The Battle of Blue Licks, fought on August 19, 1782, was
one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary
The battle occurred ten months after Lord Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, which had effectively ended the war in the east.
On a hill next to the Licking River in what is now Robertson County, Kentucky (but was then in Kentucky County, Virginia), a force of about 50 Canadian and American Loyalists along with 300 American Indians ambushed and routed 182 Kentucky militiamen.
It was the worst defeat for the Kentuckians during the frontier war.
List of Battle ParticipantsSource: "Daniel Boone and the Defeat at Blue Licks"
published by the Boone Society, (Minneapolis, 2005)
by Neal Hammon
The following data is Appendix 32 of Mr. Hammon's book and was submitted by him to be reprinted here
The below list of battle participants is mostly from two secondary
sources, Samuel Wilson, Battle of Blue Licks, (Lexington, 1927) and
the article, "Battle of Blue Licks", the Register of the Kentucky
Historical Society, No. 47, 1949, pages 247-9, with additional
comments in the same publications, Nos. 48, 49, 50, and 52 titled
"News and Notes." The list that contains the occupants of Bryan
Station during the siege is from Reuben Durrett, Brant's Station,
The focus of this book is not to find and list the men and women who were present at Bryan Station or those at the battlefield, but I thought that combining and presenting what has already been published on this subject might be interesting to some readers. However, the author must confess that he has not personally conducted any extensive research on the subject, and only used secondary sources.
One of these source should be used with caution. The list published in the Register is just that-- a list that does not give any references or even the name of the person who compiled the list. However, it would appear that many of those listed are taken from two official documents, one a record of Benjamin Logan of horses, guns, etc. lost at the Battle of Blue Licks (James Alton James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 1781-1784, Virginia Series, Vol. IV, Springfield, 1926, page 94.), and the other a List of appraisements of horses &c lost at the Battle of Blue Licks (Margery H. Harding, ed. George Rogers Clark and his Men- Military Records, 1778-1784. p 148-9.) received of Col. Dan'l Boone. The person using these names obviously assumed that anyone who put in a claim was present at the battle. However, this is not necessarily true. Daniel Boone claimed the loss of two horses and two guns. One might presume that one of the guns and one of the horses was in possession of his son Israel, but there is no explanation in these records stating who was in possession of the horses and guns.
There appear to be at least two obvious mistakes in the Register's list; first, it contains the name of William Shannon who is said to have been killed in the battle. If, in fact there was a William Shannon killed in the battle, it was not the man of some notoriety who was active around Shelby County. This well known William Shannon was a Jefferson County surveyor who was still working long after the 1782. William Shannon is the man who, many years later, donated the land to be used for the site of Shelbyville.
The list also contains the name of James Harrod. The famous Major James Harrod was not present at the battle, as he was said to be suffering from back pains. There was, however, another man with the same name in Kentucky, who applied for and received land in Shelby County and who later settled there. One of these James Harrod's is listed by Benjamin Logan as having lost a horse, saddle, bridle and gun during the battle, and though this may not be positive proof of his presence, it is an indication that someone with that name was there.
Additional names are suggested in the following issues of the Register, under the title of "News and Notes," pertaining to eight men not on the original list; however, they give only sketchy source materials. One person's suggestion for a participant identifies his presence by noting only that the man's tombstone says, "He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and the Battle of Blue Licks." Another name comes from Collin's History of Kentucky, and two are from the Biographical Encyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Another quotes an article in the Filson Club Quarterly, and one alleged participant was mentioned in a Shane interview.
The readers should also be aware of some other information which effect the names on this list. As noted in the text, Rebecca Boone Grant Lemond told Lyman Draper (22C35/2) that her brother William was standing next to her uncle, Daniel Boone, when McGary insinuated that Daniel Boone was a coward. If true, the name of William Grant should be on the list.
The name Samuel Boone is on the list. Most assume this is older brother of Daniel, although he may not have been there at all. Samuel was about fifty-four years old at the time of the battle, and was not considered an aggressive Indian fighter. His presence at the battlefield was noted in Peter Houston's memoirs, which have proved to be very inaccurate. This Samuel and wife Sarah Day Boone had a son, Samuel, Junior, but in his pension application, (DM OO87-91) he stated that he was with the Hoy expedition at the time, and only returned to aid the wounded after the battle. Finally there was a third Samuel Boone, a gunsmith from Maryland, also a relative of Daniel, but there is a question if he had moved to Kentucky in time to participate in the battle. Daniel Boone approved of a claim of a Samuel Boone for lost material, which could be another reason why this name appears on the lists.
Thomas Boone, a son of Samuel Boone and Sarah Day Boone was killed at the battle of Blue Licks, according to DM 1C96 and 22C33, and does not appear on any list. On the latter reference Rebecca Boone Grant Lemond told Draper that he was killed fighting by the side of Israel Boone, but Draper made correction to this letter, and wrote "buckskin moccasins got wet & stopped to pull them off, was overtaken & killed."
There are other casualties that we can identify who fits into a different category in this affair. According to DM 22C64, Charles and William Hunter was in the relief force going to the aid of Bryan Station, and Charles was mortally and William wounded in the skirmish on -- August. Charles died after the men reached Lexington. William Hunter later married Sarah Boone, the daughter of Daniel's brother, Edward Boone, deceased, and Martha Bryan Boone.
But like the battle itself, the true facts as to the names and number of participants has mostly been lost to legend. To my knowledge, the only contemporary record listing participants in this battle comes from the list of American Prisoners, who were returned by the British to the United States on July 18, 1783 (Chris McHenry, Rebel Prisoners at Quebec, 1778-1783, (no publisher, 1981). This list was obtained from the Haldimand Papers, Ms 21,843, Microfilm Roll A-765.).
These are said to be from the Kentucky district of Virginia captured at the Battle of Blue Licks in August 1782; they are as follows:
Jno. McMurty, age 31
Jas. Legerwood, 25
Hugh Cunningham, 48
Mathias Rose, 21
Lewis Rose, 32
Jno. Morgan, 21
Jesse Peek, 24
Jno. Stepleton, 30
John Price 24
Jesse Yocum 18
John Neal 17
Battle of Blue Licks
List of Participants
|Killed in Battle|
Names without asterisk = from Wilson
lost at the Blue Licks and their Owners
|41||horses||21 guns||27 men with DB|
Bryan Station Residents during Siege:
Reuben T. Durrett, Bryan's Station and the Memorial Proceedings, Filson Club Publication No. 7. (John P. Morton & Co, Louisville, 1897)
List of Families at Bryan Station
|Johnson, Jemima Suggett||(wife of Captain Robert Johnson)|
|Craig, John. Capt.|
|Craig, Sara Page|
|Craig, Jeremiah, Capt.|
|Craig, Lucy Hawkins|
|Craig, Toliver, Sr.|
|Craig, Polly Hawkins|
|Craig, Tolliver, Jr|
|Craig, Elizabeth Johnson|
|Saunders, Jane Craig|
|Cave, Elizabeth Craig|
|Ficklin, Mary Herndon|
|Suggett, Mildred Davis|
|Suggett, Mildred Davis|
|Lea, Fanny Sanders|
|Scholl, Sarah Clement|
|Nelson, Harriet Morgan|
Hammon, James [questionable]
[outside walls of Bryan Station]:
Some further research notes from Neal Hammon:
Records from the Virginia Archives are known as the Clark Papers or the Illinois Papers, which include numerous payrolls for regular and militia companies who served against the British and Indians. The first document of interest is number 106:
Payroll of Lt. Thomas Stevensons Detachment of Horsemen Rangers ordered on duty by Colo. Jno Todd July 20th 1782.
[24 men listed with pay for each, then note at bottom of page]
I do certify that the above Service was performed by order of Colo.
John Todd and that the above Thomas Stevenson and John Todd being
both killed at the blue Licks before this Payroll was properly
certified obliges me to certify the above as I was acquainted with
Levi Todd, Col F.C.
Lexington, Fayette County
March 22th 1783.
This particular document, approved by Levi Todd one of the participants in the Battle of the Blue Licks, gives evidence that Thomas Stevenson was a lieutenant in the militia, and was killed. Three others noted as being killed, presumably in this battle, were Sam Boone, Samuel Brannon, and James McConnell. Although the payroll in document 106 is for earlier service, is it possible that some or all the men serving under Lt. Stevenson were also in the battle?
Next is document 77, the payroll for Captain Joseph Kincaid’s company of 24 men, who served from August 17 to 26, 1782. This payroll notes that four men were killed, Captain Joseph Kincaid, privates Asa Corn, William Eads, and William Smith. The question should be ask, did the other twenty men fight at the Battle of Blue Licks?
And finally, document 75, the payroll of Captain Samuel Kirkham’s company, indicates that Five of the men, Lt. William Givins, privates Henry Miller, John Fry, Ezekial Field, and John Jolly were listed as “deceased” on August 19, the day of the battle of Blue Licks. These five men are on existing lists but did any of the other 36 officers and men fight in the battle?
Most sources say that the Kentucky militia went into battle with 182 men; present lists show 176. The above payroll information would not change the total number, only move three men from the survivors to the list showing killed in battle. But these payrolls do raise the question about the whereabouts of the other men in the companies at the time of the battle.
-- by Neal Hammon --
The following is an excerpt from the "Journal of William Brown while traveling from Virginia to Kentucky"
(transcribed by K.Torp)
Journey to Cumberland ---
On Monday Aug 19th Col. John Todd with a party of 182 of our men attacked a body of Indians suppd. to be 6 or 7 hundred at the Blue Lick, & was defeated wh the loss of 65 person missing & slain
Officers lost - Cols John Todd & Stephen Trigg
Majors Edwd Bulger & Silas Harline
Capt W McBride, Jno. Gordon, Jos. Kincaid and Clough Overton
Leiuts. W. Givens & Jno. Kennedy
Ensigns John McMurtrey
in this action Bro. James fell
on Sattur 24th inst. Col. Logan wh 470 men went on the battleground and buried the slain.
Found on the field - slain - 43
missing - 22
In all - 65
I travelled but little abot the country - from English to Harrodsburg was the farthest west, and from Logans fort to the Blue Lick the farthest north, thus far the land was generally good except near & about the Lick it was very poor & badly timbered - generally badly watered but pretty well timbered at Hickmans Ford on the Kentuck River, the Bank a little below the fords appears to be largely upwards of a hundred feet perpendicular of Rock.
On my return to Hanover, I sett off from Jno. Craigs Mon. 23d Sept 1782
Left English's Tues 1 oclock - arrived at the Block House the Mon. evening following and kept on the same rout downward chiefly that I travelled out
Nothing material occurred to me Got to Hanover sometime about the last of October the same year