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Kentucky 1782-8

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           CHAPTER

                  XI

          Kentucky    1782 - 1788

After the Revolutionary War had ended with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown October 19, 1781, the Indian invasions in Kentucky had accelerated. The British no longer had to concentrate her forces in the southern battles, and devoted more time to Canada and the northern posts. The British incited the Indians to organize for an invasion against Kentucky. During the Winter of 1781-82, the Shawnee powwowed with the Mingoes, Wyandots, Delawares, Pottawattomies and Cherokees. They conspired to meet at the Shawnee capital of Chillicothe, Ohio in August, 1782 for a great invasion against the settlements. The Wyandots did not wait until the designated time to start attacks. They terrorized a station about ten miles from Boonesborough early in March, 1782, killing two men and destroying much property. Then they crossed the Kentucky River above Boonesborough and went into Lincoln County. Near the present site of Mt. Sterling, the Wyandots slaughtered twenty white men from Estill's Station. The combined forces of the Indians, led by British officers, began the invasion of Kentucky in mid-August, 1782. They instigated a small skirmish at Hoy's Station, as a decoy to draw the Kentucky militia to that point, then concentrated their forces at Bryant's Station, near Lexington. The following letter, written by Daniel Boone to Governor Harrison, imploring assistance more fully describes the invasion of Bryant's Station and the disasterous defeat at Lower Blue Licks:

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                                                      BOONES STATION, FEYATTE COUNTY

                                                      August 30th 1782

Sir

A present Circumstance of Affairs Causes me to write to your Excellancy as follows. on the 16th of this Instant a Large Number of Indians with Some white men Attacted one of our fronteer Stations Known by the name of Bryans Station, the Seige Continued from about Sunrise till about ten oclock the next Day, then they Marched off. Notice being Given to the Different Station adjacent, we Imediately Collected 181 Horsemen Commandd by Colo Jn0 Todd, Including some of Lincoln County Militia, Commanded by Col. Trigg, and having pursued About 40 Miles, on the 19th Instant, we Discover'd the Enemy Lying in wait for us, on Discovery of which we formed our Columns into one Single Line, and Marchd up in their front, within About forty yards before there was a gun fired; Col. Trigg on the right, my Self on the Left. Maj'r McGary in the Center. Major Harlen with the advance party in the front - and from the manner wee had formd, it fell to my Lot to bring on the attack, which was Done with a very heavy fire on both Sides; and Extended back the Lines to Col. Trigg, where the Enemy was So Strong that the Rushed up and Broke the right wing at the first fire, So the Enemy was Immediately on our Back So we were obliged to Retreat with the loss of 77 of our Men and 12 wounded, afterward we were Reinforced by Col. Logan which with our own men amounted to 460 Light Horse with which we March'd to the Battle Ground again But found the Enemy were gone off So we proceeded to Bury the Dead - which were 43 found on the ground, and Many more we Expect Lay about that we did not See as we could not tarry to Search very Close, being Both Hungry and weary, and Some what Dubous that the Enemy might not be gone quite off, and by what Discovery we Could make we Conclude the Number of Indians to Exceed 400 - Now the whole of our Militia of this County Does not Exceed 130. By this yr Excellency may Draw an Idea of our Circumstance, I know Sir, that

 

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your Situation at present is Something Critical But are we to be totally forgotten. I hope not. I trust about 500 men Sent to our Assistance Immediately and them to be Stationed as our County Lieutenants Shall See most Necessary may be the Saving of this our part of the Country. but if you put them under the Direction of Genl Clarke they will be Little or no Service to our Settlement as he Lies 100 miles west of us, and the Indians Northeast, and our Men are often Calld to the falls to Guard them. I have Encouraged the people here in this County all that I could, but I can no longer Encourage my Neighbours nor my Self to Risque our Lives here at such Extraordinary hazzards, the Inhabitants of these Counties are very much alarmd at the thoughts of the Indians bringing another Campaign into our Country this fall, which if it should Be the Case will Break these Settlements, so I hope your Excellency will take it into Consideration and Send us Some Relief as quick as possible - this Sir is my Sentiments without Consulting any person I expect Col. Logan will Imediately Send to you by Express, By whome I most Humbly Request your Excellencies answer meanwhile I Remain Sir Your Excellencys Most obedient Humb Servt.

                                               Daniel Boone 1

 

Both Harrison and Clark were very well informed of the defeat at Blue Licks. Many letters have been preserved which were written to them by the officers who had participated in the battle. Clark had remained sullenly aloof at Louisville. He brooded extensively because of the abandoned plans for his long coveted attack on Detroit. "There was general despair in all the frontier communities after the disaster at the Blue Licks. A similar stroke, it was believed, would not only lead to the destruction of the Kentucky settlements, but would bring the savage forces in larger numbers against the more interior counties of Virginia and the Carolinas." 2

Many of the leaders of the settlements petitioned the Governor on September 11, l782 , imploring him to send assistance. They complained that the military operations

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during the past few months had been detrimental rather than beneficial. They said that Clark had kept much of the Kentucky militia occupied at the sparsely settled Fort Nelson at the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville), located a hundred miles from the settlements most likely to be attacked, while their own settlements were left open and unguarded. Clark claimed that completing and fortifying Fort Nelson would mean saving the western country. The people begged that action be taken on previous plans of building garrisons at the mouths of the Kentucky, Licking and Limestone rivers. Limestone was the principal crossing place of the enemy. A garrison at Limestone, they claimed, would also be a good landing place for people coming by boat on the Ohio River into Kentucky from Pennsylvania and. upper Virginia. A garrison at Limestone, they pointed out, would be only fifty miles from Lexington, the largest settlement.

Governor Harrison wrote a very strong letter of reprimand to Clark:

                                        GOVERNOR HARRISON TO CLARK

                                        IN COUNCIL Octr 17. 1782.

Sir

No official account from you of the situation of the part of the Country committed to your care have reached me for several months, for which I am at a loss to assign a reason. Government can never be administer'd properly unless the Officers of it are regular in their correspondence, punctual in the execution of orders, and particular in their discriptions of the Wants and distresses of their departments. If the disappointments you have met with in your proposed plans have occasion'd this inattention and neglect the reason is by no means a good one, because circumstances may alter and changes happen that you could know nothing off, and which might at one time enable Government to do what they could not at another.

I have received Letters from Colo Levi Todd and other reputable characters in Kentucky giving an account of a powerful invasion of that country by the Indians, and of an unfortunate battle fought with them by Colo John Todd on the 19th August in which

 

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that worthy Gentleman and many other of the most valuable Inhabitants have fallen; these are circumstances so much within your line of Duty, that I can not help expressing my very great surprise at your Silence. In my Letter of the 20th December last you were directed to erect forts at the Mouth of Kentuckey river, the mouth of licking creek and at the mouth of limestone creek, and to garrison each of these posts with sixty eight men to cover and protect the Country, Whether you have Comply'd with these orders or not you have not thought fit to advise me, but I have every reason to suppose from other information that they have altogether been neglected, to which much of the present misfortune is to be attributed, as such establishments would have been a great curb on the Indians, the country might from these posts have been alarm'd at the approach of an Enemy, and with the assistance of the garrisons better enabled to repel their attacks, these reasons governed the Executive when they gave the orders, and induced them to fix on you to execute them, and it gives me great pain to find that you have disappointed us in our expectations.

The same reasons that dictated the former orders still govern us and I insist that they be carried into immediate execution if the Indians have not left the country or you have good reason to apprehend their return this fall or Winter you'l apply to the commanding officers of Washington, Mountgomery and Botetourt Counties for assistance who have Orders to send you any number of men you may call for not exceeding two Hundred. As the marching Militia such a Distance, will not only be attended with very great inconvenience to the Individuals but with great expence to the State I trust you will not call for them but in case of urgent necessity, oeconomy now may put it in our power in the spring to take more decisive measures, however I would by no means have any consideration of this sort interfere with the safety of the people, and only mention it to you as a secondary consideration. The Commissioners that are sent into that part of the country where you

 

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are, are men of Prudence and Judgement and it may not be amiss to consult with them on the occasion: Before these Gentlemen all the Accounts of your military expenditures in every department are to be laid in order to their being adjusted and reported on, and when this is done I shall expect your attendance here for a final settlement of them. You will excuse my for agaon repeating my request to be informed by every oppertunity of the material circumstances that may happen on Kentuckey, and what progress you make in the discharge of the several Matters entrusted to you

 

                              I am sir

                                    Your mot Obet hum. Sert

                                          Benj Harrison 3

 

The Commissioners referred to by Harrison were the ones who reviewed Clark's vouchers for payment in November, 1782. He had not received any pay since January, 1778 and had supported military activities thru his own finances. The vouchers were lost and not found until 1913, and Clark was never reimbursed for the money he spent.

Clark defended himself in the matter of the Blue Licks incident by claiming that the officers in charge had led the men in a reprehensible manner. Clark began to make plans for an invasion of some of the principal Shawnee towns. "By November 1 the two divisions of Kentucky troops reached the mouth of the Licking, the appointed place of rendezvous. Colonel Floyd, in charge of one division, consisting of regulars from Fort Nelson and militia from the western stations, ascended the Ohio with the artillery, while the other section, commanded by Colonel Logan, marched from the eastern settlements. On the third of November one thousand and fifty mounted men with Clark in command set out for Chillicothe, the Shawnee stronghold. Rigid discipline was maintained during the march of six days. A plan of attack had been worked out by Clark in minute detail. Three miles from the town, Colonel Floyd was sent forward with three hundred men to make the attack. But his approach was discovered, and warned by the alarm cry, the inhabitants made good their escape with the loss of ten killed and ten who were taken prisoners. Chillicothe and five other Shawnee towns were

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burned, and ten thousand bushels of corn and large quantities of provisions were destroyed. Colonel Logan with a detachment of one hundred and fifty men captured the British trading post at the head of the Miami and burned such stores as they were unable to carry away with them. After vainly attempting for four days to bring on a general engagement, Clark returned with his troops to the mouth of the Licking where the divisions again separated.

"By this blow, Clark had not only saved the frontier settlements from danger of attack, but he had offset the designs of British authorities to bring about a union of the northwestern and southwestern tribes. This plan, closely akin to that of 1781, was well calculated to win the support of the Indians, for it promised the advance of a large force from Detroit, against Fort Pitt, the capture in succession of that post, Fort Nelson, and the other Kentucky posts, and the retaking of the Illinois country. In this manner Kentuckians, it was said, would be driven across the mountains and then the other Inhabitants into the Sea '. Clark had extended the radius of menace towards Detroit and had thrown the enemy into utmost confusion. The Indians were panic stricken at this evidence of strength. Their winter supplies were destroyed and the policy of retrenchment on the part of British officials due, in part, to the high prices fixed by monopolies, cut down the quantities of Indian presents. In fact, further demands by the Indians for protection from Detroit were denied. So effectively had Clark carried out his policy of intimidating the Indians that, as stated by Boone: 'the spirits of the Indians were damped, their connexions dissolved, their armies scattered & a future invasion entirely out of their power'." 4

Clark reported the details of the Indian invasion to the Governor:

                                               CLARK TO BENJAMIN HARRISON

                                               November 27, 1782

Sir

I imbrace the opertunity by Captn Madison to inform you of our safe return from the Indian Cuntrey I left the Ohio the fourth with one Thousand and fifty men and supprised the principal Shawonee Town on the Eavening of the Tenth Inst amediately Detacking

 

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off Strong parties to different Quarters in a few Hours two thirds of their Towns was laid in ashes and everything they ware possess'd of destroy'd except such articles most usefull to the Troops the Enemy not having time to Secret any part of their Riches that was in ye Villages the British Trading post at the Portage on the Head of the Miami shared the same fate by Col Benj. Logan and a party one Hundred and fifty Horse whare property to a great amount was burnt the Quantity of provisions destroyed far surpassed any Idea we had of their Stores of that kind the loss of the Enemy was Ten scalps Seven prisoners and two whites Retaken ours one kiled one wounded After laying part of four Days in their Towns finding all attempts to bring them to a genl Action Fruitless we retired the season being far advanced and the weather threatening...

We might probably have got many more scalps and prisoners could we have timely known whether or not we ware discovered which we took for granted untill geting within three miles Some circumstances happened caused us to think otherways though uncertain Colo Floyd was ordered to advance with three Hundred men and bring on an action or attack the Town  Maj Walls with a party of Horse being previously sent on a different Rout as a party of observation although Col Floyds motion was so quick that he got to the Town but a few minutes later than those whome discovered his approach the Inhabitants had Suffitient notice to effect their escape by the allarm cry that was given on the first discovery and to be heard at a great distance and repeated by all that hear it so that he only fell in with the Rear of them I must beg leave to Recomment to your Excellency the Militia of Kentuck who did themselves Honour on this occasion espetially their desire of saving prisoners

 

                                             I am yr Obt Servt

                                                        G R CLARK 5

Three days later, on November 30th, Clark received the letter of reprimand Harrison had written October 17th. He

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replied immediately, expressing indignation and surprise at receiving such a letter. Clark explained that he had not wanted to bother the Virginia government with trifling details. His excuse for not starting preparations for the three garrisons was that the plans were too extensive a step to start until the fortifications at Fort Nelson at the Falls of the Ohio were completed. He also explained that there was not any money appropriated for the project. Clark denounced the integrity of the settlers who had written the governor complaining of the conditions in Kentucky, stating that the welfare of the frontier was uppermost in his mind.

Governor Harrison received many letters from people giving opinions regarding the three proposed garrisons. Some wanted a garrison located at the mouth of the Kentucky River; others favored the Licking River, still others advocated that Limestone should be the first consideration. Harrison wrote to Clark on February 27, 1782, to build the fort at the Kentucky River and forget about the other two locations unless Indian warfare should necessitate another fort; in such case, the next fort was to be built at Limestone. Virginia did not appropriate any money for the project; however, Clark was authorized to collect tax money from the three Kentucky counties. Although Clark requested tax money from the three counties, none was forthcoming and the plans were abandoned.

The articles of peace signed in November, 1782 stipulated that England would surrender her posts in the Northwest. The withdrawal of English support and leadership tended to halt the large Indian invasions. "If Clark's position at the close of the campaign against the Shawnee is considered, a more satisfactory interpretation of the influence of his efforts becomes evident. We have seen that this stroke marked the final aggressive movement in his offensive-defensive policy. It demonstrated the wisdom he displayed in selecting Fort Nelson as a base for such operations. At no time were the British prepared to reduce this post although they were well aware it constituted the key between the East and the Illinois country, that it dominated the western trade, and was the center for operations against Detroit. From this base, it was possible for Clark to reach Vincennes or Kaskaskia in a much shorter time than it could have been accomplished by the British from Detroit; and Clark's information of advances by

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the enemy was always early. Moreover, the warriors of the tribes on the Sciota and the Miami, especially the Shawnee 'the first in at a battle, the last at a treaty,' chief dependence of the British, could not be induced to engage in any expedition which would leave their villages exposed to attack...These facts must have been patent to the negotiators of the peace terms, and served, no doubt, to yield the Northwest to the United States." 6

Clark was summoned to Virginia in May, 1783. His finances were so low as to necessitate the request of an advance from the Governor in order to purchase clothing to replace his worn frontier garb. He was relieved of his commission July 2, 1783 and became engulfed in the maze of legal entanglements of collecting back pay and the money he had spent financing his Kentucky expeditions. He finally received land grants which his creditors promptly seized in payment of the debts he had contracted.

The Kentucky population had grown to 30,000 by 1783. Small bands of Indians made stealthy excursions into the interior of Kentucky. The settlers were continually alert to the perils of invasions. During the past seven or eight years nearly a thousand men had lost their lives to Indians in Kentucky. The settlers were slow to forget such atrocities. Discontent with Virginia government finally induced the people to petition for Statehood. They felt that the Virginia militia was not giving them proper protection from the possibility of Indian invasion; they were not preperly represented in matters of executive decisions; Richmond was too far away to govern them properly; and tax increases were objectionable. Meetings, called "Conventions," were begun in 1784 to prepare for Statehood. Virginia was agreeable to the separation, but imposed certain conditions, called "Enabling acts," which must be agreed to before Kentucky could become a separate state. Virginia wanted the Ohio River to be open for navigation; all disputes between Kentucky and Virginia were to be settled by arbitration; that land rights remain unchanged; that there should be no change in boundary lines; that residents and non-residents should be equally taxed; that Kentucky should assume a part of the Virginia State debt. Conventions on the part of the Kentuckians, and Enabling Acts on the part of Virginia, continued for several years before an agreement was finally reached. Kentucky did not

 

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become a state until June 1, 1792.

Virginia tried to maintain closer governmental control by subdividing the Kentucky counties as the population continued to increase. First there was only Kentucky County, formed December 6, 1776 out of Fincastle County, Virginia. Kentucky County was divided November 1, 1780, into the three counties of Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln. Those divisions remained until 1784, when Nelson County was formed from a part of Jefferson County. The following year, three new counties came into being. Bourbon County was formed from part of Fayette. Madison was formed from part of Lincoln, and Mercer was formed from part of Lincoln County. The year Michael moved to Kentucky, Woodford County was formed from a part of Fayette County. Thus, we find that when Michael moved to Fayette County in 1788, that county had been divided to include Bourbon and Woodford counties.

John Filson had published a book and map of Kentucky in 1784, which painted an intriguing picture of the country to the prospective Kentucky immigrant. His book and map were published in England and Germany the following year. Filson wrote of the discovery of the country and of its rivers and soil. He wrote: "The soil of Kentucke is of a loose, deep black mould, without sand, in the first rate lands about two or three feet deep, and exceeding luxurious in all its production...This country is richest on the higher lands, exceeding the finest low grounds in the settled parts of the continent. When cultivated it produces in common fifty and sixty bushels per acre; and I have heard it affirmed by credible persons, that above one hundred bushels of good corn were produced from an acre in one good season. The first rate land is too rich for wheat till it has been reduced by four or five years cultivation. Col. Harrod, a gentleman of veracity in Kentucke, has lately experienced the production of small grain, and affirms that he had thirty-five bushels of wheat, and fifty bushels of rye per acre. I think in common the land will produce about thirty bushels of wheat, and rye, upon a moderate computation, per acre; and this is the general opinion of the inhabitants. We may suppose that barley and oats will increase abundantly, as yet they have not been sufficiently tried. The soil is very favourable to flax and hemp, turnips, potatoes and cotton, which grow in abundance; and the second, third and fourth rate lands, are as proper for

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small grain. These accounts of such amazing fertility may, to some, appear incredible, but are certainly true. Every husbandman may have a good garden, or meadow, without water or manure, where he pleases. The soil, which is not of a thirsty nature, is commonly well supplied with plentiful showers." 7

Filson's book carried a hearty endorsement by Daniel Boone, Levi Todd and James Harrod. He dovoted a part of his book to an autobiography of Boone which is still widely used by historians of today. Filson claimed that "the laws are no more than the security of happiness; where nature makes reparation for having created man; and government, so long prostituted to the most criminal purposes, establishes an asylum in the wilderness for the distressed of mankind...all the unfortunate of the earth, who, having experienced oppression, political or religious, will there find a deliverance from their chains." 8

One section of Filson's book was devoted to advice on how to acquire land in Kentucky. He wrote, "The proprietors of the Kentucke lands obtain their patents from Virginia, and their rights are of three kinds, viz. Those which arise from military service, from settlement and pre-emption, or from warrants from the treasury. The military rights are held by officers, or their representatives, as a reward for services done in one of the two last wars. The Settlement and preemption rights arise from occupation. Every man who, before March, 1780, had remained in the country one year, or raised a crop of corn, was allowed to have a settlement of four hundred acres, and a pre-emption adjoining it of one thousand acres. Every man who had only built a cabbin, or made any improvement by himself or others, was entitled to a preemption of one thousand acres where such improvement was made.

"In March, 1780, the settlement and pre-emption rights ceased, and treasury warrants were afterwards issued, authorizing their possessor to locate the quantity of land mentioned in them, wherever it could be found vacant in Virginia.

"The mode of procedure in these affairs may be instructive to the reader. After the entry is made in the land-office, there being one in each county, the person making the entry takes out a copy of the location, and proceeds to sur-

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vey when he pleases. The plot and certificate of such survey must be returned to the office within three months after the survey is made, there to be recorded; and a copy of the record must be taken out in twelve months, after the return of the survey, and produced to the assistant register of the land-office in Kentucke, where it must lie six months, that prior locators may have time and opportunity to enter a caveat, and prove their better right. If no caveat is entered in that time, the plot and certificate are sent to the land-office at Richmond, in Virginia, and three months more are allowed to have the patent returned to the owner." 9