of the men were taken to Detroit & their wives retained 
among the Indians as slaves. Some of the men are now at Mon- 
treal cSl others in different parts towards the Lakes. As the 
British were the perpetrators of this cruel piece of mischief. I 
think b}' the articles of the Cartel, for the exchange and relief of 
Prisoners taken in the Go: Department, and subsequent measures 
taken by the different commissioners for that purpose, it is their 
business immediately to deliver up in this country, at some Amer- 
ican Post, all the prisoners then taken — or retaliation be had 
on our part. Unless they are guarded back, they will never get 
through the Indian country. 

I have the honor to be &c. &c. &c. 

The diagram of the battle-ground contains the following note : 

" TIk: Indians kept the path from Bryants to the licks, and when 
Colo. Todd arrived at the Top of the hill on this side of the 
river, the enemy made a shew of ab't 30 in the bend. Our men 
marched over upon the Hill. The Indians had a very strong line 
in front which extended from one point of the river to the other. 
They had Hankers and also a party in the rear in order to pre- 
vent a retreat. As the river was very deep only at the licks and 

Appendix. 97 

the clifts so steep that a passage was impracticable only where 
they first marched in. thus circumstanced the Savages, sure of 
victory rushed immediately up and threw our men into confusion. 
What escaped returned mostly by way of the Lick, many were 
killed after they were made prisoners, as they were seen tied. 

"From Bryant's Station to the Blue licks ab't 40 miles & 
from thence to the Ohio ab't 20 or 25. The Bent of the river 
was generally ab't ^ mile over & from the top of the ridge each 
way made down small dreans. In these places lay many indians 
undiscovered until the attack begun. 

' ' It appears near all the warriors on this side of De Troit 
were on this expedition; some allow 600 or more. 

"Major Bulgar was mortally wounded, and is since Dead." 

Andrew Steele to Governor Harrison of Virginia. 

(Virginia Calendar, Volume 3, page 269.) 

Lexington, Ky. August 26, 1782. 

Sir. Through the Continued series of a Seven Years vices- 
situde, nothing has happened so alarming, fatal & Injurious to the 
Interest of the Kanetuckians in Particular & all its votaries in 
General, as the present Concatination of Hostilities, wherewith I 
am now to acquaint your Excellency. 

The Fifteenth of this Inst: Bryan's Station was Beseiged by 
a number of Indians, whereof I am not able to form a Just Esti- 
mate: the Attack continued warm for about Thirty Hours, During 
which Period, the Enemy burned several exterior Houses, killed 
three of our men & made large Depredations on the neat stock 
& Crop, they then Retired leaving three of their Savage party 
dead on the ground, besides a number circumstantially so. 

98 The Battle of the Blue Licks. 

The Seventeenth, we were Reinforced from Lincohi, with 
one hundred & fifty Horse men, Commanded by Lieut: Col: 
Stephen Trigj^ cS: Joined by a few of the Fayette Commanded by 
Col. Jno. Todd, who composed an Ariii\' of one Hundred & Eighty 
Two. We followed them to the Lower Blue Licks, where Ended 
the Direful Catastrophy. in short we were defeated — with the 
loss of seventy-five men — among whom fell our two Commanders 
with many other officers cSc soldiers (jf Distinguished Bravery. To 
express the feelings of the Inhabitants of bcjth the Counties at 
this Rueful! scene of hitherto unparalleled Barbarities Barre all 
words (St cuts Description short. 

The Twenty fifth, five hundred of the Lincoln militia com- 
manded by Colo. Benjamin Logan (who hitherto had neither 
been consulted nor solicited to our assistance) marched to the 
Battle ground in Expectation of a second Engagement, but the 
Enemy had march'd several Days before, from the order of 
their march, with many other accruing circumstances, their num- 
ber was supposed to be nearly six Hundred. 

Forty seven of our Brave Kenetuckians were found in the 
field, the matchless massacraed victims of their unprecedented 
Cruelt}' — We are led to conceive that none were captivated, 
from a number found at the crossing of the Creek tied & Butch- 
ered with knives & spears. 

Laboring under these Distressing Circumstances we rely on 
your goodness (actuated from a principle of Universal Benevo- 
lence which is the distinguishing Characteristic of the truly great 
& noble soul) that we will not only become the subjects of your 
commiseration, but of your Patronage & Protection also, the Bal- 
lance stands upon an Equilibrium & one stroke more will cause 
it to Preponderate to our Irretrievable Wo, & terminate in the 
Intire Breach of our Country, if your Excellency is not concerned 
in our Immediate safety — 



The Author of this narrative is a Person in a private 
sphere of life & hopes that your forgiving Candour, will induce 
you, to not only pardon the Intrusion, but the many Inaccuracies 
that may appear through the whole of this Illiterate & undi- 
gested Detail — as it comes from a welwisher to American Liberty 
& your Excellency's most obed't H'ble Servt. 


Officers and Men Who Were Killed at the Battle of the 

Blue Licks. 

Todd, John, 


Trigg, Stephen. 

Harlan, Silas, 


Bulger, Edward. 


Beasley, John, 
Bulger, John, 
Gordon, John, 
Kincaid, Joseph, 

Lindsay, Joseph, 
McBride, William, 
Overton, Clough. 


Givins, William, McGuire, 

Hinson, , Rogers, Barnett. 

Kennedy, John, 


Brown, James. 


The Batik of the Bhie Licks. 


Boone, Israel, 
Com, Esau, 
Cunningham, Hugh, 
Eads, William, 
Ferguson, Charles, 
Field, Ezekiel, 
Folley, John, 
Foster, Daniel, 
Fry, John, 

Graham, James (little), 
Greggs, Daniel, 
Green, Jervis, 
Harris, William, 
Ledgerwood, James, 
Marshall, Gilbert, 
McBride, Francis, 
McConnell, Andrew, 

McCracken, Isaac, 
Miller, Henry, 
Nelson, John, 
O'Neal, John, 
Price, John, 
PoUey, Drury, 
Rose, Mathias, 
Robertson, William, 
Smith, James, 
Smith, William, 
Stewart, William, 
Stephens, William, 
Stapleton, John, 
Stern, Val., 
Willson, John, 
Wilson, John, 
Wilson, Israel. 

Officers and Men Who Escaped at the Battle of the 

Blue Licks. 


Boone, Daniel. 

Todd, Levi, 


McGary, Hugh. 


Patterson, Robert, 
Johnson, Samuel, 

Ellis, William. 




McMurtry, John, 


Boone, Samuel, 
Boone, Squire, junior, 
Bradford, John, 
Cooper, Benjamin, 
Craig, Jerry, 
Craig, Whitfield, 
Field, William, 
Graham, James, 
Grant, 'Squire, 
Hayden, Benjamin, 
Harget, Peter, 
Kincaid, James, 

May, William, 
Morgan, James, 
McCullough, James, 
Netherland, Benjamin, 
Reynolds, Aaron, 
Rose, James, 
Rose, Lewis, 
Smith, John, 
Steele, Andrew, 
Twyman, Stephen, 
Wilson, Henry, 
Yocum, Jesse. 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 

DEC 2 7 




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