CARLISLE, Ky. (AP) - The Revolutionary War's last battle, in what was to become Kentucky, turned into an American defeat at the hands of British loyalists and their Indian allies.
This weekend, more than 4,000 visitors will gather at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park in northern Kentucky for a reenactment of the battle's 225th anniversary. They will be the first to visit the newly renovated Pioneer Museum at the park, which reopens Saturday.
Lee Jacobsen of Dearborn, Mich., who will portray a member of Butler's Rangers, the victors in the Battle of Blue Licks, said there's just something about re-enacting.
"Part of it is just living the history and sleeping in the tents and cooking the food," Jacobsen said. "You can really appreciate history when you're actually a part of it."
Steve Caudill, a retired police officer from Winchester, will play Daniel Boone in the reenactment. At 44, Caudill is the same age as Boone was at the height of the Revolutionary War. He says that he matches up with Boone in height, weight, hair and eye color.
Within 15 minutes, the bloody confrontation wiped out 70 to 80 of the Kentucky militia - about 7 percent of the white male population in the territory.
Tensions were still running high on the frontier in the year after the main British force surrendered in Virginia. Butler's Rangers - a force of loyalists led by Capt. William Caldwell that formed along the Canada-New York border to fight the Americans - attacked the pioneer settlement at Bryan's Station, burning down houses, cutting down cornfields and killing livestock for two days.
When the attackers headed north, a force of nearly 200 militia chased them. The loyalists and their Indian allies crossed the Licking River at Blue Licks ford - in what is now Robertson County - and hid in the wooded hillside, waiting for their hunters to catch up.
That happened on the morning of Aug. 19, 1782. After much debate among the militiamen's commanders, Col. John Todd and Lt. Cols. Stephen Trigg and Daniel Boone, the Kentuckians charged after their adversaries.
They were quickly outnumbered and overwhelmed. Todd, Trigg and Boone's youngest son, Israel, were killed.
"Capt. William Caldwell's one goal was to hit as many frontier forts as possible and to draw them into one large engagement," said park naturalist Paul Tierney. "That one large engagement was the Battle of Blue Licks, and he executed it perfectly."
The Kentuckians were surprised at the size of the force - about 1,000 Shawnee and Wyandot Indians were with Butler's Rangers - they came up against at Blue Licks, Caudill said.
Reenactors are expected from as near as Ohio and as far as Ontario.
"We have had a huge response from the Butler's Rangers - maybe it's because they won," Tierney said.
Although the battle was a bitter defeat for the Americans, it set the stage for the expedition less than a year later of George Rogers Clark with more than a thousand rifleman against the Shawnee, driving them from their villages along the Ohio River and destroying Chillicothe, a large Shawnee base, in what is now Ohio.
Information from: The Cincinnati Post, http://www.cincypost.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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