British, Indian Raid

Historical Marker #953 in Falmouth (Pendleton County) notes British Colonel Henry Byrd's strike against Kentucky settlements in the summer of 1780.

The problems that the British experienced with the American colonists in the 1760s and 1770s stemmed in part from taxation efforts that were the results of the expensive Seven Years War (called the French and Indian War in North America). When war with the colonies came in 1775, it required the British to seek out additional manpower. In the trans-Appalachian region, assistance came in the form of Native Americans, who were naturally opposed to colonist incursions onto their lands. Although Native Americans had largely allied with the French in the previous war, during the Revolutionary War the white settlers' refusal to honor the Proclamation of 1763 (which prohibited settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains), provided the Indians and the British with a common enemy.

In an effort to quell the continued settlement of what would become Kentucky, a British and Native American force under the command of Colonel Henry Byrd left Detroit in the summer of 1780. At the Ohio River, Byrd's small army took the Licking River to present-day Falmouth, where they traveled overland to Ruddle's Station in Bourbon County. Ruddle's fortified station was no match for Byrd's command, which included artillery. The brief engagement resulted in several casualties. In addition, a number of prisoners were taken. Byrd's force then made their way to nearby Martin's Station, where it quickly surrendered without a fight. More prisoners were taken at that frontier post.

At each captured station the spoils were divided between the British and the Indians. Members from various tribes, including the Delaware, Shawnee, Ottawa, Chippewa, Huron, and more, participated in the raids. The settlers that were captured at the Kentucky stations were taken to Detroit and were divided among the various Indian groups. Many of the prisoners remained with their captors until the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, when a general exchange finally allowed for their release.

In August 1782, the British and their Native American allies launched another strike against the Kentucky pioneer settlements, which resulted in their failure to capture Bryan’s Station. However, on their retreat they did claim a victory over a settler force at the Battle of Blue Licks.