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Monday, October 7, 2013

Daniel Boone- The human Battering Ram

For those of us who study history there are often times when we come across stories which seem just too good to be true but there is no way you could make it up. I had such an incident while doing some reading and researching about the early settlement of Kentucky and the Revolutionary War Period.

As it was settled, Kentucky was divided into three Counties. Each of these counties contained a central fortification which provided not only some governmental control of the province but more importantly a safe refuge for colonists in times of peril. The first permanent fort was Fort Harrod located in present day Harrodsburg, KY, the second was Fort Logan located in what is known as Stanford and the last and probably most well know was Boonsboro situated near the Kentucky River between Winchester and Lexington.

Boonsboro, established by noted pioneer and explorer Daniel Boone, was a collection of cabins, blacksmith

Fort Boonsboro
shop, armory, and food storage facilities surrounded by a log stockade with the corners anchored by blockhouses. These stout frontier fortifications were necessary to withstand the periodic raids by bands of Shawnee, Wyandot, and Cherokee Indians who were determined to push the whites from their traditional hunting grounds. The threat increased with the start of the Revolutionary War. The British used their long standing connections with the tribes of the Ohio Valley to bribe them into waging a frontier war against the whites in an attempt to force the Continental army to pull badly needed troops away from the eastern theater of the war to defend the frontier.

Simon Kenton

While the assistance of Continental troops would have been welcomed, it was not practical. To counter the threat, the Colonies supplied arms and powder for a militia force to defend the frontier. Included in these forces were men who through their woodcraft and knowledge of the wilderness area would become scouts and foragers. Their task was to keep the forts supplied with meat and keep an eye out for any sign of
increased Indian activity. On such man was Simon Kenton who was also known as Simon Butler due to an unfortunate incident in his youth that required him to flee to the frontier and hide his identity. Kenton was perhaps the best woodsman ever to trod the leaf covered trails of the Ohio valley. Standing almost six feet tall, he has broad shoulders and powerful legs from repeated trips back to the fort with an elk strapped on his back. He was a dead shot with a rifle being able to hit a target from any position and on the run. He was an excellent trapper and it was said he was a silent as a mouse when stalking game or scouting. It is with Kenton our story begins.

Simon Kenton had been assigned to Fort Boonsboro which was under the command of Daniel Boone to serve as forager and scout. On the Morning of April 24, 1777, Kenton and two other guards were standing outside the main gate of Boonsboro as the sun began to creep above the eastern horizon. Presently, two men exited the fort and walked across the cleared meadow and began to collect firewood. With their arms full they started back for the fort. Suddenly, the air was ripped by a volley of musket shots. One of the men dropped to the ground and the second shed his load of wood and started a frantic run towards the fort. As the smoke cleared, five Shawnee Indians burst from the tree line.

Springing into a run, Kenton and the other guards dashed forward to rescue the other man who was attempting to crawl to the fort. Unfortunately, the Indians reached the men first. The lead Indian reached the man and buried his tomahawk in his back. He had begun to scalp the helpless victim when a rifle ball smashed into his chest. At a dead run Simon Kenton had triggered a shot at fifty yards. As the sound of the shot subsided, Daniel Boone and ten men rushed from the fort and began to chase the remaining Indians. Curiously, instead of running to the woods, they turned and fled parallel to the fort across the field. As Boone and his men perused the Indians, a trap was sprung. Coming from the woods between Boone’s men and the Fort were a force of about one-hundred additional Shawnee. Realizing the dire situation he was in, there were only eight men left to defend the fort, Boone ordered his men to make his run for the gate.

Turning around to see if the men would make it back to the fort, Kenton saw a Shawnee warrior kneeling and taking aim at Boone. Simon snapped the rifle to his shoulder and fired. The ball struck the warrior and with a scream he crumpled to the ground. This was the first of three times Kenton would save Boone’s life before they reached the safety of the fort. Reloading on the run, Kenton headed for the fort. With supporting fire from the fort, the Shawnee began to take cover. One of these concealed warriors rose up and shot an unsuspecting Boone in the leg, breaking it. Sensing an easy kill, the warrior raised up with his tomahawk to finish Boone. The Shawnee brought his arm forward to deliver the below a rifle ball ripped through his chest. Kenton had saved Boone a second time! Turning, Kenton sprinted toward the down Boone who was urging him to return to the fort.

Reaching Boone, Kenton dropped his rifle and scooped him up in his arms and began to run to the fort. This was a herculean effort, Boone weighed over 200 pounds. With the safety of the fort only moments away, two Shawnee rushed to cut them off. Instead of trying to dodge the warriors, Kenton ran straight at them. As they readied for an easy kill, Kenton did the unexpected. He heaved the injured Boone at the

Simon Kenton Rescues Daniel Boone
waiting Indians. Propelled by Simon’s immense strength, Boone struck the two Indians sending both spilling to the ground. One can only imagine the pain Boone was in. One warrior was knocked senseless while the second tried to pull his knife from his belt. Kenton snatched his tomahawk from his belt and dispatched the knife wielding Indian with a vicious chop. Kicking the stunned Indian in the head to make sure he stayed down, Simone dragged Boone into the safety of the fort.

During this harrowing day, Kenton had saved Boone’s life a total of three times. Boone would recover and go on to help build the state of Kentucky while Kenton continued to scout and trap in the unknown wilderness.

For further Reading on this and many more such incidents, please consult my source for this by reading The Frontiersmen by Allen Eckert.