Despite numerous attempts over the past 229 years, the enemies of Fort Boonesborough have consistently failed to force surrender of the frontier outpost on the Kentucky River.

A re-enactment of the life-and-death struggle that took place in 1778 drew more than 100 participants and 1,000 spectators Saturday to Boonesborough State Park.

Two more re-enactment were set for Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

“The re-enactment keeps drawing more people each year,” Kentucky State Parks Commissioner J.T. Miller said Saturday afternoon. “We’re looking forward to an even larger turnout next year for the 230th anniversary of the siege.”

The conflict began with talk of peace.

A Shawnee warrior carrying a white flag of truce approached the fort calling out, “Sheltowee, you father wishes to speak with you.”

Sheltowee, or Big Turtle, was the name given to Daniel Boone by the Shawnee chief Black Fish.

Boone, played by Harold Raleigh, then left the fort to meet with Black Fish, portrayed by Michael Fields.

“Why did you run away,” Black Fish asked Boone. “I wanted to see my family,” Boone answered. “If you had asked, I would have let you go,” the adoptive father said.

Black Fish then got down to business. He represented the British commander of Fort Detroit. The great white father King George III was unhappy that his children had disobeyed his order of 1769 and moved west of the great mountains onto Shawnee land.

Black Fish promised that the settlers would be well treated if they accompanied the warriors back to Detroit.

Boone, now joined by other leaders of the fort, then produced a document signed by the Cherokee chiefs at Sycamore Shoals transferring the land south of the Ohio River and west of the Kentucky to the Transylvania Company of Col. Richard Henderson.

The white people were “hungry beasts,” Black Fish said, “hungry for land that isn’t theirs.”

Even if the Cherokee chiefs had rightfully transferred the land to them, the settlers would still need to take an oath of loyalty to the King George and his commander in Detroit.

Although outnumbered more by 20 to 1, the settlers chose to fight instead of renouncing the American colonies’ Declaration of Independence.

As members of the two parties shook hands to end the failed peace talks, it seemed the warriors tried to drag Boone and his companions away from the fort. They escaped as marksmen on the ramparts of the fort opened fire with their long rifles.

The only effect of the warriors’ repeated assault on the fort were wounds and fatalities on the pro-British side. Eventually they gave up the fight.

Afterward, the opposing forces, along with women and children who also wore period costumes, posed for a photograph.

Miller called Fort Boonesborough an icon of the Kentucky state parks, half of which are dedicated to presenting the state’s history, .

This year’s re-enactment drew participants from as far away as Louisiana and Michigan. Most, however, were from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 623-1669, Ext. 267.

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