Slaughter of Kentuckians at the Battle of Blue Licks

Blue Licks Battlefield – On August 19, 1782.  Pioneers suffered a bitter defeat and were routed by their Revolutionary War enemies.  Captain Caldwell concealed his British and Indian army along the ravines leading from this hilltop to the Licking River.  Advancing into this ambush, the Pioneers were outnumbered and forced to flee across the river.

Earlier in the month Ritchey and I visited Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park.  I was most anxious to see the memorial for those who fought and fell during this battle on August 19, 1782.  Some call it the last battle of the Revolutionary War, fought ten months after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.  The battle was fought between about 180 Kentucky settlers and 240 British and Indians.  An attack on Bryan’s Station, Lincoln County, Kentucky, August 15, 1782, by the British and Indians, was led by Captain William Caldwell, loyalist Alexander McKee, Simon Girty and Matthew Elliott.  The Kentucky settlers took shelter within their stockade and fought back with all their might.  The British killed all the settlers’ livestock and destroyed their crops.  When they heard that the Kentucky militia were on the way they retreated.

The Kentucky force was led by Colonel John Todd of Fayette County, assisted by Lieutenant Colonels Daniel Boone and Stephen Trigg.  Plans were formed overnight and on the morning of August 19, 1782, this band of approximately 180 men set out to confront the British and Indians.  The two forces met at the Licking River, today located in northern Nicholas County.  The British and Indians secured for themselves the best spot on the riverbank for battle.  Advancing into this ambush, within fifteen minutes almost half the Kentuckians were killed or captured.  These were men who had fought hard and long with the Indians during their time in Kentucky.  It is said that Daniel Boone wanted to wait for Benjamin Logan, who was bringing enforcements.  He was a day or two behind.  Others thought this would give the enemy time to cross the Licking River and head north, eventually crossing the Ohio River into Indiana and Indian territory.

The Martyrs of the last battle of the Revolution lie buried here.  Dedicated March 14, 1935, by the Kentucky Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

After the battle, those still alive ran through the forest, trying to get back to Bryan’s Station.  Some did, some did not.  When Benjamin Logan’s militia arrived, they found the area littered with corpses.  Many were scalped, many were butchered, cut into pieces.  They were unable to identify anyone.  All were buried in a mass grave.

So valiantly did our small party fight that, to the memory of those who unfortunately fell in the battle, enough of honour cannot be paid.’  Daniel Boone
Colonel – Commandant John Todd Killed
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Boone
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Trigg Killed
Major Edward Bulger Died of wounds
Major Silas Harlan Killed
Major Hugh McGary
Major Levi Todd
Captain John Allison
Captain John Beasley Captured
Captain John Bulger Killed
Captain John Gordon Killed
Captain Samuel Johnson
Captain Joseph Kincaid Killed
Captain Gabriel Madison
Captain William McBride Killed
Captain Clough Overton Killed
Captain Robert Patterson
Lieutenant William Givins Killed
Lieutenant Thonmas Hinson Killed
Lieutenant John Kennedy Killed
Lieutenant James McGuire Killed
Lieutenant Barnett Rogers Killed
Ensign John McMurtry Captured
Commissary Joseph Lindsay Killed
Dedicated August 19, 1928
This monument, the gift of a grateful Commonwealth, commemorates the heroic pioneers, who, in defense of Kentucky, here fought and fell in the Battle of the Blue Licks, August 19, 1782.

On August 19, 1928, a granite monument was dedicated to the men who fought and lost their lives in the Battle of Blue Licks – a fitting tribute to these brave men.  If this battle had not been fought, Kentucky may not have been settled until much later.  We owe much to our brave pioneers.

The men who fought the Battle of the Blue Licks were as well qualified from experience to face the Indians as any body of men that were ever collected.’  Robert Patterson
Privates Who Were Killed
Black, Charles
Boone, Israel
Brannon, Samuel
Brown, James Surveyor
Corn, Esau
Cunningham, Hugh
Douglass, John
Eads, William
Farrier, Thomas
Ferguson, Charles
Field, Ezekiel
Folley, John
Foster, Daniel
Fry, John
Graham, ‘Little’ James
Green, Jervis
Greggs, Daniel
Harper, Francis
Harper, Matthew
Harris, William
Jolly, John
Ledgerwood, James captured and killed
Marshall, Gilbert
McBride, Francis
McConnell, Andrew
McCracken, Isaac
Miller, Henry
Nelson, John
Nutt, John
Oldfield, Joseph
O’Neal, John
Polley, Drury
Price, John
Robertson, William
Rose, Matthias
Shannon, William
Smith, James
Smith, William
Stapleton, John
Stephens, William
Stern, Valentine
Stevenson, John
Stewart, William
Tomlinson, Richard
Willson, John
Wilson, Isael
Wilson, John
Woods, Archibald
Wylie, Matthew
Ottawas and Chippewas

Each year a reenactment of the Battle of Blue Licks is held at the battlefield park.

They advanced in three divisions, in good order, and gave us volley and stood to it very well for some time.’  William Caldwell
Privates Who Escaped
Acres, Thomas
Aldridge, William
Allen, Elijah
Allen, James
Barbee, William
Boone, Samuel
Boone, Squire Jr. Wounded
Bowman, Abraham
Bowmar, Robert
Brooks, Thomas
Coburn, James Wounded
Coffman, Jacob
Collins, Joseph
Cooper, Benjamin A.
Corn, Edward
Corn, George
Craig, Jerry
Craig, Whitfield
Custer, William
Davis, Richard
Davis, Theodorus
Dierly, Peter
Ficklin, Thomas
Field, William
French, Henry
Gist, Thomas
Graham, Edward
Graham, James
Grant, Squire
Grider, Henry
Gullion, Jeremiah
Hambleton, John
Harget, Peter
Harrod, James
Hart, John
Hayden, Benjamin
Hays, James
Higgins, Henry
Hinch, John
Hunter, Charles
Hunter, Jacob
January, Ephraim
January, James M.
Kincaid, James
Lam, William
Lea, Wainright
Little, John
May, William
McBride, James
McConnell, James
McCullough, James
Morgan, Andrew
Morgan, James Capture but escaped
Morgan, John
Morgan, Mordecai
Netherland, Benjamin
Nixon, Henry
Norton, James
Patterson, Matthew
Peake, John
Penlin, Alexander
Pitman, John
Poague, Robert
Pruett, Elisha
Ray, James
Reynolds, Aaron
Rose, James
Rose, Lewis Captured
Rule, Andrew
Scholl, Abraham
Scholl, Joseph
Scholl, Peter
Scott, Robert
Scott, Samuel
Searcy, Bartlett
Searcy, John
Shortridge, Samuel
Shott, William
Singleton, Edmund
Smith, George
Smith, John
Sowdusky, Anthony
Steele, Andrew
Stevens, Jacob
Stevenson, Thomas
Stucker, Jacob
Summers, John
Swart, James
Twyman, James
Wilson, Henry
Wilson, Josiah
Woods, James Elijah Captured
Woods, Samuel
Yocum, Jesse Captured
Wyandots and Mingoes

You might enjoy reading History of the Battle of Blue Licks by Bennett Henderson Young.  I downloaded it from Amazon for $1.95.

No historian, who will give a faithful account of the settlement and transactions of this country, will omit to speak of the battle and the place at which it was fought.’  Court of Appeals of Kentucky
To the unknown heroes who took part in the Battle of the Blue Licks
This ‘Last Battle of the Revolution’ was fought between 182 Kentuckians, commanded by Colonel John Todd, on the American side, and about 240 Indians and Canadians, commanded by Captain William Caldwell, on the British side.
Shawnees and Delawares

This memorial was erected to honor those individuals whose names were omitted from the original monument.  New research has provided these additional names and corrected previous information regarding those individuals who so gloriously served Kentucky at the Battle of Blue Licks
Boone, Thomas Killed
Childress, John Escaped
Ledgerwood, James Captured but escaped
Peake, Jesse
Ward, James Escaped

4 thoughts on “Slaughter of Kentuckians at the Battle of Blue Licks”

  1. Hi, Another interesting article. I have ancestors (note on the monuments) that fought in the battle. I’m so proud of my Kentucky roots! My SELLERS ancestors came from Pennsylvania via the Wilderness Road and settled at Logan’s, Lancaster, south of Cynthiana (Sellers Run), Ruddle’s Station, Harrod’s etc. There were several men and their families.

Any thoughts?

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