Battle of Blue Licks

Battle of Blue Licks


Inscriptions on the Battle of Blue Licks Memorial, including a list of participant names.

Stories about Battle of Blue Licks


<div>Throughout history, the salt springs at Blue Licks State Park have attracted prehistoric animals, Indians and pioneers such as the legendary Daniel Boone. Many 19th-century southerners came to the area seeking the rejuvenation of the therapeutic, bubbling waters. 

Blue Licks is more widely known, however, as the site of the last Revolutionary War battle in Kentucky. In 1782, Kentuckians engaged Indians and British soldiers near the Licking River. Outnumbered, Kentucky suffered great losses, including one of Boone's sons. Boone's words, "Enough of honour cannot be paid," are inscribed on the monument dedicated to the fallen soldiers in the Battle of Blue Licks.

Several of our Van Bibber, Boone & McGary ancestors fought and died in the BATTLE OF BLUE LICKS so when I found this article I decided to include it here to give the reader some idea of how and why it happened. HUGH MCGARY LATER MARRIED A VAN BIBBER and NATHAN the Son of DANIEL BOONE married OLIVE VAN BIBBER.

The Battle of Blue Licks happened on August 19, 1782; ten months after Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown. This bloody frontier encounter is usually noted as the last combat of any size of the Revolutionary War. It took place near a salt spring along the Licking River in Central Kentucky north of Boonesborough and Bryan's Station. It was the most successful part of the invasion of an almost 1000 strong combined army of Ohio Indian Nations warriors, British Regulars and Queen's Rangers into Kentucky and West Virginia.

On August 2nd, one of the largest congresses of the Ohio Indian nations confederation was held at the principal Shawnee town of Chalahgawtha, then on the Little Miami River. Present were contingents from all the Ohio nations. Simon Girty, one of the principle organizers of the congress, learned that a group of 50 redcoats under Capt. William Caldwell in company with Iroquois and Mingoes led by the Mohawk leader Joseph Brant and the Tory Alexander McKee were headed south from Detroit to attack Wheeling. After riding long and hard to intercept them, he persuaded them to join the gathering at Chalahgawtha. There, speaking before a council of all participants, he outlined a plan that led to the frontier people south of the Ohio's worst defeat in their long war with the Ohio Indians--the Battle of Blue Licks.

The plan was to draw the Kentucky Militia into an ambush. The Indian and British force would invade; their immediate targets would be Bryan's Station and Lexington, just six miles apart in Central Kentucky. The Americans under Williamson were back at their more easterly settlements in Pennsylvania and Wheeling and they were alert to danger, he argued. Thus, he continued, an invasion would have more success attacking in Central Kentucky where it would not be expected.

Half or more of the expeditionary force would hide at Blue Licks, he proposed, while the remainder would proceed on to attack Bryan's Station, which Girty knew to be weak and undersupplied. They would watch the station until a few people were outside the fortification, and then they would attack, allowing the few outside the walls to escape knowing that they would run straight to Lexington for help; Lexington was strongly manned and provisioned.

No one doubted that Lexington would send out a rescue force; The rescuers would be who the Indians would really be after. The Indians' spies would know the rescue force's size as soon as it began to move toward Bryan's Station; if it was small enough, they would simply waylay the Kentuckians en route. If the Kentuckians were too many, the Indians would retreat making sure that the Kentuckians followed closely so as to lead them back to Blue Licks where the much larger remaining Indian force would lay in ambush. The value in the plan, Girty emphasized, was that when the Kentuckians saw as large a force of Indians as the Bryan's Station attackers would be, and seeing in addition that they had British soldiers with them, none would never believe that there could be as many more waiting in ambush.

The expedition was mounted. Half the invading force hid itself at Blue Licks and the remainder went on to lay siege to Bryan's Station, being careful to allow a few to escape and run to Lexington for help. The first rescue force was fifty men strong; it was quickly beaten off by the invaders. The Indians did not bother to use their ambush strategy; not enough attackers; they were after bigger game.

Next day 180 Kentuckians converged on the place only to find the Indians gone. This militia force was composed of several groups from neighboring counties and stations and, as was the usual case, the leadership consisted of the various militia leaders working more or less in cooperation with each other. Daniel Boone was leader of 45 Fayette County militia under the general leadership of John Todd, an upper class lawyer from Virginia who had served in the Vincennes campaign with Clark. The other major contingent was from Lincoln County and under the leadership of Stephen Trigg who was assisted by Hugh McGary of Harrodsburg.

The officers immediately held council to decide whether they should pursue the retreating Indians immediately or wait for Colonel Benjamin Logan, who they knew to be about a day behind them travelling in their direction with a force of several hundred. McGary was mentally unstable. He had lost family to Indian attack five years earlier and, since then, had become increasingly hostile and combative to virtually all who had to deal with him. All the same, he urged caution and spoke for waiting for Logan to catch up with them. Todd criticized McGary as being "timid" and stated that they could not afford to let the Indians get away. Finally, they decided to take up the chase the following morning. McGary, insulted by Todd's comments, nonetheless held his tongue for the time being.

Next day the Americans followed the Indian army's trail to within a few miles of the Lower Blue Licks. Boone grew increasingly upset with what he was seeing; the Indians were making no effort to conceal their passage; in fact, they were doing everything they could to make their trail easy to follow. They littered the trace with their garbage, they cut blazes on trees where they passed; Boone also saw evidence that they were walking in each other's tracks so as to conceal their actual numbers. He saw ambush in everything the Indians were doing.

Early the next morning, August 19, 1782, a Monday, the Americans arrived at the south bank of the Licking River near the Blue Licks salt springs. The river makes a sharp loop here around a bare, rocky hill on the side opposite the Americans. The Indian army lay hidden in a series of wooded ravines at the crest of the hill. As the Americans assembled on their side of the river a group of warriors appeared in plain view on the hilltop. They were the decoy.

Todd and Trigg called another officers' council; about fifteen men were there in all. Included were Boone and McCary.

Boone urged caution; he pointed out all the things he had observed. "They intend to fight," he said. McCary grew angry and defiant. "Them that ain't cowards follow me," he shouted leading a general charge across the river directly into the ambush and hand-to-hand battle that followed. The result was disaster for the Kentuckians and resounding victory for the Ohio Indian/British force. Seventy-two Kentuckians were killed in that fight; more than a third of their force. The Indians and British lost only three men and four more were slightly wounded. This defeat marked the lowest point in the Americans' fortunes in the struggle for possession of the West.



John Todd, killed

Daniel Boone
Stephen Trigg, killed

Edward Bulger
Silas Harlan

John Allison
John Beasley, capturedJohn Bulger, killed
John Gordon, killed
Samuel JohnsonJoseph Kincaid, killed [Kinkead]
Gabriel Madison, killed
 William McBride, killed
Clough Overton, killed
Robert Patterson

William Gilvins, killed [Givins]
Thomas Hinson, killed
John Kennedy, killed
James McGuire, killed
Barnett Rogers, killed

John Murtry, captured [McMurtry]
Joseph Lindsey, killed

"So valiantly did our small party fight, to the memory of those who
unfortunately fell in the Battle, enough of Honour cannot be paid."
Daniel Boone
Monument dedicated August 19, 1928

Right side of Monument

"The men who fought in the Battle of the Blue Licks were as well qualified
from experience to face the Indians as any body of men that were ever
Robert Patterson

Privates who were killed:
Charles Black [Clarence]
Samuel Brannon
Israel Boone
James Brown, surveyor
Esau Corn
Hugh Cunningham
John Douglass [Douglas]
William Eades [Eads]
Charles Ferguson
Ezekiel Field [Fields]
John Folley
Daniel Foster
John Fry
Little James Graham
Jervis Green
Daniel Greggs [Gregg]
Francis Harper
Matthew Harper
William Harris
James Ledgewood, captured and killed [Ledgerwood]
Francis McBride
Isaac McCracken
Andrew McConnell
Henry Miller
Gilbert Marshall
John Nelson
John Nutt
John O'Neal
Drury Polley [Polly]
John Price
William Robertson
Matthias Rose [Matthew]
James Smith
William Smith
John Stapleton
William Stephens
Val Stern
John Stevenson
William Stewart
Richard Tomlinson
John Wilson [1]
Israel Wilson
John Wilson [2]
Matthew Wylie
William Shannon [ensign]
Archibald Woods
Thomas Farrier
John Jolly
Joseph Oldfield

Ottawas and Chippawas

Back Side of Monument

No names

Shawnees and Delawares

"To the unknown heroes who took part in the Battle of Blue Licks."

Bottom of Monument

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."

Left Side of Monument

Wyandots and Mingoes

"They advanced in the divisions in good order and gave us a volley and
stood to it very well for some time."
Captain William Caldwell

Privates who escaped:
William Barbee
Samuel Boone
Squire Boone, Jr., wounded
Jerry Craig
George Corn
William Field
Whitfield Craig
Edward Graham
Thomas Gist
James Graham
Squire Grant
Benjamin Hayden
Peter Harget
James M. January
James Kincaid
Wainright Lea
James McBride
William May
James McCullough
Andrew Morgan
James Morgan, captured, but escaped
John Morgan
Benjamin Netherland
John Pitman
James Ray
Aaron Reynolds
James Rose
Lewis Rose, captured
Abraham Scholl
Joseph Scholl
Peter Scholl
Samuel Scott
John Smith
Andrew Steele
Jacob Stevens
Thomas Stevenson
Jacob Stucker
James Swart
Henry Wilson
James Twyman [Stephen]
Jesse Yokum, captured [Yocum]
James Elijah Woods, captured
Robert Scott
George Smith
Bartlett Searcy
John Searcy
Samuel Shortridge......NOTE 1
William Shott [Short]
Edmond Singleton
Anthony Sowdusky
Josiah Wilson
John Sumner [Summer]
Samuel Woods
John Hambleton
John Hart
James Hays
James Harrod
Henry Higgins
John Hinch
Charles Hunter
Jacob Hunter
Ephraim January
William Lam
John Little
James McConnell
Mordecai Morgan
Henry Nixon
James Norton
Matthew Patterson
John Peake
Alexander Penlin
Robert Poague
Elisha Pruett
Andrew Rule
Thomas Akers
William Aldridge
Elijah Allen
James Allen
Abraham Bowman
Thomas Brooker
James Colburn, wounded
Jacob Coffean
Joseph Collins
Edward Corn
William Custer
Richard Davis
Theodorus Davis
Peter Dierly
Thomas Ficklin
Henry French
Henry Grider
Jeremiah Gullian

Small Monument to the left of large one:

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.

Thomas Boone, killed
John Childress, captured but escaped
James Ward, escaped

This monument erected in April, 1999 by the Childress family
association and the Kentucky Department of Parks.
These other
sources also record the following individuals as likely participants in the Battle
of Blue Licks, omitted from the monument due to insufficient proof:


Levi Todd
Hugh McGary
George Michael Bedinger
Samuel Shannon

John Bradford
Benjamin A. Cooper
James Ellis
William Ellis

Samuel Shortridge was born in 1756 in Fairfax County, Virginia. Samuel served as an Indian fighter in Captain Charles Hazelrigg's company of the Virginia Militia, in Fayette Co., Virginia, under the command of Col. Daniel Boone and in Gen. George Roger Clarke's expedition against the Indians on the Scioto in Ohio in 1762 after the battle of Blue Licks. Samuel Shortridge married Sarah Scholl around 1776. They had 8 children who were named in his will; Keziah, Leah, Samuel, Elizabeth, Lelah, John, James and Morgan.
He died on July 8, 1823 in Tippecanoe Co., IN. and is buried on land that belongs to his daughter and son-in-law (thereafter called the Black Cemetery or the Rural Cemetery)

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