Genealogy Ramblings

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

19 replies »

  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.

  2. Excellent to see the mention of Bryan’s Station in this post. I am a GGGGGrandson of Edward Nelson through his youngest daughter Rebecca. Edward’s wife Harriet Morgan was one of the water carriers during the siege of the station.

  3. With great pride I salute my GGG-Grandfather Jeremiah Gullion, one of the brave soldiers at Blue Licks. He fought for 3 and a half years during the fight for the freedom of all Americans…………..

  4. Thank you for this wonderful web post. My 6th Great Grandfather John Douglas died at the Battle of Blue Licks and is presumably buried there.

  5. Hello:

    I see the record shows Matthias Rose was killed; but didn’t he also get captured (like his brother Lewis) and eventually was released by the British?

    Also…I know there were two James Graham’s at the battle. The one known as “Little James” died and the other ‘”James” survived. I believe “James” was a recent immigrant. Do you know anything about the “Little James” whom died?

    I am researching my ancestors: James Graham-Grimes (b. about 1745) whom married Margaret Rhea (Ray-Wray) in Bedford County, VA. I am convinced this is “Little James” whom died at Blue Licks. In September 1782,
    his wife was forced to give up her nine-children after her husband’s death.

    I am also convinced that this group of Bedford County Ray’s are part of the immediate family of General James Buntin Ray; (son of Mary Buntin and James Ray, and step-son of MAJ McGary.) Do you know why MAJ McGary did not take James Buntin Ray with him to the Battle of Blue Licks?

    I am trying to establish proof of the link of the Virginia Rays to Gen. Ray. It all makes sense abstractly. Margaret Ray-Graham was born to Moses Ray whom had a son named James BUNTING Ray. Many of his children and Margaret’s children ended up in Mercer County, Kentucky shortly thereafter.

    Anyway…wonder if you have any info on Little James; and or any links for General James Buntin Ray to the Ray family at Bedford County (1785 became Franklin County-Maggoty Creek)?

    Mike (Graham) Moser

    • Do you have any information about Lt. John Kennedy killed at Blue Licks? Did he have any family? Ancestry Thru-Lines is suggesting that he may be a relative but there is very little information concerning him, so I just can’t include him at this time. I know there are potentially connections to the Boones and my family, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that Lt. John Kennedy is relative.

      Bob Kennedy

  6. I am trying to find the location of Blue Licks State Park Cemetery in Robertson, Kentucky. Everytime I search for it , it brings up information for Blue Licks State Park. I called the park and they do not know where the cemetery is located. We are researching an ancestor Lieut James Felix McGuire who was one of those slaughtered at Blue Lick Battle. On Find a Grave it list him buried at Blue Licks State Park Cemetery in Robertson , Kentucky. Further research shows they were all buried in a mass grave. The picture above (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.) is listed on James McGuire memorial on Find a Grave. Would anyone know where the cemetery is located?
    Thank you
    Jovenna Kiser

  7. I wish to protest the omission of my ancestor Captain John Morton who was captured at the Battle of Blue Licks. I believe the monuments should be corrected to include this faithful patriot who raised a company in Virginia when Boston was under seige, including 8 of his sons, met General Washington in New Jersey when he was forced to abandon Fort Washington in New York, and fought with him until he was injured in the Battle of Guildford Court House. He recovered while his son went to the capture of Cornwallis in York and upon his recovery he went to battle with Daniel Boone in this battle. He has earned a place in history.

    His petition to recover his land that was lost due to his absence while in captivity may be viewed at

    and my faithful attempt to transcribe it is as follows:

    To the Honorable the Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Delegates, The Petition of John Morton humbly representeth that your Petitioner was captur’d by the Indians at the battle of the Blue Licks whilst a solder under Capt Daniel Boon, was taken by them to their Towns, from there to Detroit where he remained some time and from there was carried to Canady where he was confined in close Gaol for upwards of Two Years. That previous to your Petitioner’s Captivity he had acquired a right of Preemption in the County of Fayette and that shortly after his releasement, went out to the Western County laid his claim before the County Court of Fayette and obtained a Preemption Certificate for One Thousand Acres of Land which Certificate is hereunto annexed. And that upon application for a preemption warrant is informed that your Honorable House did at their last session of assembly pass a Resolution forbidding the issuing and Treasury Land warrants until the further order of the General Assembly which has deprived your petitioner of the benefit of his location.

    Your petitioner therefore prays that your honorable House will take his case under consideration and grant him such relief as you in your wisdom shall think just and your petitioner as is duty bound will ever pray to

  8. My 4th great grandfather was James Hays, he was granted a farm in Fayette County. The farm sits at the corner of prairie pike and Hays pike, it has been in our family for over 200 years. His marriage license to marry Laticia Rankin is recorded at the Harrison County court house. All these men who fought as militia members from Kentucky, where hero’s of Kentucky if not the revolution.

  9. I am here to pay tribute to my great x8 grandfather, PVT Thomas Acres (now spelled Akers) on my dad’s dads side… confusing, right?

Any thoughts?

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