- Historic Sites
Ghost Writer To Daniel Boone
John Filson first brought the frontier hero to notice, giving him fine words that made him the idol of the romanticists
October 1955 | Volume 6, Issue 6
As a result of this association, Boone became the founder of the fort that bears his name to this day, now a lonely, somnolent village between the Kentucky River hills, where the events of history are something less than a memory. To the site of Boonesborough, he brought Rebecca, his wife, and his daughter, Jemima, on the fourteenth of June, 1775, and they were “the first white women that ever stood on the banks of the Kentucke river.”
The Indians persisted in their attempts to harass them out of the land; and, on the fourteenth of July, 1776, they captured Boone’s daughter and the two daughters of Colonel Callaway. Boone and eight men from the fort immediately pursued them and three days later overtook the party, killed two of the Indians, and rescued the girls.
With the coming of reinforcements from North Carolina and a band of 100 Virginians, whom the Indians feared, calling them the Long Knives, open warfare ceased; but the red men continued their insidious forms of annoyance. On the seventh of February, 1778, while he was engaged in making salt at the Blue Licks, Boone, and some thirty others, were captured by the Indians. He was taken to old Chillicothe on the Little Miami River, and from there to Detroit, where the British governor, Henry Hamilton, offered a hundred pounds sterling for his release. The Indians refused the offer and took Boone back to their camp on the Little Miami, where, as a captive, he lived a life far different from that of prisoners in modern wars:
Returning from a hunting trip one day, Boone was alarmed to find that the Indians, in the strength of 450 choice warriors, were planning to march against Boonesborough. He escaped just before sunrise one morning and made his way to the fort, a journey of 160 miles during which he had only one meal. On the eighth of August, the Indian army appeared before the gates. They finally sent a summons to Boone to surrender in the name of His Britannic Majesty. Boone asked for a period of two days to consider the matter, during which time feverish preparations for defense were made within the garrison; and at the end of the period, Boone returned the answer
The hero had defied the enemy. After attempts at subterfuge and a nine-day assault, to which the fort failed to capitulate, the enemy raised the siege and departed.
The crescendo of the Indian wars increased as station after station was attacked. On the fifteenth of August, 1782, about 500 Indians and Canadian French attacked Bryant’s Station near Lexington. In language strangely reminiscent of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Boone describes the battle:
The pursuit of the fleeing savages ended in the bloody Battle of Blue Licks, “the last battle of the Revolution.” On one of the rolling hills south of the Licking River, overlooking the Blue Licks, the carnage of the fifteen minutes of fierce fighting was ghastly. Sixty white men, including two colonels—Todd and Trigg—and Boone’s second son fell. Four of the seven men taken prisoners were barbarously murdered by young warriors being trained in the arts of cruelty. Boone in reflecting on the horror of the battle described the panic and the slaughter and concludes with the laconic statement, “many widows were now made.”
This terrible battle was the end of serious Indian troubles in Kentucky. General Clark’s expedition against them beyond the Ohio left them with little taste for further warfare in Kentucky; and “the great king beyond the waters,” being disappointed in his expectations, had no more reason to encourage their depradations. The settlement of Kentucky was secure. Boone, reviewing the long and harrowing struggle, reflects on his mission and his sacrifice: