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Boone Society
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The Blue Licks Today
by Barbara Gill


August 19, 1782 and 219 years later, we came together to see it happen again. The Battle of Blue Licks. Everyone gathered at the edge of the woods to watch the frontiersmen, the Indians, and the men of British forces under Caldwell. As the enemy positioned themselves on the hill, our ancestors walked up and into the ambush that they had been warned of by Daniel Boone.

Major Hugh McGary yelled “all who are not cowards follow me.” Immediately men began their advance. All the commanders could do was follow their men. Lt. Colonel Stephen Trigg and his Harrodstown men took the right flank. Colonel John Todd and the men of Fayette were in the center and Daniel Boone with the Boonesborough men moved forward on the left. In a few short minutes the air was filled with smoke and the screams and then it was as quickly, over! The Battle of Blue Licks lasted only a few minutes and ended in bitter defeat for the early settlers in Kentucky.

Within a few short minutes, forty Kentuckians were down. In the actual battle only Boone’s troops were able to drive the enemy back; his men did not realize what was happening to the other columns. When they did, there was a rush back down to the river. Daniel’s son Israel was a member of the retreating forces. Boone had found a horse and told his son to mount and ride off while he searched for another. Israel told his father he would not leave him. As Israel turned to take a final shot at the enemy, he was fatally wounded. Daniel carried his dying son to a cave, caught a riderless horse, and led his men to safety across the Licking River.

A reenactment brings everyone together realizing what life really was like back then and how devasting life could be. After just a few minutes as the smoke cleared these men stood up to walk away and do it all again on another day. With pats on the back for each other as they dusted themselves off, the fighting men trod back down to their encampment to answer questions for the folks who had just witnessed the bloody battle. Later children, also in the typical dress of that period, were seen playing their war games on the same spot!

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Cousins Meet ~ Barbara Gill, Director and a descendant of Daniel and Rebecca, talks with Ted Grant, descendant of Elizabeth Boone (Daniel’s sister) and William Grant.

Walking thru a late 1700’s encampment makes you feel spoiled by the comforts of home. Beds on the hard ground with only a layer of straw or leaves to soften your night’s sleep but covered with beautiful pieced quilts. A canvas covered folding stool is a luxury to sit on. Most sat on the boxes that had carried their supplies or crossed-legged on the ground. Women stirred their iron pots of stew over wood fires while waiting for someone to purchase their “trade goods” spread on a blanket in front of the tent. You could find fur and leather items, knives and candles, or choose a luxury such as a piece of yard goods for a new dress among the many displays. The men cleaned their rifles or gathered in small groups to talk. Or wandered buying for their own needs, perhaps a new piece of bone to make a handle or something that their wife might not have back at the tent.

Boone Society Members Join the FunThe Red Coats were seen practicing close order drills for another battle some day soon. As the hot sun beat down on the scene, you couldn’t help but wonder what made these people come here for the rest of us to learn what it was like in the wilderness back then……. over 200 years ago.

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Sheila and Arlie Church, both Society Directors, travel extensively during the summer months to reenactments portraying typical early frontier folks.

On Sunday afternoon, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the base of the memorial monument. Our own Sheila Church, Boone Society Director, received the honor of participating. A salute is fired with all the other re-enactors laying down their weapons during this time including knives and tomahawks. An emotional highlight to be present when so many gather to remember the hardships of living and dying in 1782!

Some dates for Boone related reenactments next 2002:

Martin’s Station (Ewing, VA) is the third weekend of April.
Trade Faire at Ft. Boonesborough is Memorial Day weekend.
Blue Licks (KY) is the third weekend of August.
Painted Stone (Shelbyville, KY) is around the 19th of September.
The Siege at Ft. Boonesborough will be September 28-29.

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Ted Grant