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The Revolutionary War on the Foundation

The Revolutionary War on the Frontier

1777 was called the “year of the bloody 7s” as that period saw multiple attacks on Fort Boonesborough and most of the other pioneer stations and forts in Kentucky.  Three attacks occurred at Fort Boonesborough.  On March 7th, Indians killed a slave in a field, but stayed away from the fort.  On April 24, with only a small contingent in the fort, a larger party of Indians drew several defenders into the open where they were attacked.  This resulted in the death of Daniel Goodman and four others wounded, including Daniel Boone.  Luckily, a follow-up attack on the fort did not result.   And on May 23, only 21 defenders manned the fort but were able to held off a three day siege by about 200 Indians.

In early 1778, the Shawnee captured Boone and thirty others who were at Blue Licks to harvest salt.  During his captivity, Boone learned of plans to attack Boonesborough.  His timely escape in June and return to Boonesborough led to significant enhancements to the fort which helped repel the assault that finally came in September.  Boone estimated 400 hundred warriors led by Chief Blackfish with 12 French soldiers who were allied with the British under Lt. DeQuindre laid siege to Boonesborough for nine days from 7 to 16 September.  The attackers repeatedly attempted to set fire to the fort, but did not succeed due the firefighting efforts by the pioneers and fortuitous rains.  They even tried tunneling under the stockade from the river bank, but the tunnel collapsed under heavy rains.  The valiant small contingent of men, women and children worked as an integrated team to repulse repeated thrusts from the Indians.  The men of the militia provided the primary defensive response with tremendous support from other family members performing essential tasks of molding bullets, loading rifles, extinguishing fires, cooking, fetching water and occasionally joining in the direct fight.  After a final attack failed, the Indians withdrew, taking an estimated 37 dead with them.  The patriot defenders suffered only the death of David Bundan and a slave named London. 

This strategic victory at Fort Boonesborough, along with Harrod's and Logan's forts repulsing smaller attacks, helped maintain the rebellious colonies important frontier outposts west of the Appalachians throughout the Revolutionary War.  Most importantly, the continued presence of these patriots in strong emplacements in the West required the British to devote its scarce forces and attention to that region which deprived its Eastern Armies of key reinforcements for the campaign with the established Colonies.

Submitted by Dean Whitaker and Tom Black, 10 Oct 2017



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