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Indian Demonstrations at Boonesboro, Kentucky

The Indians had not been inattentive to the activity of the whites. They met the very first organized party with slaughter, and up to 1775 had succeeded in disheartening and driving out all who had effected a temporary settlement. The cluster of settlements near and including Boonesboro seems to have impressed the natives with the necessity of better preparations to resist the encroachments of the whites which were growing more formidable in their character. In 1777 the attacks of the Indians, which had hitherto been made with very little concert of action, began to evince evidence of some guiding influence, and were so well directed that all settlements were soon abandoned save those at Boonesboro, Harrodsburg and Logan’s Fort, which, combined, could barely muster 102 men. Early in the following year, Boone, with thirty men, was at the lower Blue Licks engaged in making salt, when he was surprised by a war party of some 200 Indians on their way to attack Boonesboro. The whole party was captured, but not before they had succeeded in gaining by parley very favorable terms of capitulation. By these terms, which were faithfully observed, by their captors, the whites were taken to Detroit and turned over to the English Commandant. Boone, however, was reserved and taken by the Indians to Chillicothe, where his captors treated him with great kindness and permitted him to hunt with but little restraint upon his movements. While here he learned of an expedition forming for the attack of Boonesboro, and saw some 350 Indians assembled to take part in the movement. He determined to make his escape and warn the settlements of the danger, and was so fortunate as, to effect it immediately. He made the journey of 160 miles in ten days, undergoing extraordinary privations and sufferings. His escape, however, had the effect to again defer the premeditated attack, and after putting the place in the best possible condition to resist the onslaught, the settlers waited for several weeks in vain expectation of the foe. Impatient of this delay, Boone and Kenton with some thirty men set out to destroy one of the Indian towns on Paint Creek. While on this expedition and in the enemy’s country, Boone learned that the Indian army directed against Boonesboro had passed him, and hastily turning about he conducted his band with all speed, marching night and day, back to their starting point. The returned pioneers reached Boonesboro just before the appearance of the natives. The attacking force consisted of 500 Indians and Canadians under the command of Capt. Duquesne. Such an army had never before been seen in Kentucky, and the little garrison numbering barely fifty men, without hope of assistance from Harrodsburg or Logan’s Fort, which were both strongly menaced, might well view the chances of successful resistance with despair. Every artifice which savage cunning could suggest or the skill of the white allies could render effective was employed, but in vain. For nine days the vigorous attack was resisted with steady fortitude, the keen marksmen of the fort inflicting a serious loss upon the unprotected assailants. On the tenth day the Indians withdrew, having lost thirty men killed, and many more wounded. The Kentuckians suffered a loss of two killed and four wounded, but the destruction of stock and improvements proved a very serious damage.

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